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

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    The A12 will be extended to three lanes all the way from London to Colchester under a £15 billion plan to upgrade roads across the country.

    The details of the project also reveal today (December 1) that the busy carriageway will also be upgraded with dedicated left-turn lanes and extra CCTV cameras.

    Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will make a speech on the subject in parliament today.

    Mr McLoughlin said: "Today I am setting out the biggest, boldest and most far-reaching roads programme for decades.

    "It will dramatically improve our road network and unlock Britain's economic potential.

    "Roads are key to our nation's prosperity. For too long they have suffered from under-investment.

    "This government has a long term plan to secure the country's future and this £15 billion roads programme is demonstration of that.

    "Better roads allow us to travel freely, creating jobs and opportunities, benefiting hardworking families across the country."

    The news comes after repeated calls from Essex County Council highways boss Rodney Bass, Chelmsford MP Simon Burns and Witham MP Priti Patel to upgrade the A12 to motorway size.

    Simon Burns MP for Chelmsford said: "I have been campaigning for some time to turn the A12 in Essex, in effect, into a motorway. I have been lobbying the Secretary of State for Transport for just over a year on this issue. 

    "I am delighted that both the Secretary of State for Transport and the Chancellor of the Exchequer have listened and that it has been announced today in the House of Commons that the A12 from the M25 to Chelmsford and from Junction 25 in North Chelmsford to Colchester will be turned into a 3 lane road. When done this will significantly improve the congestion problems on the A12.

    "I am also pleased that at the same time the A12 from the M25 to Ipswich will have significant traffic management technology improvements along the whole route including CCTV cameras and various message signs to allow better information to drivers and enhance the Active Traffic Management of traffic on the route. 

    "This, too, will help improve the flow of traffic and deal with traffic congestion and enhance road safety.

    "I am thrilled that following my campaign the Government has listened to ensure improvements to this main feeder road into the East of England."

    The A12 is currently a mix between a two-lane and three-lane road.

    The government, which includes the news in its 2015 Autumn Statement, says it will start spending on the various projects by the end of the decade.

    A12 to become three-lane road all the way to Colchester under £15 billion plan


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    A van driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after a pedestrian was killed on the A1060 between Roxwell and Chelmsford this morning.

    Police have appealed for witnesses following the fatal road collision, which took place just before 6am this morning.

    The male pedestrian was pronounced dead at the scene, while the road remains closed and is expected to re-open in around three hours.

    Jay Glennie, 45, who was three cars behind the incident, said: "The cars in front of me had stopped, and there was a man in a white shirt lying in the road, it didn't look good.

    "I asked if they had called an ambulance, and one was already on its way. The road now is silent, it looks like an apocalypse has happened as there are no cars on there at all. I was only allowed back on the road because I live there."

    The road is due to reopen at 11am.

    Any witnesses or anyone who saw the pedestrian on the A1060 before 6am, should contact the Essex Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 101 or email collisionappeal@essex.pnn.police.uk

    Van driver arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after pedestrian killed on A1060


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  • 12/01/14--01:43: Kevin Bryan's record reviews


