‘Predatory’ masseur, 67, sexually assaulted woman in her 20s in Blackpool

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A man who sexually assaulted a woman while working as a masseur in Blackpool has pleaded guilty.

 

Alan Garforth, 67, admitted offences of sexual assault and and sexual assault by penetration at Burnley Crown Court on Monday, July 26.

A woman in her 20s reported being attacked at Garforth’s address in Blackpool after he provided her with a massage in October 2018.

Garforth, of Pavey Close, was arrested and later received summons to appear at court in connection with the offences.

He pleaded guilty and will be sentenced on September 20 at Burnley Crown Court.

Blackpool man charged after car driven at pedestrian in Queen Street

Det Sgt Nicole Ryder-Jones, of Blackpool Police, said: “Garforth’s actions were predatory and sexually motivated. We welcome him admitting his guilt.

“I must praise the victim and thank her for coming forward. She has shown great courage and strength in reporting the crimes to police.

Alan Garforth, 67, admitted offences of sexual assault and and sexual assault by penetration at Burnley Crown Court.Alan Garforth, 67, admitted offences of sexual assault and and sexual assault by penetration at Burnley Crown Court.

“I hope this case will give other victims of sexual offending the confidence to come forward, knowing that we will listen to them and act on the information they provide.”

 

Tributes paid as Blackpool Pleasure Beach director Barbara Thompson dies aged 82

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Blackpool Pleasure Beach director Barbara Thompson has died peacefully at her home in Lytham, aged 82.

 

Barbara Thompson (centre) with Judith Chalmers and Pleasure Beach mascots

Barbara Thompson (centre) with Judith Chalmers and Pleasure Beach mascots

Mrs Thompson, who died on Tuesday, began her career working for a firm of solicitors in Blackpool.

Born Barbara Joan Foxcroft in 1939, she married Geoffrey Thompson OBE in 1962. Geoffrey then became managing director of Blackpool Pleasure Beach in 1976 and passed away in 2004.

Mrs Thompson leaves three children, Amanda Thompson OBE, Nicholas Thompson and Fiona Gilje, and eight grandchildren.

As an active member of the Lady Taverner’s, Mrs Thompson was a dedicated fundraiser and supported the children’s charity for many years.

Former television presenter Judith Chalmers, a fellow member of the Lady Taverner’s, paid tribute to her friend, saying: “Barbara and the family made everyone so welcome whenever the Lady Taverner’s visited the Pleasure Beach.

“She would always have a big smile on her face and everyone would have a great time. The Pleasure Beach had that family feel, and that was down to Barbara.

“The Taverner’s would bring children for a day out, and I remember the buses were lined up on the road and the children could not wait to get out and go on the rides.”

A Pleasure Beach spokesperson said: “Following her husband’s death in 2004, Barbara remained an active and much-loved member of the Blackpool Pleasure Beach family.

“She will be greatly missed by everyone at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and within the attractions industry worldwide.”

 

Blackpool Promenade’s Terrace Bar facing fight with planners to stay open

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It could be last orders at a seafront bar in Blackpool after councillors have been recommended to refuse planning permission for the outdoor venue.

 

It emerged in May this year the Terrace Bar, alongside Central Pier, was operating without council approval.

A retrospective planning application was submitted but the resort’s planning committee is being urged to turn it down when it meets next Tuesday (August 3) to consider the scheme.

A report to the committee says the bar’s location contravenes council policy because the area west of the tram tracks is reserved for “public realm improvements such as sea defences, transport improvements, landscaping, public amenities and ancillary small-scale retail outlets.”

The Terrace BarThe Terrace Bar

The report adds the bar is “detrimental to the council’s regeneration efforts concerning the sea front, Promenade and town centre.”

It is also deemed out of character and damaging to the setting of the historic pier, and “not of a standard considered appropriate for such a prominent and sensitive location and does not integrate well with or enhance its surroundings.”

The bar started life nearly four years ago as a portable bar surrounded by gazebos, which was set up to support a classic car show.

As it grew in popularity a more permanent bar with decking, a canopy and an entertainment area was installed with the venue attracting al fresco drinkers.
The Terrace Bar
The Terrace Bar

But when owner the Blackpool Pier Company contacted the council’s planning department in January this year regarding a separate application for South Pier, it discovered no permission was in place for the Terrace Bar.

Town hall planners say the area is “cluttered” and “does not deliver the kind of high-quality design required in this location”.

