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Essex Chronicle stories feed from registered users of the site and Northcliffe Media editorial

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    A University of Essex student has been killed in an attack on a beach in Thailand.

    Hannah Witheridge, 23, was attacked on the island of Koh Tao. Her body was found alongside David Miller, 24. from Jersey, in the early hours of this morning (September 15).

    The duo had been staying in beach side bungalows and are reported to have met at a party nearby. A garden hoe was found close to the bodies, according to Thai police.

    Ms Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, was studying for a speech and language therapy masters at the Colchester insitution.

    A manhunt is now under way for a suspect, but no motive is immediately apparent. According to reports the wanted man is a British friend of one of the victims.

    A spokesman for the UK Foreign Office said: "We are aware of the death of two British nationals on 15 September on the island of Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand.

    "The embassy are urgently seeking information from the local authorities and consular staff stand ready to provide assistance to friends and family at this tragic time."

    University of Essex student Hannah Witheridge killed on Thailand resort


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    A SUCCESSFUL appeal by Sainsbury's against the council's decision to turn down a new superstore could affect the housing make-up in the town, according to the authority's leader.

    A new store proposed by the supermarket giant in the Broomhills Industrial Estate was turned down in November. Sainsbury's appealed to the planning inspector and a public inquiry is currently looking into the decision.

    Braintree District Council leader, Councillor Graham Butland, said: "If Sainsbury's are successful with their appeal it will undoubtedly have an impact on housing development in Braintree."

    Braintree District Council announced a "call for sites" a fortnight ago, giving developers the chance to bid for land to be developed.

    The move came after the authority was forced to scrap its core strategy in June after new Government guidelines advised councils to revise their projections for house building.

    Since the announcement was made, Braintree District Council has received 10 proposals from landowners.

    On September 5 two planning consultations were submitted to the council, one for 850 houses on land next to Lodge Farm, in Hatfield Road, Witham, and one for 250 houses off Western Road, in Silver End.

    Cllr Butland said the new local plan could include up to three new developments being built around Braintree the size of Great Notley garden village, which was built in 2000.

    He added: "I would be very surprised if we are not inundated with sites, I'm sure there are many sites landowners have an option for houses on that they may now want to develop for housing.

    "We've already asked some developers if they wanted to bring sites they already had approval for forward.

    "But a few extra houses in some villages will not solve the housing problem, there will probably need to be two or three new settlements, particularly for affordable houses for young people that will keep villages alive.

    "If the revised figure comes out at 10,000 to 12,000 houses over the next 10 years it is more than likely we'll need to think about something like Great Notley which is around 2,500 houses.

    "Then there is the infrastructure needed to come with these houses as we can't just dump them in the middle of nowhere, there will need to be schools, transport and health facilities."

    But residents are not convinced enough infrastructure will be built to meet the demand that will come with these new developments.

    Jim Konig, of Convent Lane, Braintree, said: "I'm concerned, as are many residents, that the council have not made any provision for the support that's needed for extra development, especially transport, schooling and GP services. The premise that house-building is going to get us out of recession is flawed and unfortunately local councils are going along with this flawed national policy."

    A decision on potential sites will not be made by the council until around June next year.

    New Braintree Sainsbury's 'could spell doom for housing plan'


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    MOST three-year-old boys can only dream of having an aeroplane-themed bedroom with a jet as a bed.

    But that's going to be a reality for Leo Fairhall after he and his uncle, seven-year-old Charlie Davis, designed an aeronautical room in a competition run by IKEA and intu Lakeside asking children to draw their ideal bedroom to read books in.

    The design impressed the judging panel, made up of representatives from Lakeside, IKEA and the National Literacy Trust, with its originality.

    As well as enjoying storytelling sessions with friends and family in his imagined room when it is built at Lakeside in October, Charlie will also receive a bedroom makeover at home worth £1,500.

    Leo said: "I just can't believe we won. We are so lucky and I can't wait to go to sleep on an aeroplane."

    Charlie decided to help Leo design his ideal room after he gave his larger room to his younger sister.

