KSI entertained crowds from inside Blackpool Tower Ballroom while Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas officially switched on the bright lights for 2021
Blackpool Illuminations have been switched back on much to the delight of tens of thousands of people watching on from the resort’s streets and seafront.
Crowds gathered outside Blackpool Tower last night (September 3) for the switch on of the 2021 illuminations.
To mark the event, a ticketed event took place within the Tower Ballroom with KSI, The Wombats, Ella Henderson and Wes Nelson taking to the stage to entertain a 1,500-strong crowd.
“I’m very happy to be here,” KSI said.
“The heart of England – Blackpool.”
Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas was given the honour of turning the lights on and described it as a ‘dream come true’.
Shirley said: “I have been coming to Blackpool since I was a child and have seen the iconic Illuminations so many times over the years. I am thrilled and honoured to have been able to switch on the 2021 display and to be a part of the first Switch-On event in this wonderful ballroom. It‘s a dream come true.”
A VisitBlackpool spokesperson said: “We are thrilled that Shirley was able to grace our Switch-On stage in the magnificent setting of the Tower Ballroom. It is a moment we will all treasure.”
The live stream including the Switch-On moment and the music performances will be available to view free of charge throughout the weekend until 9.30pm on Sunday, (September 5) here.
This year’s Blackpool Illuminations will run until Monday, January 3, 2022.
Two fire engines from Blackpool and St Annes had to be called last night after a motorhome caught on fire.
The fire happened on Cropper Road last night
Firefighters were called to the motorhome on Cropper Road, where the Blackpool South Caravan and Motorhome Club campsite is located, at 7.49pm. They used two hose reels and four breathing apparatus to extinguish the flames.
Nobody was injured.
The cause of the fire remains under investigation, though a Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said police were not involved.
A Lytham couple and their 6-week-old baby nearly died from carbon monoxide poisoning whilst on holiday at the weekend.
Amber Yates and husband James have decided to speak out after their “near death experience” whilst staying in their caravan on Sunday, August 29.
The pair had been enjoying their first holiday as a family with newborn Elliot and their spaniel Oakley when they were woken in the night by the shrill sound of their carbon monoxide alarm.
Within two minutes of waking, grabbing their baby and escaping the caravan, their carbon monoxide monitor was warning of dangerous CO levels over 200 – which can quickly lead to disorientation, unconsciousness and death.
Amber Yates with her 6-week-old baby Elliot in A&E after the family’s carbon monoxide poisoning. Pic: Amber Yates
Following their traumatic experience, the young couple have shared their story to “help raise awareness and save some lives”.
This is the Yates family’s “near death experience” in their own words…
“In the early hours of yesterday morning, myself, my husband James, our 6-week-old baby Elliot and our spaniel Oakley had a near death experience.
“Please share our story far and wide to help raise awareness and save some lives.
James Yates was taken to A&E and put on oxygen after being exposed to carbon monoxide poisoning inside the family’s caravan in the middle of the night. Pic: Amber Yates
“We travelled 200 miles with our caravan to meet a group of friends who we had not seen in a little while. We like to get out in our caravan every weekend we can but we had a small break with having a baby, so this was our first trip with Elliot and we were so excited to show him our happy place.
“Early hours of Sunday morning we were woken up just after 3am by our carbon monoxide detector alarming.
“The number on the alarm read 90 when it woke us up, but in the 2 minutes it took us to grab the baby and get out of the van, the monitor was reading over 200.
“We escaped the van and woke up our friends who, without hesitation took us in, once we had breathed in some fresh air we realised how unwell we felt.
The family believe that the carbon monoxide poison was due to an issue with their caravan fridge. Pic: Amber Yates
“Our chests were very tight and it was painful to breath. At the time I felt that I was able to drive us to hospital. Looking back we should have phoned an ambulance but I was running on adrenaline.
“James ran back into the van to grab some essentials such as the changing bag and milk for Elliot, and to turn off all of the gas appliances.
“On the drive in we were both beginning to feel worse, but thankfully we were only a 17-minute drive from the nearest A&E.
“When we got to hospital we were all taken into a family room on the children’s unit and it was here that James’ condition seemed to worsen.
The Yates’ are urging others to check their CO alarms – “£15 and a couple of AA’s is a small price to pay for the safety of your family,” they said. Pic: Amber Yates
“He was taken up to the adult A&E for further tests and was put on oxygen. We now see that this was because he re-entered the caravan after we had escaped.
“Somehow, Elliot’s blood gas results were, as the doctor said, ‘close’ to the normal range and lower than James’.
