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Donna Ferguson

Cambridge, United Kingdom
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About Donna
Donna Ferguson is an award-winning freelance journalist, specialising in celebrity interviews, personal finance, education and lifestyle pieces for national newspapers. My articles appear regularly in The Guardian, The Observer, The Mail on Sunday and The Sunday Times. I also write for The Times, The Mirror and The Telegraph. My most recent articles are listed on journalisted.com and you can tweet me @DonnaLFerguson.
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Finance Arts & Books Film & Theatre

Liverpool museum appeals for information on subject of The Black Boy

21 Mar 2024  |  the Guardian
The International Slavery Museum in Liverpool is seeking information about the subject of 'The Black Boy,' a painting by William Lindsay Windus from 1844. The portrait is unique for its depiction of an individual Black child, which is rare for the period. X-rays have shown that Windus painted multiple faces before choosing this subject. The museum's researcher, Kate Haselden, has uncovered a narrative that the boy was a stowaway who Windus met and helped, but she remains skeptical. The museum is appealing for any information that could shed light on the boy's identity, emphasizing the importance of recognizing the Black presence in art and history.

Cambridge college unmasks alumnae who were Bletchley Park codebreakers

17 Mar 2024  |  aol.co.uk
Newnham College, part of Cambridge University, has revealed the identities of 77 alumnae who worked as codebreakers at Bletchley Park during World War II. The revelation is part of a college exhibit and roll of honour, the result of five years of research by college staff and Bletchley Park. The women, who were recruited for their language skills and mathematical expertise, played a crucial role in deciphering Nazi messages and breaking Enigma codes. The research uncovered the secretive recruitment process, often facilitated by influential women at the college. Many of the codebreakers, such as Jane Monroe, kept their wartime roles secret, adhering to the Official Secrets Act.

Darwin’s plant specimens stored for 200 years to go on public display

15 Mar 2024  |  the Guardian
Plant specimens collected by Charles Darwin during the Beagle voyage have been discovered in the Cambridge University herbarium archives. These specimens, stored for nearly 200 years, were given to Darwin's mentor, Prof John Stevens Henslow. A Channel 5 documentary will feature these specimens, revealing Darwin's significant contributions to botanical science and his role in the development of evolutionary theory. The university's herbarium, established in 1761, contains over 1.1 million specimens, including many type specimens collected by Darwin. Some of these specimens have never been studied and offer a glimpse into 19th-century botanical collection practices. The documentary will also explore Darwin's observations of species interactions in the Galápagos Islands, which informed his evolutionary theory.

‘Inclusivity shouldn’t be controversial’: will a radical art rehang give Cambridge an unwanted ‘woke’ row?

10 Mar 2024  |  the Guardian
The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is reopening its main painting galleries with a new display approach that aims to be more inclusive, featuring works by women artists, artists of color, and those representing LGBT culture. The rehang, directed by Luke Syson and curated by Dr. Rebecca Birrell, juxtaposes iconic works with lesser-known pieces and contemporary acquisitions, organized by themes rather than chronology. The museum seeks to promote dialogue across time and place without being overly didactic. This approach comes amid criticisms of other museums' rehangs as preachy and dull, but the Fitzwilliam Museum aims to enrich understanding and encourage debate about art and history.

Annotated version of Andreas Vesalius’s masterwork on human anatomy up for auction

15 Jan 2024  |  ca.news.yahoo.com
A rare edition of 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem,' annotated by its author Andreas Vesalius, known as the 'father of modern human anatomy,' is set to be auctioned at Christie's in New York. The book, which revolutionized medicine in the Renaissance, was discovered to be annotated by Vesalius after its purchase by Canadian pathologist Dr. Gerard Vogrincic. Prof. Vivian Nutton of the UCL Centre for the History of Medicine confirmed the annotations' authenticity. The book, previously housed at the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library, is valued at up to £1m and offers insights into Vesalius's thoughts and corrections for a potential third edition, which was never published due to his death.

Annotated version of Andreas Vesalius’s masterwork on human anatomy up for auction

15 Jan 2024  |  theguardian.com
A rare edition of 'De Humani Corporis Fabrica Libri Septem,' annotated by its author Andreas Vesalius and valued at up to £1m, is set to be auctioned at Christie's in New York. The book, a cornerstone in medical history, was discovered to contain Vesalius's own annotations by collector Dr. Gerard Vogrincic. Expert Prof. Vivian Nutton confirmed the annotations, which provide insights into Vesalius's thoughts and corrections. The book, which challenged the prevailing medical authorities of its time, is considered Vesalius's final revisions to his work, as he died before a third edition could be published. The annotated copy has been studied by scholars and was housed at the University of Toronto's Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.

