Disease control zone declared in Preston and Fylde after Bird Flu outbreak at poultry farm

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A disease control zone has been declared around Preston and the Fylde after Bird Flu was confirmed at a poultry farm on the outskirts of the city.

 

The avian influenza had already been detected in Lancashire’s wild bird populations earlier this week, but the highly pathogenic virus has now been confirmed at a farm in Salwick on the outskirts of Preston.

Defra said all birds on the infected farm will be culled and a disease control zone encompassing the whole of the Fylde, Preston and South Ribble has been put in place.

The temporary control zone (see map) – which comes into force immediately – stretches more than 10km (6.5 miles) in every direction from the farm, reaching as far as Bamber Bridge to the west, Lytham to the east, Catterall in the north and Much Hoole to the south.

Defra said all birds on the infected farm will be culled and a disease control zone encompassing the whole of the Fylde, Preston and South Ribble has been put in place

Defra said all birds on the infected farm will be culled and a disease control zone encompassing the whole of the Fylde, Preston and South Ribble has been put in place

Defra said cases of the avian flu were confirmed yesterday (Friday, November 12) when vets were called to the farm.

A Defra spokesman said: “The Secretary of State has considered the findings of veterinary inquiries at a premises near Salwick, Fylde where avian influenza is suspected.

“The Chief Veterinary Officer suspects the presence of H5N1 avian influenza. To reduce the risk of the transmission of avian influenza, the Secretary of State declares as a Temporary Control Zone the areas around these premises (see map).

“These measures apply from 8.30pm on Friday, November 12, 2021 until this Declaration is withdrawn or amended by further declaration.”

A Temporary Disease Control Zone has been declared around Preston and the Fylde after Bird Flu was detected at a poultry farm near Salwick yesterday (Friday, November 12)  Pic: Defra

A Temporary Disease Control Zone has been declared around Preston and the Fylde after Bird Flu was detected at a poultry farm near Salwick yesterday (Friday, November 12) Pic: Defra

It affects all farms and businesses within the zone, where poultry or other captive birds are kept.

Strict measures introduced to prevent spread of disease in Lancashire

Measures are now in force to prevent contagion among Lancashire’s poultry, captive birds and wild birds.

This includes:

The avian influenza had already been detected in Lancashire's wild bird populations earlier this week, but the highly pathogenic virus has now been confirmed at a farm in Salwick on the outskirts of Preston

The avian influenza had already been detected in Lancashire’s wild bird populations earlier this week, but the highly pathogenic virus has now been confirmed at a farm in Salwick on the outskirts of Preston

– Ban on moving poultry, other captive birds or mammals from or to premises in the zone where poultry or other captive birds are kept – unless the movement is licensed by a veterinary inspector

– If licensed, poultry and eggs may be transported through the zone on a major highway or railway if no stop is made within the zone

– Poultry and captive birds must be ‘housed’ or ‘isolated’ from other poultry/birds on neighbouring premises

– A person who enters or leaves premises in the zone by vehicle must cleanse and disinfect without delay any part of the vehicle which may have been contaminated

Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain and all birds on the infected farm in the Fylde village of Salwick will be humanely culled, said Defra

Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain and all birds on the infected farm in the Fylde village of Salwick will be humanely culled, said Defra

– Those who keep poultry/captive birds take “reasonable steps” to minimise their contact with wild birds

– All carcases not seized or disposed of by a veterinary inspector must be disposed of in accordance with a veterinary inspector’s instructions

– Poultry or other captive birds should not be collected together at any fair, market, show, exhibition or other gathering in the zone

– Game birds can not be released in the zone until the order is lifted

– Poultry must not be moved to a slaughterhouse unless a veterinary inspector has examined poultry at the premises no more than 24 hours before they leave the premises and the poultry are transported in vehicles sealed by the veterinary inspector or in accordance with his instructions

The 10km disease control zone now in force around the Fylde and Preston following confirmed cases of Bird Flu at a poultry farm near the village of Salwick yesterday (Friday, November 12)

The 10km disease control zone now in force around the Fylde and Preston following confirmed cases of Bird Flu at a poultry farm near the village of Salwick yesterday (Friday, November 12)

Bear Grylls gives scout’s honour to brave fundraiser who was inspired by Captain Tom

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Brave schoolboy Oliver Jensen was inspired by the nation’s lockdown hero Captain Tom to walk to help boost NHS funds – and he has won a top award from the Scouting movement for his efforts.

