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Hello. Welcome to Midlands Today with Sarah Falkland and Nick Owen.
How we remembered them. Thousands pay silent tribute across the
region to the war dead on Armistice Day. And very emotional. Because it
is hard, but proud at the same time. Jobs joy in the Potteries as a
ceramics firm announces 200 new posts. I am pleased to say that
this year the business is doing even better.
Six schools to be bulldozed under plans to transform education in
Telford. And Port Vale help a former player
who lost his leg after becoming a Good evening. Welcome to Friday's
Midlands Today from the BBC. Tonight: thousands pay tribute to
our fallen servicemen on Armistice Day. At eleven o'clock this morning,
the West Midlands fell silent for two minutes to remember those
servicemen and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their
country. The biggest Armistice Day parade in England was at Bedworth,
in Warwickshire, with more than 5,000 people attending. From there,
Giles Latcham reports. Bedworth was busy from early
morning. The young, and the not-so- young, civilians and ex-servicemen
and women gathering to remember. This is the one town in the country
that abides it by the original day, the 11th hour of the 11th day of
the 11th month. I think it is great. Proud to be Bedworth. We grow up
here, and it is a proud day for us. Pipe and drums led the way on the
parade through the town centre. Falling in behind, veterans from
across the Midlands and units of 30 Signal Regiment and the Royal
Fusiliers both based locally. is no doubt about it, there is a
feeling of strength, of camaraderie, of community. Among those at the
war memorial, the mother of a Bedworth soldier, Sergeant Simon
Valentine, killed in Helmand two years ago. For her, a difficult day.
Very emotional, because it is hard. Proud at the same time. A beautiful
town. He shared the support it year in, year out, not just because of
my boy, but the town is well known for its Remembrance and pride.
At eleven all over the Midlands people stopped to pay their
respects - judges and barristers doffing their wigs outside Stafford
In Hanley in Stoke-on-Trent they gathered to remember the campaign
in Burma, two veterans now in their nineties honouring the comrades who
They are not as bad as they think we are when people turn up to pay
their respects to the fallen comrades. In Worcester they
gathered in the shadow of the At Rubery on the outskirts of
Birmingham, commemoration mixed Poppies showered at the opening of
a new market in an area blighted by the collapse of the Rover car works
In Bedworth, schoolchildren prepared for the service at the war
memorial by writing poems with the theme of remembrance. In Flanders
fields of poppies grow, and now we remember the Saunders that have
died and the spirits that lie in the sky. It is marvellous. We had
350 children. I had to turn 70 away because it was just too big.
Not only is it the 11th day of the 11th month, but for once in many
generations, the year ends in 11, too. This was the biggest parade
since they began in 1921 - in a town proud to remember.
Another major focus of today's commemorations was the National
Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire, where the names of 16,000
servicemen who've died since 1945 are engraved on the Armed Forces
Memorial. It's designed so that on the 11th hour of the 11th day of
the 11th month, a shaft of sunlight shines through its walls,
poignantly hitting the bronze wreath sculpture in the centre.
Prince William is patron of an appeal to raise �12 million to
build further facilities at Alrewas, and last night a fundraising dinner
The National arboretum has become in just a few years the iconic
focal point for the nation's remembrance of British heroes. It
is a place of sanctuary for those who come to remember, a place at a
quiet pride in the selflessness and sacrifice of those who have gone
before. We can cross live now to The
National Memorial Arboretum where we can join chief executive Charlie
Bagot Jewitt. Thanks for joining us, Mr Bagot Jewitt. Another very
special day for you at the Arboretum. What are your thoughts
on the day? It is always a very moving day. The 11th of the 11th of
the 11th, 11 o'clock, certainly a very special time farce. Sadly the
sunshine did not come through the aperture in the memorial today, it
was just too dark. But I don't think that mattered. Everyone was
remembering their own loved one. Visitors numbers are climbing
dramatically - hitting 300,000 a year. What do you put that down to?
I think there is an national mood for remembrance. We have been in
conflict. But I think there is also a national mood to learn and
understand what our armed forces do and what they do for us and our
freedoms. What we have here is not just better facilities for the
visitors, but also interpretation and education facilities so that we
can really explain what Remembrance is about and why it is so important.
We heard earlier from Prince William - how vital is his support?
