Team battling in testing times...
A HARDWORKING team at Barnsley Hospital has helped to process more than 40,000 tests in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
The microbiology department at the hospital has teamed up with Rotherham Hospital to form the Barnsley and Rotherham Integrated Laboratory Services (BRILS).
Since June, the team implemented a new test using molecular technology to identify patients and staff who were Covid-19 positive.
BRILS tested up to 500 coronavirus swabs per day and since June, the team has processed 40,000 Covid-19 tests.
Liz Elfleet, head of pathology at BRILS, said: “40,000 tests is an amazing achievement.
“The team have responded professionally to the additional demands on the service and our team now cover an extended 16 hours working day and an on-call service for urgent tests, and have remained in good spirits despite significant challenges professionally and personally.
“The staff have embraced new molecular microbiology techniques, and this has been rewarding for staff development.
“Pathology services have always worked hard behind the scenes, and are now making headlines, but the team are incredibly proud of their contribution to the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.”
Microbiology operational manager, Ian Wearmouth, added: “To reach this number of Covid tests is a fantastic achievement and has only happened due to the hard work and dedication of the BRILS microbiology team in this unprecedented situation.
“All members of the team should be very proud of themselves and each other.”
Police urge residents to follow coronavirus regulations this Bonfire night
POLICE across the borough will be carrying out patrols during Bonfire night to monitor any breaches to coronavirus restrictions or antisocial behaviour.
This comes after concerns were raised following increased reports of youths throwing fireworks at passing cars.
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “The Halloween and Bonfire night period is going to be very different this year with organised firework displays cancelled and traditional trick-or-treating not being allowed under the government’s tier three restrictions.
“However, our officers will still be carrying out their usual increased patrols across the borough to ensure that everyone feels safe and has an enjoyable time.
“In tier three areas, such as South Yorkshire, gatherings are not permitted indoors or in private outdoor spaces.
“We continue to urge people to adhere to these restrictions throughout the ‘Dark Nights’ period, and we will continue to take a common sense and proportionate approach to any suspected breaches of Covid-19 regulations.
“Unfortunately, we have already seen increased reports of youths throwing fireworks at passing cars, people’s property and each other.
“This is incredibly dangerous and frightening for victims and witnesses and we are taking a zero tolerance approach to fireworks being set off in a reckless and dangerous manner.
“Our neighbourhood officers will be supported by other teams and partners to address these reports and take robust action.
“We are urging parents to support us in relaying this message. It’s more important than ever to know where your children are and to speak to them about the dangers of fireworks.”
Barnsley student 'done good' in new business venture
A BARNSLEY College student has turned his passion for drawing into a business opportunity to promote his music.
Layton Yates is a music student at the college’s higher education campus, and has a keen eye for drawing and creating art - this coupled with his love for music led him into a new business venture, Pitz Prints.
Through the iTrust venture, which is supported by the college, the Barnsley Chronicle and the Business Village, Layton received a grant totalling £250 which allowed him to buy an automated cutting machine which allows him to reduce the lead time for his customers.
The business was created when Layton realised he was able to promote his own music by printing designs onto clothing and sending a free CD with his music on to all customers who spend over £25.
He said: “My interest in the printing industry started about two years ago and I quickly decided I wanted to create my own business.
“I’ve been employed in different industries in the past, and I was familiar with some printing equipment and I enjoyed using it.
“I was inspired by the idea of bringing something new and different to Barnsley and I have been seriously working on my business venture for about six months.
“I have recently injected more funding into my equipment and stock and I’m slowly building up a client base and focusing on promotion.”
Dodworth Remembrance Parade cancelled
A POPULAR Remembrance Day parade has been cancelled due to the tier three restrictions.
The parade through Dodworth was set to take place on November 8, the Sunday before Remembrance Day.
However organisers have been forced to cancel the event as tier three restrictions prevent large crowds from gathering.
The event was due to begin at Dodworth Miners' Welfare Club at 10.30am, before finishing at the cenotaph where the remembrance service would begin.
“I am gutted we have had to cancel it,” said secretary of the club, Max Senior. “We really hoped we could go ahead but with the new restrictions we have to consider people's safety.
“Last year nearly 900 people turned up and I know how well-loved the parade is each year but we don't want to discourage people from paying remembrance.
“Organisations are still welcome to place a wreath at the cenotaph, but we ask that social distancing is maintained and that there will be no large groups.
