Strictly star Shirley Ballas lights up Blackpool and the world as she pulls the lever to launch 2021’s Illuminations

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Showbiz queen Shirley Ballas put on a flawless performance as she flicked the switch to launch another dazzling Illuminations season.

 

During her yearly trip to the Tower Ballroom, where she runs the rule over celebrities on Strictly Come Dancing, the 60-year-old head judge is usually working her magic from the shadows.

But tonight, in front of a 1,500-strong crowd, she took centre stage – and the spotlight – in a black and silver glistening strapless top and cigarette trousers and heels to pull the lever and light up the Tower and Golden Mile until early next year.

Shirley said that, despite visiting the resort for dancing contests since the age of seven, including a festival win at 18, doing the honours shortly before 9pm was a highlight trip.

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“It’s bigger than Strictly,” she laughed.

“It’s just an iconic moment in an iconic ballroom and I’m just thrilled to be a part of it.

“Never could I have imagined all those years ago, dancing in this magnificent ballroom, the greatest in the world, I would one day be switching on the Lights.

“It’s just wonderful.”
The Queen of Latin and Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas, who found success in Blackpool as a young dancer in the '80s, flicked the switch on the Illuminations on the evening of Friday, September 3, 2021 inside the Tower Ballroom (Picture: Darren Nelson)

The Queen of Latin and Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas, who found success in Blackpool as a young dancer in the ’80s, flicked the switch on the Illuminations on the evening of Friday, September 3, 2021 inside the Tower Ballroom (Picture: Darren Nelson)

Those inside the 127-year-old venue, transformed into a concert hall with two stages to host the Switch-On for the first time, earlier watched musical performances from multiple-platinum selling Ella Henderson, Reading Festival headlining indie band The Wombats, and former Love Island and Dancing On Ice contestant Wes Nelson.

Ella, 25, who shot to fame after finishing sixth on The X Factor in 2012 and signing a record deal that saw her release number one album Chapter One, said she was overjoyed to be performing again – after spending lockdown writing new music at a piano.

She said: “I remember coming to Blackpool with my friend for a dance competition when we were around seven.

“We had a great time, visiting the Pleasure Beach, getting up the Tower, but we stayed in this little hotel and we ended up getting stuck in the lift!

“I’m hoping it’s not going to happen to me this time.”

Wes, 23, who signed a solo record deal with EMI Records last year ahead of his first single See Nobody featuring Hardy Caprio, told The Gazette stepping into the Ballroom for his first live performance was overwhelming but exciting.

“I came to Blackpool a few times when I was small,” he said.

“I had some great times on the dodgems and in the arcades.

“Now to be part of the Illuminations… that’s just massive.

“I’m so grateful to be here.”

Television and radio presenter Becca Dudley hosted the proceedings, which were beamed around the world via VisitBlackpool and MTV’s YouTube channel, while KSI, a quasi-celeb who turned a hobby filming videos in his bedroom into a career as a boxer and singer, also performed.

The YouTuber, whose real name is Olajide Olayinka Williams ‘JJ’ Olatunji, thanked the “wild” crowd for its welcome, adding: “It’s getting hot in here… insane.”

Families, couples, friends, and holidaymakers were among the ticket holders, who applied for their free places in a ballot.

Lucy Alcorn, 22, from Clayton-le-Moors near Accrington in east Lancashire, said: “My first time at the Switch-On was when I was 14 and I’ve been lucky to get tickets for every one since.

“It’s always such a great night.”

Lucy travelled to the resort with sister duo Sam and Kath Sharpe.

Sam said: “It’s such a buzz. The Tower is great.”

Jordan Brooke from the West Midlands was enjoying a dance with her three children Mia, seven, Esme, five, and Noah, four, and said the ceremony was a treat for the youngsters.

She said: “It’s their first time at the Illuminations so we feel really lucky to be here.”

Christina Grantham, her partner Christopher Nicholson, and her two daughters Amy and Mia Storey, from Blackpool, said they couldn’t believe their luck after winning tickets.

“We moved here 18 months ago and [because of the pandemic] Blackpool was dead,” Christina said.