 

The 10-year-old from Thornton has suffered from brittle bone disease since birth and has to visit Manchester Children’s Hospital every six months for treatment, some if it often painful.

When lockdown was imposed last year and he saw reports of Captain’s Tom fund-raising walk around his garden, Oliver was keen to follow suit – and turned his determination into £375 through sponsorship as he covered just under 25 miles as he walked a route in his neighbourhood, which was in Cleveleys until a recent move to Thornton, 100 times.

The member of the 2nd Cleveleys (St Andrews) Cubs who attends St Teresa’s RC Primary School in Cleveleys was nominated for and subsequently awarded the Bear Grylls Unsung Hero award and invited to the Bear Grylls Adventure Centre in Birmingham to collect his certificate and enjoy a day out with his family.

Oliver is presented with his Scout's award by Bear Grylls

Oliver is presented with his Scout’s award by Bear Grylls

“We are so proud of him,” said mum Naomi. “He saw what Captain Tom had done to help the NHS and was determined to do his bit.

“The NHS have been brilliant for Oliver, locally as well as in Manchester and it’s wonderful that being able to help in this way has earned this recognition from the Scouts.

“He loves Scouting and really missed it during lockdown. He’s proud to be involved and the chance to meet Bear Grylls was a real thrill for him.

“He doesn’t let the brittle bones disease get him down. He walks with a frame at school, more for protection than anything, but he did much of the fund-raising walk unaided and he was determined to raise as much money as he could.

“He used to go for treatment to Manchester every four months, now it’s every six – it’s just part of the routine, and we’re all very grateful for everything they are doing.”

The Bear’s Heroes awards in Birmingham annually see 20 young people from around the country recognised for doing remarkable things over the last year.

A spokesman for the Scout Association said: “It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate the achievements of those who have gone above and beyond, who have demonstrated Scouting values or have supported their community.

“Cooperation, integrity, care, respect, kindness, and resilience – these are just a few of the qualities these young people have shown throughout a very unconventional year.

“The pandemic was tough for all young people, but these Scouts have still managed to stay motivated, overcome challenges and achieve the truly amazing.

“Our goal at Scouts is to prepare our young people with Skills for Life, so that they can make a difference and achieve these extraordinary things..”

Bear Grylls said: “It’s a privilege to have met these young people.

“I was able to look them in the eye and recognise what a horrible year they’ve had but could see they still had a big smile on their face.

“They are an example to so many of us. How we conduct ourselves in those tough times really matters, and these young people have demonstrated resilience, have kept positive, have kept kind and never gave up their spirit.”

 

 

Bird Flu outbreak in Lancashire: The symptoms and how it spreads to humans

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Bird Flu (Avian influenza H5N1) has been confirmed at a poultry farm near the Fylde village of Salwick on the outskirts of Preston – this is everything you need to know about the risk to people.

The avian influenza had already been detected in Lancashire's wild bird populations earlier this week, but the highly pathogenic virus has now been confirmed at a farm in Salwick on the outskirts of Preston

The avian influenza had already been detected in Lancashire’s wild bird populations earlier this week, but the highly pathogenic virus has now been confirmed at a farm in Salwick on the outskirts of Preston

This is what the NHS says about Bird Flu, including advice on how it spreads to humans, how you can protect yourself, the symptoms and treatment available.

What is Bird Flu?

Bird Flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds and in rare cases, can affect humans.

Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans

Bird flu, or avian flu, is an infectious type of influenza that spreads among birds. In rare cases, it can affect humans

There are lots of different strains of bird flu virus and most of them do not infect humans. But there are four strains that have caused concern in recent years.

One of these strains – H5N1, which was first detected in 1997 – has been confirmed at the poultry farm in Salwick.

The other 3 strains are H7N9 (since 2013), H5N6 (since 2014) and H5N8 (since 2016).

Although H5N1, H7N9 and H5N6 do not infect people easily and aren’t usually spread from human to human, several people have been infected around the world, leading to a number of deaths.

Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain and all birds on the infected farm in the Fylde village of Salwick will be humanely culled, said Defra

Further testing is underway to confirm the pathogenicity of the strain and all birds on the infected farm in the Fylde village of Salwick will be humanely culled, said Defra

In February 2021, H5N8 was found to have infected a small number of people for the first time, in Russia.

Bird Flu in the UK

No humans have been infected with H5N1, H7N9, H5N6 or H5N8 Bird Flu in the UK – this includes the type of H5N6 virus recently found in humans in China.

But Defra (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) say plans are in place to manage any suspected outbreaks in Britain.

A Temporary Disease Control Zone has been declared around Preston and the Fylde after Bird Flu was detected at a poultry farm near Salwick yesterday (Friday, November 12). Pic: Defra

A Temporary Disease Control Zone has been declared around Preston and the Fylde after Bird Flu was detected at a poultry farm near Salwick yesterday (Friday, November 12). Pic: Defra

H5N8 and H5N1 bird flu have been found in some poultry, other captive birds and wild birds in the UK, including Lancashire.

H5N6 has also been found in some wild birds in the UK but is a different strain to that seen in China.

How Bird Flu spreads to humans

Bird flu is spread by close contact with an infected bird (dead or alive).

Defra said all birds on the infected farm will be culled and a disease control zone encompassing the whole of the Fylde, Preston and South Ribble has been put in place

Defra said all birds on the infected farm will be culled and a disease control zone encompassing the whole of the Fylde, Preston and South Ribble has been put in place

This includes:

– touching infected birds

– touching droppings or bedding

– killing or preparing infected poultry for cooking

Markets where live birds are sold can also be a source of bird flu.

But it is important to remember that you cannot catch bird flu through eating fully cooked poultry or eggs, even in areas with an outbreak of bird flu.

There is no Bird Flu vaccine and the seasonal flu vaccine does not protect against the virus, but there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of catching the virus.

Things you can do to prevent Bird Flu

– wash your hands often with warm water and soap, especially before and after handling food, in particular raw poultry

– use different utensils for cooked and raw meat

– make sure meat is cooked until steaming hot

– avoid contact with live birds and poultry

What you shouldn’t do

– do not go near or touch bird droppings or sick or dead birds

– do not go to live animal markets or poultry farms

– do not eat undercooked or raw poultry or duck

– do not eat raw eggs

Symptoms of Bird Flu

The main symptoms of bird flu can appear very quickly and include:

– a very high temperature or feeling hot or shivery

– aching muscles

– headache

– a cough or shortness of breath

Other early symptoms may include:

– diarrhoea

– sickness

– stomach pain

– chest pain

– bleeding from the nose and gums

– conjunctivitis

It usually takes 3 to 5 days for the first symptoms to appear after you’ve been infected.

Within days of symptoms appearing, it’s possible to develop more severe complications such as pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome.

Getting treatment quickly and using antiviral medicine might prevent complications and reduce the risk of developing severe illness.

When to seek medical advice

Call a GP or NHS 111 if you experience any symptoms of Bird Flu and have visited an area affected by Bird Flu in the past 10 days.

Your symptoms can be checked over the phone.

What a doctor can do

Tell the doctor if you have:

– recently travelled to an area affected by bird flu and if you’ve been close (within 1 metre) to live or dead birds

– had close contact (touching or speaking distance) with anyone who has a severe respiratory illness

– had contact with anyone who died unexpectedly and was from an area that had an outbreak

These tests can be done to confirm bird flu:

– a nose and throat swab to see if they contain the virus

– if you’re coughing up phlegm this may be tested for the virus

– If the tests are normal, it’s unlikely you have Bird Flu.

Treatment for bird flu

If you think you might have symptoms of Bird Flu you’ll be advised to stay at home, or you’ll be cared for in hospital in isolation from other patients.

You may be given an antiviral medicine such as oseltamivir (Tamiflu) or zanamivir (Relenza).

Antiviral medicines help reduce the severity of the condition, prevent complications and improve the chances of survival.

They are also sometimes given to people who have been in close contact with infected birds, or those who have had contact with infected people, for example family or healthcare staff.

Reporting suspected cases of Bird Flu

Bird flu is a notifiable disease in animals, so you should report any suspected case in animals to the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA), even if you’re not sure.

