Category Archives: People

Adorable moment Blackpool toddler took her first steps after having her foot amputated

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Willow Dodding from Blackpool was born with a major bone missing in her lower leg and now has an artificial foot

Willow took her first steps on her new prosthetic for the first time just four months after having her foot amputated

Willow, one, tried out her prosthetic foot (Image: SWNS)

Brave Willow Dodding beamed with happiness as she took her first steps on her prosthetic foot.

The one-year-old had to have her foot amputated around four months ago due to a birth defect that was picked up before she was born at a 20-week scan.

Willow had been diagnosed with fibular hemimelia, where part of a major bone is missing in the lower leg.

So parents Charlotte and James Dodding, both 27, were delighted to catch on camera the first time she tried out her artificial foot.

Charlotte said: “She’s so determined and resilient – nothing fazes her.”

The couple found out they were expecting Willow, their first child, in November 2018. At the 20-week scan, doctors broke the news that the baby had no fibular bone in her right leg.

They were told to “wait and see” how bad the problem was before deciding on the best course of treatment.

Charlotte said: “It was quite a shock to get that news. There’s no reason for it, it was just a random mutation.”

Willow had to have her foot removed after being born with no fibular bone in her right leg

Willow had to have her foot removed after being born with no fibular bone in her right leg (Image: SWNS)

Willow arrived in July 2019 at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, weighing 5lb 13oz. The two remaining bones in her right leg were shorter than her left leg.

As Willow got older, she started walking. But the difference in leg length left her struggling with a limp.

Charlotte, a special support assistant from Blackpool, said: “She used to walk on the inside of her foot quite badly and her knee would pop out of place.

“We looked at leg-lengthening but that would involve lots of operations and we wanted her to have a normal childhood. Also, it didn’t guarantee she wouldn’t need an amputation when she was older.”

In January Charlotte and James, a teacher, decided to have Willow’s foot removed – when she was 19 months old – to give her best chance of mobility later in life.

It took surgeons at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital two-and-a-half hours to carry out the operation. A custom-made limb was built for her by experts at Preston Specialist Mobility Rehabilitation Centre.

It included fabric from a floral top she had worn as a baby.

Willow took her first steps on her new prosthetic for the first time just four months after having her foot amputated
Willow took her first steps on her new prosthetic for the first time just four months after having her foot amputated (Image: SWNS)

Charlotte said: “She was a little upset when she woke up from the operation but she’s absolutely fine now. She couldn’t wait to get moving again. I remember her trying to crawl the day after her operation.

“I don’t think she remembers having her foot – she’s so comfortable with the prosthetic.”

And in May, just months after the procedure, Willow was up and walking with it.

Willow with parents Charlotte and James Dodding

Willow with parents Charlotte and James Dodding (Image: SWNS)

Charlotte said: “We’re so proud of Willow. It was a tough decision to choose to amputate her leg, but we knew it was the best option. She’s already walking confidently on the new prosthetic.”

Seeing their daughter overcome her disability has inspired Charlotte and James to help other families in the same situation.

The mum added: “Our goal is to raise awareness for fibular hemimelia and to support other families. She’s doing so well and we’re really thankful for the amazing prosthetic.”

Blackpool to honour Polish war hero with Spitfire fly past

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool Airport is to get a flying visit from a Spitfire this month to mark the anniversary of a Battle of Britain hero.


The Mark 2 Spitfire, P8331 “Sumatra”, will fly at the resort on June 27 and a special display will be staged at the Hanger 42 aviation museum there to honour Wing Commander

Piotr Laguna and the other Polish airmen who trained in the resort early in the war then went on to risk their lives fighting with Britain against the Nazis.

Piotr was stationed in Blackpool during the war after escaping from Poland and then France in 1939 as the Nazi forces swept across Europe.

When the war started he was an experienced Polish Air Force Pilot, aged 34, and led a bomber squadron during the German invasion of Poland.

He was one of many Polish pilots who evacuated to France when their country fell and he assumed command of the Polish 1/145 Squadron there, before evacuation for a second time to England after the capitulation of France.

Piotr, like many Polish airmen, made his way to Blackpool on arrival in the UK, by then the spiritual home of the Polish Air Force.

