“As you can imagine at first, the police were quite concerned about who we were and what we were up to at night, but the community 100% had our backs. Everything we’ve done, the community have supported us.
“It’s going from strength to strength and that’s because of the residents.”
As much as Andy helps others, he receives plenty of love in return, which was never more apparent than when his old dog Sabre died.
He said: “Everybody loved Sabre. He was the boss, the leader of the group. Without Sabre, I wouldn’t have got Crimewatchers off the ground. People really took to him and his nature. We came as a duo. When he passed away, it was really sudden and instant.
“But the community really rallied around me, in an instant they set up a GoFundMe and raised over £2000 for me, so I could get a new companion.
“Shadow is a community dog. He lives with me but I see him as part of the community. Everybody loves him, just as they did with Sabre.
“Somebody attempted to stab me a few nights ago and when I posted that on Facebook it got a lot of engagement – but then a video of Shadow will get two million views. People love him.
“He’s not a working dog. He patrols with us but as a pet.
“When I get called to a job, especially if someone’s being aggressive or there’s a situation, I’d never get him out of the car. He’s not a deterrent, he’ll never bite anybody, he’s not an attack dog.
“Shadow will just sit there, not barking, just watching – he would never do anything, he’s a pet and a mascot and a friend. I’d never put him in danger.”
One of Andy’s fondest memories from his work with Crimewatchers is when he was called out to help an elderly man who had had a fall and couldn’t get up, but was unharmed.
He said: “His Mrs rang us and said it’s not an emergency but she really needed help and didn’t want to call for an ambulance.
“He was at his most vulnerable but they trusted us to come into their home and help, and that is massive for us.
“It was no effort really, we were already out and about, but for him, on the floor and not knowing when he’d be able to get up, it was huge.
“That kind of support – the fact that people can call someone when they can’t get hold of family in the middle of the night and they don’t want to call 999, they know they can ring us. That’s amazing.”
You can find out more about Andy and Crimewatchers with our latest instalment of Local Heroes.
Bold £11m plans to ‘reinvigorate’ Ashton’s Market Square given green light
Bold plans to “reinvigorate” the market square area in Ashton have been given the green light by local planning authorities.
Aiming to provide a “high-quality, flexible, and modern” market square in the Tameside town, the newly-approved £11 million plans are designed to lend themselves to range of different functions, according to Tameside Council – with food, drink, culture, and entertainment among the main uses.
One of the stand-out features of the greenlit plans is an impressive new canopy, which will provide a designated undercover area for markets to include “flexible and durable” market stalls and kiosks with seating, and will also open up the space for events and activities.
Designed to “deter anti-social behaviour” with improved lighting and the installation of CCTV, the canopy and kiosks will have views over the town’s listed Town Hall and Market Hall buildings.
It will also look to improve walking routes through to the square in all directions.
The revamped social hub is also hoping to be “more inviting” to the local community and visitors.
A range of public realm improvements on Fletcher Square, Bow Street, Warrington Street, Market Street, Market Avenue, and Wellington Road are also set to improve the surrounding areas.
The plans also include additional green spaces, trees, and planting too, as well as new street furniture and informal play spaces.
The green light this week comes after Tameside Council and project team have been engaging with residents, market traders, and businesses in the town for more than a year now through a number of engagement workshops and events in order to “shape the plans”.
Their feedback throughout the process was said to have highlighted the priorities of many residents and visitors.
“The plans for the Market Square will help unlock the potential regeneration of the town centre and work will start on the square early next year,” commented Councillor Vimal Choksi, who is the Executive Member for Towns and Communities at Tameside Council.
“We have listened and responded to residents and businesses feedback and will continue to engage with local traders and businesses as we move forward with the exciting plans and bringing in high quality public realm will create a better space for events and help to bring in more visitors to the town centre.”
The £11m revamp is being funded by Levelling Up money awarded by the Government in October 2019.
With planning permission now granted, Tameside Council says it’s aiming for the Market Square scheme to be completed by March 2025.
Featured Image – Buttress Architects (via Tameside Council)
Neglected dog mistaken for ‘pile of rags’ now has a loving new home — and a girlfriend
A tiny dog who was in such a dire state he was mistaken for a pile of rags has now found his new forever home — and it comes with a girlfriend.
Little Morris was rescued from Portland Basin in Ashton-under-Lyne last year and his fur was so matted he was almost unrecognisable as a dog.
When a walker found the Shih Tzu, he believed he was dead before eventually realising that Morris was simply too terrified to move.
It’s also thought that his matted fur – which weighed 1.3kg (or around 10% of his overall weight) – was so tight and uncomfortable that it had left poor Morris unable to move.
But now, a year on, this little dog, who is also blind, has found a new life with his forever home.
Morris was adopted by 82-year-old Josephine Newhall from Wythenshawe, where he is now enjoying the company of his new girlfriend Ruby, a Lhasa Apso belonging to her daughter.
Josephine said: “We knew he was blind when we took him in but I have the perfect home for him and he can get in and out of the garden very easily so it is no problem for him.
“I have also found out he is deaf too – but he doesn’t let these disabilities hold him back at all. He loves playing with his tennis ball and loves Ruby to visit but she can be boisterous for him sometimes so he will let her know.
“They are really good friends and it has helped his confidence. Morris is a beautiful little dog and enjoys snuggling up to me on the settee – he is great company and when you think where he has come from it is a miracle he is still here.”
Speaking last year, inspector Ryan King said: “When the man who found Ashton first came across him he was laying next to a bench near the canal; as he wasn’t moving he thought the poor pet was already dead.
“But on closer inspection, he realised he was breathing but his fur was so heavy and matted he appeared unable to move and he was obviously terrified.
“Vets at the animal hospital later found he was blind in one eye with glaucoma and had very little sight due to cataracts – so it is not surprising the poor dog would have been too terrified to move from where he was abandoned.” It makes us well up just thinking about it.
We’re just so glad this lovely little doggo is now safe, sound and happy in his new home. Look after your good boys and girls, people.