Landlord to turf great-gran’s garden in memory of dead sons

Pamela McLaughlan, 80, planted two rose bushes for her children in the garden she has tended for nearly 30 years.

Pamela McLaughlan, who cares for her blind husband Robert, has tended the plot behind her Wishaw flat for 28 years. Paul Jordan via Submitted
Pamela McLaughlan, who cares for her blind husband Robert, has tended the plot behind her Wishaw flat for 28 years.

A pensioner who has tended a remembrance garden for nearly 30 years is “devastated” after she was told it would be turfed.

Pamela McLaughlan was allocated the plot in the corner of the back garden 28 years ago when she moved into the flat she shares with her husband in North Lanarkshire.

The 80-year-old, who cares for her blind husband Robert and suffers from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), was hesitant to start gardening when she was told it was hers but eventually took to it and it became her passion.

The garden became a place of respite for her where she can be alone with her memories, especially of her sons Greig, who died in 2007 from a sudden heart attack, and Clarke, who died last year with cancer.

Paul Jordan via Submitted
Pamela and her two sons, Greig on the left and Clarke on the right.
ADVERT

“I just feel devastated,” Pamela told STV News, “That’s my boys’ garden.”

The great-grandmother has planted rose bushes in her sons’ memories and there is a memorial bench with commemorative plaques.

“I have photos of my boys and my grandchildren in that garden. It’s the only thing I have. It’s taken all my memories,” she said.

Pamela turned 80 on Thursday but, she said, she could not celebrate. She said thinking about losing her garden behind her Wishaw flat made her burst into tears.

Paul Jordan via Submitted
Pamela McLaughlan has been tending the section of garden for 28 years.
ADVERT

A letter posted through her door, signed only “your neighbours”, said it had been noticed Pamela had “commandeered a section” of the garden.

It continued: “It would be appreciated if you could restore this back to the original condition…

“They are showing zero compassion, zero humanity. Why can’t they show some mercy?”

Paul Jordan

“If this is not done further action will be taken.”

The two previous tenants of Pamela’s flat, more than 28 years ago, were already caring for the plot at the rear of the back garden so not only does she not know what its original state was but she was hurt by the accusation that she had “commandeered” it.

Paul Jordan via Submitted
A plaque dedicated to Pamela’s son Clarke who died on April 9, 2020, seven weeks after a cancer diagnosis.

Pamela’s only living child, Elaine, said her mother fainted when she read the letter.

The letter was not from Pamela’s landlord Wishaw and District Housing Association but the organisation, part of the Trust Housing Association group, has since instructed her that the area is not hers.

Pamela’s son-in-law, Paul Jordan, said he became angry when he heard they planned to turf the garden.

ADVERT

“I love Pamela like she was my own mother,” he told STV News, “Pam is thoughtful, kind and would go out of her way for anybody.

Paul Jordan via Submitted
A plaque dedicated to Pamela’s son Greig who passed away on December 8, 2007, from a sudden heart attack.

“They are showing zero compassion, zero humanity. Why can’t they show some mercy?”

Pamela and her family know the remembrance garden cannot stay that way forever, but as the grandmother gets older they also know that she will not be able to tend to it indefinitely.

The 80-year-old’s nephew, Davie Armit, said: “Personally, I would like my aunt Pam to continue to have the pleasure of maintaining that little piece of garden for the rest of her days or until she is not capable of looking after it.

Paul Jordan via Submitted
The great-grandmother said that the garden holds memories for her with her sons and grandchildren.

“This little piece of garden has been the other part of her life from my uncle Bobby. She said to my mum, ‘Without this wee piece of garden, what’s the purpose of me being here?'”

A petition set up by Paul has more than 1000 signatures calling for Pamela and her blind husband to be allowed to look after the garden for their remaining years or until they become unable to do so.

You can see the petition here.

Paul Jordan via Submitted
A letter that was posted through Pamela’s door.

Gregor Colville, head of customer experience (landlord) at Trust Housing Association, said: “We are aware of ongoing concerns regarding the communal garden areas of one of our properties.

“Trust are continuing to engage with tenants and owners of the affected areas in an attempt to deliver a suitable and amicable conclusion for everyone.”


Police investigation into deaths at flagship Glasgow hospital

The deaths being looked at include that of a 73-year-old woman at the hospital campus as well as the deaths of three children.

PA Media
While the investigation is understood to be at an early stage, it could potentially lead to a fatal accident inquiry or criminal charges.

