Ridgewell sued over wedding

FOOTBALL star Liam Ridgewell is to be sued for GBP75,000 after he canceled his wedding plans at the last second.

The defender, who has been linked with a move back to the premier league with West Bromwich Albion, was due to tie the knot with sweetheart Kirsty Maclaren at plush Stapleford Park Hotel in Leicestershire last month.

But he called off the GBP170,000 bash with just eight days to go – and told the 200 guests due to be there with a test message.

By coincidence the decision came just a day after his best friend, ex-Villa star Ashley Young, canceled his own marriage ceremony to Nicky Pike.

Ridgewell’s mystery decision left his wedding planners Birchwood Events with a GBP75,000 bill – which the Birmingham star is allegedly refusing to pay.

The company, run by businesswoman Jessica Birch, is now taking legal action to force Ridgewell to cough-up

A friend of the wedding planner said: “Jessica is not just a business partner with many of these footballers, she’s also a personal friend.

“She’s known some of them for years and the majority of the work her company does is gained by word of mouth recommendation, as footballers guard their privacy jealously and they know they can trust Jessica.

“But she has been stung by Liam’s refusal to pay her for all her hard work organising his wedding. She just cannot understand why he won’t pay. After all GBP75,000 is nothing to a top-flight footballer these days.’’

Her company is trusted by footballers throughout the country to organise events such as weddings, private gatherings and even children’s birthday parties.

Birchwood Events had booked the luxurious Stapleford Park Hotel, which is set in sprawling grounds, and has seen footballing weddings before as ex-Villa striker Peter Crouch recently tied the knot with model Abbey Clancy there.

Ridgewell is said to have personally chosen the venue, while fiance Kirsty had been ‘living and breathing’ the wedding arrangements, which were almost com- plete.
But after the plug was pulled, sources claim the player became embroiled in an increasingly bitter row over the bill for the wedding plans.

Miss Birch’s friend added: ‘‘Jessica felt like the only option left to her was to take legal action to get the money back and that’s the course of action she’s currently pursuing.
‘‘But, of course, she would rather it had never come to this.

‘‘This really is the worse case scenario for her but she feels like she has no other options left.”

Miss Birch refused to comment on the matter.

London-born Ridgewell was just 15 when he joined Aston Villa after beginning his career with West Ham.

He moved to Birmingham for GBP2 million in August 2007, becoming the first player to transfer between the fierce rivals since Des Bremner in 1984.

It is still unclear whether Ridgewell’s marriage to long-term fiance Kirsty Maclaren will be rescheduled.

The couple met on a night out in Birmingham more than seven years ago.

Two years later they had their first child, Luca, and Eva Summer came along three years ago. She contracted meningitis last year, but the plucky youngster made a full recovery.
The legal row comes at an unsettling time for Ridgewell.

Last week it was reported that he could be set for a transfer to West Bromwich Albion, who are said to be closing in on a GBP3 million deal.

The defender could become one of many Blues stars jumping ship this summer to avoid playing in the Championship on lower wages.

Ridgewell’s agent, Robert Segal, declined to comment.
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Parish councillor is an escort

A PARISH councillor has been left red-faced after racy pictures of her appeared on an adult website offering her 'services' for GBP150 an hour.   

Councillor Nicola Holmes, who sits on Great Dawley Parish Council in Telford, Shropshire, was featured on an adult website which described her as a “38E busty brunette, all natural curvy lady for your enjoyment”.

She was featured on where her profile said she enjoyed domination, French kissing, massage and other services at GBP70 for half-an-hour or up to GBP450 for four hours.

It also said that “discretion is essential due to my work”.

The website profile of Councillor Holmes says it was set up in March this year, and included images of her topless and wearing only a corset and underwear.

The site had more than 5,000 hits.

A booking made by a local newspaper reporter for an appointment on Friday morning was read within minutes, and a meeting confirmed at a Telford hotel.

But just hours later, the webpage was removed.

Councillor Holmes has been the parish council’s vice-chairman and won her seat last May as a Labour councillor.

David Griffiths, clerk at Great Dawley Parish Council, said he was making “no comment”.

But a spokesman for the Labour Party in the West Midlands said: “This is a very serious allegation that has been brought to our attention and the Labour Party has begun an internal investigation into this matter.”

Clive Elliot, spokesman for Telford’s Labour Party Group, said Councillor Holmes had already been suspended from the party because of a separate matter.

He said: “At the moment this is a parish council matter and if it is referred to Telford & Wrekin Council’s Standards Board it will of course be dealt with appropriately.

“But as far as the party is concerned, Councillor Holmes was already under suspension from the Labour Party pending investigations into an unrelated matter.”

Russell Griffin, spokesman for Telford & Wrekin Council’s Standards Board, said it had not received any complaints.

But she today/yesterday (WED)  strenuously denied any involvement and described the webpage as “disgusting”.

She said she had been made aware of the site and claimed someone else had put her photographs and details on it. She denied ever working as an escort. class themselves as an  Adult Service Providers and Erotic Content - Escorts.
Users are informed on their homepage that they should be of 'legal adult age... to view sexually explicit and pornographic material.' and warned they should't be 'offended by nudity, sexual imagery or any adult sexual activity.'

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Cash strapped council get iPads

A CASH-STRAPPED council have been criticised for spending thousands of pounds on brand new iPads for councillors.

Despite many already owning taxpayer funded laptops and Blackberry smartphones, 40 councillors and top officers at Shropshire Council will be getting the swanky Apple gadgets as part of a new IT pilot scheme.

They will splash out GBP12,000 on the new iPads in a move which has been branded as 'disgraceful' and as a way of councillors to simply 'get their hands on a new toy. '

And some critics are claiming many councillors won't even be able to use the state-of-the-art tablet computers.

Councillor Heather Kidd, for the Chirbury and Worthen ward, said: “When council services are being cut back and even the low paid are being forced to take a pay cut, it is outrageous that the council administration proposes to blow so much money on items that are unnecessary and see little use.

“What’s worse is I doubt that quite a few councillors will use their new devices.”

She called for the council to abandon the scheme, being trialled by some staff and 40 councillors, including each political leader.

Emma Boon, from the Taxpayers Alliance, said: “It’s disgraceful that the council is splashing out on luxuries like iPads at a time when it should be cutting spending.

"Of course it’s good for councillors and council staff to be able to on the move but they don’t need the latest pricey Apple gadget.

"If staff already have Blackberrys and laptops, taxpayers would be forgiven for thinking some employees are just trying to get their hands on the latest toy.”

As part of cost cutting measures the authority has recently sent out letters to about 6,500 workers explaining they will be dismissed on September 30 – but rehired the next day only if they agree to a 5.4 per cent pay cut and new terms and conditions.

The council - who need to make  GBP76 million of savings - say the move has been taken to make it easier for councillors to be contacted and to make long-term savings.

Councillor Martin Taylor-Smith, cabinet member for IT, said: “This will save a significant amount of money over future years and make the council much more flexible to meet the needs of its customers.”

He said working from mobile devices will “drastically reduce” the need for printing reports, and should save thousands of pounds a year.

“It’s not just about making savings, it’s about improving and modernising the council’s computer systems, and streamlining our internal processes, so we can provide better value for money," he added. 

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No armed bowler meets hero's

COURAGEOUS junior cricketer Kearan Tongue-Gibbs had his dreams come true when The People arranged for him to meet his England heroes at Thursday's training session at Trent Bridge.

The brave 11-year-old cricket prodigy who bowls and bats despite having been born with no arms from the elbow down has been amazing his peers for his talent against able-bodied players.

