Driver crashes into house and parked cars in Blackpool

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A car ploughed into a home in Blackpool after its driver lost control yesterday (Sunday, June 13).

 

A red Toyota Auris Touring Sport smashed into two parked cars before mounting the pavement and crashing into a home in Sutton Place, off Central Drive, at around 4pm.

Pictures from the scene show the wrecked Toyota next to the terraced home which has suffered significant damage to its front.

A yellow Vauxhall Astra GTC and a grey Volkswagen Passat estate, parked on the road in front of the home, also suffered serious damage in the crash.

The scene of the crash in Sutton Place, off Central Drive in Blackpool, on Sunday evening (June 13)

The scene of the crash in Sutton Place, off Central Drive in Blackpool, on Sunday evening (June 13)

A fire service spokesman said: “One fire crew from Blackpool attended the scene of a road traffic collision where they found three cars had been involved, two of which had made contact with two properties on Sutton Place.

“There were no casualties reported and the police were also in attendance. Firefighters assisted in making the scene safe and were in attendance around forty minutes.”

North West Ambulance Service confirmed that “there were no casualties at the scene”.

The scene of the crash in Sutton Place, off Central Drive in Blackpool, on Sunday evening (June 13)

The scene of the crash in Sutton Place, off Central Drive in Blackpool, on Sunday evening (June 13)

Lancashire Police has been reluctant to provide details about what happened, but witnesses say the car had reportedly been stolen.

At this stage, the force has declined to say whether anyone has been arrested or is being sought in connection with the crash.

“It’s just a damage-only collision so we wouldn’t give any further details,” said a police spokesman.

Bomb squad called after live grenade picked up by boy on St Annes beach

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A smoke grenade was picked up by a young boy on St Annes beach on Saturday, prompting a swift visit from the bomb squad.

 

The incident happened on St Annes beach on Saturday

The incident happened on St Annes beach on Saturday

Emergency services were called to reports of the live device shortly after 2pm.

A Lancashire police spokesman said: “A call was received from the beach patrol saying they had been alerted to a device that had been washed up with an explosive sign on the side. Initial investigation identified the device as a viable and images sent to explosives ordnance disposal whilst the beach was evacuated, and a cordon put in place. Further investigation revealed that the device was a smoke grenade, as such the cordon was drastically reduced, disruption to the public kept to a minimum.

“EOD attended to collect and make safe the device.”

Bomb disposal squad called after ‘WW2 mortar shell’ discovered by Blackpool fami…

Coastguard boss Paul Little said: “It was an army smoke flare that someone had brought onto the beach, and a child had picked it up. He carried it over to his parents and they called the police, who got the army and bomb disposal unit to come and take it away.

“It was a live smoke flare used to create a smokescreen. The strange thing is we don’t know how it got there. I think the police were probably glad to get rid of it.”

Read all about it – Fair Trade campaigner Bruce hits Kickstarter target to publish book in autumn

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Bruce Crowther, founder of the Fair Trade Towns movement which started in the Lancashire town of Garstang, is celebrating after gaining enough support to turn his dream of publishing a book about the movement into reality.

 

The founder of the international Fair Trade Towns movement is to become a published author after his Kickstarter appeal hits its initial target of £1,900.

Bruce Crowther, who helped lead the way for the Lancashire market town of Garstang to become the world’s first Fair Trade Town, launched his appeal on May 31.

The funding will finance publication of a book he has written about the international Fair Trade Towns movement, its origins and expansion and his role in the movement.

Bruce Crowther promoting Fair Trade

Bruce Crowther promoting Fair Trade

Former vet Bruce, 61, from Dolphinholme, had set a target of raising £1,900 in 30 days and the appeal remains open until June 30.

The book is entitled: ‘Not in My Lifetime – A Fair Trade Campaigner’s Journal’. Bruce, a long standing anti-poverty campaigner, said: “It’s just great to think that book is going to be published now and that the story is going to be there forever.”

