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Manchester makes shortlist to host Eurovision 2023

Manchester is competing with the likes of Leeds, Liverpool and Newcastle to host the competition

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Manchester is one of the seven cities shortlisted to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

Manchester joins Birmingham, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield in the battle to welcome the event in May next year, the BBC reports.

Twenty cities expressed an interest in hosting the competition, with those not making the shortlist including London and Belfast.

Others to miss out include Aberdeen, Bristol and Darlington.

The BBC said the seven-strong shortlist was based on the cities’ abilities to show they have ‘the capacity, capability and experience to host an event of this scale and complexity.’

A statement added that the process was ‘heavily weighted towards demonstrating past experience in hosting major international events, as well as being able to demonstrate their credentials in hosting a celebration of contemporary music’.

The seven cities will be scored on a set of criteria, the BBC said, including:

  • “Having a suitable venue and sufficient space to deliver the requirements of the Song Contest.
  • “The commitment that can be made by a city or region to hosting the event, including the financial contribution.
  • “The strength of the cultural offer which includes off screen local and regional activity as well as showcasing Ukrainian culture and music.
  • “And alignment with the BBC’s strategic priorities as a public service broadcaster, such as providing value to all audiences and supporting the creative economy in the UK.”

The successful city will be chosen by the BBC and Eurovision organisers, and will be announced in the autumn.

It was announced last month that the UK will host the annual song contest for the first time in twenty-four years, after organisers decided it could not go ahead in Ukraine – who won this year’s competition – due to the ongoing conflict with Russia.

The UK came in second place thanks to Sam Ryder’s smash-hit ‘Spaceman’, prompting the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) to open talks with the BBC.

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Parents of toddlers will be able to apply for 15 hours of free childcare next year

The government confirmed the childcare scheme yesterday

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First Minister of Scotland & Province of British Columbia / Flickr

The date that working parents of toddlers can apply for 15 hours of free childcare per week has been set for next year.

Applications for access to the free 15 hours per week will open on January 2nd, 2024 and eligible working parents are urged to apply.

The government says this is the ‘first step’ in its ‘long-term plan to give families a brighter future’. 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt first announced the plans back in March this year in his budget. The government has now confirmed that working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access the free childcare from April next year.

With thousands of parents expected to apply for the new scheme, ministers advise those eligible to apply between mid-January and the end of February.

Further increases to government funding rates for childcare have also been confirmed in the announcement, meaning in 2024-25 alone the government is investing over £400 million to ‘deliver a significant uplift to local authority hourly rates, to ensure enough places are available wherever they’re needed around the country’.

The Department for Education has confirmed the national average hourly rates will be £11.22 for under twos, £8.28 for two-year-olds, and £5.88 for three and four-year-olds from April – and are said to reflect the increase in National Living Wage from April 2024.

Province of British Columbia / Flickr

This will be extended to working parents of all children older than nine months from September next year.

From September 2025, working parents of children under five will be entitled to 30 hours of free childcare per week.

A childminder grant – for newcomers to the profession – of £600 for those who register with Ofsted, and £1,200 for those who register with a childminder agency, has also been confirmed.

David Woolfall / Wikimedia

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said ‘parents no longer have to choose between a career and a family’.

About the childcare scheme, she said: “From April next year, eligible working parents of two-year-olds will be able to access 15 hours of government-funded childcare a week, making sure parents no longer have to choose between a career and a family, and doubling down on this government’s commitment to getting more people into work and growing the economy. 

“I know the delivery of this transformation is no easy task, which is why I am pushing ahead with increased funding rates across the country and up to £1,200 for new childminders, knocking down barriers to recruiting and retaining the talented staff that provide such wonderful care for our children.”



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‘Loveable’ Wigan man dies after being pulled from canal as family pay tribute

His family also gave their condolences to his carer’s family and thanked emergency services

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Family handout / Greater Manchester Police

The family of Aaron Ritchie who tragically died after being pulled from a canal in Wigan Borough have paid tribute to him.

