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News In Brief – from around the regions

A REAL HANDFUL: Pensioner Godfrey Hill has been called The Messiah, an alien and a freak – because he has a thumb and five fingers on each hand.

The 72-year-old retired engineer has hexadactyly. The condition is said to affect one in every 100,000 live births, but an expert says he has never come across anyone with two perfectly-formed extra fingers.

Mr Hill told the Nottingham Evening Post that he was once bartering with a market trader in Tunisia when the trader exclaimed “The hand of Fatima”. He was surrounded by scores of Arabs wanting to see “The Messiah” was given a gift of a ring.

FATHER MAKES THREE: Diamond wedding couple John and Peggy Jones celebrated their anniversary with the help of the bride’s father.

The couple are in their 80s and the bride’s father, Robert Howells, who lives with them, is 102. Mr and Mrs Jones told the South Wales Evening Post that they had always lived in the village of Banc Bach all their lives.

JONAH COMES HOME: A 4ft 6in pet iguana is back home after a bit of detective work by its owner.

Jonah was stolen from a purpose-built shed during a burglary at Kevin Abbey’s home in the Black Country. But Mr Abbey heard of the creature being offered for sale in the area, posed as a potential buyer and contacted the police, the Wolverhampton Express and Star reported.

PUB CHRISTENING: Landlord Lee Clowes has found a pastor who will conduct his daughter’s christening in his Plymouth pub, the Evening Herald has said.

Mr Clowes explained: “We wanted a service for everyone who was religious and also for those who were not as comfortable in a church.”

WRITING WILL BE ON THE WALL: Die-hard Exeter City fan Jim McLaren has forked out £85 for a sign saying “Away supporters will be removed from this area” which once hung in the new demolished “Cowshed” at City’s St James’s Park ground.

He plans to give it a coat of varnish – he told the Exeter Express and Echo – and hang it on the front wall of his home.

TEENAGE TYCOON’S TEST TIME: Britain’s youngest self-made millionaire, 17-year-old Tom Hartley from South Derbyshire, will take his driving test in a £350,000 Ferrari, the Derby Evening Telegraph has told readers.

Tom, who made his first million through selling cars by the time he was 14, will be driving a 202mph F50 once owned by the Sultan of Brunei.

EXOTIC PLANT SUCCESS: Retired Plymouth man Bill Earl has grown a four feet tall Pineapple plant in his living room – and it is now bearing fruit of its own, local evening title, the Plymouth Herald has reported.

STOWAWAY STINGER: A nasty surprise lay in store for sportsman Mike Clay when he returned home from a mountain biking holiday in the Caribbean.

He put his hand in his washbag and was stung by a scorpion. The insect had crept into his luggage and survived a nine-hour flight at temperatures of -30 degrees.

Mike (30) promptly battered it to death with a steel flask, then spent five hours in hospital before being allowed home, the Oxford Mail reported.

VANISHING ACT: Magician Mark Andrews was left with nothing to pull out of the hat at parties after his white rabbit did the ultimate disappearing act.

Mark (28) told the Coventry Evening Telegraph that he awoke one morning to find that Harvey the rabbit had vanished from its outdoor run in the back garden.

JUST CUSHTY: Bournemouth’s own Del Boy, Steve Trott, arrived at his wedding in a replica of the Only Fools and Horses van.

Driving the yellow Reliant Regal was his friend, Paul Whitehouse, who had bought the van from Steve and now hires it out for weddings, the Bournemouth Daily Echo reported. The pair are members of the Only Fools and Horses Appreciation Society.

HOLY WATERS: Priest Paul Davies has joined his local lifeboat crew.

The 27-year-old canon carries a pager with him for six days a week so that he can respond to emergencies off St David’s, Pembrokeshire – but he’s been banned from answering SOS calls on Sundays.

The Rev Davies told the Western Mail: “They have welcomed me aboard and I’ve had a few cracks that I will be able to calm the waters every time the boat goes out.”

DELIGHTS OF OLD: Pensioners abandoned bingo and tea dances to watch a group of men get their kit off.

