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L’avortement divise toujours les États-Unis un an après que la Cour suprême a invalidé Roe v. Wade

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Le revirement historique de la Cour suprême des États-Unis sur l’avortement il y a un an a créé un cauchemar pour les femmes qui demandent la procédure, un bourbier juridique pour les tribunaux et un défi pour le Parti républicain.

Le 24 juin 2022, un tribunal remanié par le président républicain Donald Trump a annulé la décision historique de 1973 Roe contre Wade qui garantissait un droit constitutionnel à l’avortement et laissait à chaque État le soin de décider.

Le même jour, plusieurs États conservateurs ont décidé d’interdire la procédure, forçant les cliniques à fermer à la hâte ou à déménager dans des endroits où elles pourraient encore opérer.

Depuis, les États-Unis sont divisés. Une vingtaine d’États, principalement dans le sud et le Midwest, ont purement et simplement interdit l’avortement ou en ont sévèrement restreint l’accès tandis que d’autres, principalement sur les côtes, ont pris des mesures pour le protéger.

L’impact à l’échelle nationale, en termes de chiffres, reste limité.

Selon une étude de la Society of Family Planning, le nombre moyen d’avortements mensuels dans tout le pays entre juillet 2022 et mars 2023 était de 79 031, soit 3,3 % de moins qu’en avril et mai 2022, lorsqu’une moyenne de 81 730 avortements par mois ont été pratiqués.

“De nombreuses personnes se font encore avorter dont elles ont besoin”, a déclaré Ushma Upadhyay, spécialiste des sciences sociales en santé publique à l’Université de Californie à San Francisco et co-auteur de l’étude.

“C’est juste qu’elles doivent faire face à de grands défis pour pouvoir obtenir ces avortements”, a déclaré Upadhyay à l’AFP.

La fermeture des cliniques d’avortement dans une douzaine d’États a contraint des dizaines de milliers de femmes à se déplacer ailleurs pour interrompre une grossesse.

Au-delà de la charge financière, obtenir des jours de congé ou expliquer une absence à sa famille n’est pas toujours facile.

Des problèmes logistiques peuvent retarder la procédure plus loin dans une grossesse, ayant un impact psychologique, sans parler des risques pour la santé.

‘Roulette russe’

Anna Zargarian, une plaignante dans un procès intenté au Texas, a raconté son expérience déchirante après la rupture de ses eaux à 19 semaines, bien trop tôt pour que le fœtus survive.

Elle a été forcée de s’envoler pour le Colorado pour un avortement car les médecins du Texas n’en feraient pas un, un voyage qu’elle a qualifié de “terrifiant”.

“C’était comme la roulette russe, sachant que j’étais à risque d’infection, d’hémorragie ou d’accouchement à tout moment”, a déclaré Zargarian.

Pendant les premiers jours d’une grossesse, de nombreuses femmes aux États-Unis utilisent la pilule abortive, mais elle est illégale dans plusieurs États et les femmes qui l’acquièrent sur Internet ou via un réseau de bénévoles courent le risque d’être poursuivies.

Upadhyay a déclaré que ce sont les femmes « qui sont les plus pauvres des pauvres », principalement des Afro-Américaines et des Hispaniques, qui sont obligées de mener des grossesses à terme.

“Ce sont de manière disproportionnée les personnes de couleur qui sont touchées”, a-t-elle déclaré.

Les perspectives à long terme sont incertaines.

Au cours de l’année écoulée, un certain nombre de groupes privés se sont mobilisés pour aider les femmes à se faire avorter, mais “dans un ou deux ans, ces efforts privés vont s’épuiser”, a déclaré Upadhyay. “Ce n’est pas durable.”

Le paysage juridique est tout aussi incertain.

Chaque restriction étatique imposée à l’avortement est contestée devant les tribunaux et la bataille juridique est en cours dans des États fortement peuplés tels que la Géorgie et la Caroline du Sud.

Pilule abortive

L’une des plus grandes inconnues est le sort de la pilule abortive, qui est utilisée pour plus de la moitié des avortements aux États-Unis.

En avril, un juge fédéral du Texas a interdit le médicament largement utilisé, la mifépristone (RU 486), approuvée par la Food and Drug Administration en 2000 et utilisée depuis par plus de cinq millions de femmes.

La mifépristone est l’un des composants d’un régime à deux médicaments qui peut être utilisé pendant les 10 premières semaines de grossesse.

La décision du juge a été suspendue par la Cour suprême des États-Unis, mais un tribunal inférieur conservateur examinant actuellement l’affaire pourrait confirmer sa décision.

La bataille est également en cours dans l’arène politique.

Le président Joe Biden, un fervent catholique qui soutient le droit à l’avortement, et d’autres démocrates ont fait de la défense de la procédure l’une de leurs priorités et cela semble avoir porté ses fruits lors des élections de mi-mandat de 2022.

Les candidats démocrates ont obtenu de meilleurs résultats que prévu à mi-mandat et les propositions de référendum qui auraient effectivement interdit l’avortement dans les États conservateurs du Kansas et du Kentucky ont été largement rejetées.

Les candidats républicains ont été contraints d’effectuer un exercice d’équilibre délicat, satisfaisant la droite religieuse farouchement anti-avortement, une base de soutien clé, tout en ne s’aliénant pas les électeurs plus modérés.

Des groupes anti-avortement tels que SBA Pro-Life ont déclaré qu’ils ne soutiendraient qu’un candidat à la présidence en 2024 qui s’engage à promulguer une interdiction nationale de l’avortement.

Le favori républicain, Trump, qui se vante souvent d’avoir nommé les trois juges de la Cour suprême qui ont annulé Roe v. Wade, n’a pas encore pris cet engagement.

(AFP)

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LaLiga president Javier Tebas insists league matches ‘WILL be played abroad’ in the 2025-26 season… as he claims top-flight chiefs are looking to organise a match in the United States

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  • LaLiga president Tebas has claimed league matches will soon be played abroad 
  • Tebas has long been keen to stage an official LaLiga match on American soil 
  • Phil Foden reveals what it’s REALLY like to play for Pep Guardiola in an It’s All Kicking Off special. Listen on Spotify, Apple or anywhere you get your podcasts

LaLiga president Javier Tebas has insisted that league matches will be played abroad from 2025-26 and admitted Spanish chiefs are planning a match in the U.S.

Tebas has previously expressed his desire to to play a league game in America and had sought to bring two LaLiga sides – Barcelona and Girona – back in 2018. 

However, that hit a stumbling block when FIFA objected, with its council resolving that ‘official league matches must be played within the territory of the respective member association’. 

However, following a resolution between New York City-based event promoter Relevent Sports and FIFA earlier this month, the door has been opened to potentially staging games abroad. 

Speaking about the idea, Tebas told Spanish newspaper Expansion: ‘I think it could be in the 2025-26 season, but La Liga will play official matches abroad.

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas insisted that league matches will be played abroad from 2025-26

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas insisted that league matches will be played abroad from 2025-26

LaLiga chief Javier Tebas insisted that league matches will be played abroad from 2025-26

The Spanish top-flight have been keen to organise a league match abroad since 2018

The Spanish top-flight have been keen to organise a league match abroad since 2018

The Spanish top-flight have been keen to organise a league match abroad since 2018

‘An official match in the U.S. will strengthen our position in the North American market, which is the second market for La Liga after Spain.

