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Meet PC Amii Stewart and her experience of the pandemic



PC Amii Stewart (left) and Chief Constable Winton Keenen (Credit: Northumbria Police)

PC Amii Stewart shared her experience, both personally and professionally, as part of the North East’s #BeatCovidNE campaign.

From losing a loved one to postponing her wedding to learning how to switch off and relax, the 30-year-old opened up about it all.

Reflecting on it, she expressed how nice it was to “show that police officers are so much more than the uniform.”

Since 2020, PC Stewart has appeared on TV and radio, as well as having her picture featured on buses, Metros and across shopping centres, as the region shared vital public health messaging to help people understand more about Covid 19 and how they could protect themselves and others.

When she volunteered to take part in the campaign, she had no idea what was in store for everyone over the next two years.

Her commitment to her job and her community later earned her a prestigious policing award.

The former Special Constable said: “When I was asked to take part in the campaign, I had no idea how big it would become.

“The aim was to have people from across the area, all services, sectors and backgrounds highlight why it was so important people followed the rules and guidance in place.

“I’m proud of how, as a region, we really came together and people overwhelmingly did the right thing to protect themselves, their loved ones and the wider community.”

PC Stewart described how “great” the reaction was that she received, speaking of all the “lovely messages” and how “buzzing” her family were.

She added: “It was such a good opportunity to show people we are human.”

Like many others, PC Stewart was determined to do the right thing during the various lockdowns.

She was especially aware of the role the Force played in not only engaging with people and encouraging them to follow the rules and taking enforcement action where necessary, but also acting as role models within the community.

PC Stewart said: “I became a Police Officer in 2019, so a large part of my career to date has been during the pandemic and I was able to just get on with it.

“When my fiancée contracted Covid, she had to go into hospital and I was so worried as I had no idea how poorly she would be. Like many others, we had to postpone our wedding and reschedule holidays.

“I was also doing my grandparents’ shopping and leaving it at their door, but sadly my granny died in September 2020 and it was really hard because the family hadn’t been able to see her properly.

“So many people experienced so many hard and horrible things but I’ve tried to take some positives from it.

“I have worked since I was 15 and used to be busy most nights so the pandemic was hard at first but then I learned how to relax and switch off.”

It was this bright attitude and resilience that saw PC Stewart win the Catherine Pawlikow Memorial Award for extraordinary public service at the Force’s annual Pride in Policing ceremony.

She said she is “very humbled” to receive an award.

Chief Constable Winton Keenen was on hand to present PC Stewart with the award on the night.

Chief Constable Keenen said: “When you join the police, as an officer, staff member or volunteer, you have a real opportunity to make a difference in the community and Amii has certainly achieved that as a result of her work as part of the regional Covid campaign.

“She should be extremely proud of the role she has played, in what has been, a fantastic effort to help protect the community during the pandemic.

“She is an inspiration to her colleagues and anyone considering a career in policing – and I was delighted to present her with the award at our Pride in Policing event.”

He added: “Throughout the pandemic, the messaging was very much about keeping people safe and I was incredibly proud as to how the communities in the North East found ways to support each other.

“As we look to the future and live with the ongoing impact of Covid, I very much hope that this community spirit continues to shine through.”



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Man denies 1992 murder of Sunderland schoolgirl Nikki Allan



A man accused of the murder of a schoolgirl who was stabbed to death 30 years ago has denied the charge.

Seven-year-old Nikki Allan vanished on Wednesday, October 7, 1992 after leaving her grandparents’ flat in Wear Garth, Sunderland.

The next morning, Nikki’s school shoes were found a few hundred yards away outside of the Old Exchange building. Her body was discovered lying in a pool of blood inside the derelict building by a neighbour who was helping the police with their search for the missing youngster. She had been stabbed 37 times.

David Boyd, of Chesterton Court, Norton, Stockton-on-Tees, appeared at Newcastle Crown Court on the morning of Monday, June 20, where he faced a charge of murder.

The 54-year-old appeared via video link where he pleaded not guilty to the offence during the short, 25-minute hearing.

A trial had originally been listed to start on January 11 next year but the court heard it may now be put back until April 19. Any trial could last up to six weeks.

Boyd was remanded in custody in the meantime.

