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MANCHESTER’S MOST HAUNTED: The story of the Westhoughton Poltergeist

One woman recently had to sign a waiver when moving into the area…

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While Manchester has had its fair share of ghostly happenings, the case of Wigates Grove could very well be the spookiest of them all.

It all started in 1993; The Bolton Evening News published a story that told of a terrified family’s anguish over ghostly going-ons in their new home down Wingates Grove in Westhoughton.

The family would claim to find mysterious pools of water and an ‘oil-like substance’ appearing on ceilings and walls, as well as objects ‘flying’ and moving around on their own.

At their wits ends, the family eventually called in a medium who performed an exorcism upon the property, as well as a local vicar to say some prayers around the house.

Following these rituals – the legitimacy of which can definitely be questioned – the spooky happenings died down, giving the family the much-needed respite they had been seeking.

Anna Hecker / Unsplash

But this peace wasn’t to last because, five years later, a woman who had moved into the house two doors down from where the original hauntings had taken place began to experience similar paranormal activity.

Mother-of-three Elizabeth Hulton theorised that the spirit causing all the issues in the first house had moved down two doors to torment her family.

Elizabeth reported similar happenings around her home, such as finding a mysterious oil-like substance on the walls and the plumbing and heating breaking with no real explanation.

She even claimed to have found her toddler talking to a ‘little man’ in his room on a number of occasions.

Elizabeth told The Bolton News at the time: “The little man used to sit on his bed and tell stories and talk to him and used to wake him up and play with him.

@sankavi9080 / Unsplash

“He would see him on and off about five times a week. He didn’t seem all that bothered about it, it didn’t scare him.

“But my two elder children were afraid to go upstairs on their own.”

Elizabeth eventually contacted Bolton Council about the issues, but was told to get in touch with the medium who had performed the exorcism at the original house.

This is where things get really spooky – according to the medium, it was a poltergeist wreaking havoc down the street, and it had managed to attach itself to Elizabeth.

“The medium said that poltergeists don’t actually go away, they lie dormant for a few years and then try to re-attach themselves to something.

@priscilladupreez / Unsplash

“I am quite intelligent and rational. I didn’t believe it was a poltergeist at first.

“But it always felt like somebody was there when there wasn’t. I would go to sleep and then wake up and sit bolt upright expecting someone to be there.”

But fast forwarding to today, the poltergeist’s has seemingly gone back to the pits of Hell where it derived, because the home’s current owner is yet to experience any paranormal happenings.

In fact, she actually enjoys the property’s quirky past.

Caron Walton bought the home in 2006 and says she had to sign a disclaimer before she moved into the address.

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She was also told by the council that she was not allowed to move into the home if she had young children, and was not allowed to use a Ouija board or perform any sort of black magic.

Caron told the Manchester Evening News: “I had to sign a disclaimer saying I wouldn’t use a Ouija board or do black magic or anything dark.

“They wanted me to sign a slip of paper. I quite liked it. I’ve heard tales that there’s meant to be an old man walking around on the landing, but we’re quite happy here…

“I think it’s quite novel; I quite like it. It’s a selling point for me.”

Caron is yet to experience any paranormal activity within the house.

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Remembering Lee Rigby nine years on from the devastating Woolwich terror attack

Nine years ago today, Lee Rigby lost his life in a sickening terror attack that haunts the nation to this day

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Gov.uk & Wikimedia Commons

It was an attack that shook the nation: On May 22nd 2013, Fusilier Lee Rigby was brutally murdered in a violent onslaught as horrified passerby’s watched on.

Lee, twenty-five, was a drummer in the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, and had served in Cyprus, Germany and Afghanistan before becoming a recruiter with ceremonial duties at the Tower of London.

The father-of-one, from Middleton, had been an avid supporter of charity Help 4 Heroes, and was even wearing one of the foundation’s hoodies when he was targeted in an unprovoked and savage attack.

The father-of-one was outside his barracks in Woolwich, London at around 2pm, when he was hit by a car driven by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, both said to be influenced by extremist group al-Muhajiroun.

Gov.uk

The pair didn’t have any former knowledge of Lee, and it was believed to be his Help 4 Heroes hoody that alerted them to his connection with the military.

After hitting him with their car, the men leapt out and unleashed a brutal attack on the defenceless Lee, before a brave passer-by – later identified as Ingrid Loyau-Kennett – attempted to shield him from any further harm.

Ingrid was later nicknamed the ‘Angel of Woolwich’, but revealed that witnessing the attack had ‘ruined her life’.

