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Giant eight-acre thank you for NHS

The maze
Ansty Pick Your Own

A huge maze has been cut in an eight-acre (3.24 hectare) field of maize at Ansty Pick Your Own near Salisbury in Wiltshire, as a thank you to the NHS.

Owner, Karren Price, said: "We designed it with social distancing in mind.

"Normally there are loads of dead ends and places to get lost but we have done one continuous loop this year, which means you have to walk the entire eight-acre maze."

She said despite uncertainty over lockdown restrictions, they had "decided to take the chance”.

"It was obvious to us to dedicate it to the NHS and show our appreciation in the only way we knew how," she said.

"Build them an eight-acre thank you."

On Sunday, people are being encouraged to celebrate the NHS's 72nd birthday and thank key workers for their support during the coronavirus pandemic with a nationwide clap next month.

School ‘bubble’ closed after two test positive for Covid-19

Shaw Ridge Primary School

A pupil and teacher at a school in Wiltshire have tested positive for Covid-19, it has been revealed.

Shaw Ridge Primary School in Shaw, Swindon, has confirmed a year-six pupil tested positive last week.

The teacher of the ‘bubble’ they were in has now also tested positive.

A spokesman for the school said: “We are continuing to take all necessary steps as advised by Public Health England to ensure this does not spread further.”

All staff who have been in close contact with the infected staff member are now self-isolating and waiting to be tested.

Due to this staff shortage, year six pupils have been told to stay at home for the ensuing week at least, or until the teachers have received their test results.

The rest of the school remains open for keyworker children, nursery, reception and year one children.

Burglar sentenced after being found hanging upside down from window

Groundwell Road

A man who was rescued by firefighters after trying to break into a building and getting stuck in a window, has been sentenced at Swindon magistrates.

On Friday, Frederick Moulton, aged 53, from Spring Close, Swindon was handed an 18-month community order after admitting burglary and possession of a class A drug.

Wiltshire Police arrived at a derelict building in Groundwell Road, Swindon at 01:00 GMT on Thursday after Dorset and Wiltshire Fire Service received a call from the man saying he was trapped.

The Salisbury Poisonings & the woman at the centre of the new BBC drama

Tracy Daszkiewicz talks to Ev Ex about her role and meeting the writers behind the series
Have you been watching BBC One's The Salisbury Poisonings? The three-part series is based on the events of March 2018, when the Wiltshire cathedral city faced one of the biggest threats to UK public health in recent years.

Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were found slumped and foaming at the mouth on a city centre bench, having been poisoned with the deadly nerve agent Novichok.

At the centre of the drama is Tracy Daszkiewicz, the director of public health for Wiltshire. In reality, she had an integral role in the response to the poisoning.

Tracy spoke to Declan Harvey about the lasting impact of that time on her; meeting the writers behind the drama and the actress (Anne-Marie Duff) who portrays her.

'Returning to school makes me family's weak link for coronavirus'

Socially distanced desks

As secondary schools across the West re-open, teachers have been talking to us about how they feel about it.

Charlie, from Wiltshire, said he is worried students won't take social distancing as seriously as teachers and therefore he might be more at risk of bringing coronavirus home.

He said: "I am anxious about a formal return to school for larger groups of students.

"My school is very concerned about protecting our health and well-being, but at the end of the day we'll have to be in close contact with youngsters who simply don't have the same worries as me.

"I'll suddenly become the weak link in my family unit - I'm in my fifties so I'm worried, but my wife has asthma which is scary.

“She also supports her mum who is shielding herself while living alone, so if any of us do fall ill we would have that worry."

He said he feared the return to school would be hard for some students in particular.

"We've all been isolated for so long, returning will be really hard for many students, it's not the same as a summer holiday.

"Managing emotions and balancing some normality of schoolwork will be an ongoing issue."

BAME coronavirus safety plan not published

People in the street in masks
PA Media

A report containing measures to protect ethnic minority groups from coronavirus has been drawn up for government, BBC News has learned.

Public Health England (PHE) published a review last week confirming coronavirus kills people from ethnic minorities at disproportionately high rates.

PA MediaCopyright: PA Media

But a senior academic told BBC News a second report, containing safeguarding proposals to tackle this, also existed.

And PHE now says this report will be published next week.

Ambulance crews faced 290 'aggressive' lockdown incidents

BBC Radio Devon

Ambulance staff in the South West of England experienced 290 violent and aggressive incidents against them during the first 10 weeks of lockdown.

This includes 46 physical assaults against staff.

Ambulance crews and control room staff said 84% of cases were verbal abuse from patients, relatives and members of the public.

The South West Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust says that such behaviour will not be tolerated, and action will be taken to prosecute offenders and protect staff.