Emergency services rushed to the scene at the Leeds Liverpool canal at Crank Wood, Abram at approximately 2.15pm on Tuesday, November 28th, responding to calls that two males had entered the water and had come into difficulty.

Both men, aged 49 and 60, were retrieved from the canal by specialist personnel, as part of a large emergency response, as paramedics immediately conducted CPR. 

Family handout / Greater Manchester Police

The men were rushed to hospital but despite the best efforts of medical staff, sadly, both passed away later that day.

One of the men has been identified as 49-year-old Aaron Ritchie. He has been described by his family as a ‘loveable character’. 

In a statement paying tribute to him, Aaron’s family said: “It’s come as a complete shock to us as a family surrounding the tragic accident of what happened on Tuesday afternoon. Aaron was a loveable character who made a big impression on everyone who knew him.

“Aaron had special needs and he loved the outdoor life and as long as he had his puzzles, laces and spinning tops he was happy. Aaron is surely going to be missed by us as a family.”

The family also passed on their condolences to his carer’s family and thanked emergency services for their rescue efforts.

The family added: “We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his carer’s family and a special thank you to the emergency services who attended trying to save them.”

The 60-year-old man, Aaron’s carer, has not yet been named but police have said his next of kin have been informed. The two men’s deaths are not being treated as suspicious, police say.

Police are continuing to establish the circumstances behind their deaths, with a scene currently remaining in place in the area at the canal.

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Brookside actor Dean Sullivan who played Jimmy Corkhill has died age 68

Sad news this morning, RIP Dean

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BBC Breakfast & ITV / YouTube

Former Brookside star Dean Sullivan who played drug dealer Jimmy Corkhill in the soap died yesterday at the age of 68.

Sullivan confirmed he was living with prostate cancer in May after being diagnosed with the disease five years ago – though the soap legend’s cause of death has not yet been confirmed.

Sullivan was seen on-screen in June during a Brookside reunion at the British soap Awards.

He was joined on stage at the Lowry, in Salford, by former cast members Sue Jenkins and Claire Sweeney – who played Corkhill family members Lindsay and Jackie in the soap – to present the award for ‘Best Family’.

BBC Breakfast / YouTube

In a statement, Sullivan’s family said: “It is with deep sadness we must tell you that actor Dean Sullivan passed away on 29th November 2023 peacefully following a short illness.

“Dean is best remembered as the longest serving cast member of Channel 4’s groundbreaking ‘Brookside’ playing the role of ‘Jimmy Corkhill’, making Dean a British Soap icon. 

“To millions he was and very much still is remembered as ‘Jimmy’, to family and friends he was ‘Dino’. 

“Dean’s family wants to thank Arrowe Park Hospital for their unwavering and consistent support. We ask that you respect their privacy in their time of grief.”

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Created by Phil Redmond (Grangehill and Hollyoaks), Brookside was set in a real cul-de-sac on a housing estate in West Derby, Liverpool, and ran from November 1982 until November 2003. 

The last episode was filmed in September and aired two months later with Jimmy Corkhill’s face being the final one to fill the screen.

Sullivan played the role of Jimmy Corkhill for 17 years on the Merseyside soap, from 1986, and won a British Soap Award for outstanding achievement in 2003 for his portrayal.

The soap icon went on to star in BBC’s Doctors and ITV’s The Royal to add to his list of acting credits. He was scheduled to appear in a Southport production of Jack And The Beanstalk from December 7th, but pulled out on November 17th due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’.

ITV / YouTube

Sullivan was originally diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2018 and was discharged by his consultant after a year of radiotherapy treatment. He urged others to ‘listen to their bodies’, sharing his early symptoms.

He said he went to the doctor because ‘the strength of my flow when I used to go to the loo to have a pee was reduced’. On how he was diagnosed he added: “When I went back I saw a doctor who specialised in prostate treatment. 

“He gave me a quick examination and within two weeks I was at the hospital speaking to the consultant.

“If I’d have listened to the first doctor, it might have been a different story so always trust your gut – 11 times out of 10, you’re right. As with many cancers, if they are caught early, they are treatable.”

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