Author behind new Jodie Comer film on motherhood in an apocalyptic London

14 Jan 2024  |  theguardian.com
The End We Start From, a new survival film starring Jodie Comer, is set in a flooded, apocalyptic London and goes on general release in UK and Irish cinemas. Based on Megan Hunter's 2017 novel, the film explores the intimate experience of motherhood amidst a climate catastrophe. The film, directed by Mahalia Belo and adapted by Alice Birch, aims to contribute to the climate crisis conversation emotionally and beautifully. It features a strong thread of hope and love despite the dire situation, with a focus on the protagonist's strength derived from motherhood. The book is published by Picador, and the film's release coincides with recent scientific warnings about rising sea temperatures and freak weather events.

Reams of secret poetry by pioneering British scientist finally come to light

30 Dec 2023  |  the Guardian
Researchers at Lancaster University have uncovered hundreds of unpublished poems by Sir Humphry Davy, a renowned 19th-century British chemist, within his scientific notebooks. These poems, which intertwine with his scientific work, offer new insights into Davy's thought processes and the interplay between his scientific discoveries and poetic expressions. The findings highlight Davy's holistic view of the world and his belief in the constant transformation of matter. The discovery challenges the modern separation of arts and sciences, underscoring the inherent creativity in scientific inquiry.

Social justice doesn't pay the bills - activist Peter Tatchell lived on £6k a year for decades

23 Dec 2023  |  thisismoney.co.uk
Peter Tatchell, a human rights campaigner, has lived with financial hardship, earning an average of £6,000 a year while facing violence and death threats due to his work. Despite the challenges, he finds the emotional and psychological rewards of his activism outweigh the physical deprivations. Tatchell, who grew up in a poor family in Melbourne, Australia, moved to the UK at 19 to avoid conscription for the Vietnam War. He has contributed to significant human rights advancements, including the fight against HIV/AIDS and LGBT+ rights. Now 71, he is the director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation and has started saving for retirement. He advocates for a wealth tax to support the NHS and social care and donates to human rights causes, such as supporting Ukraine against Russian aggression. Tatchell is featured in the Netflix documentary 'Hating Peter Tatchell' which chronicles his 56 years of activism.

Hammer time: how to bag a bargain at UK auctions

29 Nov 2023  |  the Guardian
At Cheffins auction house in Cambridge, UK, buyers find value and enjoyment in purchasing unique and sustainable items, ranging from art and furniture to quirky collectibles. Auctions offer the chance to acquire items that retain or increase in value, unlike many high street purchases. Buyers, including a lecturer, a consultant psychiatrist, and a carpet fitter, share their strategies and experiences, highlighting the thrill of the auction process. Despite the buyer's premium and additional costs, auctions remain popular, with many bids placed online. Post-sale offers also provide opportunities for bargains, suggesting that some may be selling valuables due to financial pressures.

Pro-Palestine protesters assemble in London as police jostle with far-right groups

11 Nov 2023  |  theguardian.com
A pro-Palestinian rally in London expected to draw hundreds of thousands clashed with far-right groups near the Cenotaph. Police engaged with counter-protesters, some holding Israeli flags, who were attempting to reach the pro-Palestinian march. Over 2,000 officers were deployed for the event, with exclusion zones set up to protect Remembrance Day events. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign, one of the organizers, emphasized peaceful marching and public safety. Met Police Commissioner Mark Rowley and politicians like Theresa Villiers and Nicholas Soames commented on the situation, with Soames advocating for a ceasefire in the conflict. The Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held discussions with Rowley to ensure public safety during the weekend's events.

London’s pro-Palestine march live: 126 people arrested as police highlight ‘deeply concerning’ rightwing violence

11 Nov 2023  |  theguardian.com
During a pro-Palestine march in London, 126 individuals were arrested amidst concerns of rightwing violence highlighted by the police. Clashes occurred between police and counter-protesters in Parliament Square, where offensive chants were reported, and a Palestinian flag was destroyed. British Transport Police conducted an arrest phase at Waterloo station but made no arrests as protesters dispersed. The march concluded in Nine Elms with organizers requesting the crowd to disperse peacefully.

London’s pro-Palestine march live: 126 people arrested as police highlight ‘deeply concerning’ rightwing violence

11 Nov 2023  |  www.theguardian.com
In London, 126 people were arrested amid rightwing violence at a pro-Palestine march. The Metropolitan Police faced aggression from counterprotesters, including rightwing groups. The march coincided with Armistice Day commemorations, leading to tensions near the Cenotaph war memorial. Tommy Robinson, former co-leader of the English Defence League, was present and had previously urged supporters to join. Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald criticized Home Secretary Suella Braverman's remarks comparing the marches to Troubles-era rallies. Conservative MP Theresa Villiers hoped for a peaceful march, while former minister Nicholas Soames emphasized the right to protest. Clashes between police and groups attempting to reach the Cenotaph were reported.

