Britain first steam train built in for 50 years makes its maiden journey

It is a scene from a bygone age - one of sooty railway platforms and smoke-filled waiting rooms.

Yesterday afternoon, the Tornado - the first steam locomotive to be built in Britain for close to 50 years - undertook its maiden journey.

Thousands packed the platform at the National Railway Museum in York to wave the train on its way as it departed in a triumphant plume of steam at 12.07pm, hauling 13 carriages behind it.

Seats were reserved for around 450 VIPs who had helped to raise the £3 million needed to build the steam engine from scratch.

Each paid £99 for the 90-mile inaugural run from York to Newcastle upon Tyne and back. For many of the enthusiasts, however, the five-hour round trip was worth every penny.

One passenger said: 'It was a moment that took me back to watching black and white movies, such as Brief Encounter.

As I stood on Platform Ten beneath the clock at York Station, the smell and the sounds of the train's arrival evoked another world. Its whistle blasted and the whole platform was engulfed in smoke, which smelt like a glorious open fire.'

The 18-year project had proved a labour of love for a group of railway enthusiasts who decided to build a new engine from scratch in 1990. They donated £1.25 a week - then the price of a pint of beer - for nearly two decades.

It was a peppercorn fund - appropriate enough for Peppercorn Class A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado, based on the locomotives built by Arthur H. Peppercorn for the London and North Eastern Railway in the late Forties and later scrapped by British Rail in the Sixties.

The last A1 steam locomotive Saint Mungo made its final journey on the same stretch of track on December 31,1965.

With steam trailing behind them, those travelling on the new train - which reached speeds of up to 75mph - enjoyed the dramatic views sipping champagne.

The Grade II-listed viaduct, which comprises 11 semi-circular arches 60ft wide and 76ft high, was designed by engineer Richard Cail.

He worked alongside Thomas Elliot Harrison, the railway company's engineer-in-chief, on the masonry-fronted arches and brick soffits, which reach across Durham's King Street in an elegant curve.

Work began on the viaduct in 1855 and was completed in 1857.

The man who does his weekly shopping in German World War II tank

No problem getting a parking space at the supermarket with this baby.

Shoppers stop and stare when Tim Hayes rumbles up in this German World War II armoured motorcycle halftrack to carry away the baked beans and washing powder.

'The looks on people's faces whenever I rumble down the street is priceless, I swear some of them think Birmingham is being invaded,' the 52-year-old lorry driver said.

The 2,500 lbs vehicle comes equipped with tank-style tracks which are powered by a 1500cc engine and steered by handlebars at the front.

The vehicles appeared in the film Saving Private Ryan when US paratroopers used an abandoned Kettenkrad to draw the attention of German forces planning to attack the fictional French town of Ramelle.

Tim who works during the evenings but during the day loves nothing more than taking the Kettenkrad out for a spin around his home in Acocks Green, Birmingham.

'The Kettenkrad is my pride and joy, in fact it is the only road worthy tank in the UK.

'I work nights but in the day when I have to go out and do my shopping or go to town, I take the Kettenkrad with me. I get some very interested stares to put it mildly.

'Passers-by are absolutely fascinated by it, when I pull into the local Tesco supermarket a lot of shoppers have to double take.

'I get the same reaction when I stop at the petrol station and when I go past schoolkids at the bus stop.'

The three-seaters which have a top speed of 50mph were deployed during the war mainly on the Eastern Front, where they were used to lay communication cables, pull heavy loads and carry soldiers through the deep Russian mud.

Later in the conflict, Kettenkrads were also used as runway tugs for aircraft, including jets such as the Me 262, in order to conserve aviation fuel.

Prior to that they were used as an agricultural tool because they were slender but powerful enough to pull logs out of forests.

Tim bought the machine, found in an abandoned farm shed in Austria, four years ago for £40,000 but only picked it up last September after it had been lovingly restored.

Tim who works during the evenings but during the day loves nothing more than taking the Kettenkrad out for a spin around his home in Acocks Green, Birmingham.

'The Kettenkrad is my pride and joy, in fact it is the only road worthy tank in the UK.

'I work nights but in the day when I have to go out and do my shopping or go to town, I take the Kettenkrad with me. I get some very interested stares to put it mildly.

'Passers-by are absolutely fascinated by it, when I pull into the local Tesco supermarket a lot of shoppers have to double take.

'I get the same reaction when I stop at the petrol station and when I go past schoolkids at the bus stop.'

It was Tim's wife who found the Kettenrad up for sale in Germany via the internet.

'I had a bit of cash spare so I thought why not splash out? It would certainly be something unique.

'My one, though, was built in February 1944 and would've been used in the German retreat through Europe in the latter stages of the war.

'My guess is that it was abandoned by a German soldier and left in this Austrian village for so many years.

'For something that is more than 60 years old, it still drives quite well and although you definitely know you're driving it, it's still quite comfy.

'The furthest I've taken it is to Redditch, about 15-20 miles from my house. You don't have to have a special licence, a normal driver's licence will suffice.'

