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These are officially the biggest stories of 2021 for Mancunians

From endless Covid announcements to plans for the historic Queen’s Jubilee, a lot has happened in 2021…

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Wikimedia Commons & Downing Street

As we prepare to welcome 2022 (with very open arms, might I add), we have compiled a list of the five most-read stories from the past year.

2021 has been a strange one, what with the endless Covid announcements, the numerous Downing Street scandals and, of course, England’s brush with a possible win in the belated Euros 2020 tournament. 

But now, as the New Year looms, we decided to take a look back on the five stories from 2021 that were read the most by you. 

So, without any further ado, here are the stories that captivated Manchester the most throughout the duration of the year…

Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett / Unsplash

When pubs reopen the ‘substantial meal’ with drinks rule is set to be scrapped

Remember when you had to order a full on meal with your pint? 

On February 5th, the government announced that the now infamous ‘substantial meal’ rule enforced in all bars and pubs would be scrapped when venues were allowed to reopen. 

The rule caused a lot of confusion at the time of its announcement, with ministers scrambling to explain what actually constituted a ‘substantial meal’. This eventually led to an amusing debate as to whether a scotch egg counted after Environment Secretary George Eustice claimed the snack – a boiled egg wrapped deep fried in sausage meat and bread crumbs – could be served under the rule.

Read the full story here.

Defence Images / Flickr

The UK is getting a four-day Bank Holiday weekend to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee

There was finally a bit of good news in 2021…

On March 12th, the nation was delighted to hear that a four-day bank holiday was on the cards to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

In June 2022, the Queen will have been on the throne for seventy years, making her the longest reigning monarch in British history. And to commemorate the occasion, the May Bank Holiday will be moved to Thursday June 2nd while an additional new Bank Holiday on Friday June 3rd will see four days of celebrations.

Read the full story here.

@wowyauchow / Instagram

There’s a new bottomless Chinese brunch with gin fizz cocktails, bao buns and dumplings

A slight change of tone but who doesn’t love bottomless Chinese brunch?

On April 17th, we brought you the very important news that a Chinese restaurant here in Manchester had launched the revolutionary Chinese bottomless brunch complete with gin fizz cocktails and dumplings. 

Altrincham’s WowYauChow completely transformed the bottomless brunch scene with their £23 deal, which allows guests to build their own ‘lunch basket’, choosing a dish from three sections: dumplings, bao buns and rice/noodle bowls. There’s also a selection of tofu, pork & chive and buffalo chicken dumplings, as well as bao buns filled with the likes of char siu pork and crispy chilli chicken.

On the drinks front there’s a selection of cocktails, wines and beers, including gin fizz, blushing dragon, prosecco and Tsing Tao.

Read the full story here.

@ADixonFiction / Twitter

The tragic story of the ‘dream home’ next to Hollingworth Lake that’s never been lived in

A tragic story of a structural disaster caught a lot of attention…

On May 26th, we published the story of 15 Lake Side, an abandoned bungalow situated next to Hollingworth Lake in Rochdale with a tragic history.

The property was built in 1998 by pensioners Dr. Stephen Watkins and his wife Elizabeth, who wanted somewhere to relax after stressful working lives. However, the house was never completed, and the dismal reason why has since been cited at Westminster as an example of what can go wrong for people who build their own homes.

To put it simply, the Watkins were unsatisfied with the quality of their home and were embroiled in vicious legal disputes for two decades, before the building was eventually demolished. 

Read the full story here.

People who kill children will face mandatory life sentences under new Arthur’s Law

A bitter sweet story to end the year.

On December 7th, the Prime Minister backed a proposed law that will ensure child murderers will never leave prison in the wake of the death of six-year-old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes. Boris Johnson said in a statement: “Anyone who plans then carries out the murder of a child should never be released from prison. So we’re toughening the law to make whole-life orders the starting point for such abhorrent crimes.”

Arthur’s stepmother Emma Tustin was jailed at the start of the month for at least twenty-nine years for the little boy’s murder, while his father Thomas Hughes was sentenced to twenty-one years for manslaughter.

Read the full story here.

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UK’s ‘most dangerous prisoner’ begged for a pet in prison and promised ‘not to eat it’

Officers decided that Maudsley was not to be trusted with any animals…

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List25 / YouTube & Unsplash

The UK’s ‘most dangerous prisoner’ reportedly begged for a pet to keep him company in his underground solitary confinement with the promise to ‘not eat it’. 

However, this man isn’t any ordinary prisoner; as a result of his heinous crimes, serial killer Robert Maudsley has spent the last four decades of his life alone in a solitary glass cell. He was just twenty-one years old when he committed his first murder – however, his final three murders were carried out behind bars.