Call the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) helpline on 03459 33 55 77 if you find dead wild birds.

To prevent infection it is important not to touch or pick up any dead or visibly sick birds that you find.

The advice and information in this explainer article was provided by the NHS. You can find more information on the NHS website here.

 

 

Bobby Ball Rock On Variety Show – a chance to say goodbye, Tommy Cannon, Jason Manford, Sheridan Smith, Sally Lindsay, Russell Watson all share their memories as they celebrate life of the showbiz legend at Blackpool Winter Gardens

Home | Blackpool Gazette

This is the touching moment Tommy Cannon closed the show on a momentous night of comedy, music and magic in celebration of his stage partner for more than half a century – Bobby Ball.

 

Tommy Cannon closes the inaugural Bobby Ball Rock On Variety Show with a poignant tribute

Tommy Cannon closes the inaugural Bobby Ball Rock On Variety Show with a poignant tribute

With Bobby’s trademark braces and shoes tenderly placed on a chair centre stage of the Opera House in Blackpool – a theatre the pair as Cannon and Ball sold out many a time in their career – veteran entertainer Tommy paid a final goodbye.

A 3,000 strong audience rose to their feet in love and appreciation of the’ phenomenal’ talent Bobby brought to generations in his 58 years of showbusiness.

Tommy, 83, said: “I know he’s here now and he’s probably saying come on just get on with it.

“The lovely is for me, in 1984 Bob and I came to this theatre and sold it out, two times a night, 6,400 people for 25 weeks – that still holds the record even today.

“So to come back here oh how I wish Bobby had been with me – God Bless Him – so it’s been fantastic.”

Bobby’s wife Yvonne, daughter Joanne and sons Rob and Darren (The Harper brothers) – who performed on the night – said they had been blown away by the response for the evening and with to the chance to share their love for Bobby with all those who adored him.

Jason Manford with Bobby Ball's family on stage at the Winter Gardens Opera House Blackpool, Bobby's daughter Joanne, his sons Rob and Darren and his wife Yvonne

Jason Manford with Bobby Ball’s family on stage at the Winter Gardens Opera House Blackpool, Bobby’s daughter Joanne, his sons Rob and Darren and his wife Yvonne

Yvonne, praised all those involved with The Bobby Ball Foundation and the night’s organisers Cuffe and Taylor, she added: “The whole night has just completed exceeded all my expectations.

Rob added: “Dad, I can see him, will be there licking his ‘tache right now – he’d have loved this, he really would. He just had this warmth but his was actually just his love for people and making them smile.”

Comedian Jason Manford said it had been a night full of variety ‘full of fun’ he added: “It would have been perfect for this fella.”

Sheridan Smith performs at the Rock On Variety Show in memory of Bobby Ball at Blackpool Opera House Pictures Dave and Darren Nelson

Sheridan Smith performs at the Rock On Variety Show in memory of Bobby Ball at Blackpool Opera House Pictures Dave and Darren Nelson

Singer and actress Sheridan Smith, 40, who performed on the evening, sharing the stage with Tommy said: “Bobby and Tommy were my dad’s favourite act and I grew up with them and then had the honour of meeting them and it just got me so emotional tonight when Tommy came on stage.

“Bobby was just the most amazing man and human being, kind and funny and to do a little something for him was a huge honour in the home of variety Blackpool.”

 

 

Blackpool’s crazy glow-in-the-dark golf course closed for new attractions

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

A well-loved attraction on Blackpool’s Golden Mile closed its doors on Sunday (October 31) to make way for Merlin’s new £2.3m attraction.

 

Graffiti Golf in Blackpool
Graffiti Golf in Blackpool has an incredible glow in the dark course (Image: Graffiti Golf)

A well-loved attraction on Blackpool’s Golden Mile closed its doors at the weekend to make way for a new £2.3m attraction brought to the town by Merlin Entertainments.

The lease for the indoor mini-golf course and arcade ‘Graffiti Golf’ ended last week and the unit it occupied is set to become part of the new project which will open at that site next year.

Merlin, which operates, Blackpool Tower, Sealife and Madame Tussauds, have plans to transform this stretch of the promenade, which is partly council owned, into a “family-focused visitor attraction”.

