If you could put a face to the phrase ‘Doin’ It For The Kids’, I’m pretty sure it’d look like my guest this week! After being introduced to the Orchard Youth Club by her friends at the age of 11, Rebecca Richardson’s sense of community spirit was set in motion.

For those of you who don’t know, The Orchard was a staple hub of the Slough Black community, offering a range of amenities and events to cater for us – day or night! They often showcased a range of talents, introducing well known musical artists, comedians and parties galore. For Rebecca (Bex to her friends), the joy of learning street dance and the multiple activities that were on offer triggered a want in her to be part of the action; and she soon found herself volunteering, progressing on to being given a part time job. 

Music has been front and centre in her life, and as a child, in the comfort of her grandmother’s living room, her love of singing developed. Influenced by the church and gospel music, she aspired to and couldn’t wait until she was old enough to join the choir. That love has blossomed into her creating choirs of her own, most notably to date the Soulful Sistas Quartet and The Slough Community Youth Soul Choir.

On 30th July this year the Soulful Sistas launched their official video of their rendition of the gospel classic Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around. These Sistas are definitely doing it for themselves, with this being the first of many to come and appearances lined up to perform at festivals and other events in 2022.

Her work with the Youth Soul Choir has gone from strength to strength too. The choir itself being an amalgamation of several different local schools, and their most recent performance being at none other than The Royal Albert Hall. It was an amazing experience for all involved and the kind of boost she’s adamant about providing for the youth.

The biggest instigator of her putting the choir together was her late, great, super multi-talented cousin and Slough legend, Dani Richardson. After losing his battle with cancer in 2018, Rebecca wanted to make sure that his love and legacy of all things musical continued, and her hope is to get more kids involved in every aspect.

She recognises that there is a wealth of talent out there and doesn’t want to see them pigeonholed in the stereotypical vision of the masses. Maybe I’m just blessed to know these kind of people, but like my previous guests, the aura and energy that is given off when she speaks about things is palpable.

Her passion knows no bounds, and for years now she has dedicated her services to educating the kids – not just in the musical field, but in knowing who they are, where they came from and formulating on where they are heading to. After securing funding one of her first projects was creating a ‘Nuseum’ in the high street, a new style museum where the kids were taught a wealth of information – not just the bog standard teachings synonymous with our history.

She’s a strong believer that Black History Month should be scrapped and covered 365 days of the year, (which if you’ve read my blogs you’d know I’m a big advocate of! A podcast discussing this very subject coming soon!), and the focus should be on ALL aspects of Blackness – the good, the bad, the ugly, the absolutely amazingly blacknificent!

Over the summer she took part in the Marcus Rashford initiative, making sure that the children who needed food and entertainment throughout the holidays were covered and learning new skills in a fun and safe environment. A TikTok video of the children performing the Breakfast Challenge went viral, being viewed over 20,000 times and retweeted by Mr Rashford himself, hyping up the kids no end!

On top of doing it for the kids, she also does it for herself and the adults, performing with The Upfront Reggae Band, which she informs me she’s been involved with for over 20 years, playing gigs all over the country. We reminisce and catch the most jokes of days gone by when she reveals it was in Tree Tops that she was first ‘discovered’ by the band members. One day I’ll drop the outtakes and you can join in the jokes too! #WhenISeeYouSmile

The Upfront Reggae Band

I have known Bex for many years and it’s not hard to understand why she’s so well received. She has a fun and bubbly personality, and it also has to be said that she’s one of those women who smashes whatever it is they turn their hand to! Like seriously, she’s a great singer, banging cook, she can do hair and has a fantastic rapport with both youngsters and adults alike. 

Her future wants and plans are to get more kids playing instruments that you wouldn’t necessarily associate young Black and ethnic minority children playing, and to eventually create an Urban Orchestra. She would also like to create cultural hubs that cater for the different ranges we have in our diverse town. Naturally she’ll start with the Black community, but can’t stress enough it’s ultimately about unity and having a connection and understanding of all cultures and hopes that the hubs will allow that to happen.

With her sense of purpose and determination there’s no doubt in my mind that she will achieve this and add to the multitude of good she has already done for the community of Slough. Queen salute going out to my girl!

If you would like to contact Rebecca or are interested in finding out more the Slough Community Youth Soul Choir you can find them on Facebook and Twitter

I don’t know many people out there who knew from an early age what they’d like to do with their life. Hell, I’m nearly 47 and only just putting my hopes and dreams into play! But for some, not only do they know, but they put in the work from the get go to make them come true and through.

This is most definitely the case for this weeks guest, Portia Walker. It’s the first time I’ve had the joy of meeting her in the flesh, but I’d heard about this young Slough woman many years previously. Although they are a little more prominent now (very little), having a super talented young Black girl playing football and killing it was a rarity back then, so naturally she stood out from the crowd.