NSU Motorenwerke AG, based in Neckarsulm, Germany, first started producing Kettenkrads in 1938 and when production finished six years later only 8,345 were made.

Tim's wife, Jennifer, 25, added: "I knew he really wanted one but the Kettenkrads he was looking at all needed a lot of work to them.

'I actually found the one he has now via the internet and made him buy it because the seller had promised to restore it to it's former glory himself.

'That way Tim wouldn't be able to disappear for hours on end to tinker around in the garage.'

Locked in time... the 400-year-old Mummies (and one little girl)

With her crumpled yellow hairbow and grubby face, pretty little Rosalina looks as though she's just flaked out for a nap after a morning spent playing in the garden.

In fact, she has been lying in her tiny, wooden, glass-topped coffin in the catacombs beneath the Capuchin monastery in Palermo, Sicily, for more than 90 years - skilfully and shockingly preserved to look just as she did when she died of a bronchial infection in December 1920, aged two.

And she is not alone. In the vast, musty-smelling catacombs are nearly 2,000 mummified corpses, many of them more than four centuries old - Rosalina was one of the last to enter this strange underground resting place, before the authorities banned the process.

As these extraordinary photographs show, some are resting in open wooden boxes like Rosalina, others are arranged straight-backed on benches, while many hang from the walls in ghoulish rows - heads lolling and in various stages of decay.

Some have a nose or a stretch of cheek still in place, others have a clump of wispy hair. All are on display to the public.

The ghoulish display - featured in February's National Geographic Magazine - dates back to the 16th century, when the monks outgrew their cemetery, started excavating crypts beneath it and discovered that the combination of the coolness of the crypt and the porous limestone walls meant corpses dried out, rather than rotted.

The first and oldest corpse is brother Silvestro of Gubbio, who died in 1599 and, 410 years on, is still dressed in his flowing religious robes.

The embalming process was remarkably simple.

The newly dead were undressed and laid out on racks of ceramic pipes in special chambers where their bodily fluids gradually drained out and the remains became desiccated.

After seven or eight months, the fluids had drained out and the bodies were doused with vinegar, redressed and put in coffins, or hung on the wall - depending on their family's wishes.

The catacombs are divided into distinct areas. As well as the priests, one wall is devoted to women - an eerie sight with their disintegrating hooped skirts and ragged parasols - and a separate side chapel houses virgins.

A ' professional' section is home to professors, doctors, teachers, lawyers and soldiers - all dressed according to their trade.

Then there's the chapel for children, all dressed in their best party clothes.

In more recent times, an elaborate preservation system was adopted, using chemical injections.

Rosalina was one of these and so successful was her embalming that, until recently, locals believed she was a doll.

X-rays of her tiny body show her organs are astonishingly intact.

While it makes an horrific and ghoulish tourist attraction, the remains are incredibly informative for scientists, who can learn about diet, diseases and life-expectancy in past centuries.

Woman gives birth to EIGHT babies in five minutes

A woman has given birth to eight babies in five minutes - with the last of the octuplets a total surprise to the mother and medical team despite months of planning.

The six boys and two girls were delivered 'kicking and screaming' and are all said to be doing well. Doctors warned today that the next 72 hours will be critical.

But there are good signs already. Each baby cried spontaneously after the birth - and although two initially had to be on ventilators, they are now breathing on their own.

It is only the second time that eight babies have been born alive in the United States and survived more than a few hours.

Preliminary research into worldwide survival rates for octuplets showed the majority dying within hours - meaning if these newborns survive the next 24 hours, they may be the world's first set to do so.

The mother's identity is being kept secret - but, her doctors said, she is 'very strong'. She checked into the hospital at 23 weeks, and stayed there for seven weeks until the babies were born.

Doctors at the hospital in the town of Bellflower near Los Angeles told of their delight at the smooth delivery of babies they called A, B, C, D, E, F and G as they arrived - and their surprise when the eighth, Baby H, was born.

The babies weighed between 1lb 8oz and 3lb 4oz and were delivered between 10.43am and 10.48am local time yesterday, doctors at Kaiser Permanante Bellflower Medical Center said.

Los Angeles is eight hours behind the UK - meaning the babies will have survived their first 24 hours at between 6.43 and 6.48pm UK time this evening.

Each baby was shown to the mother, who was awake during the Caesarean section, and then taken into another room while staff waited for the next to be born.

'My eyes were wide,' Dr. Karen Maples said, explaining her reaction to the last birth.

Doctors said the babies were born nine weeks premature but are in stable condition. Two newborns were initially placed on ventilators that have now been removed, and a third needs oxygen. All eight babies are likely remain in hospital for two months.

It is unclear whether the mother had became pregnant through fertility treatment, which can raise the likelihood of multiple births.

The mother plans to breastfeed all eight babies, her doctors said.

Forty-six hospital staff and four delivery rooms were used for the births.

But despite weeks of preparation, doctors did not expect the eighth child.

'It is quite easy to miss a baby when you're anticipating seven babies,' said Dr. Harold Henry, chief of maternal and fetal medicine at the hospital.