“While it is disappointing, we hope that people in Dodworth will join us for next year's parade.”
Darfield livestreamer hopes to raise £2,000 for cancer charity
GAMERS have thanked residents for their support in raising nearly £1,500 ahead of their 24-hour livestream which starts today, October 31.
Ascendancy Gaming, made up of Rob Burnett, Laura Burnett, Callum Huxley and Michael Saltis, along with streamer Mike Lawrence also known as MijMike, have challenged themselves to livestream for 24 hours straight to raise funds for The Little Princess Trust.
Mike, 33, from Darfield, has teamed up with his eight-year-old daughter Amelia by pledging to cut their hair for the cause.
Mike said: “We want to thank everyone that has backed us so far. We never expected to be raising this much and it continues to climb every single day.
“We’ve been livestreaming in the run up to the main event and we’ve had people from Barnsley pop into our chat and show their support.
“We know times are tough at the minute, so it means even more that people are digging deep and being so generous.
Mike’s stream, which started at 9am today, will encourage his audience to continue to donate throughout.
“If we reach £2,020, I’ll be cutting my hair off. This is a big deal for me because I’ve had long hair for most of my life. It’ll be a massive change but will be worth it.
“We’re doing this for The Little Princess Trust because we all know somebody who has either had cancer or been affected by it.
“To prepare for the 24-hour stream, we’ve been trying to get loads of sleep and rely on each other and the viewers to push up along.
“If we could hit our £2,020 target today, that would be incredible. Even if I have a lot less hair.”
Council bosses to use track and trace to support positive cases
THE council’s public health team will contact residents who have tested positive for coronavirus by using data provided by track and trace.
Members of Barnsley Council’s Public Health team will be contacting residents as a way to enhance the work of NHS Test and Trace.
This comes after numbers of positive cases continue to rise across the borough.
The team will use the data provided by NHS Test and Trace and aim to follow up all positive cases.
This will be done by text to offer support for self-isolating safely, and then by following up with a call or email.
The data will reportedly be fed into the same system by both the national and local teams to ensure there is a complete view of how the service is working and how the virus might be spreading.
Barnsley’s director of public health, Julia Burrows, said: “We want to do everything we can to identify and support as many people as we can who have been identified by the Test and Trace system and who need to self-isolate.
“I want people to be aware that if they receive this message, it is genuine and that they need to take action to prevent transmitting this very serious virus throughout our communities.”
Rallying director Lee had to take centre stage...
A BARNSLEY-BORN theatre director who has ‘rallied the troops’ to keep theatre alive during the coronavirus pandemic has been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley award for his tireless efforts.
Lee Semley, who started the theatre group LS Theatre Productions around 12 years ago, has been praised for entertaining the borough throughout lockdown despite many of his upcoming shows being cancelled.
Lee, from Kendray, has built the theatre company himself with no outside financial support or backing from funding organisations and instead survives from show to show.
He said: “Theatre is still alive and well in Barnsley despite the closures during lockdown.
“It was important to us to keep performing as it can often be a lifeline for people’s mental health and wellbeing.
“Even though we weren’t able to perform, we tried to reach out to new people on our Facebook page through virtual events.
“I organised Friday night Karaoke Nights where people who just loved to sing, no matter how good they were, could get that opportunity to perform from their homes.
“It was amazing to see people from all over the borough get involved with this when life was really tough.”
Lee believes that local theatre is essential to keep people smiling – especially throughout the pandemic.
“My aim has always been to give people an opportunity to perform who may not have had chance before.
“Anyone is welcome in our LS Theatre Productions family. We will continue to keep the light on for local musical theatre when times are more turbulent.
“I absolutely love theatre and love this group and I’m proud that we’ve been able to run many successful shows and fundraisers off of our own backs.”
Lee’s efforts with the theatre company has landed him a nomination at this year’s Proud of Barnsley awards in the Exceptional Achievement category.
“This is completely unexpected and I’m really overwhelmed. I just enjoy doing what I love.
“The arts can bring a light on the darkest of days and I’m proud that people have embraced us in this way.
“We’re looking forward to performing for audiences in Barnsley for years to come.”
Tributes paid to Daniel following M1 collision
TRIBUTES have been paid to a ‘good hearted’ man who died in a collision on the M1 over the weekend.