At the tender age of eight years old and influenced by her older brother, she started playing football for local teams. By the age of 10 she was trialling for Arsenal, Chelsea and Fulham, who she eventually signed for, but after a few months made the change to Tottenham, also playing at West Ham, Millwall and back to Tottenham once more.

Her talent cannot be denied and she continued to blossom throughout the years, mixing the sport she loves with a variety of different jobs and promotions in between. She was fortunate enough when she was younger to escape the racism that seems to go hand in hand with the game, but by her teenage years she couldn’t help but notice the presence of it within the industry. 

This was to have a detrimental effect on her passion for the game, with her coming to the conclusion that it was no longer for her as she feels that there will never be a change when it comes to the powers that be truly tackling the issue (pardon the pun!) – although her love for it still strongly remains and she is still involved in different aspects of the sport.

But being the woman that she is, she wasn’t about to just sit back and blend in with the shadows. Instead she used her voice and platform, and in 2020 not only called out the W.S.L (Women’s Super League), for their lack of diversity in their campaigns, but off of the back of it, the WSL made the change within 2 days of her highlighting it. Although she appreciated the gesture, she found it very frustrating that it took them being called out to take action.

Spurred on by this, she made a short film, Is It Because I’m Black’, with input from a range of other females, again highlighting the challenges faced by women of colour and in general within the industry. 

It’s got to be said that there is an amazing energy that this young lady exudes, and with her infectious smile it’s an easy interview to conduct. What’s even more pleasurable to see is the fact that she is 100% confident in her own skin and happy with who she is. She freely admits that she struggled academically, but she knew where her talents lie and believes that everybody should be given the chance to shine and excel at what they’re good at without having the pressure of other peoples expectations of what it means to be smart and successful.

She’s out, proud and unapologetic about it – which is so refreshing to see in one so young and especially with being part of the Caribbean community – as some are unfortunately still stuck in their homophobic ways.

She may well tick a few boxes, but don’t ever proceed to think about putting her in one. There’s no hiding in closets for my girl! She’s truly smashed it to pieces and is dancing around the bonfire made from the remnants – probably to tunes she’s spinning herself! Not one to sit on her laurels, Portia taught herself how to DJ during lockdown last year and her talent has taken her from strength to strength, taking her from being headhunted to have her own show on Croydon FM, to DJing for Lost Girl at Leeds Festival this year, holding her own in front of a massive crowd and enjoying every minute of it. In fact, since conducting our interview she has just finished touring with Lost Girl supporting Dappy.

With all of the above, advertising campaigns for Adidas and Nike, appearances on BT Sport and guest mixing for Capital Xtra all under her belt, this twenty two year old has already achieved more than most her age, but she’s adamant that you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot more of her in the future; and I have to say I believe it, I’m here for it and look forward to it!

If you would like to contact Portia you can find her on:

Instagram: PortiaWalkerr


We are all guaranteed three things in life; we’re born, we grow, we die. No matter who you are or what clout you may carry, we all have these things in common; but it’s the middle part that separates and/or defines us.

If you’re fortunate enough, you’ll forge great friendships within that growth section, that will hopefully continue on through to the twilight years. Our journeys can come with a number of twists and turns, highs and lows – the Black woman’s road even more so – and as women in general there is a hella lot we go through, especially when we reach a certain point along the path.

My guests this week like to describe that specific point as being ‘Middle-Young’ – which I personally couldn’t love any more! The Shelf Renaissance is a podcast that was created by two Slough Queens and firm friends Lydia Shekiluwa and Patsy Christian, after realising there was a gap in the market to cater for the category of Black women who are at that ‘Life-Beginning-But-Certain-Aspects-Ending’ phase! 

Patsy Christian and Lydia Shekiluwa

They are accompanied by fellow co-hosts and Slough Queens, Margaret Shekiluwa and Hellen Lawuo-Meena, and collectively call themselves a tribe. They are a sisterhood addressing different aspects we associate with being adults, and whilst forever keeping it real, each topic is handled with a level of research, compassion, insight, and the perfect balance of infectious humour. Their main objective being to discuss a varying range of subjects and situations, bolstered by their lived experiences and seen through the eyes of the wise, incorporating three of their favourite things; catching jokes, drinking and spending time with the sisters! 

Margaret Shekiluwa, Hellen Lawuo-Meena and Lydia Shekiluwa

Each episode is called a Campfire; bringing about the heat, coziness and warmth you’d feel if you were around a real one. There is a natural flow between all that, even if you personally don’t know who these ladies are, you can tell is genuine and inviting, giving the feeling that you’re sat with your sistas putting the world to rights! What’s also great is that there is a mix of West Indian and African descent, helping to break the old taboo of our cultures not mixing or getting along.

I have had the pleasure of knowing both Lydia and Patsy from a very young age, and as we sit around the table, I can’t help but be reminded of memories we’ve shared around different tables throughout our lifetime so far.

I have known Patsy, literally for as long as I can remember as our parents were good friends and my godparents. I have many fond memories of going to Patsys family home on numerous occasions when I was younger, but due to our slight age gap, I was closer to her younger brother. Over the years, the age gap that seemed so wide when I was small dissipated with the realities of life and adulthood.