The Birmingham Evening Mail reported that hundreds of OAPs flocked to the city’s Odeon cinema to watch The Full Monty as part of a season of discounted viewing for pensioners.

METRIC MADNESS: A butcher has been banned from displaying antique scales – even though he doesn’t use them.

Keane Fletcher stopped using the 80-year-old porcelain scales because Euro laws say that shopkeepers must use metric weighing equipment. He kept them on display in his Rotherham shop out of nostalgia but was told by trading standards officers that he must hide them from customers.

Keane at first complied, but put the scales back in a gesture of defiance after 200 customers signed a petition, the Star reported under the heading “Take ’em a-weigh!”

SOLE OFFENCE: A thief stole £3,000 worth of shoes – but none of them made a pair, the Northern Echo reported.

Raymond Green (18), who took the shoes from a sales rep’s car, was put on probation for 18 months.

CLAMPERS RELENT: Justice came swiftly for a woman who emerged from a gym to find her car had been wheel-clamped.

Security firm staff had immobilised Christine Brooks’ car even though it was parked in an area of South Gosforth where clamping is not supposed to take place, the Newcastle Evening Chronicle reported.

Mrs Brooks (28) was ordered to pay £81.50 but had to abandon her car because she had no cash on her. When she returned, however, the clamp had been removed because the firm needed it for another vehicle.

NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN: Tracy Lewis, (36), and her husband, Pete, (40), vowed their family was complete when their 11th child was born just over a year ago.

But now, the Bournemouth Daily Echo has reported, the supermum – who also holds down a part-time supermarket job – is expecting again and says she is just as excited as she was in her first pregnancy.

The new arrival, due in November, will join Carly, (16), Tracy Jnr, (15), Samantha, (14), Charles, (12), Lyndsay, (11), Danielle, (9), Chantelle, (8), Charlotte, (6), Georgia, (5), Candice, (4), and Shannon (1).

LIVING UP TO THEIR NAMES: The Express & Echo, in Exeter, has revealed the wedding plans of Pete Long – who is six feet tall – and Megs Short – who is four feet 10 inches.

The couple, who have put up with some ribbing about their apt names, are both children of the 1960s and plan a gothic-style wedding in Devon in late April.

ONE MAN AND HIS HOVERCRAFT: Farmer Norman Barrow resorted to a hovercraft to round up his 300 sheep when his dog Fred needed three months of recuperation after an operation.

The Gloucester Citizen said Mr Barrow had borrowed the hovercraft from Whitecliff Off Road Driving Centre, based in Coleford, who use his fields for their courses.

“It is brilliant,” said Mr Barrow. “A dog is still quicker and environmentally-friendly but it was good fun.”

DON GETS THE BIRD: A Nottingham man has been hit with a court order to stop him feeding pigeons in his front garden – or face a fine of up to £5,000.

Bird lover Don Booth has already been served with one abatement notice covering nearby Wollaton Park after he took 56lb sacks of grain for the birds. His neighbours say the large flocks of birds leave droppings over nearby houses and cars.

But Mr Booth says he will defy the ban: “I’ve been looking after the pigeons for over 12 years and I can’t just stop feeding them. They follow me everywhere,” he told the Nottingham Evening Post.

JUST TO SAY WE CARE: More than 100 youngsters who use Thurnby and Bushby Youth Club in
Leicestershire signed a card for an 89-year-old woman who was attacked on her doorstep by a gang who taped a plastic bag over her head and stole her purse and pension book.

They also had a whip-round and bought her a new radio. The youngsters saw the cowardly crime reported in the Leicester Mercury and pasted the story up in the youth club to encourage donations. Youth club chairwoman Christine Macdonald said: “Most of them said they would not like something happening like that to their grandmas.”

TALE OF A STONE DOG: Pensioners Ron and Lily Fletcher were upset when a stone dog and cat went missing from their front garden.

Following a story in the Cambridge Evening News, the dog has returned with a note attached saying: “Mum and Dad, I am sorry I ran away. It was beyond my control. I was coaxed by some friends with doggy chocs posing as my chums I realised the error of my ways and I return seeking your forgiveness. Apologies for any complications to the dog-walking rota but my kidnappers have served me well. I’ve made some great new friends, lots of love, Scottie”.

