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Sunday, July 10, 2016

Teen tennis star who was born with three fingers achieves her dream playing at Wimbledon

15-year-old Francesca Jones was born with three fingers on each hand
She has endured a series of painful operations and has been teased
But the Yorkshire teenager says it has helped her achieve her SW19 dream 
Teen reached second round of her first junior Grand Slam tournament 

With fighting spirit and a powerful serve, 15-year-old Francesca Jones is like many other juniors at this year’s Wimbledon 
But the Yorkshire teenager has had to overcome painful operations, teasing and being born with three fingers on each hand to achieve her SW19 dream.
And, since the age of nine, she has been living by herself at a tennis academy in Barcelona, hundreds of miles away from her parents in Oxenhope in Bradford.

Since the age of nine, Francesca Jones, 15, who was born with just three fingers on each hand, has been living by herself at a tennis academy in Barcelona, hundreds of miles away from her parents in Bradford

Francesca was born with Ectrodactyly Ectodermal Dysplasia, EEC syndrome, a rare condition which has left her with three fingers and one thumb on each hand.
It has also left her with a small right hand – her racket hand – and four toes on her left foot and just three on her right.
But that has not stopped the determined teenager from reaching the second round of her first junior Grand Slam tournament or being ranked number four in the world when she was under-14.
She missed out on a place in the third round after being beaten by 16-year-old American Kayla Day yesterday Tues, but still has a doubles match to look forward to.

With fighting spirit and a powerful serve, 15-year-old Francesca Jones is like many other juniors at this year’s Wimbledon

She credits her success to her condition, saying it has made her more determined.
Francesca said: ‘I have had so many people criticise me and say things. That just motivates me more. I just think: “Watch me do it.” You have got to keep on using it to your advantage.
‘People say that I can’t grip the racket properly and I get called names. I don’ t take much notice of it, but again it is using it as a positive.
‘If people can see that I am where I am now and hopefully where I will be in the future with my condition then I am proving a point that I have always wanted to prove.’
She has had three operations on her wrists in the last year alone so her appearance at Wimbledon is nothing short of miraculous.
But the rising star refuses to let her challenging condition hold her back and has her sights firmly set on being one of the best tennis players out there.

She said: ‘If I have to do them (the operations) again, I’ll do them again. I’m 100 per cent into doing this and giving it everything to get to where I want to be in the world.’
But having fewer fingers does have a technical impact on her game.
She said: ‘There are small things, like my nail broke today, which happens quite often because I have to hold on to the racket very hard.
‘When I was younger I did have problems because I also have this problem in my feet, it doesn’t just affect my hands.
‘I have three toes on my right foot which is obviously my dominant foot, so balance had always been a weakness of mine.
‘As I matured, as I got older, I have just worked on that day in, day out. Everything’s mental and everything’s work, so if you keep at it then eventually it’s going to work out for you.’
Born in Bradford, Francesca had to have numerous operations when she was a girl and was in and out of hospital.

She turned to tennis because she was ‘a bit chubby’ and needed to exercise, discovering she was good at it.
Francesca said: ‘I got to the point where I thought with my condition, I could have a massive point that I could prove here to people, that willpower and determination is everything in life.
‘With mental strength, if you keep that and stick with that then you’re going to get somewhere, and that’s when I thought, “You know what, I’m going to go for it and try and get through this and see where I can get.”’
She is supported by her financial adviser parents Adele and Simon, who she sees once a month after moving to Barcelona to train at the same academy that nurtured a 15-year-old Andy Murray.
Francesca had the opportunity to play at Wimbledon last year, but the operations held her back.
This year, however, she has achieved a dream. But like anyone who wants to be the best, she is furious that she lost.
She said: ‘I come and I play to win, which is why losing today is very disappointing.
‘But I’ll use the positives that I have from the match today to my benefit when I go to the next couple of tournaments. I know that I have the level of a top five player so I’m just going to go for it.’ 
By Emine Sinaz

Fr Jerry Daly's raises urgent truths about the Church

Fr Jerry Daly at the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, Western Road, Cork. Picture: Denis Scannell

HE can’t prove it, but Fr Jerry Daly thinks he was one of the first priests in the world to turn his altar around when word emerged from Vatican II that priests could now face the congregation. It was the 1960s and Fr Jerry was a missionary in Indonesia, catering to several villages in the Kai Islands.
“I never liked having my back to the people. It was bonkers. You can’t communicate with people when you’ve got your back to them.”
Back then, Fr Jerry — a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart — was at the cutting edge of change. Now 84 and living in the MSC retirement community in Cork, he’s still pushing for change. Only radical solutions will work, he believes, for a Church that’s “sleepwalking into the future”.

It’s why he has published his memoir, An Endangered Species, as a way of raising some urgent truths about the Church he has served for 60 years — a service that included ministering in “a very English parish” during and after Bloody Sunday, as well as witnessing the atrocities of apartheid while a missionary in South Africa.

