Category Archives: People

Thousands of Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde families could be affected by Universal Credit cut

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The £20-weekly cut to Universal Credit (UC) will impact thousands of Fylde coast children when it happens this week, as families battle the loss of the benefit alongside rising energy, fuel and food costs.

 

There were more than 1.8 million households containing around 3.4 million children claiming UC as of May 2021, according to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

In Blackpool alone, there are up to 9,000 families claiming the benefit – equating to 10 per cent of the working population and the third highest number of claimants in England and Wales.

More than 16,000 people in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre applied for Universal Credit between March and May 2020, amid a nationwide surge in demand for financial support as the Covid crisis struck.

Aimee Leahy with her daughters Ezmarae, eight months, and Astarlah, two. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Aimee Leahy with her daughters Ezmarae, eight months, and Astarlah, two. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

But the temporary £20-a-week uplift, introduced to help claimants weather the storm of the pandemic and described as a “lifeline,” is to be phased out from October 6.

Despite the uplift having always been touted as temporary, the cut will force thousands of families in the resort into worsening financial situations.

An increase in prices for other expenses paired with the cut will throw many households into turmoil, as they are forced to fork out more money – but have less coming in.

The so-called fuel and gas crises have seen petrol, diesel and energy prices soar in recent weeks.

Aimee said the upcoming cut to Universal Credit will cause more financial difficulties for her family, despite her partner working full-time.  Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Aimee said the upcoming cut to Universal Credit will cause more financial difficulties for her family, despite her partner working full-time. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Food prices could also be set to rise later this year, as a result of the shortage of lorry drivers and imported food checks, experts warned.

Retail analysts Verdict Research also found food price rises of meat and fish rocketed by almost 23 per cent, and fruit and vegetables increased by 14,7 per cent.

Rising bills and falling income could prove to have severe consequences for families who are already struggling to make ends meet.

Aimee Leahy, 38, of Crescent Avenue in Anchorsholme, is a mum of four children aged six and under, and is unable to work due to health issues.

Volunteers at food bank The Pantry in Fleetwood are expecting an increase in the number of residents using the service after Universal Credit is cut by £20 a week.  Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Volunteers at food bank The Pantry in Fleetwood are expecting an increase in the number of residents using the service after Universal Credit is cut by £20 a week. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Her youngest child is just eight months old, and despite her partner working full-time at a waste management service in South Shore, Aimee relies on a top-up of Universal Credit each month.

“My partner works full time but he doesn’t earn enough, so we get UC as a top-up. He loves his job which is what really matters, I suppose,” Aimee said.

“But after this £20 a week is cut again from UC we will be left with £294 a month. We need that to buy food and anything for the children.

“My youngest children aren’t eligible for any of the childcare element of it, so we get nothing for them. My eldest child who is six wants to go to a football club, but we can’t afford to let him go.

Allan MacFarlane, volunteer at The Pantry.  Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Allan MacFarlane, volunteer at The Pantry. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

“It’s £33 a month – and we can’t afford it. With that money, I have to pay for nursery for my two-year-old, because she isn’t entitled to any free childcare. She needs to go, it’s not good for her mental health to be at home all day. But we have to choose where to spend that money.

“Children don’t stop growing – they need feeding. Now that it’s coming to winter, they’re going to want to be at home more which means they eat more and the heating will be on more. But our energy bills rose by over £100 a month a few weeks ago. Luckily we managed to get it swapped to somewhere a bit cheaper, but everything is going up and we’re getting less money towards it all.

“I had to use a food bank at the kids’ school not long ago, and even though I was getting ESA (Employment and Support Allowance) for my health before UC, I’ve had to look for night jobs.

“But we’ve worked out that even with me working, we’d be almost £50 a month worse off. It’s just so unfair.”

Other Fylde coast parents also voiced concerns about how the removal of the benefit uplift will affect them.

Trish Bridges said: “I’m relying on food banks a lot to see us through. Can’t work with four kids, I’m a single parent. I hate relying on benefits but unfortunately working won’t work for me as I’d be paying more in childcare.”

