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

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    If you are already thinking about the next Bank Holiday - you'll have to wait until Easter for the next one!

    This year, the Christian holiday will fall on Monday, April 6.

    The supermarkets will soon be shedding all evidence of Christmas and New Year and in their place Easter eggs and chocolate will be stocked in abundance.

    Every year we celebrate this bank holiday, but what is the real reason for all the festivities?

    Why is Easter still celebrated?

    It's a traditionally Christian holiday and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus, three days after his crucifixion.

    The fact that he was resurrected means a great deal to Christians, because it signifies faith in God and their belief that he was resurrected to carry out his work on earth.

    Why do we eat chocolate eggs at Easter?

    Easter eggs are not just a random chocolaty addition to the holiday either, but rather a symbol of new life.

    Chocolate eggs actually originate from the 1800's, but it wasn't until 1905 that the first fully formed chocolate egg appeared.

    It originated in Germany and France, but the popularity of chocolate soon ensured it was an adopted tradition world-wide.

    Why does the Easter date change?

    Annually the date of Easter changes, which is due to the ever-changing solar and lunar cycles, much to our confusion.

    Christians are in agreement that Jesus' crucifixion happened on the Sunday after the Jewish Passover.

    As all of the Jewish holiday dates are based on this unusual method, the Passover feast shifts from year to year, meaning that Easter changes accordingly with this.

    Easter is a time of new beginnings and a great time to carry on whatever New Year resolutions you may have made for 2015; and a good excuse to make some new ones. 

    When is Easter 2015? How and why do we celebrate it?

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    Two "despicable" thieves who admitted stealing 17 Royal British Legion poppy appeal collection tins from Essex shops are awaiting sentencing next month.

    Heroin addicts Anthony Archer, 53, of Ongar Road, Writtle, and Roma Taylor, 51, of Cedar Avenue, Tiptree, pleaded guilty to all charges at Chelmsford Crown Court on Tuesday (January 6).

    The Royal British Legion  estimates up to £1,000 was stolen in donations from shops in Essex including in Chelmsford, Maldon and Heybridge.

    For a full list of the shops they targeted, see below.

    Chelmsford RBL branch chairman and army veteran Harry Hudson said a tin was stolen on his collecting patch at the Spar shop, in Bishop Hall Lane.

    "It's absolutely disgusting what they did, considering what our forces are doing overseas," said the 78-year-old.

    "The money we raise is specifically for them and those people and everyone know this. Even small children know where that money is going and for them to steal it is absolutely despicable.

    "I haven't got the words to describe what I would say if I met them face to face. I really don't know what I'd say – it's not repeatable."

    Judge Christopher Ball QC said the two will probably be jailed at the hearing on Tuesday.

    Mr Hudson, who served in Germany and Kuwait and drove a tank with the 12th Royal Carabiniers during the Cold War era, said: "We at the Chelmsford branch run a group on the first Friday of every month.

    "I would hand them over to those veterans as punishment and let them deal with them. That's what I would do, and These veterans are not all old, there are youngsters too."

    The pair stole tins during a prolific period between October 28, 2014, and November 8, 2014, in the run up to Remembrance Day.

    They were arrested on Saturday, November 8, at Stock post office after being spotted by a PCSO.

    Mr Hudson added: "The police have been absolutely brilliant in the way they've dealt with it."

    The pair were remanded in custody to reappear for sentencing during the week of Monday, February 2.

