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Saturday, 30 November 2013

Hypnosis - can it help?

Many of the stars in "I'm  A celebrity Get Me Out of Here " are thought to have consulted life coaches and hypnotists to help overcome their fears. Could hypnosis help you?  Steven Smith goes to see one of the UK's best, Ali Campbell 
by Steven Smith

Ali Campbell Life Coach

WHEN most people meet me, I imagine they feel that I am ultra-confident and at ease with myself, and in many ways that’s true. I also enjoy inspiring others to feel confident in themselves. But there is one thing that fills me with complete terror - public speaking.

In my line of business, public relations and event planning, I am often called on to speak at charity dinners, parties or on behalf of clients in front of large crowds.

Every time I was required to speak in public, I’d get increasingly anxious as the day drew near. By the time it came, I’d be in a complete state, arriving at the venue with sweating hands and a mouth so dry I could barely utter a word. I felt as though I were arriving at my own execution, such was the terror. Somehow I always got through it but I only made it by the skin of my teeth and I always knew I could do so much better.

But how? As I have always believed I could cure my own problems, I started to read books on stage fright and panic attacks, most of which suggested either imagining the audience naked, or blowing into a paper bag to relieve the panic. Neither of these techniques worked for me, either leaving me out of breath or red-faced.

Someone suggested therapy. I was wary because most people I know who had undergone traditional counselling seemed to get worse or became very self-indulgent. If a therapist could give you an exercise or something to help, then that would be great but I really did not want to sit there talking about my childhood. In my view, most intelligent adults can figure that some of their fears and problems stem from bullying or some other issue in their early lives, a bit like when an abused dog is frightened of a certain type of person who resembles the one who kicked it, but rather than dwell on it, we need to move on.

Billed as a “life coach to the stars” Ali Campbell includes Katie Price and Destiny’s Child singer Kelly Rowland among his clients and he had helped an actress friend of mine with her fear of flying. He handles weight loss, phobia, addiction – the list goes on.

“What is he, a wizard or something?” my sister joked when I told her about him.

Ali is one the worlds leading hypnotists and Neuro-Linguistic Programmers (NLP). Neuro-Linguistic Programming can be described as almost a manual for the brain; it can help you become fluent in the language of the brain, enabling you to make changes not only in the way you think but in your life.

Neuro refers to your neurology; Linguistic refers to language functions. In other words, NLP is learning the language of your own mind.

When I read about the hypnosis element of Ali’s work, I chuckled to myself and of course the phrase “look into my eyes” came to mind, followed by the thought that I am too strong-willed to be hypnotized or re-programmed. But I fired off an e-mail asking to see Scottish-born Ali. 

Despite his busy schedule, and a warning on his website that it might be a while before messages are returned, he got back to me very quickly. Ali was just on his way to Belfast to promote a show, but he read my e-mail and wanted to assure me that my problem was not uncommon and that he would see me as soon as he could.

His enthusiasm and reassurance was really refreshing, even to an old cynic like me, and I found myself getting excited at the prospect of seeing him.

Two weeks later I was in his Marylebone office in London. Ali looks more like a pop star or celebrity hairdresser than a life coach and was quite hyper. “I’m rushed off my feet” he said with a smile as he told me he was flying off to LA to begin filming a new show for Fox television in which he’ll be hypnotizing the nation as they watch tv.

My heart sank – my little problem and non-celebrity status couldn’t match up to that and I wondered if he would bother with me. But I needn’t have been concerned – as soon as he shut the door to his office, a new Ali appeared. It was as if I were his only client and he became totally fixed on me.

I told him about my panic attacks and explained that if only I could overcome my fear of public speaking I would be able to expand my business. He asked me to explain the first time I remembered a panic attack going on stage but, funnily enough, that was hard to do. I was praying that he would not follow up with a question my childhood. But suddenly I remembered when I was working in the US and was due to speak at the opening of a shop – I felt frozen as I was having trouble remembering the huge list of people to thank.

“Ah, great, we can sort this no problem,” he said, putting his pad down. Having expected to commit to an NLP course, I was surprised when said hypnosis would be best for me, and that just one or two sessions should fix it.