Their home was always welcoming, filled and flowing with music, alcohol and good vibes – and me amazed at how, 1) their back garden was on the first floor, and 2) how many different varieties of Club biscuits Goddy Ursil always had on offer! Our parents had a truly lifelong friendship, and when my mum sadly passed away last year a big, totally unplanned, comfort to me was that she was buried right opposite her best friend. 

Lydia and Margaret I have known since first school days, with our most prominent memories made from the early 90’s. The common room banter at Langley College and camaraderie which was to follow us through the years was one of a kind, with firm friendships being cemented. I couldn’t regale on our past without the association of bussin’ a tune or ten! Meeting up at the college disco with DJ Aki spinning the latest rhymes and trying not to choke on the heady mix of peoples body spray and body funk! 

Black music had a number of different genres that were on fire in the 90’s, all of which we enjoyed – but you’d definitely have to crown them Hip Hop Queens! It was the era of finger waves, high top fades and many memories being made; the Shekiluwa sisters being synonymous with unity, as you very rarely saw one without the other.

The times may well have changed but the unity and vibes remain, only now they are sharing the isms and schisms that come with being middle-young! 

Middle-Young and still going strong…ish!

Ok I admit it, I’m a tad biased, but I truly believe that these ladies, with their relatability and refreshingly real podcasts, offer up a bit of knowledge with a dash of melanin magic and a sprinkling of light relief – which considering the current climate is more than welcome! One of their punchlines is Stay Curious, and I encourage you all to do just that and check them out! Pour a brew, pull up a pew and listen to what’s on offer – especially as the new season of Campfires have just been lit!

Click below for all of The Shelf Renaissance media links.

The Shelf Renaissance

Supported by HOME Slough using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England

If you order up a cuppa Coach Tee be prepared to get more than your money’s worth! She’ll come at you hot and in full force, with a kick to your nervous system to challenge any caffeine hit you can find.

I have known Tanya Brooks-Carty, aka Coach Tee, for a number of years so can personally speak on the ball of energy that is she! In fact, the day of our interview she cycled her way to meet me, her love of exercise leaving her pumped up and good to glow, whilst I eyed up Greggs wondering if I should pop over and grab a vegan sausage roll and see whether they’ve got London Cheesecakes back in stock yet.

There’s definitely something about her energy that cannot be denied, and she has the wild and wonderful personality to match, (with the hair too, as long as she can keep it in place!)

Tanya is a Slough born and bred entrepreneur who has had interactions with the Black Slough community from a very young age, in part due to her being the daughter of one of Sloughs most prominent features within the community, the formidable Christina Brooks-Abraham.

With the seed firmly planted, it nourished and grew, and at the age of 25 Tanya decided to branch off from Motivation – the family community group, and alongside a group of young ladies consisting of her sisters and friends, R.A.W – Real Ass Women, was born!

RAW started as a dance squad, performing a variety of dance styles and routines to a selection of Black music and participating in many performances, tours and video shoots.

Eventually Tanya ventured out on her own, starting with her dance/fitness classes, (and trust me when I say she will put you through your paces and have you wukkin’ up a sweat!), which has snowballed into a number of businesses and enterprises including her Pick Me Up Sticks – a collection of sticks emblazoned with positive words and affirmations to help pick you up when you need a lift or some guidance. They come in a range of different themes and are available for the young, old and in between to enjoy.

Her journey has productively continued on, with her becoming a life coach and mentor offering RAWtreats, brunches, seminars, workbooks, Sisterhood, networking events and Mindset to name a few! On top of all of that she has her exercise classes and a range of fitness products and online launches. Phew!

It’s totally unsurprising to me that she would at some point end up in the field that she is currently in. I can testify that her words work, as she was the instigator of me writing blogs and she seems to have an uncanny ability to pick up on things you may well dismiss. Not everything will be to your taste or you may find yourself wondering if certain aspects are for you, as I admit to wondering myself, but she has a saying of take what you need to proceed! #SipSip

She may not be everybody’s Cuppa Tee, but she may just be the perfect blend for you – and you don’t know until you try!

This mother of 2 has most definitely packed in a lot during her lifetime so far and I have no doubt there is a lot more to come! Ultimately she would love to build up our community so that her sons and the rest of the communities children can thrive and flourish in a creative and safe environment.

We’ll be watching this space Coach Tee!🖤

If you would like to get in contact with Tanya or purchase any of her products you can find her on:

Instagram and Facebook: Tanya Brooks Carty
Clubhouse: Shake The Room
Spotify: #CuppaTee

Since our interview Tanya has become a lecturer for Windsor Forest Colleges. If you’re interested in becoming a life coach or counsellor click on the link! https://www.instagram.com/p/CXN-CF3Ih-U/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

Supported by HOME Slough using public funding by The National Lottery through Arts Council England