Tag Archives: woman

Keep dancing?

Gemma Atkinson, Alexandra Burke, Joe McFadden, Debbie McGeeImage copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption The fantastic four: Gemma Atkinson, Alexandra Burke, Joe McFadden and Debbie McGee

“It’s a really life-changing thing that we’ve done. It feels like we’ve been altered, in a really good way.”

Joe McFadden is musing on his Strictly experience before he steps on to the dance floor for the last time during the show’s grand final at 18:30 GMT on BBC One on Saturday.

“It’s made me so much braver and more adventurous than I was before,” he says, talking about the 13-week roller coaster that’s taken him from ballroom beginner to debonair dancer.

Adventurous is one word for the daring cantilever move he and professional dance partner Katya Jones executed in the semi-final.

‘Beyond thrilled’

Jones hoisted the former Holby City actor to his feet in a tricky balance during their Argentine Tango which McFadden jokes has seen “doctors’ appointments go up 300%”, because of fans attempting it.

“We’re beyond thrilled,” he beams, speaking ahead of the finalists’ press conference on their last day of rehearsals. “It’s fantastic to still be here. It’s lovely to have that hard work recognised.”

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Joe McFadden’s gravity-defying move

He’s not the only one of the four finalists to be pinching themselves at getting through – and to feel that the show is life-changing.

Actress and radio host Gemma Atkinson, singer Alexandra Burke and presenter Debbie McGee are also in the final four.

Former X Factor winner Burke recalls that when she found out she was to be on Strictly, she screamed so much she lost her voice – and she was appearing in a show in Cardiff that night.

The singer has perhaps has had to cope with more than most, as her mother Melissa Bell died shortly after it was announced she was appearing on the show.

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Alexandra gives Debbie “Flexie” McGee a run for her money

“At the time I was going through so much, and then of course, as soon as we started, that was a very hard time for me,” she says.

“But to have this as an amazing distraction, a blessing in disguise, something I’ve been able to focus on and also as well to get the most amazing friendship with Gorka out of it, has been absolutely out of this world.”

Burke says Strictly was her mum’s “favourite show”, and adds: “My mum was just the most amazing woman who gave me so much strength and she still does to this day. Everything I do is for my family, so I think she’d be proud.”

She admits to being “quite emotional” at reaching the final, adding: “My highlight has been meeting Gorka and making a friend.”

‘You’re a team’

Gemma Atkinson, the actress and radio presenter, says: “It’s been a lot more than I expected. I didn’t think it would be so mentally involved – I thought I would just learn to dance.

“Since meeting Aljaz [Skorjanec], and him being my dance partner, I feel like there’s a lot more to it. Every week, we’ve gone out wanting to do more than what you’re physically capable of, not letting him down. You feel like you’re a team. I never expected to be that involved in it.”

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Gemma and Aljaz danced to Downtown in the Blackpool Tower ballroom

She adds: “Being on Strictly has just been one of the best, most enjoyable experiences of my life. Me and Aljaz were the first couple to dance on the Strictly dance floor of 2017. The pressure was on to start the series with a bang. At the end of the dance, I remember he whispered in my ear – ‘you’ve done it kid, first one down’.

“I’ve never danced in my life. I never did stage school or drama school. Putting on a show every Saturday is new to me. I hope I inspire other women to think, ‘if she can do it, I can do it and all’.”

‘I lost who I was’

And McGee says that her experience has brought her “nothing but happiness”.

“I’ve loved everything about it – mostly because of Giovanni [Pernice, her dance partner],” she explains. “He’s taught me a lot more than just learning to dance. He has nurtured me through such a lot. I couldn’t imagine having done it without having him as a partner.

“After [husband] Paul [Daniels] died, I kind of lost who I was. And I think Strictly has given me my confidence back. I’ll remember my Strictly experience as being a time that brought happiness back into my life.”

Image copyright Guy Levy/BBC
Image caption Debbie and Giovanni did a routine to Memory from Cats in Musicals week

She describes Strictly as “a family” – and that any negative press or social media comments “is not even 1%” of the overall experience.

“Everything else is so positive and happy that it doesn’t affect you much. Everything about Strictly is a happy experience.”

They all say they hope to carry on dancing after the final – even though of course, only one of them can lift the glitterball trophy on Saturday night.

Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email .


Walkden fire deaths family ‘won’t be broken’

Composite imageImage copyright Police handout
Image caption Lia, Demi, Brandon and Lacie died following Monday’s fire, while their mum Michelle remains in a coma

The aunt of four children who died in a house fire in Salford says the family is trying to cope with their grief but “nothing will ever break us”.