Volunteer at The Pantry, Julie Simkiss.  Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Volunteer at The Pantry, Julie Simkiss. Pic: Daniel Martino/JPI Media

Susan Skidmore, who hoped to be able to afford to move to Blackpool one day, said: “[It] means I will be losing £85 a month, I am trying my hardest to find a job and applying for everything and anything, but will probably have to sell my car.”

As the cut threatens to plunge families deeper into hardship, rising numbers of food bank users are of concern in one of Wyre’s most deprived towns.

Many Fleetwood residents are sadly no stranger to The Pantry, home of Fleetwood Food Bank and The Mustard Seed, delivered by the town’s Church of England and Catholic parishes under the banner of Faith in the Community.

Father John Hall, from St Peter’s Church, said he was concerned that more people would need to turn to the Pantry’s resources after the £20-weekly amount is banished.

“We serve around 200 people weekly at the moment, and at the start of the pandemic we were feeding 1,600 people a week. We’re more than capable of dealing with the demand for the food bank, but I do think there will be more people coming to us again.

“The thing is, if I’m being honest, when you’re poor, you don’t get poorer. You’re just poor. But we are certainly getting ready for numbers increasing because of the reduction in UC.

“We have single people in Fleetwood on UC who will be living on just £50 or less a week after this.”

Catherine Farley, a teacher at Boundary Primary School in Grange Park, said the school was already working with underprivileged families, so the support and resources families may need to cope with ailing finances were already in place.

“Working in Grange Park, we’re of course going to see the effects of a cut to UC,” Ms Farley said.

“It’s a deprived area, but these families are deprived anyway whether they’ve got the extra £20 or not. They are used to dealing with deprivation and we already have the support in place to help.

“Schools everywhere are also already working on catch-up programmes for children after lockdown, and teachers are so busy but it’s what we do, it’s what we deal with every day.”

Cat Smith, MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood, said the Government needed to “see sense” and scrap plans to take away the uplift ahead of a planned protest against the cut in Lancaster. She said: “I will be running the London Marathon on October 2 in support of Morecambe Bay Foodbank so won’t be able to join the protest, but I will be there in spirit.

“I fear the removal of the £20 uplift will drive many more people to the foodbank as it forces them to make impossible choices – either feeding their kids or heating their homes this winter.

“This cruel decision by the Tory government will be devastating for so many families in the district.”

However, Tory MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys Paul Maynard agreed with Miss Smith, and said the uplift should remain in place.

He said: “I understand the challenges many individuals and families in Blackpool North and Cleveleys face and how important the Universal Credit uplift has been to them. I have previously made clear to Ministers my view the uplift should remain to support families impacted by the pandemic.

“At the same time, however, I realise the uplift does not work for everyone, particularly those on legacy benefits which is why I have encouraged the Government to explore alternative mechanisms to support the financial resilience of local people.

“This includes the broader use of Local Welfare Assistance Schemes, on which I put forward a 10 Minute Rule Bill and long-term funding for the hugely important holiday activity and food programme.”

 

 

Fylde photo ace Dave Nelson’s Bond premiere is latest of many top missions

Home | Blackpool Gazette

The red carpet excitement at the latest James Bond film premiere in London was a global media event – and Fylde coast showbiz photographer Dave Nelson was in the thick of it.

Dave Nelson on the red carpet at the world premiere of Bond film, No Time to Die

Dave Nelson on the red carpet at the world premiere of Bond film, No Time to Die

Dave, 56, of Poulton, was perfectly placed to snap the best shots of all the key stars from the new 007 entry, No Time to Die – including Bond actor Daniel Craig and Judy Dench, and VIPs guests including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

There was certainly no time to waste for Dave – extraordinarily, the photos he took were in place on the pages of several national tabloids in a matter of seconds, ready for the newspapers to hit the presses.

It’s high pressure stuff, but freelancer Dave has been involved in press photography for 40 years, from the years he started as an unpaid 16 year old volunteer with the Blackpool Gazette back in 1981, taking photos of top concerts in the resort.

Over the years there have been many career highlights ,including an iconic photo he took of a then-unknown Sophie Ellis-Bextor just as her single Groovejet, with the band Spiller, reached number 1 ahead of chart rival Victoria Beckham.