    Leo's mum Yasmin Fairhall, from Tiptree, said: "Leo told us that girls needed more space and gave his room to his sister Poppy, which was so lovely. I'm so pleased that he has won, and he's so excited.

    "We've never won anything before, so this was a real surprise.

    "I have said that I'll have Charlie's bedroom decorated as a thank you for helping Leo to do the design."

    Charlie's dream bedroom to read books in will be unveiled in Lakeside on Monday, October 27, with free storytelling sessions taking place inside throughout the half term week.

    "We were delighted with the response we received to the competition, as well as the high standard of entries," said Izzie Peskett, Lakeside's regional marketing manager.

    "The designs demonstrated the limitlessness of children's imaginations and we were very pleased to see so many bookshelves included.

    "Charlie's design, in particular, blew us all away and we can't wait for him to see its transformation into a real-life set this October."

    Leo, 3, living the dream in jet-themed bedroom after IKEA contest


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    A MOTHER suddenly struck down with a debilitating neurological disease, who now needs a wheelchair to get around, waited a year to be diagnosed.

    Jo Pawley, 32, of Newlands Spring, Chelmsford, was sitting at home when she felt a sudden pain.

    "It was horrible, I had a pain in the centre of my back, up my right hand and in my head that was so bad I could see my foot twisting in front of my eyes," said Jo, who has limited use of her right hand.

    As a mother with two young children, Jo led an active life until Dystonia left her using crutches and a wheelchair to get around.

    She said: "I have limited use of my right hand, if I'm having a bad day I can't even grip a glass.

    "I need the help of friends and family so much now.

    "One day I was fine – the next I needed a wheelchair."

    Jo was looking forward to going back to work in the bar trade after raising her two children when she was suddenly hit by the disease in April 2013.

    She was given a temporary diagnosis in March this year that was not made official until two weeks ago.

    Dystonia is a neurological disorder that causes muscles to move, twist and tremor, with sufferers affected in a variety of ways.

    It can be either hereditary, caused by physical trauma, infection and in Jo's case, a reaction to pharmaceutical drugs.

    Jo now wants to raise more awareness of the condition as many patients and even doctors often confuse the disorder with other conditions.

    "At first doctors thought I had a stroke and it wasn't until I went to the National Hospital for Neurology in London that Dystonia was suggested," said Jo.

    "It's so important more people are aware of how it can be caused, if just one person is saved from this then it will all have been worth it."

    On Bank Holiday Monday Jo organised an event at the Green Dragon in Braintree to raise awareness of the disease and raised over £400 to go towards research.

    Her friends Aisha Cattermole made the cakes and assistant manager at the Green Dragon, Carina Keeble, helped arrange the event when Jo was suddenly taken to hospital just days before the event.

    "There's no known cure, but I won't let it beat me," she said defiantly. "It went so well," said Jo who is married with a 13-year-old daughter and a four-year-old son.

    Many people donated items to be raffled to pub-goers, with revellers enjoying a live band, face painting, a bouncy castle and a cake stall.

    "It was overwhelming, people who hadn't heard of Dystonia, people I'd never met before, were all getting involved.

    "I'm just so happy at how well it went, it was so touching the amount of people who took part and gave so generously.

    "Three guys were doing an Ice Bucket Challenge in the beer garden and decided to give to Dystonia," she said.

    Jo is now in the early stages of planning her next fundraising event that she hopes to hold in November in Chelmsford.

    'One day I was fine, the next I needed a wheelchair': Chelmsford mum Jo Pawley's battle against dystonia


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    ESSEX has been issued with a yellow weather warning after thick fog descended on the county last night.

    But the region could see above-average September temperatures today after the early morning fog clears to give sunny spells during the late morning.

    Isolated showers would appear during the afternoon, which could turn to heavy with the possibility of thunder.

    Wind will be light with sunshine making the maximum temperature of 22 degrees Celsius fell quite warm.

    The Met Office issued a yellow warning for the fog this morning as visibility has been reduced to 100 metres or less in some places.

    Although this disruptive fog across parts of Essex is likely to see brighter conditions beginning to break through in many places by mid-morning.

    Where the sun comes out for any lengthy spells, temperatures will rise several degrees above the September average.