Maudsley’s first victim was alleged child abuser John Farrel, who had paid Maudsley for his ‘services’ as a rent boy. However, Maudsley killed him when he allegedly showed him images of children he’d abused.

Gangland & Prison Related / YouTube

Once sentenced and sent to Broadmoor Hospital, however, he went on to torture and kill a convicted peadophile with another inmate, allegedly using a sharpened spoon to consume his brains, a brutality that earned him the nickname ‘Hannibal the Cannibal.’

From there, he was moved to the maximum security Wakefield Prison in Yorkshire where two more murders took place in one spree – first he strangled and stabbed forty-six-year-old Salney Darwood before creeping into the cell of Bill Roberts, fifty-six, who had sexually abused a seven-year-old girl.

It was at this point where staff decided that Maudsley was too dangerous to be around other inmates, and thus his life in solitary confinement began.

In 1983, a special two-unit cell was constructed for Maudsley – measuring just 5.5m by 4.5m and containing bullet-proof windows. According to the Guardian, inside the cell there’s just a bed, table and chair, along with a toilet and sink that are bolted to the floor.

Anders Hanson / Unsplash

The publication also reported that the serial killer spends twenty-three hours a day in confinement, is escorted to the yard by six prison officers at a time, and isn’t allowed any contact with other prisoners… Or animals, for that matter.

In 2000, Maudsley allegedly wrote to the prison system back to ask for a pet to keep him company in his cell. His letter read: “As a consequence of my current treatment and confinement, I feel that all I have to look forward to is indeed psychological breakdown, mental illness and probable suicide.

“Why can’t I have a budgie instead of flies, cockroaches and spiders which I currently have. I promise to love it and not eat it?

“Why can’t I have a television in my cell to see the world and learn? Why can’t I have any music tapes and listen to beautiful classical music?”

His requests were denied.

He also filed an application for suicide by a cyanide capsule – however, this was also denied. His applications for classical music and a television were also rejected.

In 2010, Maudsley reportedly asked officials to let him play board games with prison officials, claiming it would help ease some of the gloominess and monotony of life in solitary confinement – due to his crimes, however, officials remain reluctant to grant him any benefits.

The prisoner remains in this confinement to this very day, with no glimmer of any normality on the horizon – but should this case have been treated any differently?

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Six-year-old Man United fan to walk from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford to raise money for school

Harvey Goodman will be walking the fifteen miles from Stockton Heath to his favourite football ground to raise funds for his school

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A six-year-old Manchester United fan is set to embark upon a massive fifteen-mile charity walk from Stockton Heath to Old Trafford to fund a new playground for his school.

Harvey Goodman will be going the extra mile to make a difference for Stockton Heath Primary School, which has been in desperate need of a new playground for quite some time, despite various fundraising efforts.

The Year 1 pupil hopes that by combining two of his favourite things – school and Manchester United – he will help to raise the funds needed to give the school and its pupils the playground and green space they deserve.

Harvey’s mum Naiomi said her son’s determination to train and practice for the walk, which will take place on January 29th, has been ‘fantastic’, noting how he is ‘really looking forward to it.’

Naiomi Goodman

Naiomi Goodman

She told Proper Manchester: “We’re blown away by the amount of support we’ve had from friends, family, locals and avid Manchester United fans. We have hit the halfway target within a matter of weeks, it’s incredible to think so many people are supporting him with his walk.

“This walk is a huge challenge for anyone, never mind a six-year-old boy, but the determination he has is incredible to see. I know he will do a fantastic job on the day. We are so proud of him.”

And when Harvey mentioned his idea to the school’s head teacher Dan Harding, who’s also a Manchester United fan, he offered to accompany him on his walk, as did his class teacher Mrs. Realff. 

Mr. Harding described Harvey’s efforts as ‘truly outstanding’, saying in a statement: “Harvey is a School Councillor and has really enjoyed learning about our plans to redevelop the EYFS and Forest School outdoor areas.

Naiomi Goodman

Naiomi Goodman

“He knows that a huge amount of money needs raising for our plans to become a reality. Being an avid Manchester United fan like Harvey, I am delighted to be taking part in the walk myself and will support Harvey all the way to Old Trafford.

“To think a child of this age can be so generous, selfless and thoughtful for the benefit of his peers and the wider school community is truly humbling and I am so proud of him for even suggesting this challenge, never mind undertaking it.”

Naiomi has organised for friends and family to surprise Harvey on one of the stops along the route, as well as at the finish line at Hotel Football, who she hopes can get behind the charity walk.

At the time of writing, Harvey’s JustGiving fundraiser has reached £1,920 out of it’s £3,000 target. For more information on his walk and to donate to the cause yourself, click here.