'Ultrasound doesn't show you everything.'

Maples said the babies would probably remain in the hospital for at least two months. She said the mother should be released in a week.

Kaiser spokeswoman Myra Suarez said she could not release any information about the mother, including her condition or whether she used fertility drugs.

Such drugs make multiple births more likely.

'They are all doing the best they can,' Suarez said.
The first baby was born at 10.43 am; the eighth one at 10.48 am.

'They were all screaming and kicking around very vigorously,' Dr Harold Henry said.

The octuplets are the second reported to have been live born in the U.S. The first live-born octuplets were born in Houston in 1998, and one baby died about a week later.

The surviving siblings - girls Ebuka, Gorom, Chidi, Chima and Echerem, and their brothers Ikem and Jioke - celebrated their 10th birthday in December.

Their Nigerian-born parents, Nkem Chukwu and Iyke Louis Udobi, said they are astonished and grateful that their children have grown up to be healthy and active kids who are now in the fourth grade.

Chukwu said that the parents of the newest octuplets have much to look forward to.

'Just enjoy it. It's a blessing, truly a blessing,' Chukwu said.

'We'll keep praying for them.'

In 1996, Briton Mandy Allwood underwent fertility treatment and became pregnant with eight foetuses.

The then 32-year-old, from Solihull, West Midlands, rejected medical advice to abort some of them.

All eight of her babies died.

The Bellflower medical centre is about 17 miles south-east of Los Angeles.

Did a UFO fly past President Barack Obama's inauguration?

Here is the astonishing picture from a video of an unidentified object flying over President Barack Obama's inauguration this week in Washington, D.C.

The video, titled 'Filmed by CNN News – UFO at Inauguration of President Barack Hussein Obama' has created a buzz since it appeared on the internet.

The video shows CNN anchors Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper discussing President Obama’s historic speech before cutting to a shot of the Washington D.C.'s Capitol.

The Sun revealed the shot then cuts to the Mall and a small dark object is seen whizzing past the Washington Monument, the world’s tallest obelisk at 555ft tall.

The footage has created a discussion among bloggers with some speculating the object is a bird.

However, one commentor doubted the object was a bird, due to its flat appearance and lack of visible wings.

One wrote: 'Personally, I think the little green men rocked up to join the rest of the world in wishing Obama well.'

The 2.5lb kidney stone the size of a coconut surgeons removed from a man's stomach

The largest kidney stones most doctors ever get to see is the size of a golf ball.

So surgeons in Hungary were taken aback when they removed a stone the size of a coconut from a man earlier today.

Sandor Sarkadi underwent an abdominal operation in Debrecen, 150 miles east of Budapest, after doctors discovered he had a kidney stone inside him that was 17 centimetres in diameter.

Mr Sardaki was rushed into an operation theatre in the Kenez Gyula Hospital when an X-ray revealed he was carrying around the gigantic lump.

The delicate procedure to remove the stone, which weighed a staggering 2.48lbs, passed without incident.

Kidney stones vary in size. They can be as small as a grain of sand or as large as a golf ball, which makes Mr Sarkadi's stone all the more remarkable.

Most stones pass through the body by themselves within hours or a few days. Doctors advise patients to drink a lot of fluids to help this process, and sometimes recommend a special diet.

Stones of a larger variety have to be surgically removed.

'Largest ever' hoard of prehistoric gold coins unearthed by a treasure hunter using a metal detector

The largest hoard of prehistoric gold coins in Britain in modern times has been discovered.

The discovery was made by a metal detectorist in a field near Wickham Market, Suffolk.

The 824 gold staters, worth the modern equivalent of up to £1m when they were in circulation, were buried in a plain pottery vessel between 15 and AD 20.

According to the Independent, almost all the coins were minted by royal predecessors of Boudicca, a queen of the Iceni people who led an uprising against occupying Roman forces in AD 60.

The find is the most substantial Iron Age gold coin hoard found in Britain since 1849, when a farm worker unearthed between 800 and 2,000 gold staters in a field near Milton Keynes.

To protect the site, archaeologists from Suffolk County Council kept the discovery secret for months while they made excavations, funded by the British Museum.

The area was thoroughly searched to ensure that all of the coins had been found before the discovery was announced to the public.

Ian Leins, the British Museum’s curator of Iron Age coins, told the Independent: 'The [new] hoard is absolutely unique.

'It is the largest hoard of British Iron Age gold coins to be studied in its entirety.'

The solid gold staters, each weighing just over 5g, were made between 40BC and AD 15, most of them in the final 35 years of that period.

It is thought that the hoard represented part of the wealth of an individual or community and was buried as an offering at a time of a political stress, drought or other natural disaster.

The 'walking skeleton' who couldn't digest food for a whole year

These pictures show the severe effects of intestinal obstruction, a condition that turned this man into a walking skeleton.

The patient, identified only as Gang, has suffered chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction for a year, causing his weight to plummet as he is unable to digest food properly.

His condition became so severe that he was days from death when he finally presented himself to shocked doctors in Beijing, China.