So I found myself lying down, listening to Ali’s voice asking me to count backwards from 300. After about 255, I remember nothing except hearing him counting down from ten about half an hour later. I just thought I’d had a nice nap, and that nothing had happened. So I asked if he thought it had worked, and how he had come to the decision that I only needed hypnosis. “Body language gives away more than you think,” was his only comment.

An hour later I felt exhausted and sick - maybe he was a Wizard after all! I just needed to have a lie-down. Later in conversation Ali told me these symptoms are not uncommon, as it’s the body fighting the changes. We get comfortable with the way we are and our phobias and the body does not want to let them go.

Thinking about it, that makes sense. As I child I once ate tomatoes on toast but was violently sick afterwards and to this day I cannot touch cold tomatoes. I guess the same could work in reverse.

Ali had warned me that I would still be left with some nervousness – even the best actors suffer some stage fright - and no way did I expect that I would suddenly be able to take to the stage and sing at the O2. But he did say was that I would feel more confident and less anxious than before about public speaking.

A fortnight went by and I had all but forgotten about the experience. I was appearing on a radio show when, halfway through it, I suddenly realized that I was actually having fun. There was no dry mouth, and only a small moment of panic before entering the studio, but there was none of the usual dread that I was going to make a fool of myself. In fact, the positive comment of a friend, that I was a good speaker, went through my mind instead.

Leaving the studio I decided that it might have been a fluke, or that I was just having as good day. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized my self-doubt had been replaced by a belief that I could do this, and the negative thoughts replaced with positive ones.

I was keen to see how Ali’s hypnosis would work on a bigger scale. Having signed up to appear in fashion show to support MIND and Macmillan nurses, the possibilities of failure and embarrassment were quite overwhelming – could Ali help?

On September 6th I was at the Waterlily in London, about to take to the stage. I had a few butterflies in my stomach but usually I would expect to be feeling physically sick at this stage. And, once I got on stage, I had fun!

I have no doubt that Ali’s hypnosis worked on me and I am so grateful. With my new confidence I will be able to take on more public speaking projects, which will benefit not only me but also my company.

Look at it this way – if something needs repairing in your home, then you get it fixed. The same is true of your body and your mind – if it’s not working properly, then get it fixed.

Ali felt one more visit would be good for me. Whatever you say, Ali, from a skeptic to a believer, I’ll be there.

 Copyright Steven Smith 

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Men's Fashion Secret Thomas Farthing

When I had  just turned 13, my mother took me and my sister on a trip to London for the first time. What made this journey so magical, apart from the bustle and excitement of the big city, was entering the doors of Barbara Hulanicki's Biba store. From its elegant black and gold art deco logo to its amazing layout and stunning fashions, Biba bowled me over.

The New York Dolls were performing that night in the Rainbow Rooms at the top of the shop. The food court was full of exotic delights I'd never heard of and my mum treated me to an apple strudel, with its deep apple and raisin filling sprinkled with cinamon and covered in in spiral pastry.

I got my first man bag and a trendy vest and I felt like a million dollars. I imagined I was Marc Bolan, and I counted the minutes I could escape dull Whitely Bay to live in this electric city, somewhere I felt for the first time that I truly belonged.

I did move to London and have had many adventures along the way. But there have been very few shops that gave me the buzz that Biba did all those years ago. Much as I love shopping, these days the excitement is sadly lacking, as chain stores take over our high streets with their dull product ranges and uniform window displays. Everything looks the same, although there are some exceptions, of course, such as the Harrods food hall.

But now I've discovered a fashion store that gives me the same thrill I experienced when I entered Biba as a teenager.

A few weeks ago, I was told that I would be modelling at the Ideal Home Christmas Show and needed to be fitted at the Thomas Farthing store in Museum Street, right by the British Museum. So one chilly autumn evening, fellow model Frankie Holloway and I took ourselves off to Bloomsbury.

Entering Thomas Farthing is like going back in time to a more elegant era. From the penny farthing leaning against the shop window to the classy Edwardian interior, it has a magical feel, like entering the dream kingdom of Narnia and a world away from the depressing chain store experience.

It's packed full of delights for the stylish man and has some lovely touches, from the quirky duck decked out in a bow-tie to a set of battered luggage you imagine might have accompanied a young man about town on his grand tour of Europe in a bygone century.

Frankie and I couldn't wait to try on their amazing and unique designs, which are hand made to the highest quality and finish.