Police are investigating four deaths at the flagship Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QUEH) in Glasgow, it has emerged.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) – which has a duty to investigate all sudden, unexpected and unexplained deaths – has instructed officers from Police Scotland to act.

While the investigation is understood to be at an early stage, it could potentially lead to a fatal accident inquiry or criminal charges.

The deaths being looked at include that of a 73-year-old woman at the hospital campus as well as the deaths of three children.

ADVERT

One of those is Milly Main, who died in 2017 after contracting an infection found in water while being treated at the Royal Hospital for Children – part of the same campus as the QEUH.

Her mother Kimberly Darroch this week told an inquiry looking into issues with the construction of the Glasgow hospital campus and the Royal Hospital for Children and Young People in Edinburgh that she believes “what happened to my daughter is murder”.

Darroch told the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry: “My view is that the hospital should be closed. I don’t think it’s safe.”

She added: “I feel like the health board need to be punished for all of this.”

ADVERT

A COPFS spokesman said: “The Procurator Fiscal has received reports in connection with the deaths of three children and a 73-year-old woman at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus, Glasgow.

“The investigation into the deaths is ongoing and the families will continue to be kept updated in relation to any significant developments.”

The spokesman added: “The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is committed to supporting the work of the Scottish Hospitals Inquiry and contributing positively and constructively to that work.”


UK considering temporary measures to ease HGV driver shortage

The UK's transport secretary promised to 'move heaven and earth' to get the situation solved.

Jaroslaw Kilian via IStock
Ministers met to discuss the plans on Friday, with reports suggesting the final sign-off could come over the weekend.

The UK Government is considering temporary measures to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers which is wreaking havoc on a number of industries.

No 10 insisted on Friday night that any measures introduced would be “very strictly time-limited” amid reports that Boris Johnson had allowed ministers to relax UK immigration rules to allow more foreign drivers into the country.

And although Downing Street would not confirm whether any decisions had been made, the UK’s transport secretary Grant Shapps earlier promised to “move heaven and earth” to get the situation solved.

The Financial Times and the Telegraph reported that the Prime Minister had given ministers the go-ahead to temporarily lift visa restrictions for foreign drivers.

ADVERT

The newspapers said up to 5000 temporary visas could be granted for HGV drivers, while the Financial Times said a similar number would be approved for food processing workers, especially in the poultry industry.

Ministers met to discuss the plans on Friday, with reports suggesting the final sign-off could come over the weekend.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said the changes had come too late for many.

He said: “The arrogance of Boris Johnson has cost jobs. He knew there was a fix to this problem but ploughed on regardless. He owes the British people an apology.”

ADVERT

It comes as the CBI called for ministers to establish a taskforce on the same level as the Cobra emergency committee to deal with supply issues which have seen petrol forecourts close and empty shelves in supermarkets.

And there have been warnings that disruption to festive preparations will be “inevitable” if progress is not made to solve the shortfall of around 90,000 lorry drivers.

Esso, BP and Tesco forecourts have been affected by challenges getting petrol deliveries.

BP said that around 20 of its 1200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.

A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.

And on Friday the EG Group, which has around 400 petrol stations in the UK, said it was imposing a £30 limit on customers “due to the current unprecedented customer demand for fuel”.

Meanwhile, around one in six adults in Britain said they were not able to buy essential food items at some point during the past two weeks due to products not being available, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics.

ADVERT

A Downing Street spokesman said: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages.

“But like countries around the world we are suffering from a temporary Covid-related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.

“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time-limited.

“We are moving to a high-wage, high-skilled economy and businesses will need to adapt with more investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term resilience.

The transport secretary earlier tried to dissuade drivers from panic-buying petrol, although there have been chaotic scenes at petrol stations across the country.

On Friday queues started to form outside some filling stations.

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said: “HGV drivers are the glue which hold our supply chains together.

“Without them, we are unable to move goods from farms to warehouses to shops.

“Currently, the UK faces a shortfall of around 90,000 HGV drivers and it is consumers who ultimately suffer the consequences.”

Tony Danker, CBI director-general, said: “After speaking with hundreds of business leaders this week, it’s clear there’s a total mindset shift from growing to coping.

“This is now a major threat to our recovery and the Government needs to step up its response to a new level of both speed and boldness.

“Government is right to keep up the pressure on companies to adapt and not rely on immigration long term, but temporary visas are the only way to alleviate the disruption of shortages in critical skilled parts of the economy in weeks and months instead of years.

“Getting skills programmes right immediately is key to ensuring that these measures are only needed temporarily.”


