Simon Sadler reflects on Blackpool’s incredible 2021 in special New Year’s message to supporters

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Simon Sadler has reflected on Blackpool’s incredible 2021 in a special New Year’s message to supporters.

 

The club’s custodian sat down with Tangerine TV to discuss the last 12 months in his now traditional New Year’s review.

But rather than release the message in written format, as he has done on previous occasions, Sadler was the special guest on the club’s ‘Sofa Talk’ feature.

Speaking to camera, Sadler discussed Blackpool’s run to the League One play-offs, the semi-final win against Oxford United and of course that memorable day at Wembley, when Neil Critchley’s side overcame Lincoln City to secure the club’s return to the Championship after a six-year absence.

Sadler comically revealed he even bought a dog not long after the play-off final and named it “Kenny” in tribute to Kenny Dougall, who was Blackpool’s hero with both goals on that day in May.

The club’s owner also discussed some of his standout moments of the year, Pool’s start to the Championship season, Critchley’s new contract and what lies ahead in 2022.

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Here are some of his standout thoughts:

2021 summed up

“It’s just been great.

“Being involved in this football club is like being involved in a living, breathing soap opera, it really is.

“It’s like an ongoing episode of Eastenders or Coronation Street where there’s a cast of characters and at times I almost feel like one of the script writers. We could never have put this script together though.

“From where we started at the start of the 2019/20 season to where we ended up, it’s just been incredible.

“There have been so many moments along the way, so many bits that I enjoyed.

“Looking at it chronologically, I loved the West Brom FA Cup game. It’s always nice for a League One club to beat a Premier League club. Maxi (Chris Maxwell) even told me he’d be alright if it went to penalties because of his save percentage, so I felt quite confident going into that.

“The league run-in, we were thinking ‘are we going to do it?’ because we spent a lot of time around 12th-ish, didn’t we? But it seemed quite quickly that we popped into the top six.

“I even thought there could be a chance of automatic, but then we had those two 1-0 defeats to Rochdale and Shrewsbury. But we had those two Sunderland games which came up quite close to each other and all of a sudden we were there, we were in the play-offs.

“I remember feeling a bit nervy going into the Oxford game, thinking we only had a one-in-four chance, a 25 per cent chance that we’re going to make it.

“But after the start to that Oxford game, I thought we might have a chance here and that was just a phenomenal game. I loved it.

“To come back to Bloomfield Road and finally get some fans back in the ground and get it over the line to Wembley, it was great.

“By the time I got to Wembley, I was as cool as a cucumber. I felt we were going to do it.

“I bought myself a new tie and on the back of the tie was this bizarre little symbol in green and red with angel wings and my son pointed it out and told me it was an omen – we were definitely going to win.

“During the match, I’d look at it every now and then – like after Ollie Turton’s own goal – and think to myself we’ll be alright. And we got there.

“It was just an incredible moment and to go down on the pitch, just to look up and see all the fans, my name being sung – that was pretty incredible.

“You might dream of having your name sung in a stadium when you’re seven, eight or nine years old but when you get to 50 you know it’s unlikely to happen.

“But all of a sudden, out of nowhere, I’m the owner/custodian of a football club, I’m walking on the pitch and people are singing my name. I’m getting soaked in champagne…it was weird.

“I celebrated by getting a dog and I called it Kenny – Kenny the pug. We have him to remind us of those two goals and that great day.”

The club’s progress

“When you think about it on a day-by-day basis, you often feel that nothing is happening and things are going slowly. But when you look back you think ‘wow’, we’ve done this much in a couple of years.

“It was a basket case, an absolute, absolute basket case. There were layers and layers of issues that had to be worked through.

“There were so many old legacy issues, there were ongoing problems going on everywhere that needed to be addressed. It took a real effort to work through them.

“I was very lucky that Ben Mansford agreed to join us and we also brought Brett (Gerrity) on board to really work through a lot of the problems.

“Those first few months were about putting a sensible structure in place that any sensible business needs and then trying to figure out how the football side operates, which is why Ben came in.

“Where we are now, everything ticks along. There is a lot of improvement in the academy already – we all want to see a lot of our own players brought through.

“There’s been a massive improvement in coaching with Neil Critchley and his team and John Stephenson and the recruitment team – I think we recruit pretty well now.

“Elsewhere, everywhere you go…the stadium is better, the shop is better, hopefully people are just getting a much improved experience.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work though because the foundations of this place were just a mess.”

Neil Critchley’s new contract

“He’s outstanding.

“I don’t think we could find anyone else of his calibre who is as committed as he is to this football club.

“It’s just incredible to think in his first full year of management he managed to get the club promoted.

“We had a cracking start to our time in the Championship. Yeah, we all know results over the past few weeks haven’t gone that well for us, but I’m really pleased with how this season is going and Neil is a fantastic man.

“What was really important for that appointment after we parted ways with Simon (Grayson) was to get somebody on board who really bought into and understood the whole project and the whole idea of developing players and bringing players through.

“He’s been great.

“Ben and I went to training before and had a good chat with him. He’s always very open and he tolerates my daft questions.

“He’s just a fantastic man and him and his team are doing a great job and he’s really passionate and really cares.

“He has so much integrity and that’s important to me, because we all know what came before. I want this football club to be known for doing the right things in the right way.

“We need the right sort of people around here and he’s one of them, so hopefully he’ll be with us for a long time.”

Plans for 2022

“Clearly the most important thing is to retain our status in the Championship, then we will just continue to build.

“In every window we’ll try and improve the squad, so we’ve got a couple of ideas for January which may or may not come off.

“I know I’ll have to mention the training ground, but I’m going to have to disappoint yet again I’m afraid and say we’re still waiting on legals. These things do take time, so please be patient. But when we can do it, we will do it properly.

“At some point we clearly need to address the issue with the East Stand. As Ben said recently, there are talks with the council but that will take time to resolve.

“A lot of it is just keep chugging along and doing what we’re doing. Recruitment has been good but hopefully we can keep getting better, hopefully we can continue to make the academy better.

“We’ve got the structure in place, it’s just a case of keep trying to improve day by day and we’ll see where we get to.”

Message to supporters

“Thank you.

“I’m sure we all feel it when we’re out there, but to use Critch’s words, the way I feel when I’m in the stadium I barely feel when I’m anywhere else. It’s remarkable and a fantastic place to be.

“We’ve got a great set of fans and at times it’s really overwhelming just to be sat there, because it’s really uplifting.

“We’re all still struggling with Covid and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the world, but we’re all giving each other an uplift when we’re together.

“That’s the thing, we’re all in this together. I’ve really enjoyed the last year and I’m really looking forward to the next year.

“My final message is Happy New Year and Up the Mighty Pool.”

 

 

Update on Blackpool woman struck by taxi in Talbot Road

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A Blackpool woman remains in a serious condition in hospital after she was struck by a taxi yesterday (Thursday, December 30).