‘Other very competitive leagues are coming so we cannot always do the same thing, but we cannot allow them to overtake us.’

According to The Athletic, Relevent recently accused FIFA’s directive, that domestic games should be played in their home territory, as preventing fair competition.

FIFA and Relevent settled on their case without prejudice earlier this month.

Subsequently FIFA joined US Soccer as a co-defendant, with the national association already accused of seeking to block the growth of Relevent Sports’ business as a promoter. 

There has already been movement towards domestic match-ups taking place hosted abroad with the likes of the Spanish and Italian FAs staging their respective Super Cups in Saudi Arabia in recent years. 

The Spanish FA have staged the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia for the past three seasons

The Spanish FA have staged the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia for the past three seasons

The Spanish FA have staged the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia for the past three seasons

The Premier League has also attempted to capitalise on the popularity of the English game Stateside with marquee pre-season clashes. 

The league hosted a Summer Series with six teams involved last year, while in 2024 Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal will all face-off against one another in the country. 

The US is set to stage a revamped – and greatly expanded – Club World Cup in 2025, a year before they will host the World Cup. 

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Iran sentences popular rapper to death for supporting Mahsa Amini protests

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An Iranian court has sentenced to death a popular rapper jailed for more than a year and a half for supporting nationwide protests sparked by Mahsa Amini’s death, local media reported Wednesday.

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Ammanford school ‘stabbing’: Person is arrested and three people including ‘teacher’ injured after ‘knife attack involving two girls’ – as classrooms remain in ‘lockdown’

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A person has been arrested and three people are injured following a ‘major incident’ at a school in Carmarthenshire, as classrooms remain in ‘lockdown’.

Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, also known as Amman Valley School, in Ammanford in the south Wales county, is on ‘code red’ with unconfirmed reports a stabbing took place this morning.

The incident is said to have involved two girls before two staff intervened, a senior educational professional, who does not work at the school, told Wales Online. 

It is thought a teacher is one of those injured, but this is yet to be confirmed, who was flown by air ambulance 70 miles to the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff.   

Police are not looking for anyone else in relation to the emergency situation and warned people who had shared footage on social media to remove it ‘to avoid contempt of court and distressing those affected’.

Councillor Karen Davies, a governor at the school, believed a stabbing had taken place and that two staff members were hurt.   

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his ‘shock’ at the news and thanked emergency services as he said his thoughts are with all those affected.   

The school is currently under ‘code red’ and pupils have been put in the canteen to preserve the crime scene. 

One worried parent said officers would be speaking to classrooms individually before lifting the lockdown. 

A person has been arrested after three people were left injured following a 'major incident' at a Ysgol Dyffryn Aman school in Carmarthenshire. A large police and ambulance presence can be seen

A person has been arrested after three people were left injured following a 'major incident' at a Ysgol Dyffryn Aman school in Carmarthenshire. A large police and ambulance presence can be seen

A person has been arrested after three people were left injured following a ‘major incident’ at a Ysgol Dyffryn Aman school in Carmarthenshire. A large police and ambulance presence can be seen

Crowds of parents are seen waiting outside the school gates watching as emergency workers attend the incident.

Crowds of parents are seen waiting outside the school gates watching as emergency workers attend the incident.

Crowds of parents are seen waiting outside the school gates watching as emergency workers attend the incident.

An ambulance can be seen outside the school with worried parents standing outside the building

An ambulance can be seen outside the school with worried parents standing outside the building

An ambulance can be seen outside the school with worried parents standing outside the building

Hundreds of worried parents crowded outside the school gates amid earlier unconfirmed reports claimed there had been a knifing at the school, with classrooms being put in ‘lockdown’.

Carmarthenshire County Council moved to reassured parents to say the incident ‘has been contained’. 

One parent said: ‘This is a quiet area and a nice school with a good community. We just can’t figure out what has gone on. My daughter saw an air ambulance land outside. It is unbelievable.’

Cllr Davies told Wales Online: I have no confirmation on how serious the injuries are. I send my thoughts to those injured and all the people there. I know how well the school rehearsed lockdown and I am sure everything is under control.’  

Another concerned parent Lisa Barrett said her daughter texted her saying the school had been placed under a lockdown. 

She told BBC Wales: ‘This is not something you expect – you drive your child to school and think they will be safe. It is good to know that the children are locked in the classrooms.’

Mrs Barrett said she had not heard anything from the school as of yet. 

‘I am just waiting,’ she added. ‘I don’t know if I should go down there or not.’ 

Another mother waiting outside the gates, named Rebecca, told ITV Cymru Wales said the school is being kept on ‘code red’. 

‘Obviously I’ve seen the blue lights, and I know we don’t blue light unless we have to and I’ve seen the air ambulance leave,’ she said.

‘They’re keeping the school on lockdown – code red as they’re calling it – and the police will be speaking to the classes individually, then take them to get their lunch, then take them back to their classrooms.’

Plaid Cymru leader Liz Saville Roberts wrote on X that her heart ‘goes out to the pupils, families and staff of the school, and to the emergency services who are responding to the situation’.

While First Minister Vaughan Gething  was left ‘shocked to hear news of serious incident in Rhydaman’.  He wrote on X: ‘A deeply worrying time for the school, families and community. Diolch to first responders.’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and First Minister Vaughan Gething took to X to express their shock over the incident

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and First Minister Vaughan Gething took to X to express their shock over the incident

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and First Minister Vaughan Gething took to X to express their shock over the incident

The alleged incident is said to have taken place at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, also known as Amman Valley School, in Ammanford in the west Wales county. Pictured: Two air ambulances on the school field

The alleged incident is said to have taken place at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, also known as Amman Valley School, in Ammanford in the west Wales county. Pictured: Two air ambulances on the school field

The alleged incident is said to have taken place at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, also known as Amman Valley School, in Ammanford in the west Wales county. Pictured: Two air ambulances on the school field 

The Welsh language school has 1,800 pupil aged 11 to 18. The school is situated in the north of the Ammanford town centre, while the town itself is a few miles north-east of the western terminus of the M4

The Welsh language school has 1,800 pupil aged 11 to 18. The school is situated in the north of the Ammanford town centre, while the town itself is a few miles north-east of the western terminus of the M4

The Welsh language school has 1,800 pupil aged 11 to 18. The school is situated in the north of the Ammanford town centre, while the town itself is a few miles north-east of the western terminus of the M4

One air ambulance is said to have now left the field and is reportedly flying towards the University Hospital in Cardiff. The second remains on site

One air ambulance is said to have now left the field and is reportedly flying towards the University Hospital in Cardiff. The second remains on site

One air ambulance is said to have now left the field and is reportedly flying towards the University Hospital in Cardiff. The second remains on site

The alleged incident is said to have taken place at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman in Ammanford in the west Wales county

The alleged incident is said to have taken place at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman in Ammanford in the west Wales county

The alleged incident is said to have taken place at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman in Ammanford in the west Wales county

Local councillor Rob James said: ‘My thoughts are with the headteacher, teaching staff, parents and pupils of Ysgol Dyffryn Aman after today’s major incident.

