Coroner to rule on care given to tragic Blackpool mum Sarah Dunn, who died of sepsis after weeks of asking for medical help after pregnancy termination

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The inquest into the death of a Blackpool mum-of-five who died of sepsis after weeks of asking for medical help will go ahead next week.


Sarah Louise Dunn, 31, died at Blackpool Victoria Hospital on Saturday, April 11, 2020 nearly four weeks after she had a pregnancy termination.

At a pre-inquest hearing at Blackpool town hall, coroner Andrew Cousins heard how she had approached her GP at Elizabeth Street Surgery more than once after taking ill following the termination.

On April 9, she visited her doctor after her condition did not improve.

Blackpool Town Hall, where the inquest will be held next week

Blackpool Town Hall, where the inquest will be held next week

On April 10, she called the NHS on 111, and went into the Vic’s A&E department later that day.

At around 2.15am the following day she died of sepsis, also known as blood poisoning due to an infection.

Mr Cousins said: “There’s a possibility that this may be a death due to natural causes.

“But I do need to hear evidence from Blackpool Victoria Hospital in relation to this case.

“I’m conscious that the family wishes to obtain closure in this matter and obtain answers to questions that have been raised.

“In light of the report and the summary of findings of that report, I do consider that further evidence from Blackpool Victoria Hospital is needed to identify the relevant issues in this matter.”

Her mother Marie Dunn, who attended the hearing with her sister and friend, said: “I feel there should be more evidence given from Elizabeth Street Surgery, because that’s who she went to two weeks before she died at the Vic, so I think much more evidence from them needs to be clarified.

“Help wasn’t given numerous times when she requested it and that’s where the problem stemmed, in my opinion.

“There’s nothing natural about sepsis. The flags had been put up and action wasn’t taken.”

In August, a pre-inquest review heard coroner Louise Rae say said an independent expert was likely to be called in following a request from Richard Baker, representing Ms Dunn’s family.

A review of Ms Dunn’s care was carried out by a Blackpool Victoria Hospital doctor, who said that the young mum could not have been saved.

But Mr Baker said an independent expert should be called, as the doctor was a colleague of those involved in Ms Dunn’s care, and this may have influenced his opinion “consciously or unconsciously”.

A full investigation into Ms Dunn’s death, with evidence from a range of health care professionals, will start on Monday and is set to last all week.



Doors exhibit to open at the Marine Hall in Fleetwood today

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An exhibition of – literally – old doors will open outside the Marine Hall in Fleetwood today.


‘Doors’, described as an “arts and health project” which uses former social housing doors from across the resort to “tell tales of Covid and lockdown in the houses they once fronted”, will be shown off by artists from noon until 3pm.

They will also encourage visitors to help design more doors, and families and children to decorate mini fairy garden doors.

Wyre Council’s mental health champion, Coun Julie Robinson, said: “Doors is an opportunity to express our most recent history and to highlight the community’s power of coping and survival as we look towards the future with hope.”

The Marine Hall in Fleetwood

The Marine Hall in Fleetwood

The project also involved Regenda Homes and M&Y Maintenance.



Who stole Blackpool’s ‘Buffalo Bill’?

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Mystery surrounds the whereabouts of a valuable piece of artwork stolen from Blackpool Council during a night-time raid.


The bronze statue called The Gaucho – depicting a cowboy and his bucking bronco – was on display in Central Library until it was put into storage.

But two years ago the sculpture, which had been valued at £15,000, was stolen in what is believed to have been a well planned operation.

Council chiefs said they kept the theft secret amid fears publicity could lead to the statue, which is also known locally as ‘Buffalo Bill’ due to its likeness to the showman, being damaged or even melted down.

The Gaucho - known locally as 'Buffalo Bill'

The Gaucho – known locally as ‘Buffalo Bill’

But despite a police investigation and the theft being registered on a database of stolen artwork, no clues to its whereabouts have been found.

Now the council is appealing for information amid fears the treasure may have been lost forever.

Council leader Coun Lynn Williams said: “It is very sad that this theft has deprived Blackpool of one of its most popular collection items.

“At the time of the theft, the most important priority was to try to get it back in one piece. It was felt that the best way to achieve that was not to send out a widespread public alert in case that led to it being damaged or melted down.

“Unfortunately, after being on the international stolen art register for two years, no information has come forward. Obviously, if anyone does have any information on the theft or the whereabouts of the piece we would urge them to contact the police.”

Cast in bronze, the sculpture by Walter Winans is 146 cm high, weighs approximately half a tonne and was last valued at around £15,000. The location of the storage space and whether the item was insured have not been disclosed by the council.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on the council, has called for an investigation into the loss of the statue.

He said: “When I was the cabinet member for culture, I remember the statue being on display at the entrance to Central Library.

“But it was moved when the library was refurbished and never put back. Nobody knows how it came into the council’s ownership, it’s a bit of a mystery.