The condition, which is believed to be hereditary, has no known cure in its primary state. It can also be caused by other diseases.

Geng is currently undergoing treatment at the General Hospital of Beijing Military.

The teenage boy whose devoted mother overfed him until he ballooned to half a ton

This teenage boy has lost half of his body weight – but he still weighs an incredible 30 stone.

Billy Robbins took the title of World’s Heaviest Teenager after exceeding 60 stone – more than half a ton.

Housebound for three years, he was forced into the dramatic weight loss after doctors warned his life would be at risk if his mother continued to overfeed him.

Barbara Robbins was so devoted to her son she would wait hand-and-foot on him, fetching him armfuls of fattening foods to satisfy his 8,000 calorie-a-day appetite.

In a Channel 4 documentary due to be shown on Monday, Barbara said: ‘He loves hamburgers, pizza, cola, chips, donuts. He likes good food too though, like broccoli … with cheese on top, of course.’

Barbara even bathed her son by hand, after he became too overweight to fit in the shower.

She said: ‘I did everything for him because he is my baby.’

Following years of teasing at school, Billy refused to return to his final year and was home-schooled instead.

He said: ‘I wish I could get out of my body, it is like a prison. The weight ends up destroying you. It takes your life away.

‘I guess my mother would be my best friend, she pretty much takes care of me.’

Last year, Billy agreed to try and cut down on his bulk after doctors warned him he was risking his life.

Under the care of a top obesity specialist, Billy agreed to lose two-and-a-half stone, so that surgeons could operate safely on him.

Billy’s surgery saw the team at Houston Renaissance Hospital remove a piece of flesh weighing five stone from his stomach.

Over the next three months, thanks to a regime of gentle exercise and a reduced calorie diet, Billy lost a total of 20 stone.

A second operation saw him fitted with a gastric band and Billy left the hospital weighing around 35 stone.

But the documentary reveals Barbara was also in need of treatment – and she was offered counseling in a bid to stop her encouraging her son’s out-of-control eating habits.

Barbara confessed to having lost another child to an brain tumour at the age of 19 months.

She said: ‘I overcompensated after losing Matthew, my first child. It was hard saying no to Billy when he wanted something to eat.

‘Maybe it is an addiction, maybe I’m addicted to my child?

‘It breaks my heart that for Billy to reach his goals, to be anything, to accomplish, to survive, it may mean my death. The guilt I have, sometimes it almost destroys me.’

A final operation saw Billy’s stomach band tightened, bringing him down to 30 stone.

He will also move into a rehab centre in a bid to break the destructive relationship with food his mother.

He said: ‘I am very scared of moving out on my own. But I accept I am going to have to move out eventually, I feel like I am slowly killing my mom.’

Half Ton Son is on Channel 4 at 10pm on Monday.

Mystery of the tree covered in SHOES... and £265,000 of lottery funding can't solve it

It is a mystery to baffle the brightest gumshoe.

Why is this ash tree always festooned with footwear?

For almost 40 years, no one has been able to muddle out why people keep hanging shoes from the branches.

Some say that the culprits are preparing for an alien invasion - perhaps thinking the visitors might have packed too light.

Others believe that they are participating in a fertility ritual, hoping to double the number of pregnancies in the local towns and villages.

What is certain is that no one has admitted tying almost 100 boots, sneakers and high heels to the branches, ensuring that the mystery remains unsolved.

The ash growing by the side of the A 40 between High Wycombe and Stokenchurch in Buckinghamshire is the third tree to carry the shoes.

As the previous tree died or was culled, the shoes were moved on to a new ash.

David Holmes, 45, of High Wycombe, who regularly walks past the tree, said the area is still awash with rumours about its strange crop.

'There are so many stories about why the shoes appear in the branches,' he said.

'Some say it was a form of toll payment by travellers, or a fertility ritual, but I think it's probably a hoax that just carries on.

'Whatever the reason, new shoes keep appearing, even now.'

As the stories surrounding the attraction became part of folklore, the Special Trees and Woods project, part of a campaign to protect woods in the Chiltern area, added it to a list of 500 special trees.

In September 2005, the project was given £265,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund and extra funding from local conservation groups to collect data and carry out research on special trees in the area.

Rachel Sanderson, co-ordinator of the project, described the tree as 'an absolute mystery'.

'When we heard about this tree, we realised that it had to be on our special tree list,' she said.

'We're here to use examples like this to try and leave a legacy which protects the local wildlife.'

In the past, lottery funding aroused stinging criticism for paying millions to bizarre causes.

These included a campaign to prevent the deportation of failed asylum seekers from Britain and a project to grow fatter guinea pigs for Peruvians to eat.

At the same time claims from the Samaritans have been turned down as have applications from rural communities because they do not have a big enough ethnic minority population.

Vicar takes down crucifixion sculpture 'because it's a scary depiction of suffering'

A vicar has removed a sculpture of the crucifixion from the front of his church because it was a 'horrifying depiction of pain and suffering' that was scaring off worshippers.

Rev Ewen Souter said the traditional Christian symbol was frightening children and that it would be replaced with a modern, stainless steel cross.

