NEWS

2011-09-30

Mashed potato murder

A DERANGED husband who killed his nagging wife by clubbing her to death with a lump hammer after an row about mashed potato has been jailed for 16 years.

Colin Adlard attacked his horse-loving wife, Wendy, with a hammer while she was in bed the morning after a row at their village home in Northamptonshire.

Mr Adlard, 61, was sentenced to life imprisonment on Wednesday at Northampton Crown Court and must serve a minimum of 16 years, after admitted murdering his wife of 30 years.

A court heard previously that Adlard -a  former tack shop owner - attacked his semi-asleep wife when Adlard entered the room armed with a lump hammer and attacked her, before calling for the emergency services.

The equestrian fanatic was struck a number of times with the heavy hammer, sustaining fatal head injuries, and was declared dead at Northampton General Hospital that day.

After killing his wife, Mr Adlard called the police to their home in picturesque Yardley Hastings.

Adlard admitted her murder after changing his plea at Leicester Crown Court earlier this month.

In April he entered a not guilty plea to the murder charge, claiming a defence of diminished responsibility.

The couple were thought to have been leading almost separate lives by the time of her death.

David Herbert, prosecuting, said in January that the sudden hammer attack was caused by Mrs Adlard “shouting at him and nagging him over a long period of time”.

Det Sgt Nick Gray, from Northamptonshire  Police, who led the investigation, said after the case: “This is a very tragic case that we have had to deal with, a case that has impacted on a lot of people.

“We have supported the family throughout the case, and we hope that they can now have some closure and move on with their lives.”

The daughter of Mr and Mrs Adlard, who wished not to be named, released the following statement: “Today is a very sad day for me and my family and will hopefully go towards ending this horrendous nightmare I have found myself in.

“Today’s sentencing will never bring back my mum or my sons Nana, or even undo what my dad did but goes a long way to ensure that justice has been carried out.

“Knowing that my dad is going to prison for murdering my mum is hard to put into words, but what I do know is that even though he took my mum away he will never be able to take away the memories of fun and laughter that we shared as a family.

“I am not on my own, I have a fantastic family who are loving and supportive and they have helped me through this trauma. My dad however has to go to bed tonight, all alone, with his memories of what happened that night.”

The couple were previously directors of Born Free Equine Health, a tack shop based in Milton Keynes, which stopped trading shortly before her death.

A close friend of Mrs Adlard said at the time: “Wendy was a really dear friend and helped me a lot when I needed it. She was an agony aunt to me when I was down and needed to chat. She was a retired nurse and when I had surgery she was kind to me.

“We used to have lots of discussions about the Olympic dressage horses and riders – anything dressage she was there.

“I hope where Wendy is now is a happy place with all the dressage horses in the world and loved to go to events to watch it.

“I just want people to know how lovely she was and I will never forget her, not ever.”

The couple were not well known in the village with many neighbours stating they “kept themselves to themselves”.

Speaking at the time, one distressed neighbour, who did not want to be named said: “It is absolutely devastating, so, so sad. They didn’t seem to know anyone but she seemed like a lovely lady and it has been very upsetting. I don’t think they had much family.”
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2011-09-29

Teacher wrote own sick notes

A TEACHER who ‘played truant’ by forging sick notes to excuse himself from class has avoided being sent to prison.

Kulvinder Billan, 31, forged half a dozen sick notes and a letter from a leading doctor so he could get out of teaching at Weston Favell School, Northampton.

A court heard he was paid GBP33,000 a year but could not face returning to teaching after being off work with stress.

As head of business studies, he submitted forged doctor’s notes over two academic years and then forged a letter from a professor as back up.

Michael Waterfield, prosecuting at Northampton Crown Court on Wednesday, said: “He had a substantial amount of time off sick during his first academic year of 2009/10 which appears to be genuine and it was apparent he found it difficult for him to go back to school in the academic year 2010/11.”

The court heard Billan went off sick again in November 2010 and then sent in further sick notes, claiming to be suffering from polyps.

A senior staff member noticed the doctor’s signatures were not constant and informed police, while supply teachers were brought in as cover.

Mr Waterfield said pupils were left with no consistent teaching, while his absence cost the school GBP6,750 in employing supply teachers.

Billan, of Groby, Leicester, a father-of-three, who pleaded guilty to fraud and forgery, was sentenced to 51 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for two years, with 200 hours’ community service and a three-month 7pm to 7am curfew.

Judge Lynn Tayton QC said: “It seems to me from some of the information I have received indicates you have been focusing on the effects upon you from all of this and lack of insight as to the effects on others and indeed to the institution, and to the public purse. It is extremely sad to see you before the court.”

Nick De Freitas, mitigating, said Billan was under a great deal of stress and in GBP45,000 debt.

He added: “He now has to live with the shame of his actions for the rest of his life. He did not deliberately set out to cheat the school. He felt harassed and just saw no way out.”

Billan now faces a disciplinary hearing with the General Teaching Council for England.

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2011-09-28

Mum wrongly accused of murder

A GRIEVING mother whose three-year-old son died after allegedly being misdiagnosed at hospital has spoken of her anguish over being falsely accused of murdering him by 'heavy-handed' police.

Distraught Abby Podmore, 20, awoke in February this year to find that little Alfie was not breathing. His lifeless body was cold and there was blooding coming out his nose.

She desperately tried to resuscitate him and yelled for help from her doorstep, but it was too late. Paramedics pronounced the toddler dead at the scene.

After leaving to go to her brother's house, devastated Abby returned home to find it had been turned into a crime scene, with a white police tent erected outside the front.

The new mum was then arrested on suspicion of murder just hours after her son’s death.

Abby has described how heavy-handed cops from West Midlands Police treated her like a criminal and kept her in a cell overnight.

Talking about the ordeal, she said: "I thought they were joking, I really did. I knew I hadn't done anything - I was devastated.

"They put me in a cell and I had his photograph with me and that was it. They took my phone call away so I couldn't speak to my family."

She continued: "CID knocked on the door and asked to question me - there was no sensitivity, no compassion. They didn't even say sorry about my little boy. They weren't interested.

"My brother asked them to leave and they called for 15 officers who turned up in riot vans so I went with them. I didn't want to leave but the police said it was best if I was not there and asked for my clothes.

"I didn't understand what they were doing. I wanted to see my little boy that was the main thing. I was confused about the whole thing. I didn't know what was normal and what wasn't. I was trying to come to terms with just losing my son and the police do this"

It was only when a doctor acting on behalf of the Birmingham Coroner informed police that Alfie had died from natural causes that her innocence was recognised.

The dental nurse, from Quinton, Birmingham, West Midlands, continued: "It is disgusting. I am actually ashamed they could treat an innocent mother like that. They thought I had murdered my own son and I hadn't. They didn't want to listen to me.

"They tagged me a murderer and I was not. I am just disgusted in the way that I was treated."

Abby only just returned home this week after living with relatives since the incident. She said some members of the community still believed she played some part in Alfie’s death.

"It was shameful what they thought. There was a tent erected outside the house and I think they made their own assumptions. That is one of the reasons I have found it hard to come home as well as facing where my son died and what happened," Abby added.

Alfie was sent home from nursery on February 2 this year after he became unwell.

He was taken to Birmingham Children’s Hospital the following day, suffering a high temperature, a rash and pain in his left shoulder.

Doctors diagnosed the tot with a gastric illness and prescribed him anti-acid medication before sending him home.

By February 6, Alfie was dead.

A post-mortem later revealed that he had suffered from pneumonia, a bacterial infection and septicemia.

Paying tribute to her first son, Abby said; "He was boisterous, happy. He was always smiling, dancing. Everything he did made me laugh. I have lost all that now. It has been hard to come back home because he is not here so it doesn't feel like the same place anymore. The happiness has been sucked out."

Abby has hit out at police, saying that she feels she was denied the chance to grieve properly for her dead son.
 
She said: “I was still struggling to cope with the news that my little boy had passed away when police officers came to tell me I was being taken into custody on suspicion of my son’s murder. I wasn’t even allowed to see his body for 10 days after he died.

“I love my little boy and did the very best I could for him. When he became ill my mother took him to hospital and when I got to the hospital we were later told he had simple gastric illness and to take him home."

Police later admitted things should have been done differently and apologised.

An inquest was due to open into the toddlers death today/yesterday (THURS).  

Guy Forster, a medical law expert from  Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, who is representing the family, said: “For Abby the past six months have been unbearable; firstly suffering the unimaginable pain of losing her only child and then being wrongly blamed for his death.