“This sculpture is extremely heavy so it would be difficult to remove without some lifting equipment or more than two people. It would also need a transit type van to transport it away.

“The council have not disclosed where they were storing this important piece of art, but obviously it couldn’t have been in a very safe place and in a location that was easily known to the thieves and very accessible.

“It’s absolutely disgraceful that Blackpool Council has failed to protect an important and historic piece of world class art and I want to see a full internal investigation in regard to why it wasn’t protected more securely.”

Coun Tony Williams has also questioned whether the sculpture is by Walter Winans, or is the work of another well known American sculptor Frederic Remington from the same era.

Remington was also famous for his bucking bronco sculptures, with one having been on display in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington DC until recently.



Charlotte Dawson mixes up her comedy and bar skills for a day out with a twist and opens up online with fans about her health and fitness journey

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Reality star and influencer Charlotte Dawson switched up from documenting her mum-life for a day in the night as a bartender on a recent visit to London.


The beauty entrepreneur, from Lytham, and daughter of the late entertainer Les Dawson turned her hand to bartending with a twist for a launch of a new brand of drinks with Cutwater Cocktails in the capital.

She documented her work commitments online, sharing with her 1.3million followers how this was her first working trip away since the birth of her first-born son Noah with fiance Matthew Sarsfield.

The family live in Manchester but are regularly seen in the Fylde coast visiting Charlotte’s mum Tracey and her late dad’s memorial statue in the Sunken Gardens, in North Promenade.

Charlotte Dawson switches up mum life for bar life on a recent working trip to London.

Charlotte Dawson switches up mum life for bar life on a recent working trip to London.

Les and Tracey met in Lytham in 1987 where she worked as a barmaid at a hotel bar near his home

Taking inspiration from her father’s comedy ways, Charlotte had some fun with revellers as she served up an array of cocktails without revealing they came straight from a can.

The 29-year-old star of Celebs Go Dating, Love Squad and Celebrity Bumps, said:” “I love a night of dancing and drinking cocktails with friends and my fiancé, Matt.

“Choosing my favourite cocktail is a tough one – I like so many, but I’d have to say Strawberry Margarita. It is the perfect combination of juicy strawberry and the blast of Tequila, and this one is a real belter.”

Charlotte turned her hand to bartending in a new pop-up cocktail bar, The Cutwater Bar from Cutwater Spirits in London

Charlotte turned her hand to bartending in a new pop-up cocktail bar, The Cutwater Bar from Cutwater Spirits in London

Charlotte has also recently been very open with her loyal followers about her fitness and weight loss journey online, after a health scare whilst pregnant with son Noah.

She was diagnosed with gestational diabetes and “warned” she was in “danger” of Type Two diabetes, which was a real “wake-up call” for her after her dad’s death in 1993.

“I started this fitness journey with the goal of avoiding type 2 diabetes because I had gestational diabetes and was warned I was still in danger after Noah was born,

“My dad had it and died when I was just eight-months-old, so it really was a wakeup call to start getting fit.”



The good causes needing your support to raise thousands in Blackpool, Fleetwood, Lytham and Lancashire include Kindness Counts, Lancashire Mind and Lytham Christmas Lights

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Here’s a round-up of worthy fund-raising events happening near you…


Lancashire Mind

Mental Health charity Lancashire Mind are hoping Fylde Coast business will chip in for the final sponsorship packages of their flagship fundraising event Mental Elf.

The event is the charity’s biggest fundraising event of the year and this year will see an in-person event as well as a virtual one. Aiming to collectively travel the 4042km from Rivington Pike to the North Pole, Lancashire Mind are asking supporters to choose their own distance challenges or take part in the charity’s 5K Fun Run on Sunday December 5 at Witton Park in Blackburn. As well as the race itself, where people are encouraged to come dressed as elves, there will be lots of entertainment and a marketplace where you can grab some Christmas presents. Emma Bateson, Fundraising Lead at Lancashire Mind, said: “Lancashire businesses are a key part of Mental Elf.

Lancashire Mind fundraising event Mental Elf

Lancashire Mind fundraising event Mental Elf

“They have always stepped up and partnered with us for this, our biggest event of the year, and we couldn’t do it without them. “It’s a great opportunity for Lancashire companies to promote their businesses and also show their commitment to the mental wellbeing of all in Lancashire. We know that the mental health effects of the pandemic will continue to manifest within our communities for a long time to come so it’s important that we’re able to continue to deliver our services to the people of Lancashire. But we simply cannot do that without the support of the communities and businesses we serve.”

Any business that would like further information should contact or visit Kindness Counts UK

Kindness Counts UK is a new Thornton Cleveleys based charity aiming to raise bullying awareness and provide anti bullying resources to local schools. The charity was the brainchild of Michelle Atherton and was formed just before lockdown last year.

