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Gemma Collins ‘plans to turn new £1.3m mansion into the ‘Buckingham Palace of Essex’

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Gemma Collins is reportedly planning to turn her new £1.3million mansion into the ‘Buckingham Palace of Essex’. 

The former TOWIE diva, 40, wants to call in her friend and Real Housewives of Cheshire star Dawn Ward, 47, who owns an interior design company to help, according to The Sun

Dawn runs Arista Design from her own £14million home in Cheshire which she shares with husband Ashley Ward and is reportedly going to transform Gemma’s new pad. 

Exciting! Gemma Collins is reportedly planning to turn her new £1.3million mansion into the 'Buckingham Palace of Essex'

Exciting! Gemma Collins is reportedly planning to turn her new £1.3million mansion into the ‘Buckingham Palace of Essex’

New place: The former TOWIE star, 40, moved into the five-bedroom barn conversion in January and is now planning a design makeover

New place: The former TOWIE star, 40, moved into the five-bedroom barn conversion in January and is now planning a design makeover

A friend revealed to the publication: ‘Dawn’s designs are jaw-dropping and life changing. She’s going to make Gemma’s house the Buckingham Palace of Essex.

‘It is going to be off the scale when she and her team have finished the work. Even the GC will be lost for words.’  

Dawn’s company has helped design the interiors of multi-million homes in London and Cheshire, plus a clothes franchise in Harrods. 

Pals: Dawn runs Arista Design from her own £14million home in Cheshire which she shares with husband Ashley Ward and is reportedly going to transform Gemma's new pad

Pals: Dawn runs Arista Design from her own £14million home in Cheshire which she shares with husband Ashley Ward and is reportedly going to transform Gemma’s new pad

A representative for Gemma has been contacted by MailOnline for a comment.   

Gemma moved into her new dream home back in January. The five-bedroom barn conversion comes with an acre of land, a sprawling living area and four en suite bathrooms.  

The property’s master room features its own en suite bathroom and dressing room with plenty of space for the star’s lavish celebrity wardrobe.

Plans: A friend revealed to the publication: 'Dawn's designs are jaw-dropping and life changing. She's going to make Gemma's house the Buckingham Palace of Essex'

Plans: A friend revealed to the publication: ‘Dawn’s designs are jaw-dropping and life changing. She’s going to make Gemma’s house the Buckingham Palace of Essex’

The rooms are all designed with a neutral colour scheme, with predominantly plain white walls and carpets, and three of the other bedrooms also have their own bathrooms. 

The main bathroom features an enclosed bath as well as a separate rainfall shower and sink, all in a muted tiled colour scheme, the perfect base for Gemma to make the space her own.  

The reality star’s living area has floor-to-ceiling windows offering views of the surrounding countryside, with the open-plan design allowing for a flow between the lounge, dining and kitchen spaces. 

Picturesque: Gemma's new home boasts a total of four en suite bathrooms and is placed on approximately an acre of land in the Essex countryside

Picturesque: Gemma’s new home boasts a total of four en suite bathrooms and is placed on approximately an acre of land in the Essex countryside

In the kitchen Gemma also has plenty of space and cook and entertain her celebrity pals, with granite surfaces, a double sink and a contrasting breakfast bar with blue wood cupboards.

As well as a study and utility room, Gemma’s new house also features a gated driveway and garage area, and a large Sandstone patio that leads off the living room through double doors.  

It comes after earlier this month Darren Day said that Gemma joked that he ‘helped pay’ for her £1.35m ‘dream’ home in Essex.

Cosy: In the kitchen Gemma also has plenty of space and cook and entertain her celebrity pals, with granite surfaces, a double sink and a contrasting breakfast bar with blue wood cupboards

Cosy: In the kitchen Gemma also has plenty of space and cook and entertain her celebrity pals, with granite surfaces, a double sink and a contrasting breakfast bar with blue wood cupboards

Spread out: The entire downstairs living space is open plan, with the dining and kitchen areas leading onto the vast patio and garden area

Spread out: The entire downstairs living space is open plan, with the dining and kitchen areas leading onto the vast patio and garden area

Talent: Dawn's company has helped design the interiors of multi-million homes in London and Cheshire, plus a clothes franchise in Harrods

Talent: Dawn’s company has helped design the interiors of multi-million homes in London and Cheshire, plus a clothes franchise in Harrods

Gemma has found great success since appearing on Celebrity Big Brother in 2016 with the actor, 52, after her remark ‘I’m claustrophobic Darren’ was turned into a viral meme and even clothing line.    

