Hadfield boxer returns to ring for Reuben’s Retreat

A HADFIELD man dusted off his boxing gloves to turn out for one final time in aid of charity last weekend.

Alan “Muhammad” Massey fought in front of more than 500 people, including his family, friends and even world champion Anthony Crolla, at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

The 63-year-old wasn’t in the ring for very long as he saw off opponent Sam Barker, some 30 years his junior, in the space of a minute and 44 seconds.

But the project manager at Broadoak Preservation has helped raise more than £1,600 towards a £2 million complex for Reuben’s Retreat to give terminally ill children their final wish.

Just Giving page as of 14th December 2015

It’s a cause that’s close to Alan’s heart following the death of his brother Brian from a brain tumour at the age of 16.

Reflecting on the fight, Alan said: “Every boxer feels nervous before a fight because of the adrenalin but I trained for a hard three-round fight and it wasn’t hard in the end.

“It was fantastic to fight in front of so many people, some I didn’t know who were cheering me on, and a great feeling to come out a winner too.

“When I came out of the changing room after the weigh-in, the promoter told everyone how old I was and everyone’s jaw dropped. They couldn’t believe how fit I was and they all started clapping.”

Alan, who lives on Oakfield Road, had both won and lost in each of his previous two fights but put in eight weeks of intense training which included all-weather running at 5:30am and sessions with pro boxer Matthew Hatton.

“I trained with Austin Hornsby at St Oz Pro fitness in Mottram but I also did a few weeks with Matthew at his Metro gym in Stockport doing a lot of sparring, which was a great experience.

“I asked him ‘do you think I’m good enough’ and he said ‘yes, no problem’ which was reassuring. But your age is nothing if you really want something and I had trained really hard for the fight.”

Alan emerged from the wings to the sound of bagpipes performed by the St Andrew’s Bolton Pipes and Drums band.

But once the formalities were completed, the knockout blow came in round one when Alan landed a left-jab on the jaw of his opponent – who he didn’t know until the day itself!

The fight was part of KO Promotions’ Christmas Cracker tournament featuring nine fights, organised by former amateur boxer Danny Hornsby.

He added: “I’ve been promoting the event for eight weeks and the boxers had 10 weeks of preparation. It was their Ricky Hatton moment and they experienced something most men only dream about.

“It wasn’t easy to match someone with Alan but he is one of the fittest 60 somethings you will ever see and probably the oldest man ever to fight at this level against a much younger fighter.

“He’s been an athlete most of his life and a British champion body builder for a number of years.

“Boxing is hard both physically and mentally and white collar boxing means you can’t box amateurs under the age of 34 but it’s aimed at anyone who is willing to give it a go and you can fight for a good cause.”

Wayne Rooney boots, a Cristiano Ronaldo shirt and Tyson Fury’s shorts were part of the sporting memorabilia being auctioned off on the night to raise funds.

You can still donate by visiting the Just Giving page set up by Alan’s brother David at www.justgiving.com/Dave-Massey/.

Lucy Beale killer revealed: Who saw that coming?

Bobby Beale the killer

AFTER ten months of dramatic moments, piecing clues together and playing a guessing game, one of soap’s biggest ever storylines has reached a startling and emotional conclusion.

Eastenders followers had been waiting since Good Friday last year to discover the identity of Lucy Beale’s killer in a whodunnit that would have left Miss Marple scratching her head.

The entirety of Albert Square’s residents were in the frame – then it was narrowed down to around 14 before it was finally revealed her death had occurred closer to home than first thought.

Following unexpected affairs, a police officer’s death and plenty of finger-pointing, not many would have predicted the victim’s younger brother Bobby to be the culprit.

Although Jane – as any mother would – tried desperately to protect her son, the shocking truth came out that a quiet, unassuming boy could not reason with his sister and dealt the lethal blow with a jewellery box that he then sent to his niece as a Christmas present.

For a superficially innocent youngster, it was a fairly merciless act – as was hiding the note which Lucy was writing as an apology to her father on the night of her death.

One wondered whether the circumstances of the death would be cold-blooded and premeditated, someone with a genuine axe to grind, as opposed to the apparently motiveless and sympathetic nature of a family member who seemingly did not intend to cause fatal harm.