    Met Office weather warning issued for Essex over fog


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    The brother of a woman strangled by her ex-boyfriend has told an inquest how his murdered sister was his "shining light".

    Maria Stubbings, 50, was throttled with a dog lead by Marc Chivers at her home in Pitfield, Chelmsford, in December 2008.

    Despite Chivers only being released from a German jail for murdering his previous girlfriend months before meeting Maria, he was not monitored in the same was as if he had been released under the English probation system.

    Her brother Manuel Fernandez gave evidence at the first day of a potentially six week  into the circumstances of Ms Stubbing's death that heard from three witnesses, also including Maria's GP, Dr Soumya Lanka.

    In an emotional statement from the witness box, Mr Fernandez described his "super loving, intelligent and caring sister" who he said had "made me who I am today", helping to raise him along with their mother as a child in Billericay.

    "She was a happy go lucky person, non-judgemental and a very beautiful person" said Mr Fernandez..

    "She was more than a sister, she was very motherly and one of the greatest influences in my life because she was a very caring individual.

    "Probably because we came from a broken home, she had a dream of starting a family, she just wanted to be loved and help people and because she was so giving, she gave everybody a chance and looked for the good in everyone."

    'Very sensitive to life's troubles'

    Retired pathologist Dr David Rouse told Chelmsford Coroner's Court he believed Maria died closer to the last time she was seen alive on December 16, rather than three days later when she was discovered by police officers under a pile of coats in her downstairs toilet.

    Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray, also heard during the four-and-a-half-hour hearing that Maria Stubbings had visited her GP on five separate occasions in the lead up to her death, saying she was having problems following a relationship breakdown.

    The mother-of-two had been prescribed a number of anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs as well as pills to help her sleep since 1995 and had spent time at the Linden Centre mental health unit in Chelmsford .

    "She was not a depressive person, she was very happy, she would always crack a joke or do something funny, but I remember times when she was low and as a brother I would be there for her," added Manuel.

    "But she was also a pillar of strength and although it might sound contradictory, she was very sensitive to life's troubles and maybe could not brush off these things, like other people can."

    The court also heard that a panic alarm had been installed in Maria's home. But it was then removed when Chivers was jailed on remand for common and sexual assault on her.

    Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, also made a surprise appearance to lend support to the family during the afternoon session, sitting at the back of the room watching the proceedings.

    The inquest continues.

    Murdered Maria Stubbings was 'a pillar of strength', her brother tells inquest in Chelmsford


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    Thai police investigating the brutal murder of two British students on the paradise island of Koh Toa are believed to be hunting for a British backpacker who may have been befriended the pair.

    The bodies of University of Essex postgraduate student Hannah Witheridge, 23, of Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and David Miller, 24, from Jersey, were found close to a blood stained garden hoe, believed to be the murder weapon.

    Investigating officer for the Thai Police Col Prachum Ruangthong, said: "The man was chopped in the back and on the side of his head, while the woman was chopped in her face. It's very gruesome."

    Reports suggest that other locals and holiday maker blockaded the pier to stop the suspect escaping, but he is thought to have fled to Bangkok.

    An initial investigation found that the pair had travelled separately to Koh Tao, where they met while staying at the same seaside hotel, police say.

    Thai police chief Major General Kiattipong Khawsamang said officers were checking CCTV footage from nearby restaurants and hotels to piece together what had happened.

    "They went out to a bar and left together after 1am, according to CCTV footage," said Maj Gen Khawsamang.

    "We have talked to different witnesses who might lead us to some clues."

    It was last night reported that police on the island, which is accessible only by boat and is visited by hundreds of backpackers each year, were searching for a British suspect, who is believed to have known with Mr Miller.

    The suspect's name has been circulated to police but not given to the media.

    Manhunt for British backpacker over murder of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Thai island


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    Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger goes into his side's first game of the Champions League against Borussia Dortmund at the Signal Iduna Park with just three fit first choice defenders.

    Calum Chambers is a doubt with tonsillitis, while left back Nacho Monreal and right back Mathieu Debuchy are already ruled out.

    Kieran Gibbs will start in place of Debuchy.