Support came from across the world including from America, Poland, Germany and Majorca as well as the UK. Bruce said he wanted to say “an enormous thank you” to all who responded to the appeal. He said: “The thing I’ve said to all these people is this is your project, it belongs to us all, it’s not just me.”

Bruce set up the FIG Tree International Fair Trade Visitor Centre in Garstang which closed amid redevelopment plans for the council owned business and community centre, where it was based. The FIG Tree continues as a campaigning and educational organisation and makes and sells From Bean To Bar Fair Trade chocolate.

Bruce Crowther pictured showing a group of young visitors from Japan around Garstang, the world's first Fair Trade town.Bruce Crowther pictured showing a group of young visitors from Japan around Garstang, the world’s first Fair Trade town.

The Kickstarter funding will finance, editing, production and an original print run, the size of which will depend on the amount raised. Further copies will then be available to be printed to order.

The book will be published on November 22, the 20th anniversary of Garstang becoming a Fair Trade town. By yesterday evening the Kickstarter fund stood at £2,053. Any profits from sales of the book will go to The FIG Tree, Oxfam and the Lorna Young Foundation.

For details of Bruce’s Kickstarter appeal see:https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/brucecrowther/getting-the-fair-trade-towns-story-into-print

For our report on the launch of the appeal see here .

Blackpool firms positive about taking part in Kickstart scheme

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Youngsters in Blackpool have been given their first taste of work thanks to the government’s Kickstart scheme which has been taken up by several firms in the town.

 

Among those taking part in the work experience initiative to support 16 to 24-year-olds who are most at risk of long-term unemployment are Blackpool-based Adam Apple and Direct Windows.

Jen Murray at wedding supplier and indoor decorations specialist Adam Apple, of Peel Road, said: “When we heard about the Kickstart scheme, we thought it was a fabulous idea with benefits to both the business and the individual.

“Our first three Kickstarter’s have been with us three months now and we’ve had such a wonderful experience. Our Kickstarters have brought with them fresh and innovative skills that continue to add value to our business.”

The team at Adam Apple which has taken part in the Kickstart schemeThe team at Adam Apple which has taken part in the Kickstart scheme

Tracie Ainsworth of Direct Windows, based at the Blackpool and Fylde Industrial Estate, said: “The level of candidates has been incredible. We have seven young team members currently who are all enjoying their role, after speaking to their managers every one of them have favourable comments regarding the standards of work.”

Angie Hesketh, team leader for the Department for Work and Pensions Jobcentre Plus, said: “Businesses who are part of the scheme are delighted with their new recruits, with many employers hoping to offer permanent jobs to their candidates when their placements end.

“However, we want more employers on board to realise ambition, offering young people a chance. By contacting my team, employers can receive advice on applications and support infilling them.”

For more details, please email: cl.kickstartemployerservice@dwp.gov.uk or call Angie on 07769 135805.

Contactless ticketing system for Blackpool trams and buses

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

Passengers can still pay using cash, but the contactless system means they can use bank cards or other devices

 

A tram in Blackpool
A tram in Blackpool (Image: Andrew Teebay/Liverpool Echo)

Councillors are being asked to rubberstamp a £550,000 loan to Blackpool Transport to cover the cost of installing a contactless ticketing system.

The system, which has cost £750,000 in total, has been installed on all Blackpool Transport’s fleet of around 115 buses with plans to install it on the trams this summer.

Passengers can still pay using cash, but the contactless system means they can use bank cards or other devices such as their phones.

There is also a ‘Tap & Go’ facility, similar to London’s Oyster card, whereby people tap their card or contactless device when boarding, tap with the same device when exiting, and they will be automatically charged the correct fare for their journey.

The council’s executive is being asked to approve the loan from the council’s £200m business loans fund when it meets on Monday (June 14).

Blackpool Transport, which is owned by the council, is due to repay the loan over five years.