Specific details of the attraction are being kept under wraps however the theme will be based on a popular children’s character with an opening date of summer 2022.

This is sad news for the popular pirate-themed 12-hole golf course however where even the balls glow.

The outside of Graffiti Golf on Blackpool's Golden Mile which closed on Sunday (October 31)
The outside of Graffiti Golf on Blackpool’s Golden Mile which closed on Sunday (October 31) (Image: LancsLive)

Located next to the SeaLife centre, the building set over two floors occupied a distinctive spot on the seafront and included a mega fun-filled arcade.

The indoor crazy golf course was rebranded and independently operated from July 2017.

The owners worked hard to make the attraction a success employing a team and painting the course to give it its unique ambience.

Complete with day-glo murals on the wall, the ultra violet light in the venue gave an eerie but fun glow.

The creative and imaginative decor included pink tentacles devouring a ship, remnants of boats, barrels, seaweed and much more which were set to the backdrop of skeletal pirates that looked out from the walls.

Inside was 12 holes with each hole having a different theme including “the ship yard”, “the underground”, and “the den hole”.

There was lots for children in it’s arcade which was was filled with 2p pusher machines, soft toy machines, children’s rides, a dance stage, a boxing machine and even a Haribo sweet dispenser.

The family friendly establishment was open all-year-round and catered for adults, children, groups and families.

It was perfect for a rainy day as it was open from 10am ’til late costing just £8 for adults and £5 for under 14s with a family ticket just £22.

The attraction still has a 4/5 rating on TripAdvisor and boasts many ‘excellent’ reviews.

Graffiti Golf is perfect for families to enjoy during the day or for a night out with pals
Graffiti Golf is perfect for families to enjoy during the day or for a night out with pals (Image: Graffiti Golf)

When the news was announced on the Blackpool Attraction Facebook page ‘Everything Blackpool’ and the venue’s social media, many comments of disappointment came flooding in.

One man said: “But it’s so well designed in there. I went a few weeks ago. Other than them raising the hole on every one it’s fantastic. It’s also affordable. I’m not made of money and it’s so hard to pay for my carer too so that they can take part with me like I want. If they get in free like at some places they can’t take part though – unless it’s the cinema. Such a shame.”

A woman added:” Great ‘lil place we had so much fun here just something a ‘lil different in Blackpool, sad to see it go

Another woman asked: “We came up from Kent for a holiday this summer and visited you at Graffiti Golf. We all had a fab time! So sorry this has happened to you all. Is there any where else you can re-locate ? Sending best wishesto you and your staff.”

The owners are in fact looking for a new premises so hopefully this won’t be the last of crazy, glow-in-the-dark pirate golf.

To keep up to date with any updates from the attraction, please visit the Graffiti Golf Facebook page here.

 

 

Three swans die in suspected bird flu case in Lytham

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Three swans have died in Lytham in a suspected case of bird flu amid nationwide outbreaks reported by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

 

Three cygnets from the same swan family have died at Cypress Point in the past seven days.

The first swan was found dead on the Japanese Pond on Sunday. Then on Monday morning, the body of another swan was found on the main pond nearby.

A sick cygnet had also become tangled in some netting on the lakebed, and was taken to the Veterinary Health Centre on Greenways, where it was euthanised.

One of the dead swans at Cypress Point. Picture by Brambles Wildlife Rescue

One of the dead swans at Cypress Point. Picture by Brambles Wildlife Rescue

Mel Greenhalgh, of South Shore-based Brambles Wildlife Rescue, who attended the trapped bird, said: “I think we are dealing with Bird Flu.

“When I arrived there was already a family trying to pull the cygnet out of the lake. It was still in the water and it clearly had its foot trapped, however, we were unable to touch it because we couldn’t risk carrying the flu back to our own rescue birds, so it was a bit of a nightmare.

“Luckily the family was able to free the bird and take it to Greenways, where it had to be euthanised.

“That’s three swans in 24 hours – and there’s one still very poorly on the lake.”

One of the dead swans at Cypress Point. Picture by Brambles Wildlife Rescue

One of the dead swans at Cypress Point. Picture by Brambles Wildlife Rescue

A bird flu prevention zone was declared across Great Britain this week to stop the spread of the disease following outbreaks in Scotland and Wales.