The Blackpool Piers Company say the bar does complement Central Pier, which opened in 1868 and is now owned by the Sedgwick family.

In a statement accompanying the application, it said: “Aesthetically, the bar will complement the modern facade of the pier, which is dominant, the Victorian style design of the pier only becoming apparent as the pier is traversed out to sea.

“Historic, evidential and communal value will not be unduly affected, as these will be maintained.”

 

Tram services disrupted after tree blocks overhead line in Fleetwood

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Tram services were forced to miss several stops due to a tree blocking an overhead line in Fleetwood.

 

Commuters were warned there may be delays to the service at around 6.20am today (July 29).

Tram services will turn at Fishermans Walk due to the tree, causing them to miss London Street, Victoria Street and Fleetwood Ferry.

Blackpool Transport said they hoped normal service would resume soon.

Tram services were forced to miss several stops in Fleetwood due to a tree blocking an overhead line.

Tram services were forced to miss several stops in Fleetwood due to a tree blocking an overhead line.

Layton library gifts books to Blackpool youngsters to encourage excitement for reading

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Layton library held virtual assemblies for resort primary school children in a bid to get them reading more during the summer holidays.

 

Youngsters in Years Two and Five at Devonshire Primary Academy in Devonshire Road and Year Five at Layton Primary School in Meyler Avenue took part in the library’s first virtual assemblies.

They were given books paid for by Layton ward grant funding by councillors Kath Benson and Martin Mitchell, in a bid to encourage a love of reading and improvement in literacy skills.

Coun Benson and Layton library manager Jane Berry spoke to the youngsters about the library, in hopes it would spark a keen interest in delving deeper into the world of storytelling.

Year Five at Layton Primary School with their gifted books. Pic: Blackpool CouncilYear Five at Layton Primary School with their gifted books. Pic: Blackpool Council

Coun Benson said: “It was tremendous and an absolute pleasure to virtually visit the children. We were asked some amazing questions about the number and types of books that the library has, most popular authors, when the library was built and so much more. It was fantastic to see their curiosity and I hope that it will inspire them to read more.”

Coun Mitchell added: “It was terrific to be part of this project and to encourage the gift of reading amongst the new generation. Of course when a child opens a book it reveals a pathway to a hitherto unseen world, a world where imagination and the senses can triumph.”

The project is part of a wider initiative among all Blackpool libraries – the summer reading challenge “Wild World Heroes,” which encourages children to keep up with their reading over the holidays.

Layton library will continue working with Layton and Devonshire schools, to encourage pupils to become members and nurture a love of reading.

Jane Berry, library manager, said: “It was lovely to be asked by a child about when I had joined a library myself. It was a joy to share my memory that I had joined at the age of around seven and used to visit the library on Saturday mornings on my bike with my dad once a fortnight.”

Natalie Dean, a teacher at Devonshire Primary Academy, added: “In 2020 we set ourselves a reading goal to ensure that all of our pupils had a chance to not only visit Layton library, but also become lifelong members, so they could access the wonderful opportunities that the library brings.

“Before Covid temporarily closed the library, we had managed to bring several year groups on a trip to see the library and it was amazing to watch the children in awe and wonder, marvelling at the limitless choices on the bookshelves. For some pupils, it was their first time inside a library outside of our school library.

“We are thrilled to have been asked to be a part of the local literacy campaign being led by our local councillors and we have been lucky enough to be visited ‘virtually’ for story time. We look forward to being able to continue our work with the library.”

 

Blackpool man Jordan Lee found guilty of murdering ‘blue-eyed angel’ daughter Willow

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A Blackpool dad flew into a rage and murdered his baby daughter when she wouldn’t stop crying.

 

Jordan Lee, 29, of Onslow Road in Layton, claimed his four month old daughter Willow rolled off a sofa and possibly hit her head while he played Call Of Duty at his home on Thursday, December 3.

But the jury saw through his web of lies and found him guilty following a trial at Preston Crown Court today.

In a statement, his ex-partner and Willow’s mum Jade Bell said: “My precious, innocent daughter Willow was almost five months old when she died… to watch her die was horrific and heartbreaking, but to then find out what had happened to her, that she died because of her father’s selfish actions, was devastating.