A report to councillors says: “Blackpool Transport Services Limited operate a modern fleet of trams and buses and the contactless system would ensure the network is future-proofed for those users who prefer to pay by card rather than cash, offering a more convenient way to pay for an increasing proportion of service users.”

It adds: “The installation of the ticketless system represents a significant upgrade on the current ticketing arrangements and brings Blackpool Transport into line with other transport operators throughout the country.”

The council’s business loans fund was set up to support economic growth in the town while generating revenue.

Loans are provided on a commercial basis and are funded by borrowing through the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB), an arm of the Treasury.

This enables councils to borrow money at low interest rates, and make loans to suitable companies or to their wholly owned companies.

Blackpool delivery driver racked up 30 speeding offences in three months

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

Ionut Iosup has been banned from getting behind the wheel after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice

 

Ionut Iosup was given a suspended prison sentence at Preston Crown Court
Ionut Iosup was given a suspended prison sentence at Preston Crown Court

A Blackpool deliver driver who racked up nearly 30 speeding offences in just three months has been banned from getting behind the wheel after pleading guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Ionut Iosup, 19, committed the speeding offences between July and September last year but fraudulently filled in documentation relating to the identity of the driver, claiming he had sold the offending vehicle months earlier.

His web of lies began to unravel when he was stopped in Watson Road, Blackpool, on September 24 in the car he had claimed to have sold.

Despite the mounting evidence against him, Iosup, of Montrose Avenue, Blackpool, continued to deny any wrongdoing when he was arrested.

However, he pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice when he appeared before a Judge at Preston Crown Court last week.

As well as being disqualified from driving for 18 months, Iosup was sentenced to 10 months imprisonment, suspended for two years, ordered to complete 250 hours of unpaid work and was made subject of a four-month curfew.

He was also told to complete 25 rehabilitation activity requirement days.

PC Sean Erett, of Lancashire Police’s Safer Roads Unit, said: “Iosup thought he was above the law and could lie his way out of trouble. His driving was dangerous and reckless, as can be demonstrated by the amount of speeding offences he committed in such a short space of time.

“I am pleased that Iosup has been disqualified from driving as he consistently showed a disregard for the law. The fact the Judge has reserved any breaches of the suspended sentence to them will hopefully make Iosup think twice before committing any further offences.”

Blackpool hit with new Covid travel advice to stop Delta variant

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

New guidance and support issued by government to tackle Delta variant

People in Blackpool are being urged to minimise travel in and out of area as a new package of support is announced to tackle rising Covid-19 rates and the spread of the Delta variant.

The seaside town was exempt from changes introduced across the rest of Lancashire last week as they were redefined as ‘enhanced response areas’.

However in an announcement this afternoon (June 14), Health Secretary Matt Hancock has now included Blackpool along with five other areas of England – Birmingham, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Liverpool City Region and Warrington.

It comes as Blackpool recorded a further 66 new coronavirus cases in the latest 24-hour period. Its infection rate for the week ending June 7 stood at 158.5.

The additional government support, which is the same as was announced for Greater Manchester and Lancashire last week, will include surge testing, tracing, isolation support and maximising vaccine uptake.

This support will be led by local authorities, who will have a range of help offered. It includes:

– Additional resources to help local authorities with testing, logistics, planning and workforce to assist with testing, door-to-door visits to engage with residents and other activities. These may come from the Surge Rapid Response Teams, from military aid or other sources depending on requirements.

– Wastewater testing samples being prioritised for sequencing

– Specialist communications support to increase awareness and focus engagement with disadvantaged groups

– Maximising vaccine uptake by expanding existing channels, developing new capacity and increasing local and targeted communications to reach different communities;

– Supervised in-school testing and discretion to reintroduce face coverings in indoor communal areas and classrooms in schools if they and directors of public health decide it is appropriate;

– Surge testing and enhanced contact tracing; and

– Enhanced monitoring (genomic sequencing, genotype assay testing).