 

Police shut Talbot Road after the woman, aged in her 50s, was knocked down outside Home Bargains at around 12.05pm.

Paramedics attended and she was taken to the Major Trauma Centre at Royal Preston Hospital with serious injuries.

Police said the woman, aged in her 50s, has suffered pelvis, spine, and neck injuries after being struck by a taxi outside Home Bargains in Talbot Road, Blackpool yesterday lunchtime. Pic: Tequila Jack Rose

Police said the woman, aged in her 50s, has suffered pelvis, spine, and neck injuries after being struck by a taxi outside Home Bargains in Talbot Road, Blackpool yesterday lunchtime. Pic: Tequila Jack Rose

“She has suffered suspected pelvis, spine, and neck injuries,” said a police spokesman. “She was taken to Royal Preston Hospital for treatment where she remains in a serious condition.”

The force added that “no arrests have been made” following the collision, which shut Talbot Road in both directions for around an hour.

 

 

Coastguard finds man unresponsive on St Annes beach

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A man has been taken to hospital after he was found unresponsive on St Annes beach this morning (Friday, December 31).

 

The man, believed to be in his 60s, was found unresponsive close to the Coastguard rescue station on North Beach at around 10am.

Police and ambulance crews attended and the man has been taken to hospital for treatment.

A Lancashire Police spokesman said: “We were called at around 10.10am today (Friday, December 31) by the Coastguard to a report a man had been found unresponsive on St Annes beach.

A man has been taken to hospital after he was found unresponsive on St Annes beach this morning (Friday, December 31)

A man has been taken to hospital after he was found unresponsive on St Annes beach this morning (Friday, December 31)

“Emergency services attended with the man, believed to be aged in his 60s, treated at the scene.

“He has since been taken to hospital by ambulance for further treatment.”

North West Ambulance Service has been contacted for further details.

 

 

No New Year’s Day dip in Fleetwood for second year running

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One of the Fylde coast’s most colourful New Year traditions will not be taking place for the second year running.

 

A previous New Year's Day dip in Fleetwood

A previous New Year’s Day dip in Fleetwood

There has been an annual charity New Year’s Day dip in Fleetwood for almost 30 years, with participants donning fancy dress costumes and braving the chilly waters of the Irish Sea since the early 1990s.

Since that time, various organisers of the event have raised thousands of pounds for a string of good causes.

However, stringent Covid restrictions meant the New Year’s Day 2021 event had to be called off and organisers have decided to give the event a miss this time as well.

Phil Gibson began running his version of the event via Fleetwood Kite Club almost a decade ago, and has been the main organiser in recent years.

But earlier this month he decided to call the event off.

There were hopes by some that the event could be reinstated because of Boris Johnson’s decision not to bring in new restrictions at this stage, but the event will not be held this time.

Phil said: ” Sadly we won’t be running it this year because of all the uncertainty over Covid and the insurance situation.

“Hopefully next year we can get back to normal.”

On his Facebook site, he expanded: “I have been in contact with the RNLI and asked their thoughts.

“Unfortunately due to Covid numbers RNLI/Coastguard are not able to support the event this year.

“Even in calmer conditions the unpredictable can happen and without their support and the large numbers we get it’s felt that it’s the best decision in the circumstances.

“Obviously people will still want to dive into the icy Irish Sea on NYD but please if you do, take care.”

Back in the 1990s the first New Year’s Day dip was predominantly a fundraiser for Red Marsh School in Thornton.

On New Year’s Day in 2007 there were even two separate organised dips, one by Fleetwood Gym and the other by Fleetwood Rugby Club.

Over the years the event has raised funds for causes such as the North West Ambulance, Fleetwood RNLI, the Miscarriage Association and Brian House children’s hospice, as well as junior sports teams in the town.

 

 

Phil Walker’s sad note on panto return

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Phil Walker is delighted to be back on stage in panto, although the circumstances under which his return came about are distinctly sad.

 

The funnyman behind the creation of Lytham’s Woofers comedy club is playing Silly Simon in the seasonal production of Robin Hood at Nottingham’s Theatre Royal until January 9.

He’s part of an all-star cast also featuring Blackpool’s Jodie Prenger, Matthew Kelly as the Dame, X Factor winner Matt Terry in the title role and former Coronation Street actor Tristian Gemmill as the Sheriff of Nottingham.

Phil had a lengthy stint in Lancashire pantos several years ago, in Blackburn initially, followed by several productions at Preston which he also wrote and directed, and was due to make a return to his 2019 venue in Darlington last year before the pandemic ruled that out.

Phil Walker in the Robin Hood panto in Nottingham with Matthew Kelly as the Dame

Phil Walker in the Robin Hood panto in Nottingham with Matthew Kelly as the Dame

That didn’t happen, but his Nottingham opportunity came about in much sadder circumstances, following the sudden death in the autumn of comedian Phil Butler, who had been in line to play Silly Simon in Robin Hood.

“I was so sorry to hear about Phil – a dreadful shock for everyone in the business,” said Phil, who lives in Chorley.

“But they called me in to replace him and I joined rehearsals with what is a great company.

“It’s the biggest cast I have been involved with and everyone is thoroughly enjoying it.

“It’s just so good to be back in front of an audience after all those months of inactivity and everyone seems to be really making the most of the chance to escape from the real world for a couple of hours.

“All the Covid rules are in place and I did wonder about how the wearing of masks would affect the audience’s reactions, but the laughs are coming in all the right places and it’s going really well.

“I love panto – it gives a real buzz that certainly stays for a while after the curtain comes down. I have to go for a walk after a show just to ease myself down. It’s a great feeling.”

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Blackpool Tramtown’s future depends on £1.6m appeal

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The clock is ticking on £1.6m plans to restore the roof at Blackpool’s heritage tram depot – with volunteers estimating they have just two years to raise the cash.

 

But enthusiasts, who have already launched the Tramtown museum at the site on Hopton Road, are determined to save this nationally important treasure trove of transport history.

Weekly tours at Tramtown have already proved a sell-out, prompting the launch of two tours a week in January with plans to ramp up visitor numbers by the summer with tours five days a week.

Revenue will go towards a £100,000 fundraising target with further bids set to be submitted to funding sources including the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Levelling Up Fund for the bulk of the cash needed.

Heritage trams on display at Tramtown

Heritage trams on display at Tramtown

There are 70 vintage trams housed on the site, of which 32 are operational with the rest in various states of repair.

Some will never run again – including favourites such as The Rocket whose rear-door access means passengers must board from the track, something rail regulators will not allow.

But volunteers have been astonished by the level of interest in the trams, with groups from as far as Spain and France, and from across the UK having already taken tours.

Coun Paul Galley, chairman of Blackpool Transport, who is spearheading the museum project, warned: “The clock is ticking on the roof of the depot as we only have a couple of years before it is condemned.”
The illuminated Rocket Tram on display

The illuminated Rocket Tram on display

That’s what has given the impetus to get tours up and running now to raise money and prove there is demand for a tram museum.

