More than ten different fires started in one afternoon

Police in Fife were called to fires at Benarty Hill, Lochore Meadows and St Margaret’s Marsh on Wednesday.

Police and the fire service attended St Margaret’s Marsh beside North Queensferry. Police Scotland
Police and the fire service attended St Margaret’s Marsh beside North Queensferry.

More than ten fires were set over the course of Wednesday afternoon in west Fife.

Police were first called to Benarty Hill after a member of the public reported a blaze at 2.30pm.

A number of other fires were started within Lochore Meadows.

Police said groups of youths setting fires continued into the evening, with another set near to St Margaret’s Marsh beside North Queensferry.

Police Scotland
Fire were started at Benarty Hill and Lochore Meadows (Cowdenbeath Police)
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The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service attended to deal with a fire in gorse bushes in the area.

A Cowdenbeath Police spokesperson said: “Wildfires can spread quickly, threaten local wildlife and take up fire service time and resources.

“Officers have been at Benarty Hill and Lochore Meadows assisting
[the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service] to contend with numerous incidents of willful fireraising.

“Over ten separate fires have been raised this afternoon. The first was reported by a member of the public at 2.30pm on Benarty Hill. Other seats of fire were then raised within Lochore Meadows.”


Man threatened teen cyclist with knife before stealing bike

The 15-year-old was cycling near the Union Canal in West Lothian when the man approached him.

Police Scotland
Stolen: Man stole Saracen Aries 60 Elite mountain bike.

A teenage cyclist was threatened with a knife before having his bike stolen in West Lothian. 

At around 1.10pm on Friday, the 15-year-old boy was riding his bike on the track near to the Union Canal, south of Wynford Brae in Philipstoun, known locally as ‘The Bing’.

As he cycled, a man approached him from behind some wooden logs and threatened him with a knife. 

The teen dropped his bike and ran off towards the canal on foot. The suspect then got on the bike and cycled away along the path towards Linlithgow.

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The teenager then approached two women who were walking along the canal path before returning home and informing his parents, who contacted police. The boy was uninjured as a result of the incident.

The suspect is described as a white man, 5ft 11ins to 6ft tall, of slim to medium build and had a balaclava covering his face. He was wearing black Ray Ban sunglasses, a two-tone hooded jacket, Nike slim fit tracksuit bottoms and black Nike Airmax trainers.

The stolen bike is a green Saracen Aries 60 Elite mountain bike with distinctive gold coloured suspension.

Detective Constable David McDougall, of Livingston CID, said: “The teenager has understandably been left in fear after what has happened and it is imperative we find the person responsible. 

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“The teenager has reported that he warned two women about the suspect as he was running from the scene. We are especially keen to trace and speak to these two women as they may have seen the suspect or have information to help our investigation.

“I’d also ask anyone who recognises the description of the suspect, or knows of someone who has recently acquired a green Saracen Aries 60 Elite, to get in touch with police to help our enquiries. Anyone with any information should contact officers as soon as possible.”

Those with information should contact Police Scotland on 101 and quote incident number 1617 of April  9 2021. An anonymous report can be given to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Gran shares secret to long life ahead of 100th birthday

Eleanor Petrie reveals a sense of humour and a slice of cake each day is the secret to her longevity.

Holyrood PR via Email
Cake and good humour: Eleanor Petrie reveals the secret to her longevity.

A woman who will celebrate her 100th birthday later this month has revealed a sense of humour and a slice of coffee walnut cake each day is the secret to her longevity. 

Eleanor Petrie, who resides at Bield’s Dean Court in Bo’ness, has been reminiscing about her life and says she has no regrets over how she spent her 100 years. 

Born in 1921, Eleanor was raised in Newcastle with three siblings and was passionate about poetry; reeling off hundreds of poems to this day.

She left school at the age of 14 – the school leaving age at the time – and went into service, working in an engineering factory as WWII loomed, before she was transferred to the Rolls Royce factory in Solihull, West Midlands.

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During her time at the Rolls Royce factory, Eleanor helped produce engine parts to keep fighter planes flying before moving to the Navy Army and Air Food Institutes [NAAFI] at Catterick Garrison, catering to brave men who received military training before going to war.

Eleanor met her husband while serving for NAAFI at a social event when she was asked to dance by a ‘handsome, red haired young Scot’ – a moment she proudly claims to be the best of her life.

At the end of the evening the band were playing a popular song of the time ‘Who’s taking you home tonight’ and cheekily Eleanor said “You, if you like!”

Harry Petrie was posted to Africa for four years during which time they became engaged by ‘snail mail’ and married on New Year’s Day after he returned from Africa in 1946.