“Abby and her partner are still suffering as a result of the heavy-handed actions of the police.”
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2011-09-27

Gramophone collector

A MUSIC lover has shunned the likes of MP3 players and iPhones and preserved tradition by filling his house with GRAMOPHONES.

Dennis Huke, 76, has amassed over 200 of the old-fashioned music players from all over the country during the last 11 years – just as the rest of the world was converting to compact discs and downloads.

Amongst the collection, which is worth thousands of pounds, he has machines dating back to the 19th century, as well as novelty players from every era in music from the 1900s to the 1970s.

Dennis, from Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, has a range of quirky styles, including a model VW camper van that whizzes around a record, picking up the tune as it goes.

He admits that his children and grandchildren have grown bored of his gramophones and his endless enthusiasm for them, but says he doesn’t mind.

Dennis has found new audiences in local schools where he takes along items from his collection to show pupils.

A variety of community groups as well as friends and strangers have been to his home and have been treated to ‘the tour’.

One of Dennis' prized possessions is a tiny five centimetre diameter record hanging on the wall.

And Dennis doesn’t just collect gramophones – he also has old records, the needles needed to play them, paintings and postcards that double up as records.

Dennis said: “It’s called the Queen’s Dolls House record and actually plays God Save The King. I stuck it onto one of the players with some Blu Tac and got it going,”

Other curiosities include an encased gramophone doll, vanity cases and hat boxes that open up to reveal gramophones inside, a 1960s disco gramophone with lights that flash to the rhythm of the music and a host of portable and cabinet-style machines.

His oldest device dates back to 1887. It was in pieces when Dennis came across it at a market but he has since restored it and it’s now worth GBP6,000.

He even has an American-made machine – the Sonora.

He said: “When I first got my Sonora cabinet machine it was black with dirt but it looks like new now after a clean and polish.”

When it comes to the mechanics of a gramophone, Den is almost an expert although he would never admit it.

The is so keen on gramophones that he has even created his own out of a cardboard pizza box.

Prices of gramophones have tumbled in recent years, partly because modern homes are not big enough to house the large devices.

Dennis said he could probably get GBP200 from a collector and squeeze GBP50 from a non-collector for the Sonora.

He said: “One of the things that is driving down the prices is the fact that people don’t have room for the cabinet-style machines in modern homes because they are built smaller.”

Even in his own home many of his players are kept in boxes to save on space.

But he has taken great care in restoring them and they all play wonderfully.

Den said: “I warn my neighbours before I have one of my sessions when I play a few in the evening.

“I do it about once a week. It’s actually important to play them occasionally so the springs don’t get stuck.”

Dennis love of gramophones extends to old records and it's not unusual for the sound of old ragtime songs and renditions of Land Of Hope And Glory by the Welsh Guards to play into the evening.

He originally went hunting for his first gramophone to play an old recording of himself aged 12 singing on BBC Radio after winning the award for best boy soprano at the Norwich Music Festival.

Now his collection of music extends to Salvation Army founder William Booth and speeches by HRH Edward Prince of Wales on Armistice Night 1927 and his last speech as King Edward VIII in 1936.

Dennis has a whole drawer dedicated to his most rare finds.

He said: “It’s all part of history. People say I’m an anorak – well, yes I am and hopefully I’m preserving the past as well.”

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2011-09-26

Pink windmill for sale

A COUPLE who own a striking bright pink windmill complete with hot tub, stained glass windows and a bar -have put it on the market for over half a million pounds.

The eccentric building in Little Saredon, Staffs,  was extended by owners Neville and Linda Faultless to create a quirky family home - with a garden that comes complete with its own red phone box and Royal Mail post box.

The four-storey, three-bedroom property includes a lounge with gallery, a sitting room, study, family bathroom, spiralling metal staircases, refitted kitchen and even a hot tub and sauna.

Now the couple have decided to put the unusual landmark - which looks more suited to the fictional town of Balamory - on the market for GBP650,000.

The current mill, which dates back to 1806, was originally powered by four giant sails and is thought to have been built on the site of a medieval mill.

The sails ceased to turn in 1879 but the mill continued to work under steam power for another 51 years before closing in 1930 and being left to fall into disrepair.

Neville bought the mill in 1976 and for the first two years he had to live in a caravan in the garden, while he slowly set about making the property habitable.

There are telegraph poles in the ceiling, wheel rims from the horse and cart in the door bell, beams from a former shopfront in the ceiling, Canadian pine from a chemical factory on the walls and even a staircase from a factory.

The 70-year-old said: “I had to start with the garden, because I didn’t have any money to start work on the house.

“It was terrible; I remember my father kept asking me to come home and live with them, but I was determined to get it done.”

“I bought it because I just loved it and it had so much potential, it was just a passion.”

The retired hairdresser met his wife Linda not long after he bought the building and they have spent the past 35 years transforming it into the quirky, unique home they have today.

Linda, 60, said: “ I remember I couldn’t believe it when I first saw it, but we have worked on it together and it is, and was, a real labour of love.”

The couple set about ripping the house apart and even burnt its roof off – because Neville believed it would be faster and more effective than pulling it down – before lovingly putting it back together to reflect their own eccentric taste.

Neville also spent time working for an industrial cleaning company during which he  gathered items to put the building back together.

The couple say they designed the house with entertaining in mind, as each room has its own music system, there are flashing red fairy lights throughout, and the mill even has its own bar.

“I designed the house for parties," said Neville. "That’s why I put in the bar. It has its own fully working taps and pipes, and is great fun and excellent for entertaining. It is brilliant at Christmas.”

Quirky items they picked up on their travels festoon the rooms of the windmill. Stuffed stag and moose heads peer out from the beams in the living room, a clocking-in clock which was recovered from a leather factory sits in the hallway, and Amazonian blow darts are displayed on the walls in the sitting room.

Linda, a retired bank worker, said: “The fire grate dates back to 1800 and it is taken from the manor house by Oare Church.”

“We're leaving it because we feel we've reached the point where we have done all we can to it.

“There is nothing more we want to do to the building, and we want to find a new project. Where we will go we are not quite sure, but we will move on somewhere else.”

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2011-09-25

Waving robin

A FRIENDLY robin has been amazing one married couple as he waits like a patient schoolchild in their garden - raising his hand as if politely asking for food.

The chirpy character is a regular visitor to the back garden of Carl and Sandra Robbins where he often comes looking for food with his wing outstretched in the air.  

Carl, 65, and Sandra, 63, often leave meal worms and bits of cake for the little robin, who they have named Arthur.

And many times, as he flutters through their garden in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, he lands with his left wing lifted - with hilarious results as this image shows.   

Retired freelance photographer Carl, said: "We've seen him coming and going for the last year. He obviously started figuring out that it was a good place to come for food and then he started doing this funny trick with his wing - where he just sticks it in the air.

"It looks like he's saying 'Oi, over here' as he tries to make his arrival known to us.

"We've nicknamed him Arthur, as he's almost like a family pet now - we see him that often.

"He's clearly after tit-bits and food and he's not shy to make his presence known to us.

"He's very bold and friendly - he comes and stands right by you sometimes while you're doing the gardening. He's certainly a cheeky little fellow."
 
Carl snapped the cute picture of Arthur on Wednesday morning, after he came round at breakfast time.  

"I've tried to capture him doing his little 'arm-in-the-air' trick a couple of time. But I've always seemed to just miss it. Luckily, I caught it in the end.

"And the irony of the surname hasn't gone unnoticed by our neighbours - Arthur's known around here as the Robbin's robin.".

Grahame Madge, of the RSPB, said: “British robins are world-renowned for their confiding nature.

"These normally proud birds are not beyond begging for food on occasion, and this individual has learnt to be grateful of handouts.

"Before they colonised gardens, robins were woodland birds, feeding on insects and other creatures displaced by wild cattle, wild boar and deer.

"Their confiding nature is thought to have developed from this association with other creatures, but whatever the origins, this behaviour endears robins to us and secures its position as the nation’s favourite bird.”

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2011-09-24

Sheep thinks its a dog

Meet baa-rking mad Jack the sheep - who goes around a farm thinking he is a dog.

Six month-old Jack lives at Adderley Wharf Farm near Market Drayton, Shropshire, where his owners claim he has become so attached to their nine-year-old springer spaniel Jessie, he has ended up acting like it.

The farm belongs to Alison Sinstadt and her partner Simon, who say the two animals have become so attached they go for walks together along the canal and sleep in the same box.

