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Eco-congregation

 

At the Church Council meeting in March this year the Church was given the ‘green’ light to proceed with Eco-congregation.  A follow up meeting was arranged for April and this was reasonably well attended with 10 people plus a couple of apologies.

At the meeting, it was agreed that the first steps were to carry out a holistic audit of Church life looking at worship, the premises and outreach/mission.  This is required in order to register the Church as an Eco-congregation Church.  The audit is currently ongoing and regular meetings are now been held. Please refer to the Yellow Pages for further details or contact Sean Ashton.  Anyone is welcome to attend and we look forward to seeing some of you there.

 

Notes from Eco-congregation meeting, 19th Sept 2015

Present at the meeting were Tim Crome, Margaret Spooner, Andrew Watchorn, Helen Watson, Rosemary Felton, Jackie Dunn, Paula Jones, Yvonne McIntosh, Gen Ashton & Sean Ashton.  Tim opened the meeting with a welcome and a prayer.

Margaret opened with devotions.

Communications

Margaret stated that at a recent class meeting when Yvonne had talked about the Eco-congregation, several people had not heard of it or did not know what was happening.  This led to a discussion about communication and it was decided to ask Property Committee about a noticeboard.  We have a free standing one that can be used and moved – Action Tim to take to property committee – Update Property Committee are fine with this.

Water bottles in cisterns

Yvonne suggested putting bottles filled with water in cisterns to save water when flushing.

This was raised at property committee who are fine with this but they suggested checking out the Yorkshire water website because they provide special bottles for this purpose. Action – Yvonne to check website and look into this

Further actions

  • Leading from the point above, sort out the notice board (Sean/Yvonne)
  • do news slots in the Service (all but need to co-ordinate)
  • Put a ring binder together with key information (Yvonne)
  • Keep the noticeboard up-to-date and dynamic – use a sense of humour (all)
  • Rosemary has information from the RSPB that can be used on the noticeboard
  • Notes of meeting to Tim W to add to the website (Sean)

Bible Study

Jackie had located a bible study course but was thought to be too basic.  Sean will download resources from Eco-congregation website and circulate (Sean)

It was confirmed that the service on the 18th October by Michael Bayley can be recorded. Eric will do this (Eric)

Film

It was agreed that we would put on a film (possibly ‘Chasing Ice’) on the 7th November with a soup lunch to raise money for the Burkina Faso project. Actions - Sean/Yvonne will co-ordinate this. Paula will lead the soup team.

 

Yvonne has some DVDs (and a portable DVD palyer for those without this facility) that could be loaned for a small donation towards the Burkina Faso project (Yvonne to organise)

Sean also mentioned an event about climate change put on by the Sheffield Methodist Circuit on 17th October at the Beacon Broomhill

Gardens

Tim mentioned that the possible redevelopment of the school room may result in reduced grounds, so that this should be taken into consideration with regard to any plans by the Eco team.  If we leave this as a wild area, that would work well.

Look around the gardens after the service on the 27th September. Update – this was announced by Rachel Tomlinson in the service.

Sean and Bob Mellers to meet with Hunter’s Bar Landscapes to discuss the general tidying arrangements in the garden. Action – Sean to contact Bob

Mission

As yet we have not discussed the mission and outreach module. We will discuss this next-time and include a Vegetarian Cookbook in our discussions

Green tips – include in Yellow pages whenever space allows (There was no space this week!)

Next meeting – 24th October, 10.30 am, Room 6

 

Eco-congregation update 14th October 2015
 
Things are gathering pace as we start to implement some of the ideas from the Eco-congregation themes we have chosen to work towards so far – all age & adult education and Church land.
 
At the meeting in September we agreed to have an Eco-congregation display to keep members of the congregation informed about what we are doing and you should have seen this for the last couple of weeks now. There is also a folder with all the notes of the meetings for people to read.
 
With regard to the adult education, we will be looking to run a bible study course which looks at some of the issues of climate change, in the near future.  Also, Michael Bayley from St. Marks Broomhill was invited to speak during One World Week linking some of the climate change issues to issues of inequality and injustice.
 
With regard to Church land we have visited two church gardens which were very inspiring and have taken a tour of our own garden to see what we can do at Banner Cross.  Talks have taken place with Hunters Bar Landscapes about clearing some of the overgrown areas we wish to develop and we will hopefully be able to get going with some ideas soon.
 
