place for information on Ross-on-Wye and the Wye Valley
NEWS - ROSS-ON-WYE
News - The Weekly News Magazine for
No. 155 - Wednesday, 11th July 2007
HEREFORDSHIRE COUNTY NEWS
sentenced for serious assault
Hems-Mann victim of a vicious assault.
17-year-old male youth has been sentenced to three-and-a-half
year Public Protection Order after admitting an assault
which left its victim in a coma for seven weeks.
Lee Biddle, who was 16 at the time of the attack, had earlier
pleaded guilty to wounding with intent to cause grievous
bodily harm and was sentenced last Friday at Worcester Crown
Court. He had also pleaded guilty to a separate charge of
common assault. The
sentence means that Biddle, of Kilvert Road, Hereford, will
serve his full period in custody and only be released when
a parole board is satisfied he no longer poses a danger
to the public.
court heard how Biddle attacked 17-year-old Elliot Hems-Mann
in the Hunderton area of Hereford on 11th April, punching
him to the floor and then inflicting serious head and brain
injuries by repeatedly kicking and stamping his head and
face. The attack ended when nearby residents intervened
and shouted at the youth to stop and paramedics were called.
Andrew Geddes described the attack as an act of 'incredible
cowardice' and said that Biddle had inflicted an 'incalculable
level of suffering' on his victim. The offender had evaded
arrest for two weeks despite
searches, but was eventually arrested in Bromyard and was
charged with the wounding offence.
Hems-Mann is still recovering from the serious head injuries
and remains in hospital. Although he has made good progress
in the past three months, it is not known what the full
extent of Elliotís recovery will ultimately be.
after the sentencing, Detective Sergeant Richard Rees from
Hereford CID praised Elliotís family for their resilience
in dealing with the aftermath of the assault and also thanked
the local community in Hunderton for their support during
the investigation. He said: 'Elliot Hems-Mann and his family
have shown great courage and determination in dealing with
the horrific injuries that resulted from this attack. I
hope the conclusion of the court proceedings will provide
them with further encouragement for the weeks and months
ahead and aid Elliotís recovery further.
was a savage and entirely unprovoked assault, marked out
by the extreme level of viciousness shown by the offender.
Such incidents are extremely rare in Herefordshire and the
local community in Hunderton must be praised for their willingness
to assist with the investigation. They too must have been
appalled by the level of violence shown that night and will
be reassured to hear of the sentence today.
hearing should also send a clear message that police will
simply not tolerate this type of behaviour on the streets
Pool Interview with the parents of Elliot Hems-Mann
the night of April 11, 2007, Elliot Hems-Mann was an ordinary
Herefordshire lad - apprenticed to a local refrigeration
firm and enjoying the extra freedom his small motor bike
afforded him. On that night, aged 17 and just six months
into his apprenticeship, Elliot was at the receiving end
of a brutal and senseless beating in Hereford's Hunderton
estate which left him in a coma for seven weeks. He had
been in Hereford with friends on that fateful night when,
as he returned to a friend's house to collect his motor
cycle, he was approached by Jamie Lee Biddle. Biddle launched
a completely unprovoked attack which was to leave Elliot
brain damaged, possibly for life.
first Jo Pritchard knew of her elder son's injuries was
the urgent knocking in the dead of night on her front door
at her country home in the Golden Valley.
"The mother of one of Elliot's friends was standing there
and told me that Elliot had been taken to hospital. It was
about 3am and I just couldn't take it in. I obviously rang
through to the hospital straight away and spoke to the A
and E unit who transferred me to intensive care. I was sort
of robotic, writing everything down carefully as the person
on the other end told me that Elliot was there. Nothing
sank in then. With
younger children at home, I had to make the drive to the
hospital by myself, since my husband had to stay with the
younger ones," she explained.
smiling and confident woman, a mother of three, did not
know what to expect and says she really formed no preconceptions
until she got to the ICU. "It was after I got to the waiting
room where a member of the hospital staff asked me to wait
while she went to find someone more senior to speak to me
and I read the notices about donor cards and donating organs.