Now they are running a series of fundraising events including a Christmas Draw, a street collection in Cleveleys and an awareness stall at Baines School Christmas Fair on December 10. Collection boxes are available for shops too. Michelle said: “We have amazingly made great strides over the last year with several local schools already on board including Millfield, Baines, Manor Beach and Northfold Schools – all of which have been supplied with ‘Buddy’ Benches. Some have also received sports equipment, Lego therapy – which includes teacher training courses and even school uniforms for those in need. For more information visit or www.kindnesscountsuk.orgChristians Against Poverty

Fleetwood man Freddie Moyle is an intern at Christians Against Poverty and has been challenged to raise £3,000 for CAP. Between now and August next year he will be doing several fundraising efforts to reach his target. The first is to challenge himself to run a five minute mile.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) provides free debt help and local community groups across the UK. The free services, run with local churches, provide practical and emotional support and show people that there is always hope. To find out more or to donate visit ps://…Lytham Christmas Lights

Organisers behind Lytham’s Christmas Lights switch-on are appealing to the public to help them raise £15,000 to ensure the event makes its comeback in style.

The switch-on, which has traditionally attracted thousands of spectators, was last staged physically in 2019, before the pandemic caused a switch to virtual last year. It costs around £18,000 to stage the event with an additional £9,000 needed to keep the festive lights shining. In past years, the Lytham Christmas Lights committee, supported by Lytham Business Partnership, has successfully fundraised all year while also receiving donations from businesses and individuals. Meanwhile, a grant for £8,000 from Fylde Council goes towards the installation and upkeep of the lights as well as covering the cost of a Christmas tree. Lytham Christmas has launched a Go Fund Me page in the hope it will encourage financial support for the free event, along with the extended lights season. Donate here



FriendsFestive is heading to Blackpool this Winter

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Fans of Friends are in for a treat as the ultimate Festive Friends event returns to Blackpool this Christmas – and tickets are on sale now!

FriendsFestive will be bringing some Friends Christmas magic to Blackpool Winter Gardens

FriendsFestive will be bringing some Friends Christmas magic to Blackpool Winter Gardens

Comedy Central UK has announced that following the success of the sold out summer FriendsFest tour, FriendsFestive will not only be returning to London but will be bringing some Friends Christmas magic to a brand new location, Blackpool Winter Gardens.

The event, produced in partnership with The Luna Cinema, celebrates all the best seasonal moments from the world’s favourite TV show. It’s a celebration of all things Friends where visitors can get together with their friends and immerse themselves in the world made famous by the hugely popular TV show.

FriendsFestive will include all the best festive experiences from last year, including giving fans the chance to recreate the titles in the show with a digital snowglobe photo op, and, of course, no holiday season would be complete without a visit to The Holiday Armadillo’s Grotto. Could this BE any more exciting?

FriendsFestive will be at Blackpool Winter Gardens from November 5-19.

FriendsFestive will be at Blackpool Winter Gardens from November 5-19.

More experiences include ringing Phoebe’s bell outside the mall and re-enacting the iconic Thanksgiving floating heads scene.

Channel your inner Monica and Ross

Fans can also channel their inner Monica and Ross as they grab a picture at the New Year’s Rockin’ Eve Disco.

FriendsFestive will also give visitors the chance to check out Monica’s apartment, Joey and Chandlers’ and Central Park, all dressed for the holiday season.

Festive food and drink

And you can get your festive fill with themed food stalls and Christmas cocktails as well as brand new and exclusive FriendsFestive merchandise.

Guests will also be able to kick back and relax while watching some of the best seasonal moments from the greatest TV show of all time.

Winter gardens

FriendsFestive will park up its sleigh in Blackpool Winter Gardens from November 5 – 19, before bringing the snowy celebration to Truman Brewery in East London from November 25 to December 19.

Fans will also be given the chance to pre-order some brand-new 2021 merch when they buy their ticket, to make sure they bag their favourite FriendsFestive goodies before they sell out!

Michael Williams, Managing Director of the Winter Gardens said: “We are delighted to be bringing a taste of one of the best-loved TV series of all time to Blackpool next year.

“FriendsFestive promises to be the perfect start to the Christmas season and we can’t wait for it to open in the home of entertainment.”

Tickets on sale

In the summer, tickets sold out quickly, so fans are urged to book fast to avoid disappointment.

Tickets are on sale now at

Tickets cost £34.50 for off-peak days (Monday – Thursday), and £36.50 for peak days (Friday – Sunday)

And for those missing their FriendsFest fix this year, Comedy Central and The Luna Cinema are giving you the chance to bring a little bit of Friends magic into your home this year with the launch of For a limited time, fans will have the chance to buy some of the best FriendsFest and FriendsFestive merch from previous years!

Isn’t that just spit-on-your-neck fantastic?