Some of the congregation have reacted angrily to the decision, saying it is another blow to Christian tradition.

One long-standing member of the church, who asked not to be named, said: 'The crucifix is the oldest and most famous symbol of the Christian church.

'Pulling it down and putting up something that would look more at home on the side of a flashy modern shopping centre is not the way to get more bums on seats.

'Next they'll be ripping out the pews and putting sofas in their place, or throwing out all the Bibles and replacing them with laptops. It's just not right.'

Rev Souter said today: 'The crucifix expressed suffering, torment, pain and anguish. It was a scary image, particularly for children.

'Parents didn't want to walk past it with their kids, because they found it so horrifying.
'It wasn't a suitable image for the outside of a church wanting to welcome worshippers. In fact, it was a real put-off.

'We're all about hope, encouragement and the joy of the Christian faith. We want to communicate good news, not bad news, so we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross.'

The sculpture by Edward Bainbridge Copnall MBE, a former president of the Royal Society of British Sculptors, was installed onto St John's Church in Horsham, West Sussex, in the Sixties.

It has now been removed and delivered to nearby Horsham Museum, where it will be displayed in its full glory.

Rev Souter, who has been vicar at St John's since 2001, believes the modern new cross - designed by artist Angela Godfrey - will present 'a positive message of hope' on the side of his church.

A spokesman at Horsham Museum said: 'Thanks to the generosity of St John's, we have been given the remarkable sculpture of Jesus on the Cross by Edward Bainbridge Copnall.

'The museum was keen to have the figure because it is a stunning example of Edward's ability and skill as a sculptor.'

Pakistani woman given asylum because she's 7ft 2in tall

A 7ft 2in Pakistani woman is expected to be allowed to stay permanently in Britain because she claims her height has made her a target at home.

Zainab Bibi arrived two-and-a-half years ago and has spent much of the time since on benefits.

She has been able to send money home to her family while Home Office investigators examine her application for political asylum.

Miss Zainab, 35, a former holder of the 'world's tallest woman' title, said when she lodged her claim that she was afraid to return to Pakistan because youths had thrown stones at her, pulled at her clothing and she once broke her wrist when attacked.

Officials are expected to recommend that she should be allowed to remain in Britain.

Yet back in the impoverished, Punjabi village of Mandi Rajana where she was born, her family, friends and police suggest that far from being a victim, her international recognition meant she enjoyed celebrity status whenever she returned home.

Her widowed mother Iqbal Bibi, 72, kissed her picture and said: 'She is safe here but if she is happy in England - and the people are very kind to her, she says - then her happiness is our happiness.'

The deputy superintendent of police Aslam Shankar said he would guarantee Miss Zainab's safety if she returned. 'She is a big shot now in Pakistan and I would offer her the protection her position merits.'

It was after a 15-day trip to Britain carrying out promotional work in June 2006 that Miss Zainab, who had a two-year visitor's visa, lodged her asylum claim and was given a council flat in Stockport, together with ??40 a week in benefits.

Her request to stay took family and friends by surprise because in recent years she had used her height to earn money, making dozens of public appearances in her own country and abroad.

In Mandi Rajana, family friend Ghulam Mustafa said: 'She was teased when she was younger but it has been no problem for at least eight years. She is safe if she returns but life is very hard here. It is nothing like England, which is more comfortable.'

Miss Zainab, who has moved to a house in Manchester, speaks little English. Through an interpreter, she said she believed her application would be successful and added that she was living in a free house with free medical treatment and a 'generous' allowance.

• Miss Zainab was deposed as the world's tallest woman in 2004 by 7ft 7in American Sandy Allen, 53, who died in 2008. The distinction is now believed to be held by 36-year-old Yao Defen, from China, who is also 7ft 7in.

Diamond couple: The romantic pair who have walked up the aisle 60 times to say 'I do'

They are in love now as much as when they first tied the knot and to show it Margaret and John Beauvoisin have walked up the aisle together a staggering 60 times.

The couple married on December 27 in 1948 and have renewed their vows every year since 1950.

They only missed renewing their vows in 1949 because John was stationed thousands of miles away in Bermuda with the Royal Navy.

Each year since they have taken their rings off to be blessed before putting them back on again.

And 60 years after they first wed, the couple, now in their 80s, said there was still magic in the air as they tied the knot for their diamond wedding anniversary.

Each said they got a lump in their throat as they exchanged rings at the Sacred Heart Church in Waterlooville, near Portsmouth, Hants on December 27.

No fewer than ten of the couple's 11 children - together with most of their 23 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren - were there to see it.

Margaret, 81, of Waterlooville, said: 'It reinforces our promise to love and care for one another.'

The couple met at a dance at a hall in nearby Southsea.

'It was by accident really,' said Margaret. 'He was sitting in my chair and I went to sit next to him.

'Then he got up and I thought he was asking me to dance.

'He hadn't really intended to ask me it turns out, but we spent the rest of the night dancing and he saw me home.'

The moment they said farewell still brings a chuckle.