    1. 28/10/2014 - ASDA, Travel Care, 25 Church Street, Tiptree, CO5 0LA
    2. 29/10/2014 - Tates Spar, 1 Bishop Hall Road, Chelmsford, CM1 1SH
    3. 30/10/2014 - Tesco Express, 8 Purbeck Court, Chelmsford, CM2 8YX
    4. 31/10/2014-01/01/2014 - Post Office, London Road, Marks Tey, CO6 1DT
    5. 01/11/2014 - Millins Butchers, 83 Church Road, Tiptree, C05 0HB.
    6. 02/11/2014 - Morrisons S/market, Dickens Place, Chelmsford, CM1 4UX
    7. 02/11/2014 - Premier Stores, 140 Rainsford Road, Chelmsford, CM1 2QL.
    8. Co-Op, High Street, Ingatestone 03/11/2014 17:50hrs
    9. 04/11/2014 - Natwest Bank, 36 High Street, Maldon, CM9 5PW
    10. 04/11/2014 - Sainsburys, 1 Western Approach, Stanway, CO3 8AA
    11. 05/11/2014 - Martins, 7 Havengore, Chelmsford, CM1 6JP
    12. 05/11/2014 - Co-Op, 15 Havengore, Chelmsford, CM1 6JP
    13. 06/11/2014 - McColls, 358A Mersea Road, Colchester, CO2 8RB
    14. 06/11/2014 - Budgens, Drury Rd, Colchester
    15. 06/11/2014 Tates Spar, West Mersea
    16. 07/11/2014 - Co-Op, 93-95 Wood Road, Heybridge, CM9 4AS
    17. 08/11/2014 - Village stores, 1 Church Road, Kelvedon Hatch, CM14 5TS

    Revealed: The 17 stores targeted by 'despicable' poppy tin thieves

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    ESSEX MPs have joined a global free speech campaign to honour those killed in the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices in Paris yesterday (January 8).

    Maldon MP John Whittingdale, Harlow MP Robert Halfon, Bob Russell, MP for Colchester, Stephen Metcalfe, plus MP for South Basildon and East Thurrock joined other Parliamentarians today at the stroke of midday in a two-minute silence at the House of Commons today.

    They are pictured holding banners saying "Je Suis Charlie" or "I am Charilie", a social media movement designed to be an act of solidarity with the stricken satirical publication.

    Twelve people were shot dead after two gunmen armed with Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenade launchers stormed the magazine's office in Paris, killing cartoonists, journalists, admin staff and two police officers.

    Millions of people around the world have joined the by displaying the signs and tweeting the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie.

    Mr Halfon said: "It was incredibly important to honour the victims of the shooting with a two-minute silence today in Parliament.

    "We need to insure that the values of freedom of expression, religious tolerance, opportunity and the rule of law continue to flourish and that appeasement of terrorism in the guise of extreme Islamism will never be tolerated.

    "I was proud to represent Harlow in Parliament today. My thoughts go out to the people of France."

    Essex MPs show solidarity with victims of Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris

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    The legacy of radio will remain on Chelmsford's welcome road signs following widespread outrage at news three words would be erased.

    The county council today announced "Birthplace of Radio" would remain engraved on the ten brown signs (January 6).

    Last week the Chronicle revealed how the city council would ditch the wording "Birthplace of Radio" when the signs were replaced with upgrades because the Highways Agency believed the sentence distracted drivers.

    The announcement comes after a sit-down meeting between county council cabinet member for highways and transportation Rodney Bass and city council leader Roy Whitehead today.

    Cllr Whitehead said: "This was an opportunity to re-approve the siting of the brown signs and to place new signs on the roads leading to Chelmsford.

    "The city council prides itself on the Marconi connection and this will be highlighted on the new City of Chelmsford signs."

    Guglielmo Marconi set up the first wireless radio factory in the world in Hall Street in Chelmsford in 1898.

    The city council will pay the £50,000 for the brown signs while the county council will pay for an upgrade in the new white boundary signs.

    The white signs will read "City of Chelmsford" and underneath "County Town of Essex since 1250".

    They will include the three seaxes and the Chelmsford coat of arms.

    Cllr Bass said: "This was a very welcome and fundamental meeting and I am glad we have been able to reach complete agreement on the way forward which reflects the proper historical context and future prosperity of the city of Chelmsford."

    The county council will approach the Department of Transport for permission for the new designs.

    'Birthplace of Radio' will STAY on Chelmsford welcome signs

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    A restaurant owner was left "speechless" after a council environment officer warned him for adjusting his Christmas lights standing on a chair.

    Ray Compton, owner of Intimo-Fresco on High Street, Maldon, was concerned that drunken New Year's Eve revellers may attempt to grab his low-lying fairy lights.

    He received a phone call from an environment officer on Monday warning him of his actions, after apparently being spotted by a passerby.

    "I was speechless really: it was quite surreal to receive the phone call and at first I thought it was a joke," said the 51-year-old.

    A Maldon District Council spokesman confirmed the authority called Mr Compton and advised him "appropriate equipment should be used", but no further action was being taken. 