Mr Hancock said: “We are doing everything we can to stop the spread of the Delta variant, and working with local authorities, we are providing a strengthened package of support in areas where cases of the variant are increasing.

“We know this approach has made a real impact in south London and in Bolton where we have seen it stall rising cases.

“I urge people living these areas to get tested, come forward for your vaccine as soon as you are eligible and make sure to get the all-important second jab – that is how we will beat this virus.”

Owners of popular Fleetwood kiosks open new café on promenade with amazing views

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

FBKafe on the Esplanade in Fleetwood serve sandwiches, toasties, paninis and more

 

FBKafe on the Esplanade, Fleetwood
FBKafe on the Esplanade, Fleetwood (Image: FBKafe)

Just last week, a young schoolboy from Fleetwood named Bobby Casson set off on a 26 mile bike marathon to raise money for an outdoor activity area for pupils at his former school.

The nine-year-old who attends Flakefleet Primary School was raising money to help create an area for Larkholme Primary School in memory of his friend Lucy Willacy-Brown who tragically died due to health related issues at the age of eight.

The start and end point of his marathon was a well-known and popular kiosk on the Promenade called Fleetwood Beach Kiosk.

On hearing the starting time of Bobby’s challenge, staff opened the kiosk early at 9am rather than 10am so Bobby would be able to get an ice cream before he started.

It’s this kind of knowledge and understanding of their customers that Craig McOmish, 54, and Paul Haslem, 46, have become known for and why their chain of Fleetwood kiosks have become so popular.

They currently own FBK Beach Kiosk, FBK Shake & Donut Station, FBK Pier Kiosk and FBK Affinity Fleetwood along the promenade.

Fleetwood Beach Kiosk on the Esplanade
Fleetwood Beach Kiosk on the Esplanade (Image: FBK)

Neither had a background in hospitality however when they decided to open their series of food outlets.

After moving to Fleetwood from the Scottish town of Crieff 25 years ago, Craig had a background in printing.

It was around 2007 when he decided to explore something new and came across an empty kiosk beside Fleetwood pier that had previously sold newspapers.

Providing it with electricity proved a struggle at first and he had to get ice from the docks to improvise. He eventually managed to get it up and running however, even using the supply from a fridge that was on a boat powered from a battery.

He met his current business partner Paul on Twitter who owns Northern Rags Men’s designer clothing store on Poulton Road.

After hitting it off and becoming friends, they decided to expand the idea of opening more kiosks with Craig taking care of the financial side of things and Paul taking care of design and marketing.

Craig McOmish from Fleetwood Beach Kiosk

Over the years their friendly reputation has grown which has allowed them to expand further and further throughout the area.

Craig told Lancs Live: “We always try to go above and beyond for our customers and I think that’s why we benefit so much from repeated custom.

“People have gotten to know us and when they visit they ask how we are and it’s the same for the staff we employ too.

“Just this week it was our team member’s 18th birthday and she got so many cards from people who have just stopped by to chat.

“When people come to visit all our staff are happy and like to have a chat. It makes such a difference and I believe it’s why we continue to be successful.”

The coronavirus pandemic proved to be a strange time for the FBK kiosks as during the first lockdown staff had to close up shop.

In normal times they would only close on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve – so 2020 and 2021 has been testing.

However, they were then able to re-open when a lot of food places had to remain closed.

Craig said: “It was quite strange, we were open but we didn’t want to advertise that on social media too much as we didn’t want to encourage more people to come down to the promenade in order to promote social distancing and avoid overcrowding.

“We also met a lot of people we hadn’t seen before, which I think is due to people being encouraged to exercise outdoors more. There were quite a few older people who were out for walks on the promenade too.

“I think it was nice for people to see somewhere that was open around that time as everywhere else was shut. I think visually things are very important when you’re operating on the promenade.