Absolutely vital. To have the Duke of Cambridge on board supporting
our appeal in such an active way and taking such an interest in the
site really gives an element of leadership, leadership to the
country and to asked to make sure that we really do our best to
honour of fallen. And what plans do you have for
Remembrance Sunday? We will have a standard service here. I would
advise anyone who does want to come here to arrive shortly after 10
o'clock. The service will be a normal one with a silence at 11
o'clock. And then just after lunch there will be a further thought,
prayer and a band concert at sunset. Thank you very much indeed. And on
Remembrance Sunday, the Politics Show will be talking to the
Coventry Labour MP and former Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth,
who claims British troops are now benefiting from decisions about
equipment that he made while in charge at the Ministry of Defence.
In recent years, Snatch Land Rovers, body armour and night-vision
goggles have all needed improving. Mr Ainsworth admitted delays in
replacing kit were very frustrating. There can never be enough. There
were improvements before I was Defence Secretary, improvements
during my time, it pushed the expense up quite a lot, but it was
what was needed. But the time lag is enormous.
Also on Sunday's programme, the mid-Worcestershire MP and Defence
Minister Peter Luff will be quizzed by an Army mother on what more he
can do to help her soldier sons. That's on The Politics Show on
Sunday at ten past three on BBC One. A gang of eleven men have been
convicted of setting up what police believe was set to be one of the
country's largest cannabis factories. The group, mostly from
the West Midlands, were arrested following a five-month
investigation by Staffordshire Police. At the conclusion of the
trial, the judge commended detectives for an operation he said
had brought to justice some serious criminals. Here's our Staffordshire
reporter, Liz Copper. This was what police discovered
when they raided the farm at the centre of this investigation. There
were more than 800 plants. They'd have produced cannabis worth an
estimated �2.75 million. Detectives also uncovered generators, fans and
lighting equipment. This is the gang behind the plan to build what
police believe was one of the larges and most sophisticated
cannabis factories in the UK. Amongst them, Neil Bridges from
Hammerwich and Peter Bassett from Rugeley in Stafford. Also convicted,
Paul Hicks from Solihull. Professional plumbers, electricians
have been used to set this up. So we feel that it is a long-term
operation which potentially was going to benefit a number of
individuals for some considerable years.
This is the farm in rural Lincolnshire where the drugs were
cultivated. The barns here had undergone extensive adaptations,
costing around �1.4 million. Cannabis use and its supply have
been targeted by both the police and agencies combating drug abuse.
Even the ones who use it as a recreational drug, which is a
phrase sometimes used, and they use it on an occasional basis, it is a
very dangerous path to go down, because some people may not go
further down the rocky road of harder drugs, but I'm afraid an
awful lot of people do. Police say the gang behind this
cannabis factory had criminal links nationwide. The men who have been
convicted will all be sent to Inst later. Police say they were living
a lavish love * -- sentenced later. Police say they were living a
lavish lifestyle funded by their drug dealing.
Four men have been found guilty of stabbing to death a shopkeeper in
Birmingham in an attack witnessed by his four young children. Suppiah
Tharmaseelan's children, who saw his murder via a security camera in
the family home, appealed for strong punishment for his killers.
The gang who attacked him at his shop in Kingstanding had been
drinking heavily nearby and were caught on CCTV leaving a pub. Twins
Ian and John Meenan and brothers Anthony Bayliss and Liam Ryan were
all found guilty of murder after a month-long trial. A fifth man
pleaded guilty to robbery. He is a family man with four young children
who has done very well to establish a business, we know how difficult
it is to run a business these days. And it was all taken away by five
thugs coup came in, stabbed him and number of times and stole
cigarettes and alcohol. There's been severe disruption to
train services across the Midlands today owing to signalling problems
at Wolverhampton. Virgin Trains, London Midland and Cross Country
trains have all been affected. Passengers have been able to use
their tickets on some National Express bus and tram services
instead, but there are still problems and delays across the rail
network. Some more positive news about jobs now - there's fresh
evidence this evening that Staffordshire's pottery industry
could be heading for better times. 200 new jobs have been announced in
Stoke-on-Trent in an industry that's seen massive decline in
recent years. Laura May McMullan reports now on a growing belief
that the good times could be There's little sign of economic
struggle at Steelite International in Stoke-on-Trent. In fact they
seem to have a handle on their business, and sales are currently
glowing. Last year we did have record sales behind a very
difficult economic backdrop. I am pleased to say that this year the
business is doing even better. put it down to their products still
being made in the Potteries. Last year production increased by 24%,
and last year's turnover was �60 million. Now they're looking to
recruit more staff. We were successful in winning a regional
growth fund. The grant will be up to �2 million. What it will do for
us is able to enter new markets with new products, and the great
thing for the City is that his plans to create around 200 jobs.