Pupils tense as teachers submit estimated grades

Branwen Jeffreys

Education Editor

Schools and colleges in England have to submit their estimated grades for GCSE and A-levels by the end of this week.

In each subject, pupils will also be ranked from highest to lowest achieving.

Exam regulator Ofqual has issued extra guidance following a consultation on how to make the process as fair and accurate as possible.

Any pupils unhappy with their grades will be able to sit the actual exam in October or November.

The arrangements, put in place after exams were cancelled during the coronavirus lockdown, are a source of concern for pupils.

Ethan Simpson, from Wiltshire, said: "I was so relieved to begin with, when they said 'no GCSE exams', but then I realised that I was just gearing up to really improve my grades with revision, and my grades at school would not reflect that. So now I am scared."

Ella Keeble, in Somerset, wants to know what the universities are going to do: "Not having an exam has not given me the best chance to show what I can do - none of us knew that the school work we were doing was going to count - but the offers I've had from unis for grades has not changed. Surely there has to be some news about flexibility on that?"

Groups of students with results

Flight of fledged peregrine caught on camera

Osmund takes off
Tricia Glass

Going, going, gone.

The first peregrine has fledged from the nest on Salisbury Cathedral.

Osmud, the only male of the brood, had been spotted hopping up and down on the parapet wall during the past few days.

On Tuesday just before four o'clock in the afternoon he went for it and, after making his way up onto a pinnacle, took flight.

Osmud practising his moves before taking off
Tricia Glass
Osmund on a pinnacle on Salisbury Cathedral
Tricia Glass

A right to protest, but violence never acceptable

Robert Buckland
PA Media

Justice minister Robert Buckland said peaceful protests were a "hallmark of a mature democracy" but that violence and criminality would not be tolerated.

The MP for South Swindon addressed the House of Commons this morning after several days of demonstrations held across the world by supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement.

He told fellow MPs that everyone had a duty to stand up to racism and that he was working with the BAME community to "address racial disparity in our justice system".

“Protests taking place across the globe are stark reminders that we are living in a world where prejudice, sadly and unacceptably, continues to play a role.

"The right to peaceful protest is one of the hallmarks of a mature democracy like ours, but under the rule of law, and we must never accept violence or criminal conduct as a legitimate tool of protest.

"At a time when we face the national trial of Covid-19, when for months this country has come together to fight a deadly plague, I believe on this issue we too can and must come together,” he said.

New £3m fund for historic sites' maintenance and repairs

Andrew Segal

BBC News

Hayle ropeworks. Pic: Historic England
Historic England

Historic England has launched a second emergency fund to support the heritage sector recovery from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund of up to £3m was awarding grants to those who cared for some of England’s most significant historic sites in the South West, managers of the preservation public body said.

They said grants of up to £25,000 were being offered to fix urgent problems at locally-cherished historic buildings and sites which are normally visited by the public, so that they could reopen as quickly as possible, subject to Covid-19 restrictions, "and thrive once again".

The fund would also help generate business for heritage specialists, whose livelihoods had been severely affected by the outbreak.

As well as loss of income to heritage sites, those hardest hit in the sector included craft workers, such as stonemasons and glaziers, as well as professionals such as architects and surveyors.

Applicants can apply until 28 June.

'We can get through anything' school pupils sing with one voice

Calder House school pupils celebrate overcoming lockdown 'with help from their friends'
Pupils, teachers and families of Calder House near, Colerne in Wiltshire, have celebrated overcoming difficulties during lockdown by recording a socially distant version of 'With A Little Help From My Friends'.

The school's 47 children, who all have specific learning difficulties, followed personal timetables tailored to their needs, and received remedial support from home.

"We have carried on learning in many ways. One of the things that lockdown has taught us is that we can get through almost anything if we all pull together," said the school's Managing Director.

This video was created by their music teacher Hannah Buckley.

West police forces 'stand alongside' #blacklivesmatter responses

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Police forces in the west have all released messages of support for the #blacklivesmatter sentiments.

Today (Tuesday 3 June) is being marked by many as 'black Tuesday' following widespread tensions and violence in the US after the death of George Floyd.

A statement released by Gloucestershire and Wiltshire Police said: “We are also appalled to see the violence and damage that has happened in so many US cities... Our hearts go out to all those affected by these terrible events and hope that peace and order will soon be restored.

“In the UK we have a long established tradition of policing by consent, working in communities to prevent crime and solve problems.

"Officers are trained to use force proportionately, lawfully and only when absolutely necessary. We strive to continuously learn and improve. We will tackle bias, racism or discrimination wherever we find it.

“Policing is complex and challenging and sometimes we fall short. When we do, we are not afraid to shine a light on injustices or to be held to account.

"We know people want to make their voices heard. The right to lawful protest is key part of any democracy, which UK police uphold and facilitate."