ITV News

Speaking to The Sun three years later in 2016, Ingrid said that while she was glad she stood up for Lee, she could feel nothing but ’emptiness around me’.

And Ingrid wasn’t the only passerby to get roped into the atrocity; another member of the public was approached by Adebolajo, who instructed him to start filming on his phone as he attempted to give an explanation for the brutal murder. 

In the now infamous footage – which was controversially aired by ITV News later that day – Adebolajo can be seen soaked in blood and brandishing a meat cleaver as he blamed the British military’s murder of innocent muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Adebolajo was heard saying: “The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers. And this British soldier is one…”.

Wikimedia Commons

Nine minutes after the first 999 call, armed police swooped upon the scene and opened fire. London Ambulance Service later confirmed that a man had been found dead at the scene, while two other men were taken to hospital, one of them in a serious condition.

In September that year, Adebolajo and Adebowale were found guilty of the murder of Lee Rigby, and were both sentenced to life imprisonment. They remain behind bars to this day.

In the wake of his death, Lee’s parents Lyn and Ian founded the Lee Rigby Foundation in his honour to support other grieving families of deceased military members by paying for holiday breaks and excursions. 

They also worked tirelessly to open the Lee Rigby House in Staffordshire as a permanent retreat for bereaved Forces families and veterans.

Lee’s family told the Manchester Evening News on their grief:  “It doesn’t get any easier with the passing years.

“But we are more determined than ever before to do right by him and honour his life, his memory and his enduring love and spirit.”

For more information on the Lee Rigby Foundation’s mission and to donate yourself, visit the official website here.

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Manchester Arena Attack: How survivors are using their horrific experience to create something positive

Liv’s Trust has been funding education, music and dance for under twenty-fives across Greater Manchester for the last five years

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pdjohnson / Flickr & Liv's Trust

Today, Sunday May 22nd, marks five years since the devastating Manchester Arena attack.

As concert-goers streamed out of the arena in the wake of an Ariana Grande concert, a suicide bomber detonated a homemade device, claiming the lives of twenty-two people – many of them children – and injuring hundreds more.

The unprecedented attack was the UK’s worst terror attack since the 7/7 bombings and, today, still stands as one of Manchester’s darkest days.

But out of the heartbreak, devastation and sorrow, Liv’s Trust was born.

One of the people to die in the attack was fifteen-year-old Olivia Campbell-Hardy, a talented teenager from Bury with the dream of one day becoming a music teacher. 

Liv’s Trust

In the wake of her death and struggling to come to terms with the tragedy, Olivia’s dad Andrew Hardy and her grandparents Steve and Sharon Goodman channeled their grief into the launch of a fundraising charity in her honour, which they later christened Liv’s Trust.

Staying true to its motto, ‘We Choose Love’, the foundation is dedicated to Olivia’s passion for the performing arts, and funds education, music and dance for under twenty-fives across Greater Manchester in the hope that others can achieve the dreams Olivia once had.

And, in the near five years since its launch, Liv’s Trust has not only helped countless people achieve their dreams in the arts, it has given Olivia’s grandad Steve a reason and a drive to carry on each day.

Speaking to Proper Manchester, Steve said: “Liv’s Trust gives me a reason to get up every day, and to keep working for it.

“Sharon and I are struggling a bit with the anniversary coming up, but the charity is helping us to have a bit of focus, and helping us to take our minds off of things.”

Liv’s Trust

Since its launch, Liv’s Trust has helped people through a variety of different means, whether it be with the financial costs for teaching qualifications or by funding music lessons for schools and for children with additional or behavioural needs.

It has also contributed to travel costs for dance schools to take pupils to competitions, and has even paid for individual people to compete and fulfil their dreams, including one young woman with a dream to play the clarinet.

The woman, a student at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), had her travel costs to London covered by the charity, which enabled her to eventually achieve her dream qualification.

Now that student has her Masters degree in the Clarinet and is teaching music, ‘just like Olivia had wanted to’, Steve noted.

And more recently, the trust extended a helping hand to a young Ukrainian refugee by arranging breakdancing lessons, a hobby he had pursued back in his home country before Russia’s invasion.

Steve explained: “After he moved into our community, someone asked if we could help him get some dance lessons here so he can continue with his training… It’s helped him massively with settling into our community and his new life.”

Though Liv’s Trust wouldn’t be where it is today without the help of its patrons and ambassadors, who all work tirelessly to keep Olivia’s legacy and memory alive.

One of those ambassadors is sixteen-year-old Amelia Thompson, a Derbyshire schoolgirl who survived the devastating attack on that fateful night.