‘I have been in contact with Carmarthenshire Council and will provide any support I can to the school during this difficult time.’ 

Local MP Jonathan Edwards, who is the MP for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, expressed his concern about the incident on social media.

‘Thoughts are with everyone back home and with the authorities responding,’ he wrote.

Adam Price, Plaid Cymru member of the Senedd for Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, and a former pupil at Ysgol Dyffryn Aman, said his thoughts were with the school.

Mr Price posted on social media platform X: ‘As we wait for more information to be released, my thoughts, like the rest of us, are with the school’s community.’

The Church of All Saints in Ammanford has opened its doors to offer help and pastoral support in response. 

Bishop of St Davids, Dorrien Davies, said: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with the injured, the staff, pupils and families of all at Dyffryn Amman School.’

Dyfed-Powys Police and two air ambulances were called to the scene.

One air ambulance is said to have now left the field and is reportedly flying towards the University Hospital in Cardiff. The second remains on site.  

The Welsh language school has 1,800 pupils aged 11 to 18. The school is situated in the north of the Ammanford town centre, while the town itself is a few miles north-east of the western terminus of the M4.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies described the incident at a school ‘extremely concerning’.

‘Schools should be a place of safety, learning and discovery, ‘ he said. ‘It is deeply sad and distressing that today teachers and pupils have had that safety shattered by a violent incident.

‘My thoughts are with all staff and pupils at the school, and we thank the emergency services for their work.’

Formers pupils include ex-Wales and British Lions rugby star Shane Williams and former MP Adam Price.

A spokesperson for the local police force said: ‘Dyfed-Powys Police is dealing with an incident at Amman Valley School. Three people have been injured and are receiving treatment.

‘One person has been arrested and we are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident. Emergency services remain at scene and the school has been closed while investigations continue.

‘We are working closely with the school and Carmarthenshire County Council. We are aware that there is footage of the incident currently circulating on social media. We would ask that this is removed to avoid contempt of court and distress to those affected. We would ask the people do not speculate while there is a police investigation ongoing.’

MailOnline has contacted Welsh Ambulance Service. 

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Pro-Palestinian protests sweep US universities, targeting financial ties with Israel

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Students at an increasing number of US universities are gathering in protest camps to demand that their schools cut financial ties to Israel and divest from companies that are enabling its months-long conflict in Gaza. FRANCE 24’s New York correspondent Jessica Le Masurier reports from Columbia University, where students have resumed their protest just days after they were evicted by the police.

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The human foods that could be making your dog fat, revealed – from grilled salmon to scrambled egg

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It’s something that many dog owners do on a daily basis. 

But new research might make you think twice about sneaking leftovers to your dog under the dinner table. 

The study reveals the human foods that could be making your pet fat – including grilled salmon and scrambled eggs. 

‘Most of us don’t realise just how calorie-dense our food can be for our pets,’ said Lisa Melvin, a spokesperson for Pet Range. 

‘This is especially the case for smaller dogs and breeds which are more obesity-prone, such as pugs and labradors. For small dogs like pugs, a single sausage can take up almost half of their daily recommended calorie intake.’

A new graphic might make you think twice about sneaking leftovers to your dog under the dinner table. The graphic reveals the human foods that could be making your pet fat - including grilled salmon and scrambled eggs

A new graphic might make you think twice about sneaking leftovers to your dog under the dinner table. The graphic reveals the human foods that could be making your pet fat - including grilled salmon and scrambled eggs

A new graphic might make you think twice about sneaking leftovers to your dog under the dinner table. The graphic reveals the human foods that could be making your pet fat – including grilled salmon and scrambled eggs

How many daily calories should your dog be consuming?
Weight of dog  Recommended calories 
XS: 2kg – 5kg (Eg. Chihuahua) 247
S: 5kg – 10kg (Eg. Pug)  440 
M: 10kg – 20kg (Eg. Beagle)  739 
L: 20kg – 30kg (Eg. Dalmation)  1092 
XL: 30kg – 40kg (Eg. Labrador Retriever)  1408 
XXL: 40kg – 50kg (Eg. Rottweiler)  1701 

Britain is in the midst of an ‘overweight epidemic’ in dogs, with a whopping one in 14 pups recorded by their vets as overweight each year. 

One of the potential reasons for these high rates is owners treating their pets to human foods, without knowing how this can impact their diet. 

In their study, Pet Range looked at the recommended daily calorie intake for dogs of varying sizes. 

Dogs classed as extra small, such as Chihuahuas, need just 247 calories per day, while small dogs, such as Pugs, require 440 calories on average. 

Medium dogs, such as Beagles, need 739 calories, while Large dogs, such as Dalmations, require 1,092 calories. 

Britain is in the midst of an 'overweight epidemic' in dogs, with a whopping one in 14 pups recorded by their vets as overweight each year (stock image)

Britain is in the midst of an 'overweight epidemic' in dogs, with a whopping one in 14 pups recorded by their vets as overweight each year (stock image)

Britain is in the midst of an ‘overweight epidemic’ in dogs, with a whopping one in 14 pups recorded by their vets as overweight each year (stock image)

Finally, extra large dogs such as Labrador Retrievers, need 1,408 calories, while extra extra large dogs, such as Rottweilers, need 1,701. 

Based on these figures, Pet Range looked at the calorie percentage of popular human leftovers or adults dogs. 

While two rashers of bacon might seem like a reasonable portion size for a dog, the analysis reveals how this equates to 58.5 per cent of XS dogs’ daily calories. 

Even for XXL dogs, this portion size is the equivalent of 8.5 per cent of their daily calorie recommendation.   

Two other popular meats – sausages and roast chicken – can also make your pooch pile on the pounds. 

One thick sausage takes up 27 per cent of a small dog’s daily calories, 16 per cent of a medium dog’s calories, and 11 per cent of a large dog’s calories. 

However, the research reveals that it isn’t just meat which can be highly calorific for dogs. 

If you’ve got leftover scrambled egg from your breakfast, the equivalent of just one egg can take up 31 per cent of an extra small dog’s calories. 

Meanwhile, one tablespoon of cheddar cheese can take up 10 per cent of a small dog’s daily calories.  

‘Many of us don’t realise just how many conditions can be linked to having excess weight,’ Ms Melvin said. 

‘From bone health to heart health to simply overall wellbeing, obesity can come with a huge toll on your pet.’

If you’ve noticed your dog has been gaining excess weight, thankfully there are several things you can do to help them get into shape. 

‘To help your pet lose weight healthily and sustainably, ensure they have filling, balanced meals and enjoy their food in moderation,’ Ms Melvin added. 

‘It’s always a good idea to see a vet if you have concerns about your pet’s weight. 

‘Every dog is different, and just like humans, they all have different nutritional needs. 

‘Whether your furry friend is a puppy or fully grown, consult with the vet before making major dietary changes.’

WHAT ARE THE TEN COMMONLY HELD MYTHS ABOUT DOGS?

It is easy to believe that dogs like what we like, but this is not always strictly true. 

Here are ten things which people should remember when trying to understand their pets, according to Animal behaviour experts Dr Melissa Starling and Dr Paul McGreevy, from the University of Sydney.