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The couple went on to have two daughters and one grandchild, and were happily married for 49 years before husband Harry passed just a few weeks short of their golden anniversary.

Holyrood PR via Email
Eleanor and Harry Petrie were married for almost 50 years.

Eleanor’s daughter says her mother’s 100th birthday will be a special day despite coronavirus restrictions.

Elaine Dixon said: “My mum has lived an extremely interesting life and it has been lovely to go back through some of her favourite memories as we approach this milestone birthday.

“It has been an adventurous life, full of happy memories, and plenty of learning experiences which she has now passed down to the rest of the family.

“She has always said the secret to a long and happy life is a sense of humour and some coffee walnut cake.”

Eleanor keeps her mind alert with her addiction to TV shows, and until recently an obsession with puzzle books, now curtailed by fading sight.

Her mobility is now severely hindered, however she does not dwell on her limitations but rather she enjoys the things she can do.

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Alison Lowe, Development Manager at Dean Court said: “We all can’t wait to watch Eleanor turn 100, it’s such a monumental achievement.

“We are thrilled to be a part of this significant occasion in her life and hope Eleanor enjoys the wonderful celebrations that come with it throughout the year.

“She’s so much younger than her years – always up for a bit of fun and loves to socialise in more normal times so maybe that’s the secret to having a long healthy life”.

Eleanor will celebrate her birthday on April 20 with a socially distanced gathering with family and staff at Dean Court.


Man severed stranger’s ear during attempted murder

Colin Bathgate punched and kicked Craig Lukey before assaulting him with scissors and glass ornaments.

STV News
Jailed: Colin Bathgate attacked Craig Lukey in September last year.

A man who attacked a stranger and severed his ear during a murder bid has been jailed for six years.

Colin Bathgate, 33,  punched and kicked his victim and assaulted him with scissors and glass ornaments during the bloody attack.

Bathgate made a 999 call after the attempted murder and said there was a male at his house who had tried to attack him.

Advocate depute Richard Goddard QC said: “The accused confirmed to the call handler that the male was unconscious but breathing. However, he also stated that there was blood everywhere.”

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Bathgate said Craig Lukey seemed to be waking up and said he would “switch him off again”, the High Court in Edinburgh heard.

Police arrived at Bathgate’s home in Linhouse Road, East Calder, in West Lothian, and looked through a window and saw Mr Lukey lying on the floor covered in blood,

Mr Goddard said: “There were significant amounts of blood around the complainer and on nearby walls.” 

Officers saw that the victim had sustained numerous head injuries with his right cheek appearing sunken and his eyes swollen.

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The prosecutor said part of his right ear was missing and added: “A tooth and flesh from the complainer’s ear were on a nearby sofa. The accused’s saliva was found in the flesh on later analysis.”

Mr Lukey was gasping for breath and was unable to tell police his name following the attack on him.

Blood stained scissors were found and a broken ornament was also extensively stained with blood. A heavy glass vase was broken into 48 pieces which were heavily bloodstained and had clumps of hair adhering to them.

Mr Lukey was taken to Edinburgh Royal Infirmary and placed in an induced coma. He spent three weeks in hospital but required further surgery.

Bathgate earlier admitted attempting to murder him by repeatedly punching and kicking him on the head and body, repeatedly striking him glass ornaments and sharp implements, severing his ear and striking him with scissors to his severe injury, permanent disfigurement and to the danger of his life on September 10 last year.

A judge told Bathgate: “There was, in this case, a real danger to his life through loss of blood.”

Lady Carmichael said she accepted that he was genuinely remorseful and shocked by the extent of the violence.

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She told Bathgate: “There is no alternative in this case to a custodial sentence given the nature of the offending.”

The judge said that if Bathgate had been convicted after a trial he would have faced a nine year prison term.

Defence solicitor advocate Ewen Roy said Bathgate had relapsed into heavy drinking following a family death.

Bathgate claimed that he had been attacked with a sword but accepted that his response was grossly disproportionate.

Mr Roy said: “He has told me he has regular nightmares about what happened. He is deeply remorseful and very ashamed of his actions.”

The court heard that Bathgate was not known to his victim before the date of the attack. The two men had gone to a local shop to buy drink before going to Bathgate’s home.


Annual ‘toadageddon’ sees volunteers rescue thousands of toads

The toads have needed a bit of a helping hand crossing busy roads in Edinburgh.

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Thousands of toads have been rescued by ‘toad patrols’ over the last few weeks during their annual journey to their breeding ponds.

More than 2500 toads have been rescued by volunteers across Edinburgh and the Lothians during their migration.