    Intimo Fresco owner warned by council officer after standing on a chair to adjust Christmas lights

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    A DRUNKEN joyrider with no licence rammed a police car during a botched getaway attempt sparking a high-speed chase through the streets of Chelmsford on New Year's Day.

    Part-time groundsman Ben Jolly, 27, of Hillary Close, Chelmsford, hit speeds of more than 70mph in 30mph zones as he sped through Waterhouse Lane, Rainsford Lane, Robjohns Road industrial estate and Broomfield Road, before being detained by police.

    At one point during the chase, Jolly stopped and reversed into a police car, then "wheel spun" off in the opposite direction as he tried desperately to evade capture.

    Jolly appeared at Chelmsford Magistrates' Court on Friday, January 2, after he was detained in the early hours of Thursday, January 1.

    He pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicle taking, dangerous driving, driving a motor vehicle when above the alcohol limit, failing to stop, using a motor vehicle without insurance, driving a motor vehicle otherwise than in accordance with a licence and possession of cannabis at the hearing.

    The court heard that at about 12.15am on Thursday, shortly into the new year, Jolly, driving a grey Vauxhall Zafira, failed to stop for police after being spotted speeding and driving dangerously along Waterhouse Lane.

    During the pursuit, Jolly was seen switching lanes repeatedly, narrowly missing bollards, straying into the middle of the road while in Westway, and then accelerating through Robjohns Road industrial estate at a top speed of 70mph. It was near some traffic lights in Robjohns Road where Jolly came to a stop and then rammed a police car in a desperate attempt to escape.

    Prosecuting, Kathy Wilson said: "Thankfully, traffic was light. He reversed into a police vehicle and accelerated away towards Broomfield Road."

    The court heard how Jolly was then spotted overtaking vehicles on blind bends, and a police helicopter was brought into action to help in the urgent hunt for the vehicle.

    Jolly was finally detained in Petersfield, off Valley Bridge, where he said he had taken his girlfriend's car without her knowing.

    He was found to have 67 micrograms of alcohol in 100 millilitres of breath – almost twice the limit - and was found to be in possession of herbal cannabis.

    Defending Jolly, Peter Butterfield said: "He accepts everything. He accepts that there are cameras that would have seen him and he was caught at the scene. He says he panicked and continued to drive away from the police.

    "He admits that he does get himself into trouble when alcohol is involved."

    Jolly was given bail at the hearing with conditions including a stipulation that he is not allowed to travel in the front seat of a car.

    Jolly will appear on the warned list at Chelmsford Crown Court for sentencing any time from January 19.

    Chelmsford joyrider Ben Jolly's drunken New Year's Day chase ended in police car smash

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    Tesco has cancelled plans to build three new stores in Essex, amid a wave of shutdowns and cancellations nationwide.

    Manningtree, Walton-on-the-Naze, and Butt Road, Colchester were all expected to have new Tesco stores, along with 46 other locations in the UK that will no longer go ahead as planned.

    As well as the 49 cancelled openings, the company has also announced that it will be closing down 43 of its existing stores, after a fall in sales, revealing that like-for-like sales for the 19 weeks to January 3 fell by 2.9%.

    Tesco has also said it is to close its final salary pension scheme and shut its main headquarters in Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, in 2016, and move to Welwyn Garden City.

    A restructuring of central overheads is expected to save £250 million a year.

    However, the company has not yet announced which existing supermarkets will face the chop, and staff at individual stores have not been informed whether theirs will be one of the ill-fated locations to close.

    Tesco cancels plans to build three Essex stores

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    HEYBRIDGE Swifts boss Cliff Akurang says injuries have frustrated his attempts to establish a settled side.

    Akurang has made several additions to the squad since taking over as manager last month, the latest being Jordan Willmore, a former Watford academy player, who made his debut in Tuesday night's Heybridge 2-1 defeat at Redbridge.

    Now he hopes to have some players back from injury so he has a regular line-up at his disposal that can build an understanding in the coming weeks.

    "The changes at the moment have been forced through injuries or people that are away so I'm just making sure I have the right back-up I need," he revealed. 

    "It would be nice to have a settled team that I could go with week in, week out but I've not been allowed to do that at the moment.