The couple’s son Tony said: “We would like the cat to decide it’s done wrong and come back too. Presumably he wasn’t coaxed away with doggy chocs.”

KNICKERS DRAW THEM IN: Visitors are flocking to a country estate near Exeter, says the Express and Echo, thanks to an exhibition of women’s knickers.

Numbers of visitors to Killerton House are 40 per cent up on last year and the National Trust is putting it down to the exhibition, which features corsets, crinolines, frilly 1920s knickers and even a Gossard Wonderbra.

I LOVE MY OLD FLAMES: Cooker fanatic James Bunce tried the patience of a Cirencester removal firm when he asked them to move 126 gas cookers into a rented barn – because 18 months ago they had moved another 125 for him.

The company had to put on a double crew to cope with moving the stoves from three floors of Mr Bunce’s house and two lock-up garages.

Mr Bunce told the Gloucestershire Echo that he hopes to put all 251 cookers, dating from 1920-1970, on display to the public.

ACTION WOMAN: Joan Dunleavy took her first driving lesson at the age of 80 – behind the wheel of a £97,000 Ferrari 355.

The action woman also tried her hand at driving a 2.7 litre Porsche Boxster and an MGF as part of the birthday treat arranged for her at Thruxton Circuit, near Andover, by her family, reported the Daily Echo, Southampton.

TO US, SHE WAS JUST TAMMY: Housewife Carolyn Neal, from Keyworth, Nottinghamshire, has told the Evening Post the story of her amazing 20-year friendship with the late country and western star Tammy Wynette.

The two struck up a firm friendship after fan Carolyn met the singer at a concert in Coventry. Tammy was godmother to the Carolyn’s youngest son and daughter and once cooked Thanksgiving dinner for 40 people in the Neals’ kitchen.

FIT FOR FUN – AT 91: Midge Winterburn can show the “young ones” at an over-50s keep fit class a thing or two.

Midge, 91, told the Leicester Mercury she exercises at home every day and joins the classes every week.

She said: “My motto is: ‘Don’t let anything beat you’.”

BILLS WITH A TEDDY THREAT: An angry Darlington customer has cancelled her ten-year-old account with a local newsagent after he sent out a bill stamped with the logo of a soldier pointing a rifle at a teddy bear, with the message: ‘Pay now or the teddy gets it’.

The Northern Echo reported that the customer complained it was in bad taste in the wake of gun tragedies in this country and abroad.

But the newsagent, who has used the stamp for six years, says he will carry on, saying “Most of my customers like it”.

BIRDS OF A FEATHER: A wild dove flew into the life of Bryan Mawson, of County Durham, three and a half years ago – and they have been inseparable ever since.

Named Lucky, the bird loves to join her adopted family at line dancing evenings where she sits on the stage tapping her feet. She also joins Bryan at his allotment, at cricket matches and on visits to the Durham Wildlife Trust Reserve, reported the Northern Echo. She has even demonstrated her trust by laying an egg in his hand.

PAYING FOR NOTHING: The Glasgow Evening Times has told the story of 60-year-old John Gilchrist who is fighting for a refund of 30 years’ sewerage payments.

Mr Gilchrist’s home – which he moved to in 1965 – is not linked to the sewerage system and he has a septic tank which collects waste from the toilet and the bath which he then uses as garden compost. But it was not until 1996 that Mr Gilchrist realised he was paying for sewerage services as well as water rates. Now he wants his money back, but has no idea how much he is owed.

MINI-TORNADO STUNS MUM: Mum Tracy Mills has told her evening paper, the Western Gazette, Somerset, how a low-flying aircraft caused a mini-tornado which sucked up the portable office she was working in and tossed around nine-metres long sheets of tin.

Tracy, who runs an agricultural contracting business with her husband, was packing up to collect her four-year-old daughter from pre-school when the drama happened.

THE TOAST OF THE ROVERS: British heavyweight boxing champion Mike Holden has told the Oldham Evening Chronicle how he takes time out from training to appear in top TV soap Coronation Street.