The Lothian Amphibian and Reptile Group (LARG), which has been running the patrols for the last 12 years, said this includes between 500 and 700 female toads. This means an extra one million toad eggs in ponds – a considerable achievement in the task to protect the species which has seen numbers plummet over the years due to habitat loss.

In the UK the toad population has declined by 70% in the last 30 years, according to research from Save The Frog.

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Each year the toads wake from winter hibernation and head en masse to ponds which may have been used for generations, but it often involves risking their lives crossing busy roads.

In order to help them out, park rangers at Holyrood in Edinburgh have shut the road between the bottom of Arthur’s Seat to Dunsapie Loch over the last few weeks to keep out cars and discourage cyclists.

Rangers from Historic Environment Scotland also put metal covers over roadside drains to stop the toads from falling in and drowning.

STV News
Rescue: A number of paramedics and nurses have helped out this year.

This year, a number of paramedics and nurses in Edinburgh joined the nightly toad patrols after seeing an increase of toads crossing the busy bus lanes at Edinburgh Royal infirmary.

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Although a recent cold snap has most likely meant an end to the seasonal migration, LARG is still able to help toads if there are any future public sightings.

If you do see any while out in the Lothians, email Lothianarg@outlook.com to pass on the information.


Army regiment plays key role in Prince Philip gun salute

Reservists from the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery at heart of tribute marking Duke of Edinburgh's life in the capital on Saturday.

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Military reservists involved in Saturday’s gun salute marking the Duke of Edinburgh’s life have spoken of their pride at being involved in the historic event.

Saluting batteries began firing 41 rounds at one round every minute from midday on Saturday in cities across the UK including London, Cardiff and Belfast, as well as from Royal Navy warships.

Jenny Findlay, a bombardier with the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery, said: “It’s a big moment, it’s a sad moment, (I’m) feeling for the Royal Family, it’s a member of their family that they have lost but, yeah, proud to be a part of the moment.”

“A lot of drill goes into it, a lot of practice and preparation – I know that a lot goes on behind the scenes that we as reservists don’t always see as well; a lot of kit fittings, checks, they get done really regularly and just constant keeping on top of things.”

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Jenny, who is also a mobile services manager with NHS WestMARC, added: “It’s been a busy wee while; the patients are still needing service and keeping going.”

Buckingham Palace said Prince Philip died peacefully in his sleep at Windsor Castle on Friday, two months before his 100th birthday, leaving the Queen and the royal family “mourning his loss”.

The public were encouraged to observe the gun salutes, which are fired to mark significant national events, on television or online, rather than gathering in crowds to watch outside.

Mike Frew, senior permanent staff instructor with the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery, was also involved in Saturday’s tribute in Edinburgh.

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He said: “I was the troop sargeant major, making sure rehearsals were going fine and marching the troops on and off of the salute itself, and also the timekeepers – I was telling them when to fire.

“It’s an absolute honour to take part in a ceremony like this, it’s such a prestigious thing firing at the castle itself but that did have a bit of additional weight to it, just to make sure we gave the correct send-off that was required.”

Panda artificially inseminated in new bid to produce cub

Edinburgh Zoo keepers are hoping Tian Tian, who once gave birth in China in 2007, falls pregnant again.

RZSS via Edinburgh Zoo / © Google Maps 2020
Keepers are hoping Tian Tian gives birth later this year.

The UK’s only female panda has been artificially inseminated at Edinburgh Zoo in a new attempt to produce a cub.

Keepers are hoping Tian Tian, who once gave birth in China in 2007, falls pregnant again.

Experts said the procedure went well and that the 80kg bear “is in good health”, but warned that “it is too early to know if she is pregnant”.

Her male companion, Yang Guang, is unable to mate with her since the removal of his testicles in November 2018 due to the presence of tumours.

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A spokesperson for Edinburgh Zoo said: “Tian Tian had her annual health check this morning and was artificially inseminated under expert veterinary care.  

“We are pleased to say that all went well, though it is too early to know if she is pregnant at this very early stage. 

“Tian Tian gave birth once before in 2007 and it really would be incredible for her to experience being a mother again.

“We will all be keeping our fingers crossed.”

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They added: “We will only know for certain that Tian Tian is pregnant if she gives birth later this year.  

“There is no definitive panda pregnancy test and giant pandas can delay implantation of fertilized eggs as well as having pseudopregnancies which mimic real pregnancies, all of which makes it very difficult to predict if and when they may give birth.”

Earlier this year it was reported that the giant pandas may have to return to China in 2022 at the end of their ten-year contract with the Chinese government due to financial pressures.

The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, which runs both Edinburgh Zoo and the Highland Wildlife Park, faced enormous financial pressure when it was forced to close for three months in 2020 due tothe pandemic.