Although we are focusing on the two areas above, we are seeking to embed a caring for God’s creation in all we do.  We welcome anyone to share their thoughts and ideas and to attend the meetings.
 
Date for your diaries - On the 7th November, following coffee, we are having a soup lunch followed by a film called‘Chasing Ice’. Donations from the lunch will go to our Burkina Faso fund.
 
The Eco team
 
PS We have put water saving devices in each of the toilet cisterns
 

Green Tips

  • Plastic bags take years to break down in landfill and now cost 5p. Re-use the ones you have or better still buy long lasting cloth bags to re-use

  • Cut off the bottom 2” of a tube of toothpaste (or hand cream etc.) and use the cut off bit as a lid whilst you use the bits that wouldn’t squeeze out. Thanks to Yvonne for this bit of wisdom.
  •  If you need to do any driving, slow down a little. Not only will it help with your fuel consumption but it will help you enjoy your drive time.
  • If anyone buys living lettuce or herbs from the supermarket, you can get more for your money by replanting them in a container and they will produce another crop.  Thanks to Yvonne for this tip

  • Now is the time ( October) to plant bulbs to help bees feed in the colder months. For winter-flowering bulbs, try glory of the snow, winter aconite and snowdrops. For early spring, try crocuses, snowdrops, bluebells, iris, hyacinths and fritallaries. If you like daffodils and tulips, choose varieties with open flowers that bees can easily feed from.

  • Today's dishwashers are about 95% more energy-efficient than those bought in 1972—your old dishwasher may be costing you more in energy bills than it would take to buy a new one!

  • Unplug your telephone charger

    By unplugging your telephone charger once your battery is fully charged, you will save energy and money. 

  • Green tipCharge your mobile phone during the day, not overnight.

    Most mobile phones only take a couple of hours to charge. A plugged in charger continues to use energy even when the phone is charged so should not be plugged in longer than necessary.

  • Decide what you want before you open the fridge; when you open the fridge door up to 30 per cent of the cooled air escapes. Have it open for the minimum time possible. Save energy and money.

  • Keeping warm If you get cold in bed at night despite lots of bedding try a blanket, or better still a duvet, under your bottom sheet  - works wonders - as many a student will testify. Cheaper than an electric blanket.

  • We don’t all have showers so, provided your bathroom doesn't get too steamed up, (you want to avoid a wet slippery floor!)  try leaving your used bathwater in the bath until it is cold. Why pour all that heat down the drain when it can be keeping your bathroom warm?!

  • Green tip – Keeping warm in bed If you want to keep warm in bed this winter, it was suggested that you take someone to bed with you! Failing that, adding another quilt on top of your existing one works wonders for keeping the cold at bay.

  • Green tip – Keeping warm  Draught excluders can be really pretty and really pretty expensive but you can make your own from a hand towel rolled into a long sausage secured with a couple of elastic bands. it shouldn’t cost you anything and you won’t have to store it in the summer!  
  • If you feed the birds in your garden, they particularly benefit from food rich in oils  at this time of year such as fat balls and sunflower hearts,  Don’t forget the Big Garden Birdwatch today! (https://ww2.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdwatch/)

  • Green tip – Fix that tap! A leaky tap that fills a coffee cup in 10 minutes will waste an estimated 3,000 gallons of water per year.

    Green tip – many of the foods we eat travel long distances to get to our tables.  Buying local, seasonal food reduces the carbon footprint and produces fresher food richer in nutrients.

  • Green tip - Recycling 1 ton of paper saves 7,000 gallons of water, 3 cubic yards of landfill space and 4,100 kilowatt-hours of electricity. Look for the recycling points in church and recycle using the blue bins at home.

  • Green tip – if you haven’t already done it now is a good time to put nest boxes up in your garden for hole-nesting birds. See leaflets on the Eco Church table for ideas and information.

  • Green tip – as Easter approaches, please consider buying Fairtrade Easter eggs.  Also, avoid Easter eggs with lots off excess packaging that just creates waste.  

  • Green tips – Energy efficient lighting - if you are installing new lights consider using LEDs.  They use a lot less energy than normal bulbs so are better for the environment and your pocket.

