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You are in: Stoke & Staffordshire > About Staffordshire > Staffordshire Life > This Week

Staffordshire's Community Life
A look at human-interest stories in the county, day by day

If you're looking for a run-down of the daily BBC coverage of serious news in the county, please go to the BBC News Search and type in "Staffordshire" - and you'll get the full day by day list

See Full Archives

April, May & June 2005
Newest stories at the top, ie in date reverse order


Bumpy ride 28/06/05
A stretch of dual carriageway in East Staffordshire has been labelled as the worst road in Britain. A poll of motorists has revealed the A50 at Uttoxeter is the bumpiest in the country, described by them as a "highway to hell" which is full of potholes. Some complained about the odd bump - others said they were always hitting their head on the roof of their car.
video camera symbol
See - A50 Worst Road
A video report from BBC Midlands Today TV
(You need Real Player to watch)
It's not the first time people have moaned about the A50 - people in the village of Doveridge say it's it need of resurfacing because it creates so much noise. The A50, linking the M1 to the M6, was built in the late 1990s.

Trentham has awoke
The company which is developing the Trentham Gardens site says it's stuck for a new name. Trentham Leisure is unsure about using the venue's original title because it looks back rather than forwards.
When work to re-develop the Gardens began the £100m project was called "Trentham Awakes". But now the Garden centre, shops and restaurants are open, and with work on the grounds and Monkey Park progressing, the managers want to find a new name for the site.

Song for Elvis
Songwriter Geoff Morrow has had a dream come true. He wrote a number of songs for Elvis Presley but the King died before he could complete all of them.
video camera symbol
See - Elvis Song
A video report from BBC Midlands Today TV's Laura McMullan
(You need Real Player to watch)
Now one of the unrecorded songs has been taken up and recorded by Staffordshire's leading Elvis impersonator Gordon Hendricks.

Staffs disappears
Staffordshire Building Society is to disappear from the High Street, killing off more than 100 years of history following its recent amalgamation. Bought by bigger rival the Portman Building Society in a merger deal two years ago, The Staffordshire is to disappear as an independent name. 23/6/05

Harry fights for life
Four weeks ago, three year old Harry Durose from Cheadle was found to have a brain-stem tumour.
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See - Harry Durose report
A video report from BBC Midlands Today TV
(You need Real Player to watch)
If the condition is left untreated the toddler could die within eight weeks. Fundraising is under way to raise enough cash to pay for surgery in Australia. 23/6/05

Conservatives retain seat Veteran Tory Sir Patrick Cormack was today back in power in South Staffordshire, completing the final piece of the General Election jigsaw. The postponed contest took place seven weeks after the rest of the country went to the polls because of the death of Liberal Democrat candidate Jo Harrison. 23/6/05
See our Elections pages

Wedcam Thanks to webcam technology, some register offices are now enabling relatives from right across the world to witness a couple's wedding ceremony.
video camera symbol
See - Wedcam
A video report from BBC Midlands Today TV
(You need Real Player to watch)
The first in the region has been installed, in Stoke on Trent. See website 21/6/05

Black & Asian officers needed Staffordshire police says it wants more women and people from ethnic minorities to apply for jobs with the force. Last year the number of ethnic minority staff working for Staffordshire police increased by only three. At the same time the number of female staff went up by 29. But the force says it's succeeded in recruiting more special constables - 76 were appointed out of over 400 applications. 20/6/05

No loans for kids plea A Stoke-on-Trent MP is trying to ban loan companies from advertising on children's TV. he MP for Stoke-on-Trent South, Rob Flello, says he's worried about the impact such commercials have on youngsters, and he says they're a cynical way of lenders getting to the parents. 20/6/05

Ban the Frog The infamous Crazy Frog ring tone is making a big splash at Alton Towers - for all the wrong reasons. The people who run the Staffordshire theme park have decided to ban the chart topping tone for this week, after a survey of customers found over three quarters of them hated it. Anyone caught playing the tune will be soaked by a team of people with water pistols. 20/6/05