Coun Galley said: “The problem is we have got an old depot with a roof that’s got lots of holes in it.

“The solution is we’ve got lots of people with an interest in the trams of Blackpool.

“We wanted to mobilise all that interest and support into creating a visitor attraction which will ultimately allow us to raise the money to restore the roof and make sure we have still got these trams in another 100 years.

The depot is in desperate need of repair

The depot is in desperate need of repair

“Every tour we have offered has sold out and people have come from all over the world to visit the site.

“Most pleasing is we have had a lot of people who aren’t tram enthusiasts but love the trams of Blackpool, and they want to come and see their own particular favourites and where they live.

“That has given us the confidence to invest in the site and leave this great legacy, because we know the interest is out there and it will be a sustainable attraction.”

The dedicated volunteers include people retired from careers in engineering or the rail industry, who are lovingly restoring the vintage vehicles.

One of the trams awaiting restoration

One of the trams awaiting restoration

Tasks range from the rebuilding of an entire metal undercarriage to meticulously hand painting outer panels.

In the workshop, tools are still used which are almost 100 years old.

Meanwhile one volunteer shares her dream of converting a disused tram into a visitor cafe.

Although a fledgling museum, there is already a visitor shop, plans for a garden, and the potential to link the attraction with the town centre Showtown Museum when it opens in 2023.

Volunteer Brandon Howarth, 17, from Bispham, who looks after the shop, said: “I was only about four years old when the need to protect the heritage fleet became known.

“At that age it was the Illuminated trams which caught my attention, especially the Western Tram.

“It’s great to see so many visitors on the tours of the museum including from abroad, and hopefully we can continue to develop the project and protect the trams for the future.”

Exhibits include the famous boat trams (so popular that two operate as tourist attractions in San Francisco), while Blackpool is one of only two or three places in the world including Hong Kong to operate double decker trams.

The famous Illuminated trams are funded by Blackpool Transport rather than from the council’s £2m annual Lights budget.

Sadly a handful can only be seen in the depot – such as the Rocket, and the Hovertram, built in the 1960s and which was sponsored by Shell in its heyday but will now cost at least £250,000 to restore.

But who knows – hopefully this wave of love for Blackpool’s trams will make Tramtown a roaring success, and maybe help get some of these old-timers back on the tracks.

 

 

‘Most luxurious’ home in Lytham for sale with cinema, games room, bar and sea view

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The stunning property, with incredible views over Lytham’s East Beach is on the market for £2.5million

 

The stunning views from the terrace at the six-bedroom property in Lytham
The stunning views from the terrace at the six-bedroom property in Lytham (Image: Rightmove)

This luxurious six-bedroom house in Lytham-St-Annes has one of the most amazing views in Lancashire.

The four-floor property is directly opposite the gorgeous Lytham windmill, with a private roof terrace offering 360 degree panoramic views of the East Beach coastline and beyond.

It also features a cinema room, games room and bar, traditional dining room with beautiful bay windows, along with a bespoke-fitted kitchen with Gaggenau appliances and Quartz worktops.

There’s six bedrooms across two floors, including the en-suite master complete with a vintage standalone bath and dressing room attached.

An aerial view of the six-bedroom mansion in Lytham
An aerial view of the six-bedroom mansion in Lytham (Image: Rightmove)

Planning and drawings have also been completed for a coach house with space for a swimming pool, gym and further games room, set in the vast, lovingly manicured gardens at the rear.

The luxurious, sprawling interior has been designed by award-wining architects and boasts a large driveway with ample parking space.

It boasts a cinema, games room and bar
The home has all the latest modern fixtures and fittings

The striking windmill can been seen from the comfortable and spacious living room on the ground floor, which is fitted with an open fireplace, while a second fully-fitted kitchen and living space, with log burner and two balconies can be found on the second floor – ideal for guests.

This semi-detached home in a prime location in the heart of the pretty seaside town of Lytham and s short drive from Blackpool, is on the market for a cool £2.5 million.

It boasts a cinema, games room and bar
It boasts a cinema, games room and bar (Image: Rightmove)

Blackpool’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been cancelled at the last minute

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Blackpool has cancelled its family fireworks event later today due to strong blustery winds forecast for the seafront.

 

VisitBlackpool say that they have taken the decision based on safety advice from the company operating the planned fireworks display.

The free event was due to take place at 5pm alongside the Christmas By The Sea village on the Tower Festival Headland.

A VisitBlackpool spokesman said: “We are really disappointed that we can’t celebrate the start of a new year in the way we had hoped, but public safety has to come first.

Blackpool's New Year's Eve fireworks display has been cancelled. Picture by Greg Wolstenholme Photography for VisitBlackpool

Blackpool’s New Year’s Eve fireworks display has been cancelled. Picture by Greg Wolstenholme Photography for VisitBlackpool

“Unfortunately, as the fireworks were being fired from the beach, it isn’t possible to move the time of the display to later this evening because of tidal conditions.

“We have therefore taken the decision to cancel now to give people the earliest opportunity to plan their day.”

A spokesperson for the fireworks company, Titanium, added: “Very reluctantly we have had to advise Blackpool Council that we will be unable to fire the show due to gusting winds from an unfavourable direction.”

The Christmas By The Sea village on the headland, which includes a free skating rink, artificial snowfalls, light projection shows, light installations, the giant Star Flyer ride and log cabins serving food and drink, will still be open tonight.

The Christmas village will remain in place until Monday, January 3 as part of an extended Blackpool Illuminations season.

The New Year’s Eve Family Fireworks and some elements of Christmas By The Sea had been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

 

 

Edward Dee’s legacy continues to grow, five years after his death from meningitis

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A fund-raising legacy in Edward Dee’s name is benefiting good causes more than five years since the Fylde schoolboy’s death – and his family are determined for it to continue to grow into 2022 and beyond.

 

It was five years on December 5 since Edward lost his life to meningitis in 2016, after which his grieving mum Elizabeth spearheaded a remarkable fund-raising drive to generate more than £100,000 for Meningitis Now via the Edward Dee Forever Fund.

That was followed by the establishment of the Edward Dee Fund, which has raised around £50,000 for community projects around Fylde as well as continuing support for causes related to the disease which claimed the life of the Clifton Primary School pupil.

Despite the difficulties of fund-raising during the pandemic, the fifth anniversary of Edward’s death was marked with a £5,000 donation each to Meningitis Now, Meningitis Research Foundation and Sepsis UK.

Elizabeth Dee with one of the cheque presented on the fifth anniversary of Edward's death

Elizabeth Dee with one of the cheque presented on the fifth anniversary of Edward’s death

“It has been a difficult year for so many charities,” said Elizabeth.

“Income has dropped, events non-existent, and in many cases staff having been made redundant.