  • Jerry Lee Lewis, "Rock & Roll Time" (Vanguard Records)- Most of Jerry Lee Lewis' contemporaries from the golden era of rock'n'roll fell by the wayside long long ago, but this irascible character is still pounding the ivories with the vigour of a man half his age. Producer Jim Keltner  oversees  a star-studded backing line-up featuring the likes of Neil Young, Keith Richard,Ron Wood and The Band's Robbie Robertson as they  underpin the venerable performer's contributions  on the warm and rootsy  "Rock & Roll Time." Jerry Lee may have surrounded himself with rock luminaries but he remains the the real star of the show , and  his  slightly wheezy vocals  breathe  new life into much loved  old favourites such as Jimmy Reed's "Bright Lights,Big City" and Chuck Berry's "Little Queenie" and "Promised Land."
    Strawbs,"Hero & Heroine In Ascencia" (Witchwood WMCD 2050)- The original version of  "Hero & Heroine"  captured the dramatic essence of The Strawbs' highly distinctive prog-rock sound when it first saw the light of day in 1974, leaning heavily on the creative contributions of singer Dave Cousins and lead guitarist Dave Lambert. The two men made the rather unusual decision to re-record the entire  album almost four decades later,and this mildly redundant album is the result. Souped-up instrumentation and arrangements lend added impetus to fine tracks such as "Shine On Silver Sun" and "Hero & Heroine" itself but Cousins' always rather pained vocals have withstood the passage of time much less happily,and the entire package suffers a little as a result.
    "Latest & Greatest Driving Rock Anthems" (Union Square Music)-Union Square's latest  3CD set serves up a deliciously  varied menu of rock and pop gems designed  to help those long and tedious car journeys to slip by a little more painlessly . The musical content of this remarkably inexpensive anthology  is certainly nothing if not eclectic, with a grand total of  sixty tracks including contributions from  such unlikely bedfellows as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Madness, Patti Smith and sixties hit-makers  The Nashville Teens of "Tobacco Road" fame to name but a few .
    Graham Parker & The Figgs, "Live at the FTC" (Wienerworld WNRD 2586)- Graham Parker  may seem to have slipped out of the public eye since  relocating  to the U.S.of A. in the early nineties ,  but this intense performer has  actually turned out a string of excellent albums since making the momentous move.  This fine live set was captured for posterity  in 2010 as he  hit the road to  promote his latest  album,"Imaginary Television," and found Parker regaling his  audience in Fairfield, Connecticut  with a typically gritty and heart-warming show featuring a blend of new material and tried and tested crowd pleasers such as "White Honey," "Life Gets Better" and the vitriolic "Mercury Poisoning."

    Kevin Bryan's record reviews


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    TWO cars collided and then hit a house in Chelmsford last night, after a driver became unwell at the wheel, leaving one man trapped in his vehicle.

    The accident happened opposite Chelmsford Fire Station in Rainsford Lane at around 10.30pm.

    Two fire engines from Chelmsford plus paramedics and police officers rushed to the scene.

    Firefighters used cutting equipment to free a man trapped in a car by around 11.15pm and he was treated by paramedics at the scene.

    Two patients were then taken to Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, in a stable condition for further medical attention.

    A structural engineer was called in to assess the house.

    Man trapped after two cars collide and hit a house in Chelmsford


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    LUKE CALLANDER scored a hat-trick as Witham Town beat Bury Town 4-1 at home on Saturday.

    There was a hectic start to the game when after just seven minutes Witham keeper Harry Palmer made a tremendous save from a free-kick taken by former Chelmsford City defender Justin Miller.

    The ball was cleared to Ellis Brown who raced down the wing and shot past Alex Archer to give Witham the lead.

    They did not hold the it for long as within a minute, Miller equalised from close range. However, Witham regained the lead two minutes later when Callander had the last touch in a scramble and back healed the ball in, in the tenth minute.

    Callander then put Witham further ahead when after a neat one-two with Brown he took an easy chance on 15 minutes.

    Both teams created chances throughout the first half but after all those early goals neither could score.

    Witham made it 4-1 five minutes into the second half when Callander completed his hat-trick with a low shot.

    That completed the scoring and the game deteriorated with many stoppages by the referee and appeals for penalties waived away. 

    Super Cally goes ballistic as Witham Town beat Bury Town


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    Tottenham have been informed that Sampdoria striker Manolo Gabbiadini may be made available in the new year with a bid of £12 million supposedly the benchmark Sampdoria have set.

    The Italian striker has scored five goals this campaign helping Sampdoria up to sixth in the league but he is possibly going to be dropped to the bench in the coming games with Sinisa Mihajlovic getting ready for life without the striker.

    Problems arise when looking at Gabbiadini's contract as he is co-owned by Juventus and the striker is hopefully of making the grade there but his agent has gone on record to say that if Juventus do not want him then the striker is willing to move abroad.

    Tottenham have been struggling to find a regular goalscorer this season with Emmanuel Adebayor outcasted after his comments about the clubs' fans and Roberto Soldado still troubled in front of goal.

    The 22-year-old Italian striker would be a gamble by Manuel Pochettino but is a prolific goalscorer at U21 level and could be one for the future as much as the present.


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    AFTER receiving a standing ovation on his arrival to the arena, Chelmsford's Ali Carter was left to lament a disappointing display that prompted his premature UK Snooker Championship exit.

    Carter's arrival at the York Barbican on Thursday was a momentous one – the 35-year-old's first ranking event since recovering from lung cancer earlier this year.