    Arsenal will be keen to start well with last year's second place finish in the group stage arguably costing them progression to the quarter finals, and having won in Dortmund last year, they will be confident of doing so.

    Shinji Kagawa will play for Dortmund in his first European tie since switching from Manchester United, having starred in their 3-1 win over Freiburg.

    Arsenal vs Borussia Dortmund is live on Sky Sports 5 from 7pm, kick off at 7.45pm.

    What channel is Arsenal vs Dortmund on tonight?


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    After weeks of campaigning, led by SNP leader and first minister Alex Salmond, and Better Together leader Alastair Darling, the results of the Scottish independence referendum will be announced on Friday morning.

    A huge turnout is expected, with 97 per cent of Scots registered to vote.

    Polling stations will be open from 7am, closing at 10pm. Scotland has 32 local authority areas, all of which will report to the chief counting officer designate.

    Results are expected to start coming in from 1am

    Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen will declare from 5am, with the result anticipated to be announced from 7am. However, these three cities account for one quarter of the electorate, leading to the likelihood of it being announced later than billed.

    And further delays could be caused if either the Yes and No campaigns  request a recount at any of the local counting stations.


    Scottish independence referendum: What time will the result be announced?


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    A suspected burglar on the run from Essex Police with his girlfriend has been caught on video ramming two police vehicles.

    Valuables worth more than £500,000 are thought to have been taken by Luke Wall, 23, who is missing after breaching crown court bail conditions.

    Wall is known to be travelling with his partner Teresa Connors, 20, who is also wanted for breaching court bail conditions for burglary offences.

    Wall, whose last known address was at Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, is now thought to be travelling in East Anglia and is suspected of currently committing further burglary offences.

    The CCTV footage shows a marked police motorcycle being rammed, injuring the officer, on the M11 in Cambridgeshire at 3.05pm on June 9, and a marked police car also being rammed on the M25 in Hertfordshire 12.30am on June 12. 

    The officers involved were not injured.

    Wall was released on strict bail conditions at Ipswich Crown Court on July 29 after being charged with conspiracy to burgle, but he failed to comply with his bail conditions and removed his electronic monitoring tag.

    Connors is in breach of bail conditions imposed at Maidstone Crown Court on July 28 for an offence of burglary and theft in Kent.

    She failed to attend Grays police station on August 19 and appears to have left her three children with her parents to be with Wall.

    DCI Paul Maleary of Essex Police said: "We are working with our colleagues in Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire as we need to trace these two people urgently as they are suspected of continuing to commit burglary crimes after breaching court bail conditions.

    "Extensive enquiries have been carried out across the UK but Wall and Connors appear to be always on the move. However, we believe they are currently somewhere in East Anglia.

    "The CPS have taken an unusual step and agreed that we can release some of the CCTV footage of police vehicles being rammed to show how important it is that we find those responsible as quickly as possible."

    Anyone who sees Wall and Connors should call 999 immediately.

    If you have information about their whereabouts contact Essex Police on 101 and ask for officers at Grays CID, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.

    VIDEO: On-the-run burglary suspect Luke Wall rammed two police cars on the M11 and M25


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    A stand-off at the Travelodge in Chelmsford which saw armed police called to the hotel turned out to be a hoax.

    Essex Police said its officers dashed to the premises on Parkway, at the Army & Navy roundabout, at around 8pm on Sunday (September 14), over concerns for the safety of a man inside one of the rooms. 

    Officers were there for more than two hours.

    A spokesman for Travelodge said police were called because the safety and well being of its staff was paramount.

    She said: "Essex Police were called to Chelmsford Travelodge to attend a situation which turned out to be a hoax

    "We would like to take this opportunity to sincerely apologise to our customers who were inconvenienced as a result of this incident."

    Travelodge 'sorry' after armed police call out to Army & Navy Chelmsford hotel


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    Chelmsford Ladies 1st XI - 1

    St. Albans 1st XI - 1

    Investec EHL Conference East

    Scorers: Bryony Pipe

    CHELMSFORD fought hard and dominated much of this exciting match and whilst a point is welcomed, it could so easily have been all three points to the Essex side.