And this summer Dave was at the forefront of things again when he created an England team mascot for the Daily Star – his photos of the Syd the Psychic Seagull managing to “predict” team scores proved a huge hit.

Dave, who has also found time to work as a club DJ over the years, says: “These have been very tough times for professional photographers because of the Covid restructions, like many other professions, but it helps if you are consistent and able to deliver very good pictures time and again.

“Tabloids and magazines will want to commission you if they know they can rely on you – and if you build up good contacts that helps as well.

“I’ve been fortunate to be able to attend many red carpet events over the years and I also work closely with the soap stars on a regular basis.”

However, Dave has also taken hard news photo as well as his predominately showbiz work, having been called on to record the aftermath of tragic events, such as a fatal gas explosion in Morecambe and mass shootings in Plymouth, both this year.

He said: “A lot of the time the adrenalin really kicks in, because you are up against the clock but need to get the best pictures, good enough to use on the front pages of the tabloids, if needed.”

Dave, who has a twin brother, Darren, started off in the 1980s using pre-digital cameras, with rolls of film which needed to be developed before the photos could be used – and many of these early photos were in black and white.

He said: “At the Gazette I’d work closely with their showbiz reporter Robin Duke, back in the days when top bands and artists would come to Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom or the Opera House, because there was no MEN Arena back then.

“I was there to take phots of Wham!, The Police and other huge bands, it was great experience for me.”

This eventually led to professional work, still with the challenge of having to get film developed, with certain photo labs staying open late at night to accommodate the work.

But in 1999 Dave joined the digital revolution, when new technology meant photos could be taken and used instantly on digital cameras – and even mobile phones.

He said: “It changed everything – anyone could take a picture and you could use it in minutes.

“The quality of the photos may not have been quite as sharp, but the sheer speed of the process was incredible, I knew that was the future.”

 

 

Fleetwood man’s poignant boat tribute to pal after Covid forced him to miss funeral

Home | Blackpool Gazette

When Fleetwood man Alan Smith was asked to be a pallbearer at the funeral of a close pal, he couldn’t have been prouder.

 

Alan Smith with his model yacht Bullet, which he named after his friend Tony Greenway. He is pictured with Tony's widow Janet Greenway.

Alan Smith with his model yacht Bullet, which he named after his friend Tony Greenway. He is pictured with Tony’s widow Janet Greenway.

Tony Greenway, well known in Fleetwood for running the old Gas Workers Club for many years, had died on June 12 at the age of 56 after a brave battle with cancer.

Unluckily, with just days to go until the funeral at Carleton Crematorium, Alan was ‘pinged’ by the Covid app, meaning he had to quarantine and miss the funeral.

Alan, 56, of Manor Road, Fleetwood, was devastated that he couldn’t pay his respects – and even more so that he couldn’t fulfil the promise he had made to Tony’s widow Janet about carrying the coffin.

Tony Greenway

Tony Greenway

But, weeks later, Alan found a way in which he could pay his own tribute to Tony.

Entered into a world championship model yacht race at Fleetwood for the first time, Alan had to buy a new silver hull to be able to compete. And he named the vessel ‘Bullet’ which was the nickname of Tony for many years.

Alan won the Perseverance Trophy in the championships for competing in every race, and phoned Janet and told her about the trophy and that the vessel was named afer Tony.

He said: “I felt terrible about missing the funeral. It had meant a lot to me.

“Naming the boat after him was just a small tribute but I wanted Janet to know the yacht bore his name and won a trophy.

“His name will always be out there, sailing on the water.”

Mum-of two Janet, 42, of Addison Road, said: “When Alan phoned me up and said he named the model yacht after Tony, I burst into tears. It was such a lovely gesture and Tony always believed in persevering, whatever came his way.”

Tony, who was a popular face around Fleetwood, had been working as a pizza delivery driver when he became ill.

The couple’s two sons are Shayne, 14, and Corey, 10.

Alan competed in around 30 races over three days as part of the national model yacht championships staged at Fleetwood Model Yacht and Power Boat Club last month

Club member Alan was competing against rivals from countries including Sweden, South Africa and Spain.