Alison said: “He was born one of three lambs, which is quite rare. He was very small and we decided to bring him in the house and put the hairdryer on him and forced him to drink milk.

“It ended up that he took to the dog and they now sleep together outside in a box.

“He will follow the dog around and they go for walks along the canal locks.

“He thinks he’s a dog, but he doesn’t eat dog food. He grazes along the canal towpath. He is very much part of the family now. We wouldn’t want him ending up as lamb chops.”

The behaviour of the two animals was so strange that it caught the attention of Colin Moule, from Cambridge, who visited Shropshire as part of a recent holiday.

Mr Moule said: “I stopped off at the farm shop and while we were talking and buying some stuff I saw this springer spaniel come through the hedge followed by this sheep.

“I said to the owner ‘do you realise it’s got out?’.

She said it had not got out and explained rather than getting rid of it the children looked after it.

“It was munching away on some grass and there were boats coming through the lock and people walking with dogs and it seemed right at home.

“I was gobsmacked.”

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2011-09-23

Toddlers found along A38

THESE are the shocking moments a good Samaritan saves the lives of two toddlers who wandered onto a busy dual carriageway while their oblivious parents lay asleep in bed.

The bare foot four-year-old boy and his two-year-old sister were rescued from one of the busiest roads in Birmingham after they strolled unnoticed from their home.

The tiny pair were only saved when passer-by Linda Young stopped her car and lead them to safety as rush-hour traffic thundered by just yards away.

But yesterday/Thursday the parents of the youngsters escaped a jail sentence despite admitting child cruelty charges.

The tiny pair were rescued by stunned motorist Linda Young at the side of the busy A38 Tyburn Road in Birmingham in March this year.

The female driver pulled over and rushed to scoop up the kids out of the way of heavy traffic.

Officers later visited the father's nearby flat after being told where he lived by the little boy.

But instead of finding the parents frantic with worry, cops discovered they had not even noticed they were missing.

Their parents, who cannot be named for legal reasons, pleaded guilty to two counts of child cruelty at Birmingham Crown Court at an earlier hearing.

On Thursday Madhu Rai prosecuting, told the court that the youngsters had been staying at the house of their father's mum when they wandered out into the road. The boy had bare feet while his sister was dressed in an all-in-one pink suit.

When officers searched the children's bedroom at their home they found half eaten food and raw meat left on a bed, along with a bottle of liquid paracetamol.

Ms Rai said: "When the bed sheets were pulled back, there was a bottle of liquid paracetamol. There was also a bag containing raw meat on of the the pillows.

"In the living room, they found carrier bags with empty butane gas canisters and loose cans."

The solvent-sniffing father was sentenced to 18 weeks imprisonment suspended for 12 months while their mum as given an 18 month community order.

Judge Elizabeth Fisher said: "By the grace of God a member of the public stopped her own car.

"Certainly CCTV footage in the area shows exactly the risk in which the children were placed.

"When the police first came to the address, you were both still asleep."

The court heard how the nursery age children tried to cross the dangerous A38 just before 9am March 27.

Passing motorist, Linda Young, had been struck by how young the children were and that there was no adult with them.

When shocked police arrived, they took the tots to a nearby police station.

After the boy told them where they had been living, they visited the flat.

The children's parents had been in bed while the potentially deadly drama had been unfolding outside.

When quizzed by cops, the couple admitted they had no idea the youngsters had left the property. They assumed they were in another bedroom, where they had been put to bed.

Officers then noticed there was no stairgate at the property and found a series of other potentially deadly hazards for the children.

Lying on the bed in which the kids had been sleeping was a sharp knife, a bottle of liquid paracetamol and bag of raw meat.

Several aerosol canisters had also been left discarded on the bedroom floor.

The mum told police she had put the children to bed and assumed that's where they were as she lay with her partner in another room.

The mum, who was said to be very remorseful, apparently accepted that she was at fault. But she insisted she knew nothing about the presence of the knife, paracetamol, and raw meat.

There was no suggestion that the couple had been drunk or abusing drugs.

But when asked about the aerosol cans, the dad is said to have confessed that he regularly abused aerosol sprays but insisted he had never done so in front of the children.

Joseph Keating, defending him, said he was 'remorseful' and 'making attempts to address his addiction.'

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2011-09-21

Beatles loo-roll

THE Beatles once refused to use a toilet roll while recording their world famous Abbey Road album - because they thought it was too 'hard and shiny'. 

Proving that even the world's most famous band was not adverse to the odd 'diva strop', the rock legends rejected the roll during the 1960s as it also had EMI stamped on every sheet.   

Their antics came to light since Beatles fan Barry Thomas snapped up the toilet roll at an auction complete with letter from EMI manager Ken Townsend. 

Experts last week told Barry they could not price such an odd object - but he has since been offered 1,000 just for ONE sheet. 

Barry bought the unique item of memorabilia in 1980 along with a famous picture that had hung at the studio throughout the Beatles' time there.

The roll was bought for GBP85 and came with a jokey letter of authentication by  Townsend.  

The letter, signed by Townsend, reads: "Most things went very smoothly with the Beatles at Abbey Road - but not this roll of toilet paper which they complained was too hard and shiny. 

'They thought it disgraceful that the management should stamp each sheet of paper with EMI Ltd. The paper was immediately withdrawn and things became much smoother for staff after that."

Barry, 66, who at the time ran a recording studio in Coventry, Warks, said: “I went along to the auction as I was a Beatles fan, I mean who couldn't be?

"I saw the roll and I just loved it, it seemed like such an original and unique thing to have.

"People have the memories and the signed records and pictures and stuff, but no one else can say they have a toilet roll John Lennon rejected.

"It wasn't the only thing John specifically complained about in the studios, he also hated the lock on the freezer, so he had a few odd hates.

"At the time it caused a load of interest, the trade for band memorabilia hadn't taken off then like it has today, even ABC from America wanted to interview me there and then at the auction.

"They asked me why I bought it and I didn't know what to say, but then it came to me and I told them 'to wipe away all the crap you guys write about our industry' and they loved that."

Shortly after making the purchase Barry, who still lives in Coventry with his wife of 45 years, Margarita, was approached by a wealthy collector who wanted a piece of the action.

"This Japanese Beatles memorabilia collector cam up to me," said grandfather of three Barry. "He offered me a thousand pounds for one piece of the roll, just one piece.

"I told him I wouldn't sell him it, I didn't want to unroll it, but also I felt it would be less special if it was shared across the world.

"Now I'm thinking about selling it, I had the idea that I could split the whole roll now and sell it off in pieces.

"I say I'll do that, but to be honest I reckon when I try I won't be able to bring myself to. The Japanese collector has approached me again and I've said no.

"But no one has been able to put an official value on it."

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2011-09-20

Glee club sues TV's Glee

A BRITISH comedy club owner has accused the makers of TV mega-hit 'Glee' of stealing his venue's name.

Founder of comedy chain Glee Club, Mark Tughan, has said that associations with the global musical phenomenon have put potential customers off.

The 43-year-old is now suing show owner 20th Century Fox over claims that the show has damaged his brand.

Brummie Mr Tughan, who opened the first Glee Club branch in Birmingham in 1994, said that two new branches in Oxford and Nottingham have under-performed since they opened last September.

He blamed the lacklustre performance on people assuming that his clubs were somehow connected to the TV show.

He said: “People associate us with the show and I can’t be in that position as we couldn’t be more different.”

Mr Tughan said that the target audience of his comedy clubs was being put off by the link with the sweet-as-sugar TV show. 

He said: “Glee’s performers sing covers and the programme is aimed at a young demographic while mine starts at 18. 

"It’s manifested itself in the under-performance of newer outlets in Oxford and Nottingham.

“Members of staff said people were walking along the street and pointing to the entrance, asking if it was something to do with the TV show.”

He said he formally registered “The Glee Club” trademark in 2001, renewing it in 2009, prior to the pilot episode of Glee coming out.

He opened another club in Cardiff in 2001, followed by the Oxford and Nottingham branches.

His company, Comic Enterprises, has owned a trademark on the name ‘The Glee Club’ since 1999 for use in entertainment services, which covers not only live shows but TV programmes and films, as well as clothing.

Last year, 20th Century Fox trademarked the name ‘Glee’ in categories of merchandise including cosmetics, clothing, leather goods, and porcelain.

Mr Tughan also claimed the typeface used by Fox was similar to one used by his clubs and said he wanted the matter sorted in the courts.

He said he ‘reluctantly’ launched his action after the Glee franchise - which has notched up 21 million digital single sales - became too big to ignore. 

