Hall of Famer closer Trevor Hoffman was the West Coast's Mariano Rivera

He was saving games when most of the country was sleeping.

He was becoming one of the greatest closers in baseball history despite his own general manager refusing to watch him.

He is Trevor Hoffman, who will be inducted into the hallowed grounds of the National Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend.

“I may introduce myself [Sunday],’’ said Hoffman, who had 601 career saves, second in history only to Rivera’s 652 saves. “so everybody knows who I am." 

Yet, despite Hoffman’s greatness, when he entered games, most of America was sleeping, considering he wouldn’t appear until about 1 a.m. ET during his home games in San Diego, stroll in with “Hells Bells’’ blaring over the stadium speakers.

While Rivera was appearing annually in playoffs with the Yankees, winning five World Series rings and pitching in 96 games, Hoffman had only 12 postseason appearances and never won a championship.

Folks across the country were familiar with San Diego’s beautiful weather, gorgeous beaches and famous zoo, but no one really knew about the dude racking up at least 30 saves in 14 of 15 seasons.

 “Two-thirds of the country was asleep when I came in,’’ Hoffman said. “It’s a fact of just geographic situation where we’re at. Sometimes that’s a good situation to lie in the weeds, and people don’t even get the box score the next day, so they don’t even know if I had a bad game or a good game.

Despite the anonymity out East, Hoffman was such a revered treasure and iconic figure in San Diego that thousands of fans have been seen swarming the streets in Cooperstown wearing San Diego Padres and Hoffman jerseys. San Diego is 2,829 miles away from Cooperstown, and yet, the traveling party for Hoffman is the largest in Hall of Fame history, Hall of Fame officials said.

“It means a ton,’’ Hoffman said. “I can’t begin to tell you how honored I am by the showing of support and community pride. I mean, we’re not close. That’s a pretty good journey. It shows you the support we have in San Diego to make that pilgrimage here and take in baseball and soak in baseball and let the East Coast know the West Coast has some pretty good fans.

Hoffman not only has dozens of former teammates in town, from everyone from Brad Ausmus to Mark Loretta to Archi Cianfrocco, but also his former manager, Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants.

Bochy, who managed Hoffman through most of his career, including their 1998 World Series team, will be the first active manager who’s not a Hall of Famer to leave his team and attend the induction ceremony, according to Hall of Fame researchers.

“I can’t miss it,” Bochy says. “You’re talking about a guy who not only meant everything to the San Diego Padres franchise but exemplifies everything that is great about baseball. He not only was one of the greatest relievers I’ve ever seen, but the greatest clubhouse leader I’ve ever been around.”

Hoffman not only was the heart and soul of the Padres’ franchise after the retirement of Tony Gwynn, but considered the ultimate teammate. He spent his final two years in Milwaukee and the night of Sept. 7, 2010, will resonate forever for his Brewers teammates who witnessed Hoffman become the first player to record 600 saves in his career.

Hoffman stood up and gave a speech to his teammates after the game, retired to the trainer’s room and sat there with trainers, clubhouse attendants and teammates for six hours, kicking back and telling stories and downing a few beers.

“I’ll never forget the night as long as I live,” says Milwaukee Brewers manager Craig Counsell, Hoffman’s former teammate in Milwaukee. “It was like a military general speaking. It was incredible. It was the kind of thing that impacts you. The night was all about him, but what he said wasn’t a thing about him.

“Whoever was in that room will remember it forever.”

Said Hoffman: “It was to just be mindful of your place in the game, and be respectful of the people around you, and honor the team you’re playing for. Be more leery of what’s on your chest, that’s on your back. Just have fun in the game.’’

“To be able to address them, and open your heart and talk freely, was a special moment.’’

It’s too bad most of America missed one of the greatest relievers who ever lived, but then again, so did the late Kevin Towers, the Padres’ former general manager.

Towers, like most in baseball, was superstitious. Hoffman came into games to protect a lead in the ninth inning, Towers would always duck out, believing he was bad luck.