London’s pro-Palestine march live: 126 people arrested as police highlight ‘deeply concerning’ rightwing violence – as it happened

11 Nov 2023  |  the Guardian
During a pro-Palestine march in London, 126 people were arrested amidst violent clashes involving rightwing counterprotesters. The Metropolitan Police detained a large group near Westminster Bridge linked to earlier disorder. In Glasgow, a Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign demonstration included a 'die-in.' Far-right groups, including football fans and members of the English Defence League, gathered by the Cenotaph on Whitehall on Armistice Day, with some attempting to reach the pro-Palestine march. The Scottish First Minister, Humza Yousaf, criticized Home Secretary Suella Braverman for emboldening these groups, leading to attacks on police officers.

Beach trampoline operator jailed over death of girl, 3, in explosion

10 Nov 2023  |  theguardian.com
Curt Johnson, the owner of an inflatable trampoline that exploded and killed three-year-old Ava-May Littleboy, has been sentenced to six months in jail for health and safety offences. The incident occurred in July 2018 at Gorleston beach in Norfolk. The court heard that the trampoline lacked a safety valve and had been found unsafe just days before the accident. Johnson and his company, Johnsons Funfair Ltd, pleaded guilty to the offences. The judge also disqualified Johnson from being a company director for five years and fined his company £20,000. Ava-May's parents expressed their devastation, and Johnson's barrister conveyed his deep regret and apologies.

Lisa Cameron, SNP MP who defected to Tories, ‘forced into hiding’

13 Oct 2023  |  theguardian.com
Lisa Cameron, an SNP MP who switched allegiance to the Conservative Party, has been forced into hiding due to threats of violence following her defection. Cameron and her family relocated to an undisclosed location in Scotland after receiving menacing emails. She cited a culture of aggression and intimidation within the SNP, psychological coercion, and the mishandling of complaints against fellow SNP MP Patrick Grady as reasons for her departure. Her move has been met with criticism from SNP figures, with First Minister Humza Yousaf suggesting she should resign from her position.

Former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO accused of exploiting young men for sex

03 Oct 2023  |  www.irishexaminer.com
A BBC Panorama investigation revealed allegations against former Abercrombie & Fitch CEO Jeffries and an associate, Smith, for exploiting young men for sex between 2009 and 2015. Eight men described events involving sex acts, with some feeling misled about expectations. The possibility of A&F modelling contracts was mentioned prior to the encounters. Former model Barrett Pall and others felt dehumanized and harmed. Former US prosecutors Edwards and Geddes suggest an investigation into potential sex trafficking charges. Middleman Jacobson, identified by the BBC, denied coercive behavior, while A&F expressed disgust at the allegations and emphasized its commitment to a values-driven organization. The Panorama special aired on BBC One, with a related podcast series available.

Lightning strike causes huge explosion at Oxford recycling plant

02 Oct 2023  |  the Guardian
A lightning strike at Severn Trent Green Power's Cassington AD Facility near Oxford caused a significant gas explosion, leading to local power outages. Eyewitnesses described a loud bang and a fireball in the sky. Emergency services are on the scene, and no injuries have been reported. The Met Office had issued a weather warning for thunderstorms in the area. Power outages were reported in several nearby towns.

Original letter from Columbus announcing ‘discovery’ of America goes on sale for first time

01 Oct 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
A rare 1493 Latin translation of Christopher Columbus's letter announcing his 'discovery' of America is set to be auctioned by Christie's, expected to fetch up to £1.2m. The letter, which played a significant role in European colonization, is now viewed as propaganda. Historians highlight Columbus's brutal exploitation of Indigenous peoples and the subsequent shift in his legacy from explorer to exploiter. The auction underscores the enduring historical impact and controversy surrounding Columbus's voyages.

Scientists’ experiment is ‘beacon of hope’ for coral reefs on brink of global collapse

01 Oct 2023  |  www.aol.co.uk
An innovative underwater experiment combining 'coral IVF' and fish noise recordings offers hope for restoring coral reefs on the brink of collapse. The global collaboration aims to significantly increase coral repopulation on degraded reefs, with initial trials in the Maldives. Techniques developed by Prof. Peter Harrison and Prof. Steve Simpson show promise in attracting coral larvae to settle and grow. The urgency of the global climate emergency underscores the need for such interventions, with the potential to preserve coral reefs if global temperature rises are controlled.

‘Biggest walkout NHS has ever seen’ will put patients at risk, health body warns

19 Sep 2023  |  ca.sports.yahoo.com
The NHS Confederation has warned that the upcoming strikes by consultants and junior doctors in England will put patients at significant risk, potentially affecting cancer patients the most. The strikes are expected to result in a record number of cancelled appointments and operations. The government plans to consult on imposing regulations to ensure minimum service levels during strikes, which could lead to clinicians losing their jobs if they participate in industrial action. The British Medical Association has indicated that strikes could be avoided with a credible pay offer. NHS Providers estimate the cost of industrial action to be over £1bn, impacting hospital budgets and potentially leading to further cuts.