    "You never know, the next few games might tell, we've got a lot of games this month and touch wood we can stay injury free but if not I still have to make sure that the players who come in have the same understanding of my philosophy and do the job.

    "I think we missed some of the key players at Redbridge, [Michael] Fitzgibbon is out injured long-term and Danny Barber could be back as soon as Saturday.

    "But in saying that I still felt the new guys that came in adapted themselves really quickly and proved what they can do at this level. The more they get used to each other the better they'll get."

    The Heybridge boss' touchline ban, from when he was sent off playing for Maldon & Tiptree, ends this weekend when they travel to Dereham Town and the manager admits he is looking forward to being back pitchside.

    "It's been frustrating standing in the stand because getting your points across and messages across has been quite difficult," he said.

    "I'm glad that's over so hopefully I can push them from the touchline and get a result that way."

    Akurang didn't let Tuesday's loss dampen his spirits too much, however, as he is confident his players can bounce back by applying themselves like in previous games.

    "They're still giving me 110 per cent effort and the workrate I've asked for, I just want them to get the rewards from the work by doing the right things at the right time," he said.

    "That will be reward enough because they've proved that when they apply themselves in the right manner they can get a result against anyone.

    "I said to them, in this league, it is a case of anyone can beat anyone so you can't take anyone for granted and you've got to approach every single game with that determination and will to win."

    Akurang hopes to have a settled side soon at Heybridge Swifts

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    MARK HAWKES was delighted to see his side hit the heights of third place in the Conference South – albeit for 24 hours – but warned there is plenty of hard work ahead.

    Saturday's 6-2 home victory against Farnborough, following New Year's Day's 2-0 victory at big-spending Ebbsfleet United, gave the Clarets' play-off hopes a real shot in the arm, but Hawkes is refusing to get carried away by the plaudits coming his side's way.

    "It's nice to see Chelmsford City up there when you look in the paper," he said. "It's better to be third from top than third from bottom.

    "But there's four months of football ahead of us and some big games of football. We've got to play Boreham Wood here, Bromley here, Basingstoke and Havant here. We've got to go to Gosport – some very big games.

    "Teams have got to come here and they won't be fancying it. We're on a good roll. Let's enjoy what we're doing at the moment without getting too carried away.

    "People that know me, know that I don't get too despondent when we lose or too over the top when we win."

    Hawkes paid tribute to the supporters who helped clear the rain-hit Melbourne Park pitch, with the game in doubt. The referee allowed the club to delay the kick-off until 3.15pm to provide extra time to sponge up water in the problem areas.

    "The fans did tremendously well getting the water off the pitch," he said. "At 2.30 it didn't look like it would go ahead, so credit to them.

    "Credit to the players for getting the points. That's all I wanted and that's all I could have asked for and we've achieved our objectives."

    The City boss also revealed that after four games in eight days he was going to give the players a rest before being able to get some training sessions in ahead of Saturday's long trip to Weston-super-Mare, who moved above Farnborough into 18th with a 3-2 victory over Sutton United on Sunday.

    "We'll give the players a bit of time off. They won't come in until the middle of the week," he said. "Knowing my lot, they'll go out for a run in the next couple of days and be in the gym. We've got seven glorious days to get some tired legs fresh again and ready for a long trip to Weston."

    Chelmsford City manager Mark Hawkes warns of hard work ahead after Clarets hit third spot

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    A 28-year-old barman from Essex has spoken out about his love of dressing up as a living doll - donning a full rubber bodysuit and facemask to appear as his alter-ego 'Jessie'.

    Joel, who spent 15 years hiding his pastime from his family and neighbours, has appeared along with other men who identify as 'maskers', or 'rubber dollers' on TLC's My Strange Addiction.

    The Essex man has spent almost £10,000 on his hobby since he discovered it aged 15, and says he does it for enjoyment and escapism.

    And although his live-in girlfriend Mel is fully supportive of his choice to dress up, Joel said he wouldn't walk down he street dressed as his alter-ego, for fear of how other people would react.

    'I wouldn't walk 20 steps down the road dressed as a doll because I know general society in the area we live in would be very, very against it,' he explained. 'Who knows what could happen?', the Daily Mail reported.

