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Firefighter proposes to girlfriend after gruelling 190 mile charity fundraiser

Joey embarked upon the challenging walk to raise money for both the Lancashire Fire Service and the Royal Navy



Completing a 190 charity walk in under five days is quite the achievement, but a Lancashire Fire and Rescue firefighter recently managed to top that by proposing to his unsuspecting girlfriend at the finish line. 

Accompanied by four friends, Joey Hawke, from Rawtenstall, took on the challenging fundraiser last month, trekking from St. Bees in Cumbria all the way to Robin Hood’s Bay in the North Yorkshire Moors – all while kitted out in full fire kit.

Speaking to Proper Manchester, Joey detailed the inspiration behind the charity walk, saying: “I got speaking to a mate who’s joined the royal navy – he wanted to raise some money for Royal Navy and Royal Marines charities so obviously as a firefighter, I wanted to join in and raise some money for the fire fighters charity.

Joey Hawke / Facebook

“I came up with the idea of doing the coast to coast walk, and I wanted to complete it in seven days. But my friend Duncan, who I did the walk with, suggested we do it in five days to give ourselves a bit of a challenge.”

Amazingly, after averaging around thirty-eight miles per day, the group managed to complete the walk in just under five days – four days, thirteen hours, and fifty-five minutes, to be precise – but it wasn’t all smooth sailing.

Joey explained that he developed some ‘agonising’ blisters on his right foot which were only made worse by the wet and boggy conditions of the Yorkshire moors.

“By the end of Thursday, my leg started swelling up. My right leg was twice the size of my left leg – a doctor has since said I was at risk of getting sepsis – but I knew we only had one day left, so I literally dragged myself to the finish line on Friday.”

Chalkie Bolton Photography

But Joey’s journey didn’t end at the finish line – as he arrived in Robin Hood’s Bay, he dropped to one knee and proposed to his girlfriend of five years, Emily Harrison, who was waiting for him with his friends and family.

Though this wasn’t the proposal Joey had envisioned – he had actually wanted to pop the question last year while on holiday in Florida but, thanks to the Covid pandemic, his plans were foiled.

He explained: “I’d thought of proposing at the finish line a couple of months before the walk – we were meant to go to Florida last year and I wanted to do it there. But because of Covid our flights got cancelled and it was the same again at the beginning of this year.

“I realised it wouldn’t be happening anytime soon, so I thought, why not do it on the walk? I knew she’d be waiting for me at the end, and she wasn’t expecting it.”

Chalkie Bolton Photography

Well, this revised plan couldn’t have gone better.

Two of his friends had made a huge banner which bore the message: “Emily Rose, will you marry me?!” and, as she turned around in confusion, Joey awaited on one knee – it was a yes, of course.

Joey’s fundraiser has raised just short of £4,000 – you can visit the GoFundMe page here.


GHOST STORIES: The third most haunted place in the UK is a pub near Manchester

This would be one scary pint…



The Bate Hall – a pub less than an hour away from Manchester – has been crowned the third most haunted place in the whole of the UK.

The landlords say The Bate Hall is overrun with ghosts, including a spirit called Richard who has even threatened to kill the landlord.

There’s also a screaming woman, and a young boy who plays hide and seek with his young daughter.

The title has been given to the pub by paranormal website Higgypop, in their list of ‘Top 100 Haunted Locations in the UK’. The list is measured on the longevity of haunting, the number of reports, type of activity and the credibility of the witnesses.

Higgypop states: “The paranormal activity in the pub includes staff being touched by unseen hands, glasses flying off of shelves and dark shadowy figures are seen around the building.

“According to the owner, her daughter plays hide and seek with the ghost of the young boy called Billy.

“The ghost of a grey lady has been seen in the inn walking the staircase. She’s thought to be the spirit of a woman who was hanged in the stairwell for being a witch.

“A poltergeist is said to throw objects around. On the abandoned upper floor, strange markings are said to appear on the walls before vanishing again.”


The pub has a rich history which dates all the way back to 1525, and even Oliver Cromwell has stayed as a guest.

Since taking over the pub in 2014, Sean and his wife Georgia called Wythenshawe Paranormal Investigation to take a look after one too many ghostly apparitions.