Moving on from Chris Wilder, recovering from a Premier League hangover and facing a period of transition: The lowdown on Blackpool’s next opponents Sheffield United

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After taking the bragging rights against Preston last weekend, Blackpool return to action on Saturday with a trip to Bramall Lane.


The Seasiders are enjoying a rich vein of form at the moment, having won six of their last nine games in the Championship.

It leaves Neil Critchley’s newly-promoted side in 11th place in the table, but level on points with Luton Town in fifth.

This weekend they take on a Sheffield United side that were relegated from the Premier League last season.

Under new boss Slavisa Jokanovic, the Blades endured a difficult start to the campaign, not winning until their sixth game in.

But since then, the Blades have recovered and now sit 14th and just three points adrift of the Seasiders.

Ahead of Saturday’s game, The Gazette has caught up with Danny Hall, Blades writer for our sister paper the Sheffield Star, to preview this weekend’s affair.

Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic

Blades boss Slavisa Jokanovic

– What’s been the story of the season so far? From the outside looking in, it seems the club are back on track a little bit after making a slow start.

It’s been one of transition for the Blades so far, both getting used to being back in the Championship and trying to get used to Slavisa Jokanovic’s methods.

He does things differently to Chris Wilder, who was in charge for so long, so it was inevitable really that it may take a bit of time for the players to adjust.

The injection of some new players just before the transfer deadline undoubtedly helped – it would have helped if they arrived a lot earlier – but then the Blades still seem to have a habit of looking to make things very difficult for themselves in games.

They’ve thrown away so many points already late in games and almost did the same against Barnsley on Sunday after being 3-0 up, just about scraping through 3-2.

– What do you attribute the poor start to? A hangover from last season’s relegation?

This is a group of players who were beaten 30 times in 43 games last season and although a few players moved on, it was largely the same group that began the new campaign.

The players made the right noises about it being a fresh start, but that sort of suffering week after week is bound to take a psychological toll and it was a big ask really for that to just be forgotten about when the new season began.

As previously mentioned, the players had to adjust to some different methods and Covid-19 issues meant they only actually played two pre-season games, so Jokanovic and his players were essentially learning about each other on the job in the opening few games of the season.

As both got more used to each other, you could see things start to gel and if they can get out of the habit of throwing points away, things may look a lot rosier.

– Which players should Blackpool fans look out for?

Billy Sharp has been in good form so far this season, with Ben Osborn and Lys Mousset also scoring against Barnsley last weekend, but it’s the return of Morgan Gibbs-White from suspension that should cause Blackpool the most problems.

He’s been brilliant since he arrived on loan from Wolves and will come back in against Blackpool.

Watch out for Iliman Ndiaye too, a talented French youngster who has received a long-overdue chance in the Blades first-team and is looking to make the most of it.

– What have the fans made of Slavisa Jokanovic so far?

I think a lot of fans appreciate the job he has got on his hands, and also that his sides tend to take a bit of time to get going early in the season before finishing strongly.

He’s a proven winner at this level and it was a real coup when he was unveiled, but now he must be backed with the tools to do his job. Otherwise, what’s the point?

The Blades are still in a transition period as discussed before, but they have played some brilliant stuff under his tenure already and fingers crossed, he’ll prove to be a good appointment in the long run.

– Which players are likely to be missing for Saturday?

Lys Mousset limped off after scoring twice at Barnsley and Sander Berge has been missing for some time with a hamstring injury.

Jayden Bogle also missed out at Barnsley and will be assessed ahead of the weekend.



Blackpool Tower Children’s Ballet is inspiration for new children’s mystery thriller

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Children’s author Susan Brownrigg sought inspiration from the seaside when she penned her latest book.


But not just any seaside resort. She remembered Blackpool and its Tower from childhood holidays and the town’s rich entertainment history was to provide her with ample inspiration.

She had already written one thriller for children entitled Gracie Fairshaw and The Mysterious Guest which was based in the resort, set against a backdrop of the 1935 Blackpool illuminations.

Published last year the book featured lead character Gracie who had arrived in Blackpool when her family moved into The Majestic boarding house.

Susan pictured on Blackpool beach with her three books

Susan pictured on Blackpool beach with her three books

Now the second book in the Gracie Fairshaw series, Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower, has been published by Preston basedUCLan Publishing and it features Blackpool Tower’s professional Children’s Ballet which delighted audiences for decades.

Susan,46, a former journalist and sub-editor who has also worked as a heritage guide and is now a part-time library assistant based at Widnes Library said she had waited more than 20 years to become a published author.

Writing stories had been a favourite task at junior school but getting published was a longer haul. She said: “I started taking it more seriously when I was at university that’s when I started trying to write a book, an adult book that time.”

By the time she approached UCLan Publishing she had a clear direction and said: “I knew what stories I wanted to tell and I like history in particular.”