Willow Lee was just four months old when she was murderedWillow Lee was just four months old when she was murdered

“We all miss her dearly. There are not enough words to express that, and to have lost her at such a young age and in the way we have has affected me and my family so much, and my life will never be the same without my blue-eyed angel.

“I could talk about her forever and how she will always be my perfect baby, and always my Willow Grace.

“It’s hard to comprehend that the person who was supposed to love and protect her as a father could be responsible for her no longer being with us.

“My last memory I have of my Willow is her in the ICU at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. My mum, dad, and grandma were on either side of her. The sight of her helpless with tubes and wires attached to her little body, attached to a life-support machine, is something that I will never forget.

Willow Lee died after being attacked by her dad Jordan on December 3 last yearWillow Lee died after being attacked by her dad Jordan on December 3 last year

“The feelings were unbelievable, but I had to let my precious girl go. It was heartbreaking, it still is heartbreaking and will always be heartbreaking. At that point, I could never see how life could be normal again for me and my family, and of course it never will.

“I feel all the overwhelming love I have for her, and I feel the grief and horror of losing her every single day.”

Lee was supposed to be looking after his baby daughter while Jade went to work, but became increasingly angry with her as the day progressed.

At 1.18pm his brother Daniel Lee, who also lived at the Onslow Road address, messaged Jade: “He’s seriously not fit to be a father. I feel sorry for Willow.” He told her Willow had been crying all day and that his brother was ‘getting really angry and shouting at her’.

Jordan Lee. Picture from Lancashire policeJordan Lee. Picture from Lancashire police

In return, Jade texted “Please, please make sure he doesn’t hurt her in any way” and “please make sure my baby is safe Dan.”

At around 5pm, Daniel again heard Lee shouting at his daughter to ‘shut up’.

The sound of Willow crying, followed by a thud, was captured in a Snapchat recording taken by Daniel. Afterwards, Lee ran upstairs withe baby in his arms and showed her to his brother, who said she looked ‘unresponsive and floppy’.

Lee told both paramedics and Jade that Willow had fallen off the sofa. She was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital and transferred to Alder Hey Children’s Hospital, where she died on December 6.

A post mortem examination found Willow had sustained a serious traumatic head injury consistent with an assault, forceful shaking and a probable impact to the head, and pathologists concluded the degree of force required was considerable and would have caused her ‘immense pain and suffering’.

She suffered a bleed to the brain and bruises on the left side of her face.

Ms Bell said: “No parent should ever have to see their child die. The way Willow died, at the hands of her father who should have loved her unconditionally but instead killed her in such a brutal manner and has showed no remorse, is unimaginable.”

Lee will be sentenced for the murder of his daughter at Preston Crown Court tomorrow.

 

Blackpool’s spooky ghosts walks are back

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One of Blackpool’s most distinctive attractions has made a return following an absence caused by the pandemic lockdowns.

 

Stephen Mercer's Blackpool Ghost Walks have returned

Stephen Mercer’s Blackpool Ghost Walks have returned

Stephen Mercer has been running the Blackpool Ghost Walks for the past 11 years but admits things have been tough during the past 16 months.

With his black top hat and Victorian attire, he leads guided groups to some of the resort’s oldest buildings, recounting ghostly stories associated with each of them.

Stephen returned via his business, award-winning Supernatural Events, last week and will be leading the tours every Thursday and Saturday night up until Halloween.

“Not being able to do the ghost walks for 12 out of the last 16 months has been horrendous – I was able to do one or two things online but it wasn’t the same.

“Sadly the tenth anniversary celebrations and tours didn’t really happen last year; but I’m pleased to say the tours are back bigger and better than ever before for 2021.

“There will be two completely different Blackpool Ghost Walks every week, Thursday Thrills and Saturday Scares; each has its own separate route, locations and tales.”

This year the Blackpool Ghost Walks will feature some new stories along with a few old favourites.

As the finale to the outside walking tours, those attending will be invited to join a spooky ‘Victorian Séance’ experience in a first storey room in what used to be the Stanley Arms Hotel but is now known as The Brew Room, on Church Street.

Robert Wynne, owner of The Brew Room said: “Since reopening this old Victorian Pub we have all noticed spirits of all kind in the building. The upper floors are particularly well preserved and particularly spooky! We look forward to welcoming all those brave souls who go on the Blackpool Ghost Walks back again this year.”

The tours start at 7pm from the Tourist Information Centre, Festival House on The Promenade, next to The Beach House.