    The two-time UK Championship semi-finalist, who also beat testicular cancer in 2013, was pitted against China's Zhang Anda in the opening round.

    After opening up a 5-3 lead, within one frame away from victory and a place in the last 64, Carter was reeled in and overturned, losing 6-5.

    And the former world No.2 – nicknamed 'The Captain' – insisted he played himself out of a place in the second round with a below-par performance.

    "It was terrible from start to finish," he said. "To be honest it was an absolutely abysmal performance from me – very disappointing.

    "It is a long way back for me as I've been through a lot the last six months, and I've got some serious work to do.

    "I haven't had a match for seven months so that's probably why it didn't go so well. I was just terrible. I mean it's just embarrassing to play that badly, to be honest with you.

    "But that's the way it is so I'll just have to get back to the drawing board and back to work."

    Carter was at least able to take some consolation from the rousing reception he received from the Barbican crowd as he entered the arena on Thursday evening.

    But despite the avid support, it was not meant to be – and his attentions now switch to next year's Masters event.

    "The crowd support didn't really put any extra pressure on me," he added.

    "I want to win for myself obviously first and foremost, but it is so disappointing to go out and not be able to produce it for the crowd. Unfortunately it just wasn't meant to be today.

    "I'm definitely going to go away and work hard ahead of the Masters. It'll back to the drawing board and I'm looking forward to that."

    British Eurosport is the Home of Snooker, showing 19 tournaments per season including the World Championship, UK Championship, the Masters and all other ranking events. Available on Sky, Virgin Media & BT TV or online/mobile via eurosportplayer.com #eurosportsnooker

    Ali Carter bitterly disappointed with early UK Snooker Championship exit


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    After more injury woes has left Arsenal light in the centre of midfield it has been reported that come January they will put a £15 million bid in for Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko.

    Arsene Wenger was dealt a blow when it was confirmed Jack Wilshere was to undergo surgery on his ankle and would face up to four months on the sidelines.

    Mikel Arteta is also out until the new year leaving the Gunners with just Aaron Ramsey and Mathieu Flamini as their only recognised centre midfielders.

    There wasn't any options on the bench for Arsene Wenger in Saturday's win against West Brom so the Arsenal manager will be hoping to make a swift move for Sissoko come new year's day.


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    A pensioner has died four weeks after a crash with a dustcart in Hullbridge.

    The 87-year-old from Hullbridge, suffered serious leg injuries as a result of the collision that happened in Rydal Close at around 11.50am on Tuesday, November 4.

    She was collided with a blue Mercedes refuse lorry which was collecting rubbish in the area and was taken to Southend Hospital for treatment but died at the hospital on Saturday morning.

    Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the crash and are continuing with enquiries.

    Any witnesses who have not yet spoken to police are asked to contact PC Martyn Wells at the Essex Police Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 101 or email collisionappeal@essex.pnn.police.uk.

    Pensioner dies four weeks after colliding with dustcart in Hullbridge


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    SIX people are wanted by police over the theft of cigarettes, alcohol and thousands of pounds worth of cash from a shop using distraction techniques.

    Between 12.20pm and 12.32pm on November 13, six people entered the Premier Store in Upper Bridge Road, Chelmsford.

    Four women spread out throughout the shop and selected items from the shelves and handed them to two men.

    The men distracted the cashier by asking various questions about the items while one of the women entered the stock room and removed a four-figure sum of cash, 20 bottles of spirits and various cigarettes and tobacco.

    Police have now released six CCTV images of people they want to speak to about the thefts.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Ross Ashcroft at Chelmsford CID on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    Police want to question six people over theft of cigarettes, alcohol and thousands of pounds of cash


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    ESSEX Police are launching their crackdown on Christmas drinkers today, with one arrest made already.

    Officers will also be increasing rush hour stop checks to crack down on people who could still be unfit to drive the morning after a night of drinking.

    On the first day of the campaign a 24-year-old man from Buckhurst Hill has been arrested and charged with drink driving.

    Tommy Bishop of Kings Place has been released on bail to appear at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on December 16, 2014.

    This year the Essex force has teamed up with other police forces to spread the message using The Honest Truth – a road safety campaign created by Devon and Cornwall Police. Essex Police's Anti-Drink Drive Campaign runs from Monday, December 1 to Thursday, January 1, 2015.