He said: "Clearly this has grown and is inflicting damage to my business both presently and going forward."

Mr Tughan’s company, Comic Enterprises, issued proceedings in the Patent County Court in London this month through Birmingham legal firm Cobbetts.

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2011-09-19

Engine plant to open in Midlands

BUSINESS chiefs, politicians and workers have welcomed Jaguar Land Rover's plans to open a GBP355 million engine plant in the Midlands.

The 861,112 sq ft factory will be built in the i54 enterprise zone on the Staffordshire and Wolverhampton border. 

It is expected to create 750 jobs in the local area, with thousands more being created up and down the country in the supply chain.

Wolverhampton City Council’s chief executive Simon Warren today said he had been involved in secret negotiations since the spring.

Even Prime Minister David Cameron had been kept up to date by civil servants on the efforts of MPs and Wolverhampton, Staffordshire and South Staffordshire councils to encourage the car maker to come to the i54. 

The huge development at the i54, which has already been designated a growth-boosting Enterprise Zone, will create and secure thousands more jobs across the country in the supply chain.

Bosses are now working with council chiefs on a planning application, and the factory could be up and running within two years.

JLR chief executive Dr Ralph Speth said the move showed the company’s commitment to the developing advanced skills base and technological capabilities in the UK.

He said: “This is a major commitment for our company and we will produce these advanced, highly efficient engines for future Jaguar and Land Rover models at this new facility. 

"As we invest GBP1.5 billion a year for the next five years on new product development, expanding our engine range will help us realise the full global potential of the Jaguar and Land Rover brands.”

Mike Wright, executive director of JLR, added: “I would like to pay tribute to the strong support we have received for this project. 

"The constructive and collaborative backing we have received from the Government, our trade union colleagues, local authorities, local MPs and, of course, our employees, has been crucial in enabling us to reach this very significant decision.”

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable made the announcement today and described it as “fantastic news”.

As they went on a walkabout on the shop floor of the Lode Lane Land Rover manufacturing plant in Solihull today/yesterday (MON), Mr Cable confirmed about GBP10m of Government support to bring the engine plant to Wolverhampton. 

He said: “The decision by JLR to choose Wolverhampton for its new engine plant in the face of tough international competition is a tremendous boost for manufacturing in the UK and the West Midlands in particular."

Council leader Councillor Roger Lawrence said: “Today’s news is a huge shot in the arm to the economy of Wolverhampton and surrounding areas.

“The fact that a prestigious luxury car manufacturer like Jaguar Land Rover has chosen i54 is a vote of confidence in our city and the West Midlands as a whole.”

Current and former workers at the JLR plants in Solihull and Castle Bromwich also welcomed the news, which comes just a year after the firm announced it was scrapping plans to close one of its Midlands factories.

Dave Tibbins, 41, has worked at the Jaguar plant in Castle Bromwich for six years.

He said: "It's fantastic news, obviously for the workers but for the company and the area as a whole too.

"The area's taken a bit of a kicking in terms of employment in the last couple of years so if this can act as a shot in the arm then hopefully everyone will be happy.

Factory worker John Watson, 47, said: "I'd heard the rumours for a while but I'm glad they've finally turned out to be true.

"I'm chuffed that the new plant will be bringing extra money into the area.

"And it should strengthen the position of the company for us existing employees."

Former plant worker Graham Waits, 54, said: "I worked there for 10 years and I'm happy to see that the legacy me and others slaved away to preserve will continue.

"It's a good British brand."

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2011-09-18

Terror Raids Birmingham

SIX men have been arrested in Birmingham as part of a serious counter-terrorism operation by police and MI5. 

The men were detained at or near their homes overnight on suspicion of the 'commission, preparation or instigation' of an act of terrorism in the UK.

Cops have denied that the arrests are linked to al-Qaida-inspired terrorism - but have described it as an 'international threat'. 

A spokeswoman for West Midlands Police said the men, aged between 25 and 32, were taken into custody by unarmed officers in the Moseley, Sparkbrook, Sparkhill, Ward End and Balsall Heath areas of the city between 11.30pm on Sunday night and 1am today/yesterday (MOM.)

A 22-year-old woman from Saltley, Birmingham, had been arrested at 6.30am on suspicion of failing to disclose information contrary to the Terrorism Act 2000.

The suspects are being held for questioning at a station in the West Midlands, the spokeswoman added, and specialist police teams are now searching their homes and seven other properties in the city.

Residents said three families lived in one of the houses raided in Turner Street in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham.

The man, who did not want to give his name, said: "They're a very religious group, one is called Bathader I think.

"There were two men and a woman arrested here.

"Everyone is really shocked because they keep themselves to themselves.  

"The wives are all white with asian husbands, they don't associate with the rest of us.

"It's a mixed community, all races, but they stay apart."

A green Volkswagen car said to belong to one of those arrested at the end-terrace house on Turner Street was being searched by police today/yesterday (MON) on nearby Ladypool Road. 

Another neighbour said the family were a good law abiding group.

"It's rubbish," he said. "They're a nice family, they pray five times a day, they don't even smoke. They're not terrorists. They can't be."

Similarly neighbours of a 22-year-old woman arrested in Saltley reacted with disbelief and described a 'perfectly friendly' family of four living in the house.

"I can't see how it could be the right house," said one. "They're a family with two young children, a youngish mother and an older father."

"They keep themselves to themselves but they're perfectly friendly in the street."

Labour Perry Barr MP Khalid Mahmood, said: "As far as I am lead to believe there was a significant risk of a very serious plot being hatched and the police decided to move when they did.  

"I must pay tribute to the way the security services have acted but it is a major concern that these things are still going on in our community.

"It shows that a few in our community still believe in a broken ideology that has no real objective. 

"And another issue is that these are the areas where we had issues with the CCTV cameras being installed." 

In May, anti-terror CCTV cameras in the area of Sparkbrook were removed following complaints from civil liberties campaigners.

Funded with a GBP3m national counter terrorism grant police were forced to cover all the cameras with plastic bags to prove they were not being used.

Although the nature of suspected offences has not been disclosed, the arrests are not believed to have any connection to the Liberal Democrats' autumn conference, which is currently taking place at Birmingham's International Convention Centre.

A spy plane was out hovering above the city over the weekend, just hours before the raids took place. 

Security sources revealed that the 'Britten Norman Islander's - which fly at 10,000 feet - and can monitor phone calls and detect computer traffic was seen circling the city on Sunday.  

The 'spotter planes' are used to trace missing persons, escaped criminals, and stolen cars and also for intelligence gathering. 

West Midlands Police's Assistant Chief Constable for Security, Marcus Beale, said: "The operation is in its early stages so we are unable to go into detail at this time about the nature of the suspected offences.

"However, I believe it was necessary to take action at this time in order to ensure public safety."

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2011-09-17

Youngest FA goalscorer

A SIXTEEN-year-old college student has shot his way into the record books as the youngest ever goalscorer in the FA Cup.

At 16 years and 25 days old, Barrow Town forward Sean Cato netted the historic goal to help his team through to the next round of the 130-year-old competition which they play today (SAT). 

The shocked youngster - who usually enjoys playing on his X-Box and spending time with his girlfriend - hadn't been expecting to be named on the bench, let alone be brought on in the second half of the 7-2 win over Rothwell Town a fortnight ago.

But when the teen netted a debut goal, it fired him into the history books of the world's oldest club football competition.

He beats the record believed to have been set in 2008 by Liverpool midfielder Jonjo Shelvey, then playing for Charlton Athletic, against Norwich aged 16 years and 311 days.

Sean, a Leicester City and Manchester United fan, said: "I was not really expecting to play. I got a call up and was on the bench, and then with about half an hour to go I was told to warm up and stretch off.

"With 20 minutes left I was told to go on and try and get a goal. The ball came to me and I put it away to score.

"It wasn't the greatest goal I've ever scored -it was just like a Gary Lineker style tap in - but its certainly going to be my most memorable now.

"I thought that was pretty good for a 16-year-old, but I didn't really realise how big a deal it was until the next day when I had a game for the under-17s and one of my friends parents said I might be the youngest ever.

"It was nice and it feels pretty good to day the least." 

Sean, who likens himself to Carlos Tevez, hopes that one day he can make a career in the game as it would be 'nice to be paid to play football' - and his coaches think he can do just that. 

John Folwell, Joint First Team manager of Barrow Town FC said: "Sean has come through the Barrow Town youth set up and impressed in pre season scoring six goals in as many games for the reserve team.  