Run by Adam Skyner and his stunning fiancee, Jenna Louise Hardy, the shop has been open for a year. Judging by the eclectic clientele, including tourists seeking the Downton Abbey look, it's going to be a huge success.

Jenna and Adam have a skilful eye and quickly dressed Frankie in a style that I can only describe as Downton Abbey meets Al Capone - the only thing missing was the violin case! But he looked amazing and loved the style.

Frankie Holloway

It was my turn next and, being a 17 1/2 inch neck and 48 inch jacket, I am always a little nervous that I'll look like a bulky bear if I have too many layers. That's just how I felt on our first attempt at a fantastic winter tweed suit, but Jenna quickly jumped in as she realised I needed a more tailored look. She produced the most wonderful coat and Adam grabbed a shirt that fitted like a glove. It all came together and I just loved the finished look, which was topped off with a red bowler hat.

Adam came from Stumper & Fielding in Portobello Road and he and Jenna clearly have a passion for what they do. Jenna even showed me how to wear my waistcoat with the last button undone, the traditional way it would have been worn by an Edwardian gentleman.

Needless to say, when we modelled Thomas Farthing's clothes at the Christmas Ideal Home Exhibition for Angel Sinclair's Models of Diversity the outfits had the audience applauding.

The store stocks classic Irish and UK designs, Loake, McGee, Gurteen, Peregrine, Hanan Fulton, as well as their own Thomas Farthing brand. 

Jack Eyers

Thomas Farthing

Thomas Farthing

40 Museum St



020 7831 1600
Copyright Steven R Smith 

Nicole Gibson

Nicole Gibson interview by me in the Daily Star

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Wish Upon A Star

There is nothing as beautiful, or that makes you feel good as helping others. Now it is that time of year and and one charity that I hold close to my heart is "Wish Upon A Star " Helping making poorly and terminally ill kids dreams come true.

Star Jon  Lee from S Club 7 sings and is on hand as a volunteer  on a previous year for Dream flight  to Lap Land 

I am asking all my readers and friend's to send even a fiver to help a kids dreams come true and go and see Santa in Lap-land.  It could be some of the children's last Christmas below is my experiences with the an amazing charity as they travel to Lap Land. Please note that this is something that i wrote a few years ago but gives you a flavour as to why it's worth donating .

`Wish upon a star 

ITS is three thirty on an icy bitterly cold morning actress presenter   Denise Welch her son Louis, ‘Dancing on Ice “ hunk Matt Evers, are all wrapping in their winter  clothes, and joining five other celebrities on the route from Humberside airport  to the magical winter wonderland land of Lap- land .
Me Denise Welch , Carol McGiffin  in Lap Land 

For once however the soap stars and celebrities were not the main attraction on this journey. It is the children and parents who’s dreams are about to come true thanks to the “When you wish upon a star” charity and the hard work of local ladies Joanne Heywood  and Pat Wright, who help the dreams of ninety sick and terminally Ill children come true.

But mother nature has not been kind this year to our travellers and our plane can not take off from Humberside due to ice on the run way, so they have to start their journey by coach travel two hours away East Midlands.

This does nothing to dampen the spirits of Denise Welch who leads them all in a sing along.  This is the Loose Woman’s fourth year volunteering with the Charity and she would not miss it for the world .This is the first year she had brought her youngest son Louis aged nine, Louis like may of the children  on their way to lap land was born poorly , he suffered from Hirschspurg disease. This is when the nerve ending  in part of the bowel don’t form, after two operations by the age of two , he is no well .” I know what it is to have sickly child, my heart goes out to all the parents and children here today, I move hell and high water to make sure I can be here each year for the kids” 

Also joining her this year is all American ice-skating star Matt Evers, Denise’s partner in Dancing On Ice

 For Emmerdale actress Sophie Powles who plays Holly Barton the trip is a welcome contras from playing  the drug addicted  character . Not only has the actress had to dye her normally spectacular blonde hair dark to fit in with the rest of the family, but  in real life people are starting to think  she is the character she was recently  chase down the road by an angry man who thought she was getting money from a cash machine to buy drugs. The 22 year old is spending New Year in South Africa, but  when she lands in lap Land  she can not believe it will top her experience .