Before long and with the formation of 302 Squadron, the first Polish fighter squadron, he assumed the role of commander of A flight. Piotr was then appointed Officer Commanding the Squadron in December 1940.

Anyone recognise this hotel? Acting Wing Commander Piotr Laguna and his Polish colleagues staying in  Blackpool in 1940 at an unknown B&B. 
He had escaped both Poland and France where he had fought the Germans, before joining the Polish squadrons in the RAFAnyone recognise this hotel? Acting Wing Commander Piotr Laguna and his Polish colleagues staying in Blackpool in 1940 at an unknown B&B. He had escaped both Poland and France where he had fought the Germans, before joining the Polish squadrons in the RAF

A year later he was promoted to Acting Wing Commander and assumed the role Commanding Officer of 1 Polish Fighter Wing (303,306,308 Squadrons) based at RAF Northolt.

Sadly on June 27, 1941, Piotr was lost to anti-aircraft fire in a daring sortie whilst attacking an airfield in Coquelles, just outside of Calais.

Now the group, Laguna’s Spitfire Legacy, is bringing a Spitfire painted in Piotr’s colours to Blackpool, where visitors can view the recovered artefacts from the original P8331 as well as see Spitfire BM597 fly in a display, taking off at 11.30am, the time of his fateful last flight.

There will also be living history exhibitions at the hangar, and opportunities to speak to the Pilot and subject matter experts.Acting Wing Commander Piotr Laguna

Acting Wing Commander Piotr Laguna

Scott Booth, who is behind the project, said: “Mark Vb Spitfire BM597 from the Polish Heritage flight will take up residency at Hangar 42 Blackpool Airport for the first two weeks in June and will give Fylde Coast residents a rare opportunity to see the Spitfire up close and to attend some exciting events that we have scheduled for her during her stay.

“These will be advance ticket sales only and will include photography days, meet the pilot and sit in the cockpit talks as well as the Saturday opening hours.

“We are also encouraging local Businesses to use the Spitfire Visitor Centre and its unique Spitfire Simulator for team building events and to impress their clients.”

And Scott has asked if anyone from Blackpool can recognise which hotel Piotr and his friends were staying after arriving in Blackpool in 1940.

He added: “This photograph shows Acting Wing Commander Laguna with his colleagues after arriving having successfully evacuating his men from France on SS Alderpool June 1940. We would love to know if the boarding house still exists.”

Waiter hailed a hero for saving choking diner’s life in Bispham cafe

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A waiter has been hailed a hero after he leapt into action when a customer began choking on her food.


Cobi Barber, 22, has been working as a waiter at Maddisons Cafe Bar in Red Bank Road, Bispham since graduating from drama school last year.

The aspiring actor, whose mum and uncle own the venue, performed the Heimlich manoeuvre on a stricken woman on Tuesday.

A fellow diner said he was sure the woman “would have died” had it not been for Cobi’s bravery and quick-thinking.

Cobi Barber, 22, saved a customer's life this week when he performed a Heimlich manoeuvre while she was choking. Picture: Kelvin Stuttard/JPI MediaCobi Barber, 22, saved a customer’s life this week when he performed a Heimlich manoeuvre while she was choking. Picture: Kelvin Stuttard/JPI Media

He said: “We heard shouting and realised a woman was choking on her food. She went blue and she couldn’t breathe.

“Her husband was panicking and others were shouting but this lad just calmly stopped what he was doing, picked her up and put his arms around her, and asked everyone if he was in the right position.

“Then he gave her the Heimlich manoeuvre. The food went flying out and she instantly regained the colour in her face.

“He just carried on working as if nothing had happened. I was so impressed with him. If it wasn’t for him, I feel sure she would have died.”
Cobi Barber, 22, pictured with mum Lisa who co-owns Maddisons cafe bar, saved a customer's life this week when he performed a Heimlich manoeuvre while she was choking. Picture: Kelvin Stuttard/JPI MediaCobi Barber, 22, pictured with mum Lisa who co-owns Maddisons cafe bar, saved a customer’s life this week when he performed a Heimlich manoeuvre while she was choking. Picture: Kelvin Stuttard/JPI Media

The mystery woman vanished with a thank you – and £10 tip – although Cobi played down his efforts, saying he did “what anyone would do.”