During the time, Gemma ranted at fellow housemate Darren that she was too ‘claustrophobic’ to take part in a task on the now-axed Channel 5 series.  

Speaking in a new interview, Darren claimed that Gemma sent him a video of her new £1.35m ‘dream’ home in Essex and said: ‘You bought this for me Da!’ 

Relaxing: Given the house it converted from a barn, the entire property has a rustic feel, with an open wood finish and floor-to-ceiling windows

Relaxing: Given the house it converted from a barn, the entire property has a rustic feel, with an open wood finish and floor-to-ceiling windows

Spread out: The house has plenty of lawn space alongside the patio area, certainly making it a dream space for Gemma to relocate

What a sight! The star's new house has completely unobstructed views of the surrounding land, with enormous glass windows and double doors offering plenty of light

What a sight! The star’s new house has completely unobstructed views of the surrounding land, with enormous glass windows and double doors offering plenty of light

Talking to The Sun, Darren added: ‘She is making a f**king fortune out of my name. I am now an Easter egg, I’m a Covid mask. I’m a handbag. I’m a f***ing scarf. I’m a jacket. 

‘I was even a Christmas f**king bauble. Christmas bauble and now a f**king Easter egg. I mean, I never thought I would be, but I am.’

Darren continued: ‘She has just moved into a new house, bought a new house, she sent me a video a couple of weeks ago showing me all around the grounds and she went ‘You f***ing bought this for me Da’. I thought, ‘I bet I f***ing did.” 

Plenty of space! The rooms are all designed with a neutral colour scheme, with predominantly plain white walls and carpets, and three of the other bedrooms also have their own bathrooms

Plenty of space! The rooms are all designed with a neutral colour scheme, with predominantly plain white walls and carpets, and three of the other bedrooms also have their own bathrooms

New home: As well as a study and utility room, Gemma's new house also features a gated driveway and garage area, and a large Sandstone patio that leads off the living room through double doors

New home: As well as a study and utility room, Gemma’s new house also features a gated driveway and garage area, and a large Sandstone patio that leads off the living room through double doors

Positive: Gemma, who was living with her brother Russell in lockdown, now has her own space and a huge garden for her workouts

Positive: Gemma, who was living with her brother Russell in lockdown, now has her own space and a huge garden for her workouts 

The TV personality admitted that it was ‘weird’ that the remark from 2016 had suddenly become famous again, adding that people shout ‘I’m claustrophobic Darren’ to him in the streets in Brentwood, Essex.

Darren even joked that despite a successful career, where he has played at the London Palladium, he is now best known as ‘claustrophobic Darren’.

Gemma spawned a slew of memes during her stint on 2016’s Celebrity Big Brother with her ‘claustrophobic’ catchphrase put on a line of clothing from In The Style recently, which was even worn by Little Mix’s Jade Thirlwall.

MailOnline contacted Gemma’s representative for further comment at the time. 

'I'm claustrophobic Darren!' It comes after Darren Day recently said that Gemma joked that he 'helped pay' for her £1.35m 'dream' home in Essex

‘I’m claustrophobic Darren!’ It comes after Darren Day recently said that Gemma joked that he ‘helped pay’ for her £1.35m ‘dream’ home in Essex

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Foley to bring school reopening plan to Cabinet on Tuesday

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Minister for Education Norma Foley says she has every confidence schools will reopen fully from late August and early September.

Ms Foley said there was ongoing engagement between her department and public health officials on the matter but all schools were set to reopen.

Strong mitigation measures would be in place in schools to ensure that they would continue to be controlled environments, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show on Monday.

Covid-19 infection rates among children were at their highest when children were not at school and public health experts had pointed out “on a consistent basis to schools being a very significantly controlled environment”.