Margaret laughed: 'I asked what his name was, and he said Oswald. I said "Do people really call you that?"

'He said his middle name was John, so I said "I'm going to call you that instead".'

The couple married at St Swithun's Church in Southsea on December 27, 1948.

In the 1940s Margaret was the first female engineering student to attend Portsmouth Municipal College.

Home life eventually took over, however, and the couple went on to have 11 children - Odet, now 59, Catherine, 56, Christopher, 54, Peter, 53, Mary, 51, Bernard, 50, Gerard, 49, Hilda, 47, Laurence, 46, Anna, 42, and Dominic, 41.

Later in life John worked for the Post Office and Margaret was a Labour councillor and remains an active member of the party.

She also taught maths at South Downs College in Waterlooville for many years until she retired at 67.

On the secret to a happy marriage, Margaret said: 'He loves me and looks after me. We have remained faithful and love our family.'

'Unlike my mother I'm a terrible housewife really and not very good at keeping the house clean.

'But John puts up with that and keeps on loving me and looking after me.'

Mr Beauvoisin, 84, joked: 'I still love her somehow.'

Birdwatchers' delight as Arctic snowy owl is spotted in freezing England for first time

Britain’s freezing New Year had hundreds of birdwatchers in a flurry today - after attracting this majestic snowy owl to a small village.

The beautiful white bird - usually only found only in China, Canada, Russia and Alaska - was spotted at Zennor near St Ives, Cornwall.

Snowy owls live in the coldest parts of the world and have only been seen in Britain before in the northernmost tip of Scotland.

This female snowy owl is thought to have hatched somewhere in the Arctic Circle before making the epic flight across the Atlantic.

Experts believe that despite being blown off course, the bird should feel at home with temperatures falling to below freezing.

Birdwatcher Jon Evans said: ‘I have seen snowy owls in zoos but nothing prepared me for what truly wonderful birds they are when you see them in the wild.

‘I had driven down through the night from Suffolk. I took a lot of shots of it sitting there with its big yellow eyes.

‘But only when it took off with those broad, white wings did I appreciate that the snowy owl is a truly majestic bird.’

The last time a snowy owl was spotted in the UK was near Britain’s second-highest mountain, the 4,296ft-high Ben Macdui in Scotland’s Cairngorms.

There have been other sightings in the remote islands of Shetland and the Outer Hebrides - but never in England.

Snowy owls grow to between 20in and 26 in long with a 50in to 60in wingspan.

The young snowy owl was first spotted in Cornwall on December 21 having made a short flight from the Isles of Scilly.

It was first seen off the coast of Cornwall on October 29 after it landed on a transatlantic cargo vessel.

Experts believe the bird was blown off course - possibly en route to Scotland - and landed on the ship for a rest.

She was originally seen perched on a granite wall in St Mary’s on Scilly - one of the warmest parts of Britain.

Eyewitness and birdwatcher Martin Goodey said: ‘Everyone was just amazed that such a rare bird turned up. I feel very lucky to have seen it.

‘Soon there were 40 people trying to catch a glimpse. It is a young bird and it must have been drastically blown off course.’

Another birdwatcher, John Chapple, a said: ‘I was exhilarated and excited when I heard about the owl and just had to go and see it.

‘It’s a fantastic record for Cornwall. The chance of a snowy owl landing here is once in a blue moon.

‘It seems happy and content there. It must be finding plenty of food.’

Alex McKechnie spotted the owl on moorland at Sperris Croft in Zennor near a ruined cottage December 28.

He said: ‘We met a guy with a camcorder who said he had just filmed a snowy owlb’ We were a little bit sceptical but had no reason to disbelieve him.

‘It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see it - just sitting there on a post, white against the green moorland.’

Adult male snowy owls are virtually pure white, but females and young birds have some dark patches.

With their thick plumage, heavily-feathered feet and colour, they are well-adapted for life north of the Arctic Circle

Going to waste: The unwanted recycling that's costing us millions

Bale after bale of waste paper sits unwanted at a depot in the south of England.

It is a sight being repeated all over the country because the market for all the paper and card so carefully put aside by households has collapsed.

In fact, the country’s mountain of such waste, growing at a rate of 8,300 tons a week, is costing taxpayers millions of pounds because the private firms contracted by councils to collect and dispose of it are now charging them to store it.

Experts estimate that the 100,000-ton paper mountain could double in as little as three months, leaving councils with massive storage bills and little choice but to raise council tax.

Because it rots and attracts vermin if stored longer than three months, much of it may have to be incinerated or dumped in landfill instead of being sold on to paper mills

Before the market crashed, half of the ten million tons of recyclable household waste, including cans, glass and plastic as well as paper, produced each year was sold to China, but the credit crunch has hit demand – especially for paper.

The price of mixed paper and cardboard waste has dropped from about £70 a ton to £10 in the past six weeks.

None of Britain’s 80 paper mills is accepting new stock, at a time when the festive period generates millions of tons of extra rubbish.

Steve Bell, of Recycling UK, said: ‘I would imagine that there are about 100,000 tons of local authority waste still sitting in warehouses, but that could double by March.’