Judge Paul Sloan QC informed the court that a further pre-trial hearing will now take place on Monday, November 7.

The judge told Boyd: “I am adjourning your case to trial. The precise trial date will be confirmed, hopefully in the next few days.

“There will be at least one further pre-trial hearing before the trial date.

“In due course you will be required to provide a defence statement, setting out in detail your defence to the charge you face.”

Nikki’s mother Sharon Henderson sat in the public gallery for the hearing. She burst into tears when the charge was read out, was consoled by supporters and the court usher gave her a tissue.

After Boyd was charged, Northumbria Police Assistant Chief Constable David Felton said: “This is an extremely tragic case and our thoughts very much continue to be with the family and friends of Nikki Allan.

“A significant investigation has been ongoing ever since Nikki’s death 30 years ago.

“As with any unsolved cases of this nature, they are never closed. Our dedicated teams constantly review the evidence and follow any new investigative leads that may come to light.”

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Concern over school meals at Darlington school



Vegetables placed onto a school dinner
Image credit: Instagram (@schoolhealthuk)

Wyvern Academy, a secondary school in Darlington, County Durham, has recently received complaints from many concerned parents over the quality and quantity of their school dinners.


Parents have complained that their children are going hungry as the meals the school provides are too small. On occasion, the school reportedly has even ran out of food supplies leaving some pupils without lunch.


A parent, who wished to remain anonymous, reported to the Chronicle Live that “they regularly run out of food,” and her daughter now takes a packed lunch “so she isn’t hungry for the rest of the day.”


These claims of insufficient portion sizes and quality have worried parents. This is particularly worrying for parents whose children are on free school meals. Another parent told Chronicle Live “my child, along with other’s are eligible for free school meals [but] now I’m having to provide her with a packed lunch.”


The Government’s Free School Meals scheme offers children free lunches at school if their parents are eligible and meet the criteria. This criteria includes those who receive income support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit and Universal credit.


These claims about inadequate quantity of school dinners are disappointing and distressing for parents/guardians who were promised free school meals for their children.


According to The Guardian, one in three children in North-East England are on free school meals. This follows an increase this year of 160,000 more children being eligible for free school meals, taking the total to 1.9million, according to January figures.


The north-east of England has the highest rate, with 29.1% of school pupils eligible for free school meals whereas the south-east of England comparatively has the lowest rate with 17.6% eligible.


Wyvern Academy, who were rated “requires improvement” by Ofsted in all areas on their latest inspection in November 2019, released a form for parents on their twitter account on Monday 6th June.


This form includes questions on the quality, quantity, availability, and choices of school dinners as well as questions on further dinner arrangements and time allocated for meals with a 5-star system. It also provides a comment box for parents/guardians to suggest improvements to the school meals.


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Convicted murderer who stabbed friend to death after escaping open prison dies at HMP Frankland



A convicted murderer who stabbed his friend to death after escaping from an open prison has died behind bars.

Joseph Turnbull was given four life sentences after he admitted murdering Paul Wharton, 37, by stabbing him in the heart, and robbing betting offices and off-licences.

The prisoner, who was 53 years old when he was jailed at The Old Bailey in 2006, committed the offences during a five-month period the previous year, after absconding from Leyhill prison in Gloucester.

Turnbull, who had been in HMP Frankland for 14 years, died at the prison on October 12 last year, aged 68. An independent investigation into his death has revealed how he had been diagnosed with lung cancer which has spread to his lower spine.

The murderer was previously jailed for seven years in 2000 for theft and robbery and was due to be released seven months after he walked out of Leyhill in May 2005. During that time, Turnbull travelled to London and worked as a Big Issue seller, earning £50 a day. But the money was not enough to fund his drug habit of five different drugs a day, including methadone prescribed by a doctor.

Turnbull met Paul Wharton after falling in with addicts in north London. Mr Wharton’s body was found in his flat in October 2005. He had been stabbed in the heart. The Old Bailey heard in 2006 how the victim’s hands and legs were tied with shoe laces and a tea towel had been placed in his mouth as a gag.

Turnbull had used his card and pin number to withdraw Mr Wharton’s benefits from a local post office. He was captured on October 18 for robbery after being caught on CCTV.

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