    The image shows a man with the head of a bulldog at a Christmas party. In one hand he holds a glass of champagne and in the other a bunch of mistletoe.

    As well as breath tests, officers will also be testing drivers for drug use with roadside impairment tests and targeting those who use the road to commit other types of crime.

    Residents will be able to keep up to date with how many drivers have been breathalysed during December on the Essex Police website.

    A totaliser showing the number of people breathalysed and found to be over the legal alcohol limit will be regularly updated and can be accessed from the homepage at www.essex.police.uk.

    Adam Pipe, Casualty Reduction manager, is heading up this year's campaign. He said: "Every year I am shocked that some selfish and foolish people still choose to put lives at risk by drinking and driving.

    "Sleeping it off after a night out or drinking a strong coffee doesn't mean you're fit to drive. Alcohol takes time to work its way through your system and you could find yourself over the limit the morning after.

    "Christmas is a time for fun and celebration. We don't want to spoil that but are asking everyone to remember the message of our campaign because the consequences of drink driving really do last much longer than a hangover.

    "Drinking driving risks lives, not just that of the driver and their passengers but other innocent people using the road.It can result in a criminal record, the loss of a driving licence or a fine of up to £5000.

    "More seriously, it can kill or injure someone and leave the driver facing up to 14 years in prison and having to live with their actions for the rest of their lives.

    "Please be a safe and responsible driver this Christmas, please don't drink and drive."

    Essex Police are asking everyone over Christmas to:

    - Stopping family and friends getting behind the wheel if they've had an alcoholic drink

    - Dialling 999 if you know someone is drunk and you see them getting behind the wheel of a vehicle

    - Giving information about people who regularly choose to drink and drive by calling Essex Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

    Ann Scott, eastern regional manager for Crimestoppers, said: "Too many people lost their lives last year due to drink drive incidents. But, there are still people out there who regularly drink drive and refuse to change their behaviour.

    "We want to make the roads a safer place for everyone and we would urge you to give information to Crimestoppers anonymously about anyone who is regularly drink driving.

    "Crimestoppers never ask for your name or take any personal details, we cannot trace calls or track information given online and we do not record our calls.

    "You will not have to give a statement to police or go to court. We don't want to know who you are, just what you know. By taking action you could be helping to save a life – whether it's the driver or an innocent victim."

    Essex Police launch Christmas drink-driving crackdown


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    BRAINTREE Town have been handed a home tie in the FA Trophy first round draw.

    The Iron will play the winners of St Neots Town v AFC Sudbury, who will replay on Tuesday night after drawing 1-1 at St Neots on Saturday.

    Sudbury are sixth in Ryman North, three steps below the Iron while St Neots are fourth in the Southern League Premier Division, two steps below.

    The winners of the first round tie, which will be played on Saturday December 13, will pick up £5,000 from the FA prize fund.

    Braintree Town handed home draw in FA Trophy first round


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    ORNATE Indian jewellery, camera equipment and hundreds of pounds of cash have been stolen from a house in Chelmsford.

    A home in Sheldrick Link was broken in to between 9am and 2.15pm on November 12, after a kitchen window was forced open.

    A large amount of jewellery, much of it of India origin and very ornate, was stolen, along with camera equipment, watches and a three-figure sum of cash.

    Photographs of some of the stolen items have been released and police are keen to hear from anyone who may have been offered distinctive India-style jewellery for sale or who has any information about the burglary.

    Police are now releasing images of some of the jewellery stolen in a Chelmsford burglary in the hope of reuniting it with the owners.

    Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Dan Smith at Chelmsford police station on 101.

    Distinctive Indian jewellery stolen from house in Chelmsford


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    STRIKER Evans Kouassi has been released by Chelmsford City.

    The 25-year-old made eight appearances, four as a substitute and scored one goal, during an injury-hit spell with the Clarets.

    Meanwhile, City have announced a fixture change with the home match against Eastbourne Borough brought forward to Saturday December 13 from Monday January 12.

    The move comes after both sides were knocked out of the FA Trophy on Saturday.

    Striker Evans Kouassi released by Chelmsford City


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    A SOLDIER has walked free from court after breaking into a Chelmsford mosque and stealing a Koran.