    In the show, which aired on Wednesday (January 7), Joel travelled to the United States to meet other maskers, attending the Rubber Doll World Rendezvous in Minneapolis.

    There, he met a 70-year-old who dressed as alter-ego 'Sherry', as well as a host of other men who shared his hobby, many of them married with children.

    My Strange Addiction: Essex barman reveals how he has spent £10,000 to dress as a living doll

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    We are well and truly into the swing of 2015 and the Christmas holidays are a world away.

    Youngsters in Essex are easing back into the transition from home to classroom, and parents might be secretly thankful for a bit of quiet time.

    So if you're itching to know when the next half-term break in Essex is see the dates below:

    Spring term 2015

    Monday, January 5 to Friday, March 27

    Half Term - February 16 to February 20

    Summer term 2015

    Monday, April 13 to Wednesday, July 22 

    Half Term -  May 25 to May 29 2015 and May Bank Holiday on May 4

    Autumn term 2015

    Thursday, September 3 to Friday, December 18 

    Half Term - October 26 to October 30

    Spring term 2016

    Monday, January 4 to Thursday, March 24 2016

    Half Term - February 15 to February 19 

    Summer term 2016

    Monday, April 11 to Friday, July 22 2016

    Half Term - May 31 to June 3, and May Bank Holiday on May 2

    When are the school holidays in Essex in 2015?

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    A dozy driver momentarily sparked panic at the Army and Navy roundabout in Chelmsford - after becoming the latest to head up the flyover the wrong way. The Audi motorist was forced to reverse sheepishly back onto Parkway after managing to reach the summit before realising their mistake. The moment was captured this afternoon (January 9) and posted on Facebook by user Robbie Gammack.

    The frustrated driver, heading in the right direction onto Parkway, described the incident as the "highlight of his Friday". It is the third such incident to be captured on camera, coming after another motorist was forced to reverse onto Parkway. Work on widening and realigning the lanes surrounding the Army & Navy roundabout was completed last month.

    'Highlight of my Friday': Video captures wrong way Army & Navy flyover driver in Chelmsford

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    THE Essex Chronicle Media Group has been nominated for 13 prestigious awards including website of the year.

    The Essex Chronicle, which celebrated 250 years of publishing in 2014, is nominated in 11 categories, including Paid For Newspaper of the Year, which it has won four times in the past six years.

    The weekly has also been shortlisted in the Front Page of the Year and Website of the Year categories.

    The Chronicle's Design Editor Alex Leys has been nominated for Designer of the Year for his work on the Brentwood Gazette, which is also in the running for Front Page of the Year.

    The Chronicle has four of the six nominees in the Newcomer of the Year category with Chris Dyer, Peter Walker, Will Watkinson and Megan Tatum.

    Megan and Will, meanwhile, are also in the running for the coveted Print Journalist of the Year gong, while Will is also shortlisted for Feature Writer of the Year, and Chris is in for Specialist Journalist, with a selection of crime stories.

    The Chronicle's journalists have picked up the Print Journalist award for three years in a row, while also scooping the best newcomer in three of the last four years.

    Essex Chronicle editor Paul Dent-Jones said: "It's really humbling to have been nominated by our peers for so many prestigious awards.

    "It's great recognition for our team and their hard work.

    "But ultimately it's our readers who judge our success and we're always striving to improve, so we'd love to hear from you."

    Essex Chronicle is nominated for 13 awards at EDF Energy media ceremony

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    There have been unconfirmed reports of a bomb threat outside Chelmsford Police Station this evening.

    New Street was closed in both directions between Victoria Road and Tindal Street due to a "police incident".

    At around 4.30pm nearby offices were evacuated while the incident was being investigated.

    Witnesses say the the road was reopened at around 4.50pm.

    Milstrete House directly opposite the station, was evacuated, with employees reporting the bomb disposal unit arrived at the scene.

    But it may have been a false alarm as the road was reopened about half and hour later.

    Steve Calder, store manager at Bathstore Chelmsford in New Street, did not have to leave the premises.

    "There was about half a dozen police cars across the road by the Wheatsheaf, they wouldn't let anyone walk down the road and it was all taped off," he said.

    "But about 10, 15 minutes ago cars were allowed back down and the road was back to normal."