For the last four months, Mike has worked for Action Cars which supplies vehicles and “stunt” drivers for the set. TV bosses say they are not necessarily “huge or dramatic stunts”, adding: “It’s mainly when we need a car to brake hard.”

WISH YOU WERE HERE: A police station was closed to the public for three weeks – because the civilian who mans the counter was on holiday.

Angry callers complained to the Bolton Evening News when they found the door to Chorley Old Road station, Horwich, closed with a notice explaining the reason.

The paper reported that Horwich councillors said it was not the fault of the town’s police – who continued to use the station as normal while the public were kept out – but they blamed a lack of resources.

TINKER LOSES FIVE LIVES: Tinker the tomcat is lucky to be alive, a vet told the Hull Daily Mail, after he was hit by a car outside his Bridlington home – and then run over by another four vehicles.

Another passing motorist who did stop to help took the injured cat to the vet and RSPCA volunteers tracked down his owner. Tinker is now back home, but may have suffered some brain damage.

ROYAL SHOCKER: A nasty surprise lay in store for two African princes when they travelled to the Cotswolds in an effort to retrieve the severed head of their former king.

Warrior king Sandile was beheaded during the Frontier Wars in 1878 and his head was taken home as a trophy by Major General Frederick Carrington. Descendants of the king travelled to the village of Hilcot to reclaim the skull and were horrified to find Sandile’s tombstone in an old barn between two other memorials – for Jack the cat and Charlie the dog, the Gloucestershire Echo reported.

The princes plan to return to have the skull exhumed and DNA-tested.

GOING FLAT OUT: Hundreds of frogs are being sqaushed under car wheels despite the efforts of volunteers to get them to safety.

The creatures are being killed as they cross a lane near the Wrekin in Shropshire while trying to get to their regular reservoir so that they can mate.

The Shropshire Star said that signs put up to ask drivers to slow down had been stolen.

SAD PEPE SHOW: Pepe the lovelorn peacock is pining for a mate after his previous companion, Polly, was eaten by a fox.

Owner Sylvia Johnson has even advertised for a peahen to keep him company, but so far without success.

“The result is a sad Pepe, rounding up ducks and displaying to Charlie the cock pheasant, who tolerates his show-off behaviour and carrie
s on eating,” she told the East Anglian Daily Times.

IT’S DANIEL!: Fans of Irish singing star Daniel O’Donnell usually queue for days for tickets for his shows – but jaws dropped, reported the Ipswich Star, when he appeared unannounced at a Stowmarket theatre.

An audience of 200 were at The Regal to see Margo O’Donnell – Daniel’s singing sister – when her brother appeared during the interval and sang four or five songs.

The theatre had made hasty secret plans for his appearance after Daniel rang to say he would “pop in” on his way home from Australia.

FEARS FOR PLAYFUL PARROT: Languages teacher Alice Rhynd fears the worst after her African Grey parrot, Robin, flew out of the house during his regular bathtime when a sudden “whoosh” of water from the tap startled him.

Alice told the Dundee Evening Telegraph that Robin loves dogs and is used to playing with her Alsatian and collie dogs. Now she fears that the talkative bird – which can sing the Robin Hood tune perfectly – may have come to grief while trying to strike up a friendship with a local dog.

THIRD TIME UNLUCKY: Sports staff on the Carlisle News and Star shared with their readers the story of Toby Paterson, who came on as a substitute in Annan Athletic’s 2-0 victory over Tollcross United and managed to get sent off THREE times!

He was dismissed for violent conduct, and was then sent off for a second time for swearing at the referee. As he was being cautioned for the second offence in the referee’s room, he recived a third caution/sending-off for reamrks made to the referee.

TIME TO CLEAR UP – AGAIN: Unlucky homeowner Gordon Bloom knew just what to do when a car smashed into his garage partly demolishing a wall – it had happened five times before.

“My insurance company is used to it,” Mr Bloom told the Basildon Evening Echo. “I tell them just to change the date on the forms.”

WHERE ARE MY KEYS?: The Bath Chronicle has reported that a tow truck driver, preparing to move an illegally-parked car from a quiet cul-de-sac, was left stranded when an angry resident took the keys from his ignition and threw them in a hedge.

