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Kenyan man wants to find Portishead family who sponsored him as a child

The postcard from the Rogers family, who lived in Portishead when they sponsored Kenyan Marko Wekesa
Marko Wekesa
The postcard from the Rogers family, who lived in Portishead when they sponsored Kenyan Marko Wekesa

More than 30 years after their kindness paid for his accommodation, a Kenyan man wants to track down the Portishead family that sponsored him.

Marko Wekesa still has the postcard sent to him by the Rogers family in September 1985 when they began sponsoring him through a charity called Action Aid Kenya. Their donations helped pay for the orphanage where he stayed.

The sponsorship ended in 1991 and now Marko wants to reconnect with the Rogers to thank them for their support.

"I would love to reconnect with them because they are a wonderful family," said Marko, who now works as a forest ranger in Kenya.

Anyone who can help with the whereabouts of the Rogers family, who had two sons called Simon and Michael, should contact BBC Radio Bristol.

Marko Wekesa, who was sponsored by a family from Portishead when he was a child in Kenya
Mr Wekesa
Marko Wekesa, who was sponsored by a family from Portishead when he was a child

Rugby stars to compete in Celebrity X Factor

Levi Davis

A Bath rugby player is going to be competing in the upcoming series of Celebrity X Factor.

Winger Levi Davis is one of the contestants on the popular talent show, of which a new series starts tomorrow night.

He'll be singing with fellow rugby players Ben Foden and Thom Evans as part of group Try Star, and they'll be competing against the likes of Martin Bashir, Riki Lake and Vinnie Jones.

Parents urged to take up children's flu inoculations

Flu spray

Public Health England is urging parents in the West to take up the offer of free childhood flu vaccinations in school this year.

Immunisation is now being offered to all primary-aged children for the first time.

The vaccine is administered through a free nasal spray in schools and parents are being advised to make sure they sign and return consent forms

St Margaret's Hospice to close inpatient beds

St Margaret's Hospice

St Margaret's Hospice in Yeovil is set to close its inpatient beds.

In August, managers announced a proposal to close the in-patient unit in Yeovil, with the possibility of 50 redundancies.

An online petition against the proposal attracted more than 14,000 signatures.

Trustee members announced the decision to staff earlier this afternoon.

Armed police deployed to reports of man with sword

Armed police were called to reports of a man brandishing a sword in Yeovil this morning.

A witness reported a man with a sword getting into a vehicle in Sherborne Road.

Armed officers were deployed and supported local police in arresting a man from an address in Monmouth Road at about 09:20 BST.

The man remains in police custody. Police have also seized a Mercedes A200 from Sherborne Road and a sword as part of their investigation.

Warning to dog walkers after coastguard call-outs

The coastguard crew on their boat

Burnham-on-Sea Coastguard say they've had nearly 20 dog related call-outs to incidents on Brean Down and Brean beach in less than three years.

They're now encouraging dog walkers to take care and put their dogs on a lead if they go on Brean Down.

The beach is one of the longest in Europe and has the second highest tide in the world.

Taunton flat linked to drug dealing closed by police

Image of police officer next to the property in Taunton which was closed due to county lines drug dealing activity on the front door
Avon and Somerset Police
PC Steve Linton outside the recently closed flat

Avon and Somerset Police have closed a flat in Taunton for three months after it was linked to county lines drug dealing.

Police say the flat, in Ladysmith House, Crescent Way, was a focal point for anti-social behaviour including an incident where a woman was chased down a corridor by a man with a knife.

Somerset anti-social behaviour co-ordinator, Cerwyn Pritchar,d said: "This order hopefully sends a clear message that drug misuse and all forms of anti-social behaviour will not be tolerated.".

The application was submitted by Avon and Somerset Police but supported by the property owners Sanctuary Housing.

Every Mind Matters wants to beat stress with simple changes

An individual care plan is tailored to overcome stress and anxiety.

Simple changes to help deal with stress and anxiety are at the heart of a new platform designed to get people through life's ups and downs.

Every Mind Matters invites users to answer multi-choice questions then creates a personalised action plan.

It's been created by Public Health England and the NHS as a new way of empowering people to manage and improve their mental health.

In the South West 22% of people who experienced signs of poor mental health waited at least six months before taking steps to manage their mental health.

Mark from Weston-super-Mare was in his 20s when he lost a daughter which resulted in his relationship with the mother breaking down.

"When I was depressed I really hit rock bottom," he said.

After struggling with depression and low self-esteem Mark started taking illegal drugs to cope with the pain.

"I found it difficult to talk to anyone about what I was going through," he said.

Mark saw a GP who told him he was suffering from depression and prescribed anti-depressants which reacted badly with the illegal drugs that he was still taking at the time and he had to give up work.

In 2012, he went into recovery which helped him turn his life around.

Part of the recovery involved getting fit with regular trips to the gym.

Mark has continued with his fitness and ran the Bristol Half Marathon in September 2019.

He is now working as a support worker in supported housing.

To mark the launch of the platform, a short film written by Richard Curtis and directed by Rankin, has been made featuring celebrities including Gillian Anderson, Davina McCall, Glenn Close, Freddie Flintoff, Professor Green and Nadiya Hussain talking about their own experiences.

