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12th February 2003

News reports from Wigan Observer, Wigan Reporter and Wigan Evening Post


They trained together, played together and on Sunday Feb 8th, they died together.
Best friends Billy-Joe Edwards (left) and Craig Johnson, both members of Wigan RL's Under 21s team, were killed in an horrific road accident.
Craig, the brother of Warriors star Paul, and Billy-Joe, brother of Wigan legend Shaun, died in the early hours of Sunday morning when their car overturned in Tottington, Bury.
Billy-Joe had celebrated his 20th birthday at home in Beech Walk, Standish with his parents, Jackie and Phyllis just the week before.
He and 18-year-old Craig, who lived with his parents, David and Janet, in Spencer Road, Whitley, had been selected as half back partners for Wigan's Under 21s game against Huddersfield, a match that was subsequently cancelled as a mark of respect.
Father John Johnson, priest of St Mary's and St John's parishes. and uncle of Billy-Joe, travelled to Bury to formally identify his nephew. He said, "It's just devastating news. I didn't know Craig, but I can say that Billy-Joe was such a wonderful lad. And because of his work with the club's community department, he touched such a lot of young people.
Billy-Joe's funeral was held on Monday 16th Feb at St Mary's church in Wigan.
Craig's funeral was Tues 17th Feb at St Wilfrid's Standish.


Wigan's hospitals are 10% below the national average when it comes to controlling infections, a new report has found.
But Wigan's head of infection control, Lynda Barkess Jones said the results were part of a self-assessment and that she marked her own departmant very harshly.
"My nickname on the wards is Cruella de Ville," she said, "I take it as a joke but I also take the challenge very seriously. I am hard on the staff. At the end of the day, it's the results that count."
And Wigan is over the outbreak of Winter vomitting flu, known as the Norwalk virus, when a ward had to be closed. It is now four weeks since the bug has appeared on any hospital wards.
Lynda said, "We implemented the national guidelines and we have managed to conclude our outbreak very quickly and succinctly. Nationally nobody expected just how vicious it would be this year."
But Wigan's poor performance can be attributed, in part, to a shortage of trained infection control nurses. Past post holders have decided the job wasn't for them and the role, usually undertaken by senior nurses, is being advertised at the moment.
Yet Lynda says the hospita;l reflects the health of the surrounding population.
"A hospital is part of the community," she said, "So what is going around in the communtiy will come here.
"For example, we have had a resurgence of scabies and we have put plansd into operation to stop any hospital outbreaks occurring.
"For six weeks, you won't know if you have it, so our staff are being diligent."
Part of the department's work was to controversially board up the windows at the front of Wigan Infirmary when building work on a new A & E depertment started last summer.
Lynda said that boarding up the windows wasn't a tough decision. She said it was a necessary precaution potentially dangerous organisms living in the muck from entering the hospital.


A Wigan mum had to call the fire brigade to release her 10-month old baby, locked in her car for three-quarters of an hour last Thursday.
The frantic mum was delighted to be reunited with her child after locking her keys in the boot on the Wickes car park at Robin Retail Park.


Four people were arrested during police drug swoops on Wigan homes.
Teams of officers from Wigan CID's proactive unit executed warrants at five addresses in Beech Hill and Pemberton.
One man, two women and a 17-year-old youth were arrested and quantities of heroin, cannabis and the heroin substitute methadone were recovered along with suspected stolen property.
The raids were part of Operation Barker, an initiative to combat domestic burglary and Class A drug supply. Burglaries in Wigan have plummeted by 35% since it was launched four weeks ago.
Those being quizzed as a result of the operation include a man arrested on suspicion of attempted robbery.
A team of 10 officers executed warrants at two further addresses in Lilac Avenue and Cherry Grove, both Beech Hill.
Police discovered evidence of drug abuse and drug paraphernalia at one of the addresses and a quantity of methadone was seized from the other.


Pictured are girls from the Miss Sutcliffe Academy of Dance, who successfully auditioned for a place in th English Youth Ballet's production of Sleeping Beauty being performed at The Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool on June 20-21.
The girls are looking forward to working with the professional ballet company.
The dancers are Laura Jane Fenney, Bethany Hughes, Olivia Shaw, Alice Alcock, Charlotte Seddon, Amy Grimshaw, Elizabeth Grimshaw and Amy Didlock.


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