“What a way to experience it properly for the first time than at the Illuminations.

“We’re having a great time.”

Millions of visitors – as well as plenty of locals – will drive, walk, cycle, jog, and be taken on landau rides below the glowing bulbs that straddle the Promenade until Monday, January 3, 2022, with the annual display extended over Christmas and New Year for the first time.

Only the pandemic scuppered efforts to do the same last season.

The Illuminations also feature a number of other firsts.

They include a nightly laser show called Astral Dreams.

Designed by local man Jack Irvings, it will be projected onto the Tower.

Household favourite Laurence Llewelyn Bowen will also show off a water feature called Venus Remixed at South Beach.

The Changing Rooms star, who is the Lights’s creative chief, said: “This year, perhaps more than any other year, switching on Blackpool’s Illuminations marks an important moment of brightness as the country moves into autumn and winter.

“Turning the Lights on has always inspired an optimism and positivity of which Blackpool is understandably proud.”

Tower boss Kate McShane said: “We will never get another opportunity like this.

“It’s been a fantastic season and we want to end the year on a high.

“The spirit, tenacity, and resilience of people here has really shone through and this is the perfect antidote for the end of 2020.”

 

RJ’s Sports Bar in Cleveleys celebrates opening day

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A new establishment in Cleveleys has opened its doors to the public after it took over the former Pizza Hut building during lockdown.

 

RJ’s Bar on North Promenade in Cleveleys opened in the former Pizza Hut restaurant for the first time yesterday (Wednesday September 1).

Pizza Hut moved onto the Jubilee Park site, which also hosts the Jubilee Park pub, JD Gym and VUE cinema, back in 2006 – but it became one of Covid’s casualties when bosses announced it would close permanently during lockdown.

New owners John Sherwood and Rob Hopkinson started working on the building earlier this year, and have now transformed it into RJ’s – a “family-friendly sports bar.”

RJ's Bar owners John Sherwood and Rob Hopkinson with manager Sarah-Jayne Coop. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

RJ’s Bar owners John Sherwood and Rob Hopkinson with manager Sarah-Jayne Coop. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Manager Sarah-Jayne Coop said she “couldn’t wait” to open RJ’s to families as well as sports fans, with a bar menu available all day for youngsters and grown-ups alike.

She explained that the business’ ethos was to promote sustainability, and integrate itself into the local community.

“Sustainability is important to us, especially with us being near the sea,” she said.

“We’re very much about the local community, we all live in Cleveleys and we really want to orientate the business for the people who live here.

 

Organiser’s warning over ‘ticket scams’ for Blackpool Illuminations Switch On 2021

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Organisers have warned against potential ticket scams for tonight’s Illuminations Switch On event, urging people without tickets not attempt to purchase any online.

 

Some 1,000 tickets were made available via a ballot for tonight’s Switch On event, which is set to be held in the Tower Ballroom for the first time this year.

But in the run-up to the concert, Switch On organisers Visit Blackpool warned against potential “scammers” who were advertising event tickets for sale online.

It said all ticket winners had already been contacted and e-tickets had been sent out – and “fake profiles” who were using social media to advertise non-existent tickets for sale were being reported.

Organisers have warned against potential ticket scams for tonight's Illuminations Switch On event, urging people without tickets not attempt to purchase any online. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Organisers have warned against potential ticket scams for tonight’s Illuminations Switch On event, urging people without tickets not attempt to purchase any online. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

A spokesman for Visit Blackpool said: “None of the people advertising Switch On ticket sales on our posts or pages actually have them. They are ALL fake profiles which we’re reporting as we see them.

“Don’t hand over money or personal information to scammers. Please protect yourself.”

This year, Dancing queen Shirley Ballas will join the Switch On roll of honour.

Kicking off from 7pm ,a live audience will be welcomed onto the famous dancefloor to watch acts including KSI, Ella Henderson, The Wombats and Wes Nelson perform.

The concert and Switch On moment will once again be broadcast to global audiences with MTV and Visit Blackpool streaming the live event.

When and how will viewers be able to tune in?