Monkeying about in Stoke A unique wildlife park's about to open at Trentham Gardens in Stoke on Trent, promising the chance for visitors to see monkeys roaming free. It will be the only attraction of its kind in the country. 18/6/05

Birthday honours from in and around Staffordshire 11/6/05
Among the high-flyers honoured by the Queen are John William Heminsley - Development, Landscape and Conservation manager at Cannock Chase District Council. For services to Local Government, he receives an OBE. He's joined by the head of Mitchell High School in Stoke-on-Trent, Debbie Sanderson, who also gets an OBE.
Philip Craven, the President of the International Paralympic Committee who's from Crewe is to be knighted and Dr David Collins, the principal of South Cheshire College gets a CBE. Cheshire's Chief Fire Officer, Steve McGurk becomes a CBE.
Ms Linda Ann Barnett gets an MBE for services to the Victim Support Scheme, in Leek, Staffordshire. For services to the Police, Mrs Janet Riley also has an MBE as Divisional Officer for Staffordshire Special Constabulary.

Less well known recipients of honours include the head cook at Oxley first school in Biddulph, Beth Biddulph, who gets an OBE. Frank Bailey from Stoke-on-Trent becomes an MBE for his services to the Black Watch Association and Peter Axson has an MBE for his services to swimming in Congleton.

Councillor says yes to wind farms
Plans to build a wind farm in South Staffordshire could help tackle problems in the area according to a local councillor. Developers want to put six 400 foot turbines on the site of the former Bleak House colliery near Cannock Chase , claiming they'd generate enough electricity to feed ten to twelve thousand homes - even though residents have expressed concern about the impact the wind farm could have on the local environment. But Bob Merry, the acting Chairman of Heath Hayes Parish Council, says a small wind farm could provide the solution to the area's regular power cuts. 10/6/05

Actor does well A young Burton actor will feature in a TV serial later this year that'll be seen by millions of people across the world. 21-year-old Mani Liaqat has won a part in Cold Fire, which is about Asians living in Britain, and which'll be broadcast on the international satellite channel Bollywood Blockbusters. He hopes it'll be the start of something big - and thanks his family in Burton for their support. 9/6/05

New cameras Speed cameras which calculate your average driving speed over several miles are being used on the M6 in south Cheshire. They'll be used through the roadworks between junctions 16 and 17 and drivers are being warned if they're over the limit they will be fined.
They're different from the more familiar GATSO cameras, which only track speed over short fixed distances - but Paul Hupton from the Highways Agency insists the new cameras are purely there for safety reasons. 9/6/05
See our Speed Camera pages

Potts Pub of the Year The Bull's Head in St John's Square, Burslem, has been voted Community Pub of the Year by members of the Potteries Pub Preservation Group. The pub was chosen from a short-list of 41 hostelries with the Foxley in Milton finishing 2nd and the Beehive in Penkhull in 3rd place. Mervyn Edwards, Spokesman for PPPG, said: "Apart from the quality of the beers, the Bull's Head is a great pub for conversation, as it is never noisy or rowdy. The coal fire in the lounge is a real attraction during the winter months and the Real Ales change regularly. Many of the brewery's ales recall the Titanic disaster of 1912 - White Star, Captain Smith and Wreckage to name three!" 7/6/05

Undistinguished Burton? Claims that Burton is a "clone town" lacking distinctive shops are rubbish, according to town officials. A survey by the New Economics Foundation compared the high streets of one hundred and three towns in Britain to see if they had the same chain stores. Burton was rated as one of the ten with the least local identity. 7/6/05
See our Burton pages

Keele orgasm report Scientists at North Staffordshire's Keele University contributed to a report on the female orgasm. 7/06/05.
See full story

Ground-shaking An earth tremor hit North Staffordshire during the night. It was felt in Newcastle, Birches Head, Basford and Sneyd Green about 2.30am. Geologists say they're convinced the tremor was caused by old mining works. 7/6/05