He could only watch helplessly as the owner of the car moved his vehicle to a legal parking space. Despite a police search, the keys could not be found and the tow truck driver had to wait two hours for a replacement set to be sent to him. The towing company say it is not the first time this has happened in Bath.

THESE NAMES ARE WHEELY GOOD: Bike-mad John Webb has named all his three children after motorcycles.

The Birmingham Evening Mail told how John had to give up his riding hobby ten years ago, but keeps the memories alive through son Harley Davidson, aged nine, daughter Suzuki, aged six, and five-month-old Bonnie-Val. The baby’s unusual name is a combination of a Triumph Bonneville and her gran’s name, Val.

COURT IN THE ACT: Two jurors sparked an unlikely love story in the hallowed surrounds of Gloucester Crown Court.

They captured the attention of court officials because they looked like “Posh” Spice and David Beckham – and clearly had eyes only for each other. As The Citizen reported: “The pair quickly came to the same verdict – that they fancied each other.”

Their spell of jury service ended after two weeks but when officials asked for a few people to stay on, the pair volunteered. Now, The Citizen is urging readers to contact the newsdesk if they know the couple’s identity.

OUT WITH A BANG: A demolition act reduced a tower block to a 6,000-tonne heap of rubble and prompted this headline in the Manchester Evening News: “Goodbye and good riddance to the past.”

A series of photographs showed the 13-storey block sinking in a cloud of dust behind houses after 30kg of explosives had been detonated.

The block, at Darnhill, Haywood, was the last of nine high-rise buildings on a former overspill estate which was taken out of council control after a tenants’ ballot.

SCOOBY’S NO DOPE: A springer spaniel has retired after a career as one of the most successful drug-busters ever used by Customs and Excise.

Seven-year-old Scooby sniffed out drugs valued at £25m-£35 million in four-and-a-half years, reported the Western Morning News.

His biggest single find was in 1996, when he detected 404kg of cannabis resin, 12kg of ecstasy abd 17kg of cocaine.

FEATHERS FLY: A council is spending £23 an hour to count ducks.

The Belfast-based Irish News revealed a Craigavon councillor’s findings that senior officials were spending up 12 hours a month, at a cost of £275, on the task at Lough Neagh conservation site.

An officer’s claim that the job required real expertise failed to calm the storm, and the News headlined the Page 1 piece: “Councillor left in a fowl mood”.

NUN BUT THE BRAVE: Bogus nuns were in abundance when a singalong version of The Sound of Music took to the stage in Nottingham.

Not to be left out, Evening Post reporter Caroline Foulkes donned habit and wimple when she joined devotees to review the production at the city’s Royal Centre. One man wore full Austrian lederhosen, another went as a Nazi and the auidence snapped up singalong packs featuring a foam nun, edelweiss and a headscarf.

FEELING HORNY: Riley the randy goat has been sexually harassing women workers at an animal sanctuary in Bawtry, South Yorkshire.

“He pins you against walls with his hooves, puts his horns where he shouldn’t and generally becomes over-affectionate,” one worker told The Star, Sheffield.

Vets have castrated Riley in an effort to cool his ardour but, so far, to little effect.

JOB WITH CONVICTION: Prisoners at Durham jail have scored with export orders from American football teams.

Instead of mailbags, inmates at the prison’s workshops are turning out goal nets. English clubs such as Newcastle and Sunderland are among their customers and they have landed orders from some of America’s biggest universities, reported the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.

A MITE INCONVENIENT: Plans for new homes on the North Devon coast have been altered to stop the spread of Britain’s only known termite colony.

The Forestry Commission invoked its legal power to halt the scheme because a termite eradication programme was still in force, the Western Morning News reported.

An official told the paper that termites ate from the centre outwards, leaving a paper-thin skin over the structure under attack, so that it looked normal. “The first time the residents of termite-infested properties realise the properties are infested is when they literally fall down,” he said.

BMW BADGE SPREE:Two boys in Portsmouth spent their half-term holiday stealing car badges from 100 vehicles – mainly BMWs – The News has reported.