He said: “I was clearing tables outside and I walked in and heard someone say someone needs to ring an ambulance. I went over to see what was going on and someone told me this customer needed the Heimlich manoeuvre.

“So I went to her and asked other people if my arms were in the right place because I didn’t want to hurt her or cause any more harm.

“She was struggling for breath. It sounded like the air was escaping through a pinprick or something. But I did it twice and the food dislodged. I didn’t know if it had worked at first. I waited for a minute and then she started calming down. I left her with another member of staff when I knew she was okay while I went to settle others in the cafe down because we were full at the time.”

Despite having no formal adult first aid training, Cobi was trained in paediatric first aid for a previous job with youngsters, which he credited for his instinct to run to the aid of the woman.

He continued: “I don’t think anyone can prepare you for that really, and I wasn’t thinking of the consequences at the time.”

Schoolchildren stand up for St Annes man Louis who died suddenly aged just 24

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool sports students -and schoolchildren around the country – took a stand in memory of a St Annes man who died of a rare blood clot when he was just 24.

Father and son Stanley Greening and Louis O'NeillFather and son Stanley Greening and Louis O’Neill

Louis O’Neill died on June 3 last year after suffering deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

The former Blackpool FC volunteer, who lived in Bedfordshire, worked as a barista in a coffee bar at a holiday park when lockdown started and he was put on furlough.

Like many people during lockdown, he fell into a sedentary lifestyle – which ultimately led to his tragic death, as DVT develops due to inactivity as blood pools inside the body and thickens into a clot.

His dad Stanley Greening, 57, started the Stand Up For Louis campaign last year in the hope of saving lives that might otherwise be lost to the deadly condition. Yesterday, schools across the country, from London to Blackpool to Hull, took part in classroom exercises in the very first ‘Stand Up For Louis Day’, supported by Thrombosis UK, Youth SportTrust and the Schools Active Movement.

Stanley said: “It’s a really important message, sharing the risks of blood clots from inactivity, which is what happened to Louis. There is a growing concern that more and more children are living sedentary lifestyles, sitting in classrooms all day and then going home and sitting in front of the TV or playing computer games. That’s why schools and the Sports Trust got involved, because they recognise the risks, especially during lockdown.

“Next year I’d like for hundreds of schools to get involved.

“In the back of my mind, there’s always my son, and how he lost his life and I have got to live with that. If we can save lives by raising awareness it will have a big impact, but it’s difficult because all the time in my head is Louis.

“The campaign started because I couldn’t accept what had happened. Simply from doing nothing wrong, just sitting down, playing video games and filling his time – who would have known? Had we known the symptoms, because things would have been different. Maybe we could have saved him.”

Sports students at the Blackpool FC Community Trust created a video in support of the campaign.

A spokesman for the Blackpool FC Community Trust said: “Louis was a former student with us and sadly suddenly passed away last year due to a DVT. His family set up #StandUpForLouis to help prevent this tragedy from happening to anyone else.

“Help us spread awareness of DVT in support of a former students legacy. You never know, you could save a life by sharing this information.”

Schools and clubs are invited to take part in their own ‘Stand Up For Louis’ day this month. Information about how to hold your own Stand Up event can be found online at the Stand Up For Louis charity website.

Ben’s invitation to join in his charity run between Lytham and Fairhaven

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A charity runner will be covering the one and half mile distance between Lytham’s Lowther Gardens and Fairhaven Lake as many times as possible over 12 hours in aid of good causes on Saturday, June 12 – and is inviting people to join him.


The local participants can cover one circuit or as many as they wish and can tackle it running, jogging, walking or even with the aid of wheels. Fancy dress is optional but encouraged.

Ben Burch, from Bristol, just wants to get people involved in his year-long bid, known as the Allegr Campaign, to boost the coffers and awareness of the good work of the Samaritans and local mental health charities.

Ben started in January to run for 12 hours non-stop, in 12 different locations in each of the 12 months of the year and hundreds of people have been joining on his runs so far around the country.