On Wednesday, a flock of poultry was culled near Dundee in Scotland after a bird flu outbreak. Cases were detected in wild birds and poultry in Wrexham, Wales, and other places.

All bird keepers must now follow strict biosecurity measures to help protect their flocks, restricting access for non-essential visitors, changing clothing and footwear before entering enclosures, and making sure bird-carrying vehicles are cleaned and disinfected regularly.

In November last year, a similar red alert was issued following the deaths of numerous birds all over the country – with nine swans from Blackpool’s Stanley Park falling victim to the disease.

Mel said: “Bird Flu seems to be an annual thing. But it’s a particularly nasty disease. Waterfowl are particularly badly affected, moreso than garden birds and pigeons. Moor hens, swans, ducks and geese are the main victims.

“All of these swans were in their first year of life, and sadly all from the same family. The dad has raised the cygnets alone, because the mum had a broken leg and was euthanised. It’s terribly sad. The death of any swan is a shame, but these babies haven’t even had a chance at life.

“Bird Flu is a horrible disease. They are disorientated, they spin around in circles, clearly distressed, shaking their heads – and there’s nothing you can do.

“Sadly, I think there will be at least one more victim before it goes away.”

 

 

These are the latest changes to the roadworks on the A585 near Blackpool for November

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The latest changes to the ongoing roadworks on the A585 north of Blackpool will see road closures which may cause drivers some delays.

 

From Monday until November 28, one lane will be closed on Amounderness Way eastbound at Skippool Roundabout.

Also one lane will be closed on the approach to roundabout northbound on Breck Road from Poulton-le-Fylde.

However, both lanes will be open on the approach to the roundabout on the westbound of Mains Lane.

Work At Skippool on the A585 improvements

Work At Skippool on the A585 improvements

Drivers are warned to be on the lookout for heavy vehicles crossing at Lodge Lane and at Mains Lane, there remain narrow lanes in use while utilities work is ongoing.

Temporary two-way lights during off-peak times will be in use and narrow lanes in place for utility works on the eastbound carriageway at Garstang New Road.

There are no changes to the current road arrangements at Garstang Road East, Windy Harbour Junction and Skippool Bridge.

A spokesman for Kier Highways, which is carrying out the work designed to cut congestion on the busy road between Fleetwood and Kirkham on behalf of National Highways said: “Please leave extra time for your journey – delays are expected.”

Blackpool Christmas light switch-on and ice rink move confirmed

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

Blackpool BID has teamed up with Visit Blackpool, Blackpool Promotions and Blackpool Council

 

Blackpool Tower in Blackpool
Blackpool Tower in Blackpool

Blackpool’s Tower Festival Headland will host the launch of festive celebrations in the town centre this year – meaning a traditional Christmas lights switch on will not be held in St John’s Square.

Instead there will be a launch event on Friday November 19 for winter attractions on the Promenade in front of the Tower including a festive village, log cabins, light shows, illuminated Christmas trees and a skating rink.

The Christmas lights will come on at the same time.

Michael Williams, chairman of the Blackpool BID (Business Improvement District) said it had been decided to hold the launch event at the headland this year.

This was partly due to log cabins also being installed in St John’s Square for a Christmas market meaning there would not be room for the usual stage required for a switch-on ceremony.

This year’s display will include three Christmas trees around the town centre – with the return of a 40ft tall tree in St John’s Square despite it being blown down in high winds last year, and trees in Bickerstaffe Square and outside the Town Hall.

Mr Williams said Blackpool BID had teamed up with Visit Blackpool, Blackpool Promotions and Blackpool Council “to create a fantastic festive offer.”

He said: “A synthetic ice rink is offering free skating and will be the centre piece of the festive village on the Tower Festival Headland which will include festive shopping and refreshments.”

The BID has contributed financially to the Christmas lights and towards discounted town centre parking for shoppers.

The offer of three hours parking for £1 on selected council car parks will also launch on November 19.

From December 9 to January 3, the Winter Gardens will also host a Bavarian-style Christmas market with themed stalls, fairground rides, live entertainment and Santa’s grotto.