"Sean has been involved in the first team squad on a couple of occasions and we are very pleased with his progress so far.  He has the potential to be a very  good player, who could play at a much higher level in the future

“He has a fantastic attitude, works very hard and seems to be a natural goalscorer.  His goal against Rothwell Town in the last round of the FA cup was a typical poachers goal from 6 yards out, he seems to get on the end of chances and be in the right place at the right time.”

A spokesperson for the FA said: "We don't hold official records for all the preliminary rounds of the FA Cup but the youngest we can find  is Jonjo Shelvey, so it likely he is (the youngest)

"We just can't say for sure but he stands a good chance." 

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2011-09-16

Bullied schoolgirl becomes model

A BULLIED schoolgirl who was beaten as a teenager and called an 'ugly swot' has had the last laugh – after becoming a model AND a student doctor.  

Stunning Chloe Wood has proved she has brains as well as beauty by beating the bullies with a thriving modelling career and being well on her way to becoming a doctor of psychology.

But it has been a tough battle for the 20-year-old who had to overcome years of torment at the hands of cruel bullies, which even saw her hospitalised after she was viciously attacked.

Chloe missed two months of school and struggled with her GCSEs as a result of the violent assault.

But now Chloe from Cannock, Staffs, has overcome the challenges she faced and is modelling in her spare time to help pay her way to a career in the medical profession.

"I’ve proven that I won’t let the bullies beat me,” said gorgeous Chloe.

“I was picked on because they said I was ugly and a swot, and a gang of them attacked me, kicking me in the eyes.”

Chloe did not let that hold her back though and is now focusing on her ambition to become a doctor and studying human biology and psychology at Staffordshire University.

Chloe was crowned Cannock’s Miss Local Beauty two years after she left school and her prize included a portfolio filled with modelling photos, which have enabled her to get work in the world of fashion.

Chloe, who lives with her parents, said: “I got into modelling when I was 18 and the organiser of Miss Local Beauty spotted some photos of me on MySpace.

“I had such a nice day at the competition that I wasn’t worried about whether I won or lost so I was chuffed to take the crown, and since then I have done quite a few modelling jobs.

“I spend a lot of my time studying but I keep fit by being a member of the university’s cheerleading club.

Chloe mainly enters contests in Staffordshire and has worked at Pool Photography in Burntwood, Staffs, to help pay for her university fees.

She recently entered the Miss Merseyside competition, along with hundreds of other girls, where she reached the final ten.

Talking about the attack, her mother Sheila said: “When I arrived at the school to pick her up after the attack I couldn’t believe what I saw, her eyes were so swollen she couldn’t open them.

"She was taken to Cannock hospital and they then rushed her in an ambulance to Stafford Hospital. It was such a scary time.

“We support her in whatever she wants to do and are proud of her ambition to be a doctor as well as doing modelling.”

Chloe says she has had a lot of support from her friends and family and boyfriend Christopher Lydell.

But she has passed up offers of glamour modelling it in case it jeopardised her career as a doctor.
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2011-09-15

Is God a Wolves fan?

IT worker Luke Fellows claims he has found proof that God is a Wolverhampton Wanderers fan – after he snapped their famous club emblem appearing in the clouds.

The picture was snapped by devoted fan Luke, who spotted the bizarre cloud gathering above his home in Telford, Shropshire, while putting the rubbish out.

It is now doing the rounds on the internet as thousands of fans are sharing it with each other on Facebook and Twitter.

"I was amazed when I saw it," said 31-year-old Luke, an IT analyst at Birmingham-based NEC Group.

“It was just one of those things. I was in the right place at the right time.

"The wind was howling and I saw a bag blow over my garden fence and as I looked up, I saw the wolf's head.

"I just looked at it for a couple of minutes then thought I have to get a picture of this to show my mates. I think it proves beyond doubt that God is a Wolves fan."

Since taking the picture on Monday, the image has been the talk of social networking sites Facebook and Twitter and has been viewed by more than 2,000 people.

One Facebook user, Kev Wardlaw described the image as "fantastic" on the site while Jenny Priest posted a message saying: "Love it!"

And even  rival West Bromwich Albion fans have praised Luke's find, with supporter Mark Jones sating: "From a Baggie, that's amazing."

Meanwhile, Albion fan James Brandwood said: "I'm another baggy who thinks that's class."

And friends of Luke - a lifelong Wolves fan who lives with his wife, Kate - have also sent it to the Wolves to see if it can be included in a match-day programme, as well as sending it to the Sky TV show, Soccer AM.

"I thought it was amazing but I didn't really expect there would be so much interest in it," said Luke. "I'm glad I saw it now.

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2011-09-14

Spooky pencil artwork

THEY may look like old Victorian photographs that have been stored away for years collecting dust  - but in fact these photo-real images have actually been painstakingly drawn with a PENCIL.

Award-winning artist Paul Chiappe meticulously spends up to two months sketching the miniature portraits - some as small as 2mm - simply using the tip of a pencil.

He accurately creates the old fashioned photos with stunning detail -meaning you'll need a magnifying glass to appreciate the fine draughtsmanship of the 27-year-old.  

And while Paul admits his spooky-looking images verge on the 'dark and uneasy' he says they remain quirky and amusing.

Paul, from Edinburgh, said: "I enjoy trawling through old nostalgic photographs, wherever I come across them. I find it particularly interesting looking at people in old photographs and appreciating the differences and similarities, across different periods, cultures and personalities.

"My interest is captured by the naive charm and androgyny of the children in the images I use, who display obvious personalities.

"Using old photos allows me to play with the idea of memory more than a very current image would and works as a device to force people to cast their minds back."

His drawings are produced on a miniature scale using mainly pencil but others are done using airbrushed paint.

Paul, from Edinburgh, continued: "The scale stems from an interest in miniatures, where there is an intimacy forged between the viewer and drawing.

"I also like working on a small scale for technical reasons - it makes sense for me to produce small work because it wouldn’t be practical to produce large works with the same level of detail.

"Often people don’t realise when looking at my drawings on a computer screen that sometimes the faces in the drawings are in fact as small as 2mm.

"I am constantly experimenting with other mediums and surfaces. I have drawn with pencil since primary school.

"I remember even in primary school meticulously copying images for art class. I would end up drawing dolphins and things from wildlife books. Basically, anything I would draw I'd make sure it was as realistic as possible."

"I feel comfortable using this medium and enjoy the control pencil affords me.

"I also like the fact that complex images can be produced using such a rudimentary medium.

"I've always done quite realistic drawings."

His work has been exhibited internationally as well as in London and America. His work is due to be featured at two forthcoming shows at Mader 139 in London and John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin in 2012.

The full time artist studied at Edinburgh College of Art and won a number of awards during his there.

They included the college's centenary prize for the best work by a graduating student

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2011-09-13

murderer gets neighbourhood Watch

A MURDERER with 96 previous convictions slipped through vetting procedures to become a co-ordinator for a local Neighbourhood Watch scheme.

Checks by the police failed to reveal that Graham Galloway, aged 66, had received a life sentence in 1987 for “a vicious and deadly assault”.

Galloway, from Northampton, later assumed another man’s identity, arranging for his driving licence to be renewed with his picture, in order to obtain work as a lorry driver.

Last month he pleaded guilty to fraud and ID offences and was given a suspended prison sentence on Friday.

The case revealed that vetting procedures by Northamptonshire Police of potential Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators had failed to pick up on his previous murder conviction, or his other 96 convictions, which included dishonesty.

However, Galloway claims police knew of his record but chose to ignore it.

He said: “You only get a police check when you become a co-ordinator and it was the police who suggested I did Neighbourhood Watch and that was when they checked the police national computer.

"They knew all about it and said just to get on with it. Because it was all 30 years ago, they said I’d paid my dues and it was okay. If I wanted to work with them then I could.”

A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said: “Last year, we introduced compulsory checking for all who apply to become Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinators or deputies. Depending on the outcome, we give advice as to their suitability and the results of the checks are confidential.

“Before compulsory police checking was in place, checks took place on an ad-hoc basis at the request of the Neighbourhood Watch management.

“We are satisfied that the current checking process protects the public sufficiently.”

Northampton Crown Court heard Galloway had now been dismissed from his Neighbourhood Watch role.

His record came to light when he applied for a driving licence in the name of Barry Matthews, who is thought to have emigrated to New Zealand, in April last year.

Alex Bull, prosecuting, said the DVLA sent a renewal notice to what they had thought was Mr Matthews’ address.

But Galloway sent back the application with his picture attached and he was then issued with a driving licence in May 2010.