Demi Pearson, 15, and siblings Brandon, eight, and Lacie, seven, died in the blaze in Walkden on Monday. Lia, three, died in hospital on Wednesday.

Claire Pearson said: “What’s happened is tragic but it won’t separate this family. We are all very close.”

Her sister and the children’s mother, Michelle, 35, is in hospital in a coma.

The family said they were “dreading the day” they have to tell her “the awful news about her babies”.

Ms Pearson says her sister is “an amazing woman” and the house on Jackson Street “was like a youth club with the amount of kids” who would visit.

“She was such a mother to everybody else’s kids as well as her own,” she said.

“When it was family time they’d all cuddle up on the couch together, they were so close.

“Lacie was a little diva, she didn’t stop dancing. Lia was obsessed with Peppa Pig. Brandon and Lacie were so close.”

Image caption Claire Pearson said: “What’s happened is tragic but it won’t separate this family.”

Speaking of how the family feels, she said: “You can’t feel pain, you can’t feel grief, you can’t feel anything, you’re so numb inside, it’s too much to take in.”

Mike Pearson, Michelle’s father, said: “The kids were just like any other kids. They were very supportive, very independent, but very tightly-knit.

“Demi was a little star. She’d been a diabetic and had problems in and out of hospital with that but nothing phased her, she was a beautiful girl.

“Brandon was quite funny, he was more like a school teacher, he was so intelligent.”

Image caption Mike Pearson said Michelle Pearson is expected to be in a medically-induced coma for the next three or four weeks

He described Michelle, who they said was in critical but stable condition, as “fiercely independent”.

“Michelle would do things her way. She loved her kids to pieces, she’d look after anyone. She was a friend to everyone,” he said.

“She didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone. She had a heart of gold, but she was nobody’s fool, she’d stand her corner.”

He said the family has recently been to church to pray for her recovery.

“She’s so badly burned, she’s bandaged from head to foot, she looks like a mummy and she’s going to be in the medically-induced coma for the next three or four weeks,” he said.

“It’s going to be a long road but hopefully she’ll pull through. Whether she’ll have the fight, I don’t know. I’m hoping she’ll get the strength from somewhere but she’s lost all her babies and that’s the heartbreaking thing.

“We’ve got to focus on Michelle and try and be there for her.”

Image caption Claire Pearson said the house on Jackson Street “was like a youth club with the amount of kids” who visited

He added he was “gobsmacked” at the support the family has received from the local community.

“The outpouring of love and support, it’s been overwhelming. People have come from miles to leave flowers and teddy bears and messages of support,” he said.

“They’ve been absolutely outstanding. We thank everyone for the messages and the love.”

  • Two men and a woman appeared in court earlier charged with murdering the siblings. They were remanded in custody until 9 March for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Teapot clue revealed woman’s abusive relationship

A woman has told how a teapot clue revealed the abusive relationship she was trapped in.

Jayne Booth, from Norfolk, met her husband online and he was eventually sent to prison for violence and possessing an offensive weapon.

A policeman who was visiting the house realised she was in a coercive relationship after he noticed a dirty teapot that “Jayne wasn’t allowed to clean”.

Salford fatal fire: Three in court charged with murder

Composite imageImage copyright Police handout
Image caption Lia, Demi, Brandon, Lacie and Michelle Pearson

Two men and a woman have appeared in court charged with murdering four children in a house fire in Salford.

David Worrall, 25, of no fixed address, Zak Bolland, 23, and Courtney Brierley, 20, both of Worsley, appeared at Manchester Crown Court.

They are accused of killing siblings Lia Pearson, three, Lacie, seven, Brandon, eight, and Demi, 15.

All three are also accused of arson and the attempted murders of the children’s mother Michelle and two 16-year-olds.

They were remanded in custody until 9 March for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

A trial date was set for 30 April at the same court, with the trial expected to last between three and four weeks.

Bolland, of Blackleach Drive, Walkden, and Worrall – both wearing fluorescent yellow and green boiler suits – and Brierley, of Worsley Avenue, Walkden – wearing a grey tracksuit – were flanked by dock officers as the future court dates were decided.

At the beginning of the 20-minute hearing, all three gave their full names, dates of birth and nationalities. Worrall smiled as he confirmed his personal details.

Demi died at the scene of Monday’s blaze on Jackson Street, Walkden.

Brandon and Lacie died later in hospital. Lia died in hospital on Wednesday.

Michelle Pearson, 35, is in a coma in hospital, unaware of their deaths.