Blackpool’s last festive town centre launch in in 2019 saw Gogglebox star and television presenter Scarlett Moffat switch on the Christmas lights.

 

 

The man who spent 112 days eating, drinking and sleeping on the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach

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

Richard Rodriguez ate, drank and slept on the ride for three-and-a-half months

 

Richard Rodriguez arriving at a ballon-filled end of the Big One
Richard Rodriguez at the end of one his marathon stints on the Big One (Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

For a lot of people, the idea of riding the Big One at Blackpool Pleasure Beach is a terrifying prospect.

The idea of a few rides back-to-back, even more so. But what about riding it for an entire summer?

That’s exactly what American Richard Rodriguez did when he smashed his own world record for the longest time spent on a roller coaster.

Aside from a five minute break each hour, Richard spent three-and-a-half months eating, drinking and sleeping on the 213ft, 75mph ride.

The epic challenge was no one-off, but instead the culmination of a series of records the lecturer had set at the seaside attraction.

He claimed his first record in 1979 with a 140 hour relay at Blackpool and returned in 1994 when he racked up 549 hours on the Big Dipper.

Richard, who was scared of roller coasters as a child, was back in Lancashire in 1998 when rival Normand St Pierre challenged with 670 hours on a coaster in Montreal.

That year, he racked up an astonishing 47 consecutive days on the resort’s Big Dipper ride, to record a new total of 1,013 hours.

He had asked permission from the park’s then managing director Geoffrey Thompson to stay on the wooden coaster until he had hit the 1,000-hour mark.

Upon his completion, Mr Thompson said: “Richard has shown incredible resilience, riding day and night through appalling weather.

“On behalf of all the staff and management at Blackpool Pleasure Beach and the tens of thousands of members of the public who have cheered him on his way, I congratulate him on this remarkable achievement.”

Mr Rodriguez added: “I’d like to thank Mr Thompson, the Thompson family, the many members of staff who have been involved in this world record attempt and all those people who have come down to the Big Dipper and given me their generous moral support.”

The daredevil was back in 2000 when he almost doubled that record to a jaw-dropping 2,000 hours. As he set off on the madcap challenge, he told reporters: “I guess I just like a challenge and I hope to set the world record once and for all. And riding for 2,000 hours is a great way to celebrate the Millennium.

Richard Rodriguez
Richard Rodriguez (Image: Martin Rickett/PA Wire)

“I love this ride and Blackpool Pleasure Beach has always been good to me so this is the ideal place to set a record.”

In 2012, he returned for one final effort, this time moving onto the Big One, as he stretched that record to 112 days while also raising money for the charity Give Kids The World which helps children with life-threatening illnesses.

In total, he spent three-and-a-half months on the ride between May and September 19.

As well as eating and drinking, diabetic Richard would even inject himself with insulin mid-ride. Under the Guinness Book of Record rules, he was allowed to take five minutes for each hour on the roller-coaster, which he saved up for a one-hour break each morning and evening, during which he would eat a bigger meal than he could manage on the ride or simply lie down for 15 minutes.

He would also while away the time on the ride by reading newspapers and writing pun-filled postcards telling friends, “This summer break is having its ups and downs.”

While the breaks were hugely important, what really kept him motivated were the holiday-makers who came to visit and cheer him on.

He said: “People from all over the world came to chat with me and give me support.

“I met a little boy and girl, now grown up, who had come to see me on a similar challenge in 1979.”

At night, as the wind howled and the rain poured, blankets and tarpaulins covered him as he slept in the fetal position.

Reflecting on his experience, he added: “I love the romance, adventure and sometimes danger of it. I like the idea of seeing it through with a team. The people I met and the technical operators were fantastic.”

 

 

 

 

Review: Bobby Ball Rock On Variety Show in Blackpool – ‘Songs, tears and lots of laughter’ as sell-out crowd and showbiz stars celebrate the life of the late, great Bobby Ball

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‘You’ll do for me, cocker!’

 

Sometimes in life, you are lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time and be part of something very special and Rock On: The Variety Show was just that moment.

For the 3,000 people who packed out The Opera House, Blackpool, on Friday night it was a night they will never forget as stars and friends of the late, great, Bobby Ball gathered together to mark his life in song, in comedy and with love.