“The Edward Dee Fund has struggled in these Covid times to get out and about in the community to educate, engage and inspire people with raising awareness and doing events. But we have done our best to keep a strong presence and reach out to people virtually as much as possible.

Edward Dee with mum Elizabeth

Edward Dee with mum Elizabeth

Edward, from St Annes, died aged 10, leaving his parents Elizabeth and Justin, and brothers William and Oliver.

Elizabeth added: “I have always stressed the importance of raising awareness of meningitis and sepsis, wanting to fund research into these diseases, support those affected and to advocate for the importance of vaccination.

“We are so grateful for all the support and to be able to make these donations.

“In the run-up to Christmas, we continued to raise awareness with the Trees for Edward initiative, giving out little crocheted, knitted or sewn trees, lovingly made by so many in our community.

“They are given out as a random act of kindness, to raise awareness of meningitis and sepsis and the work of the charity, and of course remembering Edward, always.

“Edward loved trees, climbing and whittling them, and the last thing we did together as a family was decorate the family Christmas Tree.

“So much love goes into the Trees for Edward project, not only in the making and giving of the trees, but in the story behind it. A Tree for Edward was also in St Annes Parish Church, for its Trees Festival, adorned with these little handmade trees, offering the opportunity for people to take a tree home with them, and that they will take time to look at the work of the charity.

“In January some students from Blackpool FC Community Trust Sports College are holding a 24-hour bikeathon, to raise funds and awareness for The Edward Dee Fund and in February, The Snowdrop Centre will be organising a service for bereaved families, to be held in Stanley Park, with the planting of more snowdrops in the park later on in the year.

“More events will come, and I’m especially looking forward to the Ball for Edward at Ribby Hall on September 24.

“We had a very successful ball for the charity in 2019 but have been unable to repeat it so far because of the pandemic so we hope the 2022 event will be very special.”

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What to look forward to in Lancashire in 2022 from Blackpool Pleasure Beach’s Valhalla to restaurant openings

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

From a reimagined rollercoaster, a permanent market and new theatre shows, there’s plenty to look forward in Lancashire in 2022

 

Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
PROVIDED BY Blackpool Tourist Association
Blackpool Pleasure Beach has big plans for 2022 (Image: Daily Record)

It’s nice to have something to look forward to.

Whether it be spending time with people we love, experiencing new adventure or enjoying a huge life event such as a wedding or milestone birthday.

And Lancashire also has plenty of new things coming in 2022 for us to get excited about.

From restaurant openings to musicals playing at the theatre in the county for the first time, we’ve put together some highlights of events coming up in the next 12 months, covid restrictions permitted, of course.

Blackpool the place to be

An aerial view of the ICON ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach
An aerial view of the ICON ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

The seaside resort will welcome a number of new events and attractions for all ages in 2022.

For starters, the country’s first Peter Rabbit attraction of its kind from Merlin Entertainments will open in 2022, with a launch date yet to be announced.

The £1m attraction is located next door to Madam Tussaud’s on the seafront.

Over at Blackpool Pleasure Beach, award-wining roller-coaster Valhalla has been re-imagined and will be revealed to thrill-seekers next year.

Also, the ICON ride is set to get a new ‘twist’ in 2022.

Restaurant openings

The White Horse, in Edgworth
The White Horse, in Edgworth

We already know of a raft of new restaurants coming to Lancashire in the coming months.

There’s family-run Italian Luciano’s in Chorley, which will be located on Market Walk and becomes an extension to Escape Entertainment Venue, Calico Lounge and Reel Cinema, as well as retailers Sports Direct, USC and M&S Food.

It is slated to open in February 2022.

Over in Edgworth, the White Horse pub is expected to open in early 2022 after undergoing a major £485,000 refurbishment.

And in Preston, enterpeauner Mark O’Rourke is set to expand his restaurant empire after taking over the vacant site at the Miller Arcade, which was formerly the Olive Tree.

Mark, who also runs Fino Tapas and fine dining restaurant 263 in the city plans to transform the space into a new English brasserie at the town centre location, with a gastro-pub inspired menu, using seasonal and locally-sourced produce.

It is yet to have a name.

Burnley market gets permanent home

The popular monthly Burnley Artisan Market will become a permanent fixture in the town, after successful trial runs at the end of this year.

Launching on Saturday, February 5, and then continuing the first Saturday of each month, the market will have a wide range of stalls, from homemade items, fresh produce and an emphasis on local traders.

Hit musicals

A plethora of musicals and shows are coming to theatres in Lanschire for the first time in 2022.

Blackpool will once again be a key stop for a number of touring productions in 2022, including Bat out of Hell The Musical, Chicago, Dream Girls and Jersey Boys.

There’s a number of venues to choose from, too, from the Opera House and Grand Theatre to Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Meanwhile, among the highlights in Lancaster at The Grand Theatre funnymen Ed Byrne and Ross Noble will be bringing their new live shows to the town, while family show The Secret Garden will play for six nights in June.

While at Preston’s, audiences can look forward to seeing Liverpudlian comedian John Bishop live with Alan Carr also embarking on a new tour for the first time in six years with his only date in the region at King George’s Hall in Blackburn.

 

 

These were the scenes in Blackpool as shoppers hunt for bargains

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Blackpool shoppers hit the highstreet this week to take advantage of the post-Christmas sales that kicked off on Boxing Day.

Shoppers hunt for bargains in the post-Christmas sales in Blackpool.

With sales in full swing at shops across the resort, bargain hunters had plenty to choose from.

These were the scenes in Blackpool:

Projects that could change Lancashire as we know it in 2022

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

A look at the ideas which made the headlines at LancsLive in 2021 which will run into next year

 

Aerial view of what Blackpool Central could look like
Aerial view of what Blackpool Central could look like

Building and development plans for Lancashire’s towns, cities, coastal and rural communities have been been making the headlines in many different ways this year.

Use of indoor and outdoor spaces has been shaped by the covid pandemic , creating both serious challenges and potential new opportunities.

New trends in working, studying, shopping, socialising and holidays have emerged or sped-up during the covid pandemic, changing how we use our homes, workplaces, local neighbourhoods, town and city centres, along with how we travel and the types of attractions we visit.

Some trends had started before the pandemic, such as the move to on-line shopping and the growth of mixed-use developments offering combinations of residential, business, hospitality and leisure activities.

Cafes, restaurants, food halls, new shared workspaces, cinemas, gyms and other developments were springing-up in many locations before the pandemic first began. Some of these were then put on-hold or adapted during the lock-down months and subsequent reopenings.

Some larger developments holding big numbers of people, such as major tourist attractions, hotels, clubs, leisure centres and hospitality venues, have faced considerable uncertainty with the loss of visitors in the covid pandemic.

However a number of large leisure and residential planning applications or changes in ownership of former visitor attraction sites have happened this year despite the pandemic’s impact.