Quite suddenly it hit me and I realized how serious the
situation might be," she explained.
serene and lovely woman, with a ready smile and a calm and
gentle aura, now began to realize her son may be in a serious
condition. Well used to caring for the disabled, as a PA
to a disabled person and also caring for a disabled foster
child in her home, it now seems ironic that Jo was about
to deal with the challenge of a lifetime. The doctor arrived
and led her through to the treatment room where her son
was lying. Her description of what she saw is graphic.
"I thought it was a dummy, someone being used for practice.
There were tubes and equipment fixed up on various parts
of the 'dummy' and a huge neck collar. I realized quite
slowly that this was my son. Then I saw his injured head.
At least 10 kicks had landed on Elliot's cranium, he had
been viciously stamped on and he had suffered serious brain
damage. Nothing had prepared me for that sight and I became
robotic once again, thinking of the other children and Brian,
who was getting them to school and cooking breakfast. That,
I suppose, is how I dealt with it.'
The next few days were literally a time of life or death,
when Jo and Brian shared the round-the-clock bedside vigils
and waited for their heavily sedated son to stop throwing
himself around, since the type of brain trauma he had suffered
was making him extremely agitated. The doctors treating
Elliot said he should gradually come off the sedation so
they could do assessments and form some opinion on the extent
of the damage.
were fantastic, everyone at the hospital including the nursing
staff and doctors, did so much to help us and keep us informed
of what was happening to Elliot as he came off the sedation
and day by day we waited for him to come round," added Brian.
Pritchards say that the support they had from the West Mercia
Police was also far above the call of duty. They cannot
praise the police enough for finding the person who dealt
the savage blows and bringing him to justice. But far and
above the formal procedures, the officers dealing with the
case gave invaluable support to the Pritchard family.
needed - and got - our own form of life support, from the
police officers dealing with the case. They simply couldn't
believe how senseless the attack had been and what a nice
lad Elliot really was. It was a case of him being in the
wrong place at the wrong time," said Brian.
he and Jo had to put a complete stop on their own lives,
giving up the day jobs simply to keep up the work at the
hospital. Doctors advised that regular visiting and the
younger siblings going in would help Elliot, his younger
brother, stepbrother and sister all taking a part in trying
to get Elliot to wake up. A bigger room was prepared, the
floor covered in mattresses so that Elliot could not hurt
himself as he came off sedation. It was a gruelling time
and Jo, Brian and the younger children had to watch as Elliot
continued to throw himself around in his agitation as his
swelled brain began to recover.
was covered in bumps and sores where he had thrown himself
about but it was important to let his brain and body recover,
and the mattresses worked well at this time," recalled Jo.
wonderful afternoon, seven weeks on from the night of the
assault, Jo blew her son a kiss and she thought he responded.
"I was told it may not really be that he had responded,
the nursing staff didn't want me to be disappointed, but
the next day I gave him a soft toy and asked him to pass
it across to Brian which he did. It was the turning point
and I knew then that he was coming back to us and I can
tell you the relief was tangible," Jo said.
then on, from early June until now, the Pritchard family
has not stopped their endless and totally caring rota system
to be with Elliott for most of his waking hours. Last weekend
he went home for one night and it was a great success. Jo
and Brian have transformed their sitting room into a day
and night room for Elliot, so that he can properly be cared
for at home.
sat with his two brothers watching a film. He fell asleep
and the younger two were cuddled up to him on the sofa.
I felt that we were getting there. He had come home at last,"
said Jo. She and Brian know full well their son's brief
visit home was only the first step on a very long road to
recovery. They are aware, and prepared for, their son's
future months in rehab. But if anyone can climb the mountain
and get well again, it is this gentle and caring lad. The
visitor's book by his bed is full of 'get well' wishes from
members of his family including younger siblings, his mates
and friends from school and work, from his teachers and
bosses at work. Elliot's
caring nature and genial disposition have been rewarded
with an amazing amount of support, and according to his
family, it has played a huge part in his recovery.
what does the future hold? Currently very close to the top
of the waiting list to get a place at Moseley Hall, a rehab
centre in Birmingham for brain damaged people, Elliot will
spend up to three months in this unit as his condition is
assessed and suitable treatment dispensed. He is receiving
daily physio treatment at Hereford and his damaged left
arm is getting better having responded to Botox injections.
He is learning to walk and talk again. His job remains open
at Artic Circle on the Rotherwas Estate in Hereford and
his loving caring family continue to look after Elliot and
hasten his recovery. As one mate wrote in his visitor's
book ' "You are my brother from another mother!" That sums
Elliot Hems-Mann up very nicely.
