North Hykeham

A Lincoln cafe has launched a breakfast eating challenge as a final roll of the dice to keep the business alive.

Harty’s Cafe at Hykeham Green started ‘The Heart Attack’ on Thursday to try and get more customers in a quirky way after constant fears of closure.

Challengers have 30 minutes to complete the plate, which consists of five sausages, five pieces of bacon, three eggs, four slices of toast and two fried slices, all on a bed of chips, as well as large bowls of mushrooms, beans and chopped tomatoes, and a hot drink.

If you successfully finish the challenge, the meal is free and you get to go on the wall of fame, otherwise it costs £20 and a place on the wall of shame.

Harty’s is on Lincoln Road, opposite the Co-op in North Hykeham. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Harty’s take bookings for the heart attack challenge, with a £5 deposit to ensure everything is ready for when the competitor walks through the door.

The owner is hoping this challenge can save the business. | Photo: The Lincolnite

So far, just one entrant has tried to tackle it, but failed after giving up with six minutes remaining.

The staff at Harty’s Cafe are remaining optimistic for the future. | Photo: The Lincolnite

Jo Hart, owner of Harty’s Cafe, said: “We only opened at the beginning of the year, so COVID-19 has really affected business for us.

“We’ve tried everything to stay afloat, afternoon teas, takeaway services, you name it, this eating challenge is our last chance.

“We were so close to closing the doors for good, so we wanted to put up a fight rather than accepting our fate.”

Jo used to run a cafe inside the JTF store in Lincoln for seven years, but took the step to open her own cafe in December 2019.

For terms and conditions as well as a contact number to book the challenge, see the Harty’s Cafe Facebook page.

Sleaford and North Hykeham MP Caroline Johnson has been appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Treasury.

The Conservative MP’s promotion comes just over one year after she was first elected to Parliament in the December 2016 by-election, triggered by the resignation of Stephen Phillips.

Dr Johnson increased her majority at the 2017 general election to over 25,000.

The role of a PPS is unpaid but is seen as the first step in gaining experience in government.

She said: “I look forward to working closely with the Chancellor and ministerial team on issues to do with Treasury policy, including the Budget, and I am delighted at the chance to get stuck in on this vital area of the government’s work.”

Her promotion is the latest in a series of Westminster moves for Lincolnshire MPs over the last 12 months.

Louth and Horncastle MP Victoria Atkins became the first Conservative MP elected in 2015 to secure a ministerial position, having been appointed as a junior Home Office minister in November.

Her constituency neighbour, Boston and Skegness MP Matt Warman, secured a role as Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Culture Secretary shortly after the general election in June.

Labour MP for Lincoln, Karen Lee, has also had a busy few months, having first been appointed as Parliamentary Private Secretary to Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, and more recently as Shadow Fire Minister.

Moving the other way, South Holland and the Deepings MP John Hayes left his role as Transport Minister in Theresa May’s reshuffle this January.

The end of 2017 marks the first year of my life as an MP – a year for me filled with new experiences, challenges, and just a few surprises along the way.

I had a whirlwind festive season last year, as I went from working in a children’s paediatric ward, to being sworn in as a Member of Parliament in a matter of weeks.

As soon as I had begun finding my feet in Westminster, I found them swept out from under me as Theresa May called a snap election.

Following a rollercoaster of an election campaign, I felt honoured and privileged to be re-elected to the seat I had won a few months previously.

I threw myself back into parliamentary life – a life which I thoroughly enjoy.

I thought I would use this opportunity to reflect upon the transition from paediatric consultant to MP, and how I am able to use my medical expertise in my new role as an MP.

One of the biggest differences between the two professions is the nature of the work – the fast and furious pace of life on a paediatric ward, compared with the relative slow burn of politics, punctured by moments of high excitement.

I have often used the analogy of juggling 10 balls at once to describe life on the ward. You enter at the beginning of a 12 hour shift, and after a brief handover with the duty doctor, you are then responsible for ensuring the children on the ward receive the best possible care during the next 12 hours.

The initial routine checking up on the progress of each patient is soon interrupted by the first complication, and from then on it is a case of managing and prioritising the series of events that will inevitably emerge over the next few hours.

By the end of the shift you are exhausted, but left pleased and proud that your decisions and actions had an immediate impact on the lives of those children – and you hand over the juggling to the next consultant on call.

Politics by contrast is a process of ideas, influence and change, which can be a much longer game.

Getting progress on issues important to Sleaford and North Hykeham, such as the supply of utilities, broadband and road infrastructure, can at times can feel painstakingly slow.

Such infrastructure programs can take a number of years, and even successive governments, before their final implementation.

The process involves numerous meetings and discussions, from talking to local affected parties, to lobbying in Westminster the relevant ministers and government departments.

Progress is not measured in short, tangible blocks, but can rather come all at once after a huge concerted effort, or not at all.

The pace can be slow, but the potential changes you can bring to your community can be huge.

The difference in how these two roles are viewed in society has also become more apparent to me as I have moved between them.

As a senior children’s doctor, you are generally met with warmth and respect from most of the people you are introduced to.

As an MP, sadly this is not always the case.

Many think the roles are very different, but I would argue they are very similar in a number of ways.

Both involve long hours and hard work, but can be incredibly rewarding as you are able to make a positive difference to the lives of others through public service.

My 15 years of experience in medicine give me an invaluable insight when it comes to discussing health issues in Parliament.

As the only practising consultant in the house, I use my expertise on the Health Select Committee, aiding it in scrutinising the government’s health policy and tackling the public health issues of the day, such as children’s oral health.

On a local level, I am well-placed to make the case for protecting and strengthening local services, from returning Grantham A&E to an around the clock service to improving the response times of the ambulance service.

Serving in Parliament has given me the ability to engage fully with many other issues affecting Lincolnshire.

I have become well-versed in the challenges facing farmers through my work on the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, and the need for investment in utility infrastructure through my work with the Greater Lincolnshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

Finally, my participation in the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme, which has involved a number of visits to bases around the country, including our own RAF Cranwell, has given me a greater understanding and appreciation of the brilliant work done by our servicemen and women.

I look forward to another exciting and informative year in Parliament and wish you all the best for the year ahead.

Dr Caroline Johnson is the Conservative MP for Sleaford and North Hykeham.

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