A £1.6m project to build a respite care centre for young adults with complex needs in Blackpool is under way.
Bamber Bridge-based Conlon Construction has been hired by Blackpool Council to redevelop the former Colton House on Ambleside Road Mereside into the new unit.
It will cater for people with learning disabilities or autism and will aim to reduce the need for them to be supported in hospital settings and also integrate people back to their families and communities from hospitals more quickly.
Previously the building was used as three flats providing supported living accommodation for people with learning disabilities.
Conlon has started work on a £1.6m respite centre . Pictured left to right are Neil Conlon, Bradley Thompson of Blackpool and and project manager, Paul Dixon
But after conversion, the two-storey modern facility will have six bedrooms, state-of-the-art assisted technologies, a dining-kitchen area, lounge, duty office, laundry, sensory and garden rooms, and staff facilities.
Neil Conlon, business development director at Conlon Construction, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed by Blackpool Council to work on the former Colton House to develop a new modern centre, providing respite care and rehabilitation for those with a learning disability.”
The work is expected to complete in October and will benefit from Conlon Construction’s ongoing CSR agenda, which is applied to all its live developments.
The contractor promises that 80 per cent of the supply chain for the project will be sourced from within a 30-mile radius of the site, focussing on the FY4 and FY1 areas, and that the development will be used to create opportunities for young local people.
Working closely with Blackpool Council, Positive Steps and Chance 2 Shine, Conlon Construction has provided Bradley Thompson, 17, pictured, with his first taste of construction work on the development, with four weeks of work experience.
Bradley said: “I have previously had jobs working on cars, in fabrication and at a small building site but the last four weeks has given me a taste of ‘real’ construction work. I’m enjoying working with such an experienced and professional team and I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’m excited for where this could take me in the future.”
Coun Jo Farrell, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health at Blackpool Council, said: “It is great to see work progressing on this facility. It is going to provide much-needed respite care for adults with a learning disability and/or who are on the autistic spectrum. As well as young learning-disabled people as part of their transition to adulthood who would otherwise have to be looked after at a higher cost out of the area.
“I’m delighted that the local community are also benefiting during the development phase. Whenever projects take place in Blackpool, we try to ensure that there is a social value impact whether that be through using local suppliers or employing local residents.
Neil Conlon added: “Young people need this type of on-site work to gain an understanding of the skills that different roles in construction require. Conlon have worked with NEETs on several programmes across Lancashire and the North West, and we are keen to continue supporting Positive Steps and Chance 2 Shine in Blackpool on our forthcoming projects.”
Conlon Construction is currently working on several projects across Blackpool and the wider Fylde region including Blackpool Council projects, the enterprise zone sports facilities and Blackpool Museum.
Blackpool carers 500km running challenge raises money for Trinity Hospice in memory of mum
Julie Dean and her dad Peter Smith present Trinity Hospice with £910, after Julie ran 500km in memory of her mum Doreen Smith MBE. Photo: Julie Dean
She was awarded an MBE from the Queen for her services to charity.
Julie said: “My mum was diagnosed with cancer three months before she died, but I told my dad I didn’t want to know which kind of cancer she had.
“Trinity Hospice was just amazing through it all. My mum spent two weeks in Trinity after leaving Blackpool Victoria Hospital, but she wanted to come home after finding out she only had a few months left.
“They helped us look after her, we had carers coming to check on my dad and make sure he was okay as well.
“It was brilliant to be able to give the money over to them, and knowing which cause it was going towards kept me going.”
Michelle Lonican, community fundraising manager at Trinity Hospice, said: “We are so incredibly honoured that Julie has chosen to support Trinity Hospice in memory of her mum Doreen Smith MBE.
“This enormous amount raised will enable Trinity Hospice to continue to care for those patients and their families across the Fylde coast needing compassionate end of life services when they need it most.
“It’s so heart-warming to hear she has endured all weathers over the 500km covered to complete her challenge and we thank Julie so much for thinking of us.”
A little Blackpool girl who was given just a 25 per cent chance or survival after an aggressive tumour caused her stomach to swell to the size of a beach ball defeated the odds – and celebrated her fifth birthday.
Cleo with her sisters Emelia and Ellie-Mae
Cleo Keenan was diagnosed with stage three adrenal carcinoma in April 2019 when she was just two-years-old.