    New Street in Chelmsford closed due to 'police incident'

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    MORE THAN 2,000 battery hens will be slaughtered if new homes cannot be found for them.

    Fresh Start for Hens, which has previously saved more than 32,000 birds from certain death, wants Chronicle readers to help in its latest rehoming drive after the success of our duck story last year.

    More than 2,000 hens need to find new homes by the end of January, or they will be sent to the slaughterhouse, explained Fresh Start for Hens volunteer Angela Bass, 46, from Chelmsford, who adopted four hens in 2013.

    "I wanted to do something out of my comfort zone, and I had always wanted to keep hens," Ms Bass explained.

    "I got my first four hens from Fresh Start and then, a few months later, I became a volunteer. They are so friendly, probably because they are used to being around people, and I've helped out at four re-homings since I got my own."

    The re-homings, which take place throughout the year, attempt to find safe places for thousands of ex-working hens, which can no longer produce enough eggs for farms to consider them profitable.

    "Once hens reach about 72 weeks old, they are no longer financially viable," Ms Bass explained.

    "Farms are businesses, and if hens are laying less than six eggs a week, they aren't making any money.

    "One farmer said she was so grateful to us, as the hens give them their living, so they are sad to see them go to slaughter."

    New owners will reap the benefits, as most still lay eggs each week, and can live to six or seven years old, Ms Bass explained.

    She added: "People don't need a massive garden, just a few feet of space per hen, and they eat household snacks and can be kept in a run. We do try to re-home all of the hens, but any we can't find homes for do go to the slaughterhouse."

    There are several collection points across Essex including Basildon, Billericay, Brentwood and Chelmsford.

    The date of the next rehome is Saturday, January 31, and the charity asks for a donation of £2.50 per hen.

    For more information, visit

    Hens face SLAUGHTER if new homes cannot be found - collect from Chelmsford

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    THE number of animals abandoned in Essex over the festive period dropped by more than half this year.

    This year the RSPCA rescued hundreds of animals, from guinea pigs chinchillas, cats and dogs, and ferrets, which were abandoned during Christmas.

    Between Christmas Eve 2013 to January 7, 2014, eight animals were abandoned in Essex, however over the same period this year only three had to be rescued by the charity.

    Across the county a total of 211 abandoned animals were rescued by the RSPCA in the two weeks between Christmas Eve and January 7.

    However, this was down by nearly 50 per cent compared to the 419 animals rescued during the same period in 2010/11.

    Chief inspector Dermot Murphy said he was pleased to see the number of abandoned animals fall by such a significant amount.

    He said: "A drop in abandonments is an encouraging sign and hopefully it shows that pet owners across England and Wales are taking more responsibility for their animals, even when times might be tough or circumstances change.

    "We have been persisting with the message that abandoning animals is not acceptable for many years, so it is heartening to see that it seems to be sinking in even though we still rescued more than 11,000 abandoned animals in total during 2014.

    "The festive fortnight has still proven to be a busy time. Our teams on the frontline have been working day and night to help injured, trapped and neglected animals and will continue to do so throughout the coming year.

    "Hopefully those animals that needed our help in recent weeks will enjoy a more settled Christmas next time around."

    Number of animals abandoned in Essex over Christmas drops

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    Police have confirmed today's closure of New Street in Chelmsford was caused by the discovery of a suspicious package.

    A cordon was put in place after the package was found outside the police station at around 4pm (January 9).

    Surrounding buildings, including Chelmsford Crown Court and The Wheatsheaf pub were also evacuated after reports of a bomb threat.

    However the device was declared non-suspicious by officers and the area re-opened by 4.40pm.

    'Suspicious package' discovered outside Chelmsford police station

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    Fast food fans will soon be able to wirelessly charge their phones whilst they eat in more than 50 McDonald's restaurants.

    The new charging hotspots will be installed in 600 stores throughout the UK following a successful trial

    McDonald's already offers free WiFi and the new system will use a standard Qi connection included in 70 smartphones and tablets.

    McDonald's have not revealed the first stores to receive the technology but could include Braintree, Boreham, Maldon, Stansted Airport, South Woodham Ferrers or either of the two in Chelmsford.