Ben Burch on one of his charity runsBen Burch on one of his charity runs

He said: “I hope lots of people will join me between Lytham and Fairhaven – all they need to do is turn up anytime during the day. As slow or as fast as you want, for as little or as much time as you wish.

“Walk, jog, bike, wheel – just join in – and together we will raise money for charities dealing with the many mental health and loneliness consequences of society having been forced to distance.

“The main campaign will raise money for Samaritans, and each of the regional events also donates to a local mental health charity.

“I believe that the fabric of our society is under huge strain. For years the importance of interacting and connecting in person has been eroded, Covid-19 has exacerbated this, and bought the issue into sharp focus.

“The necessity of human connection has never been more apparent and the mental health fallout, as a consequence of people’s enforced isolation and separation, will be significant.

There is hope, however, and as part of this Allegr Campaign, we want positivity to be our focus. Compassion is a central pillar of humanity and, together, we can channel and amplify its impact.

So, let’s (safely) come together and reverse the damage. Together we will improve mental health, reduce the loneliness epidemic and fundamentally enhance our lives.”

More details at is thanks to our loyal readers that we can continue to provide the trusted news, analysis and insight that matters to you. For unlimited access to our unrivalled local reporting, you can take out a subscription here and help support the work of our dedicated team of reporters.

Author of Blackpool ‘greedy little gremlin’ letter over lost KFC order gives his side of the story

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

A confused neighbour posted the note online after being accused of eating a KFC that was sent to his house accidentally


The author of a hilarious note calling his neighbour a “greedy little gremlin” over a lost KFC order has explained he only meant for it to be “light-hearted banter”.

Ian Dickman, from Blackpool, was left confused when he received the bizarre letter through his door accusing him of “tucking in to a succulent KFC”.

He took to Facebook to defend himself and say he had in fact turned the delivery driver away and did not put the chicken “into his gob”.

Tom, from Blackpool, got in touch with LancsLive to admit that it was he who wrote the note, but said he had only intended for it to make Ian laugh.

The letter said: “I know you have just tucked into a succulent KFC which to belong to me. I ordered it to your address accidently (sic).

“I thought I had faith in humanity, but BOY WAS I WRONG!

“You took my KFC into your GOB with no remorse! Any decent person would of not of (sic) accepted it. But you are just a greedy little gremlin.

“Thank you for being a tight arse. P.S. You owe me £36.”

Tom, 27, told LancsLive that he had ordered the KFC for himself and two of his friends.

He said: “I ordered a KFC and my friend put the wrong address on Just Eat and it somehow changed on the app. We did try to ring up KFC to get them to change the address but they said once it’s left it’s Just Eat that deal with it. Once we realised we were annoyed and it updated on the app to say it had been delivered. At first we thought we’ll just leave it, but then I thought I can’t believe that someone has eaten my KFC. I was hangry and knew someone must have taken it in.

“I wrote the note as some light-hearted banter – nothing in it was nasty, I mean some of the phrases didn’t even make sense, but I just thought it made it funnier to leave the mistakes in. I’ve got the handwriting of an eight-year-old as well.”

The letter called the man a 'greedy little gremlin'

The letter called the man a ‘greedy little gremlin’

Tom said he was shocked by how many people have shared the post, and admitted that some of his friends had recognised his handwriting straight away.

He said: “I really wasn’t expecting the response it’s had, I just thought the person who got the note would either feel a bit guilty or just laugh. I’m happy with the responses to be honest and people are using the hashtag greedy little gremlin.. It’s made people laugh and made some people’s day.

“A few of my mates messaged me saying they knew it was me because they’d recognise by eight-year-old messy handwriting from a mile off.

“The way I see it is the pandemic hasn’t been great, especially here in Blackpool, so it’s nice people have managed to have a laugh at something.

“It was really more for Ian who got it to have a laugh at. It’s only now that we know he didn’t take it in and declined it and turned it away. Really we should have just knocked but my mate just posted the note through the letterbox instead. I should probably tell Ian he doesn’t owe me £36 really.”

Tom said that he has since been refunded for the meals and received his order eventually – much to his delight.

And for those curious about the £36 order, we can reveal what they ordered.