The rare disease, which is caused by cancerous cells in the adrenal – or hormone – glands, has a mortality rate of up to 75 per cent.
Now, three years later, fighter Cleo is in remission, and on Tuesday celebrated the birthday her parents feared she would never see.
Cleo and her mum Shannon
Her mum Shannon Latham, 25, said: “Cleo has been amazing. She had a few scares last year, but between ourselves and the doctors we have managed it. She’s doing really well, her hair is growing, and she’s started going to school.
“She’s in remission from all the previous cancer. She’s on steroids and will be for the rest of her life, because she had to have an adrenal gland removed, but we’re just getting on with it and taking it day by day.
“After everything she had been through, and the constant ups and downs, we never thought she’d be here today. We were the ones who were scared, not her. She was always smiling and getting on with things, the way she always does.”
Doctors first suspected the telltale swelling in Cleo’s stomach was caused by a hormonal imbalance when her mum took her to Layton Medical Centre in February 2019.
Cleo shortly after having surgery to remove her tumour
But in March the toddler suffered from a stomach ache and was taken by Shannon to Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s A&E department, where a CT scan discovered the enormous tumour in her abdomen.
Since then, Cleo’s life has been a rollercoaster of devastating ups and downs.
Rushed into Manchester Children’s Hospital away from her mum, dad Ryan, 28, and sisters Emelia and Ellie-Mae, she underwent a seven hour operation to remove the tumour, her appendix and one of her adrenal glands.
In September 2019 tragedy struck, she suffered an adrenal crisis and went into cardiac arrest.
Shannon said: “I just remember about 20 doctors piling into the room and shouting ‘we need to start chest compressions’, then the resus trolley got brought in. Then (we) were dragged out the room. What felt like three hours was 10 minutes of waiting and crying in a panic on the phone to (Cleo’s) nanny, crying so hard she couldn’t make out what I was saying.
“The doctors finally came in the room and it was just like in the movies when two doctors come in and tell you to take a seat. We thought she was gone, we thought we were never going to see or speak to her again, but when the doctor said she was trying to breathe on her own a massive sense of relief just hit us.”
Cleo was eventually diagnosed with Li-Fraumeni syndrome (LFS), a genetic disorder resulting in a predisposition to rare cancers. Tragically, this means her chances of developing another tumour in the future remain high.
READ: Brave little Blackpool toddler Cleo Keenan has a tumour the size of a grapefruit and is facing an epic cancer battleShannon said: “Cleo has been in and out of hospital for the past two years. She’ll be on cancer watch for the rest of her life. But I definitely think she will get through it. She’s strong, and has beaten everything that has come her way.
“After her cardiac arrest, it was very scary. We knew if anything went wrong, she would get worse and worse, and there were times when we thought we would lose her.
“All we want now is to try to get back to a normal life. There will always be limitations and things she can’t do – anything high-adrenaline, like rollercoasters at theme parks and certain sports, she will have to avoid – but we will just have to get on with it.
“She has to take steroids every six hours, four times a day, and she’s really good at dealing with it herself now. She even tries to remind me about her medications.
“Cleo has grown into such a strong little girl. She loves being the centre of attention, TikTok, Roblox, and her tablet. She’s at that age where her interests are changing every day.
“The past year, with Covid-19, living with a severely immunocomprimised child has been difficult. Our other children have struggled as well, because they couldn’t understand why we were never there, because we were constantly in and out of hospital. We’re now looking forward to our family being a family again. We’re spending more time together as a whole.”
Officers from Lancashire Constabulary were called to help a woman in distress
A busy Blackpool A-road was closed this afternoon due to a welfare incident in the seaside town.
The A5073 Waterloo Road in Blackpool was closed just shortly after 5.30pm today (June 3) due to the incident.
There was also a closure in place down Seasiders Way, which passes under Waterloo Road.
A Lancashire Constabulary spokesperson confirmed the incident concerned a “woman on a bridge”.
Thankfully by 5.45pm the incident had been resolved and the woman was brought to safety by emergency service officials.
A police statement during the closure said: “We are currently dealing with a concern for welfare incident at Waterloo Road.
“Officers are at the scene and there are road closures in place on Waterloo Road and Seasiders Way.