On Saturday evening (October 24), Daniel Pietkiel, 33, was on the carriageway between junction 37 and junction 38 on the M1 northbound when he was struck by a white Toyota Hiace.
Daniel was pronounced dead at the scene and police officers continue to support his family after the incident.
The family issued a tribute to Daniel which said: “Daniel was a much loved son, brother and father.
“In many messages from friends he was remembered as good hearted and always smiling.
“He will be sadly missed by his family and friends both in Poland and the UK.”
South Yorkshire Police are appealing for information as they continue to investigate his death.
If you witnessed the collision, or were driving along this stretch of the M1 with dash-cam footage on Saturday evening, call 101 and quote the incident number of 787 on October 24.
New Covid testing site opened
A NEW coronavirus testing site has opened for anyone experiencing symptoms of the virus.
The centre opened in the car park of the Dorothy Hyman Sports Centre, Cudworth on Wednsday.
A council spokesperson said: “The new site is situated so as to be easily accessible without a car.
“Those being tested will be required to follow public health measures, including social distancing, not travelling by taxi or public transport, practising good personal hygiene and wearing a face covering throughout, including while travelling to and from the testing centre.”
The new testing site will be in addition to the site in the Courthouse car park, County Way.
If you have symptoms, and would like to book a test, click here.
End of an era as hospice shops close
A SERIES of charity shops that have been a fixture across the borough for more than 30 years closed their doors this week due to difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Barnsley Hospice announced last month that each of its six charity shops would be forced to close their doors after struggling to remain open during the pandemic.
The shops previously closed for a short period in March, before they re-opened in the summer however the shops had since only accepted a limited amount of stock to prevent the spread of the virus.
The first shop was opened on Eldon Street in 1985, followed by five others including the shop in Cudworth which opened last year.
The six shops closed their doors yesterday (October 29).
A spokesperson for the hospice said: “We'd like to thank everyone who has supported our shops over the years and we hope to see many of you at our new retail hub, part of our donation centre in Dodworth, when it opens in December.”
Activity day is hailed a success over half-term
COMMUNITY groups in Wombwell combined forces to support families during the half-term break.
Earlier today (October 29), Age UK Barnsley teamed up with volunteers from Friends of Wombwell Park, the Tidy Team and the Wombwell area council to dish out activity packs at the local park.
Tracy Hughes, social inclusion at Age UK Barnsley, said the day was a big success in supporting residents looking for things to do.
She told We Are Barnsley: “During the half-term, it’s incredibly important to come together and keep people active and informed.
“Today, we’ve set up a tent to quickly show people how to make an ant farm which was a lot of fun.
“Everything was socially distanced and we had a maximum number of visitors at one time.
“Throughout the day, we helped support more than 50 people across Wombwell and Birdwell so hopefully being able to give out these activity packs will make a positive change over the half-term.
“Thank you to everyone who came out.”
Barnsley police warn against phone scam
POLICE across the borough have warned residents about an ongoing HMRC phone scam where fraudsters persuade victims to buy £100 Amazon vouchers.
It was revealed today, October 29, that South Yorkshire Police’s fraud co-ordination team have received reports of people pretending to be from HMRC to take advantage of callers.
The calls start with the criminal saying that there has been a tax fraud allegation against the victim, and the victim has failed to respond to letters about it.
Then, they tell the victim there’s a warrant out for their arrest, and put them through to a ‘police officer’ who appears to be calling from a South Yorkshire Police phone number.
The victim is then told that HMRC is working in conjunction with Amazon and they must go to the post office to buy a number of £100 Amazon vouchers, then send the codes to the fraudster.
It is believed that the victims lose hundreds of pounds after sending the codes to the criminal.
PC Vicki Arrowsmith, from the force’s fraud co-ordination team, said: “These phone calls can be very distressing to receive, particularly if you are a vulnerable person - so it’s really important everybody spreads the message about these scams with their elderly or vulnerable loved ones.
“These fraudsters can be extremely convincing and I have no doubt it would frighten a lot of people if they thought there was a warrant out for their arrest.
“The scam appears even more legitimate when it looks like you are being called from a real South Yorkshire Police phone number.
“This trick is known as ‘spoofing’ - fraudsters can use technology to make it look like they are phoning from a known number.
“My main piece of advice is that if you are in any doubt at all, hang up, wait for 30 minutes and then contact HMRC, ideally from a different phone, on a trusted number to verify the authenticity.