Seaside developments

Examples include the new £300 million Blackpool Central project. This was given planning approval in the autumn and will see three indoor theme parks, a 200-room hotel plus bars, restaurants and outdoor entertainment space at the former Blackpool Central railway station site.

Full permission was granted by Blackpool Council to convert and upgrade buildings on Central Drive including the King Edward cinema, King Edward pub and King Edward apartments into holiday accommodation, restaurants and bars as part of a new heritage quarter.

Some concerns were raised that the new project would threaten existing Blackpool attractions including the Pleasure Beach. However supporters of the new scheme, put forward by Nikal Ltd and Media Invest Entertainment, say it will enhance Blackpool’s overall offering rather than dilute it. Work is due to start in 2022 and could last up to ten years.

Meanwhile up the coast in Morecambe, the site of the former Frontierland theme park was bough by Lancaster City Council this summer. The council wants to control how the landmark site is developed in the future, to help shape the wider regeneration of Morecambe.

The Western-style Frontierland theme park closed in 1999. The derelict land was later bought by the Morrison’s supermarket chain, which operates nearby. Three outlets were built on one side of the l;and in 2007 but the remainder was vacant.

Future potential suggestions for the site have included a new Morecambe conference centre and hotel, an ice rink, a public park, festivals or circuses, which might be displaced from another site in Morecambe by the new Eden Project development. Other ideas include parking space for camper vans at night and an open-air art gallery or housing. City councillors say public consultation will be essential for future proposals.

Town centres

Across Lancashire, and the wider UK, town centres have experienced huge changes in recent years, with the rise of out-of-town malls followed by the fall of physical shopping, leaving a glut of empty shops and malls.

In Nelson, the Pendle Rise shopping centre was one of the first modern malls built in the 1960s. For years, it was hugely popular. But now it needs a new purpose, and possibly buying by the borough council, to bring about change, according to a new draft masterplan to shape the town for the next 30 years.

Pendle Rise shopping centre in Nelson
Pendle Rise shopping centre in Nelson (Image: James Maloney/LancsLive)

The draft plan has been prepared for Pendle Borough Council this year to assist with short-term and longer-term development.

Pendle Rise shopping centre is one of the top priorities, it states. The mall’s design is inward-looking, has become outdated, has many empty units and is hindering Nelson’s development, it claims. New and different uses must be found for it, along with other town centre buildings and spaces.

Overall, the masterplan says Nelson needs new town centre apartments, better quality family houses and affordable homes. Nelson also needs better paths, cycleways and events spaces and new ways to overcome physical barriers between different neighbourhoods, such as the M65 motorway.

Thousands of new homes in north Lancashire

In Lancaster, the scale of potential new housing estates has been a major talking-point this year.

City councillors faced an extraordinary meeting in the summer when they were asked to decide if they supported a £140million Government funding deal with the county council, linked to plans for 9,000 new homes south of Lancaster, complete with road, drainage, flooding and other infrastructure works. It was described as the district’s biggest decision for many years.

The plans include elements designed to fit with a new campus at Lancaster University and the proposed new Bailrigg Garden Village, plus other areas and links with the M6 motorway.

Officially called the South Lancaster Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) programme, the proposals raised questions about issues of new homes supply, urban and rural development, transport and the balance between local, regional and national government and powers.

The Westminster Government wants more homes built across the UK and sees Lancaster as a key location in the north-west.

After a long and passionade debate, and a public demonstration outside Morecambe Town Hall, a majority of Lancaster councillors voted to support the partnership. However the issue highlighted the growth of environmental issues in local Lancaster politics and the influence of newer political parties.

Lancaster City Council is now run by Greens and Eco-Socialist Independent councillors. They opposed the south Lancaster HIF agreement, saying it was too many homes, made a mockery of the district’s existing local plan and was unsustainable. However, they accepted the final decision and said they would work with the county council and Government on the controversial plans.

Elsewhere in Lancaster, existing homes could be fitted with greener heating technology and better insulation, to reduced energy use and carbon emissions from central heating systems. And unused parts of a former high school site could be bought by the city council and redeveloped for new homes and community purposes, as part of wider improvement at the 1960s Mainway housing estate.

Derelict parts of the former Skerton High School site could boost the numbers and types of homes at Mainway, bring extra community amenities and extra open space, the city council has been told. The high school closed seven years ago and is subject to a 10-year period before it can be sold. Lancaster City Council needs to consider if it wants to try buying the school.

Greenfields or industrial sites?

Housing needs and pressures vary across different parts of Lancashire. Some boroughs, such as Ribble Valley, receive a lot of plans for new expensive ‘aspirational’ homes while others with large numbers of Victorian terraced homes feel they don’t have enough modern family homes, such as Pendle and Rossendale. But when new homes are proposed, the locations can be controversial.

In Rossendale, a scheme for 130 new homes on greenfield land was recently given the go-ahead by borough councillors, who blamed the Government planning requirements for leaving them no grounds for refusing the scheme by Taylor Wimpey for land off Holcombe Road and Grane Road in Helmshore.

More than 500 objections to the homes were received by the borough council and an on-line petition was signed by over 3,000 people against the plans. However, Taylor Wimpey was granted permission for the development after a series of updates and negotiations.

Elsewhere in Rossendale, almost 40 new affordable homes will be built on a former industrial site in Facet, after borough councillors approved a planning application for the former Slingco factory site.

Applicant Westchurch Homes is behind the plan and the new homes are to be managed by the Jigsaw housing association with affordable rents. Slingco has relocated to nearby Rawtenstall.

Elsewhere, in Pendle uncertainty has arisen after the target number of new homes built each year up to 2030 was cut by councillors. They also narrowly voted to review the district’s overall local plan, which identifies housing and commercial land, along with social needs, jobs, transport and environmental priorities.

The borough’s ruling Conservative group, which took political control this year, said the local plan had previously aimed to stimulate economic growth by encouraging higher numbers of new homes. Conservatives said the targets had been too high and had not been achieved. They want to go back to the drawing board with the local plan.

However, the decision currently leaves the borough without an officially adopted plan on new home numbers, types and sites, This ‘vaccuum’ sparked fears among opposition councillors of a house-building ‘free-for-all’ and that months, or years, of work done by planning officers could now be wasted.

However, the Pendle Conservatives said officers’ work would not go to waste. The previous high targets had originally been designed to stimulate economic growth and investment in the borough by increasing the number of modern family homes to attract more younger families and more employment. A lack of modern homes in Pendle is causing the migration of younger families to other areas such as the Ribble Valley, councillors have been told.

A new era for council houses?

Meanwhile in the Skelmersdale area of West Lancashire, new homes are being built by a development firm created by West Lancashire Borough Council.

Tawd Valley Developments is building new properties, or has plans for new homes, at a number of locations. It recently completed the first of a number of new homes at Eskbank and has other developments at Fairstead, Briefield and Northfield,

But economic changes following Brexit and the Covid pandemic could alter the independent housing company’s forecasted profits, with the knock-on effect of reduced dividends paid to the borough council which would then impact on the borough’s savings.