Sitting behind home plate one day in 2006 at Dodger Stadium, Towers told Padres scout Scott Littlefield that they needed to leave, with the Padres leading by four runs. Towers walked into the visiting clubhouse, heard the roar of the Dodgers crowd, asked what happened, and Littlefield told him the Dodgers homered.

“Kevin says, ‘I can’t watch this; I’ve got to hide,’” Littlefield says. “So there are all of the equipment bags from the Pirates in the hallway, because they were playing the Dodgers next. Kevin starts climbing. And climbing. He climbed all of the way up to the roof, over the side, and I couldn’t even see him.

“We kept hearing the crowd noise. There was homer after homer. Four of them in all. Eventually, we lost the game on a Nomar Garciaparra walk-off.

“Well, Kevin couldn’t believe it. He storms into the clubhouse and was furious. He ran right into (manager) Bruce Bochy and wanted to fire him.”

So here is Hoffman, one of the greatest relievers who ever lived, and his own GM barely saw him pitch.

“It was hysterical,” Hoffman says. “I’m not sure how I even knew that. I just know that at some point, at the end of my run in San Diego, someone told me, ‘You know, KT kind of disappears when you come into games.’ ... It cracks me up to this day hearing the stories how he would get stuck in hallways just to avoid watching me.”

Hoffman, 50, plans to talk about Towers - with his widow, Kelley, in attendance - in his Hall of Fame speech. He’ll certainly discuss Bochy’s impact. The inspiration from his brother, former infielder Glenn Hoffman, and a longtime Padres coach. Tony Gwynn. His parents. Even the clubhouse attendants and trainers who helped him along the way.

Certainly, he came a long way from being a minor league shortstop with the Cincinnati Reds, to be traded in 1993 from the Marlins to the Padres for slugger Gary Sheffield, to be the third Padres’ player in history to be elected into the Hall of Fame, joining Dave Winfield and Gwynn.

 “I grew up watching him with the Padres and Mariano with the Yankees,” Dodgers All-Star closer Kenley Jansen says. “It’s amazing what he did. I definitely admired him and wanted to be just like him.

And, on Sunday, finally, the country will have a chance to know him.

 

July 28, 2018

Sources: USA Today

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  • Adverts promoting 'harmful' gender stereotypes to be banned