For further details and information on tickets and prices, visit www.BlackpoolGhostWalks.co.uk.

 

Blackpool nursing home residents running their own shop

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Residents at a Blackpool care home don’t have to go far if they want to nip to the shops – they’ve got their own.

 

Shop ready for business - back row left to right. Diane Buckley. Jean Hamilton. Joyce Gillatt. Theresa Gleave. Doris Heslop.
Front : Janet McDougall. Alan Gillatt

Shop ready for business – back row left to right. Diane Buckley. Jean Hamilton. Joyce Gillatt. Theresa Gleave. Doris Heslop. Front : Janet McDougall. Alan Gillatt

The Acorn Nursing Home, on Newton Drive, has set up a shop counter in the foyer of the home, well stocked with essentials.

And residents at the home are even running it themselves on a rota basis.

The idea was dreamed up by the home’s activities coordinator, Samantha Hulmes, who says residents are loving the idea.

She said: “It means they can go down and choose what they want, rather than just having something sent up to their rooms, it gives them the chance to shop.

“We even stock birthday cards so if they want to send one to a relative, they have choice.

“And the residents who run the shop love it, they tell us they’re getting ready to go to work in the morning and they have a bit of a spring in their step!

“The shop also raises funds towards residents’ activities and entertainments, so it’s a win-win situation.”

The little shop sells greetings cards, chocolate and a range of toiletries such as hairspray and deodorant, essentials such as Sterident, tissues and even drinks kept nice and cool in a freezer.

As well as serving residents, the shop also sells to visitors to the 40-bed home, with the normal Covid-safety rules applying to ensure residents are kept safe.

This includes only serving those who have been clear on their latest lateral flow test.

One of those serving in the shop is Doris Heslop, 81, who used to work at the former Marton Post Office.

She said: “I’ve spent most of my life behind a counter so I’m used to it!

“It’s a very good idea and it’s nice to be able to use it as well, we can choose our own cards and chocolate.”

The shop is running from Monday to Friday, from 10am top 2pm each day.

 

Fleetwood teenager is “hero of the night” after helping sea rescue teams save drowning man

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A Fleetwood teenager has been praised by sea rescue teams after he helped save the life of a drowning man  (Monday, July 26).

 

Kye Cudlip, 19, has been praised for helping save the life of a drowning man in Fleetwood last night (Monday, July 26). Pic: HM Coastguard Fleetwood

Kye Cudlip, 19, has been praised for helping save the life of a drowning man in Fleetwood last night (Monday, July 26). Pic: HM Coastguard Fleetwood

Kye Cudlip, 19, was taking a leisurely walk along the Fleetwood seafront at around 10.30pm when he heard a man crying out for help in the darkness.

Not having his mobile phone with him, Kye ran to the local police station to call 999.

The police control room alerted HM Coastguard whose volunteers rushed to the scene near the Coastguard station on the Esplanade.

A drowning man was rescued from the sea in Fleetwood last night (Monday, July 26) after 19-year-old Kye Cudlip heard the man's cries for help in the darkness. Pic: HM Coastguard FleetwoodA drowning man was rescued from the sea in Fleetwood last night (Monday, July 26) after 19-year-old Kye Cudlip heard the man’s cries for help in the darkness. Pic: HM Coastguard Fleetwood

The Fleetwood coastguard crew met Kye on the beach near the Fisherman’s Memorial and the teenager calmly pointed them in the direction of the man’s desperate pleas for help.

The Coastguard team used illuminating flares to help search the dark waters and the 4th flare revealed the silhouette of a man, who was now up to his neck in water.

The man had also made his own emergency 999 call and had been told by Coastguard HQ at Holyhead that help was on its way and he should “float to live”.

RNLI Fleetwood launched both lifeboats and its crews were swiftly guided towards the man, who was suffering from water inhalation.

He was pulled from the sea and passed into the care of waiting paramedics who rushed him to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Fleetwood’s Coastguard and RNLI crews say they have “no doubt” that the Kye’s swift yet calm response helped save the man’s life.

A spokesman for HM Coastguard Fleetwood said: “This could have been a very different outcome for the casualty had it not been for Kye’s swift action.

“We have no doubt that this young man’s action contributed to saving a life.

“Well done Kye! You were truly the hero of the night.”

A spokesman for RNLI Fleetwood added: “Well done, Kye. Excellent awareness of a deteriorating and desperate situation.”