A budget gap of £1.2million was identified this year which the borough council says needs to be addressed to meet the company’s priority of being financially sustainable by 2023 and to satisfy external audit requirements. The borough council has been recommended to pay an outside organisation to carry out an independent review and to allocate up to £10,000 for the study.

However, Labour councillors said building hundreds of affordable homes in Skelmersdale should not be hampered by the review. Some claim other political parties which are opposed to council homes were using concerns about low-level business profit risks to cast doubt on the whole project of building new affordable homes.

And village pubs

Another topic of great importance to the public is pubs. Many local pubs have gone over recent years although we have also seen a new wave of independent pubs and brewers.

So to finish on a cheerful note, hopes to reopen and extend a Ribble Valley village pub have progressed this year. Councillors at Ribble Valley Borough Council’s were recently recommended to approve an amended plan for the Buck Inn at Grindleton, which was put up for sale in 2019 and has been vacant for some time.

A planning application for extensions to the side and back of the pub led to some worries and the plan was then delayed for more talks this autumn. However, the latest application seemed to satisfy planning officers and the reopening looks set to go ahead. The pub planning application was supported by 70 letters from local people who were keen to see the inn back open again.

 

Singleton pub The Miller Arms responds after families slam ‘shambolic’ Christmas Day service

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

Singleton pub The Miller Arms responds after families slam ‘shambolic’ Christmas Day service

 

Inside the Miller Arms in Singleton
Inside the Miller Arms in Singleton (Image: Miller Arms)

A pub near Poulton-le-Fylde has passionately defended itself after customers slammed its Christmas Day dinner service as a ‘shambles’ and ‘disgrace’.

According to a number of TripAdvisor reviews, furious guests who had booked in for their festive meals at The Miller Arms, waited hours for their food, were forced to stand outside because the bar area was too full to fit them in and some left without eating at all.

And while the pub’s director, who did not wish to be named for fear of personal attacks, accepts the day, which had 400 people booked in, went “spectacularly wrong”, he claims many issues were “out of their control”.

Among the reviews on TripAdvisor, Nomad04332103889 wrote that the atmosphere was “awful” and they were “ignored by staff”, adding that they left after a hour of waiting to be seated.

As timbE8720OG said booking in at the pub was a “major mistake”and they will “never go again”, while Q1416UQmichellel said it was “a scene of absolute chaos, a shambles”, before adding: “There were elderly guests that could not stand for long but there was no seats for them. The bar was that full that people were stood outside in the cold”.

Customers were left disappointed by their Christmas Day experience at the Miller Arms in Singleton
Customers were left disappointed by their Christmas Day experience at the Miller Arms in Singleton (Image: Customers were left disappointed by their Christmas Day experience at the Miller Arms in Singleton)

This reviewer also accused management of “greed” for overbooking which caused “a lot of people great distress on what should be a magical day”.

However, one reviewer Z5979LY, appeared empathetic to the staff after “seeing two waitresses crying” and added some customers were “unnecessarily rude to staff” who were “working on Christmas Day and not spending it with their families”.

They concluded the restaurant “bit off more than it could chew” by operating a banquet-style service, which did not allow for any flexibility or delays.

And asked by LancsLive for a response, the pub’s director claimed customers turning up late, making changes to their pre-orders on the day and four staff members testing positive for coronavirus on Christmas Eve all contributed in delays to service.

“We were in between a rock and a hard place,” the The Miller Arms manager said after finding out a number of his waiting staff would not be able to work.

He added: “I had to choose to either ring round people late on Christmas Eve and tell them their Christmas Day meal was cancelled, knowing they would not have any other food in, or try to do the best we could, short staffed.

“We were there until 2am on Christmas Eve and were back in at 7am and I had given my staff extra training to prepare for the day.

“But we couldn’t plan ahead for people turning up over an hour late for the 12.15pm sitting, which then had a knock-on effect to the 2.15pm sitting. It wasn’t fair.

“People were just turning up when they felt like it and serving a banquet scenario people need to come in staggered and at the allocated time we asked them to.

“Some would come with part of their group missing and wouldn’t know what their pre-orders were to take off, which delayed us even further – staff couldn’t get passed the crowds at the bar to serve food.”

Management claim they had "prepared as best they could" for Christmas day and couldn't control four staff testing positive for covid
Management claim they had “prepared as best they could” for Christmas day and couldn’t control four staff testing positive for covid (Image: Miller Arms)

The venue is located in the village of Singleton, which does not have broadband internet and limited bandwidth and it became so slow, staff were unable to use the tills to process payment or send information to the kitchen and were forced to take all drinks orders by hand, which also caused significant disruption.

“We are sincerely sorry for ruining people’s Christmas and we refunded everyone who decided to leave and didn’t take any payments for some people who had eaten three of their four courses and also didn’t charge for their drinks tab,” the director added.

“Also, there are no current [social distancing] Covid restrictions in hospitality, so it was the customer’s choice to bring their elderly relative to a packed pub on Christmas Day, it’s unfair to blame that on us.

“We lost around £10k in a single day and I still paid my staff double time and bonuses.

“If we had known Covid would still be rife when we opened pre-bookings in July, we would not have opened, we wouldn’t have risked it.”

The director also refutes claims in one TripAdvisor review that he was “hiding away” from customers, explaining that he opted to instead work in the kitchen because he is currently undergoing cancer treatment, including radiotherapy and trusted the other four members of management to run front of house.

An aerial view of the Miller Arms in Poulton-Le-Fylde
An aerial view of the Miller Arms in Poulton-Le-Fylde (Image: Miller Arms)

He also says “130 people dined perfectly” and that he has received a number of supportive emails and reviews since.

“I’ve had 20 emails this morning and five are bad, the rest are telling us we did a good job, to put our heads up and shoulders back and just try to recover from it.

“People don’t understand what’s going on in people’s lives, they didn’t care about that, we are all human.

“It’s one bad day in the year, it was just unfortunate it was Christmas day and we’d had nothing but five star reviews in the rest of December.

“It does not excuse the way some customers were getting in the face of my assistant manager, who is heavily pregnant.

“And in all the negative reviews, I have not seen anyone say anything bad about the food.

“Today is a new day, we will recover from it and we will continue to serve great food”.

 

 

Blackpool bus change to benefit 10 million people each year

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

Similar displays are planned for key bus stops around the town

 

The new display on Market Street
The new display on Market Street

Passengers can now get real time information on whether their bus is on time from a screen installed at Blackpool’s Market Street bus hub – with plans to install further digital technology around the town.

The first screen, inside a shop window, displays live travel times for Blackpool Transport (BTS) and Stagecoach services.

Previously the information was only available via the BTS and Stagecoach smartphone apps.