  • Green tips – Cut down on your junk mail - you’ll save trees; your time and most importantly your postie’s poor old knees!

  • Green tips – Draught excluders can be really pretty and really pretty expensive but you can make your own from a hand towel rolled into a long sausage secured with a couple of elastic bands. it shouldn’t cost you anything and you won’t have to store it in the summer!  

  • Green tips – Electric mowers. Electric mowers emit far fewer pollutants than petrol-powered machines, are much quieter, and are often easier to push than their gas-guzzling counterparts. For the fitter members of the congregation, a hand pushed mower is even more eco-friendly!

  • Green tips – Only buy what you need - One of the small things in helping out the environment, and perhaps the easiest is to buy only things that you really need. This will really cut down on the natural resources needed to make new products. When you are out shopping, ask yourself whether it's a want or a need before you head for the cashier.

  • Green Tip – if your local environment is important to you, read the statements of local councillors in the run up to the local elections to find out what they are proposing to do about environmental issues.

  • Green Tip – nettles in the garden can be really beneficial to wildlife.  They also make an excellent nitrogen-rich plant food.  Fill a bucket with nettles and then pour water onto it.  Let it stand for a couple of weeks and dilute the resulting liquid to feed plants in pots and borders.

  • Green Tip – Make sure you don’t have draughty windows. Improperly sealed or caulked windows can account for up to 25% of total heat loss from a house.

  • Green TipSave paper – as well as using recycled paper, old envelopes can be reused and paper can be saved by printing on both sides (like the Yellow Pages!)

  • Green TipDry your washing outside – I know the recent weather has made this difficult but drying your washing outside will save on money on energy bills and help protect the environment 

  • Green Tip – Why not try this light and tasty quick aubergine curry?

    Ingredients: 2 medium onions (chopped), 2 aubergines (sliced), 700g tomatoes chopped (or 2 tins), garlic, mild curry powder, garam masala, fresh ginger, fresh coriander, natural yoghurt.

    Method: Cook the onions and aubergines in 6 tbsp vegetable oil. When they are softened add 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced and 1 tbsp of finely chopped or grated fresh ginger. Stir in 2 tbsp of mild curry powder and fry briefly.  Add the tomatoes and cook for about 15-20 minutes or until the curry has thickened.  Season with salt, pepper and a tablespoon of garam masala.  Finally, add fresh coriander and serve with rice or naan and a splash of yoghurt. Recipe courtesy of Nigel Slater!

  • Green Tip – Christian Aid – Speak Up!

    Between the 8th and 16th of October 2016 Christian Aid are promoting ‘Speak Up’, a week of action to raise awareness of climate change issues.  Take a look at their website to find out how you can get involved and put the dates in your diary!

    http://www.christianaid.org.uk/ActNow/climate-justice/speak-up-week-of-action.aspx

  •  

    Green Tip - 13th October – Ethical Money Marketplace – Thursday, 6.30 – 9.00pm, at St Andrew’s Psalter Lane Church, 31 Psalter Lane, Sheffield S11 8YL

    Come along to this drop-in community event to talk to representatives, sign-up for services, gather and compare information: Community and ethical investment * independent financial advisers * building societies * banks * energy companies * internet service providers * ethical retail.  At 7.00pm Josie Wexler from Ethical Consumer will present a short talk on Carbon Free Investing, followed by refreshments. The Ethical Money Marketplace is specifically focused on positive action for a low carbon sustainable future: things you can actually do and choices you can make. The event is organised by the Divestment Campaign of Sheffield Climate Alliance and the Sheffield Methodist Justice & Peace Mission Action Group

  • Green tips – Tyre Pressure

    Check the air pressure in your tyres. Cooler temperatures lower tyre pressure and that, in turn, lowers fuel efficiency. So check your tyres and make sure that they are properly inflated.

  • Green tips – Use your garage in winter

    If you have a garage, park the car in it. As the weather gets colder, using a garage will alleviate the need to warm up the car before driving … and will save fuel.

  • Green tips – Wrap up warm as the nights draw in

    Bring out all those warm sweaters, socks, slippers and blankets so that when the temperature falls you’ll be ready to wrap up instead of raising the thermostat.