 

 

Best of Lancashire Awards: Emotions high as winners revealed at inaugural JPI Media event

Home | Blackpool Gazette

There was not a dry eye in the house at the inaugural Best of Lancashire Awards, which proved to be a real Red Rose celebration of bravery and achievements.

 

All the winners at the Best of Lancashire awards

All the winners at the Best of Lancashire awards

There was not a dry eye in the house at the inaugural Best of Lancashire Awards, which proved to be a real Red Rose celebration of bravery and achievements.

More than 230 guests at the Crow Wood resort and spa in Burnley enjoyed an emotional evening packed full of tales of bravery, courage, caring and community involvement.

The glittering occasion, organised by sister newspapers the Lancashire Post, Blackpool Gazette and Burnley Express and sponsored by Marsden Building Society, saw an array of awards ranging from Community Champion, Act of Bravery and Young Person of Courage to Green Champion and Pride of Lancashire.

The Best of Lancashire awards gets underway

The Best of Lancashire awards gets underway

And top billing went to Speaker of the House of Commons and Chorley MP Sir Lindsay Hoyle who was named Lancashire’s Ambassador of the Year.

The first Best of Lancashire Lifetime Achievement Award was presented posthumously to Mrs Doreen Lofthouse, founder of the world-renowned Fisherman’s Friends lozenges company in Fleetwood.

The award was picked up by her son Duncan who outlined the many community initiatives his mother had supported in the town as local employer and philanthropist.

The Pride of Lancashire honour, sponsored by Marsden Building Society, went to Strictly NHS – a group of NHS workers who were moulded into a ballroom dancing team whose performance at the world-famous Blackpool Tower ballroom enabled them to raise £25,000 to support NHS staff members affected by Covid.

The Community Champion award, sponsored by Progress Housing Group, went to Blackpool’s Amazing Graze, which never closed its doors during Covid, doling out a remarkable 2,500 meals a week to those in need.

The River Ribble Trust scooped the Environment Sustainability Award with its programme of planting trees across 500 hectares of new woodland in the county, improving water quality and reducing flood risk.

The 999 hero gong, sponsored by Spire Fylde Coast Hospital, went to Paul Markham, who bravely intercepted a firework heading for a group of children outside Blackpool FC’s Bloomfield Road.

He threw the firework away and it went off, taking Paul’s fingers and thumb, but saving the lives of the youngsters.

The Act of Bravery Award, sponsored by Alderson and Horan Funeral Services, went to Paula and Mark Bryan. After Mark was left for dead at the side of th road after being hit by a HGV, Paula gave up her full-time job to become his full-time carer and both time to raise money for charity.

The Grassroots sport award, sponsored by Burnley College, went to ‘legend’ John Pillling, a stalwart of Burnley Miners Football League.

And the Young Person of Courage sponsored by Greater Lancashire Hospital, went to Rachel Pownall, a young carer from Blackpool who has overcome many challenges to keep herself on track in life.

The Armed Forces award, sponsored by Daniel Thwaites, went to Corporal James Kirkby who has raised huge amounts for limbless charities.

The Inspirational Adult, sponsored by Excel Fostering, was Maddison Farrar, who runs Macmillan coffee mornings at school, after her grandma passed away.

The Charity Fund-raiser award went to ‘Mr Chorley’ Neil Hailwood, a charity heavyweight and volunteer in the town.

Let’s Grow Preston scooped the Green Champion award, sponsored by Panaz. The organisation touches lives by supporting and training an army of volunteers with an aim of improving and maintaining green spaces, with fresh food grown contributing to 570,000 meals for the people of Preston.

Entertainment for the evening was provided by singer Matt Philips, who soon got the dance floor bouncing. The event was presented expertly radio presenters and personalities Hayley Kay and Ged Mills.

Mr Rob Pheasey, chief executive of event sponsors Marsden Building Society, said: “After a challenging 18 months the awards was a great opportunity for people to come together and celebrate the people that make this county a fantastic place to call home.”