Here’s the order in full:

1 x regular gravy

2 x BBQ snack wrap

1 x Flamin’ snack wrap

1 x Trilogy box meal

1 x four piece boneless meal

1 x Boneless banquet with two extra hot wings

Cost: £34.32

Service charge: 50p

Delivery fee: £1.49



Blackpool man gets bizarre letter calling him a ‘greedy little gremlin’ over lost KFC delivery

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

“You took my KFC into your GOB with no remorse”

(Image: PA)

A Blackpool man has shared a picture of a bizarre note he received through the post from a neighbour over a lost KFC order.

Ian Dickman was at home yesterday (June 9), when someone posted the letter accusing him of eating their takeaway.

In the note, the apparently angry person called his neighbour a ‘greedy little gremlin’ for taking his KFC, which had initially been taken to the wrong address.

However, Ian was quick to point out that he never accepted the food and instead sent the delivery driver on his way to find the intended owner.

He has also offered to provide CCTV footage of the delivery driver leaving with the goods to prove that the KFC was not consumed by him, as suggested.

The letter said: “I know you have just tucked into a succulent KFC which to belong to me. I ordered it to your address accidently (sic).

“I thought I had faith in humanity, but BOY WAS I WRONG!

“You took my KFC into your GOB with no remorse! Any decent person would of not of (sic) accepted it. But you are just a greedy little gremlin.

“Thank you for being a tight arse. P.S. You owe me £36.”

The letter called the man a 'greedy little gremlin'

The letter called the man a ‘greedy little gremlin’

In response to the note, Ian took to social media to try to discover who had posted it.

He said: “To the person that has put this through my letter box, you should have had the decency to knock and find out the truth. We are not the idiot who ordered his/her takeaway and could not remember their own address.

“Yes they knocked but were clearly told it was not ours and the two took it away in a silver car. There is cctv across the street if you would like to add to your embarrassment we would be happy to get it. So we owe you nothing.”

The exchange has attracted attention on social media, with many people mocking the poster for not knowing his own address.

Others have been asking the question, ‘who spends £36 on KFC?’


Heartache as Blackpool mum loses cancer battle before dream wedding

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Family and friends have been left devastated after a Blackpool mum succumbed to cancer just weeks before the dream wedding she had been planning.

Ash Smith and Michelle Jefferson Moore

Ash Smith and Michelle Jefferson Moore

Mum-of three Michelle Jefferson Moore, 40, of Park Road, was hoping to walk down the aisle with fiance Ash Smith in Blackpool this August.

She had been coping bravely after being told at the end of last year that she had terminal cancer.

Despite the terrible setback, she was looking forward to her special day with Ash this summer, with her children, Brooke, 19, Ellie-Mae, 16, and LJ (Lee Junior), 12 set to attend.

Wellwishers supported the couple and a crowdfunding appeal was set up to help make Michelle’s wedding extra special and support her children.

But the family revealed the heartbreaking news of her death on Friday June 4, on social media.

Michelle’s sister, Stefi Jefferson said on her Facebook page: “It’s with an extremely heavy heart that I’m even writing this status. Sadly Michelle Jefferson Moore was taken ill in hospital with an infection which turned out to be sepsis.

“Michelle sadly passed away at 4.30am this morning.”

Stefi, 33, of Collyhurst Avenue, has been raising extra funds for the appeal by riding 100 miles along Blackpool prom in fancy dress with a friend.

She added: “Myself and Jodie Reynolds will be riding the remainder of the miles for Michelle’s GoFundme Flamingos over the next two weeks so we can close Michelle’s GoFund me page.

“I would like to thank every single donor that has contributed to this fund for your generosity and helping Michelle’s mind be at ease knowing that there is security there for her children.”

Michelle’s funeral service will be held at Carleton Crematorium on June 22.

The family are keen to help the children as their father also died, aged just 38 in 2019.

Michelle, who was affectionately called Bruno by many of her friends, had suffered for several years with chronic stomach pain before being diagnosed with cancer, which had spread from her gall bladder.

She told the Gazette earlier this year: “I can’t thank everyone enough for helping out like this, not just our family and friends but complete strangers.”