Now transport chiefs hope to roll out further signage displaying real-time information for the 10 million passengers who travel by bus in the resort each year.

Displays are planned for key bus stops around the town, while free-standing totem screens will be installed round the new tram terminal, set to open next year on Talbot Road.

These will be interactive and display live travel information for buses, trains and trams, as well as maps, points of interest and other public messaging.

Coun Neal Brookes, Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for transport, said the first screen on Market Street showed “the potential of the technology, which we’re keen to roll out elsewhere. “

He added: “Our goal is to have real-time information in the street across multiple areas so that people can have more certainty about their journey, make the best use of their time and ultimately get where they need to be in Blackpool.”

Jane Cole, managing director at BTS, said: “This is the next step in making bus travel even more accessible than ever before and the digital screen will be an excellent journey planning tool for our customers.

“Displaying live bus departure times means customers can make informed travel plans and builds on our existing real-time information available in our app and website.”

Matt Davies, managing director for Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire, said: “Ensuring customers have easy and convenient access to bus service information will help us encourage more people to confidently make the switch from cars to buses.”

 

 

“Stop ignoring the barriers,” Stanley Park visitors are urged as the bird flu outbreak continues

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Brambles Wildlife Rescue warn regulars “who should know better” to avoid the cordoned-off lake as it increases the risk of disease

 

People are urged to avoid Stanley Park lake as the bird flu outbreak continues.

Volunteers have expressed annoyance at people ignoring the warning signs around the lake, getting close to the water and the areas where birds tend to live in the park.

While there has been some improvement, any foot traffic can cause the disease to spread further.

Do Not Enter sign is being ignored by regular visitors to the park in Blackpool

Do Not Enter sign is being ignored by regular visitors to the park in Blackpool

Brambles Wildlife Rescue said: “Sadly some people are ignoring the barriers that clearly advise the lake area is closed, including a couple of the regular photographers who should know better. I had to photograph them to get them to leave sadly. Very disappointing.”

The council-approved rescue team has continued to feed and care for the birds over Christmas and the new year.

One death was recorded in the last week, but some of the birds are making a good recovery.

The lake has been closed since Monday, November 11, after two swans and one Canada goose were believed to have died there due to bird flu.

The rescue team have thanked the ‘overwhelming response’ to their Christmas appeal for food donations.

People who would otherwise feed the swans, but are now unable to do so because of the restrictions, have the option to donate supplementary feed to be distributed by the council by contacting the Brambles Wildlife Rescue Facebook page.

 

 

Blackpool Winter Gardens New Year’s Eve gig and why it’s this singers most important one yet

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

‘I jumped for joy when I found out that New Year’s Eve could go ahead and have one of the biggest gigs of my time as a singer’

 

Liam Halewood
Liam Halewood (Image: Liam Halewood/Instagram)

A cabaret singer ‘jumped for joy’ when he discovered he would be able to perform at Blackpool Winter Gardens’ New Year’s Eve gig.

Liam Halewood had been waiting nervously for an update from health secretary Sajid Javid on whether he’d be able to perform after sitting at home last year.

He was delighted with the announcement that there would be no further Covid restrictions before the new year.

And after New Year’s Eve events were given the go-ahead in England, without the stricter Covid rules seen in the other three UK nations, Liam has explained why the decision is so important for him and others in the entertainment industry.

Liam, 35, has been singing since he was 18 and after his gigs dried up during the coronavirus crisis he trained as a carer working with the elderly.

Because singing is his first love Liam, who appeared on The X Factor in 2015, was thrilled to return to the stage as restrictions were lifted, MEN reports.

And he says his New Year’s Eve show at the Winter Gardens as one half of the duo Double Decades with Victoria Roberts from Bury, will be the most important of his life.

Liam Halewood and Victoria Roberts
Liam Halewood and Victoria Roberts (Image: Liam Halewood and Victoria Roberts/Facebook)

Liam, who formed Double Decades with pal Victoria a year and a half ago, explained: “January in entertainment is very quiet.

“People are skint and they don’t have the money to buy concert tickets. It’s a subdued time of year, that’s the way showbiz is. For cabaret singers New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are very important.

“It can pay your bills for the whole month. I jumped for joy when I found out that New Year’s Eve could go ahead and have one of the biggest gigs of my time as a singer.

“This is my livelihood and if the government say I don’t have to cancel it I’m not going to miss out. We’ve got to pay our bills.”

Liam Halewood and Victoria Roberts
Liam Halewood and Victoria Roberts (Image: Liam Halewood and Victoria Roberts/Facebook)

Liam, who is triple jabbed, added: “We are still unsure of what will happen on January 2. If the government had provided more help maybe we would have looked at it differently.

“But people have to earn money and if a 70-year-old grandma wants to enjoy themselves on New Year’s Eve, it’s an individual choice. If the PM can have wine and cheese why can’t people go out on New Year’s Eve?

“The hospitality industry is so happy in England.”

 

 

Blackpool New Year’s Eve fireworks: Where to park and what time to arrive

LancsLive - Latest news, sport, business and more from Lancashire

Here is all you need to know about Blackpool’s New Year’s Eve fireworks event

 

Fireworks will light up Blackpool this New Year's Eve

Fireworks will light up Blackpool this New Year’s Eve (Image: Blackpool Council)

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the end of 2021, look no further.

Blackpool’s New Year’s Eve firework event is set to go ahead as planned – despite other displays, such as the traditional fireworks in London, being cancelled.

This comes as the Government held off from imposing new Covid-19 restrictions in England until the New Year.

And Blackpool’s tourism chiefs have vowed to go ahead with their plans to end the year with a bang.

A council spokesperson said it felt it was safe to go ahead as the display is aimed at families rather than those pouring out of pubs at midnight.

A VisitBlackpool spokesperson said: “It’s the perfect way for families to come out and celebrate the start of a new year in one of the country’s most iconic outdoor settings.”

Here is all you need to know for those attending:

What time to arrive

The free family event takes place at 5pm on New Year’s Eve (December 31).

It’ll take place at the Christmas By The Sea village on the Tower Festival Headland.

What to expect

The fireworks will be launched from the beach in front of the Tower to create a stunning finale to end the year.

Visitors will also be able to admire the Illuminations which have been extended until January 3.

People will also still be able to enjoy the Christmas By The Sea Village, supported by Northern Rail, which includes a free synthetic ice skating rink with 40-minute sessions available daily from noon until 8pm until January 3 and no booking required.

The village also includes the Star Flyer ride, a forest of twinkling Christmas trees, log cabins serving a range of food, drink, gifts and souvenirs, light installations including a giant illuminated bauble, tram rides and regular artificial snowfalls to create s full alpine experience.

The Winter Gardens is also home to a range of Bavarian-style market stalls, funfair rides and entertainment suitable for all ages.

Where to park

Visitors to Blackpool can park on the majority of council-owned car parks for £1 for three hours using the PayByPhone app.