    With two attacks on goal in the opening minutes, Chelmsford set to the task with relish and flowing open play. Excellent forward running by Tori Clark, Kate Taylor and Collette Ager had the St Albans defence reeling back in numbers and confident control of the midfield by Emer Acton, Jess Bryan and Julia Butterworth stifled St Albans attempts to get out of their own half.

    As the game progressed St Albans managed to press forward and after 20 minutes secured a short corner, which they converted to take the lead. Chelmsford ignored this setback and stayed organised and positive and again held much of the play through to the interval.

    At the restart, St Albans showed determination and commitment to increasing their lead but with goalkeeper Lynsey Warren on great form and solid defensive performances from Sophie Stock and Hayley Heggie Chelmsford handled the pressure and went forward to build attacks of their own. Kate Maxey was hugely influential on the right flank and the combination of Elsa Genovese and Becky Budd on the left stretched the play across the pitch.

    Repeated attacks into the D resulted in Chelmsford making several attempts on goal but they had to wait until late in the game to secure the equaliser. A coordinated move on the right saw the ball pressed into the D where St Albans were slow to clear. Youngster Bryony Pipe took the initiative and swept the ball home, her first goal at National league level.

    Chelmsford sought to round off the match with a winning goal and although they secured a short corner in the last minutes, the match concluded with the honours shared.

    Chelmsford's next match is on Saturday September 20 away at East Grinstead with pushback at 1.30pm.

    Chelmsford Ladies start new season with hard-fought draw


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    ESSEX won within two days for the second time in a row as they beat Leicestershire by an innings and 79 runs at Grace Road.

    James Foster enjoyed back-to-back centuries to guide the Eagles to 334, before bowling the hosts out for 117.

    Foster and Ravi Bopara reconvened on 153-3 but Bopara fell just before his half-century, being bowled for 49.

    Kishen Velani and Graham Napier fell quickly before David Masters offered the Essex skipper some support in the middle order.

    Foster reached his fantastic century, before Masters (26) and then Monty Panesar (1) departed in quick succession.

    The Eagles captain reached 138, including 19 fours and two sixes, before he was eventually caught off the bowling of Charlie Shreck, Essex all out for 334.

    The Essex bowlers then picked up from where they had left off, making light work of the host's batting line-up.

    Jamie Porter grabbed the opening three wickets of Angus Robson (26), Ed Eckersley (1)and Dan Redfern (0) before Monty Panesar got Greg Smith LBW for 36.

    After that it was a mere procession, with Rob Taylor falling for 6 and Niall O'Brien (0), Jigar Naik (0) and Josh Cobb (37) all falling with the score on 115.

    Atif Sheikh (2) went just two runs later and the final wicket was wrapped up by Masters for the same score of 117 all out.

    Porter (3-26), Masters (3-15) and Jesse Ryder (3-40) grabbed the majority of the wickets, with Panesar (1-9) clinching the last one.

    That victory puts Essex on level points with Hampshire for the final promotion spot and with the South-Coast team being frustrated by Kent in their penultimate match, the final game against Worcestershire could be crucial.

    Essex wrap up Leicestershire Championship victory within two days


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    HEYBRIDGE Swifts are still to win at Scraley Road in the Ryman One North this season as they were beaten 3-2 by AFC Sudbury.

    Neil Richmond's brace for Swifts were not enough as Ryan Hervel, Aryton Coley and James Baker gave the visitors all three points.

    Swifts were behind in the tenth minute as Coley burst down the right hand side after a good delivery over the top. He crossed straight onto the head of Hervel who had the simple task of nestling the ball into the bottom corner.

    Billy Hunt thought he had equalised four minutes later when he rounded Alex Archer in the Sudbury goal and put the ball into an empty net. But the linesman's flag went up very late for offside and the goal was ruled out.

    Kris Newby should have made it two for the visitors in the 17th minute when he latched onto a long ball over the top. But his attempted lob just didn't get over Danny Sambridge who managed to parry it away.

    Coley looked bright for the visitors, cutting in from the right hand side and firing in a left footed shot that just drifted over the bar.