One of the firms contracted to collect kerbside recycling, Lancaster-based Envirofirst, is considering billing local authorities to store 3,000-4,000 tons of waste.

Another contractor, French-owned Veolia Environmental Services, which manages waste for more than 100 local authorities, has been forced to dump heaps of paper in the land around its plant in Rainham, Essex.

Local authority chiefs said it was essential that households continued to recycle.

Bird's eye brew: The robin that pops in for a cuppa with his old chinas

A robin has found its perfect perch in a crockery shop – a mug covered in pictures of a robin.

The feathered visitor has settled on its own china mug – and now drinks out of it on its regular visits.

Owner Trish Sargent was surprised when the redbreast hopped into the shop for the first time last month.

It became so accustomed to spending time in the busy country store, it wasn’t even disturbed by the Christmas shoppers who flocked to the converted farm barn at Ashbocking, near Ipswich, Suffolk.

Trish said: ‘The robin appeared in the barn and began following me around.

Gradually, it began to accept tiny crumbs of bread and when I went upstairs to my office it followed. Now, it arrives most days and settles on its own mug on my desk, which is covered in images of a robin. It is as if the bird recognises a familiar face.

‘It has become a firm favourite. I know that according to folklore it is unlucky to let a robin inside – but this one is so friendly that it has become part of the family and we couldn’t bear to shoo it away.

‘A lot of customers ask about it.’

Save birds from icy winter, urges RSPB

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has warned that thousands of robins could perish over the next few weeks in what is forecast to be the coldest winter for decades.

Now the charity wants people to leave out extra food to help them survive the plunging temperatures. It says robins need to eat almost half their body weight every day to survive the winter.

Lee Hollingsworth, an RSPB wildlife adviser, said: ‘By putting food out, you greatly increase their chances of survival.’

Airliner hell as 40 passengers - many drunk - 'run amok' on flight from Gatwick to Cuba

More than 40 passengers ran riot on a Thomas Cook flight from London Gatwick to Cuba, with one trying to open the emergency exit in mid-flight.

On the return flight on December 30, the same group were again drunk and 17 were stopped from reboarding for the second leg of their trip at Cuba's Varadero airport.

Police met their flight at Gatwick and Thomas Cook is investigating events with a view to a possible complaint to police.

The passengers, thought to be from Ireland, are said to have 'run amok' on the flight to Holguin in Cuba on December 16.

They are alleged to have caused more drunken mayhem at their all-inclusive hotel in the resort of Playa Pesquero.

Dozens of fellow holidaymakers complained about their behaviour on the outward flight and at the resort.

Fellow passenger Sue Brown, of Worcester Park, Surrey, said: 'On the outward flight, they were smoking, allowing children to run up and down and ignoring all instructions from the crew.'

She added: 'One of the children thumped a passenger for no reason. I was so scared that I left my seat and sat in the galley with the crew for five hours.'

After 40 years, I've found my long-lost sister... living 300 yards away

For years, they passed each other in the street - without so much as a flicker of recognition.

But to the amazement of Ken Whitty, the woman was not a stranger, but his long-lost younger sister Yvonne.

The discovery came four decades after they had lost touch, when the 64-year-old appealed for help in tracking her down - oblivious to the fact that they lived only 300 yards apart.

Yesterday Mr Whitty told of his amazement that the woman he sometimes saw pottering in her front garden was actually his little sister, who is now 62.

After being reunited this Christmas, they are now beginning to catch up on all that lost time.

'I've walked past her house lots of times and I've even seen her in the garden,' he said. 'I am in my 60s now and so is Yvonne, and the last time we saw each other was 40 years ago.

'We have changed so much that we just wouldn't have recognised one another.'

The pair were brought up together in Salford but their parents both died when Mr Whitty was barely into his teens.

They were raised by a family friend but drifted apart after they both left home.

They finally lost contact in 1970 when Mr Whitty went round to the house where his sister had been living - only to find it had been demolished. Since then, he has found work as a joiner, moved to Reddish, Greater Manchester, married his wife Carolyn, and had four children and six grandchildren.

His sister also married and had four children and ten grandchildren.

Over the years, Mr Whitty tried to find out what had happened to the woman he still calls 'our kid' but he was unable to discover if she was even still alive.

'I thought we would eventually get back in touch but time went by and it never happened,' he said.

'I thought, it's Christmas, I'm 65 next year and I've got to do something. I just had to do it this year.'

So he posted a message in the local paper asking for help getting in touch with her and almost immediately received a phone call from an old school friend.

Within minutes the phone rang again, and he heard the words: 'Hello, this is Yvonne.'

'It happened just like that,' he recalled. 'I couldn't believe it. I asked her where she was living and she said "Reddish",' he said. 'I asked whereabouts, and when she said "North Reddish". I said, "So do I".

'It turned out we'd been living just 300 yards away. I shot round to see her and it was great.'

His sister, who has reverted to her maiden name, added: 'It's so nice to see Ken again. It's just so overwhelming.'