Working at GB News almost gave me a breakdown, claims Andrew Neil

He said he felt like he could no longer continue after the first week.

Ian Gavan via Getty Images
Neil announced his departure from the channel earlier this month.

Veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil said he “came close to a breakdown” during his time at GB News after suffering from stress due to the fledgling station’s technical problems.

Neil announced his departure from the channel in a tweet earlier this month where he said it was “time to reduce my commitments on a number of fronts”.

But the split between the new channel and its chairman and lead presenter has become increasingly bitter, with the 72-year-old since saying his former employer “unilaterally” cancelled his exit deal and he “couldn’t be happier” to have severed ties.

And in an interview with the Daily Mail, Neil said he walked away from a £4m contract but added continuing with the channel “would have killed me”.

ADVERT

“It was a big decision but I frankly couldn’t care if it was £40m,” he said.

Speaking previously on Question Time, Neil said he had been in a “minority of one” over the future direction of GB News, which has been accused of trying to import Fox News-style journalism to the UK.

“More and more differences emerged between myself and the other senior managers and the board of GB News,” he said.

But in the interview with the Mail, he said he felt like he could no longer continue after the first week.

ADVERT

He said: “It just got worse and worse. At one stage, we were waiting to go on air and the whole system went down. It had to be rebooted and we only managed it with 15 seconds to spare.

“That stress was just huge. It meant you couldn’t think about the journalism.

“By the end of that first week, I knew I had to get out. It was really beginning to affect my health. I wasn’t sleeping. I was waking up at two or three in the morning.”

He added the stress gave him a “constant knot in my stomach” and the paper reported two directors suggested Neil take July and August off with a promise the early glitches would be sorted by September.

A number of big names joined GB News for its launch including ITV News journalist Alastair Stewart, BBC journalist Simon McCoy and former Labour MP Gloria De Piero.

Guto Harri quit the channel following a row over him taking the knee during a debate on the racism directed towards England football players, while other staff members have reportedly left.

In a statement from the channel carried by the Mail, a spokesman said: “At no point did Andrew raise concerns of the editorial direction of GB News moving to the right.

ADVERT

“As with all companies, decision-making rests with the board, and GB News is no different.

“As a member of the board, Andrew had the same rights and abilities to raise concerns, and he was privy to all decisions.

“The board allowed Andrew time off over the summer to recharge his batteries. He subsequently asked to leave and the board agreed to this request.

“The terms of his departure were properly negotiated and documented, with Andrew taking legal advice throughout.”


Stopping benefits to EU citizens without settled status ‘unnecessary’

Jenny Gilruth, Europe minister with the Scottish Government, raised her concerns about the move in a letter to Therese Coffey.

artJazz via IStock
Jenny Gilruth said action to stop payments is 'unnecessary and disproportionate'.

Halting benefit payments to European citizens living in the UK who have not yet applied for settled status is “unnecessary” and could force some into homelessness, the work and pensions secretary has been told.

Jenny Gilruth, Europe minister with the Scottish Government, raised her concerns about the move in a letter to Therese Coffey.

After the UK left the European Union, EU nationals were given until June 30 to apply for settled status – with this giving them the right to live, work and study in Britain, as well as use the NHS and receive any benefits they might be eligible for.

Gilruth said that after the deadline for applying to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) had passed, the Department for Work and Pensions continued to make social security payments to EU citizens who had not done so.

ADVERT

But, in a letter to the work and pensions secretary, she said she understood that the UK Government is “suspending these payments at the end of September and discontinue them completely from the end of October”.

The Scottish Government minister warned of the possible consequences of this, saying it was “essential” than an impact assessment be carried out.

She said: “I am concerned that vulnerable citizens in Scotland will have their payments stopped.

“Poor literacy, a lack of knowledge of English, mental and physical illnesses and disability are all reasons why someone may not have applied to the EUSS.

ADVERT

“Terminating benefits may lead to homelessness, destitution, hunger and poor physical and mental health.”

Gilruth continued: “Action to stop payments is unnecessary and disproportionate with a clear risk of harm to people who require our support.”

She called on the UK Government to “continue providing ongoing social security payments to EU citizens until they have applied to the EUSS”.

This would allow “our EU citizen friends and family to continue living their lives with the dignity and respect that they deserve”, the minister insisted.

A UK Government spokesman said: “We continue to use every possible channel, including letters, telephone calls, texts, and the direct contact our frontline staff have with their customers, to encourage those who are eligible to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme.

“By doing so, they can secure their status so they can continue to reside, work, study and access services and benefits in the UK.