The safe operation of the Leaving Certificate exams and enhanced summer camps indicated that the safe operation of education could be maintained, she said.

A plan would be put in place to allow schools to “draw down” CO2 monitors and the Minister said she was confident there would be enough monitors for all schools by the start of the new school year.

In relation to Covid-19 vaccines for children, Ms Foley said the “expertise” lay with the National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) from which her department would take guidance.

“I have received confirmation that the 16 to 18-year-old cohort should be in a position for online registration in the coming days, and I have been advised that the 15-year-olds cohort are still being considered by NIAC and there has been no definitive timeline given,” she added.

Ms Foley will bring a plan to Cabinet on Tuesday outlining enhanced public information campaigns, the outcome of antigen testing pilots, and the purchase of C02 monitors to assist in ventilating classrooms.

Capacity limits on school transport services will also remain in place.

Government sources were adamant on Sunday that second-level education would resume in the autumn, despite concerns among public-health officials that the wave could grow following the reopening of indoor dining today, before peaking in September.

“Schools will reopen,” a senior Coalition source said.

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Over 40 complaints made about ‘unsuitable’ books on English curriculum

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Some books being studied by Junior Cert and Leaving Cert English students feature “disturbing and sick content” and material that is “clearly unsuitable for minors”, complainants have told the Department of Education.

The department has received more than 40 complaints on the issue in recent months, with one email to Minister Norma Foley describing The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood as “nothing but sadistic, upsetting and of no moral learning or value to students”.

The acclaimed dystopian novel is based in a patriarchal totalitarian state where women, or handmaids, are forced to produce children for commanders.

One “concerned parent” said they were “perturbed” that their teenager was studying the novel Room by Irish author Emma Donoghue.

‘Questionable’

They said many of the topics in the book were “questionable” and that greater consideration should have been given before the book was “forced upon sensitive people in this day and age”. The Booker-shortlisted story is told from the perspective of a young boy held captive in a small room with his mother.

The emails, released to The Irish Times under the Freedom of Information Act, were from parents, one of whom said they were “appealing to and begging” the department to change the curriculum.

One parent expressed “shock and concern” about the prescribed reading lists, citing a perceived “lack of vigilance regarding the age appropriateness” of some books. “The material is offensive, abhorrent and clearly unsuitable for minors,” they said.

The curriculum could “only be described as the sexualisation and desensitising of our children… there needs to be an investigation into this whole sordid affair”, another complaint said.

‘Enslaving’

One person said the book list was “enslaving” students to “abominable ungodly content”, while another sarcastically suggested there was “nothing to stop” Fifty Shades of Grey, the bestselling explicit erotic romance novel, being added.

Some emails were directed towards Ms Foley personally, and called for her to be fired and “held directly responsible”. The department’s response stated that the curriculum at all levels was considered to be for all learners “regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic background, gender or orientation”.

It said it was important that each book was viewed “in its entirety rather than being reduced to particular sections which may be especially controversial”, and that the texts had “strong literary pedigrees” and featured on curricula internationally.

There were also several emails sent to the department in defence of the curriculum, predominantly from students.

The text-list working groups for each subject, convened by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment, are comprised of teachers, third-level lecturers, staff from relevant support agencies and experts in children’s and young adult literature. The curriculum did not change this year though the Minister said it would be reviewed in the coming months.


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EDEN CONFIDENTIAL: A new £10m home sweet home in the Cotswolds for Nick Candy and Holly Valance 

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You might have thought having a Chelsea pad worth more than £75 million would be enough for most property tycoons, but not for Nick Candy.

I can disclose that Candy and his pop star wife, Holly Valance, have splashed out well over £10 million on a Grade II‑listed mansion in Oxfordshire.

They will be a short drive from trendy private members’ club Soho Farmhouse, where Prince Harry courted Meghan.