Beswick brand saved John Sinclair, a Yorkshire business man, has purchased the Beswick brand, including production moulds and archive material, from Royal Doulton. Beswick is famous for ceramic sculptures of animals - especially horses. John Sinclair explained: “I have an immense respect and love for the Beswick brand and so I have bought it to save it from extinction. I am committed to manufacturing a small, hand-painted range in Stoke on Trent, which will appeal to collectors. Commercially, I recognise the pressures existing within UK manufacture today and, therefore, a second range will be made overseas.”
Beswick was founded in 1894 by James Wright Beswick in Longton, Stoke on Trent. From the mid 1930s figures, animals and other novelty character wares became a major part of production, and the first naturalistically modelled and named horse, Bois Russell, was introduced in 1938. After three generations of family ownership there were no natural successors and in 1969 the business was sold to Royal Doulton. 06/06/05

Staff at Alton Towers are trying to find homes for 200 gnomes left behind by visitors.
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See - the Gnomes at Alton Towers!
A video report from BBC Midlands Today TV - May 2005
Watch at 56k (lo-res) or 256k (hi-res)
(You need Real Player to watch)
Bosses at the Staffordshire attraction offered free entry to anyone who arrived accompanied by a gnome throughout May, but the gnomes who gained their owners free entry do not seem to have captured their owners' affections permanently!

BBC stalwart dies One of the founding members of staff at BBC Radio Stoke has died. Arthur Wood worked at the station when it went on air in 1968. He'd previously been working as a school teacher and went on to become Radio Stoke's education producer. He produced programmes teaching listeners how to read, and produced a major series about canals called 'On the Cut'. Arthur was also a talented jazz musician. 01/06/05
Do you remember Arthur? Make your tribute


Rob for Hyde Park Sir Bob Geldof has unveiled the plans for a series of free concerts on July the second to put pressure on leaders of the World's richest countries to tackle global poverty. There'll be five Live 8 gigs - in London, Philadelphia, Berlin, Paris and Rome.
Among the acts playing at Hyde Park in London will be Coldplay, Elton John, Sir Paul McCartney, REM, Madonna, U2 and Stoke on Trent's own Robbie Williams 31/05/05

Staffords' Iraq death The Ministry of Defence have confirmed the death of Lance Corporal Alan Brackenbury, who was serving with A Squadron, part of the 1 STAFFORDS battlegroup, has been killed in Iraq. He was from Yorkshire. Alan's father said his son: "loved being in the army - it was all he had ever wanted to do. "He was immensely proud to be a soldier and we were immensely proud that he was a soldier. It is some comfort to us, as we grieve for Alan, that he died doing what he loved so much." 30/05/05
See BBC Report

Grass power Britain's first major electricity plant to be fuelled by grass is to be built in Staffordshire. The development agency Advantage West Midlands has approved a grant of over £900,000 towards the construction of the power station in Eccleshall. 30/5/05

Legal to listen - for free Library users in Staffordshire are the first in the country to be able to access more than 80,000 pieces of music online for free. They'll be able to listen to the classical and jazz tracks at libraries or at home after getting a password at the county council's Shire Hall Library's music department. See full story

Nathan exits
Strictly Dance Fever star Nathan Potter was close - but not close enough. The Tamworth lad and his partner Kirsty Cullen just failed to make it to the final. Nathan grew up in Staffordshire, going to Polesworth Comprehensive and proved so popular on the show that even when he injured his foot and could not dance for a week, or even when judges gave the pair the lowest scores, viewers voted for them and kept them in the competition. Nathan now lives in Eastbourne, though his family remain in Tamworth. 28/05/05
See Nathan & Kirsty's page

Rob gets waxy Believe it or not, anyone can now kiss Robbie Williams - for just a few pounds. The trouble is that youll not be kissing the real Robbie but a waxwork version of him... See full story. 27/05/05

No trouble here Police in Uttoxeter say a new film to be shot there this summer could give a false impression of the town. The Uttoxeter-born film-maker Shane Meadows will tell a story of skinheads and racism in the 1980s, based largely on his own experiences as a teenager there, in the film "Oi! This is England". Inspector Andy Mason, who's is in charge of policing in Uttoxeter, says he doesn't believe the town has ever had a problem. 20/5/05
See our Shane Meadows pages