The court heard he then used it to gain work as an HGV driver, despite the agencies questioning why his wages were paid out in a different name.

Stan Dean, spokesman for Neighbourhood Watch, said Galloway was instantly dismissed following a report of his convictions last month.

He said: “It was an absolute shock. Had we been aware of his convictions and record, we would never have granted him membership.

“I can’t really comment on what procedures the police adopted. We have withdrawn his membership and he is no longer allowed to represent us.”

Convicted of murder, Galloway will remain on licence and liable to recall to prison for the rest of his life.

He was unanimously convicted of murder in 1987 after only 45 minutes by a jury at Bristol Crown Court of murder.

Bryan Barras, aged 24, died when his family turned off his life support machine three days after he was subjected to a “vicious and deadly assault” on February 22, 1987.

The knife attack on his skull caused a haemorrhage and fatal brain damage.

The pair had got into a fight at a holiday camp in Somerset which escalated into a fatal attack with a knife.

Galloway, whose claim of self-defence was rejected, served 16 years and was released on life licence in October 2003.

Despite having 96 previous convictions for a range of other offences since 1958, including dishonesty, and driving offences, none of these prevented him from being appointed as a coordinator for Neighbourhood Watch in Kingsthorpe, Northants.

Galloway said: “I don’t like drugs so I like to look after my little corner where I live.

“I like to look after the old folks and will continue to, even though they’ve sacked me now. I got the false documents so I could drive.

“I wasn’t living under another name or trying to conceal who I was. It was so I could get a job.”

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2011-09-12

Man poops on a hedgehog

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2011-09-11

Harry Potter saved mums life

A QUICK-THINKING schoolboy saved his mum’s life after copying first aid techniques he saw on a Harry Potter film.

Nine-year-old Anthony Druitt was at home in Farcet, Cambridgeshire, when his mum, Katrina Druitt, collapsed into a fit.

He quickly surrounded his mum with cushions until her seizure stopped before moving her into the recovery position - preventing her from slipping into a fatal coma.

Anthony then called an ambulance and also to the family’s GP surgery.

The brave youngster said he knew he had to call an ambulance because his mum’s seizure reminded him of an “epileptic fit” that Harry Potter’s best friend Ron Weasley suffers after drinking poison in the film Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince.

Harry saves Ron’s life by making him drink an antidote and getting him to hospital as soon as possible.

Anthony said: “Ron drank something and just collapsed on the floor. They put something in his mouth but I didn’t do that.

“It went on for five or ten minutes so I got the ambulance lady.

“They asked me lots and lots of questions and asked if her chest was going up and down. Then the ambulance came very quickly.”

A crew from the East of England Ambulance Service took Katrina to Peterborough City Hospital where she was released after several hours of observation and tests.

She is expected to have brain scans this week to determine the cause of the fit.

The proud mother paid tribute to her “amazing son” saying she believes his quick-thinking stopped the seizure from turning into a fatal coma.

Single mum Katrina, 34, who suffers from Myalgic Encephalopathy (ME), added that she had no idea that Anthony would behave so well, or know what to do, in an emergency.

She said: “I’m just chuffed to bits with him. He’s lovely. I just think he’s amazing.

“I would assume that he wouldn’t know what to do, but the fact that he rang the family doctor makes me very, very proud of him.

“The ambulance crew were quite shocked to find that he was just a child, because they had been given so much information and I was in the recovery position.”

Ambulance staff have also praised Anthony for his actions in the incident last week, and welcomed the unusual source for first aid tips.

An East of England Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: “What Anthony did was very courageous.

“It is very hard for anyone to see a loved one taken ill, so for a child so young to keep a cool head and do exactly the right thing to get help is really commendable and potentially life-saving.

“We would like to follow this up with a meeting with the family to present Anthony with a special certificate for his bravery and quick thinking.

“We welcome anything that educates children in recognising an emergency situation, in whatever form it comes.”
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2011-09-10

Girl, 10, trapped in a boy's body

THE mother of a girl trapped in a boy's body has spoken for the first time about her experience.

The 36-year-old mother, from Worcester, who wished to remain anonymous, said her daughter had suffered at the hands of bullies, both young and old who had labelled them the 'freak family'.

She said her 10-year-old daughter had been into girl's toys and dresses for as she could make her own choices - and was devastated when she was made to go to school dressed in a boy's uniform.

But today/yesterday (MON) the brave child made her return to school for the first time - dressed in a girl's school uniform.

Her proud mother, said: "As soon as she could make free choice, she was just always into girl stuff. Whether it be make-up, dolls, dresses, she never had any interest in boy's toys.

"We had to tell the family to stop buying her footballs or WWE figures at Christmas, she was just never interested in it. She wanted a new skirt or a Barbie doll.

"She has suffered bullying but is happier to be going to school as a girl. When we made her dress as a boy, she would get into a right state, it just doesn't feel natural to her.

"She did come home with a friend once and when they told everybody at school all she has at home was girl's toys, some of them bullied he pretty badly.

"But she accepts who she is and feels conformable with that, when she is old enough she will take hormone tablets, to stop her going through puberty and growing facial hair.

"She got called 'gay' and a 'freak' and even now we don't just have children making comments, you hear adults coughing under their breathe at us and calling us the 'freak family'"


Her mum said that she had known that her daughter was was different since the age of two-and-a-half.

She  added the headteacher of the school had been “fantastic” and said her daughter had been “brave” to come back to school as a girl.

She said: "The school had been fantastically understanding, they held two assembly's to make sure the children understand it is like any other medical condition.

"She told them it was just like wearing glasses, and she should not be treated any differently.

"It's going to be a hard school life for us and for her as well, but she is a strong person and I'm sure we will get through it as a family.

"She has to use the disabled toilets at school, they won't let her use the ladies, parents would not accept that.

"But for the first time she is in a girls school uniform and she has been a lot happier during the run up to term."

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2011-09-09

Matt Cardle at BRMB

X-FACTOR winner Matt Cardle has revealed he didn't like singing other people's songs throughout the hit show that made him famous.  

The 28-year-old told of his relief to be finally singing his own material after so long covering other people's.

"I've been writing my own songs since I was 11, I don't like singing other people's songs, it doesn't mean anything to me,"  said Matt, who had jobs as a bricklayer, postman, milkman and a painter and decorator before shooting to fame with his appearance on the hit ITV show.

"I've spent so long singing other peoples stuff, it's helped me get where I am now, but I don't like it.

"I had to do it every week on the show and then the Biffy song I chose because I like it, but it doesn't mean much to me in the end."

Matt, who was in Birmingham yesterday (THURS), is also about to see the release of his first single , Run For Your Life, which was written by new X-factor judge Gary Barlow.

And he agrees the song strikes a chord with him personally as by his own admission he not been a good boyfriend in the past.

"I wouldn't be singing this song if it didn't connect with me on a personal level," he added.

"We were writing the album and Gary sent this song and it was just like he'd been reading my diary.

"It's all about not being able to be a very good boyfriend, and that's always been a trouble of mine, it was really spooky that he seemed to be able to write a song so suited to me."

While the X-Factor launched his career Matt admits that he hasn't been watching the current series.

"I've caught the odd bit when it's being repeated late at night when I get home," he added.

"But I haven't had the chance to watch it properly yet.

"I think the new judges will do a good job, Gary is great, he's a really nice guy, he knows music so well, he'll do a great job.

"Louis will just continue doing what he does and Tulisa and Kelly look great and I'm sure they'll get used to what they're doing pretty quickly."

Despite his support for the new panel Matt, who hit the Christmas number one with his cover of Biffy Clryo's Many of Horror, says he'd still prefer to go up in front of the old panel.

"The new panel will be great, but I'd much prefer to perform in front of Simon and co," he said.

"They've been doing it for so long they really know what they're doing, the new panel will grow into it but the experience won't be there yet.

"Simon is so good at what he does, and Danny says what she wants and it was normally right and Cheryl's lovely."

But while he enjoys the ability to perform his own music to a big audience, Matt says it has been hard to live a normal life again.

"I can't walk down the road anymore," he said. "I get mobbed everywhere I go, but I don't mind them doing it. They're not doing it to annoy me.

"I don't get much time to chill like I used to, if I do I'll go and have a drink or if I really have time I go and skate.

"I love skating, always have done, it's what I do if I'm not writing or performing. But music is what I do, I did not go on that show to become famous I went on because I love making music.

"I've been doing it all my life, so I've written a few albums in my time, it will be great that people will finally be hearing one of them."