    But Swifts got the equaliser with just over five minutes left in the first half. Skipper Liam Springett clipped the ball over the top that hit Hunt in the back and fell into the path of Richmond. The striker calmly slotted the ball under keeper Archer to level the scores.

    But Sudbury would regain the lead on the stroke of half time. Sambridge did well to parry a Hervel effort from range, but when the cross came back in Coley was there to flick the ball in from close range.

    Danny Lopes had a good chance to level the scores again straight after half-time when Stephen Good flicked on a Michael Fitzgibbon long throw. Lopes snuck round the back post but couldn't connect with his effort and the ball trickled to Archer.

    And that would cost Swifts as Baker extended Sudbury's lead. He rose highest to meet a Michael Shinn corner and bullet his effort past Sambridge to make it three.

    Springett then hit the post with a free-kick before Richmond grabbed his second goal of the game in the 57th minute. Hunt shrugged off Payton Swatman down the left and fired in a cross. The Sudbury defence failed to deal with it and the ball fell to the Swifts' striker who swept the ball home.

    Newby then missed his second one-on-one of the match, as he tried to be too cute his shot and only preceded to clip the effort the wrong side of the post.

    Then in the 75th minute Reece Morgan hit an absolute bullet from outside the box that seemed destined for the top corner. But unluckily for the Swifts midfielder the ball rattled the crossbar and bounced safe.

    Swifts were unable to put real pressure on the Sudbury, with Hunt's injury time strike well held by Archer in the dying minutes.

    Heybridge Swifts: Sambridge, Springett, Beale, Evans, Fitzgibbon (Spriggs 84'), Good, Morgan, White (Holdstock 73'), Richmond, Hunt, Lopes.

    Subs not used: Farthing, Andrews, Hession-Harris

    Bookings: Springett (29'), Morgan (34'), Fitzgibbon (41')

    Goals: Richmond (39', 57')

    AFC Sudbury: Archer, Swatman (Guyton 65'), Flynn, Shinn, Mallardo, Hervel (Maxwell 77'), Newby, Clarke, Baker, Coley, Wilkinson (Davidson 46').

    Subs not used: Kemp, Blackwell.

    Bookings: Newby (29'), Clarke (55'), Baker (80')

    Goals: Hervel (10'), Coley (45'), Baker (54')

    Referee: Stuart Pawley

    Attendance: 107

    Heybridge Swifts still winless at home after AFC Sudbury defeat


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    JUST a year ago, 18-year-old Alice White was hospitalised for mental health issues.

    After spending nine months in a psychiatric unit, which helped save her life, today she is training for one of the most gruelling obstacle courses around – all to raise money for the charity Mind.

    The Tough Mudder 12-mile obstacle course, which was designed by British special forces and includes crawling under electric fences and scaling walls, strikes fear into the hearts of grown men, but the plucky teen, who is also a type-1 diabetic, is ready for the challenge.

    "If I wasn't diabetic, I'd be in the Army now, so this is as close as I can get," explained Alice of Hatfield Peverel.

    "I went to my diabetic nurse a few weeks ago and she asked about my plans. I told her I was doing Tough Mudder and she said that it is against medical advice, but I was like 'never mind, I'm young'.

    "It is just something you do. I have had diabetes since I was ten, so I can't actually remember not having it. It is like everything – the world doesn't stop, it carries on, so you just have to keep going with it."

    Alice is keen to raise as much money as she can for Mind, which she says helped her through one of the darkest periods of her life.

    "I had a deterioration of mental health and was moved into an adolescent psychiatric unit where I had intensive therapy. I was there for nine months and it was this charity Mind that enabled me to progress to get back out into the community, back into education," she said.

    "Whenever I listen to the news, it's all mental health cuts, but I want to do this because I had a fantastic service that has enabled me to do the things I am doing and to still be here."

    Mind estimates that one in four people will suffer from mental health problems in any given year, and Alice is keen to help other people by working in the system that she credits with saving her life.

    "I am thinking once I have finished my college course next year, I am hoping to go to university to become a mental health nurse so I can go back into the system and help other people. It's not like an X Factor sob story but I have had the insight, I have been there as a patient, so I would like to go back to help."