Acting on a tip-off, police searched the homes of the boys, aged 11 and 12, and found many of the badges on a bedroom wall. The boys have been given a formal warning but will not be prosecuted.

The cost of replacing the badges, and repairing the damage caused by prising them off, runs into thousands of pounds.

MILK AND TWO SUGARS PLEASE: A Yorkshire cinema has introduced special Thursday morning film screenings, called “Classics and a Cuppa” aimed at pensioners and other people worried about going out at night.

The Huddersfield Daily Examiner reported that tea, coffee and biscuits will be served at the interval – and one of the first films planned is Tea With Mussolini

“I THINK I’M FEELING A BIT BETTER…”: Experts at Bradford Museum have spent two months restoring a 1908 hearse – which also doubled as an ambulance.

One of the restorers explained to the Bradford Telegraph & Argus: “You’d be brought in to the doctors on the ambulance and then, if the worse came to the worse, they’d put the glass top on it if it needed to be used as a hearse.”

The carriage, which was pulled by han
d or by horse, is now on display at York’s Castle Museum.

THERE’S A PEUGEOT ON THE PITCH – HE THINKS IT’S ALL OVER: A Sunday League footballer is appealing against a life ban imposed by Shropshire FA after he drove his Peugeot on to the pitch minutes before the end of a game.

The player, who had earlier been sent off by the referee, has said it was a misunderstanding and he had to drive on to the pitch because it was the only way to leave the area and avoid spectators, the Shropshire Star told readers. The player said the referee and the other players were a long way away from his car at the time.

SING AND YOU’RE WINNING: Notts County Manager Gary Brazil thinks he knows the key to improving the side’s poor home form – they need a club song.

Gary told local paper, the Evening Post, that the club is lagging behind in pre-match entertainment which would get the atmosphere buzzing before the players take to the field.

He wants a song which would be played when the team run out of the tunnel and when a goal is scored.

“I’ve seen it work really well at Middlesbrough, for example,” he said. “It gets everyone on their feet and then, wow, the whole thing explodes.”

IT’S A ******* DISGRACE: Workers at a factory in Scotland are cursing their luck after a burglar stole their swear box.

Staff at a Mitsbushi plant in Livingston had coughed up £65 in 50p fines. The money would have been used to give staff occasional treats but was stolen during a break-in, reports the Edinburgh Evening News.

CANINE COURAGE: Teazle the guide dog has received an RSPCA award after going to the rescue of his owner.

Blind Wendy Evans was walking along Exeter High Street when she was surrounded by a pack of untethered dogs, which began snarling and barking. Teazle stood his ground and protected her until a passer-by intervened and guided Wendy to safety, says the Express and Echo.

BOBBY’S BEAT: Energetic policeman Andy Edwards chased a burglar on foot for three miles – then lost him.

The PC raced down alleyways and shortcuts after seeing the crook acting suspiciously near homes in Plymouth, the Evening Herald reports.

THIRST EMERGENCY SERVICE: When supplies run low at a late night party in Nottingham, help is just a telephone call away.

The Boozebrothers – run by friends Darren Harris and Simon Charvet – is a unique delivery service which will drive supplies of alcohol, cigarettes and snacks to any house within a nine-mile radius of the city between 5pm and 3am on weekdays and 5pm to 5am at weekends.

The Nottingham Evening Post reported that 85% of the firm’s customers are students, and they are now facing a name change – to Fully Tanked – because there’s already a business called Boozebrothers in Sheffield.

AIR – OR ART?: Breathalyser bags filled with breath are one of the main attractions at a Southampton art gallery, the Daily Echo has reported.

The bags will be sealed in two cabinets to form a display by London-based artist John Hayward called Breath Bags, Southampton.

Mr Hayward explained: “Each sample is like a record of a moment in somebody’s life. Over the course of time the bags will deflate at varying rates. This becomes equivalant to, and symbolic of, the different lifespan allotted to us all.”

IN A TWIST OVER YOGA: A Swansea yoga teacher has told the South Wales Evening Post that she lost her job at a leisure centre because council chiefs said she was too old – at 82.