  • Green tips – The problem with palm oil

    Avoid buying food products with palm oil in them.  Palm oil is the major cause of deforestation in Asia as forests are burned to provide room for plantations.  Impacts of this are loss of habitat for many species including the iconic Orangutan and the destruction of peatlands which help to slow the rate of climate change by acting as carbon sinks.  http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/blog/forests/getting-tough-palm-oil-20160627

  • Green tips – Calculate your impact on the environment

    Use the following web address to check out how green you are http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/greendex/calculator/

  • Green tips - Cover pans when cooking: A simple tip this week but relevant as we all get ready for the Christmas dinner. Whenever you cook on the hob, always try to cover the pans – this reduces the amount of energy that escapes from open pans, plus the amount of time it takes to heat up food and boil water.

    Green tips – For the festive season

    Cards - E-cards are increasingly popular for good reason. They cut your carbon footprint, save trees and save money. Or just send one card to friends at Church.

    Wrapping – use the pages of old magazines to wrap your presents giving them interest and colour while saving money and the environment

    Xmas trees - To make sure your tree is UK grown, buy from a retailer registered with the British Christmas Tree Growers Association. If you want a tree that is certified organic, check to see that it has been approved by the Soil Association.  Or carry on using that artificial tree!

    Green tips – For the festive season

    Candles Paraffin candles are made from petroleum residue and are no good for your health or for the environment. Candles made from soy, beeswax or natural vegetable-based wax are more eco-friendly because they biodegrade and are smoke-free.

    Defrost your freezer before Christmas It will work more efficiently and create more space to store leftover food, so that it doesn't go to waste

  • Green tips – On New Year’s Day, why not make a few resolutions to lead a greener lifestyle

    Be good to your vehicle, and it will be good to you. Inflate your tyres once a month or as necessary. Replace the air filter and tune up your engine regularly. A new air filter can get you 10 percent more miles per gallon, and a tune-up can boost miles per gallon from 4 percent to 40 percent.

    If you’re not in a hurry, driving between 50-60 miles per hour on the motorway can save money on fuel bills by increasing the number of miles per gallon.

    Install heat reflectors: These are thin sheets that fit behind radiators, to reflect heat away from the wall and into the room, thereby maximizing each radiator’s energy efficiency.

  • As well as using recycled paper, you can set your printer to print on both sides of the page.  Also, why not try saving paper that has only been printed on one side so that it can be used again on the other side.

  • As Fair Trade fortnight approaches, think about the food you buy.  Wherever possible, buy fairly traded goods.  Also buy food grown in the UK, buy locally produced, seasonal food, from local shops, markets and farms.  Avoid buying food from oppressive regimes as peaceful resistance of this sort can have positive results.
  • Green tips – thinking of food – food waste

The UK wastes massive amounts of food each year and this has a big impact on our planet where ever more intensive food productions methods are used.

So shop wisely - plan your meals and use a shopping list, avoid impulse buys and offers to encourage you to buy more than you need of perishable items.  And get creative with your cooking to use up leftovers in the fridge!

 Observe an Eco-Sabbath

For one day, afternoon or hour a week, don't buy anything, don't use machines, don't switch on anything electric, don't cook, don't answer your phone and, in general, don't use any resources.

Organic slug control

Orange halves – these deter cats and attract slugs. You then just dispose of the slugs once they’ve been caught (chickens love them!).

Coffee spray – make a weak coffee solution with ground coffee and water, then lightly coat your plants. You might only need to do this near the base of the plants.

Physical barriers – scatter crushed egg shells, sawdust or wood shavings around plants at risk. You also might want to try hot chilli powder!

Green tips – Avoid bottled water

Bottled water is inefficient, expensive, and produces large amounts of plastic waste. Instead, use a refillable water bottle and tap water; if you like you could use a water filter to cleanse the tap water and chill the water in the fridge. As the Mother Nature Network (http://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/5-reasons-not-to-drink-bottled-water) point out, the very concept of bottled water is failed due to our ready access to perfectly healthy tap water.

Line-dry laundry: Tumble drying clothes uses large amounts of electricity, so use a washing line or drying rack to dry your laundry more naturally.

Green Tips – Share car journeys wherever possible

If you have to travel by car, investigate the possibilities for carpooling with friends and neighbours, sharing journeys for work and leisure, thus reducing the number of cars on the roads.