Sean said: “I’ve been told by the Wythenshawe Paranormal Investigation team that there are at least 14 spirits upstairs.

“There’s one ghost called Richard who wants to kill me – I know because he told me. He said ‘kill you’.

“I’m used to ghosts, but the scariest thing is speaking to them through the investigators’ machines. I was shocked to hear so many voices.”

The Bate Hall at Macclesfield/Facebook

The scariest thing of all happened in 2017 when Sean caught the ‘pure evil, woman-hating demon’ on video!

The Facebook Live sees Sean taunting and swearing at the spirit during a scary vigil at the pub led by medium James Higgins.

The Facebook Live, which has been viewed over 21,000 times, is dramatically cut by James who stopped recording for ‘safety’ reasons.

Sean claims the historic pub has 21 different ghosts who live there due to its location where laylines cross and the towns gallows were.

Will you be heading here for a pint with a ghost?! Let us know…

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FORGOTTEN MANCHESTER: The mysterious underground tunnels and passageways below the city centre

There’s more to Manchester than meets the eye…



Keith Warrender & True British Metal / Flickr

It’s no secret that, below the surface of the hustle and bustle of the city, Manchester houses a number of underground tunnels, passageways and deserted bomb shelters. 

For decades now, rumours and speculation surrounding this mysterious underground world have been rife, with many even venturing into the depths themselves.

There’s even an interactive ‘Hidden Manchester Map‘ – created by Mark Crossfield – which allows you to browse through the catalogue of tunnels and passageways hidden beneath the surface; if that won’t sort you out for those 2am internet binges, I don’t know what will.

Anyway, the map has opened my mind to a whole new underground world, so I thought I’d share it with you lovely lot…

Below and Beyond

The Deansgate Tunnel

The eerie Deansgate Tunnel was discovered all the way back in 1911 when a row of houses were demolished on Cumberland Street (where the elusive Spinningfields neighbourhood now stands).

The tunnel was supposedly big enough to fit a horse and cart through, and featured a massive arched roof and exposed brick walls – evidently, it wouldn’t look out of place in the Northern Quarter property market today.

It remains unknown as to who actually built the tunnel, which runs right down the length of the Cathedral to Pomona at the Ship Canal, with some believing it could date all the way back to Roman times. 

University of Manchester

Piccadilly to Victoria Underground Railway 

Disclaimer: There aren’t any actual tunnels from this… But there very nearly was. That’s close enough, isn’t it?

Anyway, over forty years ago, ambitious plans for an underground railway system not unlike London’s was well underway for Manchester; in fact, there have been at least six attempts to build a fully-functioning rail network beneath the surface.

However, despite the projects being far along with their developments, each attempt failed miserably, including a proposed line that would run from Victoria, underneath the Royal Exchange, under the Central Library, down Princess Street and finally onto Piccadilly.

The whole idea of an underground link was eventually shelved in the late 70’s, with four projects being eventually passed and transformed to above-surface roads, known today as Mancunian Way and the ‘Guardian’ a network of tunnels through the city to Salford.

The Manchester Cave

Nestled beneath the buildings along the River Irwell just a stone’s throw from Parsonage Gardens there lays the ‘Manchester Cave’, a mysterious and somewhat daunting underground abys. 

There’s not a great deal known about this so-called ‘cave’, though going by the YouTube video of some daredevil climbing down into it, it looks like the remains of an old underground construction site. 

Both unsafe and unnerving but, still, it made the Hidden Manchester Map so that’s all that counts.

Keith Warrender

Guardian Underground Telephone Exchange

The Guardian Underground telephone exchange was built way back when in 1954 as a result of ongoing fears regarding the Cold War nuclear destruction (we have it easy these days, don’t we?), intended to act as a safe communications network that could link with similar ones in Birmingham and London.

The GUTE is located a whopping 112ft below the city and, at one point, even managed to have it’s own supply of drinking water, as well as a number of bunkers to house people in the event of a nuclear war breakout.

The GUTE was never used (down to the lack of nuclear attacks, probably), but the tunnels still remain to this very day and are actually used by broadband companies like BT and Nynex. 