    Lance Corporal Liam King, 22, of Eastwood Park, Great Baddow, was handed a 12-month jail term, but suspended for two years, at Chelmsford Crown Court today (December 1) for burglary.

    He was also given a one month jail term, suspended for two years, for a charge of criminal damage.

    The Afghanistan veteran, who serves in the Mortar Platoon of the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment, was seen on CCTV trying to break into the Jamia Masjid Mosque in Parkway on Sunday, November 24, last year.

    He is seen on CCTV again on Monday, December 16, breaking into the mosque and returning with the £25 holy book.

    He is seen with two others but only King has appeared before the courts.

    King was due to stand trial four weeks ago but changed his pleas to guilty at the eleventh hour.

    The Chronicle published CCTV footage from the incidents that week as well as a photo of King wearing an Osama Bin Laden mask while on a stag party in Amsterdam.

    Sentencing him today, Mr Recorder Rex Bryan said: "I am going to treat you as being guilty of two pieces of effectively mindless vandalism aggravated by the fact that this is a place of worship."

    Defence barrister Gavin Burrell said his client was drunk during both incidents, and had started drinking more already after returning from Afghanistan, after his grandfather died and after his family were caught up in a road accident.

    King does not know where the stolen Koran is and was not the person who left the mosque holding the book.

    He was also ordered to a 24-month supervision order, which will include an alcohol intervention course, 100 hours of unpaid work to be completed within 12 months, to pay £1,200 costs, £175 compensation to the mosque and a £100 victim surcharge.

    Also sitting in court today alongside King's family was a founding member of the mosque, Pakistani muslim Sohail Termezi, who moved in next door to King's family in 1971.

    "I was shocked, dismayed and disappointed that someone from that family from that background had done something like that," said Mr Termezi while speaking to the Chronicle, who wrote a two-page letter to the court in support of Mr King.

    "But he has been massively remorseful. I don't judge people but he knows what he has done. He wants to go down and see them at the mosque and say sorry face to face."

    Mr Termezi, who made clear he came to the court by "his own volition", added: "We're a very tolerant religion and we are very forgiving because that is what the teachings of Islam are all about."

    Afghanistan veteran Liam King avoids jail after stealing Koran from Chelmsford mosque


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    TWO incidents of indecent exposure in Chelmsford during one afternoon are being investigated by police.

    Both happened on November 9 with the first on a public footpath between Springfield Green and Stump Lane at 3.45pm and the second at a bus stop in Baddow Road, junction with Chelmerton Avenue at 5pm.

    On both occasions a man exposed himself to teenage girls.

    Police are releasing an efit image of a man they want to trace in connection with the incident.

    Anyone who can identify the man is asked to contact PC Shelley Tremain at Chelmsford police station on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

    Man exposes himself to two teenage girls on a Chelmsford bus then footpath in one afternoon


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    AN 81-year-old grandmother-of-five who was conned out of £3,000 by "devilish" mail-order scams is warning other people not to become a victim of fraudsters.

    The victim, who does not want to be named, realised after five months that she was being scammed and contacted Essex Trading Standards, who are now investigating the case.

    "I just feel so ridiculous and so stupid and I've lost a lot of money I couldn't afford. I think: 'How and why did I do it? How did I get caught in it?' It's like a spider's web. It's like a one-way track. It's devilish," she said.

    "I would like to warn other people not to fall into the same trap that I did."

    Cllr Roger Walters, Essex County Council Trading Standards Lead, said: "These mail scams typically sell over-priced goods such as confectionery and skin products. They send numerous letters, often telling you you've won a big prize in a draw which you can claim by buying something else. They claim to offer free gifts, but often use your bank details to get payments before dispatching any items.

    "Our advice is never to enter these prize draws or pay to receive "free" gifts. If you think you are a victim of a scam, then contact Trading Standards. We will be able to help you."

    The scam started when she ordered some biscuits from one catalogue. She was then bombarded with post from three other companies, inviting her to enter prize draws for up to £148,000, enticing her with so-called free gifts which she ended up paying for.

    She was made to pay for orders before they were dispatched. She realised something was wrong when money was taken from her account for a watch and other goods that she had not ordered.

    She was receiving several letters a day at her home in Coggeshall. She received numerous parcels containing items she had paid for but not ordered including face creams, soaps, vitamins and accessories.