“However we were told that with a carbon monoxide reading above 50 to expect symptoms, and a reading above 150 is life threatening, much lower numbers than those we were exposed too.
“We had unknowingly been travelling without batteries in our carbon monoxide detector for some while, without giving it much thought because it’s just one of those things that “happens to someone else”.
“That morning we had gone to Wetherspoons for breakfast, which is unlike us, then we saw an Aldi where James popped in. Whilst in there, he remembered that Elliot’s Ewan sheep soft toy had been used a lot recently, so he picked up some batteries for it, something we normally delay doing for ages because we always begrudge the price of them.
“Then in the afternoon, James, for some reason, thought to check the carbon monoxide detector to find it had no batteries in it.
“He put 3 AA batteries in the alarm – just 12 hours later it saved our lives.”
A spokesperson for Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service said: “Amber has contacted us to tell us of her family’s recent traumatic experience of carbon monoxide poisoning in a caravan.
“We encourage anyone with a caravan or motorhome to make sure that they have a working carbon monoxide alarm as well as a working smoke alarm.”
Wayne and Coleen Rooney “loved” their family bank holiday stay in St Annes
Amber and James are now urging others to check their CO alarms and batteries regularly – “£15 and a couple of AA’s is a small price to pay for the safety of your family”, they said.
“Please make sure you have working detectors in your caravan and your house,” urged Amber.
“Forget to take your awning, chairs, head torch, aqua roll? It’s frustrating but it won’t kill you. Forget your carbon monoxide detector and it just might.
“Can you confidently say that you have one, located properly, with working batteries, in date? If not please go now and check.
“£15 and a couple of AA’s is a small price to pay for the safety of your family.
“Carbon monoxide detector checks should be an essential part of caravan services, or even a legal requirement. I want them to be available to buy at a reasonable price from all local supermarkets, camping shops and campsite shops.
“What can you do to encourage and remind others to check their carbon monoxide detectors are in good working order?
“We believe that the poison was due to an issue with our fridge (see picture). Please check and make sure there is no evidence of this in your caravan, or by your boiler.”
Coastguard and lifeboat services had a busy night as they were called to four separate incidents within just a few hours.
HM Coastguard Fleetwood
Officers from Fleetwood and Lytham coastguards were first called at 7.45pm to reports of a missing person in the central beach area of Blackpool.
“Although this was in the middle of the Blackpool Illuminations switch on, the incident was quickly resolved,” a spokesman said.
Then, shortly before 1am this morning, coastguards were called to reports of a missing person believed to be near the beach in the Chatsworth area of Fleetwood.
Officers carried out a search from the sea cadets base to Rossall, and the missing person was eventually found by Fleetwood area police.
The team was then called to a person in the water near North Pier, Blackpool.
A Blackpool RNLI lifeboat was launched and the person was spotted in the sea close to the station. He was walked to the beach and handed into the care of North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
Finally, coastguards were again called at 5.15am to help search for a vulnerable person in the Comedy Carpet area of Blackpool. As officers arrived on scene, news came through that the incident had been resolved.
A feast of free entertainment is coming to St Annes over five days starting next Wednesday, September 8.
The September Spectacular in Ashton Gardens is a community event being presented by St Annes Town Council with the financial assistance of Fylde Council and the voluntary participation of a host of residents, businesses and community groups.
A Big Top tent will be in place and on the opening evening will feature the magical illusionists High-Jinx from Blackpool Tower, while the following evening will see the return of the RNLI Shanty Crew.
Friday, September 10 is co-headlined by rock band Feral Roots and The Quarantinos; Saturday, September 11 presents Rupert Fabulous and the event closes on September 12 with a set from Rush tribute band Counterparts.
Ashton Gardens will be the venue for the St Annes September Spectacular St Annes’ centenary Carnival off for a second year
Throughout the week residents can visit the ‘The Little Tent of Calm’ Marquee, which wiil feature a full programme of complementary health taster sessions.
Favourite features from the annual St Annes Carnival, unable to be held since 2019 because of the pandemic, will also return – including bouncy castles, helter skelter and other children’s rides.
Local businesses will be present with art and craft stalls, while food and drink stalls will also be on site, all organised by Dorothy Aitken of the St Annes Carnival committee.
Gavin Harrison, chairman of St Anne’s Town Council, who will officially open the event on Wednesday, said: “I’m very happy to support the September Spectacular.