Viewers will be able to tune in from home with VisitBlackpool in conjunction with MTV streaming the hour-long concert from 8pm before Strictly Come Dancing head judge Shirley Ballas arrives on stage for the iconic Switch-On moment.

It can be viewed free of charge at visitblackpool.com/switchonyoutube.com/mtvuk and facebook.com/mtvmusicuk .

Beauty queen family legacy inspires Miss Blackpool’s dream of winning Miss Great Britain 2021

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Three generations of Blackpool women have been gracing stages around the world with their beauty for decades – and now the youngest pageantry queen is hoping to be crowned Miss Great Britain before she finally hangs up her heels.

 

Beauty pageantry is deeply ingrained within the DNA of one Fylde coast family, with women passing down crowns from generation to generation after dazzling audiences for decades – not only with their beauty, but with their kindness and compassion.

Current Miss Blackpool 2021 Eden Kippax, 27, a customer services adviser from Poulton, is set to grace the main stage as a finalist in prestigious national pageant Miss Great Britain 2021 in Leicester next month.

She stepped into the heels of her grandmother, Margaret Duckworth, who won Mrs Blackpool in 1971, and her mum Dawn Kippax, who won Miss Beautiful Blackpool in 1987.

Eden Kippax from Poulton is the current Miss Blackpool 2021 - and hopes she can take her title to the next level as she prepares to compete in Miss Great Britain 2021 next month. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden Kippax from Poulton is the current Miss Blackpool 2021 – and hopes she can take her title to the next level as she prepares to compete in Miss Great Britain 2021 next month. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden’s aunties also wowed audiences in their heyday, with Julie Chadwick winning Miss England 1980 before competing in Miss Universe 1980 in Seoul, Korea – and another auntie, Jane Prior, won Miss Blackpool Queen of the Lights in 1980.

Eden’s cousins Kendall Rae Knight, Kassidy Knight, Jordan Knight, Lauren Chadwick and Brooke Chadwick have also all competed in beauty pageants over the years.

But despite having decades’ worth of experience running through her veins, returning to the stage to try to win national acclaim also marks a more poignant and personal achievement for Eden.

She has competed in pageants since the age of three, but took an extended break for personal reasons – and during that time her dreams of being crowned Miss Great Britain 2021 had never looked further away.

Eden's auntie Julie Chadwick won Miss England 1980, and went on to compete in Miss Universe 1980 in Seoul, Korea. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden’s auntie Julie Chadwick won Miss England 1980, and went on to compete in Miss Universe 1980 in Seoul, Korea. Pic: Eden Kippax

“I knew that going back into pageantry would be the thing that gave me back my confidence,” Eden explained.

“I’ve always loved it and beauty pageants have been such a huge part of our lives. I’m so proud of the legacy my family has built in beauty pageantry, but it’s time for me to retire after this, so I’d absolutely love to win the big one before I hang up my heels.

“Who knows what the future holds for me, but I’d never say never to getting back on the stage.”

Eden endured a turbulent 18 months during lockdown, after being made redundant twice and missing out on performing in her dream role as Princess Fiona in Shrek at Blackpool’s Grand Theatre, after the pandemic forced the show’s cancellation.

Eden's grandmother Margaret Duckworth won Mrs Blackpool 1971. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden’s grandmother Margaret Duckworth won Mrs Blackpool 1971. Pic: Eden Kippax

But she turned her despair into determination, and decided to spend her evenings reading bedtime stories to children on Facebook, engaging in charity work by donating food and clothing to locals in need, and raising money for Trinity Hospice and Brian House through various organised events.

Eden is also working with charity Alice Ruggles Trust, in a bid to help women suffering domestic abuse across the country.

Her road to Miss GB may have been a rocky one, but Eden said she was excited to be donning her sash one final time to bring the title back to Blackpool.

She wanted to quash any misconceptions or stereotypes associated with pageantry, and invited other resort hopefuls to take the leap and give it a go.

Eden's mum Dawn Kippax won Miss Beautiful Blackpool 1987. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden’s mum Dawn Kippax won Miss Beautiful Blackpool 1987. Pic: Eden Kippax

“I definitely think pageantry can be quite misunderstood. If I had a pound for every time someone said ‘oh you must love yourself,'” Eden continued.