 
Eco Church Newsletter Issue 1 – April 2017
Dear Sean
Welcome to the very first edition of the Eco Church newsletter – a twice-yearly mix of stories, updates and resources relating to the scheme.
Just over a year since its launch at St Paul’s Cathedral, Eco Church now has more than 560 churches registered and 93 awards confirmed – including three Gold Awards! This constitutes a fantastic start towards our goal of engaging ten percent of all churches in England and Wales in the scheme in ten years.
In this issue, Rev Joyce Addison shares her experience of taking her church – St Martin’s, Maidstone – on the Eco Church journey; perhaps her story will inspire and encourage your own church along the way. There’s also news of a new resource providing guidance for churches that want to divest from fossil fuels – an action that earns Eco Church Award points! Churches can also secure points for managing their land to encourage native wildlife. One way to do this is to sow a wildlife-friendly flower meadow this spring, and for a limited period Eco Churches can benefit from a 10% discount on wildflower seed mixes from Meadow In My Garden – read on for more details. And don’t miss an important announcement about forthcoming changes to the online Eco Survey…
Our Eco Church Journey
Rev Joyce Addison, Priest-in-Charge, St Martin’s Church, Maidstone

When I was licensed as Priest-in-Charge in 2015, becoming an Eco Church was a key priority for me. A few weeks before this, I had attended a three-day conference on Caring for Creation which not only informed my limited understanding of environmental issues but also reminded everyone present of our biblical mandate to care for God's creation. More importantly, I came to realise that our lifestyles are having a direct impact on the climate and, consequently, the lives of those living in poorer countries. At the same time I discovered A Rocha UK and frequently visited their website for information at the time that Eco Church was beginning to take shape…
I introduced Eco Church to the leadership team and then to the PCC; it was very important to get everyone on board with this. I obtained several copies of the Eco Church leaflet to inform PCC members and the congregation. Some were sceptical... some were concerned this was about worshipping creation and not God, for example. So, the choice of vocabulary for me was crucial, as well as providing the biblical foundation and mandate to us as Christians. I personally also needed to be convicted about what we were trying to do and the importance of engaging in the debate about God's creation more intentionally. We then looked at the congregation to see who might be interested in moving this new initiative forward, and I asked one person to be the church's Eco Church Rep (Janet). It was important for me to involve a cross-section of the congregation – children as well as the elderly, and Eco Church enables all ages to work together collaboratively on projects.
We registered as an Eco Church, printed off the survey and Janet and I began to look at the requirements of the Bronze Award. We basically went through this line by line and did what we could (e.g. replaced light bulbs for energy-efficient ones, stuck ‘Please switch off the lights after use’ signs everywhere, reduced heating, used environmentally-friendly cleaning products, recycled paper), and we also looked at our gardens for the first time to see how we could have raised beds with flowers and vegetables for the wider community, and a prayer space. I became very aware of the words we used in our worship, especially the prayers and hymns/songs – did they include all of creation? Celtic worship is particularly helpful at times here.
Eco Church is great in that it is holistic care – it covers every aspect of corporate life which then brings about changes in our personal lives. Of course, this entire process meant that many in the church became involved with bringing about the necessary changes so the interest in, and growth of, Eco Church was truly organic.
To kick-start being an Eco Church, we had a sermon series on ‘Caring For God's Creation’ when we invited speakers on a variety of themes: ‘New Beginnings’ (Genesis text), ‘Creating A Prayer Space Outside’ (using all our senses), ‘Animal Care’, ‘Caring For Those In Poorer Countries’ (highlighting climate change issues), ‘Caring For The Homeless Here’ (and how they are impacted by environmental issues). We also had a display of Fairtrade products, and some bird boxes to be installed in trees around the church – the children had a part in this. A list of volunteers was then put together.
It took several weeks to work through the survey but we got it done and now have the framed certificate on the wall near our Eco Church noticeboard.
Last autumn, some of our local uniformed groups and congregation members put the raised beds into the front lawn... a local school has claimed ownership of a patch in our rear gardens, and we are planning the Prayer Space – a Celtic cross with possibly a labyrinth mowed into the grass. We have also hosted a Diocesan conference on the environment, and the 2016 Christian Aid ‘Speak Up!’ event.
A Practical Guide to Fossil Fuel Divestment for Local Churches
Does your church have investments in fossil fuel companies? Ever thought about moving your money somewhere that builds the world you want to live in?
Operation Noah has produced a ‘How To’ guide, Divest Your Church, explaining how your church can divest from fossil fuels and reinvest for a brighter future, and outlining the range of positive investment options available. You can meet some of the Eco Church Award criteria in the process, and so secure some valuable Eco Church Award points!
To download your copy of the 'How To' guide, visit Operation Noah's Bright Now website
Spring into Action for Wildlife with this Special Offer!
Meadow In My Garden is a family business based in Devizes, Wiltshire, with a love of wild gardens. Their seed mixes will transform any space, creating a magnificent patchwork of colour throughout the summer. The company care about our world and want to do everything they can to help more people grow wildlife-friendly flower meadows.
To this end, Meadow In My Garden are offering Eco Churches a 10% discount across their extensive range (including special offer lines). Just select a suitable seed mix from their website, and enter code ECO10 at the online checkout. And once you’ve sown your wildflower seed mix, don’t forget to update the ‘Land’ section of your Eco Church survey to get the points due to you!
Coming Soon – Eco Survey 2.0
During the course of the first year of Eco Church, we’ve received lots of helpful suggestions from users regarding ways to develop and improve the scheme. We’ve been hard at work behind the scenes to amend the online Eco Survey in light of the feedback received, and will be ready to launch a new version of the survey to replace the current version in August. This will inevitably have implications for existing saved surveys, but we thought it was important to act on the comments received. We will keep registered churches updated in regard to the exact timing of the changeover, but for now please just note that we have listened to your feedback and that changes will follow in the summer.
Coming Soon – Come Together
We are planning to hold an Eco Church conference later in the year. This will be an opportunity for representatives from registered churches to meet together to share their experiences, to learn from each other, and to have access to expert advice and resources relating to each of the areas covered by the Eco Church survey. The conference will also be open to people from non-registered churches who want to find out more about the scheme with a view to launching it in their own churches. More details will be available on the Eco Church website in due course.
Remember – if you have any questions or comments about Eco Church, you can contact us at ecochurch@arocha.org.
Best wishes,
The Eco Church Team
 