Further Opportunities to see the Rotherwas Ribbon
Herefordshire Council has unveiled details of arrangements
to allow more people to view the recently unearthed Rotherwas
Ribbon. The Ribbon is a Bronze Age surface of cracked stones
discovered as a result of the archaeological investigations
carried out prior to the construction of the Rotherwas access
road, located just south of Hereford city.
council ran a session on Saturday, 7th July, during which
200 people were bussed to the site. A further 200 were expected
to visit the site during the afternoon of Tuesday, 10th
to popular demand, similar escorted visits have now been
arranged to run between 1pm and 4.30pm from Monday, 16th
July and Saturday, 21st July. Anybody wishing to book a
place should contact Herefordshire Council's switchboard
on 01432 260000 between 11am and 5pm.
will be taken to the site from Unit Three on the Rotherwas
Industrial Estate for escorted visits, before being transported
back to their cars. Only those who have booked will be allowed
to visit the site, with a maximum of 25 persons per half-hour
should arrive at least ten minutes prior to their selected
time as they will need to complete a form setting out health
and safety requirements. They should also wear stout shoes,
and if the weather is wet, they should consider bringing
to assembly location are: From A49 - take the Holme Lacy
Road. Continue along this under the railway bridge. Turn
left just after the railway bridge into Thorn Business Park
(the road that has raised barriers close to the entrance).
Carry on to the end and turn right. This leads to an area
for car parking and directions will be given to the allocated
Holme Lacy - turn right just before the railway bridge into
Thorn Business Park (the road that has raised barriers close
to the entrance). Carry on to the end and turn right. This
leads to an area for car parking and directions will be
given to the allocated spaces.
Pupils design new speed signs
St Thomas Cantilupe School will be the latest school in
the county to have a 20 mph zone. Pupils from the primary
school have produced designs which will be incorporated
into the new 20 mph Zone signs. The
youngsters who created the four winning designs were presented
with goodie bags and framed copies of their design, provided
by Herefordshire Council and Owen Williams.
to provide a school 20 mph zone on Coningsby Street and
part of Widemarsh Street (in the vicinity of St Thomas Cantilupe
C.E. Primary School) start on Monday, 23rd July.
Brian Wilcox, cabinet member for highways and transportation,
said: 'Making it more enjoyable for children to walk to
school and improving road safety are among our top priorities
and this scheme will make a big difference for children
at St Thomas Cantilupe School. I
hope many more of the pupils will now choose to walk to
school as this will help to reduce congestion on our roads
- especially during the busy school-run periods. I
would also like to thank the pupils for coming up with the
designs for the signs as this exercise has also made them
more aware of the importance of road safety.'
The scheme has been designed by Owen Williams on behalf
of Herefordshire Council. It aims to reduce vehicles speeds
and increase safety for all road users especially children
and encourage more pupils to walk and cycle to school. Works
include the provision of speed cushions, a road hump, improvements
to footways and a raised zebra crossing and new road surfacing.
The work, being carried out by the council's term contractor
Herefordshire Jarvis Services, is expected to be complete
by mid September. Every effort will be made to minimize
disruption to road users.
County Prepares for This Year's Youth Games
More than 1,000 children from across the county will be
competing for nine sports trophies at Herefordshire's 2007
Youth Games on Friday 13th July at Hereford Leisure Centre.
annual games began seven years ago and since then have grown
from strength to strength. This year the number of participants
has doubled and as a result, some teams have had to be placed
on a waiting list. The council's sports development team
are busy scheduling matches, liaising with the 38 schools
entering the Games and organizing a huge aerobic warm-up
to start the day's events with an energy boost.
events include girls' football, quick cricket, rounders,
hockey, orienteering, tennis, athletics (courtesy of UK
Athletics), tag rugby and, for the first time, tri-golf.
is a mini version of golf designed specifically for young
children at primary schools. No golf course is needed as
the games consist of a number of skills stations which can
be set up anywhere. In addition secondary pupils with special
educational needs will be competing for trophies in boccia,
floor lacrosse and kurling.
event will take place at the Hereford Leisure Centre from
9.30am to 3.30pm. Councillor Adrian Blackshaw, cabinet member
for economic development and community services, said: 'The
council's sports development team have been working hard
to raise the profile of traditional sports, and introduce
some new ones too. Herefordshire is developing a good reputation
for getting its children active. It's refreshing to see
some more unusual sports on the list this year such as tri-golf
and orienteering. Hopefully they will encourage lots of
newcomers to competitive sport.