But can the industry its own two feet? Well, figures show it's good
news for the tableware sector. Sales last year were up by �31
million compared to the previous year. And industry experts at this
ceramics fair believe companies are starting to turn a corner. Firms
that have got their strategy is right and go for the overseas
markets are seeing their sales increase. Shouldn't the Council
have protected and promoted its industry way before now? Yes,
definitely.That's why we're now starting to bang a drum and say
Stoke-on-Trent is open for business. The red carpet is open for any
business. Smaller companies like Valentine
Clays have seen a substantial growth since attending the ceramics
fair last year. They've seen their profits increase by 10%. I think
there is a positive attitude in the industry at the moment. We are all
working together, and they think it is beginning to pay dividends now.
There are currently around 350 ceramics companies in the city,
employing more than 20,000 people. This year the forecast is likely to
show that the industry turnover The football club supporting one of
their former players who lost a leg in a workplace accident.
And if this gloomy, cloudy, murky week of weather's been getting you
down, I've got some good news for the weekend. There's rain tonight -
but then it brightens up. The full Six schools are to be demolished
and rebuilt under plans to transform education in Telford in
Shropshire. The plans will cost �200 million and mark the return of
the Building Schools for the Future programme. The aim is to replace
ageing classrooms and cater for a rising birth rate. This report from
Ben Godfrey. Year Seven pupils at Charlton
School were learning about heavy weights in their science classes
today. Within four years, their classrooms could be flattened and
replaced with a new school. Something really bright and airy to
encourage kids to learn. They have said they will be built bigger
classes, and we will be more spaced around. We have covered many
stories about building schools for the future on Midlands Today. But
this one is not about dilapidated buildings. We have almost 1,200
students in a building built in the Sixties and was meant to take 750
children. It is a large student population a relatively small
school. We have outgrown it. plan was devised by the last Labour
government to improve schools. But it was put in detention by the
coalition government. But Telford and Wrekin Council has a Labour
leadership and last night agreed a revised �200 million rebuilding
package. We did have a cut in the funding last year in November, but
I'm pleased that this has allowed us to continue. The building
schools for the future programme is essential. It'll be in the
classroom that school leaders hope to see a real difference. Take a
look at Telford's main Catholic college, erected in the '60s and on
the list to be demolished. A new Christian faith academy will
replace it in Priorslee, taking pupils from a Catholic and Anglican
background. It wouldn't really change what we do on a day-to-day
basis. We might have to look at aspects of worship, but we are a
pretty broad church already. plans are not a very advanced. We
were shown this farmer's field where one could be built. A public
consultation starts later this month.
It's time for sport now on FA Cup weekend. Dan Pallett's here, and we
start with something that'll touch everyone, whether they like
football or not, Dan. Yes, a very poignant tale. Andy
Shankland played just 26 games for Port Vale. He once played against
Manchester United at Old Trafford. But he never played in the FA Cup.
That's because Andy's career was suddenly cut short by injury. But
his bad luck was to turn even worse, as Ian Winter reports.
10.30 this morning, and the Port Vale players are off to training.
Just like Andy Shankland used to do. But those days are long gone.
Because Andy's life has followed a very different path since he first
dreamed of hitting the big time in professional football. He was a
talented left-winger. 30 years ago, aged 17, he scored on his debut.
But five years later, an ankle injury killed off his football
career, and worse was to follow. He to come window-cleaning, fell off a
ladder, and surgeons had to amputate his left leg.
What is your attitude towards life now? Just get on with it! I have
always had that attitude. These things happen to you. Things
happened other people. You have to make the best of what you have got.