But awestruck Kearan -a talented spin bowler - was blown away when he got the chance to meet the entire England team prior to Friday's second Test including his heroes Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott.

The youngster cosied up with his favourite players including Bell and Trott as well as Graeme Swann and Stuart Broad.

"It was so cool," an excited Kearan said. "I met all the England players and they were all very nice.

"This was one of my dreams and now I have done it."

The little boy who has shocked so many by his talent even touched the England team.

Spin bowler Graeme Swann said Kearan was an inspiration to kids across the country.

"You are my little hero mate," Swann told the youngster.

"It was great to see Kearan travel up here today and I hope he realises how much hard work and graft goes into our training.

"He needs to keep plugging on. Obviously he's fighting adversity and he is doing a grand job."

The little cricketer who plays for his local club Astwood Bank Cricket in Redditch, Worcestershire hopes to join the England team in the future.

"Meeting the players today makes me want to be a better player," Kearan said.

"I'm never going to let anything stop me and when people say I can't do it, I won't listen.

"I want to be on the England team someday. It is my goal. I want to be like Bell and Trott.

"I look up Graeme Swann too because he has an ace spin bowl."

Kearan received the star treatment at Nottingham County Cricket Ground Trent Bridge where he was presented with a signed Notts Outlaws bat, T-shirt and tickets to Monday's England match against India by club and England player Stuart Broad.

Batsman Jonathan Trott - a favourite player of Kearan's - gave the ambitious boy a few tips.

Trott said, "As a kid I loved watching.

"A lot of kids come to the games and mess around, but I used to watch and watch the captains fielding positions and tried to understand the game.

|I used to read books about cricket and past experiences players had. I used that to help me.

"That's the most important thing - understanding the game Kearan."

The entire team appeared to be taken by Kearan, offering words of encouragement as they posed for pictures with him.

"Cricket is a game which everyone can play," England player Alastair Cook said. "It's amazing and I hope he carries on playing and enjoys it."

The young cricketer kept a close eye on the training session and was completely captivated by the techniques and exercises the team demonstrated.

He even managed to get a few pointers from a Notts Outlaws player Akhil Patel while practicing his bowl on the famous Trent Bridge pitch.

Kearan said: "Akhil told me my bowl was incredible.

"He was surprised by how much spin I got."

It was his first trip to the Nottingham County Cricket Ground and he was initially taken by the size and scope of the pitch.

"When I first got here I was very excited and when we walked onto the pitch it was cool. The ground is so big," Kearan added.

Besides spending the weekend watching England play, Kearan is looking forward to watching the Day 4 match from the stands of Trent Bridge with his family.

Kearan's mum Carrie Gibbs, 29, said: "I can not put today into words really.

"It was beyond all of our expectations and means the world to Kearan.

"It was so nice because all of the players were so friendly and we get to share something that means so much to Kearan as a family.

"I don't think saying thank you to The People, the England team and all the staff at Trent Bridge will ever be enough - we are so grateful for everything they have done for us."

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Lorry driver dies in crash

THESE are the charred and mangled remains of a lorry cab which exploded into flames following a horrific crash which claimed the life of its driver.

The man's truck ploughed into a bridge and caught fire on the M5 motorway in the Midlands at 2am today/yesterday (TUE) causing traffic chaos for summer holidaymakers and rush hour commuters.  

The man, who has not been named, was confirmed dead at the scene of the smash by paramedics who arrived to find the lorry 'fully ablaze'.

Halesowen firefighter Mitchell Poole, who was first to arrive at the crash scene, said: "When we got there the lorry was engulfed by flames.

"The lorry had hit the bridge, causing some damage, so we had to close the bridge and the motorway."

West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesman Murray MacGregor said: "When crews
arrived they found a lorry that was fully ablaze.

"Unfortunately, there was nothing that could be done and the driver was confirmed dead at the scene.

"The crash and fire has left a large crack in the bridge support which resulted in the extended closure of the motorway."

Early morning commuter Jon Manly, 24, from Great Barr, Birmingham, was caught up in the traffic chaos and passed the scene of the devastation.

He said: "There was no way he stood a chance. The bridge had a huge crack in it and the front of the cab was barely recognisable. It didn't look like a lorry, it was just burnt out. It was a truly horrific sight.

"It took me over two hours to get to work - the crash caused total gridlock."

West Midlands Police are investigating the collision and said there were no other vehicles involved in the smash.

A spokesperson said: "The male driver of the heavy goods vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. The man's family have been informed."

Jo Carrol from the Highways Agency, said: "We are waiting for the accident investigation to be completed and the lorry to be removed before our structural engineers and get to the site.

"There may be damage from the collision and there may be substantial fire damage."

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Solar powered ipod dock

THIS is the world's first solar-powered iPod dock, an eco-friendly device which may have finally solved the age-old problem of how to enjoy music at the park or beach when plugs are nowhere to be found.

Weighing just 7 lbs/3.2 kilograms, the Soulra XL is being touted as a way for people to enjoy music from their iPod or iPhone at this summer's festivals without having to carry lots of batteries as they would have to with a more traditional ghetto blaster.

But some UK music fans have expressed concerns that the device - which manufacturers say requires five hours of direct sunlight for a full charge - might be incompatible with traditional British 'summer' weather.

Resembling a handbag when folded down, the GBP200 gadget features a 72 square-inch solar panel which can be flipped up to catch the sun's rays and charge the device,

The internal battery means that the device, which has eight speakers, can also be used indoors, with its makers claiming five hours of use from a single charge.

When the sun is shining, the solar panel can generate power from a 'trickle charge' whilst the device is being used, pushing its usage time up to around eight hours.

British users might be more interested in the splashproof anti-glare cover, which means that users can still see their iPhone's screen, even in the rare event of direct sunlight.

Some UK music lovers have been more cautious about the device, wondering whether the traditional British 'summer' weather will provide enough sunlight to power it.

Dedicated festival goer Jim Fielding, 25, from Birmingham, West Midlands said: "It looks like a good idea in principle, but I don't know what it would be like out in the field, so to speak.

"I don't know many people who go to festivals expecting it to be sunny, it sounds pessimistic but my wellies and raincoat are one of the first things I pack these days.

"And when you're at a festival you get soaked just stood there watching the bands - the last thing you want to do is have a dance outside your tent in the pouring rain."

Mike Devereux, Managing Director at the Soulra XL's European distributor Nevada, said: "When we showed the product at the Consumer Electronics Show in ..., I saw the product getting a very positive response from young people who liked the idea of taking it on the beach for parties.

"Obviously, it's a bit of a different market out there as they have the sunshine all year round.

"But it's a great travel product, when you have tens of thousands of Brits living abroad in places like Tenerife where they'll be able to charge it without any hassle."

Mr Devereux added that the device will still work in more 'British' weather conditions.

He said: "It will still charge on a cloudy day, just as you can still get sunburnt on a cloudy day.

"Cloudy conditions won't stop it charging, it will just take longer to charge."

He also said that the company had received enquiries from some unexpected quarters.

He said: "We've had a lot of enquiries from the caravan market, and a really good reaction to it because it can be solar-powered."

The Soulra XL was made by US company Eton, based in Palo Alto, California, the home of companies like Facebook and Apple, which has endorsed the device.

US users of the device have been quick to praise it for its eco-friendly features and for providing a convenient alternative to iPod docks which plug in at the mains.

Technology journalist Sam Negri, based in sunny Arizona, USA, said in a review that "The Soulra XL is a durable, innovative player and charger that provides portability and independence and a green alternative to power consumption."

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Toilet converted into cafe

A BUSINESSMAN has spent GBP25,000 over the last three years converting a disused toilet block into a CAFE.