That's sweet: Nick Candy and his pop star wife, Holly Valance, have splashed out well over £10 million on a Grade II‑listed mansion in Oxfordshire (pictured)

That’s sweet: Nick Candy and his pop star wife, Holly Valance, have splashed out well over £10 million on a Grade II‑listed mansion in Oxfordshire (pictured)

Holly Valance and Nick Candy attend Lisa Tchenguiz's 50th birthday party at the Troxy in 2015

Holly Valance and Nick Candy attend Lisa Tchenguiz’s 50th birthday party at the Troxy in 2015

The seven-bedroom property has a pool, stables, tennis and squash courts and its own chapel

The seven-bedroom property has a pool, stables, tennis and squash courts and its own chapel

While it is unknown how much the couple paid, records show it was bought for £8m in 2012

While it is unknown how much the couple paid, records show it was bought for £8m in 2012

The house is a short drive from trendy private members' club Soho Farmhouse

The house is a short drive from trendy private members’ club Soho Farmhouse

Candy and his pop star wife, Holly Valance, have splashed out well over £10 million on the property

Candy and his pop star wife, Holly Valance, have splashed out well over £10 million on the property

The seven-bedroom property has a pool, stables, tennis and squash courts

The seven-bedroom property has a pool, stables, tennis and squash courts

Candy, 48, declines to say how much they paid, but the house was bought by the previous owners for £8 million in 2012

Candy, 48, declines to say how much they paid, but the house was bought by the previous owners for £8 million in 2012

Prices have rocketed in the area, where locals include Kate Moss and JCB tycoon Lord Bamford and his wife Carole

Prices have rocketed in the area, where locals include Kate Moss and JCB tycoon Lord Bamford and his wife Carole

Candy, who has two daughters with his wife, adds: 'We're very immersed in our quiet country life at weekends'

Candy, who has two daughters with his wife, adds: ‘We’re very immersed in our quiet country life at weekends’

‘We have been looking for years to get something in the Cotswolds for the family, and finally, a year ago, we found a gorgeous family home in a wonderful village,’ Candy tells me.

The seven-bedroom property has a pool, stables, tennis and squash courts and its own chapel.

Candy, 48, declines to say how much they paid, but the house was bought by the previous owners for £8 million in 2012.

Since then, prices have rocketed in the area, where locals include Kate Moss and JCB tycoon Lord Bamford and his wife Carole, who started the Daylesford organic empire.

Candy, who has two daughters with his wife, adds: ‘We’re very immersed in our quiet country life at weekends and adore the friendly and welcoming village.’

Candy's luxury two-storey penthouse in Hyde Park has gone on sale for £175million

Candy’s luxury two-storey penthouse in Hyde Park has gone on sale for £175million

The stunning apartment is split over two levels, boasts five bedrooms, a 21m swimming pool, and measures around 18,000 sq ft - the equivalent of almost 18 average homes in England.

The stunning apartment is split over two levels, boasts five bedrooms, a 21m swimming pool, and measures around 18,000 sq ft – the equivalent of almost 18 average homes in England. 

Prolific author Alexander McCall Smith, creator of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency has been promised great things – but only after his death.

He says: ‘I was on tour in the United States and this woman came up to me with a book for signature, and she looked at me and said: ‘You know something, you’re going to be much more successful posthumously.’ ‘

The writer, 72, who has written 21 novels in the series, says. ‘She wasn’t being rude, but it was rather an odd thing to say to somebody.’

How guitar guru Beck gave Depp a silver lining 

Pictured: Johnny Depp is planning his comeback

Pictured: Johnny Depp is planning his comeback

With his acrimonious divorce from actress Amber Heard, and their bitter court room showdown in London last summer, Hollywood star Johnny Depp suffered the biggest setback of his glittering career.

Now, however, I hear he’s quietly planning his comeback — right here in Britain.

The 58-year-old star of Fantastic Beasts and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory has been taken under the wing of British rock legend Jeff Beck.

The Hi Ho Silver Lining guitarist, 77, who’s so talented he had each of his fingers insured for £700,000 in 2010, has secretly been hosting Depp at his Riverhall country estate in Wadhurst, East Sussex, where they’ve been writing and recording together in Beck’s studio. Depp is an accomplished guitarist himself.

‘They’ve been collaborating on material for Jeff’s next album,’ reveals a source close to Depp. ‘It’s been great for Johnny to get back to his first true love, which is music.

‘Jeff has been a great friend to Johnny during a very difficult time, and being away from Hollywood has been exactly what Johnny needed.