“It is, without doubt, the biggest event the Town Council has ever organised, filling five whole days with events for all the family and the team of elected councillors and officers have done a fantastic job in bringing this together for the benefit of the community.
“I hope to see as many residents as possible attending at least some of the sessions and supporting the many hard-working local businesses.
“Hopefully we will also attract visitors, who will realise that there’s always something happening in St Annes – and best of all, admission is free for everyone.”
Coastguard rescuers issued a warning to beachgoers after being called out to incidents involving inflatables twice this week.
During the evening of Bank Holiday Monday, rescuers were called out to two people struggling to get back to shore after they took inflatable rings – which began drifting out to sea – into the water between South and Central piers.
RNLI Blackpool volunteers pulled the pair back to the beach, where they were checked over by North West Ambulance Service paramedics.
And on Wednesday, Lytham Coastguard and RNLI Blackpool lifeboat volunteers were called out again to a dinghy floating out to sea, with two people on board unable to steer the inflatable back to shore.
Coastguard rescuers issued a warning to beachgoers after being called out to incidents involving inflatables twice this week.
The two people were given “stern safety advice” after reaching safety, and rescuers went on to clear people off the sandbanks as the tide came in.
Volunteers issued a warning and urged people not to take inflatables into open water, as currents can quickly change and cause people to become stranded out at sea.
A spokesman for Lytham Coastguard said: “Inflatables are not for the sea, keep inflatable for the pool, not open water.
“We urge people not to use inflatables on open water, it’s extremely dangerous and you will get swept out to sea.
“If you see a coastal emergency, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.”
131 new homes will be built, with £631,418 needed to be coughed up for school places in order to build them
Grand plans to build 131 new council houses in Blackpool are set for the green light when they go before town hall planners.
The scheme, which was submitted in June, will see two sites on the Grange Park estate developed if it gets the go ahead from the council’s planning committee when it meets on Tuesday (September 7).
A mix of family houses, bungalows and sheltered apartments is included in the masterplan.
Architects Cassidy + Ashton have drawn up the proposals for 53 two and three storey houses on land, with access from Chepstow Road and Gateside Drive.
Public open space is also included in the scheme.
The land was previously occupied by Christ the King Church and the Chepstow Road shops which were bulldozed in 2018.
A second site, accessed from Dinmore Avenue, is set to see the construction of 78 homes including two and three storey houses, bungalows and sheltered housing.
The former Grange Park Primary School previously stood on the land before being demolished in 2014 when it was replaced by Boundary Primary School.
If planning permission is granted, agreements must be reached to fund additional public services required by the new residents.
This includes a contribution of £631,418 towards providing extra secondary school places, and nearly £42,000 towards extending services at the Grange Park Health Centre where an additional 333 patient places would be needed.
A planning report says: “Socially the proposal would make a substantial contribution towards the borough’s housing land supply and would provide much-needed affordable housing which weighs heavily in favour of the application.”
It adds the inclusion of sheltered housing in the scheme would help residents to remain on the estate while freeing up some larger homes for new families.
The proposed housing will be developed by Blackpool Council which owns the land, managed by Blackpool Coastal Housing and funded from the England European Regional Development Fund.
North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, RNLI Blackpool, and Blackpool Police were all called out to help the individual
A person has been dragged to safety after reports came in that they had fallen off of Blackpool’s North Pier in the early hours of this morning.
A huge emergency service response was launched at around 1.10am today (September 4) following the call being placed with RNLI Blackpool.
This also saw North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Blackpool Police rushed to the seafront outside of SEA LIFE Blackpool.
Fortunately, the individual in question had not fallen from North Pier.
But they were in the sea, with them receiving medical attention once brought to safety by RNLI volunteers due to suffering from the effects of cold.
A statement issued by RNLI Blackpool said: “Our RNLI volunteers were called out at 1.10am this morning to reports that a person may have jumped from North Pier and suffered injuries.
“One D-class lifeboat launched, found the person in the water and helped them to safety.
“Fortunately they had not jumped from the pier and were just suffering the effects of cold.
“North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Maritime and Coastguard Agency and Blackpool Police also attended.”
Samaritans (116 123)samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year. If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at firstname.lastname@example.org, write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.
A man who claimed disability benefits while working as an Elvis impersonator has been sentenced.
Joseph Thompson on stage as Elvis
A man who claimed disability benefits while working as an Elvis impersonator has been sentenced.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said that Joseph Thompson, 62, from Park Road, Blackpool, fraudulently claimed £10,084.17 in benefits from 2016 to 2018.