“But it’s absolutely nothing to do with that, and I always say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, until you’ve stood on that stage and understood how it feels to have all of your family and friends supporting you and celebrating all the charity work you’ve done.

“Beauty pageantry is for absolutely everyone – I’ve always struggled with my weight and I’ve competed at all different sizes, and everybody has their own story. But together all of us have done so much to help other people in the years running up to competitions, and being on that stage in the final is really just a celebration of the hard work we’ve done.”

To vote for Eden to win Miss Great Britain 2021, Text MISSGB 23 to 64343.

Votes cost £1 plus one standard network message. Charges will appear on the telephone bill. You must be 18 or over to use this service and have the bill payer’s permission.

Eden won Mini Miss Wyre in 1997, and has competed in pageants since the age of three. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden won Mini Miss Wyre in 1997, and has competed in pageants since the age of three. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden's auntie Jane Prior won Miss Blackpool Queen of the Lights 1980. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden’s auntie Jane Prior won Miss Blackpool Queen of the Lights 1980. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden has even competed against her cousin Kendall Rae Knight, where they both took part in Miss Fylde Coast 2013. Pic: Eden Kippax

Eden has even competed against her cousin Kendall Rae Knight, where they both took part in Miss Fylde Coast 2013. Pic: Eden Kippax

Heritage Open Days coming to Blackpool, Lytham, St Annes, Fleetwood and Cleveleys this month

Blackpool’s Heritage Open Days are making a comeback to the resort later this month,  the return of another event that was cancelled last year due to the pandemic.

 

Venues across the town and further afield will be opening their doors to provide a variety of heritage events, free of charge.

It is an opportunity to explore and showcase the town’s extraordinary and eclectic history, and to uncover unique local stories and hidden treasures.

The events have been organised by Blackpool Council’s Heritage Service and Showtown Blackpool, which will be the resort’s first museum which is due to open in April 2023

A previous Heritage Open Days event at  St Thomas Church in St AnnesA previous Heritage Open Days event at St Thomas Church in St Annes

With 31 separate events being held across the Fylde coast from Thursday, September 16 and Sunday, September 19, the organisers are advising people to book as soon as possible, with the Tower tour already fully booked.

Beth Garlington, heritage officer for Blackpool Heritage Service said: “Heritage Open Days is England’s largest festival of heritage and culture. Across the country, thousands of heritage venues take part, opening their doors and providing a variety of heritage events free of charge.

“For Blackpool, the event is an opportunity to explore and showcase the town’s extraordinary and eclectic history, uncovering unique local stories and hidden treasures.

“There is something for everyone to enjoy and the time and effort put in by local organisations and volunteers is incredible.”

Following a number of anniversaries for some of Blackpool’s iconic over the past year, the Heritage Blackpool team said they want to put on a ‘great event’

Beth said: “This year, members of the public have the opportunity to explore the iconic Blackpool Tower building that has enticed, impressed and entertained visitors for over 125 years.

“The historic guided walks will feature a War Memorial tour, a Promenade history walk and a Stanley Park heritage walk that will also include the rare opportunity to climb the Cocker Clock Tower.

“Places of worship and religious organisations will also be open, along with many other venues across Lytham, St Annes and Cleveleys.”

For those who are feeling brave there is a guided tour of some of the thirty five sites within Blackpool that are alleged to be haunted by ‘spectres, spooks and spirits’.

In Wyre, one of the events will be a guided walk around the houses built for the Cleveleys Cottage Exhbition of 1906. All 42 buildings still survive and visitors will receive a replica map.

Over in Fylde, there are a number of events happening including tours of Lytham Hall, Lytham Windmill and Lifeboat Museum and also St Annes Parish Church.

Fleetwood will also be holding some events, with Rossall Point Tower, The Mount Pavilion and a Nautical Heritage Walk.

For those who are unable to make the events, there is still the opportunity to learn about the resort’s history online.

The organisers said: “Join us on the Heritage Blackpool and Showtown Blackpool social media channels during the festival, where we will be presenting a range of online films created by us and some of our Heritage Open Days venues.