1. Dogs don’t like to share 

2. Not all dogs like to be hugged or patted 

3. A barking dog is not always an aggressive dog 

4. Dogs do not like other dogs entering their territory/home

5. Dogs like to be active and don’t need as much relaxation time as humans 

6. Not all dogs are overly friendly, some are shyer to begin with  

7. A dog that appears friendly can soon become aggressive 

8. Dogs need open space and new areas to explore. Playing in the garden won’t always suffice 

9. Sometimes a dog isn’t misbehaving, it simply does not understand what to do or what you want 

10. Subtle facial signals often preempt barking or snapping when a dog is unhappy

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The best investment trusts for your pension – experts reveal their picks

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Best investment trusts for your pension: Tips for your portfolio throughout your financial life

Best investment trusts for your pension: Tips for your portfolio throughout your financial life

Best investment trusts for your pension: Tips for your portfolio throughout your financial life

When it comes to building your pension pot or investing it for retirement income, finding a reliable investment matters.

Returns are never guaranteed – and investments go down as well as up – but there are some characteristics that make some stand out. 

Many investment trusts have built remarkable track records for raising dividends, making them a popular option for people drawing down an income in retirement.

But financial advisers have also come up with some top picks from the world of investment trusts for those still building up a pension too.

The Association of Investment Companies has compiled expert recommendations for what is known in financial jargon as the ‘accumulation’ phase of a saver’s life, and for those needing an income in the ‘decumulation’ stage in retirement.

Investment trusts are listed companies with shares that trade on the stock market. 

They are known as closed-ended, because investors can buy or sell shares to join or leave, but new money outside this pool cannot be raised without issuing new shares.

That is unlike open-ended investment funds where money is pooled to invest in shares, bonds or other funds.

Investment trusts can be riskier than funds because their shares can trade at a premium or discount to the value of the assets they hold – see below for more on how this works.

Although the list below has been picked by four professional financial advisers, remember that this is not individual financial advice and you should always check if an individual investment is right for you. If in doubt, seek independent financial advice.

Saving: ‘I’m still building up a pension’

Paul Chilver, financial planning manager at Birkett Long

With the seemingly ever-increasing state pension age and the forthcoming increase to the age an individual can access their pension, investing into a pension is for the long term.

With this in mind investment trusts, many of which are trading close to record discounts, could be an excellent option.

Discounts are particularly attractive on UK-focused investment trusts and one suggestion for the accumulation stage of investment is the Mercantile Investment Trust managed by JPMorgan which has been at a double-digit discount for many months despite very good short-term performance.

Mercantile Investment Trust (Ongoing charge: 1.41 per cent)

Philippa Maffioli, senior investment manager at Blyth-Richmond Investment Managers

During the accumulation phase when growth and diversification are essential, I recommend Worldwide Healthcare Trust.

This global trust gives investors the opportunity to gain exposure to pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and other related healthcare companies all within an actively managed portfolio.

These range from large multinational pharmaceuticals to unquoted emerging biotechnology companies. The fund is managed by OrbiMed Capital which was founded in 1989 and has become the largest healthcare investment firm in the world.

The team are actively looking at nearly 1,000 companies and the team works to identify sources of outperformance as well as those with underappreciated products in the pipeline with high quality management teams and strong financial resources.

Worldwide Healthcare Trust (Ongoing charge: 0.83per cent)

I am very keen for my clients to gain exposure to the management style of Spencer Adair and Malcolm MacColl of The Monks Investment Trust during the accumulation phase of a Sipp.

Their aim is to focus on global companies from a range of profiles with above average earnings growth which they expect to hold for around five years.

That said, they are known for addressing issues head on and aren’t afraid to take a critical look at their portfolio when necessary, which I believe is very compelling.

I believe that Monks is well positioned to capitalise on the continuous shift to a more digitalised world and must be included in a portfolio where growth is required.

Monks Investment Trust (Ongoing charge: 0.69 per cent)

Charges and net asset value explained 

 Ongoing charges

The ongoing charge, aka OCF, is the investing industry’s standard measure of fund or trust running costs.

It’s measured as an annual percentage and the bigger it is, the costlier the fund is to run.

Net asset value 

A trust’s shares can trade at a premium or discount to the value of the assets it holds, known as the net asset value.

NAV is calculated by dividing the total value of  a trust’s assets (what it owns) minus liabilities (what it owes) by the amount of shares existing.

A trust’s share price can fall below the total value of its holdings if it is unpopular and people do not want to invest but do want to sell. This pushes down demand and drives up the supply of its units for sale.

This gives new investors the opportunity to buy in at a discount, but means existing investors’ holdings are worth less than they should be.

An investment trust trading at a discount to NAV may be regarded as cheap because the shares cost less than its overall value – although there might be good reasons why, such as investors being justifiably pessimistic about its prospects.

When a trust trades at a premium to NAV it is more expensive than its net worth.

Doug Brodie, founder and chief executive of Chancery Lane

In building pensions investors should take note that trusts like Lowland, Murray International and City of London have all handsomely outperformed the FTSE All Share over the last 20 years.

Investment trusts may not have the sales and marketing budgets of pension companies so investors have to look a bit harder.

A quick look at the long-term returns will show folk there’s a good reason that institutional investors are big investors in trusts.

Lowland (Ongoing charge: 1.03 per cent)

Murray International (Ongoing charge: 0.78 per cent)

City of London (Ongoing charge: 0.65 per cent)

Neil Mumford, chartered financial planner at Milestone Wealth Management

For those looking for growth, I’d recommend JPMorgan Global Growth and Income Trust. This is one of the few investment trusts to be trading at a premium, but this should not concern long-term investors.

It places a high emphasis on the world’s largest stock market the US, accounting for two-thirds of the portfolio. It is a high conviction portfolio with 50 to 90 holdings, with the top ten making up more than 40% of the portfolio.

This has allowed it to outperform by some margin with a 305 per cent return over the last ten years.

There will be times when there may be swings in the portfolio value but for the patient investor this will hopefully pay off. If there was concern about the premium, this trust would also be ideal for regular monthly investments.

JPMorgan Global Growth and Income (Ongoing charge: 0.66 per cent)

Drawdown: I need to invest for income

Neil Mumford of Milestone Wealth Management

The Scottish American Investment Company is my choice for someone looking at building either an income or growth portfolio and is a top five holding in my own Sipp.

I am still accumulating but it will stay once I am drawing down. It is a truly diversified equity portfolio, spread equally between the US and Europe at around 35 per cent each of the portfolio.

Neil Mumford: The Scottish American Investment Company is a top five holding in my own Sipp

Neil Mumford: The Scottish American Investment Company is a top five holding in my own Sipp

Neil Mumford: The Scottish American Investment Company is a top five holding in my own Sipp

Although it doesn’t have the highest yield at 2.9 per cent, this dividend hero has increased its payouts by an average of 4.2 per cent a year over the past five years and this dividend increase has not hampered its ability to grow capital – a total return of more than 170% over the last ten years should please any investor. 

The price is currently a complete bargain when you consider that it is trading at an extremely attractive discount to net assets of around 10 per cent when historically it has been trading at near NAV or at a premium.

Scottish American Investment Company (Ongoing charge: 1.01 per cent)

Philippa Maffioli of Blyth-Richmond Investment Managers

During the decumulation phase when capital growth is not as important and the emphasis can shift towards capital preservation, Personal Assets Trust has an important place in many retirees’ portfolios.