Part of the cover of Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower

Part of the cover of Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower

Leaving school Susan studied for a BTEC in media studies and gained work experiences at newspapers including the Lancashire Evening Post and Wigan Evening Post.She went on to study journalism, film and broadcasting at Cardiff University and then got a job on the Ormskirk Advertiser. She said: “It was really good training. In the current book Gracie becomes a reporter. It made me very nostalgic for my days working on the newsdesk and going out getting stories as a cub reporter, you forget how nervous you were.”

She has also worked in heritage education at Quarry Bank Mill ,Rufford Old Hall, at Tatton Park, as a science presenter at the Catalyst museum in Widnes and most recently as learning and community manager at Norton Priory. She also once worked a summer season at Blackpool Zoo.

Susan chose to give her lead character Gracie a disability – a limb difference, She said: “Her left arm, finishes just past her left elbow. The reason I chose that disability is my great grandfather had some limb difference from a battle in World War I. He got shrapnel in his arm.”

Aware that her own mother copes with disability too, with scoliosis of the spine and ostearthritis, Susan was even more determined to include a character with a disability in her series.

Holiday snap of Susan visiting Blackpool's Pleasure Beach as a child

Holiday snap of Susan visiting Blackpool’s Pleasure Beach as a child

Home for Susan is now Skelmersdale, but she was born and brought up in Platt Bridge, Wigan. She said: “I have memories of going to Blackpool as a kid on days out. If you were really lucky during the holidays mum and dad would take you to the Pleasure Beach. I was definitely a watcher rather than joining in. I particularly liked the Alice in Wonderland ride, the ghost train and the river cave. Then we would get a tram and see the illuminations. I remember going to see the aquarium in the Tower.”

While carrying out research for her writing at the local history centre at Blackpool Library Susan kept seeing adverts for the Children’s Ballet in past copies of the local paper.

In the 1930s the Tower’s attractions included a circus, an aquarium, menagerie, roof gardens and the tower ascent. From 1902 to 1972 the famous Tower Ballroom was home to the professional Children’s Ballet. Girls would queue around the block to audition for a place and hoped for fame and fortune.

Susan attended a celebration for the 125th anniversary of the Tower in 2019. with her mother and a happy coincidence helped add more detail to her research. Her mother started chatting to the organisers telling them about Susan’s first Blackpool based Gracie book and her plans for the second based around the ballet. They were advised two of those attending the celebration, Monica Norris and Mavis Mottershead, had actually been in the Children’s Ballet.

Susan pictured in the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill.

Susan pictured in the Apprentice House at Quarry Bank Mill.

Susan said: “I swopped details with the ladies. Monica has told me a bit more about the ballet and helped bring it to life for me. She’s a Blackpool lady and the book is dedicated to Monica.”

Her book, aimed at eight to12 year olds, is timely for the Christmas gift market as it is set around a Children’s Ballet Christmas spectacular. When the curtain rises it becomes apparent someone is trying to spoil the show. There are accidents, pranks and a poison pen letter. Gracie and friends step in to try to stop the saboteur and save the show.

Susan, who was an SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) Undiscovered Voices winner in 2016, has also written a pirate adventure story entitled Kintana and Captain’s Curse which was published earlier this year and said: “After 20 years of trying (to get published) it seems to have gone very fast. I need to get writing again now. I’m working on a new Gracie book.”

Susan will be attending a booksigning at Storytellers Inc in Lytham Saint Annes.on November 13.

* Gracie Fairshaw and the Trouble at the Tower by Susan Brownrigg with illustrations by Jenny Czerwonka costs £6.99 and is published by UCLan Publishing.



Danger warnings issued after reported near-miss drone incident over Blackpool Promenade

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Warnings have been issued over the dangers of flying drones after a near miss incident was reported over Blackpool’s South Pier


Blackpool airport, though not commenting on the incident in question said that anyone using a drone or model aircraft had to be aware of the restricted flight zones along the Fylde coast to prevent any accidents.

Since March 2019 there has been drone flight restriction zones around all airports and airfields where it is illegal to fly any drone, at any time, within the restricted zones unless the operator has permission from air traffic control.

The Fylde coast’s restricted zones include the airspace around the Warton aerodrome and around Blackpool Airport in a circle from Ansdell in the South to just north of South Pier.

Drones can pose a risk to aircraft if flown too close to flight-paths

Drones can pose a risk to aircraft if flown too close to flight-paths

The incident, which happened while the Promenade was busy with visitors, was reported by specialist security firm Drone Defence Services which monitors no-fly zones across the UK for drone flights.

Its report stated: “Just after 3pm on October 15, an illegally flown drone and a manned IKARUS C42 light aircraft came within 330ft of each other above South Pier in Blackpool within the Flight Restriction Zone of Blackpool Airport.