Blackpool Gazette Editor Nicola Adam said: “There must have been something in my eye all night – the evening really packed an emotional punch.

“Thanks to absolutely everyone involved – you are all winners and Lancashire’s very best.”

 

 

Blackpool barber Stuart retires after nearly 60 years in trade

Home | Blackpool Gazette

Blackpool barber Stuart Taylor is hanging up his scissors after nearly 60 years in the trade – 30 of them at his last salon.

 

Barber Stuart Taylor is retiring after 30 years and plans to auction the collection of foreign money on his wall for charity.

Barber Stuart Taylor is retiring after 30 years and plans to auction the collection of foreign money on his wall for charity.

The 75 year old has been cutting and styling hair at the Stuart barber shop on Waterloo Road, South Shore, since 1991.

But a bout of ill health, a mystery ailment which caused his limbs to swell up, has persuaded Stuart to retire a little sooner than expected – he planned to close the shop around Christmas time.

And with the closure of the long-running business, Stuart now plans to sell off one of the most eye-catching features of the premises – the huge collection of hundreds of foreign and vintage bank notes which were displayed on one of the walls.

Some of the notes in Stuart's shop in South Shore, Blackpool, which have now been taken down

Some of the notes in Stuart’s shop in South Shore, Blackpool, which have now been taken down

The idea is to auction the notes – brought in by customers after a globe-trotting banker pal began giving him spare notes and started a trend – and raise money for two causes close to his heart, Cancer Research and the Alzheimer Trust.

Bringing down the curtains on his career has allowed Stuart to reflect on the many hair fashions he has seen come and go over the past six decades, giving him a barber’s view on British culture.

Stuart, of Wilson Square, Norbreck, said: “I’ve seen all these hair styles come and go.

“When I started as a 16 year old apprentice in this town, the fashion was for short back and sides with a side parting and a little dash of hair product to keep it in place.

“Just before I retired I was cutting young lads’ hair in the very same style because people like Christiano Ronaldo have brought it back into fashion – sixty years later!

“Over the years we have Teddy Boy or Elvis cuts with big quiffs, then we briefly had the short Perry Como look, then lads wanted something similar to the Beatles, then a longer cut, then a much longer hippy style – and then gradually men’s hair started to get shorter again. I’ve done them all and it depends what pop star or footballer is currently in fashion.

“Curly perms were the big thing in the 1970s, men wanted to look like Kevin Keegan and the star football players, but I used to send those customers to the lady’s hairdressers up the road!

“I will miss the job because I’ve made many friends and good acquaintances; being a barber you sometimes end up being a confident and counsellor, because some men tell you things about their life while you’re giving them a haircut.”

Blackburn-born Stuart moved to the resort when he was seven and at 16 he was apprenticed to a barber’s shop ironically called Stuart, as it was run by veteran cutter Stuart Moss.

After learning the trade he eventually opened his own shop on Park Road, before moving to Whitegate Drive and then the now familiar shop on Waterloo Road.

Stuart is married to Heather but sadly she now has dementia and needs professional care.

He has a 39 year old daughter, Sara, who lives in Widnes, Cheshire, but lost his son, Alan, to cancer.

His grandchildren are Ava, Alex and Aaron, Elizabeth and Sheree. Tragically, another grandchild, Michael, died in an accident.

Stuart, who has now taken down the bank notes, said: “That’s why I want to raise money for those two charities.

“I have notes from all over the world – Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand, Turkey, Italy.

“I’m hoping to sort out some sort of auction and sell them as a job lot. It will be money for good causes, in more ways than one!”

 

Pair meet up with their Blackpool Good Samaritans after accident

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A couple who praised the folk of Blackpool after being helped following an accident in the town have staged a ‘reunion’ to thank their Good Samaritans.

 

Pauline Hogan (left) and Roy Wilson meet up with some of their Good Samaritans

Pauline Hogan (left) and Roy Wilson meet up with some of their Good Samaritans

Roy Wilson, 77, and Pauline Hogan, 65, of Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales, were on a cycling trip on the seafront near Starr Gate on August 2 when Roy fell and was seriously injured.