The manager’s approach is reassuringly conservative and is focused on looking at the risk of losing money rather than the risk of volatility.

Even though this is the case, it offers global diversification across four asset classes and is a bedrock for lower risk and/or decumulating portfolios.

It is managed by Sebastian Lyon who is assisted by Charlotte Yonge and their policy is to protect and increase (in that order) the value of shareholders’ funds over the long term.

Personal Assets Trust (Ongoing charge: 0.67 per cent)

Ruffer Investment Company is another trust which concentrates on capital preservation and has a very successful track record in achieving this.

The objective is to maintain a diverse strategy incorporating short-dated bonds, credit and derivative strategies and precious metals, plus a diverse spread of international equities.

The investment strategy and asset allocation are set by Henry Maxey and Neil McLeish, Co-Chief Investment Officers, supported by a team of senior fund managers and research analysts.

Paul Chilver: Investment trusts can smooth their income payments, meaning some income can be retained in case it is needed in future

Paul Chilver: Investment trusts can smooth their income payments, meaning some income can be retained in case it is needed in future

Paul Chilver: Investment trusts can smooth their income payments, meaning some income can be retained in case it is needed in future

Ruffer seeks to preserve capital using a very disciplined approach with the prime objective of maintaining value over a one-year period and growing capital over the longer term. This means they would perceive a loss in line with the market as a failure.

Ruffer Investment Company (Ongoing charge: 1.07 per cent)

Paul Chilver of Birkett Long

When you come to draw an income from your pension investment trusts are an excellent choice.

In part this is because they can smooth their income payments, meaning some income can be retained in the trust in case it is needed in future when stock markets may be more volatile.

There are many investment trusts paying an attractive dividend and my first suggestion is a UK-focused investment trust, Edinburgh Investment Trust.

This is a long-standing investment trust and is now managed by Liontrust following their acquisition of Majedie.

A second suggestion would be a global investment trust, JPMorgan Global Growth and Income.

This trust has its greatest weighting to US equities and is currently paying a yield of 3.4 per cent per annum.

Edinburgh Investment Trust (Ongoing charge: 0.53 per cent)

JPMorgan Global Growth and Income – also see above (Ongoing charge: 0.66 per cent)

Compare the best DIY investing platforms and stocks & shares Isas

Investing online is simple, cheap and can be done from your computer, tablet or phone at a time and place that suits you.

When it comes to choosing a DIY investing platform, stocks & shares Isa or a general investing account, the range of options might seem overwhelming. 

Every provider has a slightly different offering, charging more or less for trading or holding shares and giving access to a different range of stocks, funds and investment trusts. 

When weighing up the right one for you, it’s important to to look at the service that it offers, along with administration charges and dealing fees, plus any other extra costs.

To help you compare the best investment accounts, we’ve crunched the facts and pulled together a comprehensive guide to choosing the best and cheapest investing account for you. 

We highlight the main players in the table below but would advise doing your own research and considering the points in our full guide linked here.

>> This is Money’s full guide to the best investing platforms and Isas 

Platforms featured below are independently selected by This is Money’s specialist journalists. If you open an account using links which have an asterisk, This is Money will earn an affiliate commission. We do not allow this to affect our editorial independence. 

DIY INVESTING PLATFORMS AND STOCKS & SHARES ISAS 
Admin charge Charges notes Fund dealing Standard share, trust, ETF dealing Regular investing Dividend reinvestment
AJ Bell*  0.25%  Max £3.50 per month for shares, trusts, ETFs.  £1.50 £5  £1.50 £1.50 per deal  More details
Bestinvest* 0.40% (0.2% for ready made portfolios) Account fee cut to 0.2% for ready made investments Free £4.95 Free for funds  Free for income funds More details
Charles Stanley Direct* 0.35%  No platform fee on shares if a trade in that month and annual max of £240 Free £11.50 n/a n/a More details
Fidelity* 0.35% on funds £7.50 per month up to £25,000 or 0.35% with regular savings plan.  Free £7.50 Free funds £1.50 shares, trusts ETFs £1.50 More details
Hargreaves Lansdown* 0.45% Capped at £45 for shares, trusts, ETFs Free £11.95 £1.50 1% (£1 min, £10 max) More details
Interactive Investor*  £4.99 per month under £50k, £11.99 above, £10 extra for Sipp Free trade worth £3.99 per month (does not apply to £4.99 plan) £3.99 £3.99 Free £0.99 More details
iWeb £100 one-off fee (waived until July 2024) £5 £5 n/a 2%, max £5 More details
 Accounts that have some limits but attractive offers    
Etoro*  No investment funds or Sipp Free Investment account offers stocks and ETFs. Beware high risk CFDs. Not available  Free  n/a  n/a  More details 
Trading 212  Free  Investment account offers stocks and ETFs. Beware high risk CFDs.  Not available  Free  n/a  Free  More details 
Freetrade* No investment funds  Basic account free,  Standard with Isa £4.99, Plus £9.99 Freetrade Plus with more investments and Sipp is £9.99/month inc. Isa fee No funds  Free  n/a  n/a  More details 
Vanguard  Only Vanguard’s own products 0.15%  Only Vanguard funds Free  Free only Vanguard ETFs  Free  n/a  More details 
(Source: ThisisMoney.co.uk Mar 2024. Admin % charge may be levied monthly or quarterly

 

Some links in this article may be affiliate links. If you click on them we may earn a small commission. That helps us fund This Is Money, and keep it free to use. We do not write articles to promote products. We do not allow any commercial relationship to affect our editorial independence.

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TikTok ban bill passes US Senate, what happens next?

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The U.S. Senate on Tuesday passed legislation giving TikTok’s Chinese owner, ByteDance, about nine months to divest the U.S. assets of the short-video app, or face a nationwide ban. President Joe Biden said he will to sign the bill into law on Wednesday.

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Want to find out how good a hotel can be? Inside the hyper-luxurious Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, which has a staggering SIX Michelin stars between three restaurants (and an interior that resembles a palace)

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It’s surely the world’s fanciest food court.

I’m sitting in a one-Michelin-star restaurant looking directly across at a two-Michelin-star restaurant, with a three-Michelin-star eaterie to the left.

Talk about paradise for foodies.

These six Michelin stars are all under one roof, fanned around the ‘Marble Courtyard’ at the hyper-luxurious, ‘palace-rated’ Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris, which surely has bragging rights for the best hotel fine-dining offering in the world.

Our first taste of what the property’s culinary wonderland tenders is at the one-Michelin-starred Italian restaurant, Le George, where Chef Simone Zanoni sets the bar stratospherically high.

MailOnline Travel's Ted Thornhill checks in to the hyper-luxurious, 'palace-rated' Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. Above is the 'blissful' indoor pool

MailOnline Travel's Ted Thornhill checks in to the hyper-luxurious, 'palace-rated' Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. Above is the 'blissful' indoor pool

MailOnline Travel’s Ted Thornhill checks in to the hyper-luxurious, ‘palace-rated’ Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris. Above is the ‘blissful’ indoor pool

The Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris has an amazing flower-filled lobby

The Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris has an amazing flower-filled lobby

The Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris has an amazing flower-filled lobby

Amid gloriously opulent surroundings – think dazzling chandeliers, mesmerising marble floors and elegant white chairs – and with the almost-full restaurant buzzing with exhilarated diners, we are treated to a tour de force of gastronomic treats, fashioned from the freshest of fresh ingredients.

