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Summary

  1. Two girls aged 14 and 15 sexually assaulted in Prospect Park
  2. LGBT couples sought for adoption
  3. Slough community centre a fortnight from closing
  4. Reading runners prepare for half marathon
  5. No sentencing in Thames Water case due today

Live Reporting

By Sarah Lee, Toby Wadey and Adam Whitty

All times stated are UK

Right, we've got to run

Adam Whitty

BBC South

We have reached the end of play for Friday, and for this week as well.

That may mean it's time to relax and party this weekend, or, if you're like me, it's preparing for 13.1 miles of hell at the Reading Half Marathon.

We will be back on Monday morning at 08:00 GMT with more of your local news, weather, travel and sport.

Until then, see you on the streets of Reading on Sunday morning.

Berkshire charity recognised by PM

Adam Whitty

BBC South

The leader of a local charity has been awarded a prestigious prize by the Prime Minister.

Sarah Burrows, the director of Children Seen and Heard, has been awarded the Points of Light award by Number 10, which recognises 'outstanding individual volunteers and people who are making a change in their community'. 

Sarah Burrows
BBC
Sarah Burrows set up 'Children Heard and Seen' to offer support to children of offenders

The Berkshire and Oxfordshire charity uses mentoring and community activities to support children and young people who have a parent in prison.

It has helped over 200 children since being set up in 2014.

Burrows said that she felt "very appreciative" having won the award.

Prime Minister, and Maidenhead MP, Theresa May, said Burrows had "created an important support network for children facing challenging circumstances".

Introducing the Slough sewer simulator

Adam Whitty

BBC South

Have you ever wanted to experience what it is like to go into a sewer?

No, me neither.

However, it is incredibly useful to train drainage engineers about the workings of our drains, without having to send them down there.

A company from Slough has devised an ingenious way for people to react to sewage crises, without getting their feet wet.

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Reading face huge test this evening

Sheffield Wednesday v Reading (19:45 GMT)

Adam Whitty

BBC South

Would it be fair to say that Reading's promotion challenge has stalled?

They have won just one of their last five matches in the Championship, a run which has seen them fall to fifth in the table.

They are still well within the play-off places though, and have a big chance this evening to strengthen their position in the top six.

The Royals boss Jaap Stam says he wants to focus on their own form and not other teams

They play sixth placed Sheffield Wednesday tonight, a side just two points behind them.

They, rather bizarrely, have gone on exactly the same run in their last five fixtures, winning one, drawing one and losing three.

Reading and Wednesday form
BBC
Sheffield Wednesday (left) and Reading (right) have identical recent form

If they win, Jaap Stam's men will put a six-point gap between them and the chasing pack.

Lose, and not only will they drop to sixth in the table, but the teams outside of the play-offs will be well and truly snapping at their heels.

Grisly Amelia Dyer find in Reading loft

Sarah Lee

BBC South

Items relating to serial killer Amelia Dyer have been found in a loft in Reading.

Richard Anderson, the great-great-grandson of DC Anderson - the detective responsible for convicting Dyer - found a box containing paper packaging, string and white edging tape - which was used to conceal and strangle a baby girl.

Dyer was believed to have killed 400 infants in her care before being hanged in 1896. 

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'Reading is the best half marathon I've ever done'

Adam Whitty

BBC South

We've been looking at some of the runners taking part in the Reading Half Marathon on Sunday.

Among the thousands of ordinary people running in this year's Reading Half Marathon, will be professional athletes like Yiannis Christodoulou.

He's travelling from Canterbury as part of his training regime.

Font line
BBC
The decent runners will be busting a gut just to get to the front of the queue on Sunday, never mind the actual race

“Reading is best half marathon I’ve ever done, there are so many people running it, and people cheering you on wherever you go".

If you have been training hard, and are feeling a bit fragile about the whole thing, I would suggest not reading the next line, it's not going to make you feel better.

"Training has gone really well, my PB was 1:23:00 and I’m hoping to shave three or four minutes off that this year".

Man stabbed in pub toilet row

A man was stabbed in his hand following an argument in a Reading pub toilet. 

The 24-year-old was with two other men at the time of the attack at the Earley Retreat on Wednesday evening. 

Earley Retreat
Google

A 29-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of wounding/inflicting grievous bodily harm, he was bailed until 3 May. 

Thames Valley Police said it was appealing for witnesses. 

The monks would be mortar-fied!

Irish make six changes for St Patrick's Day fixture

London Irish v Cornish Pirates (14:00 GMT)

Adam Whitty

BBC South

There's a huge rugby match this weekend focusing on the age-old relationship between England and Ireland.

That's right, it's the eagerly anticipated St Patrick's Day fixture between London Irish and Cornish Pirates at the Madejski Stadium tomorrow.

There's something going on at Croke Park in Dublin apparently too, not sure what that is.

Irish team v Cornish Pirates
BBC

Irish Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy has made six changes to the side that defeated Yorkshire Carnegie in the league earlier this month.

Exiles icon Topsy Ojo returns on the wing, Brendan McKibbin replaces Scott Steele at scrum-half, while Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi gets the nod in the front row.

Ben Ransom, Luke Narraway and Senitiki Nayalo also start.

How to save a life

Bill Buckley

BBC Radio Berkshire

It only takes a few minutes and a drop of blood but it could save your life.

After being challenged on my BBC Radio Berkshire show, I went to Reading Lions’ annual prostate cancer testing day at The Circle Hospital. 

They’d thought of everything including frequent, free shuttle buses between the hospital and the Mad Stad car park. 

Bill Buckley having his blood taken
Steve Allen

The ambiance was upbeat and friendly. All men over 50 and those over 45 with a family history of prostate cancer should be tested annually.