    Samsung, Sony and BlackBerry are now working on making phones using a standard type of connection, established by the Wireless Power Consortium in 2008, that can be used by the Qi connections.

    The Qi technology uses an 'induction' method which requires a device to be placed on a charging plate and each charging spot will be waterproof and wipe-clean.

    McDonald's to roll-out wireless charging scheme to 50 UK restaurants

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    WRITTLE'S famous resident Godfrey the Goose is in hospital after being beaten up and ousted from the duck pond by new rivals.

    The star of children's books and self-appointed guardian of the village's picturesque pond is recuperating at the South Essex Wildlife Hospital in Orsett after sustaining injuries.

    The much-loved Toulouse goose, reputed to be about 45-years-old, has lived at the pond for four decades and guards the ducks from his island like a drill sergeant, while frequently gate-crashing wedding photos.

    But Writtle's favourite bird was unsettled by the recent arrival of a new goose as well as a number of runner ducks, believed to be former domestic pets which have been dumped there.

    Residents first thought Godfrey had found a new mate – to replace the one killed by a passing car years ago – only to discover he had been on the end of frequent attacks and exiled from the pond's island.

    Tom Kinloch, 47, of nearby St John's Road, has lived in the area for ten years and was alarmed when he saw Godfrey with a bloodied head on December 29.

    The married chartered surveyor said: "I walked by the pond about mid-afternoon and when I saw the state of him I just thought 'enough is enough' and I rang the RSCPA.

    "They came to collect him the following day and it turns out he had been cohabiting with a rather aggressive goose who was giving the poor old chap a hard time.

    "He is a patriarch of the pond, a very popular character who everybody knows. I was married at Writtle church in 2012 and my wife and I actually got a picture with him on our wedding day."

    The protagonist of Jean Cakebread's children's book, Godfrey has been on antibiotics for an infected wing and is responding well to treatment at the wildlife hospital. It was also confirmed the blood on his head was in fact from a foot injury.

    Staff at the volunteer-run veterinary centre have kept Godfrey cosy under a heat lamp, but are yet to decide whether he should be released back into the wild.

    Sue Schwar is the charity founder of the South Essex Wildlife Hospital and admits there is no point allowing Godfrey to return to Writtle if he is to be subjected to more abuse.

    She said: "I've got a dilemma on my hands as we would like to put him back in the pond because he is a wild animal, but that would be futile if he gets beaten up again. At least we can look after him here."

    The fate of where Godfrey moves next is in the hands of the RSPCA, according to the chairman of the environment committee for Writtle Parish Council.

    Cllr Liz Roe, who has been chair for seven years, admitted that the relocation of Godfrey once he checks out of the South Essex Wildlife Hospital is not a matter for the council.

    The Lawford Lane resident said: "It isn't really up to us to campaign for his return, but if villagers want to that is their decision.

    "We will continue to liaise with the RSPCA and we will take our guidance from them. Until he gets better I wouldn't suggest we do anything."

    To show your support for this campaign and see Godfrey return to his former stomping ground, visit the Writtle Voice Facebook page.

    Fears Godfrey the Goose will be shunned at Writtle after he is 'beaten' in fight

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    A NEW bench in honour of a much-loved pub landlord who died suddenly has been unveiled outside The Anchor in Chelmsford.

    Pub manager Andrew Searles, known fondly as "Nipper", was admitted to Broomfield Hospital in August last year with a brain infection and died five days later.

    On Tuesday, December 16, the new bench was unveiled, and two cheques for £1,500 were handed over to his two favourite charities, the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, for which he had raised thousands.

    Barmaid Charlie Scott, who worked with Nipper for two years, said: "He was a fantastic man, full of life, always smiling. Nipper's family seemed overwhelmed and it's nice to be able to do something memorable for such a great person."

    Regulars were able to save up for the bench, a plaque installed inside the pub and to donate by coming up with the idea of 'buying Nipper a pint' with all the money going in a pot.

    Owner of The Anchor, Steve Seager, who recruited Nipper 20 years ago after seeing him behind the bar in fellow Moulsham Street watering hole The Black Horse, joined members of Nipper's family and representatives from the two charities at the unveiling.

    Bench installed in Chelmsford to honour popular The Anchor landlord Andrew 'Nipper' Searles

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