Seasonal fruits and vegetables are supplied all year long to Le George from the chemical-free Domaine de Madame Elisabeth, a vast lush estate that once belonged to the sister of King Louis XVI that lies 20 kilometres (13 miles) southwest of Paris in Versailles.

Refreshingly for a Michelin-star dining room, there are multiple menu options – eight-course tasting (155 euros/£132/$165), three-course set lunch (80 euros/£68/$85) and a la carte, with a whole page dedicated to crudo (raw) options.

We don’t think our six-year-old daughter will stay compliant for the full-fat ‘menu degustation’ experience, so we go for the semi-skimmed set lunch, which is still a mini banquet.

We feel like we’ve been transported to a rustic seaside Italian village with gorgeous focaccia, sublime slices of yellowtail kingfish crudo with mandarin vinaigrette, speckled with dots of pureed lemon and roasted garlic, and delectable fried baby shrimps to nibble on.

Chef Simone keeps our taste buds enlivened with veal and oyster-mushroom bites drizzled with an oxtail and red wine jus. They resemble little flying saucers. They taste out of this world.

The hotel's three main restaurants are grouped around the Marble Courtyard, above

The hotel's three main restaurants are grouped around the Marble Courtyard, above

The hotel’s three main restaurants are grouped around the Marble Courtyard, above

The hotel's Italian restaurant, Le George, 'where Chef Simone Zanoni sets the bar stratospherically high'

The hotel's Italian restaurant, Le George, 'where Chef Simone Zanoni sets the bar stratospherically high'

The hotel’s Italian restaurant, Le George, ‘where Chef Simone Zanoni sets the bar stratospherically high’

The piece de resistance is the lip-smackingly delicious wood-fire-roasted Aveyron lamb with a lemon zest and shizo vinegar sauce.

A smoky slab of perfection.

To finish, it’s a lovely baba al limoncello with mint sorbet and Amalfi lemon marmalade.

As for the service, I wish I could bottle the waiting staff’s passion and enthusiasm.

At one point, my partner drops a knife – it is replaced fuss-free in almost the blink of an eye by a waiter whose feet appear not to touch the ground as he glides across the dining room in emergency response mode.

While special mention goes to our excellent Italian sommelier, who picks out some corking wines by the glass, including a terrific textured red from the Barolo region of Italy, a lip-smackingly moreish Monteraponi Chianti Classico and a beautifully buttery white by the Eduardo Torres Acosta winery in Sicily.

The restaurants around the Marble Courtyard have six Michelin stars between them - Le Cinq has three, L'Orangerie has two and Le George has one

The restaurants around the Marble Courtyard have six Michelin stars between them - Le Cinq has three, L'Orangerie has two and Le George has one

The restaurants around the Marble Courtyard have six Michelin stars between them – Le Cinq has three, L’Orangerie has two and Le George has one

The 244-room hotel proudly boasts of its location 'in the heart of the city's Golden Triangle designer shopping district'

The 244-room hotel proudly boasts of its location 'in the heart of the city's Golden Triangle designer shopping district'

The 244-room hotel proudly boasts of its location ‘in the heart of the city’s Golden Triangle designer shopping district’

By Le George, I’m keen to return.

For our evening meal, we rotate to the opposite side of the courtyard – via a cocktail at the hotel’s ooh-la-la-inducing bar – and take a seat at the two-Michelin-starred L’Orangerie.

Here the cooking is artier, the service more earnest (with a slightly intimidating sommelier) – and the atmosphere more intimate, with just six tables occupying an elegant conservatory extension to the hotel’s gorgeous all-day dining lounge, La Galerie.

The overall experience? Unforgettable, with full marks dispatched from this diner to Chef Alan Taudon for a series of virtuoso dishes, with some that are how-on-earth-did-he-make-that amazing.

L'Orangerie, where Ted experiences 'a series of virtuoso dishes, with some that are how-on-earth-did-he-make-that amazing'

L'Orangerie, where Ted experiences 'a series of virtuoso dishes, with some that are how-on-earth-did-he-make-that amazing'

L’Orangerie, where Ted experiences ‘a series of virtuoso dishes, with some that are how-on-earth-did-he-make-that amazing’

La Galerie, Four Seasons George V's 'gorgeous all-day dining lounge'

La Galerie, Four Seasons George V's 'gorgeous all-day dining lounge'

La Galerie, Four Seasons George V’s ‘gorgeous all-day dining lounge’

Amuse bouche at L'Orangerie - 'buckwheat pancakes' with lobster condiment and yogurt tartlets with horseradish, peas, and red currant

Amuse bouche at L'Orangerie - 'buckwheat pancakes' with lobster condiment and yogurt tartlets with horseradish, peas, and red currant
L'Orangerie's 'citrus garden' dessert

L'Orangerie's 'citrus garden' dessert

LEFT: Amuse bouche at L’Orangerie – ‘buckwheat pancakes’ with lobster condiment and yogurt tartlets with horseradish, peas, and red currant. RIGHT: L’Orangerie’s ‘citrus garden’ dessert

Chef Taudon’s repertoire is drawn from two sources – plants and fish – and he offers a seven-course tasting menu at 235 euros (£200/$250) and a five-course ‘Discovery’ menu at 180 euros ($190/£200).

Given our earlier indulgencies we opt for the Discovery experience. And discover it’s plenty of food for the money – and a feast for the eyes (and smartphone lenses). Some of the dishes resemble miniature sculptures, and each is presented on its own bespoke, uniquely designed plate.

After a palette-cleansing celery, apple, and ginger cocktail, delicate amuse bouche arrive – ‘buckwheat pancakes’ with lobster condiment and yogurt tartlets with horseradish, peas, and red currant – served in a giant shell of a dish with dry ice wafting theatrically around them; spider crab with caviar has us ooh-ing and aah-ing, as does the green asparagus with cloudy rice fermentation and truffled mousseline.

Chef Taudon’s seaweed and plankton butter is almost orgasmic – I could eat it out of a cone – but it’s his signature dish of grilled sea bream with a wavy strand of pasta and jalapeno pepper sauce that takes the home the gold star – to take something so simple as a slice of fish and elevate it to an unadulterated taste sensation takes some skill.

Le Cinq (above) is where breakfast is served to guests. Ted unfortunately missed out on breakfast due to an early train, but a receptionist fetched him a croissant for the journey

Le Cinq (above) is where breakfast is served to guests. Ted unfortunately missed out on breakfast due to an early train, but a receptionist fetched him a croissant for the journey

Le Cinq (above) is where breakfast is served to guests. Ted unfortunately missed out on breakfast due to an early train, but a receptionist fetched him a croissant for the journey

French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has redesigned the hotel's duplex city-view suites (above)

French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has redesigned the hotel's duplex city-view suites (above)

French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has redesigned the hotel’s duplex city-view suites (above) 

Ted describes the bedrooms at the hotel as 'sumptuously regal, with mindblowingly comfortable beds'

Ted describes the bedrooms at the hotel as 'sumptuously regal, with mindblowingly comfortable beds'

Ted describes the bedrooms at the hotel as ‘sumptuously regal, with mindblowingly comfortable beds’ 

There’s also some skill involved in the ‘citrus garden’ dessert – twirls, strands, slices and little tubes of rice pudding, lemon caviar, fried rice chips and pink grapefruit sorbet.