SW Ambulance says drive-thru queues 'could cost lives'

Rebecca Thorn

BBC News Online

Cars queuing for McDonald's in Bideford, Devon

The South Western Ambulance Service has said emergency vehicles have been blocked by cars queuing for takeaway drive-thrus.

"What costs you a fiver could cost a patient their life," the service said.

Long queues have been seen stretching back from McDonald's in Bideford, Devon on Wednesday, with marshals now in attendance to help direct traffic.

Marshal at the roadside talking to driver

The fast food giant said: "We are aware of some queues, and in line with our opening plans we have been working closely with local authorities and the police to, and may determine that it is necessary to close Drive Thru lanes if required."

McDonald's has begun to reopen some of its restaurants after it was forced to temporarily close on 23 March due to the coronavirus.

Man charged with murder of wife and daughter

A man has been charged with two counts of murder following an incident in Salisbury on Monday where two women died. Marcin Zdun, aged 39, from Wessex Road, Salisbury, will appear virtually, via video link, before Basingstoke magistrates this morning. Formal identifications of the two victims are yet to carried out, however the women are believed to be his daughter Nikoletta Zdun, 18, and his wife Aneta Zdun, 40.

BreakingMan arrested after two women dead in Salisbury

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after two women died following a disturbance at a property in Salisbury today.

Wiltshire Police were called to a house on Wessex Road at 2.45pm.

Upon arrival, officers found the body of one woman and another woman seriously injured.

She was pronounced dead by paramedics soon afterwards.

A man in his 30s has been arrested on suspicion of murder and has been taken to Melksham custody.

More follows.

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Woodcarver 'thrilled' at response to NHS plaques

Charley Adams

BBC News Online

A woodcarver who has been donating his skills and time to show his appreciation for the work of health care staff during the coronavirus pandemic said he is "thrilled" with the response his project has received.

Johnathon Whittaker, who is a full-time self-employed wood carver and sculptor, has been making hand-carved plaques to thank health care workers.

Since starting the idea in April, Mr Whittaker and his wife Christie, who helps with administration, have been inundated with requests.

The couple from Plymstock in Devon have been making plaques for care homes and the South Western Ambulance Service, as well as their original idea for NHS workers.

"I am feeling a mixture of emotions, excitement, happiness, anxiety, nervousness...there is a lot going on inside my head right now," said Mr Whittaker.

"I never expected it to boom like it has, but I am loving every minute of it."

Carers plaque
Johnathon Whittaker

They have had 110 requests from across the country, with the majority coming from the south west.

"The impact they are having is almost tangible - everyone seems to really value being gifted something that will stand as a long lasting reminder of their bravery and strength at this time.

"There will come a point where this will all die down, and the demand on my time will lessen, and all of this will be something wonderful to look back on."

The 45-year-old thanked the companies that have backed them during this time and said the woodworking community "has been fantastic".

Lacock Abbey grounds opening from next week

Lacock Abbey

Lacock, in Wiltshire, is set to reopen from next week, but visitors will need to book their visit in advance.

The abbey grounds and car park will be available to visit for the first time since the start of the coronavirus lockdown.

The trust said it "can’t open everywhere at once" and all its houses will remain closed but it will be opening more places in the coming weeks.

'Mindless vandals' attack heritage railway

Heritage railway volunteers in Wiltshire say vandals have caused hundreds of pounds-worth of damage this week.

The vandalism was discovered by a member of the Swindon and Cricklade Railway at Taw Valley Holt in north Swindon.

Fencing has been knocked down and signage damaged.

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👏 Family rings bells at clap for carers 👏

Jennifer Meierhans

BBC News

Leone Ward from Hinton Parva in Wiltshire had a go at "making a racket" with the church bells for their final clap for carers.

She said: "We have no experience, my kids are nine, seven and five. It was great fun and not very tuneful."

Leone Ward's family
Leone Ward

Airwaves virtual festival features KT Tunstall

We're just hours away from the start of BBC Radio Wiltshire's very own festival on the radio.

Airwaves will give you all the sounds and sensations of a big summer music gathering - but without having to leave your own home.

We've got headline sets from Scouting for Girls, KT Tunstall, Jack Savoretti and Gabrielle Aplin.

Catch all of the action on the BBC Sounds app or by following this link.

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'Covid-19 snake' spotted in Wiltshire

Check out this 13m (42ft) long "Covid-19 snake" which has been spotted wiggling along a footpath in Devizes.

The snake, which is made up of hundreds of brightly painted rocks and pebbles, is on a path near Charter Close.

Every day it gets longer and longer as children bring back their hand painted rocks with messages of hope.

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Fire breaks out at industrial unit near Salisbury

Firefighters are tackling a blaze at an industrial unit in Chilmark near Salisbury.

Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue said the fire was "well established" but there was no-one in the building.

The service said it doesn't pose a risk to the wider public at the moment but local residents are being advised to keep doors and windows closed.

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15,000 GP video consultations in first weeks of coronavirus crisis

NHS uniform

Video-based GP appointments have helped thousands of patients in our region since the lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bath and North East Somerset Clinical Commisisoning Group said practices across the Bath and North East Somerset, Swindon and Wiltshire area carried out more than 15,000 video consultations during the first six weeks of the crisis.

Health bosses said new laptops had been supplied, and staff working from home had been able to securely access NHS and GP practice IT systems.

It has enabled video consultations to take place, prescriptions to be issued and patient records updated confidentially.

Dr Michael Marsh, South West Medical Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement, said: “This is one of a number of examples across the South West in which NHS organisations have worked closely together to ensure GPs and their colleagues have the technology to provide patient care through video appointments, while also having remote digital access to patient records.

Traffic order at A303 after near-misses

A temporary traffic order has been placed on the A303 near Stonehenge following reports of traffic issues and near-misses. The order prevents vehicles stopping on the verge of the A303 between Parkhouse roundabout and ends at Winterbourne Stoke in both directions.

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Barney Appleton, traffic management and road safety officer from the Wiltshire Police Road Safety Unit, said: “This temporary order has been put in place following a number of calls from members of the public since May 17 reporting concerns that several vehicles had stopped on the grass verge of the A303, with occupants walking along the carriageway principally to photograph Stonehenge."This was causing HGV’s and other vehicles to move into the middle of the carriageway. As well as this, we have also had reports of drivers continuing to push back temporary barriers to the entrances to nearby byways on the A303 so they can park there."

Props and tech help get breast-feeding advice across

Specialist health visitor Marian Judd
Virgin Care

New parents are being supported to successfully breast feed their babies thanks to live online consultations using innovative props.

Specialist health visitor Marian Judd is used to giving mums and dads advice on breast feeding face to face.

Due to social distancing, Mrs Judd, who works for Wiltshire Children’s Community Services, is using a video link to talk to parents who have been referred into the specialist infant feeding service from their health visitor.

She uses a doll and a knitted breast to show families how to get breast feeding off to a good start.

"One mum who has had a lot of problems with feeding welcomed the opportunity to talk about her feeding journey face to face in a safe way during this social distancing period," said Mrs Judd.

The response has been "really positive" with parents saying the video sessions have been "really helpful and supportive".

Musical grandmother's ukulele challenge for lockdown

Sonja Johannessen
Sonja Johannessen

A musical grandmother from Wiltshire has set herself the challenge of playing 260 songs on her ukulele during lockdown.

Sonja Johannessen, from Hilperton in Wiltshire, runs a ukulele group which is currently meeting online, and records her songs before posting them on Facebook.

The 71 year old has reached song number 97 and has raised £270 of her £1,100 target for the Zoological Society of London, and Whipsnade Zoo.

“I wanted to cheer people up and to keep myself occupied as I’ve been isolating for around eleven weeks," she said.

Ms Johannessen was born in the Norwegian capital Oslo and was brought up in New Zealand before moving to the UK at the age of 11.

I wanted to raise money for animals as I think they are being forgotten a bit at the moment

Sonja Johannessen

Tributes paid to village bobby John Hancock

John Hancock
Wiltshire Police

Tributes have been paid to John Hancock – the village bobby in Mere for nearly 30 years - who died last week.

Mr Hancock, 71, joined Wiltshire Police as a cadet in 1965 before serving as a police officer from 1968 to his retirement in 1997.

In a statement his family said he was "the most kind and loving father, husband and grandfather" and was "well loved by everyone".

Following his retirement he volunteered at Mere Police Station and was a regular at the local cafe – running a drop-in session for members of the community to receive advice and information. Chief Constable Kier Pritchard said presenting Mr Hancock with the Police Support Volunteer of the Year award was "a real honour and a privilege".

As a mark of respect for the many years Mr Hancock dedicated to policing, the Force flag will be flown at half-mast at Police Headquarters.

John Hancock driving a police car
Wiltshire Police

Men arrested over allegations of sexual assault at doctor’s surgery

Back of police officer

Two men have been arrested over allegations of sexual assault at a Wiltshire doctor’s surgery.

Wiltshire Police say the 31 and 41-year-old were arrested at the end of March, on suspicion of a total of six incidents at the former Cross Plain Health Centre in Durrington near Amesbury.

The centre, which health inspectors had already rated inadequate, has now closed and patients transferred elsewhere.

The men have been released under investigation.

Coronavirus: Volunteers deliver thousands of items of PPE
St John Ambulance volunteers in Gosport have delivered 50,000 items of PPE to front line workers.