True British Metal / Flickr

Cathedral Tunnels

According to the Hidden Manchester Map, there are plenty of rumours regarding some undiscovered tunnels beneath the Manchester Cathedral that lead to a number of locations across the city and its outskirts.

A number of the passageways allegedly connect the Cathedral to pubs (God wouldn’t have approved of that) and, according to Keith Warrender’s Underground Manchester, a heavy door was discovered in the tunnel leading to the Castle & Falcon Pub in 1975 which contained a pile of skeletons and a passage which led to the cathedral.

Who else is going to have nightmares tonight?

Make sure to check out the Hidden Manchester Map for yourself here – it’s well worth an hour’s scrolling time out of your day, I promise.

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Artist creates incredible micro sculpture of Tyson Fury on top of a nail

Dr. Willard Wigan used a nylon cable tie, gold with a broken tip of diamond and his own eyelash as a paintbrush to create the sculpture



@gypsyking101 / Instagram & Paul Ward Photography

A talented micro artist has created a minuscule sculpture of Tyson Fury in a ‘smallest biggest tribute’ to the boxer following his historic heavyweight championship victory over the weekend.

Dr. Willard Wigan MBE, sixty-four, has produced an impressive catalogue of miniature sculptures throughout his life – we’re talking fourteen camels fitting inside the eye of a needle, kind of miniature –  and considers himself to be ‘officially the greatest micro artist of all time’.

Willard prides himself on making the ‘most wondrous’ microscopic art in history and holds down an impressive fan base which includes Her Majesty the Queen, who invited him to Buckingham Palace after he sculpted her her very own miniature crown. 

But where did this unusual passion for miniature sculpting come from? 

Fundação Dionísio Pinheiro e Alice Cardoso Pinheiro / Facebook

Paul Ward Photography

Willard, who was diagnosed with autism later in life, was excluded from his classes as a result of his learning differences and, after constant humiliation from both his teachers and his peers, closed himself off, fully immersing himself in the world of sculpting.

His first sculpting masterpiece came after an experience with an ants nest in his back garden; using just his dad’s razor blade, a five-year-old Willard sculpted, built and constructed a whole miniature village – complete with tables, chairs and a fully-functioning playground – for ants using only twigs.

Recalling the moment his talent was discovered, Willard told Proper Manchester: “When my mum saw what I’d created, she brought it all into the house and said to me ‘If you make them smaller, your name is going to get bigger.’

“From there, my journey to create the smallest sculptures in the world began and I became possessed with it. My mum kept telling me I was the best, and that encouragement made me truly believe it.”

Paul Ward Photography

Paul Ward Photography

And fast forwarding nearly six decades, Willard has dedicated his entire life to the art of micro sculpting, creating an array of sculptures such as a tiny Mona Lisa and a minuscule London Bridge, some of which have sold for up to £200K.

And most recently, the artist decided to use his talent to pay tribute to a very new victory; Tyson Fury’s Heavyweight Championship victory last weekend. 

A huge boxing fan himself, Willard has long regarded the Wythenshawe-born Tyson to not only be the greatest boxer of all time, but a mental health advocate, an inspiration and a philosopher in his own right. He said: “He’s an example at what can be achieved when you’re going through a dark tunnel. He inspires people to believe in themselves. He’s not just a boxer, he’s a philosopher as well.”

He also sees similarities between himself and the boxer, noting that he and Tyson are both the best at what they do, and both have inspiring stories to tell.

Paul Ward Photography

Using a nylon cable tie, gold with a broken tip of diamond and his own eyelash as a paintbrush, Willard worked on the sculpture – which features a set of green boxing gloves and black shorts emblazoned with ‘Gypsy King’ – for four weeks in his Birmingham workshop.

He eventually titled the piece ‘Hard as Nails’, noting that not only is Tyson hard as nails, but he has ‘nailed mental health, he nailed Deontay Wilder, and he’s also nailing the World Heavyweight Championship, and he will keep that nailed down’.

‘Hard as Nails’ is now on display at the Birmingham Contemporary Art Gallery, though you can view more of Willard’s pieces over on his website.

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