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2011-09-08

River Teme dries up

THESE pictures may look like they were taken on drought-hit African plains, but they actually come from rural Herefordshire.

Water levels on the River Teme near Ludlow, Herefordshire, have hit their lowest levels in years despite the appalling summer.

Experts have blamed the surprising pictures - which come after the coldest summer in recent memory - on this year's unusually hot spring.

Staff at the Environment Agency mounted a rescue operation on the river - their eight this year - moving various species of fish from the worst-hit areas to deeper waters downstream.

The plummeting water levels have meant that dog-walkers are able to let their pooches loose on the barren river bed.

And locals have even reported SHEEP crossing the perilously low waters, which normally rage through the rural county at this time of year.

Environment Agency bosses today said they were praying for rainfall to combat worrying water levels in the river at locations including Leintwardine, Tenbury Wells, Knighton and Ludlow.

Catherine Ellis, Midlands communications officer at the Environment Agency, said: “Approximately 100 fish were rescued including brown trout, salmon, eels, lamprey and minnows.

“They were rescued by electric fishing, meaning they are stunned with a mild current and this allows us to get them out.

“They are then moved downstream in tanks on a Land Rover.

“They are then re-released into the River Teme. Since spring we have rescued 3,000 to 4,000 in this stretch.

“It is very unusual for us to have to do it this late. It’s been a dry winter and summer.

“We hope for some prolonged rain soon or we may have to do it again.”

The problems in the River Teme have been caused by dry weather conditions since the spring which has seen river levels drop below their normal depths.

Yesterday the depth of the River Teme at Leintwardine was recorded at just 27 centimetres – five centimetres below its lowest typical level.

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2011-09-07

Newcastle United Lingerie

AN underwear firm has inspired chants of 'Wa-hey the Lads!' with its range of Newcastle United-themed lingerie.

And the makers of the cheeky lingerie have even suggested that famously hot-blooded Geordie lasses might wear it for a night out on the town.

The range of bras, briefs, French knickers, stockings, suspender belts and camisoles comes in black and white and is emblazoned with the club's logo.

Midlands-based Premier Lingerie is hoping that footie-mad Magpies fans will carry their passion for their club from the terraces into the bedroom.

Paul Robinson, managing director of Premier Lingerie, said he is happy with how the range has turned out.

He said: "The black and the white range looks fantastic.

"Because those colours are traditionally lingerie colours anyway, they work perfectly with each other."

And he admitted that Newcastle ladies - famous for hitting the town in the skimpiest of outfits - might even wear the sexy strip outside the bedroom.

He said: "I could see them wearing them around the town -  they probably will be knowing the girls up there, they're quite a canny lot."

The idea for club-themed lingerie came to Paul when he noticed a gap in the football merchandise market.

Paul, a former steelworker, said: “Women make up around 20 per cent of football supporters but only three to five per cent of club merchandise is aimed at them.
 
“All there seems to be for women in club shops up and down the country are pink T-shirts.

"I looked at all the Premier League club brochures and found no-one was doing anything sassy for female fans.”

Stuart Middlemiss, Newcastle United’s head of retail, said: “This is something which a lot of other clubs have been exploring and we are keen to see how Newcastle fans take to the club-branded lingerie.”

The deal makes Newcastle the second Premier League team to carry its own lingerie range, after Wolverhampton Wanderers signed a deal with Premier Lingerie last year.

Paul Robinson said: "It was a bit of a slow burner at first because it had never been done before.

"People didn't know how to react to it or how it would sell, but Wolves have done fantastic business and they've just placed another order."

He added that he hoped Newcastle United's worldwide fan base would result in clubs from further afield launching their own ranges of underwear in club colours.

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2011-09-06

Assistant head bullied teacher

A FORMER assistant head teacher "bullied, intimidated, undermined and victimised" her colleagues, including one young teacher who collapsed and died on school premises, a disciplinary panel has heard.

Moira Ogilvie, 40, appeared at a General Teaching Council (GTC) conduct hearing in Birmingham today/yesterday (MON) charged with unacceptable professional conduct.

It is alleged that, whilst employed as acting deputy head at High Greave Junior School, Rotherham, South Yorkshire, she 'bullied' staff and acted in an inappropriate manner towards children.

She is also alleged to have discussed confidential information, and asked members of staff to report on their colleagues behind each other's backs.

The hearing heard how 29-year-old teacher Britt Pilton had been found dead at the school in February 2009.

GTC presenting officer Laura Ryan told the disciplinary panel that 11 members of staff had written to the school's head teacher 'within a matter of weeks' of Miss Pilton's death to complain about Miss Ogilvie's behaviour.

The complaints regarded her behaviour towards Miss Pilton and other members of staff.

In her letter, fellow teacher Natalie Garbutt said that on the day of Miss Pilton's death, she had been "concerned that photocopying she had left in the photocopier had been removed by Moira Ogilvie to substantiate claims in relation to her professional conduct."

Miss Garbutt also claimed in her letter that Miss Ogilvie made comments "relating to her being glad about Britt being gone from the teaching staff following her death."

Another member of staff, Rachel Green, wrote that Miss Ogilvie had remarked that Miss Pilton's replacement was 'a better teacher than Britt ever was' in front of a child.

Giving a statement to the panel, former head teacher June Hitchcock said that the school had been 'devastated' by the loss of Miss Pilton.

She said staff were "devastated, completely. It was a total shock. It affected them, I would suggest it still affects them deeply.

"It was a huge loss professionally and personally for some of the staff who were very close to Britt Pilton."

Speaking about the day Miss Pilton died, Mrs Hitchcock said that she had been told that the young teacher appeared 'stressed' when her photocopies had gone missing.

She said that Rachel Green had told her that she felt that 'there was a connection between the disappearance of those particular resources and activity by Moira Ogilvie."

Miss Green told Mrs Hitchcock that she later saw Miss Ogilvie using the same worksheets that had gone missing from the photocopier, although it was pointed out that no evidence was found to prove that they had belonged to Miss Pilton.

In her opening statement, Miss Ryan said that other teachers had reported that Miss Ogilvie "reduced staff to tears and spoke to people in an extremely unprofessional and threatening manner."

In relation to the allegation of acting inappropriately towards pupils, Miss Ryan said that Miss Ogilvie had called an emergency assembly where she 'yelled' at children for 'ruining the school'.

Miss Ogilvie denied the four allegations against her.

Her representative, Rhoda Andruchow, told the hearing that no other proceedings had been brought against Miss Ogilvie in relation to her conduct during her two years at the school.

She also said that no-one had approached Miss Ogilvie to speak to her regarding her behaviour.

She also denied that the relationship between Miss Ogilvie and Britt Pinton had been strained.

Reading from a statement made by Miss Ogilvie, Miss Andruchow said: "I never had any reason to believe that Britt Pilton was anything but a good friend to me."

Miss Ogilvie was dismissed from the school in November 2009 following an investigation and a disciplinary hearing.

The hearing continues.
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2011-09-05

Samaritans steal Porsche

HEARTLESS car thieves posing as Good Samaritans stopped to help a heavily pregnant woman change a flat tyre - before driving off in her sports car.

The woman, who is nine months’ pregnant, was left stranded on a deserted country road until someone came to her aid.

She had pulled over on the road between Byfield and Boddington, near Daventry, Northamptonshire, when she realised one of the rear tyres of her blue Porsche 911 had a puncture.

She was waiting for help when two men in a white Ford Transit van, which had grey bumpers, stopped and changed the tyre for her.

But the passenger of the van then jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off in the woman's luxury GBP100,000 car.

The victim was left at the side of the quiet country road, which is surrounded by farmland,
for some time until an elderly man stopped and offered her a lift home.

She immediately notified the police of the theft of the two-door sports coupe.

The theft happened between 10.30am and 11.30am on Wednesday.

A Northamptonshire Police spokesman said: “The driver of the van was aged 40 to 50, overweight, with curly unkempt hair, and he was smoking a cigarette.

“The passenger, who changed the tyre for her, was clean shaven, aged between 30 and 40, with a tanned complexion.

"He was wearing stone washed jeans and a beige checked shirt.”

A spokeswoman added: “This is an appalling offence, involving the opportunistic theft of a vehicle which left a heavily pregnant woman stranded by the side of a quiet country road.

“Anybody who witnessed the incident or who thinks they may have seen the vehicle (registration number 376 BUA) is asked to come forward with any information they may have.”

The iconic Porsche 911 has been produced by its German manufacturer since 1963, and has undergone numerous revisions since it was first created.