The new FBKafe is at the site of the old YMCA cafe
The new FBKafe is at the site of the old YMCA cafe (Image: FBKafe)

“For instance with the FBK Kiosk on the Esplanade we built the world’s smallest extension on the side of it to create a new serving hatch so that two members of staff can serve people side by side, as if passersby see a long queue at one window they’re less likely to stop.”

“We fitted LED lighting around the kiosks too which looks really nice when the sun begins to set.”

This attention to the aesthetics of the brand has gone into their brand new cafe which has opened up this week also on the Esplanade called the FBKafe where the YMCA cafe used to be.

Opened on Tuesday (June 8) the cafe is Craig and Paul’s first dine in experience serving paninis, toasties, sandwiches, toasted bagels, tea, coffee and much more.

The business has also teamed up with local store the Pork Shop in Poulton to serve amazing pies and pastries.

Artwork in the new FBKafe reflects Fleetwood's heritage
Artwork in the new FBKafe reflects Fleetwood’s heritage (Image: FBKafe)

The pair have put a lot of effort into the interior which has artwork that reflects Fleetwoods heritage and they have even incorporated quirkier touches such as some children’s seating from McDonalds and an old fashioned lamp post.

This is topped off by the cafe’s excellent location with views out of one window framing the marina and the other framing the lighthouse.

Craig added: “We’ve always said to people that when they come and sit outside the kiosks they have some of the best views in England and it’s the same for our new cafe.

“Paul really has to take credit for the amazing interior as he has such an eye for design. He somehow pulls all the different elements together which I wouldn’t even think of.

“We want to be a local alternative to the likes of Costa Coffee, Starbucks and Pret a Manger. Those bigger places really take their custom for granted and when you go in, staff can barely acknowledge you at times.

“We’re different so we invite people to come in, have something to eat, have a drink and stay and enjoy the amazing views! We really don’t take any customers for granted.”

FBKafe is open daily from 9am until 6pm.

To find out more, please visit the Fleetwood Beach Kiosk Facebook page here.

Crowds flock to Blackpool as the sun shines high across the resort

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

Blackpool is the only area of Lancashire not to be labelled an ‘enhanced response area’

Blackpool with Pleasure Beach in the background

Blackpool with Pleasure Beach in the background (Image: LancsLive / BPL Bible)

The sun has shone across Lancashire this weekend with the county basking in the summer heatwave.

In Blackpool, crowds flocked to the seaside town to make the most of it by enjoying a walk down the Promenade, views over the Irish Sea, and an ice cream or two.

It comes after Blackpool was the only area of Lancashire not to be included in fresh Covid travel advice.

New advice from Government issued last Tuesday (June 8) urged residents of every Lancashire borough – except for the seaside resort – to reconsider travel in and out of their local area due to a rise in Delta variant transmission.

It also encouraged those same residents to meet outdoors and avoid indoor socialising with those not from their household.

With this just being advice there was and remains no legal rules in place in regards to this.

During a press conference, the Lancashire Resilience Forum confirmed the guidance was not a ‘travel ban’ and there were no additional rules in place, leaving people free to travel to the likes of Blackpool.

Chair of the LRF, Denise Park, said: “It’s not about ‘don’t do it’ it’s about doing it safely.

“It’s the same for travel. It’s not a travel ban.”

LancsLive headed down to Blackpool on Saturday (June 12) as the town enjoyed some form of normality after months and months of disruption to the local economy that is so reliant on the tourism economy.

Blackpool FC owner Simon Sadler reflects on two years in charge and outlines plans for the Championship

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool owner Simon Sadler says he was “the calmest man in Wembley” on the day of his hometown club’s promotion success and now he is laying down plans for their future in the Championship.

 

In a personal statement published on the club website to mark the second anniversary of his takeover at Bloomfield Road, Sadler reflects on an unforgettable season and outlines his vision for the years ahead.

Sadler admits the tasks of rebuilding the club and of winning promotion from League One were greater than he had envisaged.