“Genuine HMRC staff will never object to you making checks to ensure they are who they say they are.”
If you think you have been a victim of this scam, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or go online to www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Popular show on the look-out for budding bakers
COULD you be Barnsley's budding baker?
A popular TV show is on the hunt for a new batch of bakers who think they have what it takes to compete in a baking competition.
The Great British Bake Off is open to applications for its 2021 series.
The show will return for its 12th series with judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith who hope to find Britain's best amateur baker.
Applications close on December 6.
To apply phone 0207 067 4837, or click here.
Christmas comes early in Kendray
HALLOWEEN may just be around the corner, but that hasn't stopped one couple from Kendray from decking the halls ready for Christmas.
Jacob Neilson, and his partner Lee Thomas, are big fans of the festive period.
So much so that they decorated their home on Larch Place for the big day before Halloween or bonfire night have even come around.
“Usually we start decorating in September but we are a little late this year,” said Jacob, 43. “We just like being able to cheer people up, especially this year.
“With how this year has gone we thought that people needed a bit of extra cheering up so we will milk Christmas for all it's worth.”
The couple have set up lights and projectors on the outside of their home as well as putting different coloured candy cane decorations on their lawn.
“Normally we do decorate the inside but I don't think we will do as much this year because we won't be able to have as many visitors.
“I think our neighbours think we are crackers but we don't care, Christmas is about feeling joy and the sooner we can celebrate that the better.”
Care home hopes to make residents' Christmas brighter
A THURNSCOE care home wants to help make the residents' Christmas extra-special by asking for donations of gifts.
Dearnlea Park Care Home, on Park Road wants to create gift boxes for its residents to help cheer them up this Christmas.
“Normally we fundraise to be able to get our residents a present each,” said activities co-ordinator Kim Davies. “But with the pandemic can't do that this year.
“We didn't want any residents to miss out so we came up with the Santa to a Senior scheme.”
Kim, and other activities co-ordinator Charlotte Thwaites, came up with the scheme to encourage the local community to donate small gifts so that each resident had a present come Christmas morning.
“Unfortunately some residents don't get presents so we always try to make sure that they have something to open.
“We are appealing for small gifts to go in a gift box that we will give to each resident. Please only give as much as you can – every small thing will help.”
The home is looking for soaps and shower gels, socks, chocolates, and Christmas cards amongst other items that would help cheer the residents up.
If you would like to take part, donations can be made at the reception of the home.
Dressing gowns urgently recalled by supermarket
A SUPERMARKET has issued an urgent product recall after several items of children’s clothing were found to fail UK safety tests.
The jersey lining in the children’s dressing gowns from George at Asda do not meet flammability requirements.
Customers who have recently bought one of the affected products are asked to return their product to their nearest Asda store.
You do not need your receipt to receive a refund.
A statement released by Asda said: “We have found that the cotton jersey hood lining used in these styles doesn't meet the stringent flammability requirements as set out by George and the UK Nightwear (Safety) Regulations.
“If you have purchased any of the gowns you should stop using it immediately and bring it back to your nearest store.”
The affected gowns are:
George Girls Dressing Gowns:
Pink Cloud Gown – product code: 5750 0973 102
Pink Heart Gown - product code: 5750 1736 510
Grey Dinosaur Gown – product code: 5750 0972 203
White Spot Gown – product code: 5750 1919 703
Pink Spot Gown – product codes: 5750 1442 102, 5750 1718 102
Navy Heart Gown – product code: 5750 1921 002
Black / White Spot Gown – product code: 5750 1443 210, 5750 1719 210
Purple Heart Gown – product code: 5750 1922 010
Blue Spot Gown – product code: 5750 1444 001
Pink Star Gown – product code: 5750 1924 102
Lilac Spot Gown – product code: 5750 1445 003
George Boys Dressing Gowns:
Basic Navy Gown – product codes: 5740 1538 002, 5740 1104 002, 5740 0395 002
Basic Khaki Gown – product code: 5740 1537 407
Basic Black Gown – product codes: 5740 1538 200, 5740 1105 200
Basic Blue Gown – product code: 5740 1452 001
Three-piece Penguin Set – product code: 5740 1545 203
George Boys Print Dressing Gowns:
Grey Star Gown – product code: 5740 1107 203
Red Star Gown – product codes: 5740 0693 100, 5740 0396 203
Grey with Check Lining Gown – product codes: 5740 1278 203, 5740 1529 203
Shark Print Gown – product code: 5740 1595 203
Blue Stripe Gown – product code: 5740 1452 001
Polar Bear Gown – product code: 5740 1668 203
Michelle did the rounds to stay in touch with schoolchildren
A SUPPORT worker from a school in Darfield who prepared and delivered food parcels to every family at her school has been nominated for a Proud of Barnsley award.