Catching it early makes treatment far easier and less intrusive, with a much higher survival rate. 

As a 58-year-old who’s never been tested, my interest in the event was more than just journalistic!

Bill pulls a pained face as the needle goes in to his arm
Steve Allen
Bill signs the paperwork at the desk
Steve Allen

LGBT couples sought for adoption

Adam Whitty

BBC South

More lesbian, gay and bisexual people in Berkshire are needed to provide a loving, stable home for children across the county. 

That's according to Slough Children's Services Trust, who have been holding information sessions on the issue this week.

Adoption
BBC

Ten years ago, just over 2% of adopters were from that group. That figure's now more like 10%.

Sam and Amy, a lesbian couple from Bracknell, adopted their daughter a year ago, and have been speaking about their experience.

Hear Sam and Amy's experience of adoption

"It's just enriched our lives so much - she's brought so much happiness into this house.

"Be open-minded, we have such a diverse group of friends with younger children, and older children who they have adopted".

'I just want to get round'

Adam Whitty

BBC South

We've already heard from a professional athlete running the Reading half marathon on Sunday, and a man who has used it as an excuse to turn his life around.

Many of the runners are running for charity, including Karen Camilleri from Woodley.

Charity raising
BBC
Hundreds of thousands of pounds will be raised for charity on Sunday, some of it in rather bizarre ways.

"I had intended to raise £850, but I have hit that, so now I want to raise £1500".

"You never know, I could get £2000.

“I have been training hard all around Woodley, doing 5k to 10k, I’ve been doing parkruns.

"I just want to literally get round, and I’m just excited. I’m a bit nervous about the crowds, but I’m hoping all they will do it push me forward".

How do you pronounce Caoimhe?

Reading FC appear to be getting in the spirit of St Patrick's Day today.

The club's Republic of Ireland international captain Paul McShane has been teaching his teammates some Irish first names.

They struggled a little with the phonetics...

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Community centre a fortnight from closing

Adam Whitty

BBC South

It's the end of an era in Slough, as the volunteer centre in the town faces closure by the end of this month. 

They got a lottery grant some years ago, but haven't been able to get additional funding.

The centre helps people find volunteering roles with local charities.

Slough Volunteer Centre
Google
The centre is based on Osbourne Road in Slough

"Volunteers can find opportunities online, but nobody can help people who aren’t ready to volunteer yet, because they haven’t worked for a while, or they might have additional support needs", said centre manager Sajidah Chaudhary.

"There is nobody else offering that service".

Slough Borough Council had supported them in the past, but declined to comment this morning.

I have written to the council and I’ve asked them if they could provide us with £10-15000 to keep us going in a different way" she added.

We can now work in a satellite office, we can go to community centres with a laptop and still help people".

Reading runners prepare for half marathon

Adam Whitty

BBC South

Thousands of runners will be putting themselves through 13.1 miles worth of hell on Sunday for the Reading half marathon.

We have been speaking to some of those running this weekend.

Reading Half Marathon
BBC
Tens of thousands of people are expected to take part on Sunday

'It’s my first choice of any sort of activity'

Toby Hughes, who works in Reading, has used the run as an excuse to turn his life around.

"This Sunday is my first half marathon, and my first choice of any sort of activity.

"Last year I really needed to give myself something to do to get off the sofa and stop being lazy, and getting fast food every night of the week.

"I thought the half marathon would be a great thing to stretch myself to do.

"I am looking forward to it now I have passed 10 miles in training, so I hope I might actually make it to the end without passing out".  

No sentencing in Thames Water case due today

Duncan Kennedy

BBC South of England Correspondent

Earlier we reported that a fine was likely to be imposed today on Thames Water, after it admitted water pollution and other offences at sewage facilities in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. 

I'm at Aylesbury Crown Court and the judge has just said that because there's a further indictment to consider, sentencing is now expected on 21 March. 

Sewage works in Henley
BBC

Thames Water expected fine after raw sewage spillage

Sarah Lee

BBC South

Thames Water is expected to be handed its biggest ever fine today for allowing raw sewage to flow into the River Thames. 

A court has heard how the spills at 6 sites including Henley and Marlow killed hundreds of fish and flowed into nature reserves. 

The spills happened in 2013 and 2014.

Thames Water admitted water pollution and other offences at sewage facilities in Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. 

Thames Water
Google

Archive image shows Reading University in 1960s

Delays to First Berkshire routes

Two girls aged 14 and 15 sexually assaulted in Prospect Park

Two young girls were sexually assaulted at a park in Reading.

The girls, aged 14 and 15, were assaulted near to the playground in Prospect Park on Monday.

The offender inappropriately touched the victims before running off towards Waverley Road.

He is described as a white man with tanned skin in his late twenties and about 6ft with brown hair.

Prospect Park
Google

Investigating officer, Det Sgt Stuart Streeter, said: “He was wearing a grey hooded top, a dark coloured T-shirt, grey tracksuit bottoms with a black stripe down each leg, and trainers.

“He was carrying a mobile phone that was orange or had an orange case."

A sunny day for Berkshire this Friday

Bee Tucker has the weather for the South on Friday 17 March

Friday: The superhero of the workweek

Sarah Lee

BBC South

It's Friday. The golden child of the weekdays. The superhero of the workweek. The welcome wagon to the weekend. The famous F word we thank God for every week. 

It's finally here and lucky for you we're in great spirits - who wouldn't be on a Friday?

So get ready for some boogie-around-your-cereal updates this morning on all the latest things going on in this wonderful Royal county.

We'll be here until 6pm - but no more than that because we will also be enjoying our Fri-yay.

Enjoy this picture and dream of tomorrow. 

Breakfast
BBC
It's Fry-day.