Amelia was invited to the launch of Liv’s Trust and, after meeting Steve and Sharon became the charity’s ambassador where, for nearly five years, she has tirelessly raised money for the cause – last year, she even took part in a charity skydive, raising over £1,400 for the trust. 

Speaking of what the charity means to her, Amelia said: “I think it’s so important to continue being a young ambassador because it’s so important to carry on Olivia’s legacy and to keep the memory and the spirits of the twenty-two alive.

Supplied

“People should never forget the lives that were lost that night.”

Five years on from the attack, Amelia admits that while she still struggles, Liv’s Trust has helped with her recovery and treatment.

She explained: “It does get hard around this time of the year and around the anniversary. It plays on my mind a lot more than it usually would. 

“But Liv’s Trust has definitely helped me with my recovery, and doing my own fundraising for the twenty-two has helped massively, too.

“It’s trying to make something positive out of something that was so so negative.”

Supplied

On the future of Liv’s Trust, Steve added: “We just want to keep on how we’re going and keeping it family-run.

“We never expected to be as big as we are, so to be able to help hundreds of people the way we have has given us that reason to get up in the morning.

“It’s a great feeling to be able to help somebody, especially in a way that was close to Olivia’s heart.”

For more information on Liv’s Trust, its mission and how you can get involved, visit its official website here.

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Street photographer creates incredible Mini Manchester and Blackpool nostalgia photo series

The photography series aims to encapsulate significant parts of Manchester’s history

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@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

Whether it be retro beer cans or vintage match boxes, there isn’t much that Gisela Szlatoszlavek will limit herself to to capture the spirit of the city.

While Gisela works full time as a teaching assistant, she is also a keen street photographer with a passion for documenting gentrified areas of Manchester, with her even having published That Golden Mile, a sell-out book on Blackpool street photography.

And it was a combination of these two professions that sparked the idea for her ‘Little’ series, with Gisela finding inspiration during a photography lesson.

Talking on the birth of the miniature series, which sees her create scenes using tiny models, Gisela told Proper Manchester: “The pupils were working with small figurines around the classroom, and it made me think of how well that would work out in the street. 

@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

“I started with Blackpool, and thinking of places that make the town iconic and recognisable… like the sunburned men wearing vests and local mums pushing prams.”

And being a local lass herself – she hails from Oldham – Gisela knew that Manchester and its vast history would provide the perfect backdrop for her new series.

She explained: “Everything I’ve done up to now is a nod to something special about the city, such as the Haçienda, the Manchester bee, Manchester United, and Manchester City.”

And despite the series only being a couple of months old, Gisela has countless instalments of a variety of different themes under her belt, all of which give an insight into life in both Blackpool and Manchester.

@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

Her photographs range from trips to the football, chippy teas and seaside fun in Blackpool, and even trips to the iconic Haçienda nightclub – complete with a pair of maracas, of course.

And fans of Gisela’s work will notice a recurring retro theme, which in itself is a nod to her own passion for the 1980s: “That era was fantastic, I wish I could have taken these photos back then.

“So I wanted to try and create a lot of my series around that time period.”

A lot of the props used in the series are genuine vintage too, including retro beer cans found on eBay, cassette tapes and even match boxes from the era.

Putting together these images is no walk in the park, however, with some taking Gisela several weeks to complete from start to finish. 

@giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

Every aspect of the photo – from the initial idea to the construction itself – is a painstaking process, with Gisela often spending hours at a time scouring through Google Street View to establish which spots will work the best, whether it be the aesthetics, the lighting or just for the finer details to add to the final image.

Gisela then buys the figurines online, and spends even more time hand painting them to adapt them to different scenes – for some photos, she’s even gone to the effort of making miniature outfits using a magnifying glass.

And actually taking the photos is no easier, mainly thanks to members of the public and busy traffic, which Manchester’s city centre in particular has an abundance of.

She explained: “Unsurprisingly, Market Street is definitely the hardest location to work, thanks to the volume of people and things going on in the background. @giselaszlatoszlavek / Instagram

“Because I have to be as low to the ground as possible, I do get members of the public coming up to me and asking what I’m doing and checking that I’m okay… Some people even think I’ve collapsed in the street!

“But most people are lovely, and are just curious and want to know what I’m doing.” 

While the Little Manchester and Little Blackpool series remains as a side project for Gisela at the moment, she aims to one day collaborate with other artists, and eventually take on paid commissions. 

This is only the beginning for Gisela’s Little series, so make sure to follow her official Instagram page to stay updated with her latest work.

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