More information can be found on www.heritageblackpool.co.uk/whats-on and also www.heritageopendays.org.uk with a full list of events.

The Heritage Open Days phone line will be open every Thursday and Friday from 9.30am to 12.30pm, up until Friday, September 10.

Anyone who is interested is advised to phone (01253) 478624 to book their ticket.

Alternatively, to book online them online go to www.eventbrite.co.uk and search Showtown Blackpool.

The organisers for the event said that the tickets are on a ‘first come, first served basis’.

World Fireworks Championships: New Blackpool launch pad and revised dates

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

Blackpool Council has changed the dates of the World Firework Championships and families are urged to make a note of them to avoid disappointed children

 

The World Fireworks Championship in Blackpool
The World Fireworks Championship in Blackpool (Image: Visit Blackpool)

Blackpool’s famous World Fireworks Championships are set to take place on a new launch-pad this year located over the beach in front of Blackpool Tower.

Last year the annual pyrotechnic extravaganza, usually launched from the North Pier, was cancelled due to Coronavirus restrictions which made it impossible to stage the four events that should have ran from September to October.

For 2021, Blackpool Council has changed the dates of the free event and families are urged to make a note of them to avoid disappointed children.

The Roy Chubby Brown pre-fireworks show will still take place at 6pm on Friday, September 10.

The stunning displays set to music, will take place on alternate Saturday evenings.

The countries that will compete for the title in 2021 are Germany, Russia and Ireland, with the fourth Saturday a showcase event by one of Europe’s leading fireworks companies, Titanium.

The new dates are as follows:

  • Saturday, 11 September: Russia
  • Saturday, 25 September: Ireland
  • Saturday, 9 October: Germany
  • Saturday, 23 October: Celebratory display and winners announcement from Titanium Fireworks.
Who's ready to see some fireworks?
Who’s ready to see some fireworks? (Image: Dave Nelson)

Over the years, the World Fireworks Championship Blackpool has become one of the resort’s biggest draws and last night (August 31) the much-loved Ride The Lights event returned to a traffic-free promenade.

This is a preview of the Illuminations before the official switch-on later this week that begins an extended Illuminations season starting on Friday 3 September and running through to January 3, 2022.

Councillor Lynn Williams, Leader of Blackpool Council, said: “After more than a year of having to cancel and postpone shows and events, we are delighted to be able to announce that two of our biggest free events will go ahead over the coming months.

“These are free family events that are hugely popular with residents and visitors alike.

“We hope that by moving the fireworks to Saturdays it will give people more time to come into the centre of Blackpool during the daytime and enjoy some of the many other attractions on offer before watching the fireworks finale.”

All displays at subject to suitable weather conditions, the council says.

Due to the popularity of the World Fireworks Championship in Blackpool, there may be traffic delays arriving and leaving the event.

Take extra time to arrive and it is suggested that if travelling by car to park in the southern car parks and use the tramway to travel to the event. Alternative public transport via the rail systems and buses are also recommended.

The event starts from 7.30pm, with the first fireworks firing from approximately 8.00pm.

Blackpool hospital Covid-safety violations as dozens of staff ignore PPE stations and arrive in scrubs

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

Staff at Blackpool Victoria Hospital have been seen ignoring PPE stations and arriving and leaving in their scrubs

 

Blackpool Victoria Hospital (Pic Andrew Teebay).
Blackpool Victoria Hospital (Pic Andrew Teebay).

Staff at a Lancashire hospital have been given a stern warning after almost 40 employees were seen breaching Covid safety measures in just half an hour.

A recent spot check carried out at Blackpool Victoria Hospital found that ‘some colleagues are not adhering to guidance’ when it comes to preventing the transmission of Covid-19.

During a 15-minute period, 25 members of staff entering the hospital via its main entrance ‘ignored the safety team’s instructions and/or walked straight past the PPE station’.

During one half-hour period, 14 clinicians either arrived in scrubs or were seen leaving the hospital in them.

These included full navy scrubs, full maroon scrubs, light blue and/or navy scrub top with jeans/chinos and green scrubs.