Alternatively, if you plan to travel by bus or tram into the Town Centre, Blackpool Transport are running a £2.50 return ticket promotional offer on the Blackpool Transport App.

Both offers will run until January 3.

For more details, click here.

 

 

 

Successful Fylde coast writers Leo Appleton and Rob Fearn share the secret to writing a successful pantomime

Home | Blackpool Gazette

It’s quite an achievement – oh yes it is.

 

Not only is Leo Appleton a familiar face in Fylde amateur panto, but he and writing partner Rob Fearn script their own productions, too – and have won awards for their efforts.

The duo have even had their scripts performed abroad and are already formulating ideas for next year’s production, although the curtain hasn’t long since gone down on their last show and some pantos are still going on.

Leo and Rob have written the panto for the Our Lady Star of the Sea Operatic Society for past 11 years – the most recent Aladdin, staged last month – and have earned many rave reviews for their efforts.

Rob Fearn and Leo Appleton

Rob Fearn and Leo Appleton

“It all stemmed from the quality of writing of the pantos we were doing and we always felt we could do better when we discussed the scripts,” said Leo.

“We both had always wanted to write but needed the impetus which we got from writing together and at first we just enjoyed the process – and still do.

“But then we sent them off to the National Operatic and Dramatic Association and they liked them so much that they took us on in their stable of writers and so now all 13 of them, currently, are licensed to them for hire.

“When we first started writing pantomimes it was always in the January aiming to get it completed by around July ready for our September read through.

Leo Appleton as the villainous Abanazar and Maia Coffey in the title role in the 2021 Our Lady Star of the Sea panto production Aladdin

Leo Appleton as the villainous Abanazar and Maia Coffey in the title role in the 2021 Our Lady Star of the Sea panto production Aladdin

“But now we are a few pantos in hand so we don’t necessarily do that anymore, plus we’ve got better at writing them.

“We do try to be as faithful to the original story as possible. So we do quite a bit of research into older versions to see if there is anything they can give to the story to add a twist or different slant that we can then play with or build on.

“We ensure it’s a good story first and foremost with jeopardy and of course the usual elements – a hero / heroine; behind you gags; occasionally a ghost or animal and perhaps a puppet of some description.

“In all of that though we always keep the essence of the story so the children (and adults) can identify with it.”

It’s not just pantos they write either. The pair have also written a number of plays, a book (not yet published) entitled The Brave Knights, plus the plots for the second two books in the series, poems and also the stage play and lyrics for a musical with friend Frank Harrington which is still a work in progress.

Plus Leo enjoys painting and has recently had a very successful and well received art exhibition.

He also writes church music with Frank which includes a number of new Christmas carols.

The pair won a writing award from NODA Northwest and say they still have plenty of ambition.

“It would be nice to be recognised one day as proper authors and we are still seeking an agent to take on our book The Brave Knights,” said Rob.

“Plus we would also love to see one of our pantomimes or plays staged in a big theatre, just to see what they could do with them.”

It is thanks to our loyal readers that we can continue to provide the trusted news, analysis and insight that matters to you. For unlimited access to our unrivalled local reporting, you can take out a subscription here and help support the work of our dedicated team of reporters.

 

 

Readers have their say after The Miller Arms receives angry backlash over Christmas Day ‘mayhem’

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The Miller Arms came under scrutiny this week after guests took to social media to complain about long wait times and overcrowding.

 

The Miller Arms

The Miller Arms

The gastro pub in Singleton had reportedly left people out in the cold, children screaming that they had not received their dinner and that social distancing guidelines were not being followed. The scenes at the pub were described as “mayhem.”

Here is what the general public had to say about the story.

Skeleton staff due to covid or whatever… and these poor staff are getting shouted at. Those taking it out on the staff need to do one and maybe think about their actions. Granted the management should have dealt with the whole situation and service delivery more professionally. People need to understand that we are in a difficult time at the moment. If anyone made my staff cry, am sorry they would be launched out the door.

David Bone

I went there a few weeks ago and walked out. I had booked a table but told they were not taking any more orders was kitchen too busy at 6pm. Then 30 minutes later, was told run out of all carvery meat. Only kids left to deal with angry customers, not a manager in site. Seems nothing has changed.

Jackie Hammond

I can’t believe people think it’s ok to turn up an hour late and still expect to eat. I’m sure they were given a choice of times for each sitting, and then take it out on the staff is horrendous behaviour.

Siobhan B Hartley

It’s not just Xmas day there’s this problem. Every time we have been in the past, it’s been the same. Stopped going after the last meal was horrendous. Messaged them and they weren’t bothered at all. Says a lot really.

Leighanne Hughes

To be fair, it was a mess, an absolute joke, but I personally had a great time with my family. I enjoyed my time with them and I would like to thank my family for a great time with them! Oh and to the lad that said why do you go to a pub for Xmas dinner, get a life! It’s called personal choice and I don’t need you telling what I should do on Xmas day!

Lynne Webb

Employing a load of children and paying £4 is another down fall, especially on Christmas Day! The poor kids are run off their feet for £30 a week.

Dawn Craig

Well not to sound horrible, but if your worried about social distances, then better off staying at home. That way, you know you many there are and you won’t need to wait.

Alison Roper

Can I just say watching the news the other day, it was about the famine in Madagascar, the children were eating cactus leaves to stay alive!!!!! They had food eventually, where’s the problem? They should have mucked it and helped clear the tables … not the end of the world.

Christine Thorpe

What happened to buying a turkey? Stay at home and cook the bird!! Surely everyone knows how to turn an oven on??!

Lee Barratt

The social distancing thing is a funny one… A friend of mine was in Morrisons the other day and complained to me that “no one was enforcing social distancing.” It’s not a thing that should ever need to be enforced. Everyone is an adult, everyone knows what 2 metres/6’6 looks like, it’s down to people to self enforce it, and if they can’t or don’t like it then go somewhere else. Retail and catering staff have too many plates to spin as it is without chasing around the general public with a tape measure.

Jerry Tewkesbury

 

 

Woman seriously injured after being knocked down outside Home Bargains in Blackpool

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A woman has been knocked down outside Home Bargains in Blackpool’s Talbot Road this afternoon (Thursday, December 30).

 

Police shut the road in both directions after the woman, aged in her 50s, was struck by a car at around 12.05pm.

She has been taken to hospital with serious injuries, say police.

Drivers are urged to avoid the area and Blackpool Transport is diverting its bus services.

Police and paramedics at the scene outside Home Bargains in Talbot Road, Blackpool this afternoon (Thursday, December 30)

Police and paramedics at the scene outside Home Bargains in Talbot Road, Blackpool this afternoon (Thursday, December 30)

A police spokesman said: “Please be aware that Talbot Road, Blackpool is closed in both directions due to a road traffic collision.

“Please avoid the area where possible. Thank you for your patience.”

More to follow…