Colin Ingle has finally opened the eatery at the vandalised toilets in Northampton after spotting the business opportunity while walking his dog one day in 2008.

After spending thousands redeveloping the building at Hunsbury Hill Country Park the 52-year-old has now opened it as a plush cafe called the Drovers Return.

Now with oak-beams and wicker chairs, it's a far cry from the previously shabby building covered in graffiti and overgrown with weeds.

He said: “I just thought the park had nowhere to go for a nice cup of tea and a sandwich and it was a shame to see that block of toilets so run down.

'It cost a lot of money but I think it will be a success - its a proper country park cafe and not like a truck stop. We've been encouraged by the young families coming in.

'I didn't keep any of the original fixtures and fittings unsurprisingly, and luckily nobody has got lost thinking its still a toilet.

'Some people have wandered in not knowing it was here - so I hope word of mouth gets around.

"It has been pretty busy in the first few days, and everybody has been really positive.

“They’ve all looked round and said they could never believe it used to be a toilet.”

When plans for the conversion were first announced, some locals were afraid it would become a truck stop or a magnet for vandals and 430 of them complained to the local council.

But Colin added: “I think those who were afraid about what it would become have been reassured when they’ve come in to see us.

'Its a classy place,we have a variety of sandwiches,jacket potatoes and ice cream for the children.

'I love the area and I love the people around here,so I'm glad I can give something back to them."  

The cafe, which sells a range of pies, pasties and sandwiches, is now open seven days a week from 9am until 6pm.

It seats 13 people inside and 12 outside.

Resident Kevin Kerr, who is already a regular visitor, said: “It’s absolutely first class. I think it’s fantastic.”

But Harry Hutton, 19, from Northampton, added: "It's a bit weird going to eat somewhere that you know used to be a toilet."

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Boy spin bowler with no hands

A YOUNG cricket prodigy is amazing his peers in the sport as he is proving to be a talented bowler - despite having no arms from the elbow down.

Spin-bowler Kearan Tongue-Gibbs, 11, amazingly grips the ball in the fold of his arm before delivering the ball towards the stumps with incredible accuracy.

He was born with no hands or forearms but has still managed to impress sportsmen and has been identified as a talented young disabilities player by the England and Wales Cricket Board.

Kearan, who uses no artificial aids when batting and bowling, plays alongside able-bodied children at Walkwood Middle School and at Astwood Bank Cricket Club in Redditch, Worcestershire.

Proud mum Carrie Gibbs, 29, from Redditch, Worcestershire, said: "He is very passionate about it. He is driven and that is all you need in life to succeed.

"He has just got better and better."

His talent was first spotted when he was playing beach cricket on a family holiday in Devon four years ago when he was just seven-years-old.

Full time mum Carrie added: "He went away with my mother and brother and played beach cricket because at the time my brother played for his university. He said 'he has really got something, he has got ability and you need to tweak it.'

Kearan then started playing after school and did trials with his local team, who soon recognised his potential.

Now he regularly attends special training sessions for cricketers with disabilities at Edgbaston cricket ground in Birmingham.

Sporty Kearan lists England batsmen Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott - who hit half a century in the opening test against India on Thursday - among his cricketing heroes.

His ambition is to get to the top of his game and join the national team.

"He concentrates and it is just what he loves to do," the mum-of-three said.

"His disability has never held him back - I am so proud of him. We have never stopped he doing anything. It is just Kearan, he does what he want he wants to do."

But his ability has come at a price to his mum, who added: "I have had pictures broken, mirrors broken, balls thrown at my head - you name it I have had a ball hit it."

Mike Harris, of Astwood Bank Cricket Club, praised the youngster. He said: "The guy is really talented. He has natural ability for cricket and the disability he has doesn't really come into it.

"Bowling is an immense achievement for him. Just holding the ball with such a small amount of body, touching the ball with just a small bit of flesh to grab is really a huge challenge for the release of the ball and to get the accuracy is something I can't really understand how he does."

Sports mad Kearan, who also enjoys watching golf and tennis, can now enjoy playing cricket throughout the school holidays after a charity installed crickets nets in his garden.

Volunteers from WellChild's Helping Hands project have cleared a space and were due to finish installing the practice facilities today/yesterday (FRI).

Carrie said: "He is always in the house but now the garden has been done he can play outside."

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Maggie the magpie befriends train staff and passengers.

A FRIENDLY Magpie has set up home on a train station platform - sharing passengers snacks, landing on their heads or shoulders and even trying to jump onboard with them.

Maggie the Magpie is as cheeky as they come and has been livening up the day for thousands of commuters at Stourbridge Junction train station in Worcestershire.  
She has befriended passengers and staff at Platform One of the station and doesn't mind being stroked, sitting on peoples laps and happily rummages in ladies' handbags.

And, when people pop their coins into the station’s ticket machine, Maggie sits on top and watches intently.

Line supervisor Steve Darby,  41, said: “We’re not sure if Maggie is a he or a she but we call her a she. The bird has become a daily visitor over the last couple of weeks.

“Maggie’s very friendly and I’ve seen her on all three platforms, sometimes on people’s heads, sitting by them and eating their food.

“The other night I was cleaning at about 9pm and Maggie flew on to an elderly lady’s lap and she was stroking the bird.”

“Nothing seems to faze Maggie.

“If she’s by the platform when a train comes she moves back towards the railings – but she doesn’t fly off.

“And when I saw her on the lady’s lap she was there for quite a time – and the woman seemed to enjoy it.”

Train driver Debbie Digger, 47, said: “One day I saw Maggie land on a chap’s shoulder and share his sandwich.

“Then she tried to jump on to the train. She’s just part of the crew here now.”

Rail staff believe that Maggie was an orphan who was taken in and raised by a local couple who have an aviary in one of the houses backing on to the car park of the station.

And the bird now spends her days happily flitting between their garden and her fans at the train station.

So now passengers can while away the time as they wait with a spot of bird – as well as train – spotting.

Stourbridge Junction station engineer Gary Picken said: “I’ve seen Maggie helping herself to sandwiches and going into bags to see what’s there.”

One passenger Alex Cairns, 17, of Blakedown, Worcs, was sitting on a bench waiting for a train home after a session at a local gym, when Maggie landed next to him.

“I thought ‘whoa, what’s happening?’ – and it was a bit odd,” said Alex, a sixth form student.

“At first I thought it was going to peck me but it was just friendly and eating the crisps.”

Spokesman Hayley Meachin, of London Midland, which runs Stourbridge Junction station, said today: “We have a wealth of wildlife around our stations because of where they are and the fact that they are open.

“On Saturday our staff at Gravelly Hill station in Birmingham had to deal with a four foot long grass snake on a ramp – and on June 26 a dog hopped on the 9.19 Four Oaks to Redditch train and was taken off by the RSPCA at New Street.

“Maggie seems to be unique because she’s so tame – but, like other magpies, she has the characteristic of being curious.

“It may be alarming to suddenly have a bird sat next to you – but it’s not dangerous.”
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Scooters for commuters

TRYING to run with a suitcase because you're late for your flight is a nightmare that most of us have had to deal with.

But now a firm has designed a case that could make the desperate dash across Heathrow a breeze - with a bizarre 'commuter scooter'.

Called Micro-Luggage this novel idea involves a case with an inbuilt scooter, allowing the user to ride their case to their gate at the airport rather than trying to keep 20kg of luggage stable behind them.

The wacky baggage - which consists of a  26 litre capacity case and lean-and-steer scooter - is being marketed at frequent business flyers and people making short commutes to work.