“Nearly 5 million people have been given status through the hugely successful EU Settlement Scheme to date, with thousands more cases granted every week.

ADVERT

“Letters are being sent to those who may still need to apply to let them know how to urgently put in a late application.”

More on:

Soldiers begin deployment to ambulance service amid ‘crisis point’

More than 200 army personnel have been deployed to assist the service.

Crown Copyright via Crown

Soldiers throughout the country have started supporting the Scottish Ambulance Service amid growing NHS pressures.

More than 200 army personnel have been deployed to assist the service by driving ambulances and operating mobile coronavirus testing units.

The Scottish Government requested military assistance to help deal with deteriorating response times after reports of patients dying and waiting in agony for hours before paramedics arrived.

After a grandad died having waited 40 hours for paramedics, a doctor told STV News the Scottish Ambulance Service is at “crisis point”.

ADVERT

Over 100 are soldiers are driving ambulances this weekend with a further 111 operating the testing units that the military also previously helped run the units during the height of the pandemic last year.

The Ministry of Defence said its staff, including members of the The Royal Highland Fusiliers, were expected to be deployed for a couple of months.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said on Friday that he will “leave no stone unturned” as part of efforts to improve both the ambulance response times and increase capacity in Scotland’s hospitals.

After meeting some of the soldiers being trained at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service base in Hamilton, Yousaf said: “I’m delighted to be here to thank the military personnel who really answered our call, with their support and their help.”


Duke of York receives court papers over sex assault claims

The Queen's son has been accused of sexually assaulting a teenage girl.

Ian Forsyth via Getty Images
Duke of York: Facing sexual assault claims.

The Duke of York has officially received court papers relating to a sexual assault lawsuit, US officials have confirmed.

The complainant, Virginia Giuffre, is seeking damages after alleging Andrew sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager, a claim he vehemently denies.

Her lawyers said earlier this month the duke had officially been served with the papers, but his legal team disputed the claim.

The issue of whether or not Andrew had been notified about the case – known as service of proceedings – was contested during the first pre-trial hearing of the civil case last week in New York.

ADVERT

But it has now been confirmed the papers were served on September 21.

The duke has until October 29 to provide a response.

Ms Giuffre is suing the Queen’s son for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was 17.

She is seeking unspecified damages, but there is speculation the sum could be in the millions of dollars.

ADVERT

Court documents show that lawyers for both sides spoke on September 21 and the time for the duke to respond was extended.


Leigh Griffiths included in Dundee squad for visit of Rangers

Griffiths was charged by police in relation to an incident involving a pyrotechnic being kicked back into the stand.

Alan Harvey via SNS Group
Griffiths: Named in Dundee squad to play Rangers.

Leigh Griffiths is in the Dundee squad for the Premiership visit of Rangers on Saturday.

Griffiths was charged by police in relation to an incident involving a pyrotechnic being kicked back into the stand during Dundee’s midweek defeat by St Johnstone.

Dundee were missing Charlie Adam (groin) and Ryan Sweeney (concussion) against Saints while striker Danny Mullen (ankle) remains on the sidelines.

Rangers have reported no fresh injuries for the game.

ADVERT

Ryan Jack is due back in training in the next two weeks following calf surgery.

Ryan Kent misses out with a hamstring injury and Filip Helander remains on the sidelines with a knee problem. Nnamdi Ofoborh (heart issue) is also still missing.


More than 100 high-end cars stolen by thieves using signal boosters

The cars have been taken from outside homes in Edinburgh, Forth Valley, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Fife and Dundee.

Niall Carson via PA Media
Warning: Police are advising motorists to store electric fobs in signal blocking equipment.

More than 100 high-end cars have been stolen from homes across parts of Scotland in recent months, with police warning thieves are using technology to open the cars without having to steal keys.

Police Scotland said that since May, 119 vehicles have been stolen from outside homes in Edinburgh, Forth Valley, East Lothian, Midlothian, West Lothian, Fife and Dundee.

The thieves have either broken into the house and stolen the car keys from near the front door or used a signal amplifying device to pick up the frequency of the car key from outside the home, meaning they can steal the car without breaking into the house.

Police are urging people with electric key fobs to buy signal-blocking storage to help prevent the crimes.

ADVERT

The break-ins and thefts mainly occur either in the late evening or early morning, when the householders are in bed, and all are being investigated as part of Operation Greenbay.

Most thefts have taken place in Edinburgh, where 40 such cars were stolen, followed by 33 in the Lothians, 19 in Tayside, 16 in Fife and 11 in Forth Valley.