Indeed, coming to terms with how an 11-year-old – who incidentally became the prime suspect once the Beale household was established as the scene of the crime – can be responsible is going to take some getting used to.

First suspicions were brought upon Ian, then Jane after she stumbled across the body on the living room carpet (as well as receiving the card from Lauren and having second thoughts about the wedding) before the camera panned to the baby-faced Bobby posing with a sinister expression of guilt at the end of Thursday’s flashback episode.

A complex investigation it might have been but, for the storyline to have a significant impact and an equally emotional aftermath, this was the best possible outcome for viewers to see the Beale clan – the soap’s first original family – go through their biggest ordeal to date.

In their 30th anniversary year, it needed a blockbuster narrative to make the celebrations worthwhile and – despite choosing a lesser character to be central to the story – it delivered in leaving the audience on tenderhooks right to the death (excuse the pun!)

Having concocted theories to the contrary, many will naturally be disappointed and critical of the producers – who made public they had changed their minds from their initial choice last year – while a minority have complained officially that they have been misled.

Some light-hearted tweeters likened it to Maggie Simpson shooting Mr Burns – but the intriguing twists and ever-changing pendulum provided an ending that few saw coming.

Seemingly sick of his family being torn apart by Lucy’s, the youngster took matters into his own hands and, with Jane’s help to transport the body to Walford Common rather than the local hospital, has concealed the truth while watching grief take over his loved ones.

Amid acting of the highest order, Jane, whose cover was blown when the alibi she gave to Lauren was discovered to be false by video footage, gave a blow-by-blow account of what happened as Ian, Cindy and Peter tried to contemplate the details.

In capturing the attention of the nation (10 million were watching Thursday’s flashback episode), bookmakers have been taking bets, millions have been discussing the facts and the topic has sent social media into overdrive.

It appears there were no shortage of suspects even when motives were thin on the ground with everyone from Dot Branning to newly-arrived funeral director Les Coker accused of doing the deed.

Even on the night in question, you could count the number of people she didn’t have an argument with on one hand – giving her prospective new step mum a slap, having a run-in with her best friend’s sister and meeting up at a flat with a notorious alcoholic.

At the start of January, DC Emma Summerhayes uttered the words “you killed Lucy” down the phone before meeting an untimely end. Surely she did not know at that point that Bobby – who has only just begun secondary school – was the killer?

Jane, continuing to cover up the crime and take the wrap, made the call and arranged the mysterious meeting with the confused copper on New Year’s Day just hours before she was mowed down by Roxy Mitchell.

As cast members were ruled out along the way, clues were spread sporadically and the behaviour of some characters often difficult to comprehend. Was it Jane’s phone number that Lauren came across in Emma’s evidence file? Why did Lauren get edgy towards Peter? And what grudge did Abi really have against Lucy?

Many will have changed their minds during the course of the inquiry and questions may be left unanswered – will the police work it out for themselves or will Bobby hand himself in? and why didn’t Emma report the crime once she knew the truth? – but some element of closure has finally been sought and the soap lovers can shift their attentions to the next story.

The aftermath to how the Beale’s can keep the secret from their fellow residents – and more importantly the boys in blue – remains to be seen in the coming weeks and months while it has already been revealed that Peter is not set to play a huge part.

On reflection, the storyline has been a resounding success with Friday’s full episode delivering a heartbreaking fall-out which brought a tear to just about everyone’s eyes. An accident caused by tension within a dysfunctional family tugged at the heartstrings.

It has been a closely guarded secret that’s been in the pipeline for a long time yet one thing that can be assured is that fiction has rarely made such gripping viewing.

Broadcasters in new TV debate proposals

BROADCASTERS have put forward new proposals for April’s TV debates ahead of the General Election which would include seven political parties.

ITV and the BBC have both submitted plans to involve UKIP, the Green Party, the Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Plaid Cymru of Wales in a debate with Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.

PM David Cameron had previously stated that he would refuse to take part unless the Greens were involved after UKIP were included as a major party in the ITV debate with the three main party leaders, to be chaired by Julie Etchingham.

The debate between Cameron and Labour leader Ed Miliband – to be broadcast by Sky News and Channel 4 with presenters Jeremy Paxman and Kay Burley – is believed to be unaltered.