Makers claim the hard-shell Samsonite case and micro scooter ensure you arrive at your destination in time and unruffled and add it’s classed as carry-on luggage and can be stowed in an over-head locker.

For more relaxed occasions -  the Micro Luggage case can be used as a regular wheeled case.

But, should you find yourself late for an important meeting, or struggling to get across Terminal 5, you can simply fold down the wheels and deck of the scooter and fly past the masses struggling with their heavy baggage.

It is designed by Micro Scooters UK, the Colchester-based company behind the early 2000s craze for micro scooters that swept the nation.

A spokesperson for Micro Scooters said: "Micro Scooters UK has already changed the face of the school run with thousands of families having swopped their gas guzzling 4x4s for the Mini and Maxi Micros.

"Now the company is set to do the same for commuting with the Micro Luggage scooter.

"Not only is it a healthier option to a car, it’s a great way of reducing your carbon footprint."

Regular flyer Dave Gardner, 35, believes the idea would really help him out. "I've missed flights because my taxi has been delayed," he said. "It's left me running across the terminal with luggage that won't roll straight and turning up red faced to a closed gate.

"If I could whizz across the terminal it might save me a lot on rebooking business flights."

Unfortunately the ease of travel doesn't come cheap, with each case costing just under GBP250, although that could well be less than the cost of rebooking a missed flight without one.

However the price is putting some off the idea. "Surely I could just take a micro scooter with me and put in my bag when I get to work rather than forking out for this - I'd look like a fool riding around on that" said Claire Evans, a 35-year-old banker from Dudley, West Midlands.

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Swarm of bees attack villagers

A SLEEPY village was terrorised by a swarm of bees after their hive was opened for honey to be removed.

Terrified residents in Wombourne, Staffordshire, were forced to run into their homes for cover as the bees went on the rampage.

A few brave souls stood their ground, setting fire to a newspaper which they used as a makeshift insect repellent to fan the swarming menace away.

One man was left with his eye swollen shut, while another woman suffered stings to her nose, cheek, eye, hand and wrist.

A third victim, also a woman claimed she received around a dozen agonising stings on her head after the bees flew into their gardens from hives kept at a nearby home.

South Staffordshire Council received complaints from people living in Wombourne saying they had been stung.

Julie and Len Collins, who have four hives in their back garden, have now agreed to move the largest one to a less populated location five miles away outside the village to avoid a repeat of last Tuesday’s incident.

Retired former joiner Arthur Hunt, 78, was stung on his eyelid during the day while he was outside in his front garden.

He said: “They were everywhere. My eye swelled up straight away and I had to go to the doctors. When my wife saw it she couldn’t believe it.”

Former office worker Pat Wood, 67, told how she suffered several stings on the same day and said her daughter’s boyfriend had to warn the swarming bees off with a burning newspaper while her grandchildren ran to their car.

A district council spokesman, Jamie Angus, confirmed two complaints had been received this week about the swarming bees and the authority had been assured the hives were being moved over the weekend.

Mrs Collins, who is aged 70 and helps run a youth activity group in the village, said it had been ‘unfortunate’ but it was the first time in 15 years of bee-keeping that anyone had reported any problems.

She added: “We take responsibility for what happened, and we are doing everything we can to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“I have paid GBP100 for a truck to move the hive outside the village.”

She added that the remaining three smaller hives would remain but she would increase the size of her fence to 8ft to prevent problems in the future.

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Every boys dream car?

A GROUP of friends has combined the ultimate schoolboy obsession - by painstakingly covering a rally car in thousands of football stickers.

Using around 5,000 of the schoolyard favourites, the group of mates covered the 12-year-old Ford Escort in the stickers, showing how best to make use of a few spare 'swapsies' or 'doublers'.

And the team of four mates are taking the car - which feature portraits of famous Premiership players - on an 'Italian Job'-style 2100 mile endurance rally.

Using only the adhesive on the back of the stickers, the lads, all from north Birmingham, set about meticulously applying them to the car.

Once they had covered the whole of the vehicle, they set about applying lacquer to it to make sure it was waterproof.

Ryan Dugmore, 23, from Wylde Green, West Midlands, is one of the four-man team taking the car on the road.

He said: "We tested the lacquer and the water didn't go through, although we don't know what it'll be like when we're driving at 60 miles per hour.

"Hopefully it won't rain."

Ryan and friends Kelvin Misra, 22, Liam Bull, 22, and Jack Orton 23, will make the journey dressed in their favourite team's football strip.

He said: "We're all Aston Villa fans, so we've put the whole team together on the bonnet.

"We've refused to put any Birmingham City players on there, but apart from that we aren't being too strict.

"Although we won't have any members of the same team together."

Ryan said that the biggest challenge was ensuring that the stickers were all lined up perfectly.

He said: "We started on the bonnet and everything was nice and square.

"The curves were a bit of an issue but we got there in the end."

The team will also use the car as a sleeping quarters throughout the six-day journey.

Starting from Birmingham, they will travel to Bolougne, France and head through Italy via Turin before returning to Paris.

Ryan said: "We're looking forward to seeing a few sights along the way and having a few beers in the evening.

"It might get a bit cosy in there but we'll manage."

Ryan said that getting the car - which has to cost less than GBP200 according to competition rules - from start to finish may prove to be harder work than decorating it.

He said: "The car has no horn, no washers, questionable brakes and a vinegary aroma."

The car, which has 86,000 miles on the clock, is also badly rusted and recently required a repair to its suspension arm.

Ryan said: "There is very little chance of us living, never mind completing the whole journey."

The 'Crumball' rally is based on the more famous 'Gumball' rally, started in 1999 by former model Maximillion Cooper.

While the 3000-mile Gumball race often features fast, powerful cars, the 'Crumball' version insists that 'competitors' spend no more than GBP200 on their transport.

The rally is not a 'race', and no prize is given for first place, but awards are handed out for the 'best dressed' car.

The lads are raising money for Acorns Children's Hospice - a Midlands-based organisation offering care and support to children with life-threatening conditions and their families.

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Boy banned from Tesco for wearing socks

A TEENAGE boy who removed his dirty rugby boots before entering a Tesco store was refused entry for not wearing shoes.

Thoughtful Justin Hall, 14, from Steeple Bumpstead, Essex, went to the store for lunch after training with his local Rugby Club on Sunday.

As he did not have an extra pair of shoes, dad John, 57, told him to remove his dirty and studded boots and enter the supermarket with his rugby socks on.

However, the security guard turned the pair away and said it was ‘not company policy’ to admit people without shoes on.

Embarrassed dad John said: “We went straight there to get lunch after training and I told Justin not to go in with studs on as that would be dangerous, and as he didn’t have a pair of trainers I said wearing the socks would be okay as they are thick with soles.

“We got to the entrance and picked up a basket but the security guard said that because of company police we were not allowed to come in.

“It was very embarrassing as there were lots of other people there so I simply said that if you don’t want me to come in here I’ll go to Sainsbury’s.”

The pair then went to the town’s other supermarket and shopped there without incident.

Mr Hall added: “I just can’t understand it – I think it’s just a moment of power on the door as I can’t think of a reasonable explanation when there are women darting around in high heels and people in flip flops, so if they think he will slip over and we will sue them that seems unreasonable given what other people are in.

“I like using Tesco as it’s closer and I like the staff. It’s very friendly and I enjoy chatting with people and meeting people there, but this has really put me off.

"I have e-mailed Tesco about this but they have not replied.

“It has made us look silly and made life inconvenient because what did he expect us to do?

“Tesco hand out all these vouchers then see someone coming in sports gear and don’t let him in – what if he had been wearing boots?