Purse snatcher took elderly woman's silver crucifix

A thief who snatched an elderly woman's purse in Clevedon stole a silver crucifix which was given to her by her grandfather on her wedding day.

The four-inch cross has been carried by the woman in her purse every day since.

The theft happened in Lidl on Great Western Road at about 12noon on 1st October.

Police have made the appeal for help to find the cross which has "great sentimental value" to the woman.

Second-hand shops and jewellers have been asked to contact the police if they are offered a silver crucifix.

Every Mind Matters: Help with stress, low mood or trouble sleeping

Every Mind Matters
Public Health England

Every Mind Matters is a new platform which aims to show people simple steps they can take to be better prepared for life’s ups and downs.

It's been created by Public Health England and the NHS.

Users are invited to answer some multi-choice questions before a personalised action plan is created.

In the South West new data from a survey reveals more than 84% of people have experienced early signs of poor mental health in the past 12 months.

These include feeling anxious, stressed, having low mood or trouble sleeping.

Car 'deliberately' driven at man in Bristol

Getty Images

A man has been injured after a car was 'deliberately' driven into him.

A man driving a silver Vauxhall Insignia drove towards another motorist three times, hitting with twice, before fleeing the scene at speed on Air Balloon Road.

The incident happened on Saturday between 11:00 and 12:00 BST, on Hillside Road in St George. The victim was taken to hospital and then discharged.

Detective Inspector Kristina Windsor said: “This incident could have been much worse and the victim was extremely lucky to escape with the injuries he did.

“It appears the offender has driven his vehicle deliberately at the victim after he got out of his car. If you witnessed the incident, or have any dashcam footage of it, please get in touch.”

A 22-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the incident and remains in police custody while enquiries continue.

Fire service plan: Decision delayed due to 'high response'

A consultation on plans to close fire stations in Devon and Somerset has received about 3,300 completed surveys, 700 written submissions and five petitions.

The "high response" means the decision will now take place on 18 December - instead of November.

Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Authority consulted over the summer on proposals to "modernise" the service. It said the proposals aimed to reduce fire appliances and stations in areas of low risk and low activity so the service could reinvest in prevention work to reduce the risk of incidents occurring.

However, unions have been critical of the plans and protests have taken place across the counties.

Lee Howell, Chief Fire Officer. said: "I appreciate that moving the decision extends the uncertainty for our staff and communities who are affected by the proposals. We don’t take any proposals to close stations or remove fire engines lightly which is why it is vital that we take time to thoroughly analyse and carefully consider the responses.”


Somerset GP surgery 'over prescribed injections'

West One surgery

A serious incident investigation is taking place over patient care at a south Somerset GP surgery.

West One surgery merged with Crewkerne Health Centre in July 2018 and a number of concerns about patient care at West One have since come to light.

Since the merger the health centre has been discovered that some 'key areas of patient care at West One which hadn't been provided within national recommendations'.

It seems some of the surgery's 1,700 patients may have been over-prescribed their B12 injections. Also patients with long term conditions or medication hadn't been reviewed regularly enough.

A GP who worked at West One is no longer able to work as a GP after a hearing by NHS England.

And all affected patients have been contacted.

Crewkerne Health Centre says it's confident all former West One patients are now being properly looked after.

An independent GP is continuing to review all patient records and the serious incident investigation will be published once its complete in the new year.

Weedkiller ban made to encourage wild flowers

verges in Rotherham
Pictorial Meadows

Banning the weedkiller glyphosate and allowing wild flowers to grow are just some of the “quick wins” to combat climate change being pursued by a Somerset council.

Mendip District Council declared a climate emergency in February, and is working with Somerset’s other local authorities to come up with a strategy to tackle climate change.

Until this strategy is finalised and approved, Mendip has been exploring what changes it can put in place locally to make a difference.

On Monday, at full council, decided to act on "five quick wins" which are:

  • Banning glyphosate and replacing it with the more eco-friendly Katoun Gold
  • Planting more trees - the aim is to replace trees lost to ash dieback
  • Allowing wild flowers to grow by not cutting verges as often - this will also about £35,000. Other areas which do not respond naturally could be seed-bombed
  • More on-site recycling at council offices
  • Putting in energy efficient windows which will cost about £128,000 which will need to be approved by cabinet at a later date

New waste processing plant to be near Bridgwater

Springway Industrial Estate

A north Somerset waste company has been given planning permission to build a waste reprocessing facility off a busy main road near Bridgwater.

The new facility will allow Towens Waste Management to recycle green waste and other materials near the Springway Industrial Estate in Westonzoyland, just off the A372.

The facility will accept commercial waste such as hardcore, soil, wood and garden waste and turn it into more useable material which can then be sold.

Somerset County Council’s regulation committee unanimously voted in favour of the new facility being built, despite concerns about recent crashes on the main road and the access near the former RAF airfield.

John Telling from Towens told the committee in Taunton on Thursday morning the facility would make it easier for waste in the Taunton and Bridgwater area to be efficiently recycled.

