A father who was paralysed in the Manchester Arena attack has set a £1 million fundraising target for a very worthy cause as he prepares to scale Mount Kilimanjaro.
Bolton-born football agent Martin Hibbert – who was the closest casualty to the bomb blast to survive – suffered 22 shrapnel wounds and was left paralysed from the waist down when he and his teenage daughter were among the hundreds injured in the terror attack following an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena on 22nd May 2017.
But now, to show his true fighting spirit, and, in his own words, to “turn an appalling act of terror into a force for greater good”, Martin is aiming to scale 19,308ft to the top of Africa’s highest mountain in an epic expedition this July.
Martin credits his recovery to support from the association and the dedicated care he received by staff at Salford Royal Hospital, and so, as a fitting tribute to the people who “changed [his] life” and “put [him] back together”, he will take on the challenge alongside his friend Stuart Wildman – a consultant nurse who cared for him from the very beginning in the Major Trauma Unit at Salford Royal.
Now a wheelchair user, Martin will ride a custom-built handbike for the challenge, which he said he was inspired to do after learning that only one in three people with spinal cord injuries receive treatment at specialist centres.
Since his recovery, Martin has worked with the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) as a trustee to offer “hope, confidence and practical skills” to other people paralysed by spinal cord injury.
He is using the climb to send a message of optimism and inclusivity for life after injury.
Martin told ITV Granada ahead of his expedition that he wants to “start a revolution to change people’s perceptions of what it means to be disabled”, adding: “I want everyone to have the care and support they need, helping everyone to lead the life they want and being fully involved in the decisions that shape their experiences.”
“Disabled people have to climb their own mountains every day, so I’ve decided to climb a real one,” he concluded.
Speaking ahead of Martin’s challenge this year, Nik Hartley OBE – Chief Executive of the Spinal Injuries Association – said: “Martin is a football-loving family man whose life changed unexpectedly and forever one night in Manchester.
“With grit and determination, he has rebuilt his life and is now supporting other injured people.
“Too often disabled people are seen as second-class citizens, but Martin’s incredible climb is a powerful statement of why achieving one’s goals should not be defined by disability.”
Keen to show your support to Martin? All donations towards Martin’s target of raising £1 million for the Spinal Injuries Association (SIA) can be made via his official JustGiving page here.
Featured Image – SIA / Cloud Force Marketing / Sam Manton
These three Greater Manchester Wilko stores are reopening as Poundlands this weekend
The first 10 Wilko stores to start new lives as Poundlands are reopening this weekend, and three of them are in Greater Manchester.
We all know by now that it’s been a turbulent couple of weeks for Wilko after it entered administration earlier last month, but after it was sadly announced back on 11 September that all of the retailer’s outlets across the UK would be forced to close, leaving around 12,500 jobs at risk, a glimmer of hope was offered.
And that glimmer of hope was that several dozen stores had been saved.
Only, they wouldn’t be remaining under the Wilko name, as they’d be reopening as another popular bargain retailer instead, and that’s because Pepco Group – the company which owns Poundland in the UK – managed to strike a deal with Wilko administrators PwC to take control of up to 71 store leases.
With lease assignments expected to be completed in the coming weeks, according to Pepco, this meant that the some 71 stores would join Poundland’s existing 800-plus UK outlets before 2023 is out.
Pepco Group published the full list of stores set for conversion earlier this month, and also confirmed it would be offering employment some of Wilko’s former employees – with it being good news for six Greater Manchester sites.
Altrincham, Bolton, Eccles, Sale, Leigh, and Stockport were confirmed to be the region’s towns set to get themselves a new Poundland, and Poundland added that it intends to convert the stores over to its brand “as soon as is practical”.
It turns out that window of practicality has arrived this weekend for three of those confirmed sites.
Among the 10 former Wilko branches across the UK that are set to start a new chapter and begin lives as Poundlands this weekend are sites at The Peel Centre in Stockport, The Mall in Eccles, and on Lord Street in Leigh.
It’s expected that dates for the new round of Poundland conversions will be announced in due course, as will news from PwC about the other deals it has struck for the Wilko name to live on.
You may remember that administrators had previously struck a deal for fellow discount chain B&M to buy 51 other Wilko stores, while another high street chain, The Range, had also confirmed a last-minute deal to buy Wilko’s brand last month.
The Range has bought Wilko’s website and intellectual property, so shoppers can expect to see Wilko own-brand items appear in The Range stores nationwide very soon.
Featured Image – Poundland
Iconic Sycamore Gap tree renamed ‘Sycamore Stump’ after heartbreaking vandalism
Someone has already changed the name of the iconic Sycamore Gap tree to ‘Sycamore Stump’ after it was felled in what’s believed to be an act of vandalism.
The famous tree was believed to be about 300 years old and was made famous when it appeared in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
It’s one of the most photographed trees in the world (Rockefeller’s Christmas tree might just edge that one) and has stood on Hadrian’s Wall for centuries.
But overnight on Wednesday, this world-famous tree was felled, leaving just a small stump behind.
Someone has already changed its name on Google Maps from Sycamore Gap to Sycamore Stump, echoing the public outcry over the tree’s disappearance.
The National Trust said on Thursday: “We are shocked and desperately saddened to learn that the famous Sycamore Gap tree at Hadrian’s Wall has been felled overnight, in what appears to be an act of vandalism.
“We know just how much this iconic tree is loved locally, nationally and by everyone who has visited.
“We are working with our partners to understand what has happened and what can be done. The incident has also been reported to the police.”
Police have now confirmed that a 16-year-old boy has been arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.
Supt Kevin Waring of Northumbria police said: “This is a world-renowned landmark and the events of today have caused significant shock, sadness and anger throughout the local community and beyond.
“An investigation was immediately launched following this vandalism, and this afternoon we have arrested one suspect in connection with our inquiries.
“Given our investigation remains at a very early stage, we are keeping an open mind. I am appealing to the public for information to assist us – if you have seen or heard anything suspicious that may be of interest to us, please let us know.”