The BBC had originally planned to air a three-way debate featuring Cameron, Miliband and Deputy PM and Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg – to be presided over by Question Time host David Dimbleby.

But the involvement of UKIP is believed to be the main complaint of Cameron, who claimed it would be unfair to involve Nigel Farage and not Greens counterpart Natalie Bennett.

Lord Grade – a former head of the BBC and ITV – had said that going ahead with the debates without Cameron’s participation would be “viable” if a statement was read out explaining his absence.

At Prime Minister’s Questions before Christmas, Miliband accused Cameron of “running scared” from the debates, which were regarded as a disaster for the Tories when they were staged for the first time in 2010.

The SNP and Plaid Cymru threatened the BBC with legal action over their exclusion from the screened exchanges five years ago.

It is thought the revised debates plan – a result of weeks of negotiations by TV executives – was presented to the political parties this afternoon and they are now being closely considered.

According to ITV News Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon “welcomes” the possibility of a podium for her party at the debates as it would otherwise be “democratically unacceptable”.

She added that their inclusion was only right as her party are likely to “hold the balance of power” following the election.

However, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Peter Robinson has confirmed he will be writing to ITV and the BBC asking why his party have not been regarded in any discussions about the debates.

The debates – which are heavily regulated by Ofcom for the purposes of impartiality – will be held on April 2, 16 and 30.

Voters will go to the polls to elect their new governement for the next five years on May 7.

Manchester poet Duffy given New Year honour

Picture with credit to Getty Images

 

MANCHESTER Metropolitan University professor Carol Ann Duffy has been made a dame in the Queen’s 2015 New Year Honours list.

Ms Duffy, a professor of contemporary poetry and creative director at the Manchester Writing School of the university, had already received an OBE in 1995 and a CBE in 2005.

The 59-year-old, who became Britain’s first female poet laureate in 2009, has lived in South Manchester for 20 years.

She is among hundreds of people, including several from Greater Manchester and Salford, who received a royal accolade at Buckingham Palace in London on New Year’s Day.

“I am delighted that the long tradition of the Laureateship and poetry in general are part of these celebrations,” Ms Duffy said, after discovering she had been honoured.

“We have many wonderful poets in this country and it is a privilege to represent them.”

The Glasgow-born poet, who is openly LBGT, was also the first Scot to be appointed laureate by the Queen – a role in which she composed poems for special occasions – in the position’s 341-year history.

Her collection of over 50 children books, poetry and plays – published since her graduation from the University of Liverpool with a philosophy degree in 1974 – has already been recognised with various literary awards.

As well as being renowned for working with aspiring young poets in schools, she also campaigns to address gender, oppression and violence in the UK.

Ms Duffy, who has been a poetry lecturer at MMU since 1996, was praised by university chiefs for supporting students by organising projects and competitions to encourage their progress.

“It is a great way to reward and celebrate the generosity with which she has infused the role,” vice chancellor John Brooks said.

Meanwhile, Catherine Garside, from St Ambrose Barlow Roman Catholic High School in Swinton, has been made a CBE for services to education.

Arlene McCarthy, a former MEP from Altrincham, Greater Manchester, is awarded an OBE for parliamentary and political services in the north west.

Rebecca Bryant, head of crime and disorder directorate at Manchester City Council, was made also made an OBE for services to the community and Victim Support in Manchester.

And the Queen’s Fire Service Medal was awarded to James Owen, the deputy county fire officer at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

ITV confirms Broadchurch return date

The End Is Where It Begins - Broadchurch message

IT’S been the best part of 18 months since viewers were left with the cryptic message “the end is where it begins”.

For many, the wait has been torturous – but it is almost over after ITV revealed the highly-anticipated second series of Broadchurch will commence on Monday, January 5 at 9pm.

Eight new episodes will bring a welcome New Year present for fans of the BAFTA award-winning crime drama starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman as DI Alec Hardy and DS Ellie Miller.

Before announcing the date, ITV stirred interest on their Twitter account by asking social media users to tweet #BroadchurchReturns and releasing short video updates to help reveal the trailer.