    Adverts promoting 'harmful' gender stereotypes to be banned

    ypes from TV commercials.</p><p>Gone will be the traditional, and largely out-dated, view of the housewife. </p><p>And companies will not be able to suggest men are lazy or useless when it comes to doing what used to be considered typically female roles, such as changing a nappy.</p><p>The move aims to avoid pigeon-holing boys and girls at a young age in terms of how they should look and their interests. </p><p>Last year, Aptamil baby milk caused controversy by showing a girl growing up to become a ballerina and a boy becoming a rock climber</p><p>Gone will be the traditional, and largely out-dated, view of the housewife. Advertising watchdogs will ban 'harmful' gender stereotypes from TV commercials [File photo]</p><p>It follows a review that found gender stereotypes could restrict the choices, aspirations and opportunities of children, teenagers and adults.</p><p>Also banned under the new regime will be stereotypes which depict boys as daring and girls as caring.</p><p>The proposals have been agreed by the Committee on Advertising Practice (CAP) and will also outlaw depictions that suggest people may not be successful in love or life because they do not have what is considered an ideal physique.</p><p>The industry watchdog has issued guidance for companies and advertisers on how the ban, coming into effect in June, should be applied.</p><p>Many brands such as Unilever have already taken voluntary measures to end gender stereotyping.</p><p>Asda's Christmas advert from 2012 offering that showed an exhausted mum struggling to buy the presents and tree</p><p>The Oxo brand also traditionally showed the mother – played by the late Lynda Bellingham – cooking for her husband and children. But a revamp of the commercial depicted the male partner being much more hands-on in the kitchen [File photo]</p><p>For example, the firm changed its Lynx deodorant commercials which, in the past, featured women in bikinis hunting down young men.</p><p>Historically, the company's food brand Knorr TV adverts showed a mother and daughter in the kitchen, but more recently they featured a father and son.</p><p>The Oxo brand also traditionally showed the mother – played by the late Lynda Bellingham – cooking for her husband and children. But a revamp of the commercial depicted the male partner being much more hands-on in the kitchen.</p><p>A few years ago, Asda was criticised over a Christmas TV ad that showed a mother doing all the work, buying presents and making the dinner, while everyone else relaxed and had fun. </p><p>Last year, Aptamil baby milk caused controversy by showing a girl growing up to become a ballerina and a boy becoming a rock climber.</p><p>The CAP stressed the new rules specifically do not rule out the use of attractive men and women.</p><p>The watchdog said: 'The rule and guidance does not intend to prevent ads from featuring glamorous, attractive, successful, aspirational or healthy people or lifestyles.' </p><p>And it said companies will be allowed to use gender stereotypes as a means to challenge their negative effects.</p><p>Unilever changed its Lynx deodorant commercials which, in the past, featured women in bikinis hunting down young men [File photo]</p><p>Historically, the company's food brand Knorr TV adverts showed a mother and daughter in the kitchen, but more recently they featured a father and son [File photo]</p><p>Director of the CAP, Shahriar Coupal, said: 'Harmful gender stereotypes have no place in UK advertisements. </p><p>Nearly all advertisers know this, but for those that don't, our new rule calls time on stereotypes that hold back people and society.'</p><p>Ella Smillie, who led the CAP's investigation into gender stereotyping, said: 'Harmful gender stereotypes in ads contribute to how people see themselves and their role in society. </p><p>'They can hold some people back from fulfilling their potential, or from aspiring to certain jobs and industries, bringing costs for individuals and the economy.'</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 December 14, 2018
  • Parents angry over more places for disadvantaged students at Birmingham grammar schools

    Parents angry over more places for disadvantaged students at Birmingham grammar schools

