Two young lads have recreated their hometown of Stockport in the ever-popular video game Minecraft and it looks absolutely incredible.
Showing some pretty admirable teamwork, brothers Elliott, 13, and Ted, 10 – both from Heaviley – joined forces with their dad Paul and spent over two months building some of Greater Manchester borough’s most iconic landmarks as part of a new interactive gaming experience.
Paul Jones runs children’s party business TechTruck, which usually offers a mobile gaming cafe experience from the back of an adapted van, but due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions, he had to come up with a new way of providing the unique service.
And he did so by moving it online, opening up opportunities for residents in Greater Manchester and beyond.
Paul and his two sons developed a new game based on a book called The Puzzle Cube.
Using characters and locations from the story, children play together online in a Minecraft world to complete a series of challenges, while a TechTruck host guides them through the world of the Puzzle Cube to search for clues and solve the cryptic riddles, with plenty of familiar landmarks along the way too.
The games have already proved to be popular, with recent parties having connected friends from Muscat, the United Arab Emirates and the UK via the online events.
Speaking on his adapted business venture, Paul said: “We have a gaming business where we do children’s parties, but due to lockdown we’ve had to shut up shop in March and in the summer we realised the only way we could carry on would be to do it online.
“That way we could still offer the parties during lockdown.”
He continued: “My sons Elliott and Ted are massive Minecrafters, especially my eldest son, he’s Minecraft crazy and he’s helped me out in a huge way,”
“The game itself, you follow clues based on a book called the Puzzle Cube, and as you go around the world, you find lecterns that offer clues and hints about where to go to next.
“Once you reach the end of a section you are given a piece of a puzzle that you throw into a hopper.
“My son has coded the game so that once you throw the piece into the hopper, you get transported to a different place [and] there’s a bit of VT over Zoom that then explains the next part of the story and then you continue somewhere else.”
“In [The Puzzle Cube book], there are two children who are trying to find their way back,” Paul explains, “and we were influenced by wanting to recreate part of the book in our game.
“We know Stockport, my sons see the Viaduct all the time, so they could pretty much build it from memory.
“At the moment we have the pyramid, the viaduct, and then we’ve got the Plaza which you can actually go in. One of the clues is to go where the actors get changed to in the game you have to go all around the theatre, back stage into the little dressing room which gives you the next clue.
“We’ve also got the factory, which is a disused cotton mill based on Houldsworth Mill in Reddish.
It’s got all the looms, but they aren’t working any more [so] you’ve got to find your way around the mill to the top floor to find the next clue.”
There’s no denying that the game has been a labour of love for the Jones’, taking several months to create and still being a work in progress.
But they’re not stopping yet, as a second game is already in the pipeline.
Paul added: “We’ve put hundreds and hundreds of hours in. It must have taken since the start of summer until October and it’s still being worked on now, so a really really long time.
“The games are an hour long each, but we’ve found that people who have been on parties with friends have gone on to book a session for themselves [and] we don’t want people going through the same experience a second time, so we are building game two at the moment.
“We’re hoping to include the church, the old infirmary and the marketplace in this one, but the world is our oyster really and we are open to ideas for what’s next.”
TechTruck parties – which are recommended for ages between seven to 11 – can be booked online, with 60-minute events for up to 10 children setting you back £99.
You can find more information and book yours here.
Peter Kay moved to tears by standing ovation in Manchester as he returns to stand-up
Peter Kay was moved to tears by the outpouring of love from the audience in the AO Arena before he’d even started his set.
The Bolton comedian, 49, made his long-awaited return to the stand-up scene this weekend, with two sold-out shows in Manchester.
Another wrote: “What an absolute privilege to be there for Peter Kay’s return to the big stage. He got a standing ovation for his entrance and was reduced to tears, never seen anything like it. No spoilers, just a superb night.”
Someone else said: “I was expecting a huge standing ovation for Peter Kay’s return, but that was just mega. I felt so privileged to be there tonight. I’ve waited to see him live for so long. If you recorded anything, please don’t be a d*ck sharing it and ruining it for everyone else.”
One person tweeted: “What a beautiful moment yesterday. Peter Kay in tears after such a rapturous reception.”
Featured image: TikTok, @hannah5290_
Stone Roses bassist Mani raises over £100k for The Christie and local NHS charities
Stone Roses bassist Mani and his wife Imelda have raised over £100,000 for two cancer charities close to their hearts.
After Imelda Mounfield – who is the wife of Stone Roses bassist Gary ‘Mani’ – was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer back in November 2020, the couple not only set out to raise awareness of the devastating disease, but also raise as much money as possible for local cancer charities through an online auction featuring some impressive prizes.
The auction was launched at a fundraising event held at Kimpton Clocktower Ballroom on Friday 18 November, and saw the couples’ friends from the world of music, sport, and entertainment donate an incredible array of exclusive items.
Some auction highlights included Noel Gallagher’s framed and signed set of six platinum discs for the album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?, which went for an impressive £8,000, while guitars donated by Damon Albarn, Arctic Monkeys, Primal Scream, Foo Fighters, Peter Hook, and The Who were also all up for sale.
The highest bid went to John Squire’s Jackson Pollock-inspired painted and signed Hofner guitar 3/3 for a whopping £16,800.
Liam Gallagher’s 2022 NME award for ‘Music Moment of the Year’ sold for £4,100, and David Beckham’s signed boots he wore for the last match of his career on 18 May 2013 were sold for £6,800.
All together, over £80,000 was raised from the auction, as well as £24,000 raised on the night of the fundraising event itself – which means that just over £100,000 has now been donated to The Christie Charity andStockport NHS Charity.
Imelda explained that funds were donated to these two charities as they “supported me through my journey.
“Cancer affects not just the person who has it, but everyone around them,” she explained, “I hope that by investing in some more research, we can help alleviate some of the devastation caused to families by cancer.”
Both charities say they are “really touched” and “hugely grateful” for the contributions.
“We’re really touched that Imelda’s experiences as a patient have spurred her and Mani into action for our charity,” said Louise Stimson – Head of Fundraising at The Christie Charity.
While Karen James OBE – Chief Executive for Stockport NHS Foundation Trust – added: “We’re hugely grateful to Imelda and Mani’s efforts in organising the fundraising event and auction [and] we’re proud of the care Imelda and many others with cancer have received at Stepping Hill Hospital.
“This fundraiser for our charity is a really touching display of her thanks, which will help us go on to support more patients in the future.”
Sadly, Imelda’s cancer has spread to her liver and a small nodule in her lung, so she underwent emergency life-saving bowel surgery as it perforated, and after months of treatments, she had the right side of her liver removed.
Imelda is now currently waiting for the next stage of treatment.