“The privately owned IKARUS C42 with tail number G-ZOMB took off from Manchester City Airport at Barton at 13:16pm before flying to Blackpool airport via Southport. At 15:02 the plane was flying at 600ft above South Pier while a drone was flying at 750ft.”

Victoria Kay from Drone Defence Services said that the incident highlighted the danger of irresponsible use of the radio-controlled model aircraft and how certain areas of the skies had to be left clear.

Drone Defence Ltd's screenshot from its AeroTracker software showint the flightpath of the light aircraft and the spot near the go-kart track from where the drone was flying.

Drone Defence Ltd’s screenshot from its AeroTracker software showint the flightpath of the light aircraft and the spot near the go-kart track from where the drone was flying.

She said: “Obviously if a pilot is distracted while carrying out a critical manoeuvre it can be a danger and if the drone goes into the engine, be that a jet engine or a propeller, then a crash could occur.

“This incident was over a busy area and so potentially could have been disastrous.”

A spokesman for Blackpool airport said: “It is Blackpool Airport’s policy not to comment on external third party incident reports.

“The airport strongly advises that all prospective drone operators are acting lawfully and comply with the CAA legal regulations, ensuring that the correct permits and licences are in place prior to operating a drone.

A map showing the Fylde coast air zones which are restricted to drones for safety reasons.

A map showing the Fylde coast air zones which are restricted to drones for safety reasons.

“Blackpool Airport has a ‘no fly zone’ in place and requests are to be made to the airport seven days in advance of any flight activity.

“The airport has a strict safeguarding policy and operational and air traffic safety is of the highest importance, complying with all CAA regulations.”

Blackpool airport’s safety website states: “Anyone wishing to fly a drone to film the Illuminations in the vicinity of the airport (from Central Pier as far as Starr Gate) would need permission from Air Traffic Control at Blackpool Airport via the airport website Drone Flight application link. A CAA approved professional drone operator’s qualification is usually necessary to fly in that area.

“While we don’t want to stop people having fun, it’s important that they are not posing a risk to any other aircraft or people.”



Suspect in Blackpool Victoria Hospital murder and rape investigation is bailed for a 5th time

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A Blackpool Victoria Hospital health professional who was arrested on suspicion of murder and rape in March has been bailed for a fifth time.


The suspended hospital worker was arrested on March 3 and taken into custody on suspicion of murdering stroke patient Valerie Kneale in 2018.

He is also suspected of two alleged rapes and an alleged sex attack on a Vic colleague.

Since his arrest, he has been bailed five times as Lancashire Police continue to investigate the allegations against him.

The former healthcare professional was arrested on March 3, 2021 and taken into custody on suspicion of murdering stroke patient Valerie Kneale two years ago, as well as two alleged rapes and an alleged sex attack on a Vic colleague. He has been bailed 5 time since his arrest and Lancashire Police say "enquiries are ongoing".

The former healthcare professional was arrested on March 3, 2021 and taken into custody on suspicion of murdering stroke patient Valerie Kneale two years ago, as well as two alleged rapes and an alleged sex attack on a Vic colleague. He has been bailed 5 time since his arrest and Lancashire Police say “enquiries are ongoing”.

Yesterday (Thursday, October 21), he was due to answer his latest bail but Lancashire Police say a further bail extension has been granted.

It is the fifth time he has been bailed since his arrest and Lancashire Police has yet to issue an update on its investigation.

Today (Friday, October 22), a spokesman for Lancashire Police told the Gazette: “He remains on bail. He is still a suspect. It’s just a case of enquiries ongoing.”

When asked whether the suspect is still in the UK or has left the country, the force said: “We wouldn’t comment on an individual’s bail conditions.”

Lancashire Police has declined to provide a date for when the suspect is due to answer his latest bail. He remains suspended by Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.

When bail was granted for the first time in March, Det Ch Insp Jill Johnston said the allegations against him were “complicated and sensitive” and the force was “committed to investigating thoroughly”.

No further update has been provided on the investigation and an inquest into Mrs Kneale’s death – which opened in March – remains adjourned whilst police continue their investigation.

Alan Wilson, coroner for Blackpool and Fylde said: “It is clearly necessary for this court to further adjourn the investigation into Mrs Kneales’ death in order to allow the police to continue with their investigations.

“We ought not to hold an inquest while the police are actively pursuing their own investigation.”

Why was the medic arrested?

The man was arrested by police after post-mortem examinations were conducted as part of investigations into suspected poisoning of patients on the stroke unit at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

One of the post-mortem examinations investigated the death of Valerie Kneale, 75, from Blackpool, who had died from bleeding caused by a “non-medical-related internal injury”.

Following this, Lancashire Police launched a separate murder investigation, which it said was not linked to the ongoing investigation into allegations of poisoning and neglect.

As a result of this investigation, information related to other allegations of serious sexual assaults against two patients has been received, as well as the sexual assault of a healthcare professional working on the stroke unit.