Simon Sadler (standing second left) savours Blackpool's success at WembleySimon Sadler (standing second left) savours Blackpool’s success at Wembley

Starting the season confident of automatic promotion, Sadler began to lower his expectations after Blackpool’s disappointing start but insists he “never lost faith” in Neil Critchley, his staff or his squad.

Sadler states he was determined to enjoy the play-off final whatever the result, though he always felt Blackpool would win and the owner lived a dream by joining the Wembley celebrations on the pitch and hearing fans chant his name.

He says plans to stabilise in the Championship began the following morning, with Sadler stating that: “I feel that our natural place in the football pecking order is as a mid-table Championship side but with the right wind behind us we can make it back to The Premier League. I don’t have the wherewithal to buy our way into the next tier so we’ll have to earn it.”

Sadler believes the squad can hold its own in the Championship with “a few additions” and says his “top investment priority” by far is for an integrated training facility to be used by the club’s players at all levels.

Reiterating that he cannot personally fund all the investment the club needs, Sadler expressed thanks to the club’s volunteers and all supporters, particularly those who bought season tickets despite being unable to attend the vast majority of games in 2020/21.

Simon Sadler’s full statement reads:

At 4.53pm on Sunday 30th of May 2021, with a record-breaking sixth Play-off final victory, our club, Blackpool Football Club, was promoted back to The Championship.

At a Fans’ Forum in early July of 2019, just three weeks after having purchased the Club, I was asked what I thought about our chances of promotion to The Championship.

I replied that we’d get there “hopefully in two years and I’ll be gutted if we don’t do it in three”. In the following weeks and months, as we began the rebuild of our club, that statement took on the characteristics of a millstone or an albatross.

The task at hand was significantly more substantial than I’d envisaged and the Club clearly needed rebuilding from top to bottom.

By March 2020, however, we had the bones of a new structure in place throughout the Club and in Neil Critchley had just appointed a young, talented and hungry Head Coach.

With the Covid pandemic spreading and the nation under lockdown, Neil and the recruitment team worked tirelessly to assemble a competitive squad.

As the pre-season games got under way, we marvelled at the attractive brand of winning football of which this new group seemed capable.

Not only were we going to get promoted, we were going to go up automatically, probably as Champions!

The Gods of Football, however, seemed to have other ideas and with only seven points from our first nine games of the season, those words of mine uttered in July 2019 were again weighing heavily around my neck.

Whilst of course I was concerned, I never lost faith. There were more than enough positive moments to see that we were on the right track, but it was also increasingly apparent that I’d underestimated just how difficult it was to get out of League One.

We hadn’t had much luck in those first nine games or so, as evidenced by our xG, the widely used statistical measure of expected goals, which indicated that we should have been much higher in the table.

Nevertheless, I considered all that had happened over the preceding 18 months or so and concluded that a more realistic target would be for this to be the season where we laid the foundations to mount a serious challenge for at least the play-offs in the 2021/22 season.

Others with more football experience than I were more confident. Ben Mansford kept drawing parallels with his time as Barnsley Chief Exec five years earlier, when a new, young team started the season similarly poorly yet still got promoted to The Championship via the play-offs.

Linton Brown, an ex-pro centre-forward himself (as he likes to remind us), kept telling me that although Jerry hadn’t scored yet he’d bag us 20 goals this season.

And Critch maintained a quiet, calm confidence that results would soon improve, as he embraced life as a League One manager.

We can all pick our own turning points but mine was that narrow 1-0 defeat when down to nine men away at Wimbledon on 27th October.

The character and resilience we showed that day was remarkable and we were unlucky to leave South West London empty-handed.

At the next game, away at Burton Albion, Jerry broke his duck with a brace and we were off.

There were stumbles along the way as we showed that we could beat the better teams but often struggled against some of our more dogged opponents.

You could increasingly see that the players were fit and that they worked hard. We were hit by more than our fair share of suspensions, injuries and absences through Covid, but we were so well coached and organised that players seamlessly slotted into the team to replace the absent.