Junior Mastermind An 11 year old boy from Stafford faced questions from John Humphries, when he competed in tonight's episode of Mastermind.
Hear - Matthew Potter
BBC Stoke's Matt Lee talks to the Junior Mastermind
(You need Real Player to access this report)
Matthew Potter's specialist subject was the history of the English Longbow. The pupil at Parkside Primary says sitting in the big black Mastermind chair was a nerve-wracking experience but he just had to give it a go. 19/05/05

BBC Award The BBC in the Midlands has won a prestigious award for its weekly half hour documentary programme Inside Out. The annual Ruby Awards saw BBC reporters Jacob Hickey, Ashley Blake and Andrew Tomlinson collect the prize for "Best Current Affairs Programme". Inside Out won the award for their documentary Seige Village, the story of Yoxall in Staffordshire where animal rights activists turned a peaceful protest into a hate campaign. 17/5/05

Daughter talks The daughter of Ada Hopkinson, a 94 year old woman from the Staffordshire Moorlands who was injured in an attack at her home in Leek last month, has been talking about her mother's ordeal.
Hear - Ada Hopkinson's daughter
BBC Stoke's Janine Machin talks to Ada Hopkinson's daughter, Pat Davis, about her mother's injuries
(You need Real Player to access this report)
Mrs Hopkinson's been in hospital since the night of March the 17th. 16/05/05

Worth a Million A line up of celebrities helped raise more than #1 million for charity at a glittering ball hosted by North Staffordshire billionaire business tycoon John Caudwell. The Emerald Charity Ball 2005, organised in aid of The Caudwell Charitable Trust, was held at the mobile phone mogul's historic home, Broughton Hall, near Eccleshall on Saturday. Guests were able to mingle with model Leilani, Mylene Klass of Hearsay fame and talk show host Esther Rantzen. Big Brother star Jade Goody was also strutting her stuff at the event along with Tony Christie.
Glamour model Jordan, real name Katie Price, patron of the charity, was unable to attend the ball because she was feeling unwell but sent a message via video link. The event attracted more than 1,600 people and an auction raised #335,000 with prizes including a diamond necklace worth £50,000 which was sold for £24,000 and the chance to take part in a national record attempt which was snapped up for #9,000. All of the money raised will help sick and abused children across Staffordshire, the Midlands and the North West by providing medical equipment and specialist therapies. 16/05/05
See photos of the 2003 Ball

50 years non-stop One of the most familiar faces to shoppers in Burton is retiring after 50 years' unbroken service. Peter Miller joined the menswear store Montague Burton Limited on 9th May 1955, and has worked there - and at its successor, Burtons - ever since. 9/5/05

No change In the local authority elections, Labour's majority on Staffordshire County Council shrunk as seats were claimed by the Conservatives, but it retained control. Meanwhile, the Conservatives retained control of Cheshire County Council, but by a majority of just one - two fewer than in 2001. In the general election, all seats in Staffordshire were held. However, voters in South Staffordshire will choose their MP on June the 23rd. Polling day for the area was delayed following the death of the Liberal Democrat candidate Jo Harrison. People will also be asked to vote on that day for the county council elections for the Kinver area. 06/05/05
See the results in full

Gastro pub A prize-winning East Staffordshire chef is hoping his 32 gold medals will help put his quiet village pub on the national map. Matthew Shropshall is chef - and landlord - at the Royal Oak in Kings Bromley, and has just finished seventh in a scholarship run by famous chefs Michel and Albert Roux. Matthew says one reason for his success is his insistence on using local produce. 6/5/05
See our Eating Out pages

Million dollar man
On a trip to Las Vegas, Stoke on Trent businessman Paul Maxfield entered an open Poker championship - and, to his surprise, progressed right through to the final. Three times he had cancelled his flight home as he kept winning in the World Poker Tour Championship, eventually picking up a $1,700,000 - or £900,000. 04/05/05
See the story in full