    As well as fitting in at least ten miles of running a week, Alice has been preparing for Tough Mudder, which will take place on October 25 in London, by training with Chelmsford City ladies football club and doing a training session with the Marines, via her college.

    And her optimism is sure to help her complete the course. "I volunteered at Brownstock land was on stage drinking beer with Razorlight. I am going to do Tough Mudder and get absolutely ruined. I have one year left in education that I am going to smash, and then I am going to go out into the world and take it on."

    To donate to Alice's Tough Mudder run for Mind, visit: www.justgiving.com/AliceandAimeeMud

    Back from the brink: Alice White takes on Tough Mudder for Mind


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    THE site of a former hospital building established at the beginning of the First World War is celebrating its 100 year anniversary.

    St Giles Hospital in Bicknacre is now home to the St Giles supported housing scheme, run by Genesis Housing Association.

    It provides accommodation and support to people with learning disabilities and mental health needs, and staff and residents held a party to celebrate the building's centenary.

    As well as the celebratory party, the scheme recently held a "St Giles in Bloom" gardening competition, supported by White Elm Garden Centre, whereby residents got involved in planting, choosing their own flowers and had their designs judged by nursery staff.

    Lesley Jones, scheme manager, said: "We have been here since 1984, but before that it was a convent and a nursing home run by nuns.

    "There has been something on this site since 1914, and some of the first patients here were in the war.

    "It's nice to celebrate that, and the customers have been really enthusiastic about it."

    The site's role as a hospital dates back even further than 1914, with records from the local area showing that there was a leprosy hospital there since around the 12th century.

    Unfortunately, much of St Giles had to be rebuilt nine years ago following a fire, but architects built to the same design and ensured the new build was in-keeping with the original history of the place, something residents celebrated last week.

    Gardeners celebrate 100 years of St Giles Hospital in Bicknacre


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    A British man has been questioned in relation to the murders of two UK backpackers in Thailand - one of whom attended the University of Essex.

    The semi-naked bodies of Essex student Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth and David Miller, 24, from Jersey, were found on a beach in Koh Tao early on Monday.

    Both victims had deep wounds to the head and face and a bloodstained garden hoe - believed to have been used as a weapon - was found nearby. 

    Investigations from more than 70 Thai police officers have led to the questioning of migrant workers and tourists in bars, hotels, homes and businesses as the authorities search for the killer.

    Despite a Briton now being questioned, a spokesman for the British Embassy in Bangkok had said yesterday that they had no information to suggest any British national is a suspect in the investigation, and has confirmed that remains the case.

    He added: "The investigation is a matter for the Thai authorities."

    Meanwhile Hannah's family have paid tribute to the 'beautiful' girl they have now lost.

    A family statement said: "She was selfless and caring and made each and every day that little bit more wonderful.

    "Our family are utterly devastated and shocked by what has happened to our beautiful Hannah. To lose her in the way that we have is beyond comprehension.

    "We are heartbroken and no words can possibly describe how we feel. As such, we would be extremely grateful to be left in peace while we come to terms with our loss."

    British man questioned over murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on Thai island


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    As both sides in the Scottish referendum debate make their final push for votes on the last day of campaigning, the latest polls show "No" has a slight advantage.

    The results of three new polls were released yesterday, one by Opinium for the Daily Telegraph, another by ICM for the Scotsman and a third by Survation for the Daily Mail.

    All suggested a narrow 52 per cent lead for "No" compared to 48 per cent "Yes", with undecided voters excluded.

    First Minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond has written to voters appealing for the "Yes" vote saying "let's do this".

    Ahead of the final day of campaigning he said: "The talking is nearly done. The campaigns will have had their say. What's left is just us - the people who live and work here. The only people with a vote. The people who matter.

    "The people who for a few precious hours during polling day hold sovereignty, power, authority in their hands. It's the greatest most empowering moment any of us will ever have. Scotland's future - our country in our hands.

    "What to do? Only each of us knows that. For my part, I ask only this. Make this decision with a clear head and a clear conscience."  