Green tips – Green Holidays.

Holidays can have damaging effects on the places tourists visit via fuel consumption, damage to local habitats, pollution, and distortions in economies. When planning a holiday you should consider green alternatives, or consider a “staycation” by enjoying a local holiday, thus reducing the environmental impact of vacationing, and benefiting/engaging with your local community, ecology, and economy.

Green Tips - Eat seasonal Vegetables

Nothing tastes as nice as freshly picked and cooked vegetables.  Eating locally produced and seasonal vegetables is good for us and for the environment.  Shipping vegetables from all over the world to so we can have them all year round has a huge impact on the environment in terms of shipping, refrigeration, storage and packaging.

Green Tips - Eat less meat

If you eat meat, reduce the number of meals containing meat you eat each week.  Try and buy locally produced meat.

Green Tips – Switch to Eco friendly cleaning products

Brands such as Ecover are made from natural, sustainable, plant-based ingredients that don’t leave chemical residue behind, and are biodegradable

Green Tips – The Messenger

30th October, 7pm, at The Light cinema, The Moor, Sheffield

The Messenger is an artful investigation into the causes of songbird mass depletion and the people working to turn the tide. This visually thrilling film reveals how the issues facing birds also pose daunting implications for our planet.

Green Tips – Feed the birds

Now is a good time to start feeding the birds.  Fat balls will attract tits, Robins and a rarer overwintering Blackcap.  Seed is good for pigeons, bread for crows and worms for Starlings, Blackbirds and Thrushes.  If you are lucky enough to have a berry tree you may even get a Waxwing at this time of year.

Green Tips – keeping your home warm, part 1 – switch supplier or check your supplier’s tariff

At this time of year, it is important to keep your home warm but this can be very expensive.  Many people could save money by switching to a different supplier, or just contacting your current supplier and asking them to switch you away from the standard tariff which is often the most expensive.  Heeley City Farm Energy Centre provide help and advice to anyone needing help to make the switch - sharon.syec@heeleyfarm.org.uk, 0114 303 9981


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