The findings were sent to all staff on Tuesday (August 31) in a warning to make sure everyone adhered to Covid-safe policy, as seen by LancsLive.

Exactly when the spot check took place is not known.

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust policy is for staff to ‘only wear uniform within the hospital and its campus, unless they are undertaking a clinical visit in the community setting’. This is as long as changing rooms are available on site.

The policy also states when changing facilities are provided, ‘staff must not go home in uniform’.

If staff do not have a ward / departmental level changing facility, they may travel directly to and from work only in uniform, it adds. In these instances, the uniform must be suitably covered by external clothing to ‘preserve the professional image of the Trust’.

Policy also states that ‘Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must be worn appropriately when required and will be provided by the department.

Clinical uniforms is also to be washed at 60 degrees Celsius to kill most micro-organisms and reduce the transmission of Covid.

One hospital staff member, who didn’t want to be named, told LancsLive: “Staff were informed at the start of Covid regarding the uniforms being seen because people would be thinking what are you doing in your uniform outside.

“There was a staff email sent around saying if you don’t have facilities to wash your uniform on the ward you should use a bag.

“The instructions were to wash your uniform at least at 60 degrees for minimum of 10 minutes.

“When visitors aren’t allowed to visit patients because of Covid, and you have staff coming in at such a short time – half an hour or 15 minutes – ignoring them when the security guards are on the door telling staff what to do.

“They are blatantly ignoring them in full view of patients waiting for patient transport.”

The whistle-blower added that it was “not hygienic” and “very worrying” that staff were ignoring the rules.

“Staff are wearing scrubs just for ease you would think that they would use their common sense,” they added.

“If they’ve gone home in their scrubs, where there could be vulnerable people, and then come back it’s quite strange. It’s not hygienic. It’s very worrying.”

Across the UK since the outbreak of the pandemic there have been 155,465 deaths where Covid is recorded on the death certificate – a rate of 231 per 100,000 people.

In Blackpool, a total of 478 deaths occurred where Covid is recorded on the death certificate – a rate of 339 per 100,000 people which is well above the national average.

All staff at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, of which there are around 7,000, have now been reminded of the infection prevention and control measures.

Dr Jim Gardner, Medical Director at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, told LancsLive: “Throughout the pandemic our colleagues and visitors have all done a fantastic job supporting the important infection prevention and control measures we’ve had in place at our hospitals to help keep everyone safe.

“We repeatedly take steps to make sure everyone is aware of what is expected of them and recently issued a reminder to all trust colleagues of their responsibilities, including making sure they are gelling their hands as they enter and leave our sites, washing hands regularly, socially distancing, wearing masks and following the correct uniform procedures.”

Blackpool Pier to Pier Open Water Swim returns this weekend for ‘extra special’ race

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

Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE brought the race back to Blackpool in 2018 and she can’t wait to see it happen again after the 2020 postponement due to Covid

 

The Pier to Pier open water swim
The Pier to Pier open water swim (Image: Gregg Wolsetenholme)

A unique open water swimming event organised by a world record holder is set to take place in Blackpool this weekend.

The Pier to Pier open water swim will see swimmers make their way from North to South Pier in the seaside resort on Saturday (September 4).

Around 120 swimmers will head to the start of the event by travelling from South Pier to North Pier in one of Blackpool’s heritage trams before heading off on their 1.6 mile swim.

Since the annual event returned in 2018 it has been organised by Blackpool-born Dr Julie Bradshaw MBE.

Dr Bradshaw first swam the English Channel at the age of 15 and in 2002 did it again using the swimming stroke butterfly, which she completed in 14 hours and 18 minutes, breaking the previous record by over nine hours.

Although she now lives in Loughborough she was keen to bring back the Pier to Pier event as the route is the same she used as a young girl to train for swimming across the English Channel in 1979 when she completed it in a new British junior record time when she was 15.

The event is run in conjunction with Blackpool Council and Dr Bradshaw thanked Richard Williams and his Blackpool Beach Patrol team for their support.

“I am super excited to be running this iconic event, for the third year, since bringing it back to Blackpool in 2018,” she said.