    Better Together meanwhile will hold a Vote No rally in Glasgow later today (September 16).

    Campaign director Blair McDougall, said: "Unlike Alex Salmond who is on a helicopter victory tour, Better Together is campaigning through the night for a No vote.

    "Better Together campaigners are working tirelessly to spread the message that there will be better, faster, safer change with a No vote for a stronger Scotland, while Alex Salmond's political project for separation risks jobs, pensions and the NHS."

    Latest polls show


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    Don't put the barbecue away just yet. Summer may be over but the weather in Essex is showing no signs of cooling down as we head for the weekend.

    Mornings will be dominated by cloud and fog but this will soon clear to bring largely sunny, warm afternoons.

    The latest Met Office weather forecast for Chelmsford shows temperatures will reach highs of 23ºC on Thursday, 22ºC on Friday and 21ºC on Saturday.

    Heat levels will not drop too rapidly overnight either with the lowest temperature expected over the next three days at 14ºC.    

    However, the warmth is set to trigger a few showers, and encourage the onset of some unwelcome guests. 

    Essex set to reach highs of 25C this week


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    TONY HUMES' first home game in charge ended in an agonising 3-2 defeat to Sheffield United.

    The U's were two goals up with 13 minutes left but conceded three goals in a crazy five minute spell late on.

    George Moncur's first half strike gave the U's a deserved lead at half time as his powerful rebounded headed gave the U's the lead on the half hour.

    Freddie Sears doubled the U's lead in the second half when he pounced on a goalkeeping error by Mark Howard and the U's seemed to be cruising to vistory.

    But the Blades scored three goals in five minutes to complete a dramatic turnaround in the final ten minutes.

    Ben Davies scored the first with a driven shot across the face of goal. Ryan Flynn then levelled it with a close range finish two minutes later.

    And the turnaround was complete when Nigel Clough's side were handed a penalty following Alex Gilbey's foul. Davis stepped up and calmly slotted the ball past Sam Walker.

    Tony Humes was forced into making one change for his first game in charge. Captain Magnus Okuonghae, who was sent off in the 2-0 victory at Leyton Orient, was replaced by Frankie Kent, who was handed his home debut.

    Humes' first home game almost got off to a flyer when Moncur offloaded a fizzing shot that ended narrowly wide of the left-hand upright.

    The U's then came the width of a post from taking the lead when the ball dropped to Gilbey in the box but his thumping volley rebounded clear off the post with Howard rooted in the Blades goal.

    The visitors then had a chance of their own when Robert Harris sent a speculative effort at goal but his attempt ended well wide of the target.

    Colchester then looked to get on the front foot again and Freddie Sears deflected shot from just outside the box had Howard scrambling across his goal to put the ball bahind.

    The U's then got the goal that their play deserved through Moncur. After a flowing move Sears got to the byline and pulled the ball back to Moncur who struck his shot first time and pulled a superb reaction save from Howard.

    But the Blades keeper was helpless to prevent Moncur powering in the rebound from a header to give Humes' side a lead they carried into the break.

    The visitors came flying out the blocks second half and James Wallace had a half chance within two minutes of the restart when his close-range shot hit the side netting with Walker rooted.

    The U's then had a golden chance to double their lead when Sears latched onto a through ball and rounded Howard but with the goal at his mercy the former West Ham striker's shot was miraculously cleared off the line by Neill Collins.

    Sears had another chance to atone for his earlier error when he beat a defender and fired in a shot that fizzed just past the right-hand upright.

    But he did eventually got his goal and it came from a huge blunder by Howard in the Blades net. The keeper slid out to collect a routine back header but spilled the ball to Sears who calmly curled his shot into an empty net.

    The Blades pulled one back six minutes later through Davies' drilled effort across the box to set up a nervy finish.

    And they levelled it two minutes later when Mark McNulty's pull back was crashed in from close range by substitute Flynn.

    Davies finished off the Blades' rally following Gilbey's foul on Stefan Scougall, the midfielder calmly sending Walker the wrong way to seal the victory.

    The U's now lie 22nd in the table and host former manager Phil Parkinson's Bradford City on Saturday.


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