You could see the confidence and belief grow as the performances improved. At one point automatic promotion looked a possibility but 1-0 defeats in quick succession to Rochdale and Shrewsbury Town put paid to that. In the end we finished third, comfortably in the play-offs with six points to spare.

I spoke to Critch in about late March/early April and I recall saying something along the lines of ,“Please make sure that we reach the play-offs as I want the players to know what it feels like so that if they don’t do it this year, they’re ready for next year.”

As he does, Neil calmly assured me that we’d make the play-offs (I think he may have been keeping a closer eye on the League One table than he was letting on) and, of course, we did.

When we knew we were there and that we would face Oxford, I tried not to think too far ahead.

I tried not to think of Wembley and I tried to take it one game at a time, like Critch and the boys were doing.

Prior to the first leg against Oxford, I’d discussed with the likes of Ben and Brett (Gerrity, director) how it would likely be a close game.

I watched the warm-up at the Kassam quite intently and the lads exuded a professional confidence. As we took our seats just before kick-off, I turned to those around me and said, “I think we’ve got this.”

After a nervy start, we settled and ran out comfortable 3-0 winners. In the return leg, we discussed how the first goal would be vital.

In true Blackpool style we then proceeded to turn that theory on its head by conceding said first goal but then quickly recovered to score two in quick succession to put the result of the tie beyond doubt.

The countdown to the final was interminable, but on the day I was the calmest man in Wembley.

I’d decided that whatever happened I was going to enjoy the occasion, and when my mind tried to play the day forward to the point of victory or defeat, I consciously didn’t let myself go there.

Win or lose, I was going to celebrate as my expectations had been exceeded. But I always thought we’d win.

We had so much momentum behind us and had shown such spirit and character that I thought that with a bit of good fortune it should be our day.

When we went a goal behind in the first minute I thought back to a conversation that I’d had with Critch after the second leg of the semi-final, where I’d expressed how impressed I was at how we’d responded to going a goal behind on the night, and that after five clean sheets in a row in the preceding matches that experience may well come in useful.

My comments proved to be prescient and the lads didn’t panic. My belief only wobbled once on the day and that was when Lincoln hit the crossbar midway through the first half.

I thought that our response to that scare was magnificent and once we’d equalised there was only ever going to be one winner.

When the final whistle went, I hugged Gillian and my kids and just savoured the moment. The Lincoln directors immediately and graciously congratulated us. They’re good people and it’s a good club, but it was our day.

I shared a few fist-bumps with family, friends and club officials and then grabbed Ben to go down to the pitch.

Lads who grow up on Glastonbury Avenue and Bispham Road don’t normally get to go on the hallowed Wembley turf to celebrate their hometown football club getting promoted as fans, let alone as owner and I enjoyed every moment of it.

I’ll never forget standing there hearing my name ringing out as we celebrated our victory and it’s a travesty that many more of you weren’t at Wembley to experience the day.

Later, back at the hotel, players and staff alike deservedly let their hair down. By breakfast the next morning, though, we were already planning for the season ahead – squad, season tickets, sponsorship etc, etc…

One of the peculiarities of this past season has been that whilst fans have not been allowed into Bloomfield Road, a lot of them tell me that they feel a connection to the team and the Club that they have not felt for many a year.

I think that this is partly down to the availability of iFollow, which has allowed us to watch every game live – something that in normal times is expensive and difficult to achieve.

I’d also suggest that the weekly preview show that we introduced has helped to connect fans with the Club and its players and that this has been particularly welcome given the remote circumstances under which we have all been living and operating.

More than this, though, I, like many others, feel that we’re building something very special here with Critch, his team and this set of players.

I think that this squad ,with a few additions, is more than capable of holding its own in The Championship. Our first target now we’re there is to stabilise and ensure that we don’t get relegated.

I’ve said before that I feel that our natural place in the football pecking order is as a mid-table Championship side but with the right wind behind us we can make it back to The Premier League.