"Would they have let him in when they could damage the floor?

“I would like to hear why this has happened and why I was made to feel silly in the doorway.

"I don’t think they can hide behind health and safety.”

Justin studies at Hedingham school, Sible Hedingham, Essex with brother Alex, 17.

A spokesman for Tesco said: “We are sorry for any embarrassment caused.

“We do not have a specific policy requiring shoppers to wear footwear but we would always encourage it.”

Security staff at Tesco stores have caused controversy before with their heavy-handed interpretation of a 'store dress code'.

In February last year, shopper Shopper Elaine Carmody, 24, fell foul of security guards when she wore pyjamas to do her weekly shop, and was escorted from the Tesco store in St Mellons, Cardiff.

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Police find drugs after hat gaffe

A DOZY drug dealer lead police straight to his stash after asking them to fetch his hat - forgetting that was where he had hidden GBP4,000 worth of drugs.

Officers were leading Vin Campbell from his flat in Wolverhampton, West Midlands, after being called about a domestic dispute.

He asked them to fetch his hat from a drawer, forgetting he had put drugs inside worth more than GBP4,000. After the discovery the police started a full search of his flat.

Police officers at the property in the Woodcross area of the city also unearthed a safe holding GBP12,000 cash.

Campbell, 47, who had previously been locked up for four years for possession of crack cocaine with intent to supply in 2004, insisted he was just “looking after” the drugs and cash for a four-strong gang who had beaten him up in the past.

He told the court yesterday that he was unable to identify the alleged owners of the drugs and cash “because I only know their street names” and claimed that both he and his partner were feeding GBP100-a-day crack habits when the stash was found on December 10.

“I had taken the bag of drugs out of the safe for a smoke and then put it in the drawer,” said Campbell.

He was giving evidence during a Newton Hearing to test the basis of his guilty pleas, which were not accepted by the prosecution despite his insistence that he had turned his life around after “doing some terrible things in the past.”

Judge Amjad Nawaz concluded after listening to the account of the defendant: “This is completely implausible. It defies belief.”

Campbell admitted possession of criminal property and having drugs with intent to supply. The judge ordered the destruction of the drugs seized and the forfeiture of the cash found.

A proceeds of crime hearing will follow later in the year

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Funeral director advertises for butcher

A FUNERAL directors has caused a few hearts to skip a beat after they advertised for a BUTCHER in its shop window.

Shocked residents of the royal town of Leamington Spa, Warks, were left in disbelief after the 'insensitive' advert was put up in the window of the town's Co-Operative Funeral Services.  

Locals were left scratching their heads as to why funeral directors would need somebody to chop meat, while one politician has called for the advert to be removed.

The job description states applicants should be experienced in aspects of butchery including 'weighing and pricing of meat for display and sale to customers.'

Red-faced co-op bosses admitted their mistake today/yesterday (FRI) adding: 'this was very foolish of us."

The A4 advert, on the front of the somber-looking building, read: "SITUATION VACANT. Full time Butcher - Nuneaton."

It continues: "Previous experience is required in all aspects of running a busy Butchery Department', which will include selecting, cutting, weighing and pricing of meat for display and sale to customers."

Leamington resident Jude Dent, 26,  who spotted the poster on Monday, said: "I couldn't believe my eyes. I was aghast.  

"I then had a bit of a laugh about it but thought its a bit harsh if a grieving family see that.

"They might think their relatives will be diced up and donated to science or something. I'm just trying to figure out what meat will be displayed and how much it is going to cost?"

The poster continues to explain that the job will be based at the Nuneaton Food Centre of the Co-op rather than the funeral directors but there have still been angry calls for the advert to be removed.   

North Leamington Liberal Democrat councillor, Roger Copping, said: "I find this extremely inappropriate and ill-considered.

"For grieving families it is very inappropriate and I'm shocked that these families are going to get the impression that their loved ones are going to be chopped up as part of some post-mortem.

"It is very insensitive."

The red-faced company today/yesterday (FRI) admitted that putting the advert up was a 'massive mistake' and they would be taking it down immediately.

Darryl Smith, general manager of the Heart of England co-operative and funeral division,  said: "It should never have gone up - it was a massive mistake.

"It was an internal job application and somebody has foolishly put it up - it is inexcusable and I'm not very happy about it.

"I agree that it was not appropriate and this is bad for us."
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Britain's oldest dog dies.

THE world's oldest dog has died at the grand old age of 24.

Bedlington Terrier-cross Luby-Lou had to be put down at her Staffordshire home on Monday after becoming ill at the weekend.

The pooch, who was thought to be over 160 years old in dog years, suffered from sickness and fatigue in her last days.

Owner Jinty Jackson made the heartbreaking decision to have her beloved pet put down because she saw no signs of recovery.

She said: "I took her in as a rescue dog and I think she was about nine-months-old when I had her. She's been my baby forever and it's going to be hard without her.

"For a few days, she kept falling over and wouldn't eat or drink and she only went outside to go to the toilet.

"And in the end, there was nothing more I could do for her. She was very, very old and her organs just slowly started to shut down.

"She didn't have the energy to do the things she used to do and if I hadn't have had her put down then she would have died from starvation or something worse.

"She looked at me as if to say, 'I'm tired, it's my time to go.'"

Before Jinty took her in, in the late 1980s, she was used for badger baiting and developed aggressive behaviour.

"Everyone told me to have her put down long before now but I just couldn't face it," added Jinty. I fell in love with her straight away.

"She tried to attack our other dogs when we got her, and she was always on edge. Every time someone came to the door she'd bark at it and jump at the door and it was the same when the telephone rang.

"I persevered though, she was my dog, I loved her, so we got in a behaviourist and gradually managed to turn her around."

Luby-Lou, who was blind and deaf, had survived a number of health scares over her lifetime, including pancreatitis, but still enjoyed a 30-minute walk twice a day.

"Even when she went blind and then deaf it didn't perturb her," said Jinty. "She'd bump into things but she always wanted to be out in the garden. You just had to move things away from her.

"If she got stuck you just picked her up, turned her around, and off she went happily in the other direction."

She outlived all of Jinty's three husbands and her other four dogs.

"She was more faithful to me than any of my husbands," Jinty said. "She helped me through the bad times, I had a couple of very painful divorces and had to put the dogs in kennels for six months once when I had no home.

"But they were always there when I needed them."

Jinty admitted she has had a string of phone calls and tributes to Luby-Lou from family and friends who played a part in looking after her.

Jinty added: "She was such a good pet and was loved by everyone.

"She was a little celebrity in her own right.

 She was totally blind and deaf and had to take lots of tablets every day but she was a little fighter and she kept going right until the very end.

"It's been very distressing for me and it's a terrible loss because she was like a child to me. People say a dog is for life and that was definitely true in this case."

Jinty has put a plaque in her garden as a tribute to her dog. She is also carrying a lock of fur in a locket that she will wear every day.

Senior vet at The Croft vets, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Keelin Hopkins said: "Luby-Lou has been a patient at The Croft for 16 years and she has always been a delightful little dog to treat.

"She was well known and loved by all of the staff and she will be dearly missed."

Luby-Lou was taken to the Green Pastures Pet Crematorium in Stramshall, near Uttoxeter.

"She was cremated the same as my other dogs, she was the last, the end of an era, I won't have any more dogs after her," said Jinty, who has spent large amounts of her life volunteering for dog charities.

"When I go she, and the others, will be buried in my coffin with me in an ecologically friendly burial.

"She was a little monkey, and I miss her terribly, everyone who met her has been ringing up to talk about her, everybody liked her."