Probe launched after body recovered from Water of Leith

Inquiries continuing after man's body recovered from Edinburgh river on Saturday morning.

Ross MacDonald / SNS Group via SNS Group
Police retrieved body from Water of Leith.

A man’s body was recovered from the Water of Leith in Edinburgh on Saturday morning.

Police say the body was found after they received an alert at around 7.55am.

Inquiries into the death are continuing.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “Around 7.55am on Saturday, 10 April, 2021, we received a report of the body of a man in the Water of Leith near Couper Street in Edinburgh.

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“The body was recovered from the water and inquiries into the circumstances are ongoing. As with all sudden deaths, a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.”

Police appeal after dead buzzard found hanging from tree

Investigating officers said the bird had died from natural causes before being strung up.

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Buzzard: Police are appealing for information.

Police are appealing for information after a dead buzzard was found hanging from a tree in Fife.

Investigating officers said the bird had died from natural causes before being strung up.

The buzzard was found by a member of the public on the cycle path from Tayport to Newport, near to the West Lighthouse, on Monday.

Constable Ben Pacholek, Fife’s wildlife crime liaison officer, said: “Our enquiries show that the buzzard died from natural causes before being tied to the tree. But this was a reckless and needless act, leaving a dead bird hanging in a public place that has caused distress within the local community.

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“I would urge members of the public to be respectful and considerate towards wildlife at all times. All wild birds are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

“If anyone knows anything about what happened or saw anything suspicious, then please contact us on 101.”


Gun salute under way in Edinburgh to mark Duke’s death

Saluting batteries are firing 41 rounds at one round each minute from midday at Edinburgh Castle.

STV News
Salute: A gun salute at Edinburgh Castle is marking Prince Philip's death.

A gun salute marking the death of Prince Philip is taking place at Edinburgh Castle.

Across the country, saluting batteries are firing 41 rounds at one round every minute from midday on Saturday in cities including London, Cardiff and Belfast, to mark the Duke of Edinburgh’s death at Windsor Castle on Friday.

The Queen’s husband was the longest serving consort in British history when he died aged 99, a few weeks short of his 100th birthday.

Salutes will also be fired in Gibraltar and from Royal Navy warships, the Ministry of Defence said.

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Gun salutes have been fired to mark significant national events since as early as at least the 18th century.

They were used to mark the deaths of Queen Victoria in 1901 and Winston Churchill in 1965.

The public is being encouraged to observe the gun salutes, which will be broadcast online and on television, from home.

In London, the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery will ride out from their base at Napier Lines, Woolwich Barracks, onto the Parade Ground.

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There will be 71 horses, 36 of them pulling six 13-pounder field guns dating from the First World War.

The same guns were also fired for Philip’s wedding to the Queen in 1947 and at her Coronation six years later in 1953.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “His Royal Highness Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh was a constant supporter and ambassador of the armed forces.

“We celebrate his life of service and offer our condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the royal family.”

Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir Nick Carter said: “His Royal Highness has been a great friend, inspiration and role model for the armed forces and he will be sorely missed.

“The Duke of Edinburgh served among us during the Second World War, and he remained devoted to the Royal Navy and the armed forces as a whole.

“A life well lived, His Royal Highness leaves us with a legacy of indomitable spirit, steadfastness and an unshakeable sense of duty. From all of us who serve today and who have served, thank you.”

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The Honourable Artillery Company will fire a salute at the Tower of London, the 104th Regiment Royal Artillery will fire from Cardiff Castle, and the 105th Regiment Royal Artillery will fire at Hillsborough Castle, Belfast and Edinburgh Castle.

Ships taking part include the HMS Diamond, HMS Montrose and HMNB Portsmouth, while the Royal Gibraltar Regiment will join the salute from the British overseas territory.

Philip joined the Royal Navy after leaving school, beginning at the Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth in May 1939, and was singled out as best cadet.

During the Second World War, he served on several ships – firstly on HMS Ramillies – and saw active service against German, Italian and Japanese forces.

In March 1941, he was a searchlight control officer on the battleship HMS Valiant and was mentioned in despatches for his part in the battle of Matapan against the Italian fleet.

Shortly afterwards, he was awarded the Greek War Cross of Valour.

He rose rapidly through the ranks, earning promotion after promotion, with some believing he could have become First Sea Lord – the professional head of the Royal Navy.

But the Duke stepped down from his active role in the forces to fulfil his duty as the Queen’s consort.

In recognition of his long-standing connection with the Royal Navy, the Queen conferred the title of Lord High Admiral on the Duke to mark his 90th birthday in June 2011.

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