The fund has so far raised £20, 486

Blackpool young electrical apprentice wins regional award

Home | Blackpool Gazette

National training provider for electrical and plumbing and heating apprenticeships JTL, has named Blackpool’s Nathan Pryce as its Electrical Apprentice of the Year in the North West.


After the successful completion of his apprenticeship with local firm, JET Electrical, Nathan was nominated for a regional award by his training officer for his progress both academically and practically and was chosen as the regional winner.

He received an engraved glass trophy and £100 in prize money. Nathan will represent the North West against 10 other regional winners at JTL’s National Awards, in London on September 2.

JTL’s regional business manager for the North West, John Cramphorn and Nathan’s employer presented the winner with his award via a socially distanced photo call.

JTL electrical training officer, Anthony Lett, said: “Nathan has shown strong determination and commitment towards his apprenticeship, always submitting work on time and to a very high standard. He has shown a strong will power to succeed in all aspects and areas of his apprenticeship.

“Nathan takes pride in his work and has always had an excellent relationship with the clients, as well as being polite and professional when dealing with them. He achieved good results in his college work and exams and completed his AM2 exam first time.

“Nathan has been an admirable and hardworking apprentice and I’m sure he’ll take this same attitude into the next stage of his career.”

Nathan currently holds a NVQ Diploma in Installing Electrotechnical Systems and Equipment (Buildings, Structures and the Environment) and AM2 Electrotechnical Occupational Competence.

He said: “Since enrolling with JTL, I have always striven to fulfil my potential, so to have this recognised is a great achievement. It has given me a job which I genuinely enjoy and can see myself progressing in.

“I hope this will encourage young people who are considering apprenticeships that you don’t always need to go to university to achieve a good career.’’

Layton woman who died of drugs overdose was ‘scared’ to seek help for her addiction

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Layton woman died of a drugs overdose years after falling into addiction following the death of her mum.


Lynn Blockley was found dead at her Eastwood Avenue home by her husband, Terence Blockley, on the night of February 27.

He ran to her neighbour’s house in a distressed state, knocked on the door and asked her to call an ambulance. But she asked him why he couldn’t do it himself, said she didn’t want to get involved, and shut the door in his face.

Mr Blockley then called 999 and told them what had happened. He then took a taxi back to his own home on Yew Treet Road in Grange Park to pick up an epipen in the hope of using it to revive his wife, from whom he was separated.

Lynn BlockleyLynn Blockley

A paramedic arrived at the scene just before 8.30pm and found Mrs Blockley in a foetal position on her bed, surrounded by drugs paraphernalia. She was pronounced dead at 8.35pm.

A post moterm revealed high levels of morphine, indicating heroin use, and epilepsy medication in her system. The cause of death was multi-drug toxicity.

At her inquest yesterday, Mr Blockley told the court how his wife had struggled for years with drug addiction, depression and anxiety.

He said: “We were more like brother and sister than husband and wife. We were friends from the day I saw her. We basically propped each other up.

“I was worried about her. She always said if I ever told anyone she’d never talk to me again. But I did ring her best friend and her sister. I told her sister that her sister was going to die if she didn’t sort herself out.

“Lynn had been using drugs since I met her. She used speed and ecstasy. If someone had a handful of something, she’d take it and she’d just eat it. She didn’t care what it was. It used to worry me. It worried me a lot.

“She was a heroin user, but she had been the way I had been treated by doctors in the past so she was scared to tell anybody. She was scared of the stigma. I begged her, but she said no. It’s true, if people know you take drugs they treat you like a criminal.”

Plan to stem the tide of young lives lost to Blackpool drug use

Between 6pm and 8pm, he called her eight times but could not get through to her, so called for a taxi to take him back to Eastwood Avenue. There he found her unresponsive with a needle in her hand.

He said: “I took it out of her hand. It wasn’t stuck in, she was just holding it. I knew she was dead.”

Mr Blockley was arrested on suspicion of supplying class A drugs following his wife’s death, but was later released without charge. Police sergeant Safia Swelim told the court: “Her phone indicated she was obtaining drugs from an unknown person, and Mr Blockley was aware and engaging in the use of drugs with her, but nothing outside of that.”

Coroner Louise Rae handed down a conclusion of a drugs-related death. She said: “I don’t find any evidence of Lynn taking her own life.”