Dr Julie Bradshaw
Dr Julie Bradshaw

“It is extra special in 2021 given the pandemic hit and caused postponement in 2020.

“I am always grateful for the volunteers who readily give their time and without whom this event would not be as successful as it is.

“While I lost some of the 2020 sponsors due to Covid and them going under, I am forever grateful to others who stepped in and to those stakeholders who continue their support including Swimzi, Blackpool Council, Blackpool Beach Patrol, Gregg Wolstenholme, Blackpool Transport, Sandcastle Waterpark and Max Spielman.”

The entry fee is £58 and the event will kick off at 8am with a safety briefing.

Swimmers will have will have 90 minutes to complete the course. Anyone who is unable to do so in the time will be pulled from the water by the Beach Patrol and escorted safely to shore.

The event aims to raise awareness for the LoveMyBeach charity which carries out work to maintain the cleanliness of beaches, bathing waters and wildlife across the UK.

Blackpool Guinness World Record after bouncing 17km on a space hopper

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

The mammoth journey is about 90,000 squats

 

David Kay's "moon hopper" attempt
David Kay’s “moon hopper” attempt

A Blackpool fundraiser has broken the Guinness World Record after bouncing over 17 kilometres down the Fylde coast in aid of Trinity Hospice.

David Kay, a fundraiser for Trinity Hospice and Palliative Care Services, took on the mammoth journey – which is the same as doing around 90,000 squats.

After becoming a fundraiser for the charity during lockdown, David decided initially to raise £10,000 through ‘wacky’ and different activities including, he says, “from dancing in his wellies to general motivation”.

He reached his initial goal of £10,000 by jumping out of a plane – but it was his “randomly mad idea” of space hopping down the Fylde coast that saw David grab himself a Guinness World Record.

The original world record of 15,000 travelled on a space hopper meant that David needed to bounce from Rossall Beach in Thornton-Cleveleys, through Blackpool to St Anne’s Pier near Lytham St Annes, to grab the record.

The journey was 17km in total, meaning he hopped around 10.3 miles.

Trinity Hospice and Palliative Care said it was a ‘phenomenal feat’ but ‘nobody realised how difficult this challenge was going to be’.

David Kay outside of the Blackpool Tower
David Kay outside of the Blackpool Tower

The plan initially saw David hoping to smash the record by hopping 22km (13 miles) to Lytham Windmill but with many of the space hoppers popping along the way, as well as how tiring the fundraiser was, David and the team stopped at St Anne’s Pier just after 1 am.

The route had to be mapped out as well as making sure David was consistently assisted by two witnesses and being recorded on video throughout the journey.

David even had somebody ahead of him sweeping the roads of debris to avoid popping his space hoppers.

David made his way through 12 space hoppers on the journey
David made his way through 12 space hoppers on the journey

The journey took 17 hours in total, beginning at 7.50 am and ending just after 1 am the next day.

A spokesperson for Trinity Hospice said: “He managed to do it but what a feat, he was absolutely exhausted. He bounced all the way.”

They also thanked the “amazing people” who stopped to donate money to the cause.

Trinity Hospice said David is “absolutely phenomenal” whilst he “comes up with these ideas you wouldn’t even dream about”

A spokesperson said: “We have a lot of amazing fundraisers, people climb mountains and jump out of planes, we have amazing coffee mornings.

“I said to him – ‘I’ve worked here for eight years, I’ve never come across anything like this’.”

David broke the Guinness World Record by hopping 16k down the Fylde coast
David broke the Guinness World Record by hopping 16k down the Fylde coast

On his recovery after the hop-a-thon, Trinity Hospice said David was exhausted but would be attempting a trip to the shops to “stay active”.

In the end, they believe he grabbed the world record with a “mind over matter” mindset.

They said: “The motivation he had, he would not stop, he just kept focusing ahead, it was dark and cold… he just kept bouncing.”

On his JustGiving page, David wrote: “The impact of Covid-19 on Trinity has been significant due to the affect on the ability to fundraise.