Broadchurch reveal update in December 2014

And after hours of the hashtag trending across the UK and a succession of teasers, the full trailer was finally unlocked…

Last month, it was confirmed the programme would return in January and since then, three short clips have been aired (the last of which is below) to stir up theories of what might happen.

So far, details have been kept under wraps with writer Chris Chibnall and the production team desperate for it to remain a surprise. Even the cast and crew have been sworn to secrecy.

In the eight-part series which appeared on screen in spring 2013, the fictitious Dorset town of Broadchurch was plunged into a media frenzy following the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer.

After a lengthy investigation involving a host of suspects, an unexpected twist saw the killer unmasked which will change the lives of Broadchurch’s inhabitants forever.

Around 10 million viewers were kept on tenderhooks – and they will see the aftermath unravel as Joe Miller fights against his conviction, Danny’s funeral takes place while his mother Beth struggles to repair her relationship with Ellie.

The all-star cast includes Andrew Buchan, Jodie Whittaker and Arthur Darvill while the likes of James D’arcy, Charlotte Rampling and Eve Myles are new additions.

Broadchurch (start of series one in March 2013)

It’s fair to say – even with a month to go until the first episode –  the excitement is already generating…

Miliband speech ‘contains nothing new’

Bring something new: Is Miliband repeating himself or are the media barking up the wrong tree?
Bring something new: Is Miliband repeating himself or are the media barking up the wrong tree?


POLITICIANS are often criticised for re-hashing the same phrases and sticking to mundane principles.

Today, Ed Miliband incurred the wrath of disillusioned journalists for delivering a speech in London which they felt “contained nothing new.”

The Labour leader was questioned for – somewhat conveniently – forgetting to mention how his party plans to tackle the deficit in his party conference address in Manchester in September.

Now, when he finally remembered to talk about the issue, he has been accused of repeating the same messages about a “long-term plan”, the same shortcomings of the Tories and what Britain’s economy needs to become even more successful.

And not mentioning the tax rises and spending cuts required to eliminate the deficit in the next Parliament – should Labour be handed the Downing Street keys.

Even claims that Mr Miliband is repeating himself are being repeated.

Political editors from media organisations across the country, who dedicated time and coverage to the speech, weren’t exactly happy bunnys…

Labour are widely renowned for tearing into the Conservatives’ approach to borrowing but their economic credibilty in comparison to David Cameron’s party remains incredulous.

Mr Miliband may feel that discussing one of the most important issues before next year’s General Election in detail may express greater determination to deal with it.

His bid to reclaim the faith of the sceptics who were scathing of the deficit omission from his keynote speech some three months ago seems to be working – although losing an television debate to a former pop singer did him no favours.

But keeping people – including the media’s big hitters – on side must be the main aim if he is to allure the voting public.

Andy Murray engaged to girlfriend Kim Sears

Andy Murray at the US Open in 2012 (from Creative Commons)

TO family and friends, it always felt like a matter of when rather than if.

But after eight years together, British tennis star Andy Murray, 27, and his long-term girlfriend Kim Sears, 26, have finally agreed to tie the knot next year.

It is believed Andy popped the question with an expensive diamond ring over a week ago and Kim replied “yes” immediately but it has been kept quiet – until now.

Both of their families are said to be “overjoyed” by the news and the couple will now enjoy their engagement before making plans for the big day – including setting the exact date of the wedding.

The pair first got together after they met at a party in South Africa in 2006 and have rarely been seen apart since – unless the 2013 Wimbledon champion is out on court.

Even then, Kim – an aspiring actress and painter – is often a loyal fixture of support from the stands.

The couple, who are notoriously private, live together in a multi-million pound mansion in Oxshott, Surrey.

The announcement comes on the day Murray reshuffled his coaching team for 2015, retaining Amelie Mauresmo as head coach but parting company with her assistant Daniel Vallverdu and fitness trainer Jez Green.

Andy flew out to the Philippines on Wednesday to take part in the International Premier Tennis League.

Gemma Collins leaves I’m A Celebrity jungle

Early exit: Gemma Collins has lasted just three days in the I'm a Celebrity jungle
Early exit: Gemma Collins has lasted just three days in the I’m a Celebrity jungle


GEMMA Collins has left the ITV reality series I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here jungle of her own accord.