Youth Games Timetable of Events Friday 13th July 2007
9.00 - 9.30am School teams arrive and register.
9.30am Welcome and opening of the Games by Sarah Waldron
(4th ranked Great Britain athlete for 5000m)
9.45am Mass warm-up with a guest instructor.
10.00am Games begin Lunch will take place at an appropriate
time within each individual sport's tournament.
2.30pm Games finish and awards are presented (Times are
flexible according to each individual sport's timetable)
The events that will take place between 10am and 2.30pm
are girls' football, kwick cricket (as well as the ECB 'Cricket
Factory'), rounders, tag rugby, orienteering, hockey, tri-golf
(these will all take place outside).
athletics, boccia, kurling and floor lacrosse will take
place inside the leisure centre.
Herefordshire High Schools Get Specialist Status
Aylestone and Queen Elizabeth High Schools have been given
specialist status by the Department for Children, Schools
and Families, bringing Herefordshire into the top twenty
nation-wide authorities able to boast 100% specialism.
All English schools are being encouraged to apply for specialist
status in one of ten curricular specialisms in order to
promote distinctiveness. Specialist schools have a focus
on their chosen subject area but must meet National Curriculum
requirements and deliver a broad and balanced education
to all pupils.
achieve specialist status, schools have to draw up a school
and community plan which illustrates how good practice,
expertise and resources will be shared with other schools
and groups. In addition, they have to gain investment from
private sector sponsorship to the tune of £50,000 per school.
High School in Hereford will become the county's only high
school to be awarded specialist status as a Business and
Enterprise College. The school's bid had to illustrate good
and improving examination performance and the ability to
meet very demanding targets in business studies, mathematics
and ICT. Aylestone's 2005 and 2006 results were the best
the school has ever had and this was an important factor
in their bid to become a specialist school.
addition to developing business and enterprise skills for
school children, the school intends to work with local businesses,
parents and primary schools and has submitted plans to build
a new Enterprise Centre which will be used to provide a
wide range of training for the local community.
have an enviable reputation for our existing links as we
already work very closely with the Education Business Partnership
and other key organizations,' said Stephen Byatt, head teacher
at Aylestone High School. 'The award of specialist status
will give us the resources to take this to the next level
and have a major impact on Hereford's future,' he continued.
'To qualify for the extra resources, we have had to show
that we can meet some ambitious targets which cover our
school performance and planned work with our primary schools,
parents, businesses and other high schools. We have shown
the government what we have achieved in the last three years
and they were convinced by our plans for the future.'
Elizabeth High School in Bromyard has been awarded specialist
status in Humanities (lead subjects are religious education,
geography and drama), with a focus on what it means to be
a citizen in the 21st century. The school believes that
its combination of curriculum areas and emphasis upon citizenship
and international links is a nationally unique specialism.
will be encouraged to develop critical thinking and learn
to understand issues and events while playing an active
part in offering solutions. By working with real issues
students will be equipped to connect with the wider community
and the world of work.
high school has the full support of all six of its local
feeder primary schools, local businesses and community organizations.
Head teacher Adrian Long described Queen Elizabeth High
School as beginning a new era in education. He said: 'Our
school is making outstanding progress across the board and
the award of specialist status registers just how far we
have come in the last two years.' All credit to our students,
parents, staff and governors for their passionate commitment
and enthusiasm for raising standards and achieving excellence.
As a specialist college we will be able to further develop
teaching and learning and work even more closely with the
wider community. The award puts QE firmly on the map as
a school that can offer every student an education that
is second to none.'
schools will benefit from significant capital investment,
plus additional annual funds to help the school implement
their specialist school development plans.