Two 16-year-olds, who cannot be named for legal reasons, managed to escape the blaze, which broke out at about 05:00 GMT.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Firefighters were called to the mid-terraced home on Monday morning

Backlash over ‘stay with abuser’ posts shared by Essex Police

Essex Police campaign postImage copyright Facebook
Image caption The posts were shared by Essex Police but created with the Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board

A police force has faced a backlash over social media posts that appeared to support domestic abuse victims staying with their partners.

Sheila’s Story describes how a woman who “knew that the abuse in her relationship was wrong” is given help and support to stay with her husband.

Twitter and Facebook users criticised the “incredibly dangerous message”.

Essex Police apologised for the offence caused by the post’s use of “clumsy language”.

“However, the stories featured in the campaign are real stories,” a force spokesman said.

“Our message in this campaign isn’t ‘stay in any relationship no matter how abusive’, it’s ‘if something is happening in your relationship even if you’ve been with someone for decades there is help you can get'”.

Social media users reacted angrily to the posts, with one describing them as “idiotic”.

Writer and food blogger Jack Monroe said they had “no words for what an irresponsible, silencing, diminishing campaign this is”.

“Basically telling women to ‘put up and shut up’ re domestic abuse. In 2017. This is absurd,” Monroe wrote on Twitter.

Another Twitter user remarked: “There’s no such thing as staying safe in an abusive relationship”.

‘Sparked debate’

The force is running the campaign in partnership with Southend, Essex and Thurrock Domestic Abuse Board.

Chair of the board, Dick Madden, said Sheila’s Story had been “thought very carefully about” before being shared.

“Not all domestic abuse cases are the same, and not all victims will want to leave or consider reporting to the police,” he said.

“Through this particular scenario, we are aiming to reach out to this audience and give them information about the support available, whatever their circumstances.

“We want to make sure victims know where to turn to for support.”

Mr Madden said the campaign had been developed with domestic abuse specialists, refuges, partners and survivors of abuse.

“The message is clear: domestic abuse is never acceptable,” he said.

“Within the comments on this particular post, there were a number of supportive comments – some from survivors who sought support and have stayed within their relationship.

“We think it is positive that the campaign has sparked a debate on a very important issue.”

New appeal to find man after injured passenger left in crashed car

POLICE hunting a driver who fled the scene of a crash leaving a badly injured woman passenger trapped in the wreckage, have named a man they want to speak to in connection with the incident.

Waqas Hussain is being sought by officers investigating the collision which happened on Bradford Road in Clayton, close to the junction with Hunters Park Avenue on July 17 this year. Police have also released a photo of him.

A 20-year-old woman suffered serious injuries when a Volkswagen Golf left the road and collided with a garage and tree. She has since been allowed home from hospital.

A police spokesman said: “Hussain is 22-years-old and is believed to reside in Great Horton. He also has links to the Clayton, West Bowling and Lidget Green areas of the city.”

He is described as medium build, around 5ft 6ins tall and speaks with an Asian accent.

Officers have conducted extensive enquiries to locate Hussain, who is not thought to pose a risk to the public, added the spokesman.

Anyone with information on his whereabouts should contact the Safer Roads and Neighbourhood Support team on 101, quoting crime reference 13170327764.

Information can also be reported anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Boy, 5, dies after being hit by car in Bournemouth

Naseby RoadImage copyright Google
Image caption The boy was struck by the car as he crossed Naseby Road, police said

A fiveyear-old boy has died after he was hit by a car while crossing a road.

Police said the boy was struck by a black Vauxhall Corsa as he crossed Naseby Road, Bournemouth, shortly before 16:00 GMT on Wednesday.

He was taken to hospital where he died a short time later. The driver of the car, a woman aged in her 20s, was uninjured.

Police have urged witnesses to come forward and are seeking any CCTV from homes or dashcam footage from drivers.

Tulse Hill hit-and-run: Police trace two drivers

The scene of the crash on Norwood Road/South Circular RoadImage copyright Twitter/Lychee
Image caption The victim was hit on a pedestrian crossing on the South Circular Road near Norwood Road

Police have traced two of the four drivers believed to be involved in a hit-and-run which killed a 29-year-old woman in south London.

The victim was struck by a lorry as she crossed Norwood Road, in Tulse Hill, on 11 December.

She was then hit by a second lorry and two cars and died of her injuries. Police say none of the drivers stopped at the scene.

Two men, aged 49 and 52, have been interviewed by detectives.

Det Sgt Alastair Middleton, of the Metropolitan Police, urged the other two drivers to speak to police.