The circumstances surrounding her departure have not been disclosed although she is expected to appear on the ITV2 spin-off show I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here Now tonight to explain.

The TOWIE diva – from Romford in East London – lasted just three days in Australia and spent most of that time behind bars in the so-called Celebrity Slammer.

On Wednesday’s show, Gemma was released from the jungle jail Slammer after pop star Tinchy Stryder won four stars in the Chamber of Horrors bushtucker trial.

But after another tirade in the Bush Telegraph, she returned to the Croc Creek to explain “the personal decision” which forced her to use the freedom buzzword “I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here.”

She told campmates: “I don’t want to put myself through extreme measures all the time. I have to start living my life the way I want to live it.

“No amount of money would keep me here. I feel so amazing and strong and I will never regret this. It is the most life changing thing I have ever done.”

A spokesman for the show said: “We’re sorry to see Gemma go but respect her decision and wish her well.”

She had been tipped to quit after refusing to take part in the traditional sky dive into camp as producers had to remove her from the helicopter and find a different route for her to join campmates.

“Can you stop a minute please, I’m serious just stop, I need to get out, seriously I’m going to be sick, I can’t do it, no way,” she told the pilot as a flood of tears left mascara running down her face.

She has struggled to adapt to jungle life and going without food, saying she would kill herself if she was not “given a treat in the next few days” after living off porridge.

“I’m leaving. We’re in the slammer and I need some decent food, I can’t eat porridge ever again, I’m going to die,” she told her fellow Slammer jailbirds Craig Charles, Nadia Forde and Vicki Michelle MBE.

Her exit was hardly surprising considering she had complained that she could not “hack this jungle lark” and broke down on numerous occasions.

It appears Collins may not have been able to escape her troubles at home having only separated from her ex-convict boyfriend Alex Moss over the weekend amid widespread reports she had allegedly been beaten up by him.

In a dramatic but brief time in the jungle jail, the 33-year-old claimed “murderers get treated better than this”, that she had contracted malaria when having an upset stomach and suffered from severe diarrhoea.

She did not get the opportunity to take part in a Bushtucker trial but at least has one memory to go home with – when she gave a “birdie” to Coronation Street actor Charles.

Gemma Collins gives Craig Charles 'a birdie' in I'm a Celebrity

During her own challenge, she found knitting difficult – leaving it to Craig and Nadia instead – and even stated afterwards “thank God we have [sewing] machines.”

Gemma Collins on I'm a Celebrity 2014

Gemma – the boutique owner, who won this year’s British Plus Size Fashion Designer award – has 1.09 million followers on Twitter.

She admitted prior to entering the show that she signed up to lose weight, hoping to shed three stone during the course of the series.

The Essex-based reality star, who was a contestant on ITV diving show Splash! earlier this year, has been part of The Only Way Is Essex since its inception in 2011.

Lynda Bellingham’s cancer ‘had to be made public’

Lynda Bellingham made one of her final TV appearances on BBC Breakfast last month
Lynda Bellingham made one of her final TV appearances on BBC Breakfast last month


MICHAEL Pattimore, the widower of the late Lynda Bellingham, said the actress’s bowel cancer “had to be made public”  because of her work commitments.

In his first TV interview following his wife’s death on 19 October, he spoke of the effect the colon cancer had on her life since she was diagnosed by a Harley Street doctor in July 2013.

The much-loved broadcaster announced in September that the cancer – having spread to her liver and lungs – was terminal and she had “months to live”.

“It was something we didn’t want many people to know at first. We had to make it public because she had theatres booked and people needed to know about it,” Michael told ITV’s Loose Women, on which Lynda was a panelist for four years until 2011.

“When it first came out, with her being a woman, everyone thought it was breast cancer.”

Lynda had hoped to spend one final Christmas with her family – and Michael, who she met in Spain, recalled the festive period from a previous year which brought back positive memories.

“I’ll always remember when she was doing Calender Girls and we were up in Harrogate and there was a Christmas shop up there and then one afternoon when she wasn’t doing a matinee she went in there and got all this Christmas stuff,” he added.

“I went ‘how are you going to get that home?’ and she said ‘we can put it in the car’.

“I replied ‘but we flew up!’

“We ended up having to buy another suitcase!”