Jenny Hyde, cabinet member for children and young people,
said: 'This is excellent news - many congratulations to
both Aylestone and Queen Elizabeth High Schools. It demonstrates
the commitment to distinctiveness and improvement in the
schools and will support the sustained development of high
quality education in the schools and in the county as a
whole. With this success, all of Herefordshire's high schools
have now been granted specialist status, putting us in the
top twenty local authorities to achieve this. It reflects
the hard work and forward thinking of the head teachers,
staff and governors in the education community'
schools will begin operating as specialist schools from
Childrens' Play Receives Lottery Boost
The Big Lottery Fund has awarded Herefordshire over £300,000
for children's play, thanks to a bid put together by Herefordshire
Council. The council took the lead on the development of
a play partnership and funding bid last year as part of
a nation-wide drive to improve play facilities.
in partnership with representatives from the voluntary and
public sectors, children and their communities were consulted
and more than 700 surveys were completed by school children
countywide. The results showed that children wanted more
time playing outdoors in the natural environment having
adventures and better facilities for older children, particularly
11-16 year olds.
Play Partnership identified projects which were then put
forward in a strategy and submitted to the Big Lottery Fund
earlier this year. The Big Lottery Fund has announced that
four projects have been approved for funding, including
a cash grant for the Hereford City skate park project. The
other three projects will run for three years. They include
a community play ranger project to be run by the Herefordshire
Nature Trust,t providing free play sessions for 3-16 year
olds based on nature and adventure across the county.
the older children, a part-time youth worker will be appointed
to co-ordinate a range of activities for 11-16 year olds
in the evenings and during school holidays working from
the council's youth service minibus, taking activities out
to young people.
First, experts in play for children and young people with
disabilities, will be running special play sessions for
children with severe disabilities and their siblings in
the school holidays.
Jenny Hyde, cabinet member for children and young people,
said: 'This funding provides a major boost to the county's
play portfolio. We are extremely grateful to the people
on the play partnership who have spent so much time identifying
what needs our children have and exploring new ideas to
help meet those needs. The county's children have told us
that they want to enjoy the outdoor environment more. They
want to be able to have adventures and take risks, yet feel
they can play and socialize safely too. This funding will
allow the development of four exciting new projects which
will help children of all ages and abilities enjoy doing
what they like best - playing and socializing with their
Smoke Free England - One Week On
Herefordshire, along with the rest of England, went smoke
free on Sunday, 1st July and Herefordshire Council can report
receiving very few queries about the new law, and very few
reports of non-compliance. In fact reports that have been
received are all very positive, with people seemingly accepting
that smoking is only allowed outside enclosed public places
or in private homes.
questioned, several bar staff have been enthusiastic about
the law and the fact that they no longer have to work in
places filled with second hand smoke, which is what this
law is really all about. It is not about penalizing smokers
or forcing them to quit.
have appeared in premises across the county reminding everybody
that it is illegal to smoke on the premises, and the Smoke
Free Herefordshire Partnership has been providing 'personal
ashtrays' free of charge to smokers, so that the cigarette
butt litter does not increase. These are available in Info
Centres in the market towns and Hereford City.
Questions have been asked about shopping arcades, which
in general will be smoke free as they are enclosed, and
bus shelters, most of which again will be smoke free if
they are more than 50 per cent enclosed.
have also been asked about 'policing' the new law, and Paul
Nicholas, Herefordshire Council's environmental health manager
who is responsible for the enforcement of this piece of
legislation, said: 'We will continue, business as usual,
making our regular calls on businesses and where naturally
we will be looking to ensure this law as well as all the
others we enforce is being followed correctly. We will also
react to any information given to us about people openly
flouting the law. 'We will react with a degree of proportionality,
attempting to persuade rather than prosecute. In situations
where the duty holder (owner/proprietor) is clearly in a
position to stop persons smoking and they are not doing
so, we will react appropriately, dealing with the duty holder.
In other situations such as bus shelters, we will tailor
our approach accordingly because we will be dealing principally
with the smoker.'
campaign running since January has highlighted the changes
in the law and provided promotional materials and advice
to businesses and the public through the Council's website,
business events and road shows. People have been encouraged
to be 'onside' or at least prepared. Latest national research
has shown that 95 per cent of people are aware of the new
law and that 78 per cent (including 53 per cent of smokers)
believe going smoke free will have a positive effect on
County School Receives Green Accolade from Ofsted
Staunton on Wye Primary School has been heralded as outstanding
by Ofsted for the work it has done to incorporate green
issues into the school's curriculum.
on Wye Primary is one of only twelve schools across the
country to be involved in a three year government survey
which aims to explore whether learning and understanding
of environmental issues in schools changes behaviours. The
idea is to see to see what impact teaching education for
sustainable development (ESD) has on children's learning
in the second year of the scheme, the school has brought
in a whole range of measures to make sure that education
in relation to climate control and environmental protection
is embedded in teaching and not treated a something separate.
