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Photographer wins top prize for a second time

Niamh Hughes

BBC Ouch

A huge congratulations to Oliver Hellowell who has won My Perspective - the Down’s Syndrome Association International Photography competition - for the second time.

The 22-year-old impressed the judges, yet again with his image of a Blue Tit in the snow:

A Blue Tit perching on a snowy branch
Oliver Hellowell
Oliver Hellowell's prize winning photograph

Of the image, Oliver says: “Me and my dad go out and find interesting logs and things to put outside the hide in the garden for the birds to land on. We got this really cool bit with fungus and moss and bits on it. We had some snow and my mum loves blue tits and they look so cute in the snow I got this one for her.”

The Somerset native is no stranger to the camera. Oliver has been posting his snaps on Facebook for around 6 years and has amassed over 66,000 followers along the way.

Oliver Hellowell takes some photographs with a large lens
Oliver Hellowell takes some photographs with a large lens

He caught our attention back in 2014, where he showed us exactly how far his work has travelled. Check out this video.

Now in its 10th Year, My Perspective offers young people with Down’s syndrome a chance to showcase their talents to industry professionals.

Devon has highest number of SW child road casualties

Devon has the highest number of child road casualties in the greater South West - and it's on the rise according to new figures.

The charity Brake said it wanted to see more young people out walking without their lives being put at risk.

In 2017, 194 children were killed or injured on roads in the Devon County Council area - the highest level for more than five years, and up three on the year before.

However, the region - including Bristol, Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire saw an overall decrease in such incidents: 1,094 in 2017, down from 1,224 the year before.

The issue is being highlighted on Wednesday with a series of supervised walks at schools and nurseries in the county, to help children learn key safety messages.


Children killed or injured on roads in South West in 2017:

  • Bath and North East Somerset - 22
  • Bournemouth - 37
  • Bristol - 70
  • Cornwall - 116
  • Devon County Council area - 194
  • Dorset - 89
  • Gloucestershire - 104
  • Isles of Scilly - 0
  • North Somerset - 48
  • Plymouth - 64
  • Poole - 24
  • Somerset - 118
  • South Gloucestershire - 39
  • Swindon - 45
  • Torbay - 23
  • Wiltshire - 101

Bath Uni research shows knowledge gap with chronic pain medication

Man holding tablets
Getty Images

New research from the University of Bath shows there is a lack of knowledge about how to treat children in chronic pain.

While around 300,000 adults have been studied as part of trials for the effectiveness of painkilling drugs, only 393 children have been studied.

Children are regularly prescribed drugs to treat chronic pain, despite a lack of evidence they work.

The team behind the study say more research is needed to make sure children get the best treatment.

“Overall, there is no high-quality evidence to help us understand the efficacy or safety of the common drugs used to help children with chronic pain. The lack of data means that we are uncertain about how to optimally manage pain...children and their families all deserve better

Professor Christopher EcclestonUniversity of Bath

Superfast broadband firm given rescue plan deadline

BBC Spotlight

The company awarded the publicly-subsidised contract to deliver superfast broadband to thousands of rural homes in Devon and Somerset has been given a deadline to come up with a rescue plan for the programme.

Last September, Gigaclear admitted the project was facing significant delays and was two years behind schedule.

Connecting Devon and Somerset, the organisation in charge of the whole project, stopped paying Gigaclear nine months ago.

It has told the firm it must come up with acceptable plans by the end of July to fulfill the contract.

Computer cables
Getty Images

Weather warning for thunderstorms updated - and avoids Glastonbury

The Met Office has updated its weather warning for thunderstorms across the West.

It now mostly avoids Somerset - which could be good to avoid a soaked ground at Glastonbury ahead of the festival - and Bath, Bristol and most of Gloucestershire. But the warning encompasses most of Wiltshire.

It is active from now until 10am on Tuesday.

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The singing vet

The vet that loves to sing for animals and farmers
A man who is being dubbed 'The singing vet' says singing make his job more enjoyable for the animals he works with and the Farmers that ask for his help.

Alfonso Camass started getting operatic singing lessons in his late twenties when he lived in Italy.

He now uses his singing in his  veterinary work, because he feels it makes people and animals happy.

West to ramp up car charging points

Electric car

The West's electric vehicle charging network is being boosted with more than 120 new charging points.

The new points are being installed over the next year.

The £7.1m of government funding was awarded to Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset, South Gloucestershire and North Somerset, in a bid to increase the uptake of electric vehicles (EVs).

Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees, said the upgrade will help "both existing and future EV drivers".

"Ensuring we develop a resilient charging infrastructure will give more people the confidence they need to embrace this technology," he said.

Unused medication costing Somerset £5m a year


Unused medication in Somerset is costing the county nearly £5m a year, it has emerged.

Somerset Clinical Commissioning Group says its annual prescribing budget for the area is around £80m but nearly 16 per cent of that isn't used by patients.

Research commissioned by the Co-op has revealed nearly 30 percent of patients don't finish the course of medication they've been given.

13-year-old Josh, who has cerebral palsy aims to become a powerchair football star
Josh Lancaster, 13, plays for a Somerset powerchair team and has been told he has "great potential".

Devon and Somerset fire stations may close under changes

Ben Woolvin

BBC South West Home Affairs correspondent

Some fire stations may close under changes being considered by Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service.

The brigade is due to reveal options for change later on Wednesday.

Bosses said it was to bring an outdated service into the 21st Century.