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Peregrine falcons make home in Brum

CLIFF tops, quarries and wild crags might be the usual nesting grounds for peregrine falcons - but Birmingham's industrial sprawl also seems to have become a unlikely home for the protected birds of prey.

The city's council have been forced to delay the demolition of a tower block after a pair of the striking birds moved in recently to raise their young.

Experts say the tower block effectively replicates the natural habitat of the falcons, where they can hunt from great heights and feast on the city's abundance of pigeons.

Night-time lights from across the sprawling cityscape also reflects off the cloud layers giving the falcons a perfect view to pick out prey once darkness falls.   

The pair hatched three chicks at their new home in North Birmingham and are currently living on the 15th floor of the tower block, just one below the top storey.

Dr Stefan Bodnar, parks and conservation manager for the council said: "They are in a perfect position and it replicates their natural habitat quite well. It is similar to a cliff.

"The falcons can pick out their prey from a great height and they like feral pigeons, of which Birmingham has plenty.

"They can also be left relatively undisturbed, many tower blocks have good security and not many people go up to the roof tops.

"Cloud layers reflect the city lights at night time giving them a perfect view across the landscape so they can also hunt well once it's dark.

"Their numbers have been increasing and its a fairly new phenomenon to see them set up home in cities, they are adapting and doing very well for themselves."

Housing officers from Birmingham City Council discovered the feathered family during a routine inspection and contacted the British Trust for Ornithology for advice.

The pair had previously built a nest top of a tower block in Bromford, Birmingham, last year for themselves and their four chicks.

"Birmingham towers are going through a process of renewal and rebuilding and refurbishment," added Dr Bodnar.

"They must be ones that like high-rise living. We are probably going to come across this situation again.

"We have stopped the demolition and are protecting the site."

The council is not releasing the exact location of the birds of prey to protect them.

"They are just at the stage of fledging. Two of the three young have left the nest and the third is on its way," Dr Bodnar added.

"They are one below the top floor which is fairly normal. They will go off the high reaches of the tower blocks. It might be to do with shelter.

"I think it seems like an obvious place to nest. They are successfully rearing young year and if they can do that they will continue to do so."

The adults are believed to be a few years old while their young are only seven weeks old. A fourth chick did hatch but it died.

Councillor John Lines, visited the block with experts from the trust and helped put rings around the chicks’ legs so they can be monitored and identified in the future.

Coun Lines said: “We were delighted to see it was the same parents – they obviously liked the city when they first came here last year and decided to come back.

“We will keep an eagle eye on them to make sure they stay and no-one tries to steal them.

“I don’t normally like tenants who squat in my properties and don’t pay me rent, but I’ll make an exception for this family.”

A Birmingham City Council spokesman said: "They are on a different demolition project this year and have had the same issue. Birmingham is just becoming a natural habitat for them because of the tower blocks. It has the obvious places for them to rear their young.

"It is almost like word getting around really."

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Sick suicide ad axed

A TRAINING company has been forced to withdraw a "disgusting" advert due to fears that it could encourage suicide.

The advert, for Worcester training provider Quanta, showed a man putting a gun to his head.

The image carried the headline – “Failed an exam? There is another way” – and directed people to phone a number about free exam re-sits.

It has been blasted by friends of suicide victims and charities which offer support to emotionally distressed people.

Lisa McCutcheon, an apprenticeships coordinator for a company which helps disabled people find work, came across the webpage when looking for training providers in the area.

Miss McCutcheon, who lost a friend to suicide, said she was “sickened” when she found the image.

She said: “Quanta is a training provider and it has used the most appalling imagery to advertise learning.

“I am currently promoting apprenticeships and came across the website when looking for suitable training providers for learners.

“I feel that this is a disgusting advert and is promoting terrible ideas to young people that may be a little lost after exams.

“I have personally lost a friend to suicide and don’t feel that it is a laughing matter. I am sickened and very upset that this type of imagery can be allowed to be used to advertise.”

After complaints were made to Quanta, it has since apologised for using the image and removed it from its website.

The independent company, headed by a husband and wife team, offers IT training out of its HQ in the centre of Worcester.

A spokesman from the company said it had not intended to cause upset.

Owen Humphries, a marketing executive from the company, said: “Quanta would like to offer our sincere apologies for any offence or distress caused by the use of this image, it was never the company’s intention to do so.

"The image has now been completely removed from our website, and will not be used by us again.”

The firm was also rapped by counselling service Samaritans for its use of the advert, which it criticised for sending a "dangerous" message to young people.

A spokesman from Samaritans said: “Clearly this image is in breach of our guidelines and is not a helpful image to display.

“It’s a dangerous message to put out that suicide is an option if you’ve failed an exam. We are very glad that the company has pulled this image from their website.”
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Family furious at sentence slash

THE FAMILY of a cancer sufferer who was left brain-damaged following a horrific car smash as she travelled to hospital for treatment have hit out after the jailed lorry driver had his sentence slashed.

Dawn Hill, 51, had been on her way to hospital with husband Leslie for vital breast cancer treatment when their Nissan Micra was involved in a multiple pile-up.

Trucker Nicholas Raynham had fallen asleep at the wheel on the A38 near Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, and ploughed into a line of stationary traffic.

His wagon shunted Dawn's car underneath another HGV - leaving her with horrific injuries, including brain damage.

Her injuries were so severe that her chemotherapy treatment could not take place and the disease progressed, resulting in her undergoing a mastectomy last summer.

Raynham, 44, was originally jailed for 16 months on December 20 at Stafford Crown Court.

But his sentence has now been reduced to 12 months on appeal.

Dawn's sister-in-law Christine Day, from Kingstanding, Birmingham, said: "To find out that Raynham has had his sentence reduced just fills us with anger.

"Dawn has suffered the `life sentence' that Raynham deserves, through no fault of her own.

"She has spent 15 months in hospital and the specialist rehab centre. She has not been able to come back home in all this time."

Dawn, from Tamworth, Staffordshire, suffered terrible injuries in the 2009 pile-up.

Since leaving hospital she has been cared for at a specialist brain injury rehabilitation centre.

Dawn now relies on a wheelchair and walking aids to get around and continues to require nursing care and therapy.

The collision has badly affected her husband, Leslie, who was also badly hurt.

Christine added: "We don't know what the future holds for Dawn but at the moment it's likely that she will have to remain in specialist care for a long time to come.

"She and Leslie are angry that justice has not been served.

"We feel it is wrong that the driver had his sentence reduced.

"He not only stopped Dawn from receiving treatment for cancer that may well have made a substantial difference to her prognosis, but he also put many other lives at risk on the road that day," she said.

The judge originally handed Raynham, from Ipswich, the maximum sentence for dangerous driving just two years.

"We were so grateful to the original judge because he gave the harshest sentence that he felt he could, but actually commented at the trial that the sentencing guidelines were wrong," Christine added.

"We don't understand the purpose behind these sentencing guidelines and why all of the emphasis is placed on the defendant.

"We are furious that the maximum sentence for dangerous driving remains at just two years."

Hilary Wetherell, from Birmingham-based Irwin Mitchell solicitors, has been fighting a compensation bid for the family.

The firm has also joined campaigning charity BRAKE in calls for harsher sentencing guidelines for dangerous driving.

"We are calling for this appallingly low sentence to be increased to a maximum of seven years," said Ms Wetherell.

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Sponger mum benefit fraud

A SPONGER mum swindled GBP43,000 in benefits after claiming for her two children -   who had been taken into care by social services.

Victoria Butler, 41, should have informed the Department for Work and Pensions that she had lost her kids after being deemed an unfit mother.