Wine-wise I savour a Saint-Aubin premier cru that’s about as close to homemade ice-cream a wine can ever come.

We sadly miss breakfast, which is served in the three-star dining room, as we head out before sunrise to catch a TGV to the Alps. The look of horror on the face of the receptionist when she learns of this omission to our itinerary sums up the dedication to guest happiness here – off she whizzes to fetch us a pain au chocolat and croissant for the journey.

A oui bit special: The image above shows the elegantly appointed Four Seasons Suite

A oui bit special: The image above shows the elegantly appointed Four Seasons Suite

A oui bit special: The image above shows the elegantly appointed Four Seasons Suite

Le Bar, which Ted describes as 'ooh-la-la-inducing'. He stopped by there for a cocktail, in between his Michelin-starred dining experiences

Le Bar, which Ted describes as 'ooh-la-la-inducing'. He stopped by there for a cocktail, in between his Michelin-starred dining experiences

Le Bar, which Ted describes as ‘ooh-la-la-inducing’. He stopped by there for a cocktail, in between his Michelin-starred dining experiences

Ted writes that 'wandering the magnificent public spaces... is a joy'. Above - La Galerie

Ted writes that 'wandering the magnificent public spaces... is a joy'. Above - La Galerie

Ted writes that ‘wandering the magnificent public spaces… is a joy’. Above – La Galerie

Pictured above is the hotel's Eiffel Tower Suite. Rooms at the hotel start at around £1,600 ($2,000) a night

Pictured above is the hotel's Eiffel Tower Suite. Rooms at the hotel start at around £1,600 ($2,000) a night

Pictured above is the hotel’s Eiffel Tower Suite. Rooms at the hotel start at around £1,600 ($2,000) a night

The Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Eiffel Tower are just moments away from the property

The Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Eiffel Tower are just moments away from the property

The Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Eiffel Tower are just moments away from the property

It’s a painful departure, for this is a hotel that bewitches like no other, and not just on the food front.

Wandering the magnificent public spaces, with their incredible flower displays, is a joy, the elegant subterranean pool with its mosaic tiling is bliss – and the bedrooms are sumptuously regal, with mindblowingly comfortable beds.

I feel like I’m in the arms of angels after lights-out.

The 244-room hotel proudly boasts of its location ‘in the heart of the city’s Golden Triangle designer shopping district’, with the Champs-Elysées, Avenue Marceau and Avenue Montaigne bordering the property and the Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Eiffel Tower just moments away.

It’s a worthwhile brag – but I’d argue the hotel is an attraction in itself.

Ever wondered how good a hotel can get? Step this way.

TRAVEL FACTS 

Ted was hosted by Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris, where rooms start from around £1,600 ($2,000) a night.

Visit www.fourseasons.com/paris. 

French designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has redesigned the hotel’s duplex city-view suites, the Parisian Suite and the Grand Premiere Suite. For more information about the hotel’s suites visit www.fourseasons.com/paris/accommodations/#suites and and www.fourseasons.com/paris/accommodations/#signature-suites.

The hotel has launched a brand new ‘lunch at potager’ experience ‘an authentic experience’ with Le George’s Michelin-starred chef Simone Zanoni ‘that takes guests outside of Paris, guiding them to discover a vegetable garden where they will pick vegetables, prepare simple and unpretentious dishes, and share a lunch in a rustic yet chic atmosphere’. 

For more information visit www.fourseasons.com/paris/experiences.

For more information on the hotel’s dreamy spa, visit www.fourseasons.com/paris/spa. 

PROS: Incredible trio of world-class restaurants, gold-standard service, regal rooms, luxurious throughout, superb location, blissful swimming pool. A hotel that aims for the summit of perfection and just about gets there.

CONS: Don’t be silly. 

Rating out of five (as if you had to ask): ***** 

GETTING THERE

The best way of reaching Paris from the UK is via the high-speed Eurostar train service. Standard tickets cost from £39, standard premier from £70 and business premier from £275.

Eurostar operates 17 trains a day from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare Du Nord. The fastest London to Paris journey time is 2hrs 16 minutes, with each train able to carry up to 894 passengers.

Visit www.eurostar.com/uk-en.

Want to arrive at the hotel in style? Then book a Blacklane chauffeur

Blacklane chauffeurs are extremely courteous, drive carefully and will transport you in a luxury car. The drivers, all trained at the Blacklane Chauffeur Academy, will always provide bottled water, Wi-Fi, and a multi-charger cable.

The ‘First Class’ service allows clients to travel in ‘true luxury’, with a fleet of vehicles including Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 or EVs such as Mercedes-Benz EQS.

Chauffeurs will wait up to one hour to allow for delays, and clients can cancel their ride up to one hour before their booking time.

Visit www.blacklane.com/en.

 

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Doctors said my excruciating back pain was down to a slipped disc – but the truth was much worse: Agony of gym-loving father, 46, diagnosed with blood cancer which could come back at any point

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A father’s excruciating back pain that was dismissed as a slipped disc by doctors actually ended up being cancer. 

David Windle, from Camberwell in south London, was at one point unable to move because doing so would leave him in agony. 

Despite numerous trips to his GP, osteopath and physiotherapist in December 2021 and January, the 46-year-old was still in crippling pain. 

Mr Windle assumed it was a nasty flare-up of a twinge that he suffered years earlier at the gym but was desperate for relief. 

On two occasions before his eventual myeloma diagnosis, he was even sent to A&E. Medics there ruled he likely had a slipped disc – when soft tissue between bones in the spine pushes out — that was pressing on nerves.

David Windle, 46, who kept fit by going to the gym, running and cycling, dismissed his back pain for almost four years putting it down to a gym injury

David Windle, 46, who kept fit by going to the gym, running and cycling, dismissed his back pain for almost four years putting it down to a gym injury

David Windle, 46, who kept fit by going to the gym, running and cycling, dismissed his back pain for almost four years putting it down to a gym injury

Mr Windle’s pain progressed to the point where he’d ‘crawl across the floor from the bed and lie there’. 

During the February 2022 half-term, he needed his mother to help look after his two children, Sylvie, 9 and Otis, 6.

Recalling the extent of his pain, Mr Windle, a deputy headteacher, told MailOnline: ‘I was supposed to look after my kids.  

‘I had to call my mum and say I can’t move, you need to come and look after kids.

‘I would just get out of bed every day and crawl across the floor from the bed and lie there.’

The deputy headteacher, pictured with his wife Emma Smith, 49, was told his back pain could be a slipped disc

The deputy headteacher, pictured with his wife Emma Smith, 49, was told his back pain could be a slipped disc

The deputy headteacher, pictured with his wife Emma Smith, 49, was told his back pain could be a slipped disc

In February 2022 aged 44, Mr Windle was diagnosed with myeloma, a type of blood cancer that can affect your bones

In February 2022 aged 44, Mr Windle was diagnosed with myeloma, a type of blood cancer that can affect your bones

In February 2022 aged 44, Mr Windle was diagnosed with myeloma, a type of blood cancer that can affect your bones

When Mr Windle went back to work after half-term, he would ‘find an empty office to lie in’ just to help him get through the day. Eventually, he found himself working from home propped up by cushions. 