    Essex Trading Standards and the victim's bank are working to help her recover some of the money she spent and have advised her not to respond to any more letters or calls from the scam companies.

    Essex Trading Standards officers are still working their way through a list of about 3,000 names they were given in the summer of people on a so-called "suckers list" held by scammers, visiting the most vulnerable.

    Anyone who thinks they may have responded to a scam or is worried about a friend or relative can call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 08454 040506.

    Coggeshall pensioner conned out of £3K by mail order scam


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    THE man who masterminded two successful Christmas number one campaigns is going for the festive top spot once more.

    Jon Morter, from South Woodham Ferrers, will resume his battle against the X Factor with a reworking of The Farm's 1990 song All Together Now.

    "I had just got sick of seeing X Factor winning it every year and I knew a bit about Christmas songs, so I thought I can take them on," said the 40-year-old.

    "It's a pantomime, so as long as people know it's almost scripted TV entertainment it's OK, but this year a lot of people are saying the quality is not up to scratch."

    Jon was behind the social media campaign to get the 1992 Rage Against The Machine song Killing in the Name to number one, ahead of X Factor's Joe McElderry in 2009.

    After this success, Jon, who had no previous experience working in the music industry, was then called upon by other music moguls, including Simon Cowell, to run their online marketing.

    He has since got the Justice Collective's charity tribute to the victims of the Hillsborough stadium disaster in 1989, He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother, to the Christmas number one in 2012.

    Jon has also worked with the Rolling Stones, and was behind their re-released album Exile in Main Street getting to the top of the charts in 2010.

    He is locking horns with his nemesis Simon Cowell once again, as well as Bob Geldof with his new Ebola Band Aid single, with a song recorded by The Peace Collective.

    The song marks 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War and is about the Christmas Day truce in 1914 between Britain and German soldiers, when football was played between the two in No Man's Land across various parts of the Western Front.

    "It's going to be incredibly hard for us to win, but just like the Rage Against the Machine single, it's all about being determined and we have some amazing artists involved," said Jon.

    Some of the singers and musicians who have joined the collective of an "alternative Band Aid" include Suggs from Madness, Eurovision crooner Engelbert Humperdinck, John Lennon's son Julian, Gorgon City, Clean Bandit, Mick Jones from the Clash, Sting, The Proclaimers, Leo Sayer, Suzi Quatro, David Gray, Gabrielle, Amelle Berrabah from The Sugababes, previous X Factor winner Alexandra Burke and Amy Winehouse's cousin, Dionne Broomfield, as well as the song's original performers, The Farm.

    The track also features a backing choir of 60 schoolboy footballers from the Premier League and German Bundesliga.

    The song was given its first public outing at the England Women v Germany Women game at Wembley on Sunday.

    While Jon knows the X Factor and Band Aid brands are extremely successful, their popularity may be waning, he feels.

    "I can't knock anyone trying to raise money, but Band Aid has suffered a bit of a backlash and many see it as a bit condescending these days," said Jon.

    "The first Band Aid song was great and raised a lot of money, but it was of its time and the later ones have been terrible.

    "A lot of people have raised the point that if some of the celebrities taking part donated the tax they'd avoided paying to the Government, it would help much more."

    The single will be released on Monday, December 15, and money raised will go towards the British Red Cross and the Shorncliffe Trust, an education foundation that seeks to protect Britain's heritage.

    Visit www.facebook.com/peaceforxmas or text GET PEACE to 84222 to support.

    'I want to knock X Factor off of top spot again' says Rage Against The Machine guru


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    WATCHING her nephew turn blue and lifeless in front of her, Joanne Hemming was forced to draw on the first aid skills she had taught to others for years.

    The Chelmsford aunt quickly performed CPR on 18-month-old William, after the toddler had accidentally fallen into her garden pond, and kept him alive until paramedics arrived to rush him to Broomfield Hospital.

    Her quick-thinking and bravery on that "terrifying" day in September this year was just one of many inspirational stories celebrated at the Ambulance Excellence Awards on Friday, November 14.

    More than 150 accolades were presented to staff, volunteers and members of the public at the ceremony, organised by the East of England Ambulance Service, for their outstanding contributions to the work of the service.