“Please avoid the area if you can.”
Traffic had built up in the local area with commuters using side streets to navigate the closures.
Traffic website Inrix said: “A5073 Waterloo Road in both directions closed, slow traffic due to police incident between Parkinson Way and B5262 Lytham Road.
“Also closing a part of Seasiders Way.”
Samaritans (116 123)samaritans.org operates a 24-hour service available every day of the year.
If you prefer to write down how you’re feeling, or if you’re worried about being overheard on the phone, you can email Samaritans at email@example.com, write to Freepost RSRB-KKBY-CYJK, PO Box 9090, STIRLING, FK8 2SA and visit www.samaritans.org/branches to find your nearest branch.
A new ambulance station to serve the Fylde coast is a step closer after Blackpool Council granted planning permission for the scheme.
Town hall planners approved the application by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) using their delegated powers.
Shake up will see Fylde coast ambulance stations close
It means the current outdated base on Waterloo Road in South Shore, which was built in 1980, will be demolished and replaced with a new three storey facility.
Artist’s impression of the new ambulance station
It is hoped to start work this autumn, with the new station taking around a year to build.
NWAS proposes to introduce a ‘hub and spoke’ structure which it says will modernise the service, but it will also mean the eventual closure of ambulance stations in Fleetwood, Thornton, Lytham and Wesham.
The new facility would employ 263 members of staff in addition to up to 15 training staff and students on a typical day, representing an increase of 116 on current staffing levels.
But shift systems mean they would not all be present on site at the same time.
A temporary station is due to be created on the site of the former Devonshire Road Hospital for use while the new base is under construction.
Planners noted “the current ambulance station is no longer fit for purpose, it has a very dated appearance and is in need of extensive renovations.”
In a report setting out their decision they added: “NWAS have decided due to the good road and transport links to the existing site this offers the best solution for the new ambulance station, which would provide a modern response base, patient transfer unit and Make Ready suite.
“Alternative sites were considered as part of their original business case, but were discounted due to cost, traffic congestion and size.”
A Make Ready suite is where ambulances are re-equipped and cleaned in preparation for attending call-outs.
The new station will act as the main Fylde hub, with crews elsewhere on the coast operating from ‘spoke’ sites such as health centres, fire stations and police stations.
The model has already been adopted in other parts of the region after it was found ambulances are rarely at their station when they are despatched on a call.
The event is expected to raise thousands for Brian House Children’s Hospice
Thousnads of runners are set to take to the prom as Blackpool Night Run returns in 2021.
The 7.5km charity dash, organised by Brian House Children’s Hospice, raises vital funds so the charity can care for the most fragile children on the Fylde coast.
The event in 2019 was the biggest on the charity’s calendar, attracting nearly 6,000 participants who ran, jogged and walked under the Illuminations, raising £73,000 for the Bispham charity.
After last year’s event became a virtual run in light of the pandemic, the charity has announced the event will return as a live run, and will take place on Wednesday, September 1.
Blackpool Night Run is free to enter thanks to sponsorship by The Kentown Wizard Foundation, and has already attracted more than 250 people who have registered their interest in taking part.
The hospice’s events manager, Kirsty Miller, said: “After the huge success of our first ever Night Run, we were really excited to keep the momentum going with a 2020 event. It was a sad decision to cancel the live event, but we are so grateful to everyone who took part in the Virtual Night Run last year.
“But now, we are so excited to launch Blackpool Night Run 2021, and we cannot wait to see our amazing supporters under the bright lights of the promenade again.
“We’re constantly reviewing government updates concerning the ease out of lockdown, and will take every precaution to make this event as safe as possible for everyone taking part or helping on the day.
“While Night Run remains a free event, every single penny raised in sponsorship or donated by those taking part goes straight to our amazing children’s hospice, caring for our area’s most fragile children and creating full lives, however short.”
Places for Blackpool Night Run are limited, so participants are encouraged to book quickly to avoid disappointment. Sign up at www.blackpoolnightrun.co.uk.
“Please leave the department free for EMERGENCIES ONLY”
A hospital trust in Lancashire has issued an urgent warning as their A&E department copes with ‘extreme pressure’.
Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has urged people only to attend its emergency department in serious and life-threatening emergencies.