Unions said closing any fire stations would be a mistake and they were concerned about a potential "lack of fire cover and increased response times".

Devon and Somerset Fire Service vehicle

Talking about a service delivery public consultation on its website, the brigade said it was originally designed over 50 years ago and that "since then, the make-up of our communities and the way in which people live their lives has changed significantly".

It added: "The majority of our existing 85 fire stations have been in place for well over 30 years and the firefighter duty systems have not changed since the 1970s."

Charity urges employers to take on ex-convicts


A Somerset-based charity is urging employers to take on ex-offenders who have just left prison.

According to the Ministry of Justice, getting a job can help reduce re-offending by a third.

The charity Key 4 Life helps young people in prison and on the outside offering programmes and therapy to prevent re-offending.

Eva Hamilton

Its founder Eva Hamilton said when employers hear they have been in prison, most people "don’t want to touch them with a barge pole" and think "they should be locked up and the key thrown away".

"But when they meet our young men... everything changes because [there's this] perception of that person being really nasty, [but] there's a really decent bloke in front of me."

Police forensics service faces a major shake-up

Ed Oldfield

Local Democracy Reporting Service

Jobs could be at risk in the Devon & Cornwall Police forensics service under a major shake-up.

Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer has revealed the force’s science support service is undergoing modernisation to take into account new digital processes.

But concerns have been raised about the impact of changes on the service in Plymouth, which has already seen the effect of cutbacks with fewer crimes being investigated by forensics staff.

Under the restructuring plan, fingerprint and chemical laboratories would be based with Avon & Somerset Police and Devon & Cornwall would host a digital centre. The force would also have a series of forensic hubs where staff would collect material from crime scenes for analysis.

Devon & Cornwall Police

The plan follows a decision in March to drop a plan to transfer employment of the Devon & Cornwall team to Dorset Police.

Mr Sawyer told members of the Devon and Cornwall Police and Crime Panel that the changes could take between six months and a year, adding he hoped any staff who might lose their job could be retrained and redeployed, but redundancies could not be ruled out.

Discussions would be taking place with staff and the GMB union.

He said there were concerns about a backlog in forensics work which was having an impact on the progress of sexual offence cases.

Mr Sawyer said: “Digital fingerprints can be looked at as easily from Scotland as Saltash. We have to work in the real world.”

The chief constable was responding to a question about the changes from Plymouth Labour councillor Sally Haydon, who commented: “We don’t want to lose any of our highly skilled staff from here.”

Drink spiking 'doubled in three years'

Alcoholic drinks
Getty Images

The number of reports of drinks being spiked in the west of England has more than doubled in the past three years.

Police in the region said there were 104 incidents reported in 2018 compared to 49 in 2015.

The figures from Avon and Somerset, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire Police were revealed by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request.

The majority were recorded in the Avon and Somerset area, where 85 incidents were reported last year - up from 41.

Hotels alert to child exploitation following Bridgwater campaign

Avon and Somerset Police say a recent campaign, to improve the awareness of the hotel trade to child exploitation, is helping make the crime more difficult.

"Plain clothed officers attempted to book a room at a number of hotels in [Bridgwater] without identification and requesting to pay in cash" said police.

They were accompanied by volunteer cadets who were all aged between 14 and 16.

Of 11 hotels visited, 10 refused to let out a room and six phoned the police to report concerns of suspected Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

A previous exercise - in March - had led to more disappointing results, with ten out of the 13 hotels agreeing to book out a room without asking any questions.

Training was recently provided for hotels in the town under Operation Makesafe, a campaign developed by the Metropolitan Police Service.

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Elderly and young unite over gardening project

The Growing Together project is designed to bring two generations together with gardening
A project in Wincanton has been bringing schoolchildren and the elderly together through gardening.

Year 1 students from Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Primary School, have been learning how to garden with the help of residents from Carrington House.

Debbie Hicks, who helps run the Growing Together project, says it benefits both the children and the residents in different ways.

Plan to deploy 'highly visible' police to disrupt criminal activity


Avon and Somerset Police will be using a new tactic to tackle crimes from theft to terrorism.

Highly visible police officers will be deployed in unpredictable ways as part of Project Servator, with the aim of disrupting criminal activity.

Officers will also be working more with the public to encourage reporting of suspicious or unusual activity.

Parts of A303 dualling 'may not happen'

BBC Spotlight

Plans to dual the entire length of one of the major roads in and out of the South West will be delayed, and some parts of the project may now not happen.

In 2014, the Department for Transport (DfT) identified eight stretches to complete the dualling of the A303 trunk road connecting the region to the South East.

Despite rising costs the DfT maintained it was committed to three of the projects, including the A358 Taunton Link Road, which is now a year behind schedule.

But the remaining five have been classified as "low to poor value for money", prompting fears they may fall by the wayside.


Police looking for wanted man Jordan Brown

Picture of man the police are looking for
Avon and Somerset Constabulary

Avon and Somerset Police are appealing for information on the whereabouts of a man who is currently wanted and missing.

Jordan Brown aged 25, is wanted for breaching a court order and failing to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court.He was due to attend court on 19 January in connection with a criminal damage case, and is from the Easton area of Bristol.

He is described as white, 5ft 8ins, medium build with brown eyes and dark brown hair.

Police have urged the public to not approach the man, but call 999 and give the call handler the reference number 5219108191.

If you know where he may be or have any other information which could help, call 101 and give the same reference number.