Born on the Sheep’s Head peninsula, West Cork, Fr Jerry is unflinching about the Catholic Church’s decline in Ireland: Only 4,000 priests active, the vast majority aged over 50, many over 70.
“In 25 years, there will be fewer than 200 active priests for the whole country. Mass attendance is down to 40% nationally, to 2% in some Dublin parishes. A small older population is supporting the Church.”
On a recent Saturday, in a Cork parish where he says weekly Mass, there were 50 girls for First Communion.
“They were asked to come back for Sunday Mass. Only five or six came. That’s par for the course. First Communion has become a rite of passage.”
He lays much blame at the door of intransigent Church leaders, believing they’ve still got their backs to the people. He contrasts Archbishop of Tuam Dr Michael Neary’s honest appraisal of the crisis facing the Church (“on the very edge of Europe, we are hearing the last vestiges of Christendom in their death rattle”) with Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s assertion that “what we have to do is find worthy candidates who are able to live as celibate priests in the tradition [of] the Latin rite”.
For Fr Jerry, saying and doing nothing is no longer an option.
“We have to read the signs of the times, become realists and adjust the sails.”
This, he says, means listening to the most up-to-date human, scientific and technological developments and to the “instincts of the Church’s own members, to all people of good will”.

Clerical child sex abuse, he calls “the greatest scandal ever to happen in the Catholic Church”.
He cites both ignorance and cover up by the Church as huge contributing factors.
“[Church leaders] had no idea as to the nature of this perversity. Unfortunately, their first impulse was to save the good name of the institution.
”The Church, he believes, has done everything possible to ensure children are protected, but “we can never undo the past”.
He is scathing about the Church’s top-down authority structure, citing philosopher Bertrand Russell’s words about the failure of religion: “Any average selection of mankind, set apart and told that it excels the rest in virtue, must tend to sink below the average.”
In Confession — about matters like birth control — he says: “Conscience is personal and sacred. We talk about conscience being informed. Life itself informs conscience.”
He believes general absolution is “a practical solution for people who find going into a confessional box difficult”.
He sees “no scriptural or theological reason” why women can’t be priests and believes celibacy should be optional; in England, he worked with Anglican priests who defected to the Catholic Church and stayed married.
He thinks Pope Benedict’s translation of the Roman Missal is “gibberish and garbage”, citing, for example, the word “passion” that once meant “suffering”, but now means something completely different.

Pope Benedict

He believes the way forward for the Church is to ordain community elders, working alongside fulltime priests, not acting like clergy and not called clergy. These would have a leadership role – “people would look up to them as living the Christian life” – and they would gather the kind of small Christian communities so popular in Africa: “Ten or 20 people, living near each other, meeting weekly in one of their homes, reading scripture, singing hymns, praying for those needing prayers and helping neighbours in need of help. All these small communities would meet together on a Sunday whenever a priest was available for Eucharist.” He’s unsure though how to adapt it to our urban society.
Fr Jerry’s memoir — of an eventful life — is full of humanity. He recounts the pain of leaving for the missions in 1961, wondering would he ever see his mother again and how it “cut me to the heart” to see a small nephew’s tears.
There’s humour too. Singing isn’t his strong suit and he recalls his efforts met with stifled laughter by his music-loving Indonesian congregation. “One Sunday, when I turned to sing Dominus Vobiscum, there was an immediate response from a nearby cockerel: Cock-a-doodle-doo! There was pandemonium among the congregation.”
Fr Jerry is upbeat in his suggestions for Church renewal. At 80 plus, his belief in a God who loves him is stronger than ever.
“I see Him in the bits and pieces of life.”  
Helen O’Callaghan                   

Photos Minute: Canada's first tribal chiefs and their people (Circa: 1910)

Gardeners urged to protect pollinators

Gardeners are being urged to take simple steps such as cutting the grass less often and growing more nectar-rich flowers as part of efforts to help bees.

Despite concerns about the plight of bees in the UK, with many species in decline, more than half (57%) of 1,717 people polled by YouGov admitted they had not done anything to provide pollinating insects with food or homes in the past year.
Now householders are being encouraged to take five steps to help bees, whose pollinating services are worth £600 million a year in boosting yields and the quality of seeds and fruits.
People can grow more flowers, shrubs and trees that are rich in nectar and pollen, leave patches of land to grow wild, cut grass less often, avoid disturbing or destroying nesting or hibernating insects and think carefully about whether to use pesticides.

(Ted Richardson/AP)

And schoolchildren are being given a summer holiday challenge to build “bee hotels” out of simple items such as bamboo, plastic drinks bottles and string, to give solitary bees a home.
The call has been made ahead of “bees’ needs week”, part of the national pollinator strategy in 2014 by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) in partnership with charities, businesses and academic institutions.
Defra’s Lords spokesman, Lord Gardiner of Kimble, said: “It is clear we care about bees – now we need to make sure we translate that concern into real action to protect our precious pollinators.

(Mike Groll/AP)
“Everyone can play their part to ensure bees have food and a home, from urban window box gardeners to farmers protecting the wildlife around their fields.”
Paul de Zylva, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth, said: “You don’t need to keep bees to be a bee-keeper.
“At home, in your street, at work or at school, you can help the 250 or more different types of bee by growing the right plants, improving local spaces for pollinators and avoiding pesticides.
“Simple actions can make sure we are the generation to save Britain’s bees.”