The trust looks after Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Clifton Hospital and Fleetwood Hospital.
Bosses issued the warning about the emergency department at via social this afternoon (May 31).
In a statement, they said: “Our A&E department is under extreme pressure today.
“Please leave the department free for EMERGENCIES ONLY. For non life-threatening conditions, visit www.111.NHS.uk.
“If you need to come to A&E, they will book you an appointment so you will be seen QUICKER.
“Don’t spend the weekend sitting in A&E if you don’t need to be there. Unless you need 999, contact NHS111. They can help you make the right choice.”
Emergency department consultant, Dr Adeline Israel, has urged everyone to call NHS 111, first, for non emergency conditions before thinking of attending A&E.
She said: “We have been under tremendous pressure in the emergency department because of overcrowding.
“A lot of people have been attending to different needs. We do understand you needs and anxieties in presenting to the emergency department, but when it’s overcrowded we are not able to get to the emergency patients who need our attention immediately among those who don’t need it immediately.
“Please bear in mind that our staff have also returned back to work from the second wave of Covid back. We want to serve everyone in the right place at the right time.
“Hence, I urge you to please use NHS 111 to be triaged before you present to the emergency department.
“If you do present to the emergency department you will be triaged based on your medical condition and prioritised thus. You may be asked to wait to see the appropriate team.
“I would your you to please work together with us so that we have a safe and healthy population in our place. Thank you.”
People living in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre have been urged to use the right health service this bank holiday as NHS services have noted an increase in demand.
Head of Blackpool Victoria’s A&E department, Dr Anthony Kearns.
Medical teams have noticed a growing number of patients turning up at Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s A&E when their cases are not urgent and others are failing to book at urgent care centres and simply arriving there.
They say such incidents have risen since lockdown restrictions eased and warn that the situation could impact on the care needed by those who need it most and possibly make the waiting room unsafe.
GP practices will be closed for the Bank Holiday on Monday, but people who need health services can still access advice and treatment if they need it.
“This then means we cannot treat those who urgently need our attention as quickly as we would like.”
Dr Neil Hartley-Smith, a local GP and clinical director for NHS Blackpool and NHS Fylde and Wyre Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said: “Since the lockdown restrictions started to ease, we have seen more people walking into urgent treatment centres and to A&E at the hospital.
“Many of those people could have saved themselves a long wait if they had used the right service.
“Urgent treatment centres and A&E are for exactly what they say they are for; urgent care and emergencies. Anyone attending those services when it is not urgent or a life-threatening emergency face a long wait as the patients with the most serious need are prioritised.”
However, there are many other services that can be used for non-urgent and long-term conditions such as pharmacies, GP surgeries, Urgent Treatment Centres (UTCs) and NHS 111
First, who will book people an appointment if their condition is deemed to be an emergency.
If people do do need medical advice over the bank holiday, the advice is to use NHS 111 either online at 111.nhs.uk or by calling 111 for free.
People will be asked a series of questions by trained call handlers who can then decide the best option for the patient.http://www.fyldecoastccgs.nhs.ukTo see which local pharmacies will be open on bank holiday Monday, visit the website www.fyldecoastccgs.nhs.uk
“If just one person goes to my show and then goes to book a test I know I’m doing something right.”
Blackpool entertainer Joey Blower has been entertaining audiences, young and old in the town, since 1993.
Originally from Stockport, the 58-year-old has become a well-loved comedy legend and his shows, though a bit naughty and cheeky at times, aim to be truthful and honest often “telling it like is it.”
During his career of almost 30 years in the town, he raised close to a million pounds for different charities.
This includes over £210,000 given to Cancer Research and £38,000 to Jack Rigby, the son of Lee Rigby.
Comedians often draw on their own painful and personal experiences to tell their stories on stage and now the dad-of-two, who has a four-year-old and an older son, is drawing upon his own experience using his comic skills and his platform to get out a very serious message to a much wider audience.
Around six weeks ago, Joey rather unexpectedly found out he had prostate cancer and has had a rather unique journey in the lead up to his diagnosis – so much so that there aspects that he would now like to highlight to raise awareness.
Around two years ago the entertainer went on holiday with his family to Thailand and came across an offer for the equivalent of £50 for 18 different kinds of blood tests.