Christie comes to V Sixties crooner Tony Christie is to perform alongside the likes of Franz Ferdinand, Oasis, Scissor Sisters and The Prodigy at this year's V Festival at Weston Park, Staffordshire. The singer has recently found a new generation of fans and cult status following the re-release of his classic (Is This The Way To) Amarillo? with comedian Peter Kay. 30/04/05
See our V Festival Pages

Unity House date One of Stoke on Trent's most well known empty buildings will now be demolished by October. Delayed work to take down the building will start in the next few weeks, now that a specialist contractor has been appointed. By June, floors 18 to seven will come down and in August the rest of the stories will be demolished. The city council says almost all of the materials such as bricks and steel will be recycled. 29/04/05
See the story in full

Pounds lighter One woman from Staffordshire has just lost eighteen stone. Linda Whalley from Newcastle Under Lyme found herself weighing nearly 31 stones after she was made redundant and then went through a series of family tragedies. But after joining a slimming club, her dress size shrunk from a size 40 to 14 - and she's won a national slimming award. She'll get £3,000 and a day at the Ritz in London. 28/04/05

Health service given 'star' rating A six week health clinic for members of Burton's Caribbean Association (BCA) has been given the thumbs up. East Staffordshire Primary Care Trust's 'STAR' project gave people advice and guidance on topics such as fitness, diet/nutrition, stress and stopping smoking. The project moves to the Princess Street Resource Centre on 13th May.

Webmasters international success? Students from Staffordshire University are sharing the platform with the Tate Gallery, the BBC, and Jamie Oliver in an international competition to recognise the world's best web sites. The Webby Awards, the leading international honour for web sites, this week nominated Hyperstaffs for the best web site in the student category. The Hyperstaffs web site is produced by students on the Interactive Multimedia degree course and is designed to help children with the National Curriculum either in school or at home. The winners of the ninth annual Webby Awards will be announced on May 3.

Rose-tinted views A businessman in the South Staffordshire village of Kinver is defying planning laws by painting his kitchen showroom a shade of shocking pink. Rob Cooper says it's his protest, to get the local council to act against vandalism. Yobs fired at his window during a spate of attacks last week.
Mr Cooper said: "The only time they ever do anything is if they don't like the colour you have painted your shop." He wore a pink and white-striped suit to reinforce his point. 26/04/05

Gardeners beware! Low rainfall in recent months means that millions of pounds worth of UK garden plant life - especially in Staffordshire! - could be at risk this summer. PlantforLife - a campaign from the Horticultural Trades Association - says the most at-risk gardens are in Staffordshire and parts of the West Midlands and Bedfordshire because they typically have high clay content. In dry conditions this will eventually become a rock hard surface that rain simply runs off. 25/04/05
See our Gardening Page

Hunting - the debate goes on
One of the big election issues, out in the Staffordshire Moorlands the argument still goes on about hunting.
Listen to the report - Hunting
BBC Stoke's Moorlands reporterRichard Baynes finds out about the reaction to the hunting bill two months on
(You need Real Player to access this report)
Elaine Barker a huntswoman from Waterhouses, says hunting is not just for toffs - it is not a class thing. But animal rights campaigner Cynthia Lubacz from Leek, says politicians need to think about animals' rights as well as people's rights. 21/04/05
Weblinks North Staffordshire Hunt, Staffordshire Moorland Hunt

Staffords off to Middle East Families and friends bid their farewells to around six hundred troops from the Staffordshire Regiment who are heading for Iraq this week. The soldiers, from the 1st battalion will help maintain law and order in the area around Basra. They'll be in Iraq for about six months. 19/04/05

Ray does it in a suit Congratulations to Ray Edensor, the paramedic from Staffordshire who completed the London marathon today - wearing an emergency services decontamination suit! Ray set off for the event from the Potteries ten days ago. After running all the way to London - breathing through a ventilator - he finally completed the marathon today in a time of five hours and fifteen minutes. He's raising money for Dreams Come True, a charity for terminally ill children. 17/04/05
See more about Ray Edensor