Detective Inspector Karen Muirhead said: “Whenever a housebreaking or vehicle theft occurs, it has a profound impact on the victims and as part of Operation Greenbay we are actively investigating all of these incidents to identify those responsible and reunite stolen cars with their rightful owners.

“Preventing these crimes happening in the first instance is our top priority and the public have a vital role to play in this.

ADVERT

“I would urge all homeowners to consider what their current home security looks like and evaluate if it could be enhanced through the use of measures such as alarms, motion-activated lights and CCTV.”

She added: “For those with electric key fobs, please consider buying a faraday box or pouch, which blocks the signal from being detected and amplified to open and start your vehicle. At the very least, please do not leave keys near the door or entryway of your home.

“Following engagement with victims, we have established that many prefer to leave keys and valuables near doors so that in the event their homes are broken into, thieves do not venture further inside the property.

“In our experience, the likelihood of this occurring is extremely rare, with most criminals seeking an easy and quick grab, rather than having to search the entire house.”

She urged anyone with information on the crimes to contact police via 101 or alternatively make an anonymous report to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.


Yousaf hopes for improvements as army called in to drive ambulances

A total of 114 soldiers have been drafted in, with the first deployment of drivers expected to be behind the wheel from Sunday.

Andrew Milligan via PA Media
Hopes: Yousaf hopes for 'significant improvement'.

Scotland’s Health Secretary expects the army’s help driving ambulances will result in a “significant improvement” in the waiting time crisis.

Military assistance was requested by the Scottish Government to help deal with deteriorating response times by the Scottish Ambulance Service, amid reports of patients dying and waiting in agony for hours before paramedics arrive.

A total of 114 soldiers have been drafted in, with the first deployment of drivers expected to be behind the wheel from Sunday.

Speaking during a visit to see soldiers being trained to drive the emergency vehicles, Humza Yousaf thanked the military for their help as he warned that the health service was facing its toughest winter yet.

ADVERT

The Health Secretary pledged to “leave no stone unturned” as part of efforts to improve both the ambulance response times and increase capacity in Scotland’s hospitals.

He told the PA news agency: “There’s no silver bullet, we have to be upfront about that.

“I announced a range of actions, including asking for military assistance but, with that whole package put together, I would expect there to be a significant improvement.

“But I would be upfront with people too, this is going to be the most challenging winter I think the NHS has ever faced.”

ADVERT

After meeting some of the soldiers being trained at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service base in Hamilton, Yousaf said: “I’m delighted to be here to thank the military personnel who really answered our call, with their support and their help.

“I’m delighted that the army responded in typical fashion and I wanted to come down personally to thank those military personnel who are getting the training today and they will be driving ambulances come Sunday.

“So this will help us, of course, with the challenges we’re facing in relation to the ambulance waits.”

Asked about wider issues in the health service, with record numbers of patients waiting beyond the four-hour target time in accident and emergency, Mr Yousaf reiterated plans for hospital ambulance liaison officers to help patients being transferred into A&E wards.

He added: “We’re investing, but we also have to be honest that we have had the biggest shock of the NHS in its 73-year history when it comes to the global pandemic.

“You can’t wave a magic wand, you can’t just simply magic those challenges away. So we’ll invest, we’ll leave no stone unturned and do what we can to improve the situation.”

The chief executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, Pauline Howie, said pressure has been “mounting for a few months” but the request for additional support was only made two weeks ago.

ADVERT

Ms Howie said: “As we’ve seen lockdown restrictions ease, we’ve seen demand start to rise.

“In the latest wave, unfortunately more of our staff have contracted Covid-19 again so we’ve lost some internal capability and that’s been the case across all health and social care staff.”

Colonel Anthony Phillips, the commander of joint military command for Scotland, said approximately two-thirds of the troops will be based in the Glasgow area and a third in the Edinburgh region, although they can be deployed elsewhere as required by the ambulance service.

Additional military planners will be working in the ambulance service’s regional hubs, while the army is also preparing to send troops to help with mobile coronavirus testing units.

He told the PA news agency: “This is 68 Squadron from 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps and this is their specialisation.

“They are a transport regiment and they’ve already worked in the east of England, and also the north east of England, so they  are experienced and they’ve had, like everybody, a busy 18 or 19 months.”

Colonel Phillips added: “Our commitment will be in the region of about two months.

“It is all conditions-based and if there is a requirement to look at that and extend, then that will be done in conjunction with the Ministry of Defence and the Scottish Government.”


You're up to date

You've read today's top stories. Where would you like to go next?