    hools to admit poorer pupils will lower standards.</p><p>Among the proposed changes are new catchment areas which would include the poorer parts of the city and a quota of 25 per cent of places reserved for those from low-income families.</p><p>But parents complain the plans would shut out bright pupils who do not live in Birmingham and also lower academic standards.</p><p>They also say the changes would eventually be rendered pointless as those living outside catchment areas would simply move house to get their child in, pushing up prices in the city.</p><p>The King Edward VI group of six schools in Birmingham wants to change their admission rules to give disadvantaged pupils a better chance of getting in but parents aren't happy. Pictured: King Edward VI Aston</p><p>There is already anecdotal evidence of prospective parents house-hunting within the catchment areas, they said.</p><p>More than 3,000 people have so far signed a petition opposing the plans, which would come into effect from September 2020.</p><p>Kaja Fawthrop, who has an 11-year-old son at one of the schools, said: ‘People are very upset about the way this has been handled. </p><p>'The grammar schools are a jewel in the crown of Birmingham and we believe the changes mean they are no longer aiming for the highest possible academic standards.</p><p>‘We all want to see more opportunities for poorer pupils, of course, we all want that. </p><p>'But there are far better ways to do this than by drawing a line and saying people over this line just can’t come in.</p><p>‘I wanted [my son] to go to the best school in Birmingham. I am worried it won’t be able to maintain that position in future.’</p><p>The changes have been mooted in response to criticism that grammar schools are overpopulated with rich middle-class children, whose parents can afford to pay for private tutoring.</p><p>The entrance exams are supposed to be tutor-proof. However, many parents have their children tutored for up to two years before to give them the edge on their peers.</p><p>In the case of the Birmingham schools, many pupils come from more affluent areas outside of the city as places are open to anyone.</p><p>The new catchment areas would mean that the schools would have to give preference to pupils living nearer, often living in less well-heeled areas. </p><p>A new ‘localisation policy’ would be imposed, meaning higher scoring children in catchment areas would get first places, followed by lower scoring children who achieve a minimum cut-off score.</p><p>In addition, 25 per cent of places at each school would be reserved for applicants eligible for the pupil premium – those on very low incomes – who achieve a minimum standard and live in catchment.</p><p>Currently, there is a quota in place but it only applies to 20 per cent of places.</p><p>Parents complain the plans would shut out bright pupils who do not live in Birmingham and also lower academic standards. Pictured: King Edward VI Camp Hill School for boys</p><p>Only after these are awarded would places go to high-scoring pupils outside of catchment areas.</p><p>The six schools – King Edward VI Aston School, Camp Hill Schools for Boys and Girls, Five Ways School and Handsworth Schools for Boys and Girls – regularly feature in the top ten of all schools in the city.</p><p>Each year, about 6,000 pupils sit the tough entrance tests in a bid to secure one of the cherished places.</p><p>Campaigners have written to the board of governors and urged local MPs to back their protest.</p><p>The King Edward VI Academy Trust say the proposals, initiated by executive director Heath Monk, are designed to ‘enhance our historic mission of providing high-quality education, in a local school, for the children of Birmingham, regardless of background.’</p><p>The proposals aim to ‘improve accessibility for disadvantaged students; ensure that there is priority for local children; and provide a more consistent approach across our growing family of selective schools,’ it said.</p><p>The proposals are supported by the Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, which tweeted its support.</p><p>More than 3,000 people have so far signed a petition opposing the plans, which would come into effect from September 2020. Pictured: King Edward VI Five Ways School </p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 December 14, 2018
  • Boy, eight, takes the wheel to steer car to safety when his mother is hit by seizure while driving