The accident occurred at a time when ambulance crews were struggling and the pair ended up waiting six-and-half hours for one to arrive.

But during that long wait, with Roy in agony with a fractured hip, a string of complete strangers came to their aid, before the ambulance took him to Blackpool Victoria Hospital.

Pauline Hogan *left( with Rebecca Ganchi

Pauline Hogan *left( with Rebecca Ganchi

On Saturday the pair met up with some of them for dinner at the Brewers Fayre on Yeadon Way, Blackpool, after inviting the kindly souls to join them.

Roy, a former lecturer in electrical engineering at John Moores University in Liverpool, said: “It was nice to meet up with them again, they were so helpful to us.

“We had a good night and I was feeling a lot better than the last time we met!

“I have a new stainless steel hip joint after an operation at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, where the staff were excellent.”
Flashback to when Roy struggled to stand after his accident

Flashback to when Roy struggled to stand after his accident

And Pauline said: “These people were complete strangers yet they were prepared to help.

“We love coming to Blackpool and it just shows you how nice people can be.

“It was lovely to see them in nicer circumstances!”

One of those who helped them and attended the dinner was civil servant Rebecca Ganchi, 48, who was going for a walk along the prom with husband Iassif when she noticed the pair after the accident.

Rebecca, of Bentick Avenue, South Shore, went over to see if they were alright, took their bikes back to her house to keep them safe, returned with warm clothes – and then drove Pauline back to her hotel in Lancaster.

She said: “When we first saw them it looked like everything was under control but later we could see they were still waiting and Pauline looked a bit distressed.

“So we ended up helping because it was the humane thing to do – I’m sure anyone would have done the same. Pauline was going to get a taxi back and it would have cost her a fortune!

“It was so nice to see them again and Roy looked really well.”

The evening was also attended by Rebecca’s brother Karl, who looked after the bikes when she and Iasiff went on holiday a few days after the incident..

Pauline is a Rotarian and also had help when she rang a friend in Wales and a Rotary member from Lytham known only as Shelley rushed down to help them as well.

Another kind helper, a BMX rider called Keith who stayed with the pair all day, sadly could not be traced.

Pauline added: “It was a shame the others couldn’t be there but it was a lovely evening.”

 

 

Former Fylde music teacher Brenda dies, aged 99

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A former music teacher also renowned as producer, musical director and choreographer of amateur theatre productions has died aged 99.

 

Brenda Skyrme died just a few days before what would have been her 100th birthday and her funeral is at St Margaret’s Church, St Annes on Tuesday, September 28.

She leaves a husband Gwynne, who is 99, son Martin and daughters Marion and Sarah, and was also a dedicated grandmother and great-grandmother.

After moving to St Annes from Bristol in the 1950s, she became involved at St Margaret’s and proceeds from her production Out of the Blue contributed towards the building of the current church.

Brenda Skyrme

Brenda Skyrme

She sang in the St Annes Amateur Operatic Society, was a producer, musical director and choreographer at Our Lady Star of the Sea along with directing many gang shows and also taught at the Blackpool and the Fylde college.

During the 1970s, Brenda owned a fashion shop Madeleine Gowns in St Annes and for many years, taught piano and singing, the latter until she was 93 years old.

Daughter Marion said: “She was a committed Christian, a supportive friend to many, a loving wife, mother, grandmother and great grandmother.

“She was a lively character with an active mind and throughout her life her two great loves have always been music and painting – the family home is full of her work.

“Her skills and interests have been extensive, from dressmaker to milliner, gardener, and a skilled ballroom dancer and we are thankful for her life.”

Donations in Brenda’s memory are being invited for the Mother’s Union. Inquiries to Lytham Funeral Services tel. 01253 733909.

It 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.

 

 

Blackpool apprentices earn top marks and a James Bond film premier

Home | Blackpool Gazette

A Blackpool duo are celebrating after passing their apprenticeship with Aptus Utilities and achieving some of the highest marks in the UK.

 

Connah Trevelyan and Ethan Goulding, both 18, secured distinctions and are heading to London for a VIP trip to the premier of the new James Bond movie No Time to Die as a reward.