On March 3, the healthcare professional was arrested on suspicion of murder, two offences of rape and one offence of sexual assault.

He was initially bailed to March 31 before bail was extended to June 3 and again to September 3, 2021.

He was again bailed until October 21 and has now been been bailed for a fifth time, but no date has been provided by Lancashire Police this time.



Have the performances of Cardiff City loanee Ryan Wintle gone under the radar at Blackpool?

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Ryan Wintle’s stellar displays have gone under the radar a little since his arrival at Bloomfield Road.


But his boss Neil Critchley says there’s absolutely no danger of that happening among his teammates and his staff.

The midfielder has produced consistent display after consistent display since making the loan move from Cardiff City at the end of August.

But while the likes of Chris Maxwell, Marvin Ekpiteta and Shayne Lavery take all the plaudits, Wintle has yet to receive the praise his performances have warranted.

But the longer Wintle manages to maintain his high level, the more inevitable it will become that attention will eventually come his way.

“I think he’s been excellent,” Critchley told The Gazette.

“He certainly doesn’t go under the radar with the players and the staff because we appreciate the quality he’s got.

Ryan Wintle has been a virtual ever-present for the Seasiders since joining on loan

Ryan Wintle has been a virtual ever-present for the Seasiders since joining on loan

“To come into a team where he doesn’t know anyone with a new way of playing and to settle in so quickly and stamp his authority on the games, I think he’s been fantastic.

“Obviously I knew a lot about him and I had seen a lot of him during his time at Crewe, so I knew the qualities he’s got and the type of player and person he is as well.

“He’s got an infectious personality, he’s got a bubbliness about him every day and he takes it out onto the pitch.

“He’s got a really good temperament to play football, he’s got no fear, he’s not fazed by anything and he’s been excellent for us so far.”

It’s understood his parent club Cardiff have the option to recall Wintle in January, should they wish to do so.

This would be a concern for the Seasiders, especially as Mick McCarthy – the man who was happy to let Wintle leave on loan in the first place – was recently sacked.

Nevertheless, Wintle will remain a key player for Critchley’s men, having been a virtual ever-present since joining the Seasiders.

After making his debut in the 1-0 win against Fulham on September 11, where he was replaced late on, the 24-year-old has played every minute of every game.

“That’s Ryan, he just gets on with it in training or in every game. His playing record in terms of his robustness is excellent,” Critchley added.

“He’s used to playing game after game after game and he’s got a really good mentality, because he’s very consistent with his behaviours on the pitch.

“The way he’s settled into our team so quickly, because he was used to playing 4-3-3 with Crewe and we obviously play different, he’s obviously had to learn one or two slightly different things in his role and he’s picked them up very quickly.

“I’ve been delighted with the way he’s been playing.”



Survey reveals cost of living is biggest worry for Blackpool families

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The biggest worry for Blackpool families this winter is the cost of food and heating their homes, according to a survey in the town.


A poll of 495 professionals working with Blackpool’s poorest families found 73 per cent of respondents felt a large number would have to choose between heating and eating this year.

The survey, by Blackpool Better Start, also revealed a ‘baby blind spot’ with fears raised that babies and toddlers have missed out more on support during the pandemic compared to school age children.

The results were gathered at Blackpool Better Start’s recent online conference, Rebuilding the Future: Putting Babies and Children First.

Clare Law

Clare Law

Delegates were asked a number of questions while listening to presentations from child development and early years specialists about how the sector can recover from the pandemic to ensure Blackpool’s youngest children are not forgotten.

Other polls revealed the audience was ‘not confident’ the Government’s levelling-up agenda will help disadvantaged children, with 85 per cent concerned children aged under four are not receiving the same support as older children.

Clare Law, director of the Blackpool Centre for Early Child Development, said: “The conference gave us a great opportunity to find out from frontline staff how they felt about a number of issues facing Blackpool families.

“Nationally we have seen a ‘baby blind-spot’ during the pandemic, with resources and attention being diverted more to school age children than babies and toddlers.

“It is crucial that our lock down babies and their families are supported and have access to services during their most critical time of development.

“It as concerning to see how prevalent our workforce feels that food and fuel poverty will be this year, with many expressing fears for how they will cope.

“Normally mental health issues are the biggest challenge for families, so for this to have been placed second really does highlight how concerned our workforce is about the rising costs of fuel and living, and how this will impact our families.”



Number of Covid patients at Blackpool Victoria Hospital passes 125 – with mums-to-be and elderly admitted as six more die

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A “pretty dramatic increase” in the number of people being treated in hospital for Covid has been recorded on the Fylde coast.


Dr Jim Gardner, medical director at Blackpool Victoria Hospital and Clifton Hospital in St Annes, said the surge was “putting additional pressure on the system”.