    Boy, eight, takes the wheel to steer car to safety when his mother is hit by seizure while driving

    h her eight-year-old son Ben Hedges when she suffered a seizure</p><p>This is the incredible moment a quick-thinking eight-year-old boy grabs the steering wheel and drives his mother's speeding car to safety after she suffered a seizure while driving. </p><p>Lauren Smith was travelling at 65mph in her Ford Ka along the A120 dual carriageway when she had an attack.</p><p>The 27-year-old started to shake and her hands gripped to the steering wheel as the vehicle smashed and scraped the central reservation during the incident on December 3. </p><p>Footage of the moments after Ms Smith's seizure shows her son Ben Hedges, eight, calmly controlling the vehicle and driving it onto a grass verge before stopping behind a van. </p><p>Ben leapt from his front passenger seat and took hold of the wheel, before guiding the out-of-control car across two lanes and safely onto the grass next to the hard shoulder during his mothers seizure.</p><p>The quick-thinking primary school pupil even put the hazard warning lights on during the incident near Colchester, Essex. </p><p>Dashcam footage from a vehicle behind shows Ms Smith's vehicle heading towards the verge</p><p>Footage from a car behind's dashcam shows Ms Smith's car being steered along the grass by Ben and other vehicles coming to a stop to help.</p><p>The driver can be heard saying 'something's wrong' as he slows the car down and Ms Smith's silver Ford Ka comes into view.</p><p>The cars in front put on their hazard lights and multiple vehicles in the left hand lane move into the right to give the Ka being controlled by Ben more space.</p><p>As the driver gets closer to the Ka it can be seen moving up the grass verge before coming to a stop behind a van which has also pulled over to try and help. </p><p>Ms Smith was rushed to hospital where emergency services carried out a series of test which found she suffered a seizure for the first time - making her son's reactions even more remarkable.</p><p>The silver Ford Ka, being steered by Ben, drives up the grass before stopping behind a van</p><p>The quick-thinking eight-year-old managed to guide the pair to safety after his mother had a seizure</p><p>Ms Smith praised her son's action for saving both their lives.</p><p>Speaking about the crash, Ms Smith said: 'I was driving really erratically - that went on for a good minute and then I just collapsed at the wheel, let go and fell completely unconscious - my head was resting on the steering wheel.'</p><p>She said her son grabbed the steering wheel and managed to guide them to safety after she completely blacked out and they scraped along the side of the central reservation.</p><p>'The car was really shaking as it slowed down because it was still in fifth gear before it finally cut out.</p><p>The Ford Ka crashed into the side of a central reservation near Colchester before it was eventually guided to safety</p><p>'About four or five people in a van came rushing over to check we were okay,' she added.</p><p>They were rushed to Colchester General Hospital but they managed to escape without any injuries.</p><p>Ms Smith, a teaching assistant, had no memory of what she had done in the previous 24 hours.</p><p>She said: 'It was at that point the people who stopped to help us came over and said "madam, you've just had a full-blown seizure, you've crashed your car and the ambulance is on its way".</p><p>'As I came around, the ambulance was arriving. It took me a really long time to register it - and I just could not believe it.'</p><p>Ms Smith, a teaching assistant, had no memory of what she had done in the previous 24 hours before her seizure</p><p>She described her son as a 'hero' for his bravery. She said: 'I am still in shock that he knew what to do. He's my hero.</p><p>'I keep thinking about what would have happened if he had not acted so quickly, I hate to think how it could have ended.</p><p>'I am so grateful and I've been telling him over and over again, "what you did was amazing, you literally are a lifesaver" so he realises what he has done - it's a big deal.'</p><p>Doctors have been unable to identify the cause of the seizure but believe it to be because of a virus. The attack has left her in pain and she will not be given the all-clear to drive by doctors. </p><p>Ben's headteacher at Chase Lane Primary School in Dovercourt, Essex, where his mother also works, praised the year-four pupil. </p><p>Headteacher Julie O'Mara said: 'I'd like to commend Ben for his bravery - without his actions it could have been a tragic accident.</p><p>'For someone so young to have displayed such bravery, maturity and quick-thinking is very impressive.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 December 14, 2018
  • Harry Potter author JK Rowling backs Daily Mail Christmas NHS volunteer campaign