“So I am absolutely committed to doing something about that especially because they provide such a valuable service in providing end of life care to the population of the Fylde coast. At sometime or other they will touch most families and our loved ones.

“So out comes the space hopper and a Guinness World Record attempt to boot by space hopping 14 miles from Fleetwood to Lytham in under 24 hours……in one go!!!!!!”

 

Blackpool guest’s Booking.com refund after ‘nightmare of a holiday’

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

The guest has encouraged other tourists to get in contact with their booking sites

 

The President Hotel
The President Hotel

Online travel agents Booking.com has refunded a Blackpool guest after a ‘dangerous’ holiday experience at a resort hotel.

Barbara Jackson stayed at The President Hotel for a four day weekend from the Thursday, July 15 to Monday, July 19.

After her stay, Barbara decided to make an online group named Blackpool Nightmare Holidays for ‘people who have had a bad experience and left disappointed and out of pocket’.

Having shared photos of her experience online, including photos of “dirty and unhygienic” mattresses with alleged urine stains on both sides, Barbara has received a refund of £121.45 from Booking.com to apologise for “any inconvenience that this matter has caused.”

Her stay at The President Hotel on the Promenade cost £565.16 for four nights and in a post shared with group members, she advised disappointed guests to get in touch with their booking sites if things aren’t as they seem when advertised online.

Booking.com told LancsLive: “This property has a 5.8 out of 10 review score based on 753 reviews from previous Booking.com customers, which together with comments from other travellers, helps to indicate what kind of experience it offers.

“As part of our aim to facilitate smooth and enjoyable travel experiences for our customers, our customer service team is also available 24/7 to answer questions and support before, during or after a trip, just as we have done in this case where, due to the customers’ dissatisfaction with their stay, we have offered 100 GBP as a gesture of goodwill.

Mattress in The President Hotel
Mattress in The President Hotel

In an email to Barbara from the Booking.com Customer Service Team, they wrote: “We are sorry to hear about your recent experience at The President Hotel.

“We’ve sent your feedback to the accommodation as well, however, they are unwilling to provide any additional compensation.”

The email continued: “We want our customers to have the best travel experience, so we would like to offer you a Wallet credit of 121.45 GBP to use towards future travel plans. Once again, we sincerely apologise for any inconvenience that this matter has caused. If we can help you with anything else, we are always here.”

A spokesperson for The President Hotel told LancsLive: “Having spoken to members of staff what seems to have happened is this lady had complained about an issue in her room and was offered another room.

“She was offered a room change and she accepted it.”

The President Hotel said that if the room change had not been accepted, Barbara would have been entitled to a refund.

The ceiling in The President Hotel
The ceiling in The President Hotel

Barbara told LancsLive that her stay at The President was “a nightmare of a holiday” and said she would “never go back” to stay at the hotel.

Barbara collected photographs of the room which she said included “blood stains” on the mattresses, as well as “dangerous” sockets that could not hold the kettle for her room.

She said: “First thing I want is a cup of tea, so we complained and changed rooms.

“But that was just as bad, the extractor fan did not work so the room steamed up when having a shower.”

The kettle in The President Hotel
The kettle in The President Hotel

She said: “The manager offered us a second room when I complained as I was angry, I wanted to go home. There was only one room left which meant we lost our sea view. If I could of got a refund we would of left same day”

Barbara added that “more ventilation” would have been important to her as she suffers with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Barbara also recorded a video of her room, which she said was “dirty” and pointed out the mattresses of which she said: “if you think this is bad, the other side is even worse.”

Despite her stay, Barbara said she is not put off from staying in Blackpool as she believes there are some “hygienic places with good decor and good hospitality”.

In a post shared with other disappointed tourists, Barbara advised those with “nightmare” holidays to contact their booking companies and “send pics”.

She wrote: “I feel I paid a good price for the rooms at The President Hotel Blackpool, so I expected something decent.

“I have contacted Booking.com and asked for a refund, also stated the pics do not look like what I saw, especially the rooms.”

Her group, Blackpool Nightmare Holidays, has over 460 members who advise each other where to stay and where not to stay in the resort.

Barbara said: “I will use StayBlackpool next time, they are more for good standards.”