Four years ago Ellis Holtom, of Stratford-upon-Avon, was born with half a working heart. Later, the Herald featured his condition as a tribute to the work of Birmingham Children’s Hospital where he was treated. Now, to mark Congenital Heart Defect Week his mum, Vicki, updates his story. . .
ALL 326 local planning authorities in England, councils like Stratford-on-Avon District, need a local plan. The core strategy is a component of that local plan. It contains all the local district wide policies that need to be considered when processing planning applications. New development needs to satisfy local needs, helping to realise the hopes and ambitions of its communities and protect them from situations they fear. New homes and places to work should provide then with a healthy lifestyle, a pleasant place to live, good recreational facilities and above all the infrastructure that enhances their quality of life. The buzzword to describe this is ‘sustainable’.
THE poor are paying more than they should be for their energy, according to damning new evidence from Stratford-upon-Avon’s Citizens Advice Bureau. Prepayment meters (PPMs) are costing users in fuel poverty a “disproportionate amount” for what little gas and electricity they can afford, the bureau has found. There are around 7.2 million people on prepayment meters in the UK and several thousand in the district of Stratford. Despite Stratford’s reputation as an affluent area, the bureau is being forced to come to the aid of more and more people living in fuel poverty on an increasingly regular basis.
AN OFFICIAL paving stone commemorating Stratford-upon-Avon’s forgotten war hero for the 100th anniversary of the First World War will be placed in the town, the government has confirmed. Rex Warneford – the first man to single-handedly shoot down a zeppelin - was ignored in the government’s initial plans to recognise Victoria Cross winners because he was born abroad in India. The Herald launched a campaign, together with King Edward VI school, where Rex lived and studied for five years, to get the fighter pilot recognised.
THE mystery hero who rescued a woman from drowning in the River Avon has been found thanks to an appeal in last week’s Herald.
Self-effacing father-of-two Pete Simkin was taught to swim at an early age after nearly drowning in a pond when he was three years old.
He then took a lifesaving course when he was 12 but had never used his skills until earlier this month, when he stripped down to his boxers and jumped into the icy river in Stratford to hold a drowning woman above the water.
His actions have been praised by the Royal Life Saving Society but the 50-year-old insists he isn't a “superhero”.
The Jaguar Land Rover employee just wants the incident to encourage people to learn lifesaving techniques and teach their children to swim.
“I started swimming very early because I fell in a pond when I was three years old and nearly drowned,” he explained.
Brought up on a farm in Staffordshire, Pete’s parents were only alerted to the danger by a barking dog, and the scare prompted them to teach him swimming.
“When I was 12 or 13 I did a lifesaving course, by that point I was a pretty competent swimmer.”
But Pete, who now lives in Ratley, near Edgehill, with his wife and two daughters, had never been called upon before.
Then shortly before midnight on Friday 7th March, while he was on his way to pick up his daughter from a friend’s house, he noticed a commotion on the Seven Meadows Bridge.
“I heard a lot of screaming and it was pretty obvious that somebody had gone into the river,” he said.
“It didn’t look good so I just stripped off and jumped in and swam out to her; it was just adrenaline; I didn’t think about it.”
Eyewitnesses watched Pete hold the woman, who did not wish to be named, above the water for 20 minutes.
“I wasn’t sure if she could swim. To start with I was just treading water, I didn’t want to swim back with her because the current was too strong.
“I was able to reach a point when I could just about stand up in the river and hold her up above my head.
“There were people on the bridge so I knew the police and the fire brigade would get there. I just tried to keep her talking, tried to keep her calm, saying we are going to be OK. She was just scared.”
When the fire service arrived, one of them tied a piece of rope around his waist and swam out to retrieve the woman.
Pete dried himself off, put his clothes back on, and went and got his daughter.
Pete said: “Once she got over being cross because I was half an hour late and didn’t respond to her texts I think she was really pleased.”
The Royal Life Saving Society, the UK’s drowning prevention charity based in Broom, near Alcester, is recommending Pete for one of its Certificates of Commendation.
Yesterday, the society’s director of lifesaving, Adrian Lole, said: “Entering the water in an attempt to rescue someone is always the very last resort and should only be attempted by someone trained to do so.
“It is very lucky that Pete had previously been on a lifesaving course and had both the skills and confidence to help and we commend him on his quick thinking and bravery.”
The charity offers lifesaving courses across the country and Pete, who taught his daughters to swim at an early age, urged people to sign up.
“Once you can swim, lifesaving isn’t a big step,” he said. “People should do it, I don’t know what would’ve happened to that girl if nobody who knew lifesaving had driven past, I don’t think it would’ve been good.”