    Dr Anthony Marsh, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Trust, said: "We have celebrated committed and hard-working staff, dedicated volunteers, and members of the public and emergency service colleagues whose actions were courageous and inspiring.

    "It is people like this who, in doing the very best they can for patients and the work of the service, make me feel very proud and I'd like to thank each and everyone one of them for what they have done."

    An assessor for childcare, and health and social care, Joanne had never been called upon to put her first aid skills into practice before the incident in September, at her Chelmsford home.

    She had invited her nephews to the house with their father, her brother, so they could make use of a visit from her hairdresser, and believes young William must have "slipped by" as the family were chatting.

    "Then my brother said, 'has anyone seen William?' We ran upstairs to look out the window and saw William in the pond," said Joanne.

    "His dad ran and pulled him out, by which time he was completely blue and not breathing, so I started CPR while my son called the ambulance."

    Paramedics arrived within minutes, rushing the toddler to Broomfield Hospital in a critical condition, before he was stabilised and transferred to St Mary's Hospital in London.

    He has since made "an absolutely full recovery" while his aunt Joanne has looked to erase all memory of the incident from her home.

    "The pond was completely filled in the following day as it was just a reminder. I would have seen that image every time I went to feed the fish," she said.

    Joanne was awarded a Chief Officer Commendation for her lifesaving skills, and had the opportunity to meet once more with the paramedics and doctors who were instrumental in her nephew's recovery at the ceremony at the Manor of Groves Hotel, in east Hertfordshire earlier this month.

    Among other deserving recipients was emergency call hander Nicola Young, who was described as "reliable, dedicated, and enthusiastic", and always willing to go above and beyond for patients in her work at the Chelmsford ambulance control room.

    David Spiceley, a long-serving community first responder in Danbury, was commended for his loyalty to the service, attending to hundreds of patients across the region, and never refusing a call.

    The awards were presented by Dr Marsh, Sarah Boulton, and chairman of Hertfordshire County Council Richard Smith.

    Cllr Smith added: "I was delighted to be part of this very special ceremony, to pay tribute to so many people who have helped others. The stories of bravery and hard work were very humbling to hear and I'm really pleased to meet so many wonderful people."

    Courageous people rewarded by East of England Ambulance Service


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    A MAN who was found to be growing 53 cannabis plants after neighbours alerted police to the smell has avoided a prison sentence.

    James Webber, 32, from Hullbridge Road, South Woodham Ferrers, pleaded guilty at Chelmsford Crown Court to the production of the illegal plants in the loft and kitchen at his home.

    The court heard how Webber, an engineer who studied the building of timber-framed structures at university, had begun using the drug after medication he was using for "serious headaches" led to insomnia.

    "He had been suffering from a head condition," said Howard Godfrey QC, representing Webber. "He was consuming a considerable amount of medication and they had some side effects meaning that he has not been able to sleep for years.

    "He knows now that he has got to stop. This isn't going to happen again."

    On April 4 this year, police visited Webber's home after complaints from neighbours about the smell coming from the property.

    On arrival, they found 27 plants in the loft that were 3.5ft tall with another 28 plants between 4in and 8in in a cupboard in the downstairs kitchen, along with some herbal cannabis in jars.

    The 2.583kg yield, according to Detective Constable Stewart Roberts, could have fetched up to £11,925.

    Mr Godfrey said that there was no evidence how many of the plants were female and therefore able to produce herbal cannabis.

    Juliet Donovan, prosecuting, said: "There was no indication that he was living beyond his means or having any particular lifestyle change."

    Webber pleaded guilty at the first opportunity in July.

    "He studied for a long time and was not able to give it up or afford to buy it," said Ms Donovan. "He found some seeds in a bag and he said he managed to germinate them. The reason he said that he had so many was that if some died then he had others to fall back on."

    The court on Thursday last week heard Webber fell into arrears on his mortgage, had three County Court Judgements against his name and was having some success sleeping with new medication.

    Sentencing him to a 12-month community order, with a £60 surcharge, Judge Patricia Lynch QC told Webber: "I accept that all 53 plants were for your own personal use, supported by a medical report.

    "You had a long-term medical condition and this is the reason for you using cannabis. You appeared to be a very desperate man with very serious headaches," she added.

    "I don't believe it will do anyone any good sending you into custody."

    She ordered the plants to be destroyed.


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