Caribbean nations set to demand royal family makes reparations for slave trade

12 Sep 2023  |  ibw21.org
Caribbean nations are preparing to formally demand apologies and reparations from the British royal family for slavery. They will also approach Lloyd’s of London and the Church of England for their roles in the slave trade. The reparations commissions plan to send letters by year's end. King Charles III's ancestors were implicated in slavery, and while he supports research into the monarchy's links to the slave trade, he has not formally apologized. Lloyd’s has apologized for its role, and the Church of England has expressed shame for its past investments in slave-trading entities. Caribbean representatives intend to bypass the UK government, which has been unreceptive to reparations, by directly contacting the institutions involved.

Ministers set to ban single-use vapes in UK over child addiction fears

11 Sep 2023  |  the Guardian
Ministers in the UK are expected to ban single-use vapes following calls from councils, paediatricians, and environmental campaigners. The government has concluded that these products are primarily aimed at children, leading to addiction. The ban is anticipated to be announced in a consultation by the Department of Health and Social Care. The move follows alarming statistics on the environmental impact of disposable vapes and criticism of their child-friendly packaging. Other countries like Australia, Germany, and New Zealand have already implemented stricter regulations on vaping. The UK government aims to balance the benefits of vaping for adult smokers with the need to protect children and the environment.

‘Wife, children, best friend all gone’: Diaries reveal Steinbeck’s darkest year

10 Sep 2023  |  the Guardian
John Steinbeck's unpublished journal, revealing his struggles with the loss of his wife, children, and best friend in 1948, is expected to fetch up to $1 million at a Bonhams auction. The journal, described as his most intense and private, offers insight into his severe depression and the darkness he explored in his writing, particularly in 'East of Eden.' Steinbeck's other unpublished works, including an abandoned novella and essays, will also be auctioned. Susan Shillinglaw, a Steinbeck scholar, emphasizes the significance of these texts in understanding Steinbeck's personal life and literary themes.

Caribbean nations set to demand royal family makes reparations for slave trade

10 Sep 2023  |  the Guardian
Caribbean nations are preparing to formally demand apologies and reparations from the British royal family, Lloyd’s of London, and the Church of England for their roles in the slave trade. National reparations commissions plan to send letters by year-end, with Grenada's commission chair, Arley Gill, advocating for reparative justice. The Guardian's previous reports revealed the royal family's ancestors' involvement in slavery. King Charles III has expressed support for researching the monarchy's links to the slave trade but has not issued a formal apology. Lloyd’s and the Church of England have acknowledged their historical participation and expressed regret. Lawyer Adrian Odle intends to address the institutions directly, bypassing the UK government, which has been unreceptive to reparations.

Premium bonds: is it worth investing now the odds of winning are better?

02 Sep 2023  |  theguardian.com
The prize fund rate for UK's premium bonds has increased to its highest level since March 1999, now at 4.65%, improving the odds of winning. Despite this, many bondholders have never won a prize, and the question arises whether premium bonds are still a worthwhile investment compared to savings accounts with rising interest rates. Personal stories from bondholders vary, with some experiencing significant wins that changed their lives, while others have never seen a return. Expert analysis suggests that for certain taxpayers and savers, premium bonds remain an attractive option, especially considering the tax-free nature of the prizes.

Pakistan police ‘close to locating’ family of Sara Sharif

24 Aug 2023  |  the Guardian
Pakistani police are nearing the location of the family of 10-year-old Sara Sharif, whose death in Surrey sparked an international manhunt. Sara's body was found with multiple injuries after her father, Urfan Sharif, called from Pakistan. Sharif, his partner Beinash Batool, and brother Faisal Malik are wanted for questioning and are believed to be in Islamabad. Rawalpindi police chief Syed Khurram Ali reported progress in the search. Sara was previously known to Surrey county council, and Surrey police have appealed for information to understand Sara's lifestyle before her death.

The pet I’ll never forget: Sylvester the dog adored my mum – and his memory comforted me when she died

21 Aug 2023  |  theguardian.com
The author recounts the cherished memories of their family dog, Sylvester, who was adopted on New Year’s Eve 1990 and became deeply attached to the author's mother. Sylvester's antics, such as playing with a basketball, brought joy to the family, and his death 15 years ago was a significant loss. The author's mother passed away earlier in the year, and the love for dogs she instilled in the author has been a source of comfort during the grieving process, especially through the bond with the author's new dog, Rosie.

Articles by Donna Ferguson for The Guardian


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