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People are sharing the craziest things to have kicked off in their local Facebook groups

Ah, the weird and wonderful world of Facebook community groups…

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Solen Feyissa & Super Straho / Unsplash

If there’s one true blessing Facebook has bestowed upon the human race in its nearly two decade-long run, it’s undisputedly the humble local community group.

Every area has one; a private Facebook group in which people can partake in discussions and share any local news and events with their neighbours and wider community.

Yet while these groups tend to consist mainly of missing cat appeals, bad parking and people asking for DIY advice, they can be the perfect spot to sit back, relax, and scroll through page upon page of neighbourly drama and shenanigans.

So, when one Reddit user decided to share the craziest thing to ever ‘kick off’ in his local Facebook group, he was inundated with thousands of hilarious (yet somewhat bizarre) tales from within the dark depths of these private groups.

The initial question read, ‘What’s the craziest thing that’s kicked off on your local Facebook group?’, and told the tale of an Amazon delivery, a suspicious bloke lurking on a porch, and a forgotten collection deal between two neighbours.  

The post quickly grew in popularity and gained hundreds of stories from other local page members from all across the UK, ranging from arguments over murderous swans, dog muck drama and people getting off the bus too early.

Highlights include the story of a woman posting in their local group to share that her car had been stolen, in which she began the process of hunting down what happened to the car, and the requisite ‘what is the world coming to when you can’t park your car any where. Wouldn’t have happened back in my day’.

The post concluded: “A couple of days later, she posts that her car has been found – someone had found it slightly further up the road than where she was looking, and it was exactly where she’d parked it. She’d gone in one entrance to the park, and walked out of another a little bit further along the road.” Awkward.

Another response involved the nationally hated issue of owners not picking up after their dogs; this Reddit user recalled the time incriminating Ring doorbell footage showing a pair of dog owners in the act was shared into their Facebook group.

@mtimber71 / Unsplash

However, the whole group became divided over the footage, with some residents feeling ‘unsafe’ being videoed all the time and branding the owner of the Ring doorbell as ‘perverts’, while others were quite rightly sickened by the dog muck. 

Pure drama and ‘brilliant entertainment’. 

Another post read: “Woman posted in absolute rage saying someone had just tried to abduct her dog. The story goes that a van (which she had detail of) had followed her up and down the road. Eventually they rolled down the window and thrown some drug laden food to her dog – she evidently then ran home terrified and posted all over Facebook.

“Not long after there was a post from the owner of the van, a local tradesman, explaining not only was the reason they were driving up and down because they’d been given a wrong address and couldn’t find it; but the ‘drugged food’ was actually just a pepperami his passengers had thrown at each other and accidentally chucked it out the window.” Whoops…

David Dixon / Wikimedia Commons

The Reddit thread included stories of majorly paranoid neighbours, too; one woman explained that a photo of her husband on his commute home had been posted into her local group after he was seen repeatedly getting off the bus too early.

She wrote: “Same thing happened to my husband! ‘Suspicious guy gets off the bus at the same stop but walks in the direction the bus is going past other stops. Maybe casing out houses!’ With a photo of him for good measure.

“Truth is the bus gets too crowded after that stop so he gets off and walks the last 15 minutes home.”

One post read: “Someone put some litter off the street into a neighbours bin that neighbour kicked off and put a chicken carcass down the drain of the person who put the litter in her bin. Completely denied it but was caught doing it on cctv!”

Sandy Ravaloniaina / Unsplash

Another memorable entry comes courtesy of swan shenanigans, with a member of the community page allegedly appealing for help with splitting up two swans attempting to ‘murder’ another swan.

The post reads: “Got an argumentative one brewing at the moment. Local park has a lake with swans on it. Someone asked this morning if there was anyone who could help a swan that was being ‘murdered’ by 2 other swans, as she’d tried to split them up but the murderers were relentless. Half the replies are saying well done on helping the other half saying to leave alone as its nature. It’s all getting a bit nasty.”

A classic ‘suspicious man in a van’ post told an unfortunate tale of mistaken identity: “Our new build estate has a WhatsApp group, and was in uproar one day with images of a suspicious van driving slowly around the estate and some guy getting out and going up to different houses.

“It was the milkman.”

There were also plenty of lockdown dramas, with many saying their local community pages ramped up the mayhem while Covid was at its peak. 

One person recalled one of her neighbour’s somewhat irrational fear of the virus after she reported a runner coughing outside of her house, writing: “Lockdown was a ‘brilliant’ time on the local pages. We had a woman complaining because a runner had coughed outside her window. Full description of the runner and their clothing included.”

For more local community group mayhem, visit the full Reddit thread here.

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