A pat on the back for Michael Gove

So, what can we say? A free school in the little ol’ East End has produced the best A level results in the country with five star pupils. The “Academy Famous Five” have secured spots at Oxbridge, and three of those five are young women. They thanked the former education secretary, Michael Gove, stating that their success was due to his controversial free schools programme.

The London Academy of Excellence http://www.excellencelondon.ac.uk in Stratford, East London is the brainchild of Richard Cairns, the head of Brighton College. His dream was for the Academy’s pupils to secure as many Oxbridge places as a typical independent school. With backers including Eton, Roedean, City of London, Highgate and Brighton Collage, the school has achieved just that.

Amina Ali, the daughter of a minicab driver from Bangladesh must be over the moon. She is off to study chemistry at Oxford. When she spent a night at the college for her interview she felt lonely and scared overnight, as she had never been in a room alone without someone barging in! She is used to sharing her bedroom with her mother and sister and the rest of the house with 11 or so relatives. Study time was always cramped and noisy.

Olivia Hylton-Pennant was frustrated with her previous state school and the constant class disruptions. So much time was wasted with the teacher having to sort out the naughty kids. At the Academy, everyone wanted to learn. Olivia knuckled down and has now secured a place at Cambridge to read philosophy. Today she has the last laugh. It seems the Academy has outperformed every sixth form college in England.

A great school in a great part of London, here’s to many more. A* for the Academy of Excellence!

And Sugar Loves a school who quotes Coco!


Will you marry me?

As you know, Sugar Group occasionally lets the boys in! We thought it would be a good idea to introduce you to one who has caught our eye in our Man of the Month feature. First up is Dale Weeks; an alternative wedding photographer who takes photos of your special day with a twist.

His main focus is to capture the emotions and feelings of the day, not stopping the flow for guests to pose or say cheese! He sounds like our kind of photographer so much, we want to get married all over again. In fact Dale, what are you up to next Saturday afternoon?

I bought my first camera around my 4th birthday at a zoo – I used my birthday money, then spent the whole day taking photos of plastic dinosaurs.
I have a little collection at home of shots I’ve taken around that time – the photos have a real documentary feel to them!

I had no ambitions for photography until I was 24. I dropped out of college twice, played in a few bands – toured the country and then gave that up too at the grand old age of 21. I became a recluse for a few years and when I moved back home I got really serious about taking photographs.
I got a job in a call centre and instead of working, I spent most of my time on the internet learning everything about cameras – shutter speeds, exposure, apertures.
I found a cool website called stumbleupon.com – where you can select your interests and it brings up websites that it thinks you will like.

That’s when I started getting exposed to photographers from the states – Carl Zoch, Feather Love, Wreckless girl – especially wedding photographers for some reason.
I loved the way they used natural light, natural smiles and the colours popped.
Instantly I knew I wanted to shoot those kinds of photos.

There’s a really nice community online and in pockets of the world where everyone helps each other.
A photographer called Emma and her husband Pete run a workshop in Birmingham called Welcome Home – that for me was life changing and it put me in touch with friends and photographers that help me out whenever I need advice.

My favourite weddings are the ones where the couples just let go and have fun.
My couples have usually seen my work and that’s hopefully why they’ve booked me, they know what to expect and they trust me to do a good job – make them feel relaxed, get along with their friends and family and make them look awesome!

I would say my style is a mix of fine art and documentary. I love shooting candids of people having fun and laughing – I get right into the thick of what’s going on and can tell when the laughs are about to happen, a lot of the job is about being social and reading peoples minds.
I absolutely love the time I get to spend with my couples just after they’ve been married and I get them alone for half hour/ an hour.
We have some fun taking portraits – this is where I can get creative and they can spend some time together for the first time as husband and wife.

I actually carry a couple of items around with me to every wedding or shoot for good luck.
I have a dollar coin that was given to me when I went to California a few years ago- and a shell of a bullet from Spain that was used on the old western film sets for Serge Leoni and Clint Eastwood!

This year has been pretty cool so far, I’ve shot weddings in national trust houses, in fields in the woods, on beaches, in the mountains and at the Bell in Ticehurst – which is an awesome venue!!

I love to carry on shooting weddings, meeting awesome couples and taking photographs that not only I can be proud of, but my couples can pass on down the generations of their families.




Raising the Roof…….

As the sun shines down on London Town, there’s no place nicer to have a drink than on a roof top. From the top floor of Peckham multi-storey to high above Selfridges, the capital is awash with places to enjoy a sundowner as the sun goes down. We love Bar Chick; a fun guide to where to go for the best stirrers, mixers, shakers and drinkers! They review not just the 5 star hotel bar, but the cool places too, some off the beaten track, and others in the thick of it. It’s not all about £50 truffle Martinis or the local Wetherspoons curry night, Bar Chick looks for places with character, a bit of a story, but ultimately the perfect day/night/week.


Another part of London on the up, is Nine Elms. Sugar lady Julia; of Radical Dining Society fame is hosting a 5 day pop-up wine-ing and dining experience inside the new glam Embassy Gardens. The event called Walk on the Wild Side, will showcase food, drinks, art and stylish living accommodation plus roof top dining, drinking and tunes! Chef Toby Cartwright is a rising star, so come down and taste for yourself. Contact Julia@raddiso.com for info and bookings. See you at the bar!





One Sugar woman who certainly impresses us!

Ladies who Impress celebrates female role models and inspires women to be more confident, creative and make the most of their talents!
Their Leap of Faith event on June 17th will be well worth a visit, so for further info contact http://www.ladieswhoimpress.com

The founder; Jana Bakunina is a great supporter of Sugar Group and all we do, so we look forward to working with her in the future and getting even more great women under one big roof!


Football & Father’s Day so close for a reason?!

So, who planned that then? The World Cup starting on a Thursday and Dads all over the country celebrating their special day only 3 days later. It was planned that way for sure. Now nothing will get done for the next few days or month, DIY will cease, IKEA flat packs shall remain just that – flat – and eyes shall be glued to just one thing, the TV. That’s if they are staying home. They could of course be out for the next month, sitting in bars and pubs around the country until the early hours. They might even be heading to São Paulo or Manaus. So, if you are destined to become a bit of a footy widow for the next few weeks, find out where you can go to watch the games, where there’s some cool Brazilian tunes to keep you entertained and a mean Caipirinha being mixed up by a cute Luiz on the isle of Fernandos! Check out the great Joga Bola! at Rich Mix, Shoreditch http://www.richmix.org.uk for music, dance, food & all things carnival.



Father’s Day will soon be upon us and at this time of year, like many, I miss my Father terribly. I remember mine introducing me to the hilarious Kevin Turvey (Rik Mayall) all those moons ago. He told me he would be the next big funny thing. He was right. He did the same with Ali G. My Dad was right about many things, and now, when in doubt I often ask him what’s right or wrong or just start a conversation with him, hoping magic will happen, and he will appear in front of me with the right answer. I would do anything to hear his voice again. He was a brilliant man, strict but great fun, successful and generous, full of life with a wanderlust for exciting cities and faraway places, enjoying good wines, art house movies, Blue Grass and Italian tailoring along the way. One thing we disagreed upon (apart from my choice of boyfriends and lack of interest in squash, which he made me play) was his mistrust of alternative and complementary health. He thought it was gobbledygook and how could reflexology possibly do any good? “What if your feet hurt?” He often said “what then?!”. He then became ill. Very ill. For the first time in his 63 years he had a massage. He loved it. He then had another, followed by Reiki and acupuncture. He even tried reflexology to ease his sore feet! Nothing was going to cure him, but, it certainly made him smile.image