To assess the impact of this work, participating schools
are visited on an annual basis by Ofsted to assess the progress
the school is making. Staunton on Wye Primary School was
visited by Ofsted inspector, Leszek Iwaskow, in June.
inspector interviewed staff, pupils, school ambassadors,
parents and a governor, scrutinized documentation, observed
lessons and visited a number of classrooms. His concluding
judgement was that the overall effectiveness of promoting
ESD throughout the school was outstanding. The inspector's
report praised the school for its strong focus on outdoor
learning, commenting that pupils are developing excellent
life skills, learning about the local environment, how to
live in it and respect it. He also commented about the children's
enthusiasm and understanding of the need to lead healthy
children have been taking an active part in the school's
regular fortnightly walk, more are cycling to school and
learning about eating healthily by cooking the produce grown
and harvested from their own school garden.
Lloyd, head teacher, said: 'We are delighted that Ofsted
has recognized our commitment to environmental education.
As a school we have been developing this area for several
years, with very positive results. It is wonderful to see
the efforts of the staff and children recognized.'
Jenny Hyde, cabinet member for children and young people,
said: 'The Ofsted inspector noted clear evidence of positive
behaviour change in relation to environmental issues, at
school and home. Parents told the inspector about how their
children encourage them to cycle or walk rather than use
the car, recycle, compost waste and switch off lights and
electrical equipment. The whole school has embraced this
agenda and as a result, sustainability has become central
to the ethos of the whole school. It's fantastic to see
the efforts of staff, children and parents recognized.'
and to learn that our children are influencing the way we
look after our planet.'
Bridge Revamp in Line for Further Awards
Hereford's Victoria Bridge refurbishment scheme has now
been shortlisted for two national awards. This follows the
scheme's success at the annual Institution of Civil Engineers
(West Midlands) project awards ceremony in May, 2007, when
it won the Heritage award and was overall project winner
in the annual Institution of Civil Engineers (West Midlands)
project awards ceremony.
project team also won an award for the best exhibition and
presentation at the ceremony. Now the Victoria Bridge refurbishment
scheme is on the shortlist for two national awards. One
is in the small civil engineering category of the British
Construction Industry awards. Having been shortlisted in
this category, the scheme then became eligible for consideration
as a winner of the Prime Minister's 'Better Public Building
in its seventh year, this award recognizes projects which
have been carried out using public money. For the British
Construction Industry awards, thirty UK and six international
projects made the short list out of more than 180 entries
and 18 entries, including the Victoria Bridge scheme, are
in line for The Prime Minister's Better Public Building
of both of the awards will be announced in October.
Brian Wilcox, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for
highways and transportation, said: 'The Victoria Bridge
scheme has already won two prestigious accolades and I am
delighted it is now in line for two further awards. The
scheme was carried out to the highest civil engineering
standards and it is fitting for it to receive national recognition.'
Have Your Say on Speed Reduction Measures
Herefordshire Council is inviting the public to attend an
exhibition to look at plans for possible speed reduction
measures on the C1125 next to the new primary school site
at Sutton St Nicholas. It
is intended that these measures to improve road safety will
coincide with the opening of the new school.
interested in examining the proposals is invited to attend
a public exhibition at Sutton Primary School, Sutton St
Nicholas, on Monday, 16th July between 3.30pm and 8pm.
exhibition will ask for the views of the local residents
before Herefordshire Council considers putting forward any
Brian Wilcox, cabinet member for highways and transportation,
said: 'As part of our continuing efforts to improve road
safety, we are looking at carrying out speed reduction measures
on the C1125. Obviously the building of the new school presents
us with an opportunity to carry out these works and improve
safety for the children who attend it but we first need
to get the views of the public on what speed reduction proposals
they would prefer to be done,' he added.
who cannot attend can also have their say on the council's
website at www.herefordshire.co.uk or should contact Mairead
Lane on 01432 260944.
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