Its is her first time here with the charity “It is as if I have stepped into Narnia I feel like I am in a   dream”     Sophie gasps

 She is over whelmed by the joy on the children’s faces “ if she can make any difference in these kids day there will be no keeping me away.”

 Many of the children can be isolated for months at a time, in hospitals or at home television can be one of their only outlets, and Soap and other stars become like friends so they get so excited  about meeting them and it adds to the excitement of the day.

Celebrities turn out to support Wish Upon A Star with main man Santa 


   Waterloo Road teenage heart throb Will Rush second time here in lap land 
“ I am really excited to be here again” he tells me travelling this year with fellow Waterloo road actress Darcy Isa,  

The charity fulfils the wishes of children with life threatening and terminal illness. The charity started by Barbara White in 1990 herself an M. E, sufferer. Each year its charters four planes to take 400 kids to Lapland to meet Santa in person

“ Its always a huge up lifting experience meeting the kids and their parents. Its sad but sometimes at the last minute, a child can be too ill to travel, or even worse they pass on before they get to fulfil their dream, you have to take a big breath and keep going for the kids who are there”  says Denise Welch

Once at the airport even the weakest of child confined who is confined to a wheelchairs face is a picture and when the announcement that the plane to Lap-land is ready, the cheers of excitement could fill a football pitch.

On hand is a team of medics, doctors, and volunteers to make-sure the whole day runs like a military procedure. And just to make double sure, there are team leaders from the army and fire fighters to help any child who needs a lift up or helping hand. There is even a Christmas fairy with magic dust to make sure the journey goes with out a hitch.

 Despite having a three-hour flight, there is such an air of excitement when we touch down in Lap Land none of the kids are tired. Despite loads of fresh snow ha it is minus four and the whole place look like a white blanket. Our first stop was the ‘Enchanted Forest’ the kids can hardly wait to play.

 Greeted by rabbits Trolls and other creatures from the forest, into an magical clearance full of snow and magic. Husky dogs and reindeers wait to take everyone on a ride through the forest. There are sledges, ski’s, tobogganing and snowball fights.

‘A good friend of mine asked me to get involved with the charity, and it’s a must each year for me “ Denise tells me while pulling a reindeer ride along. 

“ You might think something like this would be upsetting.  it’s up lifting and humbling , all the kids are so happy, and unbelievably well behaved. They aren’t upset, so I can’t be. I would urge anyone to join in something like this, it’s a real reality check, you’ll come away feeling lucky, I think about my nephew back home and thank my lucky stars he I  well “  Matt tells me who is heading back to Jersey for the holidays to produce a show and then one to  the Vaile Colorado for  another, before heading back to lead Denise on the ice.

 Then it is off to Santa’s village for some shopping.  Santa Claus lives in the Artic Circle for many reasons, but primarily reindeers need snow. Though Lapland is in darkness for almost most of the winter, daylight flickers at around ten and goes by two o’clock.

 Once in Santa’s village,  Kerry  buys some reindeer slippers for ha friend  and then they all go and meet Santa and pose for a group picture. Julia leads us all in a charge down the ice slide. James  goes backwards.  .

 Organiser Pat tells everyone its time to head home. Once at Rovaniemi airport the plane is on time. Any delay can mean bad news  last year  the plane froze  and it looked like they may have to stay the  night. That’s worrying, as many of the kids would have to be hospitalised.

Amazingly almost three hours later they managed to get the plane going and they headed for home.
 This year everyone is in high spirit as its on time. Once on board the flight the kids get presents from the Christmas fairy and we all sing carols.
Everyone agrees they can’t wait to come back next years. Once we arrive at Humberside airport there is just one more job for the celebrities they hand out one last present as carol singers greet us.

  “ Some of these kids today will not be with us next year. If we have helped make what little time they have left a little happier, we would walk from London through the night to get here. You cannot believe the joy these kids have brought us too”  Kerry tells me  and Elaine tell me emotionally.

There is even a tear in  Lisa’s  eyes

“ I promise not to cry it’s just been so moving and life changing experience, I so want to be here every year. It’s a joy to have helped today. Pat and Joe who organise this each year should be
on the honour list, they and the children are the stars, not us. I hope I get to come next year again.”

