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Heartache for community after second girl from same school dies in water tragedy

The two girls tragically lost their lives less than a year apart

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The families of two teenage girls along with their local community have been left heartbroken after they both died in water-related tragedies just less than a year apart.

Abbie Walton, 15, died after getting into difficulty in the River Etherow on Wednesday night, June 14th.

Emergency services rushed to the scene where they pulled the teenager from the water near Hodge Lane, in Broadbottom in Tameside. She was sadly pronounced dead despite the best efforts of paramedics attending to her.

Tributes have flooded to honour the youngster described as having the ‘kindest soul’ who was a pupil at Copley Academy in Stalybridge.

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In a message posted on social media on Thursday afternoon, June 15th, the school wrote: “Copley Academy have been made aware of the tragic news that one of our students lost their life last night.

“We offer our deepest sympathy to all of those involved in this tragedy. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families, loved ones, friends and local communities affected at this extremely sad time.

“Copley would like to offer our support and also the support of a specialist team.”

Abbie’s death comes less than a year after Lucy Smith, another Copley Academy pupil, drowned after trying to help a friend who got into difficulty in the water at Carrbrook Angling ponds after a group went swimming there.

David Dixon / Geograph

Lucy Smith died on August 15th, 2022, in the ‘tragic accident’, around six miles away from where Abbie died.

Detective Inspector Steven Horton from Greater Manchester Police told the inquest it had been a particularly hot day. The group started playing in the water, but things ‘very suddenly’ went wrong.

“They were playing and dancing in the water and everyone was in good spirits. Phone footage taken at the time all supports that they were in the water having a good time,” he said.

He added that the tone of the footage quickly changes and is turned off when it becomes apparent that someone is in difficulty in the water.

David Dixon / Geograph

“They were all playing in the water when one of her friends got into difficulty and Lucy had gone to try and assist her,” Detective Inspector Horton previously told the inquest. 

As she was trying to help she got into trouble and her friends tried to help her but she had gone under the water and didn’t surface.

Coroner, Christopher Morris, gave a conclusion of Lucy’s death being a ‘tragic accident.’ “There is little as tragic as this case before the court of a young person with their whole life ahead of them,” Mr Morris said.

In a statement following Ms Smith’s death, Copley Academy said: “Copley Academy are aware of the devastating news that a young member of our academy community sadly lost their life after getting into difficulty in open water on Monday evening.

David Dixon / Geograph

“We want to offer our deepest sympathy to all of those involved in this tragedy. Our hearts and thoughts go out to the families, friends and local community at this extremely sad time.

“We would like to offer support and the support of a specialist team. To access this support or if you need anything else please let us know.”

Residents in the village of Broadbottom described their shock on Thursday, after it emerged that Miss Walton was the second youngster to die in that section of the river in less than a decade.

In July 2016, Jack Pullen, 16, from Hattersley, died after getting into trouble in the same stretch of water at Broadbottom Rocks.

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Longdendale Councillor, Jacqueline Owen, issued a warning to the community, urging all young people ‘wanting to swim’ to use public pools, as she highlighted the dangers of swimming in open water.

She said: “On behalf of the Longdendale Ward Councillors, I would like to extend our condolences to the family, friends and the whole Broadbottom community, following the tragic incident yesterday evening. We are all shocked to hear about this terrible loss.

“Sadly, this is not the first death of a young person in the River Etherow. We would use all young people wanting to swim to use public pools; as open water swimming can be very hazardous.”

In an update on Wednesday night, GMP said they were not treating Miss Walton’s death as suspicious. They added that officers are continuing to support the family during this ‘incredibly difficult time.’

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School bus overturns with motorway closed in both directions

Emergency services, including air ambulance, are in attendance

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@SherinAkhtar / Twitter

A coach carrying children from two separate schools has been left on its side following a crash on a major motorway this morning.

The school bus was carrying pupils from Calday Grange Grammar School and West Kirby School for Girls when the incident happened at around 8am on Friday, September 29th.

A section of the M53 has been closed off in both directions between J5 at Hooton, Cheshire, to J4 at Clatterbridge, in Merseyside. It is believed the bus had struck a reservation on Junction 5 of the motorway.

@SherinAkhtar / Twitter

Calday Grange Grammar School released a statement on its social media page saying: “We are aware of a situation involving one of our school buses on the motorway earlier today.

“We’re actively gathering details and assisting affected students and their families.”

North West Ambulance Service has now declared a major incident, saying in a statement: “North West Ambulance Service has declared a major incident following a road traffic collision between a coach and a car on the M53 northbound at approximately 8.30 this morning.

“The trust dispatched a large number of resources to the scene, including ambulances, advances paramedics, our Hazardous Area Response team and a HEMS doctor.

“So far, one female patient has been taken to the hospital, suffering major trauma-related injuries. There are also nearly 50 other patietns being assessed at the scene. We are working closely with our incident partners to convey people away from the scene as quickly as possible.”

Local Councillor Sherin Akhtar, also confirmed the news and said she was ‘aware children are being taken to hospital as a precaution’.