He claimed that health problems, in particular musculoskeletal disease/spinal muscular atrophy (SMA)) meant that he had limited mobility.
Yet, at the same time, he was working as an Elvis impersonator and involved in a band called the Prime Mover and was performing under the stage name of Joe Marcel.
The suspect claimed Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from the Department for Work and Pensions and, as a result of his information about his health on the relevant forms, he was granted the benefits to help with his daily living.
But the DWP received information about his work as a performer and a criminal investigation was launched.
He was arrested on March 15, 2018 and interviewed at Blackpool police station.
He initially denied dishonestly obtaining benefits to which he was not entitled.
But at Preston Crown Court this week he pleaded guilty to two counts of fraud.
He was given a 20 week jail sentence, suspended for 18 months. He’s subject to an electronic curfew from 8pm to 6am Sunday to Thursday. He is exempt from the curfew on Friday and Saturday nights so that he can continue to do some performances for charity.
Senior Crown Prosecutor George Ward, of CPS Mersey Cheshire’s Fraud Unit, said: “Joseph Thompson exaggerated the extent to which his medical conditions affected his physical mobility and daily living so that he could supplement his income.
“He does have a degenerative muscle-wasting disease. But while he was claiming that he had poor physical mobility, he was working on stage as an Elvis impersonator. It would clearly be difficult to impersonate an artist like Elvis without being able to move around a lot on stage.
“The CPS said that he had cheated the Exchequer out of thousands of pounds and he has now accepted that and pleaded guilty.
Two Lancashire men will attempt to pull a van weighing a minimum of 1.5 tonnes at least 21.1 miles raise money for ROC (Redeeming Our Communities)
Blackpool may see a new Guinness World Record next year with two Lancashire men set to attempt to travel the farthest distance pulling a vehicle in 24 hours.
ROC (Redeeming Our Communities) Garden Development Manager, James Baker, 35, from Blackpool will attempt to pull a vehicle weighing a minimum of 1.5 tonnes further than 21.1 miles at part of ‘Next Big Thing’ events.
James told LancsLive: “We first started training around two years ago and when we first looked at breaking this record it was only 2.1 miles which we thought was quite doable.
“It’s been broken at nearly ten times the length since, however, which is quite a difference so we’ve had to adapt our training.
“John and I are going to compete with each other on the day which will spur us on and will also mean that one of us can take over if the other one gets injured.
“There can only be one winner however and that’s whoever gets the longest length so it will be quite competitive!”
Personal trainer Neil Salanki, a lecturer and expert in sports science, fitness and nutrition has been putting the pair through their paces regularly testing them.
He’s using the results to inform the science of what’s required in order to manage their energy and muscular endurance across the whole challenge.
The guidance is much needed as James will be taking on the Blackpool marathon first on September 12 running the 26 miles along Blackpool Promenade dressed as Captain America.
There will then be three ‘practice vehicle pull sessions’ with a nine mile pull on September 18; a 12 miles pull on September 25; and a 15 mile pull on October 9.
Towards the end of this month there will be a ‘Full Dress Rehearsal’ which will be an attempt to officially break the record, but without the pressure.
The event will be captured in full with the pair hoping to learn lots by practising as well as getting some great footage and building some momentum for the main event.
The April dates and venue for the main event are yet to be confirmed however James and John will be given vans free of charge from Blackpool’s Vantage Motor Group.
“All the events are part of what we’re calling ‘The Next BigThing’ inspired by the fact that people are always asking us ‘what’s the next big thing’ with ROC garden,” James said.
“We’ve had several mini truck pulls fortnightly for six miles without food so Neil can monitor our energy levels.
“To begin with it really did feel like your soul was being sucked out of your body but it’s been worth it because energy management is going to be so important.”
ROC is a national community engagement charity that is based in Manchester and has sites all across the UK, including Northern Ireland. It works to form action-based partnerships with people of goodwill to create safer and kinder communities.
There are currently lots of different types of ROC projects including, ROC Conversations, ROC Mentoring, ROC Restore, ROC Champions, and ROC Cafe.
The purpose of the vehicle pull is to highlight and raise money for a project which James has personally pioneered called ROC garden.
It started off through a local church in Preston just over 11 years ago as a small team of volunteers who stuffed gardening equipment from their parent’s sheds into the boot of their cars and went out into the community.
The aim was to help transform gardens for residents that needed help bringing them to a manageable level.
Over the years the project moved from Preston to Blackpool to grow under the guidance of Blackpool Coastal Housing, and then later moved to become part of ROC in order to help it grow.