Tuesday’s Daily Mirror exclusively revealed Lynda was a mum who is dying of cancer in the movie Too Close for Comfort 2 with the final emotional scenes filmed just before her death.

Meanwhile, the actor who played the mum’s son was Lynda’s real-life son Michael Peluso.

Canadian-born Lynda passed away peacefully in a London hospital last month and her funeral – attended by close friends and family – took place on 3 November in Crewkerne, Somerset.

Property developer Michael – her third husband whom she married in 2008 – confirmed he permitted the return this Christmas of the “Oxo Family” TV advert from which she became famous.

Lynda had released her autobiography “There’s Something I’m Dying To Tell You” weeks before her death but her new book “The Boy I Love” – which is expected to reach the top of the bestselling list – is out on Thursday.

Children In Need bonanza raises millions

Having fun: Donators wearing rain macs took part in a "longa konga" outside MediaCityUK (Picture from Quays News)
Having fun: Donators wearing rain macs took part in a “longa konga” outside MediaCityUK (Picture from Quays News)

 

THE BBC’s 2014 Children In Need extravaganza on Friday night raised over £32 million to help disadvantaged youngsters across the UK.

The final amount after the six-and-a-half hour gala, which ran until 02:00 GMT on Saturday, reached £32.6 million – £1.5 million more than last year’s total on the night.

Once all the donations have been calculated, it could exceed the record £49.6 million achieved in the 2013 appeal.

The highlights of the bonanza included a first live appearance by pop group S Club 7 since 2003 as well as a Strictly Come Dancing comeback by Sir Bruce Forsyth and boyband One Direction performing their new single “Steal My Girl” from the Eastenders set in Albert Square.

Choirmaster Gareth Malone and his all-star choir – including comic Jo Brand, Loose Women panellist Linda Robson and actor Larry Lamb – performed the Children In Need single “Wake Me Up” which is expected to top the charts this weekend.

Long-serving Eastenders character Ian Beale was haunted from beyond the grave by four dead characters – his murdered daughter Lucy, late ex-wife Cindy, mother Kathy and resident patriarch Pat Evans.

The current stars of the popular BBC soap – led by Shane Richie, who plays character Alfie Moon – also sang their own medley from the musical Grease while the show was opened in spectacular style by the West End cast of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Cartoon duo Tom & Jerry figured in a special clip as they rallied around with a Pudsey collection bucket; visiting the Great British Bake Off tent, Match of the Day studio, Strictly ballroom and Queen Vic pub on their way to the studio.

Fans of Doctor Who were also treated to a sneak preview of this year’s Christmas episode, which will be aired next month.

Veteran Strictly presenter Forsyth, who left the show before the current series, returned to assist the search for a junior ballroom champion in a special edition of the BBC1 primetime Saturday night talent show from Blackpool.

During the event, six teenagers completed their mammoth 450-mile journey cycling from Salford to Walford in the ricksaw challenge overseen by The One Show’s co-host Matt Baker.

A number of businesses and high-street stores from the North West also contributed to the cause with their own fundraising events.

Children in Need on stage 2014

Meanwhile, over 1,000 primary school pupils from 12 different schools across the country got together to perform their own stunning version of The Pretenders song “I’ll Stand By You”.

Among the well-known musical acts that took to the stage were X Factor judge Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, The Script, Boyzone, Donny Osmond and Susan Boyle.

But the biggest excitement was reserved for the anticipated return of Tina Barrett, Paul Cattermole, Jon Lee, Bradley McIntosh, Jo O’Meara, Hannah Spearritt and Rachel Stevens as S Club 7 performed a medley of their greatest hits.

The Saturdays singer Rochelle Humes also joined the presenting team, featuring regulars Sir Terry Wogan, Tess Daly, Fearne Cotton and Nick Grimshaw.

The annual telethon, which was first broadcast in 1980, took place at the BBC’s Elstree studios in Hertfordshire.

Although there were 1.5 million less people tuning in compared to 12 months ago, it was the night’s most watched programme on TV with an average of 10 million viewers in the UK throughout.

Since its inception, Children In Need – the BBC’s UK corporate charity – has raised more than £740 million to improve the lives of many young people in this country.

What the newspapers have to say and the news in general…