The eccentric uncle who left a garage in his will... containing a £6m Bugatti supercar

When eccentric doctor and compulsive hoarder Harold Carr died at the age of 89, his relatives faced a daunting task to sort through his possessions.

His home was packed with piles of medical machinery, 1,500 beer steins, thousands of receipts and even a World War Two spy drone.

But all the effort became worth it when they opened the door of his garage - and struck gold.

Inside they found a 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Atalante, one of only 17 ever made.

The historic automobile with only 26,284 miles on the clock still has 99 per cent of its original parts.

It will be sold in Paris next month and is strongly tipped to surpass the £4.7million world record for a car at auction.

Auctioneers have put a reserve price of £3million on a two-seater described as one of the 'ultimate road-going sports cars from the golden era of the 1930s'.

And despite the credit crunch it could fetch anything up to £6million.

Fifteen of the 17 Type 57S Atalantes still exist. This particular model was originally owned by Earl Howe, a leading figure in the early days of British motor sport.

It has a 3.3-litre, eightcylinder engine, four- speed manual gearbox, can reach 60mph in ten seconds and has a top speed of 130mph.

Dr Carr, an orthopaedic surgeon who served as an army doctor during World War Two and also became a keen flier, bought the vehicle in 1955 for £895 - the equivalent of £15,500 today.

He drove it for a few years before leaving it in the garage near his home at Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne. The last tax disc expired in December 1960.

He never married and eight relatives are to share the proceeds of his estate.

A nephew, who wishes to remain anonymous, said: 'We knew he had some cars, but we had no idea what they were.

'It was a bit of local folklore that he had a Bugatti, but no one knew for sure. It's worth so much because he hasn't used it for 50 years. It was one of the original supercars.

'When it was built it could reach 130mph at a time when other cars could only do 50mph. Of course we are delighted and we're going to make sure the money is shared out among the family. It's a wonderful thing to leave.'

He described his uncle as 'a very eccentric old gent', adding: 'I suppose you could call him a mad doctor. People who saw him in the street thought he was a tramp. He would wear two pairs of trousers at the same time.

'All the children would laugh at him in the street when he tinkered with his cars because he wore a piece of rubber tube round his head to stop the oil getting in his hair. But he was always such a generous man.'

In his later years Dr Carr suffered from a form of obsessive compulsive disorder and hoarded everything in the house he refused to leave.

Files were piled 6ft high at his detached home, including even receipts for pencils bought in the 1950s.

'Since he died, it has taken me 18 months to get where I am today,' said the nephew.

'There was an awful lot to sort out with his house.'

A classic Aston Martin was found in another garage and sold for 'tens of thousands', but an E-type Jaguar was in such a poor state that it had to be scrapped.

Over the years Dr Carr resisted many offers to buy the Bugatti.

When his property was cleared dozens of notes from would-be buyers were found inside.

'People must have known because he got letters from all over the country,' his nephew said.

'He got notes pushed through his door. People travelled from all over to try and convince him to sell the car.'

James Knight, international head of the Bonhams motoring department, said Dr Carr's Bugatti was 'one of the last great barn discoveries'.

He added: 'I have known of this Bugatti for a number of years and, like a select group of others, hadn't dared divulge its whereabouts to anyone. It offers a truly rewarding project to the new owner - who will join a select list of distinguished owners - to play such an integral part in bringing this wonderful motor car back to life.'

The current auction record of £4.7million was paid in 1987 in London for another Bugatti, a 1931 Royale.

The man who can down a huge bottle of ketchup in just 39 seconds

Speed is the word for Guinness Rishi as he powers his way through a giant 490 gram bottle of ketchup in just 39 seconds.

Guinness believes he holds the fastest time for drinking the world's favourite condiment, which he sups through a straw.

His brand of choice is a toss up between Maggi or the more traditional Heinz.

And 67-year-old Guinness, from Delhi, India, doesn't confine his talents to the world of tomato sauce.

He claims to hold 19 world titles and even changed his name - from Har Parkash to Guinness Rishi - in a bid to win over official record-keepers.

But so far none of his bizarre stunts have been recognised in the Guinness Book of Records.

Guinness puts his motivation down to the need to stand out in a country of over 1 billion people.

'People consider me an extraordinary person, not an ordinary person,' he said.

His records include 'taking on the world's oldest adoptee', after he legally took custody of his 61-year-old brother-in-law.

Guiness also built the tallest sugar cube tower in the world, which stands at 64 inches.

He took his new name in 1991, after keeping a motor scooter in continuous motion for 1,001 hours for another bizarre record.

'Persons who have no money wish to do something in their lives, so the poor people try to break records by their strength or their will,' said Guinness, who is joint owner of an auto-parts factory.

The ketchup-crazed pensioner said he will continue to find new records to break until he achieves his dream of official recognition.

'I hope to make my family proud,' he said.

'My children feel they are more important in the field of business and money-making.

'I have to show the family and the community that I am a professional person.'

Now Guinness is trying to find a way of combining eating chips with his ketchup-drinking record in the hope of attracting the attention of judges.