Great-grandmother Nena Joyce, who believes yoga has helped her slow down the onset of old age, has now started a class in a new venue.

DOG WITH A GOLDEN TOUCH: Charlie the Golden Retriever has repaid the kindness of his teenaged owner – in rosettes.

David Webb, 14, chose the dog from an animal shelter 14 months ago, where he had a reputation for unruly behaviour. Thanks to lots of love and attention – and 12 hours training a week – Charlie is now a model pet with 54 dog show rosettes to prove it.

A 38-TONNE SURPRISE: Bridegroom Paul Badger had the first surprise of his married life when new bride Becky arranged for a 38-tonne lorry to take the couple from Malvern Register Office to their reception.

Mike Key, boss of the transport firm who set up the unusual transport for Becky, told the Worcester Evening News: “Paul is a bit of a prankster and she wanted to do something to make him laugh.”

MAKING A BEE-LINE FOR TROUBLE: Plans for a new Devon infant school could be in jeopardy, reports the Express & Echo, Exeter, because it would lie in the flight path of a bee farm.

Parents and teachers have campaigned for the new school in South Molton for more than 30 years, and a £1.8 million funding bid was due to be approved by the Government next month. But a local beekeeper has pointed out that children would have to walk alongside the edge of his farm – which houses one million bees in the summer.

The local education authority is now taking professional advice, and a second opinion from beekeepers about the risk to children of being stung.

STOP CLEANING UP: A public-spirited citizen who grabbed a bucket and brush and started scrubbing obscene graffiti off an underpass near his home, told The Star, Sheffield, that council staff ordered him to stop.

John Cawthorne said: “I feel slighted. I am an ordinary man trying to do his bit”.

But the good news was that council steamcleaners were back at the underpass after John’s week-long blitz and have finished the work he started.

SAVE OUR RUDDY DUCKS: About 40 campaigners gathered at the Brandon Marsh Nature Reserve to protest against Warwickshire Wildlife’s decision to allow ruddy ducks to be culled on its land, reported the Coventry Evening Telegraph.

It was part of a national protest at environment minister Michael Meacher’s decision to cull around 4,000 ruddy ducks nationwide because Spanish conservationists feared that the birds migrating from Britain were breeding with their own endangered white headed ducks.

Campaigners believe the decision is against natural evolution.

Barbara Alford, aged 60, from Earlsdon, said: “If two birds are compatible to mate we have got no right to intervene.”

The protest may be targetting the wrong place, as a recent count at the nature reserve recorded only one ruddy duck.

MAGIC SPELL-ING: A wrongly-spelt road sign has been put right – after 40 years, the Bournemouth Evening Echo has reported.

Eagle-eyed Poole resident John Lang noticed that seven signs in Turbary Road, Newtown, were spelt “Turbary”, but one was spelt “Turbury”.

Borough of Poole workmen confirmed that “Turbary” was correct and said the rogue sign had remained unnotticed for nearly four decades.

PIGGIN’ LONELY: Sweetheart the lonely pig is facing eviction from land where he has been squatting for months.

Locals have been feeding scraps to the porker but he will soon have to move from council-owned land unless his owner can be found, reports the Bristol Evening Post.

Council officials are trying to trace the owner because they want to repossess the land.

HOLLYWOOD TOUCH FOR WEOBLEY: Reporter Nathan Rous and photographer Iain Thomson, from the Shropshire Star watched the Hollywood invasion of Weobley, a village on the Herefordshire/Shropshire border.

Three days of filming for Unconditional Love starring Kathy Bates, Rupert Everett, Jonathan Pryce, Dan Ackroyd and Lyn Redgrave saw the shop names blanked out as the village was transformed into Lark, a fictional Welsh village.

Bizarrely, then, film publicist Robert Levine is quoted as saying: “We wanted to find a village that was typically English”.

‘MUSH’ MORE ROOM: Somerset’s Wetsern Gazette has spotlighted the story of Colin Payne who has swopped a middle management job with a building society in central London to run a mushroom farm in rural Merri

He and his wife and 13-year-old son now live in a house they built themselves on the farm’s land from a timber DIY kit.

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