I don’t have the wherewithal to buy our way into the next tier so we’ll have to earn it.

To do that we’ll need to rely in the first instance on our coaching and recruitment and in time on our Academy.

Whilst timely investment in players early in the summer 2020 transfer window helped Critch put his squad together, much investment is still needed.

For the Club to really thrive we need to have all of our players, from The Academy through to the first team, training in one facility.

We’re developing a footballing philosophy based around working hard and being organised, which then provides a platform to allow players to show some flair and to entertain.

This philosophy needs to be imbued throughout the Club and to do that we clearly need new, integrated training facilities.

This is by far and away my top investment priority and hopefully we will have good news to impart on this matter in the coming months.

Other investment throughout the Club and the stadium is ongoing, a few examples of which I’ll share. The common areas of the hotel have been spruced up, making the hotel much more welcoming.

The pitch is again being refurbished and the astro turf around the edge should hopefully be replaced in time for the start of the season.

My personal pet peeve, the rusty stanchions in the stadium roof ,are being treated and painted.

I’m also hopeful that we’ll find and enact a permanent solution to the stadium pigeon problem and must again thank the volunteers that clear up their mess and apologise to you and them for not having addressed this problem earlier.

Fans can also expect to see further developments with our digital offering over the course of the next year.

As I’ve said before ,I alone cannot fund the investment that the Club needs. I am truly grateful for any contribution that you, the fans, make.

I’ve been blown away by the support that’s been shown this past season with purchases made from the Club shop and of iFollow passes.

I’d also like to single out those of you that bought season tickets last year and are buying again this year.

The purchase of a season ticket is a significant commitment. It is a contract between the Club and the supporter.

The Club takes your money and in return the supporter gets to watch 23 matches live at Bloomfield Road. Last year’s season tickets were different, though. Four thousand of you parted with your money hoping to watch all, or at least some of the matches live, knowing that there was a chance that you may not get to watch any of them at all.

We made it clear that in the eventuality that fans were not allowed into the stadium there would be no refunds if the matches were broadcast live.

I am fully aware that to commit to the Club under those circumstances is an entirely different proposition to normal.

I want those of you who bought season tickets last year, and are buying again on the same terms this season, to know that I am inordinately grateful that you are standing beside me and sharing the financial burden needed to rebuild this great club.

I am particularly grateful to those of you who purchase multiple tickets from the same household. The task at hand to turn Blackpool Football Club into the modern, progressive football club that we all want is immense and I cannot do it alone.

I’m grateful for every pound spent at the Club and for every hour spent volunteering there. We’re all in this together and I greatly appreciate the ongoing support.

I think that it is clear to us all that there is now a level of engagement between the Club and the fans that was unimaginable a few years back.

The Club is being restored at the heart of the community and now has a good working relationship with important fan-led groups and institutions such as the Blackpool Supporters’ Trust and The Armfield Club.

It’s heartening to see how in the past year many of us have worked together on important initiatives such as the provision of mental health support for fans suffering during the lockdown.

The collective effort in December to raise money for Christmas gifts for local children who would otherwise go without affirmed to me that Blackpool are indeed Back.

A few other thank yous before I wrap up. To Critch, his staff and the players for bringing us such joy and excitement this past year. They’ve sustained us during challenging times and I’m sure that I’m not the only one missing the Saturday-Tuesday routine.

To Ben Mansford, Linton Brown, Brett Gerrity and all of the rest of the staff at the football club. They work incredibly hard and are building a football club that the town can be proud of.

To our sponsors who, as a part of our Backing Blackpool initiative, continue to return to support and partner with us.

To the Community Trust for all of the commendable work that they do in the locality. To Gillian and my family for their ongoing love, support and understanding.

Two years in and I’m still full of awe and wonder at being the owner of my hometown football club.

I know that it’s a great honour and privilege to be the custodian of Blackpool Football Club and I will continue do my bit to protect, cherish and nurture it for the future generations of fans to come.

Now bring on The Championship……!