Fans of Stoke and Birmingham will remember Jeff Scott, whose career
was also ended by injury. He is now helping Andy and thousands more ex-
professional to cope with the legacy of old injuries. I am glad
we caught Andy, because my fear is that he could have got lost in the
community and lost to football. Football needs big stories, and it
needs to be seen to be doing something good. I'd like to see
football stand up and take some responsibility here. He is part of
the Port Vale family, and it highlights that not everybody is a
John Terry Oras Steven Gerrard. There are lots of footballers out
their dealing with a lot of hardships. Andy grew up in Stoke,
and live with one leg isn't easy. With a loving family and supportive
friends, he still has plenty to be thankful for. Here today, gone
tomorrow. He take it for granted sometimes, you don't always
appreciate it. It can be gone just like that. Tomorrow, Andy is hoping
Port Vale avoid a banana skin against non-League Grimsby, but
experience tells him it won't be the end of the world if they lose.
And don't forget all the football action tomorrow will be covered by
our colleagues on BBC local radio. What a story about Andy there, and
I know that Jeff Scott does a wonderful thing. Tell us about the
Birmingham boxer Khalid Yafai. A big day for him.
Bizarrely, Britain has to fly wades who could potentially go to the
Olympics, and there is only one place. He's fighting for his place
at the London Olympics today. Yafai, who's a flyweight, will fight
Andrew Selby from Wales for a place in the British team. The winner
will be decided over the best of three fights starting this
afternoon at York Hall in Bethnall Green. Unfortunately he lost today.
So he has to win the next one. If he doesn't win tomorrow, the dream
is over seven months before the Olympics.
What pressure! Good luck to him. Now it is time to have a look at
what the weather is going to do. There are some brighter skies to
come through the weekend. It should be mostly dry, and it is going to
feel mild, I unseasonably mild for the time of year. But before we get
to that, we have some reign to get out of the way -- some rain to get
out of the way. That band of rain will push east through the course
of the evening. Once it clears away, things will dry up. This is how
things look as we start the day tomorrow. This is the weather that
brought the rain tonight. This area of high pressure starts to exert
its influence, and that will give us some brighter weather through
the day tomorrow. One or two isolated showers, but otherwise it
is a mainly dry day. In the sunshine, feeling pleasant with a
high of 14 or 15 Celsius. A lovely day to head off to the races at
Cheltenham. It should be fine and dry, with some sunny spells.
Temperatures up to 15 Celsius in a light southerly breeze. Plenty of
coverage of that on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. Through the night,
some are missed and a Merc creeping There should be some sunny spells
developing for Sunday, so it should be fine and dry for any remembrance
events you're heading to. The temperatures will lift again to 14
or 15 Celsius on Sunday. The start of next week, the days follow a
similar passion -- fashion, cloudy The cast and crew from E 20, the
new internet spin-off from EastEnders, it is written by a team
It is Albert Square all right, but younger, edgier and with more punch.
You won't catch this on your telly, but online. And this is face. --
Faith. She is hilarious, she wants her own way. The gruelling schedule
is no surprise, but there was a surprise from some of the students
when they were asked to have a go at scripting. They managed to put
together a very gritty script, Peter hears from Melbourne and has
worked on it neighbours. Somebody suggested that she was a gay
character, I think they said it to get a laugh, but actually it was a
good idea. You have to just have your imagination and be creative.
Where is our crew? Time to film what they have written, and
starring alongside the 20 and their characters is one of our own local
students. It has made me think differently about TV and what goes
on behind the scenes. Will Walford ever be the same with Faith and her
It is going down very well with the kids, very popular apparently.
More than 4,000 people have visited the Staffordshire Hoard on display
in America. Among the hundreds of items on show in Washington DC are
some of the most valuable pieces in the collection. They have been
carefully restored and put together by experts in Birmingham. The
exhibition is due to last until March next year.
Now, if you haven't heard of Movember? It is spelt with an M.
Ates a month when men are grow a moustache to raise awareness for
prostate and testicular cancer. This year there will be around
37,000 new cases. I have been affected through family, and they
feel this is a chance for me to try and help in raising awareness for
men's prostate and testicular cancer. Let's have a look at
tonight's main headlines again. Across the UK, millions of people
have been marking Armistice Day, with communities falling silent in
memory of those who've lost their lives for their country. That's all
from us this evening, on Armistice Day. So much of today's focus has
been on the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire - which
is where you'll find a special series of photographs taken by
visitors to Alrewas. We leave you with some of those images. A day