Everything came back fine however he was told his prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels produced by his prostate were high which could be an indication of cancer.
He was advised to get checked out when he got back to Britain and when he did his UK tests revealed a PSA level of over eight. However, he was told a higher number, that being anything over ten, is considered a significant risk.
“This was completely contradictory to what I was told abroad and now looking back I realised I should have had an MRI scan a lot earlier on because a scan eventually revealed undefinable growth,” Joey told LancsLive.
“They gave me a choice of whether to go for a biopsy or choose for it to be maintained.”
“I think to be given this choice was a mistake as most men are going to choose for it to be maintained and looking back I should have gone for the biopsy. ”
Joey’s cancer diagnosis didn’t come until around six weeks ago when he visited the Ear, Nose and Throat department at Blackpool Victoria Hospital about an ulcer at the back of this throat.
Whilst at his appointment he was asked about what medication he was on and when Joey answered about high blood pressure the doctor then asked ‘what about your prostate cancer?’.
Joey stated he hadn’t had the results back yet to which the doctor told him his PSA levels were very high at 11.1.
After a call to the Urology department, it was revealed that Joey did in fact have prostate cancer and the hospital apologised for the way he found out.
Joey said: “I was initially shocked and upset and it was very distressing having to go home and tell my family. I’ve accepted what’s happened however and I honestly can’t say anything bad about the hospital as they’ve been wonderful.
“I’m now working as an ambassador with staff there to raise an awareness for prostate cancer.
“I don’t attach any blame to the amazing hospital staff for what happened but I think generally, when people are getting test results for any kind of cancer, there should be something like a red sticker on the files to show that the results haven’t been disclosed to the patient yet.”
The comedian is now on a mission to raise awareness of prostate cancer as before his diagnosis he had no symptoms at all.
Joey came up with a simple, low cost, but effective idea to bring it into awareness.
As every public toilet has a male symbol at the entrance, Joey recognised that if this character was wearing a badge or it was underlined with ‘prostate cancer awareness’ followed by questions such as ‘do you know the symptoms’ it would get into the public consciousness a lot more.
Together with a sticker of symptoms placed either over or a sink or a urinal , the men’s toilets seems the best place to start and Joey approached Prostate Cancer UK with this idea .
Unfortunately the organisation said is not in a position to be able to implement this on a wide scale, particularly due to Covid-19, however they were more than happy to provide the logo if it was something he could begin.
Joey added: “I’m sure that service stations, football clubs, councils and many others would happily get involved even hospitals. There are campaigns like this which have worked amazingly such as the pink ribbon for Breast Cancer Awareness.
“I think a large part of the problem is the symptoms of prostate cancer can be particularly embarrassing. Men don’t want to necessarily talk about erectile dysfunctions, dry cum, urinary and excremental leakage.
“The doctor’s finger up the bum is also something men don’t want to go through however it lasts 30 seconds and can save your life.
“There’s also a misconception that prostate cancer is nothing to worry about because it’s so treatable. This is not the case and the treatment can have horrendous side effects similar to what to what woman in the menopause go through.
“Removal of your prostate is certainly no free lunch either. It’s vital that more men from around the age of 50 onwards need to go and get tested and start talking about their symptoms.”
After exploring every treatment available for his stage of cancer it has been agreed that Proton Beam Therapy is the best option for Joey’s quality of life post surgery.
This treatment is likely to cost in excess of £40,000 so a JustGiving page has been set up to try and raise funds so he can go to Prague for the treatment.
The target has been set a lot lower at £25,000 and anything that goes above will go to his four-year-old daughter Olivia to secure her future as there is always a worry that a secondary cancer could come back.
The entertainer feels more embarrassed about the page being set up and accepting donations however than he does talking about his own symptoms.
Joey said: “I’ve been overwhelmed by the support and to be honest, I was quite embarrassed by the page being set up but so many people have made donations and contributed that it would be disrespectful for me not to accept.
“To be honest, it’s more about raising awareness and the lovely messages I’ve been sent for me which have kept going.
“Although prostate cancer isn’t a funny subject I have worked it into my shows and want to highlight in a humorous but hard hitting way.
“So far I’ve had around 20 people who have heard my story and gone to get tested. If just one person goes to my show and then goes to book a test I know I’m doing something right.”