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Somerset stroke survivor takes on charity run

A stroke survivor who was told she may never walk again is taking part in a Stroke Association’s charity run after surviving a stroke at 29 years old.

Gemma Green, 36, from Somerset, had a stroke in 2011.

It was caused by a blood clot triggered by taking the contraceptive pill and left Gemma unable to talk or walk.

Gemma said: “At the time I had just completed my college course and was about to start university in the September. I started to feel unwell one day, and then suddenly had a severe headache which turned into vertigo. It felt like my head had just exploded, I was so disorientated and couldn’t understand what was happening.

"I soon realised I couldn’t talk and the right side of my body was completely weak. At the time I didn’t think I was having a stroke, I thought I needed to sleep and unfortunately I didn’t seek medical attention until the following day."

Despite having to re-learn to walk and talk, Gemma managed to recover and also to achieve her degree.

Gemma Green
Stroke Association

There were times when I just didn’t want to live anymore; the struggle was unbearable at times. No one can quite believe I’ve had a stroke, and that’s why after everything I’ve been through, I wanted to help raise awareness of stroke" she said.

Gemma Green

Wassailng - how they did it in 1966

Wassailng is the ancient pagan custom is celebrated every January.

It involves drinking cider and singing to the apple trees in the hope of a good harvest later in the year.

We've looked back in the archives to find out how it happened in 1966.

Wassailing - how they did it in 1966

Bath academics research prison rehab

The University of Bath is launching a study into rehabilitation in prisons - with the UK's reoffending rate described by the Justice Minister as far too high.

Government figures show nearly 70% of people who serve short term custodial sentences end up committing crime again.

Professor of Criminology Yvonne Jewkes, leading the study, says: "we have a duty to focus more on helping prisoners otherwise we are the future victims".

Aerial shot of Bath University
Getty Images

Residents safely evacuated from fire in Bristol

Firefighters at scene
Temple Fire Station

A house in Southville in Bristol was severely damaged in a fire on Sunday evening.

Six fire engines were called to the blaze in Coronation Road at about 18:45 GMT.

The road was closed for several hours while firefighters tackled the blaze.

A spokesperson for Temple Fire Station said all residents were evacuated safely and no-one was injured.

Fire damage
Temple Fire Station
Fire damage
Temple Fire Station
A lack of seasonal workers could lead to crops not being picked, says one farmer.
A lack of seasonal workers could lead to crops not being picked, says a Somerset farmer.
A pilot has been launched turn containers into small affordable homes in Somerset
A pilot scheme to turn the containers into one-bedroom homes has begun with two prototypes.

Shipping containers as affordable housing

A pilot has been launched turn containers into small affordable homes in Somerset
Robin Howell is hoping to convince the local authorities that these shipping containers can help solve the housing crisis. 

Two shipping containers are based at a site in Bridgwater, Somerset, and now he's hoping to expand the scheme to offer them as affordable rental housing. 

The small homes are complete with kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom.
Koko the house cat is rescued from the engine of a Ford Mondeo
Seven-year-old house cat Koko can be heard miaowing under the bonnet of a car in Plymouth.

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action has got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take out word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

Fancy a flavour of FA Cup drama?

#FAPeoplesCup

We've seen Pete Wild living the dream, now it's your chance.

If the thrills and spills of the FA Cup third-round action has got you excited - how about getting a flavour of it yourself?

The 2019 FA People's Cup is now open for entries.

There's no experience required, it's free and you get the chance to play at St George's Park and lift a trophy during the FA Cup final in May.

Don't take our word for it - have a look at how these players felt about taking part in 2018...

FA People's Cup: The winners' 'outstanding' day at Wembley

Find out more about the competition and how you can get involved here.

A358 upgrade decision delayed again

Map showing three proposed options for Somerset dual carriageway plans
Highways England

The long awaited decision on upgrading the A358 gateway to the South West has been delayed yet again.

For years local councils have pushed for the route to become a dual carriageway.

The road from Taunton to Ilminster takes thousands of vehicles daily onto the A303 towards London.

In January 2018 Highways England unveiled three new options for creating a dual carriageway between the M5 and the A303 after coming under criticism for only consulting on one route for the proposed upgrade the year before.

The revised proposals included options for a new motorway junction at Taunton. This part of the scheme was given the go-ahead in March.

Highways England bosses have said they're still not ready to announce which of the three options is their chosen route.

Council reassurance over dementia day centres

Woman's hand
BBC

People using dementia day centres in Somerset are being reassured alternative care will be in place after the centres close at the end of this month.

It comes after some relatives told BBC Somerset they still don't know what the plan is for their loved ones.