Staged to raise money for the Bobby Ball foundation one year after the man himself died, the night was a rollercoaster of tears and laughter from start to finish as he was remembered for the prodigious talent and genuinely nice man he was.

There was certainly no lifetime where we would have foreseen Steve Norman from Spandau Ballet rocking a stage with comedian Jason Manford on vocals alongside Heather (Cheryl Fergison) from Eastenders after a spot of audience participation with Russell Watson and show tunes from Sheridan Smith – but it happened due to the uniting force of Bobby’s personality and legacy.

Produced and directed by Peter Taylor of Cuffe and Taylor, this was no ordinary variety show, with a clearly emotional Tommy Cannon and Bobby’s wife Yvonne and two sons and daughter present, it was a chance to share the remarkable story of Cannon and Ball who met as welders and tried their chance as an act in the working men’s clubs of the north. 15 years later, as Tommy recounted, they experienced ‘overnight’ success and the rest is legend.

In a tear-jerking segment, actress Sally Lindsay (who starred with Bobby on Mount Pleasant as his TV daughter) interviewed Tommy on stage, recollecting the highs, low and comedy moments of the comedy duo’s enduring friendship and double act. A highlight reel of Bobby’s bloopers on the TV show, was also shown for the first time and actress Sherrie Hewson also talked of lifelong friend ‘Bobs’, and how proud she was to take part in the variety show.

Jason Manford said: "Great night catching up with old friends and giving Bobby Ball the best send off possible! There was so magic in Blackpool tonight. What an honour." Pic credit - Dave and Darren Nelson

Jason Manford said: “Great night catching up with old friends and giving Bobby Ball the best send off possible! There was so magic in Blackpool tonight. What an honour.” Pic credit – Dave and Darren Nelson

The familiar names (too many to mention all) kept coming – glued together by stellar performances from the Heart of England Philharmonic Orchestra, the NHS NW ambulance choir and some energetic dancers.

Jason Manford deserves a special word in all this; he stunned the audience to silence with his singing voice, gave several comedy open-mic style performances and was even – as he explained with half a day’s notice – pulled in to sing True and Gold alongside Steve Norman, becoming Tony Hadley for the night.

And comedian Phil Walker, a Blackpool lad and good friends with Bobby, had everyone almost crying with laughter with his oh so-close to the knuckle performance.

Bobby's wife Yvonne takes to the stage at Blackpool Opera House last night (Friday, November 12). Pic credit - Dave and Darren Nelson

Bobby’s wife Yvonne takes to the stage at Blackpool Opera House last night (Friday, November 12). Pic credit – Dave and Darren Nelson

Sheridan Smith brought her warmth, force of personality and remarkable vocals while Britain’s ‘third best person’ as he put it, the super-talented Steve Royle, had everyone crying with laughter with antics involving a mask, ‘Manky Monkey’ and an unfortunate sound man fixing his mic.

The Harper Brothers, Bobby’s entertainer sons Rob and Darren, brought a personal touch with their joyful performances, proving the apple doesn’t fall far from the physical-comedy tree.

The show ended with Tommy and an empty chair, for his pal Bobby, and there was not a dry eye in the house.

Sheridan Smith was among the showbiz stars taking part in a very special evening of entertainment to raise vital funds for the Bobby Ball Foundation. Pic credit - Dave and Darren Nelson

Sheridan Smith was among the showbiz stars taking part in a very special evening of entertainment to raise vital funds for the Bobby Ball Foundation. Pic credit – Dave and Darren Nelson

As Tommy told Sally Lindsay on stage: “He’s here right now, sitting between us.”

He certainly was.

*The Bobby Ball Foundation raises money toward Bobby’s charitable patronages the Blue Skies Hospital Fund (Blackpool Teaching Hospitals) and The Lowther Pavilion plus the Bobby Ball statue fund. All the artists donated their time and talent for the charity.

Sherrie Hewson spoke of her long friendship with Bobby Ball and how proud she was to take part in the variety show in his honour in Blackpool last night (Friday, November 12). Pic credit - Dave and Darren Nelson

Sherrie Hewson spoke of her long friendship with Bobby Ball and how proud she was to take part in the variety show in his honour in Blackpool last night (Friday, November 12). Pic credit – Dave and Darren Nelson