Speaking during a coronavirus briefing this afternoon, Dr Gardner said 87 patients within 14 days of a first positive Covid test were in hospital – up from 54 last Wednesday – plus 39 who are “in because of Covid but are beyond 14 days”.

Some 77 people were in general beds at the Vic, seven were in the intensive care unit there, while three were at Clifton Hospital.

Inside Blackpool Victoria Hospital's Intensive Care Unit (ITU) (Picture: Chimane Moore)

Inside Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ITU) (Picture: Chimane Moore)

“Sixty-seven patients are over the age of 65 and, in fact, 26 are over the age of 85,” Dr Gardner said.

“I haven’t got a breakdown of the full immunisation status for all of them but some will have had two immunisations and will have benefitted from that, there’s no question.

“But the point I want to get across is that we are seeing Covid affecting again the older population who are coming into hospital.

“Even though we are seeing more infections in the younger population, we are seeing more hospitalisations in the older population.”

Dr Gardner said the availability of booster jabs for over-50s and over-16s who are clinically vulnerable, which can be had six months after the first jab, is “exceptionally positive”.

He added: “It appears to be extremely effective in improving everybody’s immunity to Covid so I strongly recommend people get that when it becomes available.

“And if you’re in those groups you will be contacted by the NHS for an appointment.”

Pregnant women continue to be admitted to hospital, Dr Gardner said.

Six more Covid-related deaths were also announced, taking the Vic’s toll to 834.

Restrictions on visitors to the two hospitals are likely to be put in place once again, with people urged to check ahead before heading in.



Theme parks ‘should be built first’ at Blackpool Central urge hoteliers

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Plans for a £300m new leisure development in Blackpool have been welcomed by hoteliers – but they have called for the theme parks to be built before investment in more holiday accommodation.


Claire Smith, president of hoteliers group StayBlackpool, said her members were concerned it could be some years before the Blackpool Central scheme benefited them.

Go ahead for £300m Blackpool Central leisure plan – despite Blackpool Pleasure B…

Developers Nikal Ltd and Media Invest Entertainment secured planning permission this month for investment which includes three indoor theme parks.

Hoteliers want the attractions to be built first at Blackpool Central

Hoteliers want the attractions to be built first at Blackpool Central

But among the first element of the scheme is a new Heritage Quarter on Central Drive which will see space above the King Edward pub and the former King Edward Apartments converted to apart-hotels.

There are also plans for a 200-room hotel within the main development on the site of Central Car Park.

Ms Smith said: “We are delighted Blackpool Central is going to happen. It will create lots of jobs and be a wonderful new area with lots of different things to keep visitors interested.

“We always need new projects to keep the visitors coming to Blackpool.

The Heritage Quarter will be built on Central Drive

The Heritage Quarter will be built on Central Drive

“But the first things to be built will be in the King Edward area, and that is the hotel accommodation.

“We’re thrilled to bits about what will be built in the long term, but if the attractions are not part of the early stages then our members worry there will be a lot of new holiday accommodation without providing people with more reasons to come and visit.

“So for us, it is about what is being built when. We need the attraction element to be part of the early phases.”

While full planning permission has been granted for the Heritage Quarter and a multi-storey car park, there is only outline approval for the three indoor theme parks which will be part of later phases of the 10-year development plan.

But Richard Fee, chief executive of Nikal Ltd, said the scheme had to be delivered in phases, and the holiday accommodation within the Heritage Quarter was designed “to complement, not compete” with existing provision.

He said: “To deliver a regeneration project of this scale we have to bring it forward in phases.

“The construction of the multi storey car park and Heritage Quarter are the catalysts for delivering our wider Blackpool Central vision.

“We plan to start construction on the multi storey car park in 2022 and will deliver the Heritage Quarter after this, which we anticipate will open to the public in 2024.

“We’ll be bringing forward detailed plans for the other elements of Blackpool Central – including the three indoor entertainment centres, hotel and new public realm – during the delivery of the multi storey car park and Heritage Quarter.

“We have carefully shaped our Heritage Quarter plans to complement, not compete with, Blackpool’s current holiday accommodation by designing an aparthotel offer that provides something different to what is currently available in the town.

“It’s also important that, as part of our planning permission, Blackpool Central is not allowed to cater for more than 60 per cent of the extra hotel accommodation demand generated by the scheme, which will spread additional visitor business across local hoteliers and b&b operators.

“Blackpool Central will provide a year round, world-class leisure destination, attracting 600,000 additional visitors a year, boosting annual spend by £75m, and creating over 1,000 new jobs.

“This will help to futureproof the town’s leisure and tourism offer for the benefit of local residents and businesses.”

The former Central Station closed in 1964 and has since been used as a car park with previous attempts to redevelop the site for leisure use failing to get off the ground.

A 1,306 space seven storey car park will be the first element of the scheme with work due to start next year.