Instead, the mum-of-two netted the fortune by wrongly claiming family benefits, understood to include child allowance and income support, as well as carers allowance.

Butler, from Stourbridge, West Mids, pleaded guilty to two charges of failing to notify a change of circumstances between August 2007 and May 2010 when she appeared at Dudley Magistrates Court last week.

She could now face a prison sentence when she appears at Wolverhampton Crown Court for sentencing on August 4.

Claire Beddow, prosecuting, said Butler had told police she had turned to benefit fraud after running into debt after her partner left her.

Defence solicitor John Davies also claimed his client believed her children would eventually move back home, so she had not stopped claiming.

Butler is not the first sponging Midland mum to benefit by cashing in on her kids.

In March, fraudster Lisa Ellington, from Warwickshire, pocketed GBP60,000 by inventing three children.

Ellington, 27, claimed to have five children when she actually had only two - and they were no longer in her care because of abuse.

The cheat, who had previous convictions for drug dealing, even said one fictitious child had a disability to squeeze more cash out of the public purse. She is currently serving a year behind bars for her callous crimes.

Mean while, fraudsters like Butler and Ellington are currently being targeted by a new taskforce which is launching a door-to-door blitz in cities like Birmingham to catch couples who rake in extra benefits, by falsely claiming to live apart.

The taskforce hopes to save the taxpayer GBP100 million by interviewing EVERY claimant in high-risk postcode areas.

Their main targets are parents who say they live alone, while in fact cohabiting with their partners. Officials from the Department from Work and Pensions and Revenue and Customs will check benefit payments, bank accounts, tax credits and any outside earnings of suspects.

They will also work with councils to check residential addresses. The crackdown began this weekend by targeting 5,000 households in Perry Barr and Kingstanding, in Birmingham, which make up the B44 postcode of the second city.

Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, said: "The new taskforce is our latest weapon in tackling welfare fraud on the front line. We are sending a clear warning that if you are fiddling the system, you will be caught.

"Welfare fraud is a crime and takes money away from the most vulnerable."

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Grieving mum arrested


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Deer 1/2 mile from town centre

IT'S rare enough to get a good picture of a deer at a wild country park, so when two sauntered down a town high street passers-by couldn't believe their eyes.

These astonishing pictures were taken in in the Black Country industrial town of Walsall just half a mile away from a busy town centre by Tim and Tom Kitchen as they made their way to the local Bus Station at 7.15am.

"I was driving Tom to the station so he could catch the bus to London when we saw them," said Tim, a retired ICT advisor.

"The car in front of us really slowed down and we wondered what was going on, then we saw them come trotting into view.

"They were just so casual, walking up the road in front of this car, I was amazed. I've seen deer around but in a street with houses built up on either side, I could not believe it.

"They were amazing but certainly not in any hurry to get out of the way or rush off. They seem very relaxed and at home.

"We saw them from when we passed Ryecroft Cemetery down to just before Proffitt Street's junction with Bloxwich Road."

The 61-year-old from the Pelsall area of Walsall, said it was his 28-year-old son who had the camera with him when they spotted the deer on Sunday.

"Luckily, Tom has always got his camera with him," said Mr Kitchen. "I've never seen a deer before so close to the town centre.

"I'm not sure where they came from, and I've certainly never seen deer as big as these in the town before- maybe they just fancied a stroll down the canal.

"They looked beautiful, their antlers were lovely and they were just so happy and calm amid the chaos of a town.

"They were stunning and we were really lucky to see them, I haven't personally seen them since, I just hope no one fancied some venison burgers later in the day."

Morgan Bowers, senior countryside ranger for Walsall Council, said: "The important thing to remember is not to approach them or try to stroke them. They are wild creatures and can get scared easily."

She said people who had seen deer in the area and knew what species they were, could report sightings to the local Wildlife Trust.
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Baby lives after 12mins dead

A BABY who 'died' for 12 agonising minutes at birth before coming back to life just as doctors were about to give up has been named Lucky in honour of his ordeal.

The tiny tot was without a flicker of life for almost 12 minutes after he was born 10 weeks prematurely at Milton Keynes Hospital.

Brave mum Ann said little Lucky was left looking like a wax doll after having all the 'blood sucked from her baby' when her placenta ruptured during birth.

After frantic attempts by doctors to revive the baby ,Ann was heartbroken to be told they would only be giving him two more minutes before they pronounced him dead.   

But miraculously, seconds later Lucky took his first breath and despite warnings that he could be brain damaged and hospital-bound for months - he is expected back home with mum and dad as early as next week.

Mum Ann said: “My placenta ruptured just before he was born and it literally sucked the blood out of the baby.

“When he came out he was pure white in colour, like a tiny wax doll. There was not a drop of blood in him, and no heartbeat.”

Ann watched for 10 agonising minutes as a crash team of eight doctors pumped Lucky’s heart, compressed his chest and injected adrenaline.

“Then one of the doctors said: ‘It’s not looking good. We’ll give it two more minutes and then we will have to call it a day.’ He said the baby had been dead for so long he faced brain damage through lack of oxygen even if he survived.”

But as 30-year-old Ann and her partner Roy prepared for the worst, there was a gasp from the doctors.

“One said: ‘This boy just breathed on his own!’ They were amazed.”

The baby, who needed emergency blood transfusions, was whisked off to the neonatal unit, while shell-shocked Ann and Roy were left discussing a name for him.

“We’d planned to call him Georgie. But after what we’d just witnessed, there was only one name – Lucky. He would be Lucky Lee,” said Ann, who has four other children.

The 3lb 7oz tot went on to live up to his name even further. By the following morning he was not only pink and healthy – but breathing totally unaided.

Since his birth on June 30 he has had two head scans and astounded doctors by showing no sign of brain damage.

“Everyone here loves Lucky Lee,” said Ann. “They all call him a little miracle.

“We will always be thankful to neonatal specialist Dr Jasper Katumba and his team for bringing our baby back from the dead.”

Ann and Roy expected Lucky to stay in the neonatal unit for two months. But once again the baby has defied medics by guzzling breast milk and growing exceptionally quickly.

Now, at just under 5lb, he is due to go home next week.

Said Ann: “He is a truly lucky baby. And we are the luckiest parents in the world to have him.”

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£3.5 million lottery winners

A COUPLE have scooped more than GBP3million after finding out about their Lotto win by checking their numbers on their iPhone.

Chris and Sue Bowers from Wellingborough, Northants, are celebrating after winning a GBP3,497,114 share of the Lotto rollover jackpot in last Saturday's draw.

Gadget mad Chris, 61, was stunned when he checked the numbers using his new iPhone.

He usually plays online but had bought his ticket from Sainsburys in Wellingborough and picked his numbers randomly this time.

He said:"I just bought an iPhone and put in a search for the lottery. You get a little green tick to say you have won.

"It then went through and said we'd won over GBP6million between two sharing. I said I think we've won and Sue just thought we'd made a mistake.

"I was just shaking."

Forklift engineer Chris, who now plans to retire three years early, then verified the win with Camelot that night, who said it looked like he had the winning ticket.

"I don't think we slept on Saturday night-we just kept sitting and staring at one another with grins on our faces."

Sue, 60, who only retired ten weeks ago as an administrator, added: "We have not slept for three nights."

She worked out exactly how much they had won this morning/yesterday(TUE).

The first thing the delighted couple did on Saturday night was go to see Chris' 92-year-old father, who he plans to move into a new house with them.

Chris added:"He was happy. We have got a nice house but I want to look after my dad.

"He lives near us but we just want him with us. He has looked after me so I will look after him the best I can.

"Sue would also love a bigger garden-we've already had a little look around but we'll seriously look now the money is in the bank."