Michelle Wilkinson, 56, has been praised for her selflessness during the coronavirus closures after she personally delivered parcels to her students and their families to provide an extra boost.
Michelle, who has worked at All Saints Academy for 23 years, was provided with enough ingredients for 50 parcels every two weeks which she prepared and delivered.
She said: “All Saints is like a big family to all the staff here and I have always tried to treat parents and children how I would like someone to treat my family.
“I worked out a plan to deliver by area and myself and Stephanie Guest made up the parcels, loaded them into our cars and then delivered to a different area each time.
“I made sure the most vulnerable families received a food parcel weekly and welfare calls were also made.”
Michelle, who continued working throughout lockdown, has said the deliveries were a team effort.
“We have lots of vulnerable families and when Magic Breakfast contacted me to say we could have food parcels during lockdown, I asked our headteacher if I could coordinate a plan so that every family in school received something.
“Not just children on free school meals as they were receiving food parcels through school and then they received vouchers later on.
“But we have lots of families who had been working before lockdown and were then furloughed or had lost their jobs and were really struggling.”
Michelle’s lockdown actions have landed her a nomination at this year’s Proud of Barnsley awards in the Children’s Champion category.
“I’m really shocked in all honesty. It was completely unexpected,” said Michelle.
“I just felt like I was doing my job and helping our fantastic parents and pupils. This is the last thing I thought would happen.
“Thank you to everyone who thought of me. I’m humbled.”
'Don't keep car keys visible' urge police
POLICE in the borough are urging homeowners to keep their car keys hidden as incidents of theft involving valuable cars parked outside homes has spiked.
Officers have issued a warning to Barnsley residents to avoid leaving car keys visible from the outside to prevent burglars targeting the home.
Burglars have been reportedly breaking into houses with highly valuable vehicles parked outside, searching downstairs for car keys and then using them to steal the vehicles outside.
Now, South Yorkshire Police have encouraged the owners of valuable cars to follow steps to help reduce the risk of becoming a victim of the crime.
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “If you have a garage, park your vehicle inside it when it’s not in use so that it is not visible from the road.
“If you park your car on a driveway, consider blocking any valuable and high-powered vehicles that are more desirable to thieves with other vehicles or equipment.
“Wheel clamps, steering wheel locks and RFID wallets can be purchased, putting a barrier in place for thieves who intend to steal the car.
“Finally, don’t store your keys where they can clearly be seen next to any door or window, keep them somewhere that you wouldn’t expect a thief to find them.”
Donations needed to help the homeless this winter
A PROJECT that helps provide food and necessities to homeless people is appealing for donations ahead of winter.
Barnsley Churches Drop-In Project, based in Temperance House was founded in 2002 to help provide food to people suffering with addiction and homelessness across the town.
Each year they appeal for donations of winter clothing to donate to those who need it throughout the winter months.
A spokesperson for the project said: “As the nights get colder we're looking for specific items to support our rough sleepers and those who've been giving temporary accommodation.
“Second hand is fine and it doesn't have to be big name brands but it's nice to allow people with very little to feel like themselves especially when they don't have much. Most of our clients are under 40 and small or medium sizes.”
If you would like to donate, the items the project is in need of are:
Men's clothes – suitable for young men, and in smaller sizes and decent condition
Food which can be cooked using a kettle or camping stove (Pot Noodles, instant mash etc). The project already has plenty of beans and soup.
To find out where to drop-off your donation, please contact BDCP Drop-in on Facebook or phone 07377936390.
Concerns after man falls into a Carlton pond
POLICE feared for a man’s safety following reports of him falling into a Carlton pond yesterday, October 26.
On Monday at around 6.30pm, police attended a pond near Long Avenue after concerns were raised by residents.
A spokesperson for South Yorkshire Police said: “After conducting enquiries at the pond and in the local area, police identified and spoke to the man in question.
“It is believed the man, aged 30, had fallen into the pond earlier in the evening and suffered minor injuries.”