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25/4/03: Lancaster University is considered a "low risk" in the battle against the spread of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- better known as SARS. The disease, which appears to have begun in China, has seen some boarding schools quarantine students returning from the Far East and south east Asia, but the University says this goes against the current advice of the Health Protection Agency.
Virtual-Lancaster has been told that several anxious parents have called the University about the spread of the disease, and some cleaners have expressed concerns about working in certain areas of campus. University officials, who met with the local Director of Health Protection yesterday, are providing detailed information on the disease to all University staff, students and visitors to put minds at rest.
"This isn't something you can catch by sitting next to someone in a lecture theatre," said a spokesperson. "There have been no person to person infections in the UK."
However, the University is endorsing the advice of the Department of Health which advises the UK public not to travel to Hong Kong and Guangdong in China at this time.
The local NHS Health Protection Agency says that measures are in place at ports of departure and entry to screen possible cases of SARS, which should significantly reduce any risk of potential cases in the UK. There have only been five reported cases in the UK so far, and no deaths. Returnees from affected areas are at low risk to SARS, and as long as they are symptom free, they are not a risk to others.

• For the latest updates from the University and a list of currently affected areas (including Toronto and Singapore) visit:
• Local Health Protection Agency(Cumbria and Lancashire Health Protection Unit):

25/3/03: Lancaster may not be as sunny as Cannes or as romantic as Venice, but this summer the city will be hosting it's first Film and New Media Festival.
Budding Tarantinos and Polanskis are being asked to submit films for the event, which will take place from Saturday 12th- Sunday 13th July. There are four submission categories, Short Animation, Short Fiction, Documentary and New Media. There is also a First Film category, which is open to individuals or groups who have never exhibited or had a film shown publicly. Experimental works are also encouraged.
Screenings will take place over the weekend at The Dukes Film Theatre in Lancaster's Moor Lane and at Folly on Castle Park and will include a screening of international works and a seminar with presentations from nationally regarded professionals. This will culminate in an Awards Ceremony to be held on Sunday 13th July.
The event is being jointly organised by Lancaster City Council's BEST Centre in partnership with the Council's Arts and Events Service and Folly. A steering group has been set up with representatives from these groups and various other members of the film community to organise the festival.
Applications are invited from individuals or organisations in Lancashire and Cumbria. The closing date for submissions is Monday 19th May. Entry forms can be downloaded from or call the BEST Centre on 01524 388861.

• If you are a business and would like to offer sponsorship or support, please contact Peter Neaves at or call 01524 388861 to discuss ways in which you can get involved in this exciting project.

22/4/03: The forthcoming Lancaster Film & New Media Festival received a welcome boost when a local company offered to be the main sponsor for the event.
NTS Developing People, who specialise in training for companies and is based at Forrest Hills near Lancaster University, has agreed to be the main sponsor for the event.
"NTS works with organisations in the public, private and voluntary sectors to help them to develop the capabilities of their people at all levels," explained Lucy Marder, director of NTS. "We provide management development for people in many fields including the arts and creative industries and in many other fields. Our Vocational Training arm uses music and the arts to bring the best out of young people entering the workforce. We are proud to support the Lancaster Film & New Media Festival and nurture the creative talent of the North West."
"Having a main sponsor such as NTS is very important to the event," says Peter Neaves from Lancaster City Council's BEST centre and one of the Film and New Media festival organisers. "I'm delighted they have chosen to support what will certainly become a prominent annual feature in the Lancaster Events Calendar. Bay Radio, which have sponsored us with radio time to advertise the event have joined me in thanking NTS for their support."
The Lancaster Film and New Media Festival is a new event, which grew from a pilot event held by the BEST Centres last year, which will be held at the Dukes Theatre in July.
This year's Festival is planned to be much bigger and will encompass the whole of north Lancashire and South Cumbria. It is open to all new filmmakers.

• Anyone who is interested in entering a film in to the Festival should contact Peter Neaves on 01524 388861 for further information and an application form.

22/4/03: Morecambe FC remain in second position in the conference league after a one-all draw with Doncaster yesterday and their 3-1 victory over Scarborough on Saturday. Their continued success means the team stand every chance of making it into the Nationwide League next season.
It will not be clear until next weekend who Morecambe will face in the play-offs, or where the final match will take place, but tickets are going on sale from this Tuesday. If Morecambe win at home to Burton Albion on Saturday then they will be playing away on Thursday 1 May at 8pm and at home on Monday 5 May at 3.30pm. Details will be online at and
The short timescale of organisation means that subject to results and who Morecambe play, the second leg at Christie Park could be overwhelmed with a sell-out crowd (6,000+) or a far smaller 2,000 crowd
(Thanks to Michael Gibson for this story).

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