The couple, who have no children and have been married 39-years, admitted they didn't quite believe they had won until the money was in the bank.

"The man at the bank said 'you're now a multimillionaire' which was mind boggling to say the least," Chris said.

"It wasn't until the man from Camelot finally said yes and transferred the money that it started to sink in."

The couple plan to stay in the area and enjoy and long and relaxed retirement, although Chris said he would like a new car.

"I will get a nice new car. I just got rid of my Shogun so I miss my 4x4.

"I have loved my work and the many people I get to meet but the heavy lifting has provided harder so I will be glad to retire and take it easy.

"We have had a good life because we worked. Sue just retired after years of working-only thing is she has me at home now.

"We plan to travel in our motorhome and see the country- a new car and jewellery are also on the list."

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Boy gets trial with Barcelona

A SEVEN-YEAR-OLD boy was stunned when he joined in a five-side game in Barcelona - and got offered a trial by the world's greatest football team.

Schoolboy Kai Fifield thought he had already had the trip of a lifetime when he saw the Champions League winners live... until club officials offered him a trial on the spot.

The youngster, from Northampton, travelled with his dad Delaney to the world-famous Camp Nou stadium to watch a league game and saw his heroes parade their league trophy in front of home fans.

The next day, the last of their trip, they took a tour of the ground and the club museum and were about to leave when Kai asked to join in an informal five-a-side game with some local boys on a pitch on the stadium site.

Little did he know that Barca’s youth coaches were watching and they were so impressed they invited Kai to a trial.

Mr Fifield said: “As the game finished, the kids all started putting the same top back on so I asked who they played for and I was surprised when they said ‘Barcelona’.

Then as we were going a coach came up and said the last trial of the season for the September intake was the next day and could we come.

“I explained we were leaving tomorrow but they were persistent. So we cancelled the flights and I brought him back the next day.”

Kai, whose favourite player is Argentinian forward Lionel Messi, played in the trial on the first-team training pitch and a proud Mr Fifield said a Spanish coach described his performance as “very, very good.”

The Fifields are now waiting for notification whether Kai has made it into Barcelona Escola, a prestigious soccer school that is the first step to the club’s legendary academy, and therefore be on the books of the lauded European champions.

Asked whether the family would move from Northampton to Barcelona if Kai got the call.

Mr Fifield was unequivocal. “I would pack our bags and move there tomorrow if they asked. Opportunities like that come around only once in your life. We’d do whatever it took.”

However, whatever happens to Kai, he will remain English. Mr Fifield said: “It would be a long, long way down the line but if it ever came to it I’m sure he would play for England, whichever club he ends up playing for.”
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Pensioner killed

A PENSIONER died after being repeatedly beaten and threatened with a hammer by a drug addict who had posed as police officer to gain access to his home.

Albert Percival,  79, was attacked by violent drug addict Anthony Lake, and died eight weeks later in hospital, a court heard.

Lake, 35, was so desperate for money to feed his crack cocaine and heroin habit, that he attacked and threatened to kill the pensioner if he did not open up a safe.

He was jailed for eight years after pleading guilty to five burglaries and handling stolen goods, later admitting to police officers his drugs addiction “was out of control.”

Alex Bull, prosecuting at Northampton Crown Court, said Lake called at Mr Percival’s home in Northampton at 6.20am on April 13, posing as an officer but then forced his way in.

The pensioner was assaulted, kicked and threatened with a hammer and forced to reveal the code for the safe and his PIN number.

The increasingly desperate and violent Lake also mocked him for breaking down and left him covered in bruising and in “excruciating pain”.

CCTV later caught him using the bank card to withdraw GBP400 from his victim’s account.

Miss Bull added: “I should say Mr Percival subsequently died on June 20.”

The judge, Recorder Andrew Hatton said: “So that’s about eight weeks later. In his victim impact statement he said he was living independently, happy and confident before this incident and afterwards he was too scared to go back home and could still hear the defendant threatening him.

“He said ‘I will always remember that’ and presumably he did so for the rest of his life.”

The court heard Lake, posing as a gardener, also tricked his way into the home of 94-year-old Ray Stutley  on April 7, stealing GBP350.

But when he returned four days later, Mr Stutley had the presence of mind to hand him a bottle of milk so police would be able to trace him through his fingerprints.

When he tried to call the police to raise the alarm, Lake grabbed the phone from him and made off with his GBP80 weekly pension money, pension book and banks cards.

At the time, Lake, from the Southfields area of the town, was on bail for another burglary committed in May 2004 while a family-of-four were in asleep in bed.

The court heard he also broke into the home of a 77-year-old woman when she discovered him going through her belongings, just after midnight on March 27.

He was linked to the burglary by his DNA which he had left behind on a door lock.

Sentencing, Recorder Hatton said: “Mr Percival suffered a gross trauma. In my judgement, you are a man who had deliberately targeted elderly people, knowing they are unable to offer, if any, resistance.

"They were vulnerable victims and in some circumstances, the occupants were present.

“I have to deal with you for a multitude of offences.”

David Everett, mitigating, said: “Drugs came back to him in a big way, both heroin and crack cocaine. It took over his life and he committed a number of extremely serious offences which he just cannot hide from.”

Detective Constables Richard Clapham and Mark Smallwood who investigated his numerous burglaries, were in court to see the cowardly convict finally locked up and jailed for eight years.

In a statement, they said afterwards: “Lake was a drug addict whose offending had got out of control.

“Lake has demonstrated he is a determined and dangerous individual.

“The sentence reflects this and will provide the surviving victims with the peace of mind they need to resume their lives.”
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Girl gets stuck

A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl had to be freed by firefighters after getting her head stuck through the front gate when she tried to copy her pet dog.

Little Rachel Warren popped her head through the front gate outside her home in Brierley Hill, West Midlands, and became firmly stuck there after trying to imitate pet rottweiler Tess.

And after frantically trying to pull her daughter free her horrified mother Carlene was forced to call in the fire brigade.
Shopkeeper Carlene  32, said: "I was just taking Rachel to nursery and she had her reigns on. She fan outside and was pretending to be a dog as she loves to.

"I heard a noise, went outside and there she was, stuck fast.

"My friend was with me and we tried to pull the bars apart, but they wouldn't budge.

"I shouted at her to call the fire brigade now, I was starting to panic.

“Rachel was a bit upset at first but she calmed down after I told her Fireman Sam was on his way."

Rachel, who has a 15-year-old brother Matthew, was freed within minutes by firefighters who pried the black gate apart outside their semi-detached home.

"Rachel was really excited and screamed 'here's Fireman Sam', when they got out she asked them where the rest of the characters were," added Carlene.

"They let her sit in the engine, she loved the whole thing. They even offered to take her back to nursery.  

"She declined, but she was back in nursery soon after, the teachers weren't surprised, she's always pretending to be a dog and getting into scrapes.

"We've had those gates as long as my son's been alive, and he's 15. Neither he or our actual dog have managed to get stuck like that before.

"There was no more than a five minute gap between the call connecting and them arriving on the scene - the fire service was great."

Bus driver dad Wayne, 33, was at work at the time. He said Rachel hadn't suffered any problems after the incident.

"She's still the same, bouncy and happy, as if nothing happened," he said.

"She was happy they let her sit in the fire engine afterwards and she got to wear a helmet as well.”

But Carlene is still shaken by the incident. "I barely slept last night, my hand's are still shaking," she added.  

"I'm never letting her do that, ever again."

The drama happened at 11am yesterday. Firefighter Richard Dunleavy, from Brierley Hill Fire Station, said: “Rachel stayed very calm.”


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