‘He wants to take a step back from everything and focus on a comeback through music.’

Eight-time Grammy Award winner Jeff, who has been called ‘one of the most influential lead guitarists in rock’ by Rolling Stone magazine, recorded a cover of John Lennon’s Isolation with Depp last year, intended to help people cope with life in lockdown.

Johnny Depp of Hollywood Vampires performs on stage at Celebrity Theatre in 2018 in Arizona

Johnny Depp of Hollywood Vampires performs on stage at Celebrity Theatre in 2018 in Arizona

In 2019 they played together at the Crossroads Music Festival in Dallas, Texas, for Eric Clapton’s charity, then did a short tour of the U.S.

Depp has previously featured on songs by Oasis, Iggy Pop, and Aerosmith, as well as on records by his ex-girlfriend, singer Vanessa Paradis, with whom he has two children. In 2015, he formed the super group, Hollywood Vampires, with Alice Cooper and Joe Perry.

‘Johnny hopes to return to films eventually,’ adds the source, ‘but it’s music first.’

Boogie-woogie pianist Jools Holland is learning to sing lullabies. The Later . . . with Jools Holland host has become a grandfather at the age of 63.

‘I am very pleased that I now have a wonderful grandson, Gabriel,’ he says. His musician daughter, Mabel Ray, 30, is the proud mum.

‘We seem to have identical hair,’ he adds of the baby. ‘He is a delightful little fellow. All thanks to the fantastic staff at Homerton University Hospital for delivering him to us.’

Queen’s Windsor gong show for late Duke’s loyal page

The Queen is making sure Prince Philip’s most steadfast former aides feel rewarded.

I hear that she invited the Duke of Edinburgh’s loyal page, William Henderson, to Windsor Castle this week to collect his gong.

His appointment as a Lieutenant of the Royal Victorian Order was announced on what would have been Philip’s 100th birthday.

Henderson was among those who took part in the funeral procession, walking behind the coffin.

Known for his sarcastic quips when required to report on the love lives of the Royal Family, waggish news anchor Simon McCoy seems to be secretly obsessed with the Windsors.

‘If I were invisible, I would go into Highgrove and stand by the phone to listen to any conversation Prince Charles might have with Harry,’ admits McCoy, who recently moved from the BBC to its new rival channel, GB News.

‘I feel desperately sorry for Charles — I really do. Family difficulties are bad enough without one of you bleating about it to the Press all the time.’

Creating a buzz with Angelina the Queen Bee 

There’s a buzz about Angelina Jolie, but it’s nothing to do with her film career.

The actress brought a touch of Hollywood glamour to the new French Apidology Observatory, in Sainte-Baume, where she presented its first graduates with their diplomas.

Angelina Jolie with children Pax, Zahara and Shiloh seen shopping at trendy KITH's in Paris, France

Angelina Jolie with children Pax, Zahara and Shiloh seen shopping at trendy KITH's in Paris, France

Angelina Jolie (pictured shopping Paris) brought a touch of Hollywood glamour to the new French Apidology Observatory where she presented its first graduates with their diplomas

Jolie, 46, who’s recently been seen out with her British ex-husband Jonny Lee Miller, was there because she’s involved in the Women for Bees project, which aims to encourage women to become beekeepers.

Clearly, there’s only one Queen Bee.

Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt, who starred on TV diving show Splash, will be demonstrating her water skills at the local pool rather than heading off to the Med this summer.

‘I’ll be staying in my constituency and spending time at my local lido,’ the MP for Portsmouth North tells me at the Westminster launch party for her book, Greater: Britain After The Storm, which she’s co-written with Chris Lewis. ‘I’ve earned that — I went to great lengths to save it.’

The forecast is hotting up with Carol’s exotic secret 

This could liven up those dull BBC meteorological reports: weather presenter Carol Kirkwood has revealed a secret skill.

‘I can belly-dance,’ whispers the former Strictly contestant.

‘It is actually quite hard, but I learned to do it when I was a student travelling in Turkey and Greece.’

The Scottish hotelier’s daughter, 59, adds: I can’t claim to be very good at it — but I do at least have the belly for it these days.’

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