The Met is also seeking any dashcam footage from drivers who were in the Norwood Road area between 06:30 and 07:00 GMT.

Officers say the woman from Wandsworth was crossing the road while the lights were green for traffic when she was initially hit at 06:48 GMT.

Of the two drivers who have been tracked down so far- the 49-year-old man, who was the driver of the first lorry, was interviewed under caution.

The 52-year-old driver of the second car was arrested on Tuesday and subsequently released while inquiries continue.

Westminster rape trial: Samuel Armstrong ‘victim gave story to press’

Samuel Armstrong arriving at Westminster Magistrates' CourtImage copyright PA
Image caption Samuel Armstrong has claimed what happened took place with “full consent”

A woman who claims she was raped by a MP’s chief of staff in Westminster gave the story to journalists hours after the alleged attack, a jury has heard.

Samuel Armstrong, of Danbury, Essex, denies two charges of rape and two of sexual assault on 14 October 2016.

Southwark Crown Court heard the woman sent a message to her boyfriend.

“Keeping you in the loop. I’ve given it to Harry Cole who works for the Sun. It will either be in the Mail on Sunday or the Sun front page on Monday,” it said.

Jurors were told the message was sent 15 hours after the alleged assault, and a later message said: “The media already knew so this is my way of controlling it to ensure I get a sympathetic writer.”

‘Wanted control’

When Sarah Forshaw QC, defending, asked the woman, a parliamentary worker in her 20s, about the messages, she insisted she did not sell the story and explained it had been a friend who spoke to the Sun.

She said: “I really didn’t want my identity to come out and it was a state where I had absolutely no control in the event, so I wanted a little bit of control.”

The court has heard claims the attack happened in the early hours in the Westminster office of South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay after the woman fell asleep there after a night drinking.

The woman said Mr Armstrong, 24, of Copt Hill, called her a “bitch” and raped her twice after she turned down an invitation to go back to his flat in Clapham, south London.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption It is claimed the attack happened in the Westminster office of South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay

Ms Forshaw suggested the woman became distressed when she tried to leave Westminster after having consensual sex with Mr Armstrong.

“When it was over you were not upset with him at all, were you?” she asked.

But the woman answered: “Yes – I was completely confused and devastated in the truest sense of that word.”

The woman admitted sending a request to Mr Armstrong to follow him on Twitter in September 2017 but said it was an accident.

Image caption Mr Armstrong’s defence lawyer suggested the woman became distressed as she left

Ms Forshaw asked her: “I don’t suggest you have deliberately set out to lie to get Sam in trouble. I suggest you told a lie at the time and once you had told it you couldn’t take it back?”

The alleged victim replied: “You would be incorrect.”

Mr Forshaw then asked her: “You don’t have any animosity towards Sam even now, do you?”

The woman replied: “No. It’s something I have struggled with in the last year.”

Ms Forshaw also put it to her that everything that happened in Mr Mackinlay’s office was with her consent, but the woman answered: “No, absolutely not.”

The trial continues.

MP’s aide Samuel Armstrong faces Westminster rape trial

Samuel Armstrong arriving at Westminster Magistrates' CourtImage copyright PA
Image caption It is claimed Samuel Armstrong attacked a woman in a Tory MP’s office

An MP’s aide has gone on trial charged with raping a woman in the Houses of Parliament.

Samuel Armstrong, 24, of Copt Hill, Danbury, Essex, denies two counts of rape and two counts of sexual assault.

Prosecutor Mark Heywood QC told Southwark Crown Court the victim, in her 20s, had been found “in distress” by cleaning staff at Westminster.

It is claimed the attack took place in the office of Tory MP Craig Mackinlay.

Mr Mackinlay’s office is in the Norman Shaw building at Westminster.

‘Interested in himself’

Mr Heywood QC told the court the defendant, who was employed by the South Thanet MP as his chief of staff, had “abused his position” after an evening of drinking at the sports and social bar on 14 October 2016.

The court was told the woman, who also worked in parliament, had been found walking and running through the corridors of Westminster.

Mr Heywood said Mr Armstrong raped the woman twice while they were alone in the MP’s office and added: “In doing so, we suggest, he was interested only in himself.

“She, in distress, walked and ran through the corridors of that place, Westminster, eventually finding and telling a member of cleaning staff what had happened.

“He went out another way, using his pass and sending her messages, one of which suggested that he was concerned and that she contact him if she had ‘any issues’.”

But jurors were also told Mr Armstrong claimed that what happened took place with “full consent”.

The trial continues.