The mountain rescue volunteer who plunged 500ft trying to save two campers flouting lockdown rules will now have to spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
60-year-old Chris Lewis was one of the members called out on February 6th to Red Screes in the Lake District after two men, who had travelled from Liverpool and Leicester, required help.
One of the men, a 47-year-old from Leicester, suffered chest pains during the night which meant the pair needed to call for help.
The campers were each fined £200 for breaching the lockdown rules.
However, Mr Lewis fell on the rescue mission and it has now been confirmed he will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.
Patterdale Mountain Rescue team leader Mike Rippon said: “He’s got quite a lot of damage to his back in the area of his neck which has pretty serious and critical conditions for the future.
“We expect him to be at the best case wheelchair-bound but that would be a pretty good outcome.”
Speaking on how the catastrophic injuries suffered by Chris Lewis had hit the entire team, Rippon said: “It has been significant. In the last seven days or so we have tried to assess the team’s morale, mental wellbeing and how it has affected everybody.
“We’ve put things in place to allow people to reach out about what they’re feeling as a result of the incident. These things don’t come out in people overnight so we’ll have to monitor things for the foreseeable future.
“We are a team of dedicated volunteers and like everyone in mountain rescue we give our time freely, we go out and rescue people at the drop of a hat. It is unfortunate that in this case these people were breaking lockdown rules.
“The outpouring of sympathy has been humbling and the funds raised will go to Chris for the long term, they will be for his future.”
His colleague Mike Blakey said: “I’ve done this for 25 years, I can honestly say this was the worst rescue.
“I’ve seen some things in my time but you never expect to have to rescue one of your own. He’s having conversations with me already about where we are going to go in the wheelchair.”
Despite the anger felt towards the two campers online for flouting the lockdown rules, Martin Cotterell from the team of volunteers said they are ‘not there to judge’.
He said: “We are there to help. We all love the fells, we are all mountaineers, we go out there because we think we can help people in difficulty. Trying to judge is wrong.”
An online fundraiser has now been set up, with more than £450,000 already raised to provide Chris with the support he’ll need for the rest of his life.
Local resident Kate Whittenbury, who started one of the funds for Mr Lewis, said: “Local people are quite angry about it to be honest. It didn’t really have to happen, they shouldn’t have been here in the first place.
“I just thought something positive needed to be done to offset the negativity.”
Blackpool Pleasure Beach officially confirms date for reopening
Not long to go now
The Blackpool Pleasure Beach owners have confirmed the date on which the theme park will reopen.
Posting a video on social media of staff testing the rides, the caption stated that the venue is prepping for customers’ return on April 12th.
A statement on social media said: “In line with Government guidelines, we plan to re-open COVID secure and ‘Good To Go’ on Monday 12th April.
“We look forward to welcoming you back to share in our 125th year.”
Under current government plans to ease restrictions, theme parks along with zoos will be opening in Stage Two, which will happen on April 12th at the earliest.
It comes after the council announced that Blackpool Illuminations will be extended in 2021, with an additional two months of the spectacle.
You can see more info on the opening here, along with all the Covid-19 policies you can expect on your visits such as bookings made in advance and eTickets.
One of UK’s largest care home groups says it won’t hire anyone who isn’t vaccinated
New staff must have received the Covid vaccine
Care UK, one of the UK’s largest care home companies, has put a ‘no jab, no job’ system in place.
It comes after Care UK, which runs 120 homes, has seen more than two-thirds of its staff vaccinated.
A spokesperson said: “Everyone applying for a role which requires them to go into a home will be expected to have been vaccinated before they start work.”
Barchester, which operates 220 private care homes, said it would be insisting on staff having vaccines, warning that ‘if they refuse… on non-medical grounds [they] will, by reason of their own decision, make themselves unavailable for work’.
Employment lawyers have warned that such a move could result in legal challenges for unfair dismissal. However, Barchester stressed it might be possible to find such people work in roles away from frontline care.
Mike Cain, an associate at Leigh Day, said employment tribunals would weigh the care home’s clinical safety obligations to residents against the civil liberties of any employee whose refusal to have the vaccine might not be an impediment to safe working.
Barchester explains they expect all staff to have the vaccine by April 23rd, excluding those who have medical – including pregnancy – grounds for exemption.
So far 82% of its staff have received a first dose. A spokesperson said: “We are very aware of concerns around possible discrimination which is in no way our intention.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure fairness while also delivering on our duty to protect our residents, patients and staff.”
Bupa has said it is considering a policy for staff in hospitals, care homes and dental practices.
The largest not-for-profit home chain, MHA, said it is ‘being explicit with new staff that we want all of our frontline colleagues to take up the vaccine’ but it will not require new starters to prove it.
Unison, which represents care workers, warned that a ‘hardline approach’ risked hindering take-up.
Senior national care officer, Gavin Edwards, said: “Hesitant staff need encouraging and persuading.
“Intimidation and threats won’t deliver the results necessary for life to return to normal.”
17-year-old boy arrested after the George Floyd mural was defaced with racist graffiti
It’s the third time it’s been defaced
A 17-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage to the George Floyd mural in the Northern Quarter.
The tribute to George Floyd in Stevenson Square was painted by artist Akse P19 following the killing of Mr Floyd in May 2020.
The artwork was vandalised with a racist word on Friday morning for the third time since the painting was completed.
The suspect was seen doing the act on CCTV and police are now holding him on suspicion of racially aggravated criminal damage.
It comes just a matter of weeks after the last vandalising of the artwork.
Mr Floyd was killed by a white police officer who knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
His face became an icon of the resurgence of the Black Live Matter campaign across the globe.
Speaking on the last incident of defacing, Councillor Jon-Connor Lyons said: “Racism has no place in Manchester, we will not tolerate it and the Council will repair the memorial working with the artist.
“We’ll be working to review CCTV footage and any leads will be followed to find the culprit.
“Manchester is an inclusive, welcoming city with people from across the globe [and] this does not represent Manchester or Mancunians.
“Whoever did this has achieved nothing.”