Tsunami effort goes on Staffordshire has been twinned with a town in Sri Lanka, to help the rebuilding work after the Boxing Day tsunami. Councils will be sending money to an area known as Amparay, described as one of the most devastated areas in Sri Lanka. 17/04/05
See our Tsunami Pages

Juvenile crime linked to drop in Sunday attendance? The Bishop of Lichfield has blamed a spate of burglaries at a Staffordshire church on the fall in Sunday school attendance. A total of £8,000 worth of damage has been done at the Church of St James The Great in Norton Canes, near Cannock, which has been broken into eight times since last summer. Some of the attacks have coincided with school holidays leading to speculation that school children may be responsible.
The Bishop of Lichfield, the Rt Revd Jonathan Gledhill, feels there's a lack of moral guidance given to children and says that the rise in juvenile crime correlates to the decline in parents bringing their children to church or Sunday School. 14/04/05

Sing for Olivia A musician touched by the plight of a six year old girl who's had to have her hands and feet amputated has recorded a single to raise money to contribute towards prosthetic limbs.Olivia Clarke from Cannock had to have the amputations after contracting meningitis, in January. Steve Westwood, who recorded the single called "Olivia" says he wanted to do something to help her and the family. 13/04/05

Speeding royal The Staffordshire theme park, Alton Towers, is celebrating the marriage of Prince Charles to Camilla Parker Bowles on April 9th by renaming its new roller coaster "Rita - Queen of Speed" to "Camilla - Queen of Speed"!
The theme park has filmed two versions of its TV ad for the ride - featuring Rita and Camilla respectively. The latter will be shown on national TV on the wedding day for this one-day-only name change. 06/04/05
See our Wedding Coverage

Collectable for the "wrong" reason People are queuing up for Royal Wedding china with the wrong date on! Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm Aynsley China is having to change designs after it made stock with Friday's date on. But it's already had hundreds of people asking whether the original design is still available because they're hoping it'll become collectable. 05/04/05

Twitchers flock to Stafford
Birdwatchers from all over the UK rushed to Staffordshire in their hundreds after a rare North American bird was spotted at Shugborough, near Stafford. The Belted Kingfisher, not seen in Britain for 20 years, was seen near the entrance of the Shugborough estate at midday on Friday (Apr1). The handsome male was sighted on the estate's flood plain by an enthusiast, who quickly notified birdwatching networks around the country. Response to the sighting was slow as many keen birders assumed it was an April Fool's prank, but by evening around 500 enthusiasts had descended on the estate, armed with telescopes, tripods, pagers and photographic equipment.
One theory is that the bird came here last autumn in the westerly gales and stayed for the winter. The last sighting of a Belted Kingfisher was in 1984 in Weston Coyney, near Stoke-on-Trent. 02/04/05

Stoked smells An American teenager has brought out a new perfume... Stoked. However, despite thought that it is an April Fool to name a scent after North Staffordshire's industrial town, it turns out that Bethany Hamilton, 15, is introducing the new scents - Stoked and Wired - to attract surfers. In New York, Bethany said "stoked" is surfer-speak for "excited, pleased, happy or thrilled". Stoked is for girls; and Wired is for boys. 01/04/05

Best of the year The Porthill Players have been awarded "Best Show in 2004" for their production of Hello Dolly (at the Regent Theatre last April) by the national governing body of Amateur Societies (NODA), Midlands Region. Andrew Talbot (Producer) and Gina Yearsley (Choreographer) were at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall to accept the award. Radio Stoke's Tim Wedgwood was also in the show (and you can find out more about that experience by clicking here).

Stoke office building for USA? The BBc reported today that a Stoke on Trent skyscraper "Unity House" is being demolished and transferred brick by brick to the USA - for rebuilding. Some callers to BBC Radio Stoke expressed the opinion that it might be an April Fool. The clue is in the story, said the BBC! 01/04/05
See full story

Want to see stories from previous months?
Check Staffordshire's Life Archive
Two rescued from night house fire
Woman's body found 'in suitcase'
Court threat to ex-lorry driver

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