Currently ROC Garden is now serving more than 400 regular households with garden maintenance and transforms around 50 overgrown gardens a year for free for residents struggling in social housing.
It also provides practice grounds opportunities for volunteers by revitalising grot spots around the town and has created a volunteer training programme that has lead the vast majority of people it trains into paid employment.
The project is now receiving more and more requests to expand into new areas, and in Blackpool the demand for work is growing week-by-week.
The funds raised will help the charity take on new staff, train new volunteers, purchase a new van to help reach more people, allow it to purchase new uniforms and PPE.
James added: “This is a very personal thing for us both because my dream is to help people get back in employment and help transform people’s gardens.
“In certain areas you can have the “broken window” effect where if there’s litter or mess in a place it’s more likely to influence others to be like that.
“If you clear areas up however it has a positive effect which is great for somewhere like Blackpool.
“At school I always liked sports, however I was overweight and it’s been a real personal journey for me to learn about fitness and nutrition.
“John is also a leukaemia survivor and has years of chemotherapy so he looks so different to what he does now and has come a long way.
“We’re really looking forward to it and hope that people can support what we’re doing.”
As well as helping with donations and sponsorships, supporters can also help by volunteering to help steer their vans and walk alongside James and John.
Concerns have been raised about staffing levels, safety and leadership at New Victoria Care Home in Blackpool following a Quality Commission visit
Bosses at a care home have been told to make improvements after inspectors raised concerns about the safety of medication management.
Inspectors from healthcare watchdog the Care Quality Commission visited New Victoria Care Home, Blackpool, after concerns were raised about staffing levels, safety and leadership.
The home, in Hornby Road, provides care for up to 30 people and was inspected in June of this year, just three months after the previous inspection.
Last November two residents at New Victoria died after a major Covid outbreak which led to 22 people testing positive for the virus.
During their visit in June this year, inspectors found that staff at the care home were not consistent with record-keeping of medications after finding missing signatures and handwritten entries were not countersigned.
Stock control was not always clearly monitored.
Although concerns had been raised about staffing levels the inspectors were satisfied that these were sufficient.
One unnamed relative told the inspectors: “Yes, I think they have enough staff.
“They are busy, but I see them taking their time and sitting down to chat with the residents.”
The effectiveness at the care home, which was rated as good at the previous inspection in 2019, has been downgraded to Requires Improvement.
Despite this, the inspectors found that residents were provided with a good choice of nutritious meals and staff provided timely care.
One resident said: “Good portions and if you want more that is not a problem.”
A relative added: “My [family member] always enjoys her meals, she’s never had any problems with that. She looks well because she’s eating well.”
The inspectors found that improvements were also required in the leadership of the care home and said management was inconsistent.
“Leaders and the culture they created did not always support the delivery of high-quality, person-centred care,” the inspectors said in their report published in August.
During the last inspection in March, inspectors concluded the provider had failed to robustly assess the risks relating to the health safety and welfare of people but sufficient improvement has since been made.
In their report, inspectors said: “One area of improvement involved employing a specific activities coordinator to increase people’s stimulation and wellbeing.
“One relative said: ‘They have lots of activities now, that’s one thing they really have improved on’.”
Although the inspectors said improvements were still required to the leadership of the home they found that “staff confirmed the registered manager was a strong, competent leader”.
One employee told inspectors: “You feel supported because the manager’s always around.”
Overall the care home was rated as Requires Improvement and the inspectors have requested an action plan from the registered managers, Marion Gourlay and Janet Moutrey.
The inspectors concluded: “This service has been rated requires improvement for the last two consecutive inspections.We found action had been taken to improve the leadership and safety of the home.
“However, we rated the key areas as requires improvement because the management team and staff need to demonstrate consistent good practice over time.”
A spokesperson New Victoria’s provider, Bacup-based Regency Healthcare told LancsLive: “We cannot deny we had one or two problems with the paperwork in the home and this has all been rectified. We have recently had further contact with CQC and they are happy with our progress.
“Over the past few months the CQC have changed the way they inspect and have weighted things differently. We probably were not au fait with the new changes. Or at least not as knowledgeable as we should have been.
“However, we are moving forward and we are not in breach of any regulations and are in a position where the CQC are satisfied and they are just going to monitor us for a short time to make sure we keep up to scratch. We recognise that when these reports come into the public domain it causes concern but we are continuing to provide a high standard of care to all our residents.
“If the QC did not inspect and publish they would not be doing their job.”