Cheques payable to:  When You Wish Upon A Star, 53 Pretymen Crescent, New Waltham, Grimsby, NE Lincs DN36 4NU

 Charity number is : 1060963
Telephone/Fax1472 821186/ 01472 827100
When You Wish Upon A Star
53 Pretymen Crescent
New Waltham
NE Lincs
DN36 4NU
Telephone: 01472 827100

Copyright Steven R Smith 

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Men's Fashion.

Get ready for Winter
It was just brilliant working along side some really exciting models last Friday, with the amazing Angel Sinclair on hand to direct from Models of Diversity and Simon Barnes photographer to take the outt standing pictures.
 The mens coats where supplied by Debenham's and really can not beat the high street store for style and price.
Handsome  male model Frankie Holloway was on hand to give one of the Debenhams   coat a real Italian flare

We where joined by model royalty Victoria Eisermann and stunning Jana Forster.  It was a brilliant day and we really learnt a lot about fashion photography . Thank you Angel Sinclair  for the opportunity to be part of Models of Diversity
 Some of the amazing Models of Diversity , on my left Model Royalty Victoria Eisermann ,  on my right hotly tipped to be a huge name next year Frankie Holloway , and stunning Jana Forster .

Thank -you everyone .
Copyright Steven Smith

Clarisonic facial/body brushes tested

Julia Champion has her hands full - not only is she a busy mum of two, she also runs her own business, Champion Talent, which looks after many of the UK's top celebrities. She has to think on her feet and needs to look her best at all times, as she's frequently called on to attend glittering showbiz events and red carpet parties.

I asked Julia to try out a beauty product I've been hearing about - the Clarisonic Facial Brush - which they say is the ultimate weapon to give your skin the star treatment. Louise Redknapp is among those who rave about it, giving the brush the thumbs up on Chanel 4's How Not to Get Old. With such endorsements, I couldn't wait to hear how Julia got on with the brush.

Julia gave the Clarisonic Facial Brush full marks - 10 out of 10

Julia tested the brush whilst having a facial at her local salon. "I loved the way it felt," she says. "It was like having a massage, it made me feel relaxed and my skin felt really great." But she wondered whether using the brush on its own, and not whilst having a facial, would have the same effect.

It did - right from the start of her trial, Julia felt a difference and other people noticed too. "When I dropped my kids off at school, some of the mothers told me that my skin was looking great and that was after I'd used it only once."

The brush came with a charger and gentle Hydro cleanser. There are several cleansers and serums that you can be used with the brush and replacement can be bought online.

Julia used her Clarisonic twice a week and it;s safe to be used in the shower or the bath. "I felt as if I was giving myself a little facial each time I used it," Julia tells me.

Celebrity Agent Julia Champion uses Clarasonic Facial Brush

After two weeks, the improvement in Julia's skin became even more remarkable .     Julia began to notice significant differences in her skin  the tiny white heads (Milla) she  would have to pay and extra £20 in the salon to have removed, where barely noticeable. Julia also noticed her skin had a much fresher appearance. "Another great bonus was that both my day and night moisturisers seemed to absorbed so much better after using the brush, I could really feel them soak in," she says.

The Clarisonic was developed by scientists and engineers in the US. They were determined to use technology to transform skin and, three years and 40 patents later, they came up with the Clarisonic skin system, which was launched in 2004.

Julia says she would not hesitate to recommend the brush. And, she says, "I already have the Clarisonic body brush on my Christmas list."

Julia Champion 5 little beauty tips

1. I love BaByliss 2777U Big hair Rotating Styler. It gives me a look that is nearest thing to a professional blow-dry.

2.  I love Shellac nail polish. It's long-lasting and keeps my nails looking good for up to three weeks. It costs around £25 but doesn't harm the nails and is well worth it.
Hollywood nails   O208 7615738

3. Relax in the bath. I love having a long soak when I have time, there's nothing more relaxing. I fill the bath, pour in some Sainsbury's Sleep Moment foam bath and ban anyone from disturbing me.

4 Always have a set of false lashes in your make -up bag , that way if you are called to a last minute event or dinner you can quickly glam  up you day make-up and give your-self a fab new look.
How to by Sue Moxely

5. I love the Garnier night and day cream, and their under eye concealer  is as good as some of the expensive ones i have used .

Copyright Steven Smith