His osteopath suggested getting an MRI scan, although he wasn’t able to get one on the NHS.

Mr Windle, who paid to get one privately, said it ‘revealed the disaster which was the next year and a half of my life’.

Scans revealed one of his vertebrae had disintegrated with no known cause – but he was told it could be a cancer.

He said: ‘It was a terrible moment. I was sitting there and the world just disappeared around me.’

WHAT IS MYELOMA? 

Myeloma is a blood cancer that arises from plasma cells. 

It affects 24,000 people in the UK at any one time and about 4,500 people are diagnosed annually.

It mainly affects those over the age of 65, however, it has been diagnosed in people much younger. 

Myeloma develops when DNA is damaged during the development of a plasma cell. 

The abnormal cell multiplies and spreads within the bone marrow and releases one type of antibody – known as paraprotein – which has no useful function. This can cause the bones to easily break.

Myeloma affects where bone marrow is normally active in an adult, such as in the bones of the spine, skull, pelvis, rib cage, long bones of the arms and legs and the areas around the shoulders and hips. 

The most common symptoms include:

  • Bone pain
  • Fatigue
  • Recurring infection
  • Kidney damage
  • Peripheral neuropathy

 Source: Myeloma UK

 

He rang his wife Emma, 49, and explained he needed to get to hospital urgently.

Once at A&E, doctors looked at Mr Windle’s MRI scans and asked if he had been in a car crash or had any trauma. He said: ‘They all looked a bit worried.’

He spent a fortnight in the hospital’s spinal unit, undergoing several scans and blood tests.

Recalling the day he found out his diagnosis, Mr Windle said: ‘I had decided to go for my daily walk from my bed on the hospital ward, so I’d struggled into the back brace I had to wear and set off for my circuit of the hospital.

‘I was on the ninth floor, so I’d got into the habit of walking up and down the stairs to keep fit.

‘But on the way out the ward I walked past the space where the doctors and nurses gathered around the computers. I heard a doctor chatting to a nurse and I heard him saying, “well, myeloma at 44, that’s a bit s***, isn’t it?”

‘I just thought, “yes that does sound a bit s***”… “oh s*** I think they’re talking about me”. So I sort of backed away, just out of their view, and I listened, I listened to them talk about it. And I thought, okay, that is me. That’s my diagnosis.’

Myeloma is an incurable blood cancer which strikes around 6,000 Brits every year. It develops from plasma cells in bone marrow – the spongy tissue inside large bones – multiplying uncontrollably.

Symptoms can be difficult to distinguish from other illnesses, with pain and fatigue being tell-tale signs of the illness.

Mr Windle was diagnosed with a rare type of myeloma called ‘light chain’ myeloma, which only affects about 20 per cent of patients with the blood cancer. Because of its characteristics, it can be even harder to detect.

For Mr Windle, the cancerous cells cluttered up his bone marrow, meaning it didn’t make the useful cells that make and regenerate the bone, causing his vertebrae to disintegrate, doctors believe. 

Mr Windle added: ‘As soon as I was in the treatment pathway, everybody acted very quickly. 

‘There’s no one looking at a 44-year-old man who goes to the gym runs, cycles and is fit. No-one’s thinking this is an incurable cancer.

‘The only issue is people aren’t aware of myeloma or looking for it. I had to wait for my spine to fall apart before I had any sort of test to reveal what it is.’

Once his results came back he had a bone marrow biopsy, which involves a needle being stuck into the pelvis.  

Mr Windle, pictured wearing his back brace was diagnosed with a rare type of myeloma called 'light chain' myeloma, which only affects about 20 per cent of patients with the blood cancer

Mr Windle, pictured wearing his back brace was diagnosed with a rare type of myeloma called 'light chain' myeloma, which only affects about 20 per cent of patients with the blood cancer

Mr Windle, pictured wearing his back brace was diagnosed with a rare type of myeloma called ‘light chain’ myeloma, which only affects about 20 per cent of patients with the blood cancer

Mr Windle said: ‘I had to wait six weeks to find out what stage my myeloma was. 

‘But the good news I had in that first two months was the myeloma was officially standard.’

He had four months of chemo and was given the cancer-fighting drug bortezomib alongside tablets of the steroid dexamethasone.

Mr Windle added: ‘I was already emotionally all over the shop and dexamethasone heightens your emotions, I was crazy, I was really devastated and struggling. 

‘I couldn’t be at home I just used to go out and walk around the streets crying every night.’

But eventually his dose of dexamethasone was reduced which helped his symptoms and ‘made a huge difference’. 

Me Windle admits his young children Sylvie, 9 and Otis, 6, pictured with his friend James Harvey still don't really understand his Myeloma diagnosis

Me Windle admits his young children Sylvie, 9 and Otis, 6, pictured with his friend James Harvey still don't really understand his Myeloma diagnosis

Me Windle admits his young children Sylvie, 9 and Otis, 6, pictured with his friend James Harvey still don’t really understand his Myeloma diagnosis 

After a two month break from medication, in November 2022 Mr Windle had a stem cell transplant followed by two more months of the same treatment. 

Now, Mr Windle is taking the cancer drug lenalidomide and zoledronic acid, which can prevent problems with the bones caused by the myeloma. 

Recalling how he broke the news of his diagnosis to his family, he admits his young children still don’t really understand. 

Mr Windle, whose life is almost ‘back to how it was before’, said: ‘I told all my adult friends and family but my kids still don’t really know. 

‘They just knew at the time I had had a really bad back and I had to go to hospital. I was in hospital for Sylvie’s seventh birthday, so that was pretty rubbish.

Mr Windle has since found 'hope' by building a community of friends with myeloma who also have the blood cancer and have had it for 10 to 20 years. Here, he is pictured with his friends Chris Buckingham (left) , James Harvey (centre) and Neil Gordon (right) who is currently running 1000Km to raise money for Myeloma UK

Mr Windle has since found 'hope' by building a community of friends with myeloma who also have the blood cancer and have had it for 10 to 20 years. Here, he is pictured with his friends Chris Buckingham (left) , James Harvey (centre) and Neil Gordon (right) who is currently running 1000Km to raise money for Myeloma UK

Mr Windle has since found ‘hope’ by building a community of friends with myeloma who also have the blood cancer and have had it for 10 to 20 years. Here, he is pictured with his friends Chris Buckingham (left) , James Harvey (centre) and Neil Gordon (right) who is currently running 1000Km to raise money for Myeloma UK

‘The weeks I got diagnosed were the weeks I was supposed to be interviewing for a headteacher job. 

‘But I don’t go for that anymore, I don’t have the energy. I am trying my best but I can’t keep going, it’s very demanding work. 

‘The main issue is you are just always wondering when it is going to come back. It doesn’t go away it comes back for everyone.’

It can be months or years before the myeloma becomes active again, but at some point patients do relapse, according to Myeloma UK. 

It comes after UK health chiefs this week approved Nexpovio, a cancer treatment designed for myeloma patients who have become resistant to other drugs. 

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