Somerset County Council, which funds the centres, said it was moving to a new model of care and apologised to anyone who hadn't been given the details of what they could be offered next.

Avon and Somerset police issue sobering appeal

New Year's Eve revellers across the west are being warned to take care when returning home after the evening's festivities.

In Bath, drinkers are being reminded of the dangers of the River Avon, in which several people have died in recent years, after falling in.

There are calls for extra caution by drinkers around Bristol Harbour as well.

Avon and Somerset Police released a sobering plea from one of their dive team.

View more on twitter

Strike hits New Year's Eve trains

Drivers and rail workers on South Western Railway will go ahead with two days of strike action in a long-running dispute over guards on trains.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport Union (RMT) announced strike action for Thursday and New Year's Eve.

On Saturday RMT members held strikes over the dispute with South Western Railway, and Northern Rail.

South Western said it would run a reduced service across the network today, with some lines having no service.

Click here for more detail of west routes affected.

South Western Railway
PA

People with minor injuries urged to avoid A&E at Christmas

Hospital ward
Science Photo Library

People in Somerset who suffer a minor injury this Christmas are being advised they can visit their local minor injury unit instead of A&E.

Seven units are open 24/7 at community hospitals in Bridgwater, Burnham-on-Sea, Chard, Frome, Minehead, Shepton Mallet and West Mendip Community Hospital.

Staff there can deal with broken bones and prescribe medicines.

New community bank 'could step in after branch closures'

Sophie Pierce

BBC Radio Devon

A new community-owned high street bank for the South West could step in where the big four have left, those behind the scheme say.

In Cornwall alone, more than 40 high street bank branches have closed in the county since 2015 - with many towns being left with no bank at all.

Now there are plans for a new mutual, community owned bank which would just serve the counties of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset and Somerset.

South Hams and West Devon councils have each given a £50,000 grant to the new enterprise because they said it would help strengthen the local economy.

Tony Greenham is behind the idea and says research shows regional banks help local economies survive financial crises...

Ambulances on standby for busy Christmas

Ambulance
BBC

The ambulance service says it is gearing itself up for one of its busiest periods of the year as people finish work and start to enjoy Christmas.

South Western Ambulance Service says Christmas parties and people drinking more than usual means they are expecting a 30% increase in calls over the next two days.

Hospital A&E departments across the west are also on standby.

Cabinet agrees to spend extra £2.5m on HQ revamp

Local Democracy Reporting Service

County Hall, Taunton
BBC

Councillors have agreed to finish the revamp of County Hall in Taunton – despite admissions that it would be “a hard sell for the public”.

Somerset County Council has been undertaking improvements to its headquarters, ensuring the heating system in County Hall and Shire Hall is fit for purpose and reorganising A block in County Hall to allow more staff to work in-house.

The entire project is expected to cost just over £10m, of which £7.75m was committed in the budget in February.

The council’s cabinet met in Taunton earlier to agree in principle to allocate the remaining £2.5m in next year’s budget.

The proposal will come before full council for final approval in February.

Police hunt for man after Bristol fire

Police are looking for a man in connection with a fire that destroyed a large part of an industrial building in Bristol.

The blaze broke out at the premises in Netham Road in the early hours of Saturday.

Officers believe Simon Pearce, 32, may have information about how the fire started.

Det Ch Insp Liz Hughes of Avon and Somerset Police said: “We’re concerned about the welfare of Simon Pearce and while we don’t believe he has come to harm as a result of the fire, he may have information about how it started."

A cordon remains in place around the building which is said to be in a "dangerous condition".

View more on twitter

Scrum research could make rugby safer

Scrum down
AFP

Research done by the University of Bath to make the rugby scrum safer for players is being praised in a national list.

The "crouch, bind, set" technique has been hailed as one of the most significant university breakthroughs in a list put together by Universities UK.

The technique makes sure front row players bind to the opposition before pushing, which reduces the impact forces by about a quarter.

It comes after figures showed that, even though they weren't common, scrum-related injuries made up around 40 per cent of catastrophic injuries.

The research team has also been praised for its warm-up routine, which has reduced the number of concussions in youth and adult community rugby by up to 60 per cent when done three times a week.

Man rescued from high-rise fire in Brislington

Fire in School Road, Brislington
Avon Fire and Rescue

A man has been rescued from the 10th floor of a high-rise in Bristol where a fire broke out in the early hours of Monday morning.

Crews were called to the blaze in School Road, Brislington at 04:40 GMT.

Avon Fire and Rescue said its stay put policy worked successfully.

This is when those affected stay where they are rather than evacuate the premises so firefighters can tackle the blaze.

An investigation is under way to find the cause of the fire.