She wrote in a Tweet: “I can confirm and am aware of an accident on the M53 this morning going towards the Wirral/ Birkenhead.

“It involves a Carvers coach ( W3) travelling to Calday Grange Grammar School and West Kirby Grammar school for girls.

“Whilst this is a live situation, I would like to assure residents that I am working on their behalf and offer support and will endeavour to update, as soon as possible. I am aware that children are being taken to Arrowe Park as precautionary.”

Merseyside Police said in a statement: “We can confirm that emergency services are on the M53 in Hooton following a collision involving a bus on the motorway.

“Just after 8am we received a report that a bus had struck a reservation on Junction 5 of the M53. Junctions 3-5 of the M53 are closed in both directions.

“Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is currently ensuring the safe removal of passengers and the driver, and North West Ambulance Service are at the scene attending to anyone requiring treatment.

“Motorists are advised to avoid the area and find alternative routes, and we advise people to remain patient while the incident is ongoing. Enquiries are ongoing and updates will be issued as soon as possible.

“Please note this incident is ongoing and we are urging people to refrain from speculating or publishing any sensitive information that could be distressing online or via social media platforms.”

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Tributes pour in after body of ‘lovely’ missing man found by police

People have been posting their tributes to Charlie online

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AFC Stockport / Facebook & @bosdenfarmfc / Twitter

Heartfelt tributes have been flooding in across social media platforms after the body of a 26-year-old man from Stockport was discovered by police.

Charlie Johnson, 26, was last seen at around 11.30pm in the Cheadle Hulme area of Stockport on Thursday, September 21st.

Greater Manchester Police launched an appeal to the public to help find him but sadly, officers confirmed they had discovered a body on Tuesday, September 26th during the search.

His next of kin have been informed and a file was passed on to the coroner.

AFC Stockport / Facebook

Detective Inspector Michael Jimenez, of Greater Manchester Police, said: “Our thoughts remain with Charlie’s family at this difficult time, and we have specialist officers in place to support them. Thank you to those who shared our appeals.”

Following the tragic news, tributes have been paid online to honour the life of the ‘superb sportsman’ described by those who knew him as ‘a lovely lad’.

AFC Stockport, who Charlie briefly played for last season, posted on Facebook: It is with sad news that today we say RIP to Charlie Johnson who briefly played for the club last season.

“Charlie netted 9 goals in 7 appearances for our Rangers team. RIP Charlie – Our thoughts are with your family and friends.”

And Bosden Farm FC, based in Stockport, wrote on their Twitter page: “It is with great sadness we report the news on the passing of Charlie he was a huge part of Bosden Farm and was loved by everyone who met him.

“We will miss him so much. We send our condolences to his friends and family and ask that you respect their privacy at this moment in time.”

Upon hearing the sad news, Mary Brooks-Davies wrote: “Heartbroken. Charlie was such a lovely lad, remember him well when he was at primary school with my daughter. Love and gentlest hugs to his family xxxx.”

Greater Manchester Police

In a tribute to Charlie, Badhrul Islam wrote: “Taught him as a lad. Can genuinely say none of my colleagues had a bad word to say.

“PE teachers remember him being a superb sportsman with a great attitude. Really well liked all round. Worked with his dad who was a thoroughly nice man. This is desperately sad news.”

Rachel Taylor wrote: “Thinking of all your family and friends at this sad time, RIP Charlie xx.”

And Callum Lawson wrote: “R.I.P Charlie.”

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Three Wilko stores in Greater Manchester reopening as Poundland this weekend

Three out of the 10 stores set to reopen this weekend are in Greater Manchester

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Google Maps & Martin Pettitt / Flickr

This weekend, three former Wilko stores will reopen as Poundlands in Greater Manchester.

Following the collapse of Wilko last month, 10 stores are set to reopen as Poundland outlets this weekend, after being bought out by the budget retailer.

Poundland owner Pepco agreed to purchase 71 Wilko stores from administrators PwC earlier this month.

The company plans to rebrand and open them under its own by the end of the year.

Martin Pettitt / Flickr

Another rival retailer, B&M, bought 51 Wilko stores in a deal of around £5 million, and plans to also reopen them under its own brand.

In Greater Manchester, the three Wilko locations which will be reopening as new Poundland sites are at The Mall on Church Street in Eccles, The Peel Centre, on Great Portwood Street in Stockport, and on Lord Street, in Leigh.

The seven other sites set to reopen this weekend are across Stafford, Nelson, Barking, Southport, Maidenhead, Jarrow and Scunthorpe.

Google Maps

Family-owned company Wilko ran 400 shops and employed around 12,500 staff when it brought in administrators PwC last month. The company, which was founded in 1930, folded under the pressure of cuts in consumer spending, due to the cost-of-living crisis, and debts owed to suppliers.

All Wilko stores will close resulting in thousands of staff redundancies, as its remaining shops shut on October 8th.

Poundland has encouraged Wilko staff to apply for new job roles with its chain and have assured them they will be made a priority.

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