He said: “We are proposing to bring inert materials here for further processing so that they are suitable for reuse.

“As well as creating five new jobs, this will reduce road miles for transporting materials from the Taunton and Bridgwater area to our current site in Weston-super-Mare.”

The facility can handle up to 50,000 tonnes of material a year, though lorry movements would be restricted to 18 return journeys a day.

Alan Hurford, clerk of Westonzoyland Parish Council, raised concerns about how the new facility would impact on the villagers’ quality of life due to more traffic and the smell "which could exacerbate respiratory conditions people may have".

Other concerns were raised about increased traffic and people overtaking at various points along the A372 which had resulted in fatal crashes over the years.

Business broadband in Somerset 'patchy and unreliable'

Optical fibres

A quarter of Somerset businesses say they still don't have fibre broadband - and 10% don't have broadband at all.

The Chamber of Commerce has revealed the results of a survey, which show business broadband in the county remains patchy and unreliable.

The chamber says it will now lobby the government for better connectivity for Somerset.

The government announced £5bn this week for full fibre for everyone by 2025, and says it is also working with 5G mobile providers.

Citizens Advice celebrates 80 years

Bath and North East Somerset Citizens Advice

One of the region's oldest Citizens Advice Bureaus is celebrating its 80th anniversary.

The Bath and North East Somerset branch started from a horsebox in Queen Square in Bath just after the outbreak of World War two.

It was one of the earliest to start in the UK.

A party will be held this evening at the city's Hilton Hotel.

Mental health cash to provide earlier intervention

Woman sitting on a bench
Getty Images

Somerset is getting £13m to improve its mental health services.

The money, from NHS England, will be spent on helping people sooner. A total of 95 new staff will be needed for new projects.

They include better mental health support in GP surgeries and smoothing the transition from children's to adult services.

Patients with experience of Somerset's mental health care helped develop the plans and Somerset is the only county in the South West to get the money now.

McDonalds buys land to expand drive-thru

McDonalds in Minehead, seen from Seaward Way
Google Maps

McDonalds is buying up public land in Somerset in order to expand one of its popular drive-thrus.

The international fast food giant runs one of its Somerset restaurants from Vulcan Road in Minehead, near the terminus of the West Somerset Railway.

The company is seeking to purchase a small plot of land on Seaward Way from Somerset West and Taunton Council in order to extend its drive-thru, in order to create a better experience for customers.

The council has not confirmed how much it would be paid for the land, or when the work on the site could commence.

Details of the land sale were published ahead of a meeting of the council’s Minehead area panel on September 11.

A spokesman said: “Heads of terms have been agreed on the sale of land for McDonalds. Clarke Wilmott [has been] instructed, [and] draft documentation being sent out.”

The council was unable to divulge how much McDonalds would pay for the site or how large the site in question was, citing commercial sensitivity.

A spokeswoman said: “We can confirm that McDonalds want to buy a small piece of land to widen the drive-thru slightly.”

McDonalds was approached by the Local Democracy Reporting Service for details of any planned closure, but the company did not respond to a request for comment.

New community cafe tackling loneliness opens in Somerset

cup of coffee
Getty Images

The new Salvation Army cafe will offer advice sessions, exercise classes and choir sessions.

They hope the coffee morning will help to tackle loneliness, help people stay active and support people with money problems.

Denise Shepard, the cafe's team leader, said there is "a lot going on" and the team are all "working together to make sure everyone is happy".

She added: "We see it as something that is going to develop and grow".

The coffee mornings are set to run every Thursday during term time in Moorland Road, Bridgwater.

New residents parking scheme for North Somerset

Image of a forest clearing with trees
Forestry England

North Somerset Council is to roll out a new residents parking scheme in Leigh Woods.

Plans for the new parking scheme were made after homeowners raised concerns on the lack of parking available.

Residents said around 400 cars park from the "Bristol over-spill" on their residential roads each day.

The council re-launched a review of its parking policies before the parking scheme was decided.

Bus firm launches hidden disability help cards

Bus cards
First Group

More people with disabilities are being encouraged to make the most of special help cards that have been made available by First Bus.

They have a range of messages on them from: "Please speak slowly, I'm hard of hearing" to "please be patient I have a hidden disability".

It comes after a teenage campaigner urged the company to do more to help people with disabilities, especially those with hidden conditions.

Shoe museum shuts after 45 years in town

Shoe museum

Street's shoe museum will be closing at noon today after 45 years.

The building houses more than 1,500 objects from around the world - the artifacts will now be taken care of by a local charity.

A spokesperson for Clarks who own the museum says it needs investment and maintenance to take care of the artifacts and protect them from damage which can be caused by the atmosphere.

Marcus Trescothick's parents look back on Somerset and England cricketer's career
Marcus Trescothick's parents, Lin and Martyn, reflect on their son's incredible career for Somerset and England as he retires.
Essex opener Alastair Cook with the County Championship trophy

Gary Smee

BBC Sport

Essex are crowned county champions, while Somerset miss out again, as their title decider ends in a dramatic draw at Taunton.

Read more