Both have been offered a permanent contract with Aptus, which installs the critical infrastructure that provides water, gas and electricity to new build residential and commercial developments.

The award-winning two-year apprenticeship scheme was devised by Bolton headquartered Aptus in 2015 to help tackle a severe skills shortage in the construction industry.

Ethan Goulding and Connah Trevelyan

Ethan Goulding and Connah Trevelyan

Combining on the job training and classroom learning, delivered by further education college Utility and Construction Training (UCT), it leads to nationally recognised qualifications.

Steve Hyde, business development director at UCT, said: “The attitude and commitment of the learners has been excellent throughout the programme and, together with the proactive support from the Aptus management team, has resulted in this successful outcome.”

In recognition of their results, the newly qualified apprentices are being treated to a Bond-themed all expenses trip to London, where they’ll travel down the Thames in a speedboat before walking the red carpet to take their seats at the premier of the latest Bond film, No Time To Die.

Connah said: “All the hard work I’ve put in has paid off. Learning and getting paid as you go is great. I’ve really enjoyed learning new things, not just about work but life as well. It’s hard at the start but really worth sticking with.”

Ethan said: “I’m so proud to have got a distinction. I’ve really enjoyed the course and making new mates. I’ve enjoyed the practical bits and being on site with the Aptus team most.”

Aptus managing director Lisa Kerford said: “Our sector is facing a severe skills shortage so we decided to address this head-on by creating our very own apprenticeship scheme. Basically, we’re growing our own talent.

“We are big believers in apprenticeships and so far, have had over 40 young people train and qualify across a range of courses. They have gone on to enjoy careers as project managers, estimators, health and safety advisers, design engineers, electric jointers, gas engineers, warehouse operatives and business administrators.”

 

 

The Blackpool ‘Pier Fear’ wrestlers keeping Jordan Banks in ‘everyone’s thoughts’

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“Jordan would love it . He loved wrestling and we hope the event brings everyone together.”

 

Jordan Banks did a lot to keep smiles on the faces of police officers during lockdown
Jordan Banks did a lot to keep smiles on the faces of police officers during lockdown

A wrestling night that promises to be “non-stop action” is coming to Blackpool later this year.

Morecambe-based Odyssey Pro Wrestling is bringing ‘Pier Fear’ to the Layton Institute on Westcliffe Drive.

The family friendly event is a chance to see homegrown stars and professional wrestlers Ryan Hunter and RPD (Ryan Paul Davies) in action.

The event, on November 20, will feature the debut of the “Blackpool Raffle”.

The Blackpool show will be a tribute to nine-year-old Jordan Banks who died in May of this year after being struck by lightning whilst playing football.

As well as LFC, Jordan also loved wrestling.

Layton Institute
Layton Institute

Mum, 38-year-old Danielle Banks, told LancsLive: “We know Ryan (RPD) and he kindly offered to do something in Jordan’s memory. It’s another lovely gesture that just keeps Jord in everyone’s thoughts.

“Jordan would love it . He loved wrestling and we hope the event brings everyone together. He loved stuff like that and we know he would of loved all the chants and crowd stuff. We really appreciate everything they are doing and it raises awareness for some fab local causes too.”

Ryan Davies is a personal trainer and professional boxer from Blackpool who made the transition to professional wrestling.

He also owns and runs the Davies Boxing Gym, a professional boxing gym and fitness centre, based on the Fylde Coast.

“I’ve been friends with the family for years as they used to come a support me when I was boxing,” said Ryan.

“After I transitioned over to Pro Wrestling they brought Jordan to come and support me in that as well! I just want to do something to honour his memory and show I appreciated that support.

“I can’t say enough good things out Odyssey- it’s them that have allowed me to do this and think it’s a really beautiful touch. Really want the night to be a success for Jordan, his family and all the kids and fans who come up watch!”

Doors open at 6.30pm with VIP doors from 6pm.

Advanced tickets are £8 with tickets on the doors priced at £10.

VIP tickets, including pre-show meet and greet and front row seat, is £15.

To find out more about ‘Pier Fear’, please visit the Odyssey Wrestling website here.