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2011-09-04

Gold medalist joy

THE girlfriend  of World Championship gold medallist Dai Greene today spoke of her pride at the sprinter’s success in yesterday’s opening games.

Primary school supply teacher Sian Davies, from Stourbridge, West Midlands, has been by Greene’s side since they were both members of their university running club at university in Cardiff five years ago.

And yesterday (THURS) she watched with pride as he won Britain’s first World Championship gold medal with victory in the 400metres hurdles in Daegu.

“I was glued to the TV watching it - I haven’t slept or eaten for a week worrying about it,” said the 26-year-old Sian, who is living with her parents in Eggington Road while she and Dai carry out work on their new home in Bath.

“I had to stand in the hallway as I couldn’t bear to listen to all the build up.

“Then when it came on, about 300m in I was thinking maybe he was too tired or the nerves had got the best of him.

“But then he started to move forward and I just knew he was going for it. I was screaming and jumping up and down so much I got cramp in my thighs.

“I’m so proud of him, and so happy - it meant so much to him.”

The couple met as students at the University of Wales Institute Cardiff, where they both joined the running club.

She used to give him lifts to their practises as he was epileptic and wasn’t allowed to drive, and their relationship blossomed.

After university, Sian moved back to Stourbridge after graduating a PGCE and getting a full-time job teaching at Hawbush Primary School in Brierley Hill.

“I handed my notice in there last year. While the holiday as a teacher is great, unfortunately the six week summer break coincides with the athletic season - we had been together for four years and never been away together,” she said.

“Now I’m just doing a bit of tutoring at Hawbush and Gigmill Primary School and will be doing supply work in Bath and Bristol when we move down there, giving us a bit of flexibility when it comes to holidays.”

Sian now returns to Stourbridge whenever Dai is away to live with her mother and father Ceri, who is a former rugby player at Stourbridge Rugby Club and is now the team photographer.

She said following yesterday’s race, Dai was whisked away straight into interviews, drug tests and get a sports massage before finally being allowed to eat and chat on the phone.

“I finally got to speak to him about four hours after he raced,” she added.

“He was very pleased, and very excited – but I don’t think it has really sunk in yet. I’ve watched it back and you can see it in his face when he crossed the line, he couldn’t quite believe it.”

Now, she said, Dai would be returning to the UK on Monday and, following his next race on September 16, she and Dai would be taking a much-deserved holiday.

“Our first proper holiday was in October after he ran at the Commonwealth Games, when we went to the Maldives,” she said.
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2011-09-03

Children saved from bear

A HEROIC explorer has described the moment he risked his life to save a group of children from the jaws of a frenzied bear when it attacked their camp site.

Brave Brit Nick Meeks, 21, said the night he came face to face with a bear that attacked the US camp site he was staying at was “the most terrifying experience of my life”.

Nick was working with New Jersey-based adventure company Trail Blazers, which runs outdoor activities for inner-city youngsters, when he had his frightening late night encounter with the hungry black bear.

Camp counsellor Nick and a colleague had taken a group of nine boys, aged 11 to 13, on a two-week camping trip on the famous Appalachian Trail.

They were asleep in Stokes State Forest, New Jersey, last month when the bear tried to get into a tent and drag two children outside.

He was alerted to the kids' plight when he heard a blood-curdling cry coming from one of the tents.

Nick, from Deeping St James, Lincolnshire, said: “At about 4.30am I was woken by the screams of a camper. He came running to the leader tent in a flood of tears, at which point I attempted to calm him down. He would not speak at all.

“No more than 30 seconds passed before I heard the most horrific, spine-chilling screams from one of the tents.”

Nick said cries at night are usually due to nightmares or overreaction to strange noises, but he knew straight away this was different.

He added: “In the pitch black night I woke my co-leader and leapt out of the tent. I was left speechless, my heart skipped a beat and almost immediately autopilot set in.

“Shining my torch in the direction of noise, all that could be seen was the eerie pair of green eyes reflecting back at us; a black bear was at one of the tents in which campers had been sleeping.

“To know the kids had been struck by the bear and always had the potential to get very very badly injured is not a thought or experience I want again.”

“The bear didn’t play by the rules and turned back towards us.

“It kept charging towards our group, changing direction at the last second, every time moving to a new tent, dragging out empty sleeping bags, sheets and bags.

“After 20 minutes and some close encounters, we managed to scare the bear away from our site.

“This gave us time to restore some calm with the campers, and assess injuries.

“It was by far the most terrifying experience of my life.”

Nick and his colleague managed to scare the bear off and the children escaped serious injuries before being taken a safe distance away.

The animal later escaped and the trail had to be shut for a week until it was found by rangers and killed by a wildlife officer.

Nick has now finished his work as a counsellor and is travelling in North America before returning home to complete a sport and exercise sciences degree at The University of Leeds.
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2011-09-02

Musician commits suicide

A TALENTED young musician jumped in front on a train while on “leave” from a hospital where she was being treated after showing signs of suicidal tendencies, an inquest has heard.
 
Samantha Maritza, who was the lead singer of up-and-coming electro indie band China Red, was killed when she stepped off a platform into the path of a train travelling at 125mph.

The pretty blonde, who had been described as a 'star in the making' by a industry photographer, had been released from St George’s Hospital, in Stafford, on June 9 last year and on that same afternoon she jumped to her death.

The 21-year-old, who was studying hairdressing at college, was released on “unescorted leave" at 12.30pm and was due to return at 2.30pm.

But just before 4pm, she stepped on to the track at Lichfield Trent Valley train station and was struck by a train, the inquest was told.
 
Speaking at Cannock Coroner’s Court, Dr Gurpreet Singh, a consultant psychiatrist for the South Staffordshire & Shropshire Healthcare Trust, said he became aware of Samantha when she was admitted to the hospital in May after she tried to hang herself the month before.
 
Samantha had a hospital meeting with Dr Singh on the day of her death, and the psychiatrist said he saw a “big improvement”.

Dr Singh said Samantha, of Brereton, Staffs, seemed more “cheerful” and “confident”.
 
"She was allowed a few hours of unescorted leave.”
 
Solicitor Sharon Allison said Samantha was found with a T-shirt around her neck at the hospital on May 22 and on May 25 she was found in possession of a screwdriver.
 
Dr Singh said he was not aware of these incidents and said, with hindsight, had he been, it might have changed the decision to let her go.
 
Mr Haigh said Samantha killed herself while mentally unwell, but he was satisfied there had been no “gross failures.”

On their Myspace page, the Lichfield-based band describe themselves as 'Drum & Bass / Electro / Pop.'

On a page in memory of her passing, her fellow band members Matt, John and Dave, paid a touching tribute.

"Earlier this week, the world lost a true star. She was one of those instantly likeable characters who could light up any room in any situation.

"She was also probably one of the only people I have ever known (and will ever know) to turn up to practice in high heels and a fur coat, and still kind of make it seem normal.

"She was like a mom, a sister, best friend and singer to us all. She would be so generous in every respect and she would really go out of her way to do anything for anyone.

"I know I’m not the first to say that she was one of the best performers they have ever seen, because she really was brilliant.

"You always knew that if she was fronting the band, you were going to have a good show - if her energy on stage wasn’t enough to give you the buzz of playing live, than you should probably not have bothered turning up at all!!

"I first met Sam as she filled in back when we just started as China Red, probably 4 years ago now.

"After a successful year or so, we decided to go our own way and it was only when PM Promotions contacted me that we got back together. We were asked to do a show, and despite not having a set, band or name (hence why it was China Red again!!), I knew there was only one person

"I wanted as the singer - We had just over 6 weeks to prepare for the show which including writing all new music but we somehow pulled it off!

"From there, it has just been a massive journey for us all, and although we have lost an amazing talent, we have some amazing memories of our time with Sam that we will all cherish and hold them tightly, making them impossible to forget. She touched the lives of so many people in so many different ways and I know everyone is so thankful for that.

"Our love goes out to a truly wonderful family in Steve, Joan, Billy and Jamiee. I’m sure she had so much more to achieve but I really think they will be extremely proud of the legacy that Sam has left on all of our lives."

One music industry photographer, added to the page: "Many people pass through my lens, but this amazing ball of fun passed by one night and it makes me full of joy that this person (Sam) did so.

"I remember talking later back stage and telling her she was a star in the making. I am deeply sorry to hear the news of Sam's passing.

"My thoughts go out to all of her family and friends at this sad time. God bless you Sam for passing through my lens and I hope one day I see you on the other side."

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