    Harry Potter author JK Rowling backs Daily Mail Christmas NHS volunteer campaign

    sands of Daily Mail readers who have pledged their time to the Health Service should be applauded </p><p>The Harry Potter novelist says the thousands of readers who have pledged their time to the Health Service should be applauded.</p><p>She gave her backing to the drive to recruit volunteers across the United Kingdom as more than 22,000 people pledged their time to the cause, boosting the NHS's voluntary workforce by more than a quarter.</p><p>Miss Rowling, a philanthropist who has donated millions to good causes, hailed those who have already stepped up to do their bit with the charity Helpforce.</p><p>She said: 'The NHS is one of our country's most cherished institutions, one that we can truly be proud of.</p><p>'Despite the constant pressures and constraints, it never ceases to amaze me just how much work and time all those involved dedicate to continuing to make this organisation function, let alone excel.</p><p>'And now, a new army of volunteers have stepped forward. The thousands who are giving up their time to help the NHS through the Helpforce campaign should be applauded.'</p><p>And fellow bestselling novelist William Boyd, author of Any Human Heart, said: 'This is a massively important and timely campaign.</p><p>'Anything we can do to support the wonderful NHS is wholly worthwhile.'</p><p>The Mail is asking readers to give their time to the NHS to support patients and take some of the pressure away from overstretched staff.</p><p>The campaign, which will see volunteers start helping at hospitals in spring, has won the backing of celebrities, unions and health leaders.</p><p>The recruitment drive aims to fill key roles such as befriending patients, collecting prescriptions and helping at mealtimes. Since its launch on December 1, readers have flocked to pledge either three hours a week or a day a month, for six months.</p><p>Theresa May encouraged readers to sign up to offer 'companionship and support', while praising the 'extraordinary dedication' of doctors and nurses.</p><p>There are already about 78,000 volunteers in hospitals. A landmark report found doctors and nurses believe hospital helpers play a vital role in improving the experience of patients and staff.</p><p>The overwhelming majority of those asked – 90 per cent – felt volunteers improved patient experience by 'bringing human kindness' to busy hospitals. It is not too late to get involved, with applications open until the end of the month. The chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens said boosting volunteer numbers will be essential for the NHS to deliver ambitious treatment upgrades.</p><p>Leading doctors are warning the NHS is braced for another 'very difficult winter'.</p><p>Figures from NHS England show nearly 94 per cent of beds are already occupied, well above the 85 per cent target, despite the mild weather and low flu levels. </p><p>A&amp;E departments have had the worst November on record, with only 87.6 per cent of patients seen within four hours, against the national target of 95 per cent.</p><p>Health officials said staff were working hard to deal with increased demand, with 1,000 more patients seen within four hours every day in November compared to last year.</p><p>But Dr Nick Scriven, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, warned: 'After decades of reductions there are simply not enough appropriately staffed beds available to meet the current demand.' </p><p>Mike Pointer, 72, a former scientific consultant, lives in Salisbury with his wife, Pam, 69. </p><p>He has volunteered at Salisbury District Hospital since 2011, supporting older patients.</p><p>'Seven years ago I had a heart attack, and although I recovered relatively quickly, it was a wake up call. Clearly I was just too stressed – and so I decided to cut my working hours and find something useful but less demanding.</p><p>'I'd received marvellous care at Salisbury so I looked at its website where I came across the Engage programme, a volunteering scheme supporting older adults.</p><p>Pictured: NHS volunteer Mike Pointer with patient Nora Burke </p><p>'The volunteers visit 16 wards in the hospital – I might go to the stroke unit one morning a week, or the gastroenterology ward the next. As a volunteer what I offer is broadly similar wherever I go: I sit by their beds and talk about their feelings.</p><p>'Often when patients have shared a problem, they realise it's not as insurmountable as it first seemed. </p><p>'Our role is important because if a patient is anxious or depressed, it can have such a detrimental effect on their general wellbeing, leading to slower recovery.</p><p>'What volunteers have is time, which the medical staff don't. My record is three hours with one gentleman who was so lonely and couldn't stop crying about problems with his children. </p><p>'He wanted someone to listen and I was able to do that. I like the purpose volunteering gives me. And I love to give some sort of hope.'</p><p>Fiona Aiken, 59, a retired university manager, lives in Lancaster. She volunteers from home as a controller for the North West Blood Bike service, co-ordinating motorbike riders who deliver blood, human milk, lab samples and equipment.</p><p>'One of the things I love about this job is that I'm called 'the controller', it is quite nice being in charge. Joking aside, though, the job carries a lot of responsibility – I get around 30 calls a night.</p><p>'I got involved two-and-a-half years ago after I read about the blood bike service in a newspaper and just thought: I can do that. 'I was approaching retirement and wanted something useful to do. </p><p>'I also wanted to give something back to the NHS as it looked after my mum. It's just my folder of contacts, and my house phone.</p><p>Fiona Aiken, 59, a retired university manager, lives in Lancaster. She volunteers from home as a controller for the North West Blood Bike service, co-ordinating motorbike riders who deliver blood, human milk, lab samples and equipment </p><p>'I volunteer for two or three eight-hour shifts a month – they run through from 6pm to 2am during week nights.</p><p>'Often I don't get to bed until 3am, but I love it: you get an adrenaline buzz when the phone rings for the first time on a shift, as you never know what you're going to get that night, you just know it is urgent and you need to work quickly.</p><p>'We touch so many peoples' lives but we never know who or how we have helped – we just know that what we do matters and take pride in that. Some bikers and controllers will work over Christmas, New Year and Bank Holidays – nobody moans though because they want to do it, that's the great thing about being a volunteer.'</p><p>A-Level pupil James Grieves, 17, of Stannington, Northumberland, has volunteered once a week at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital for the past year.</p><p>'I started after the hospital gave a recruitment talk at my school,' he said.</p><p>James said his role was simply to sit and talk to some of the elderly patients. 'As well as the company, this helps distract them from pain,' he said.</p><p>'To begin with, the nurses would point out who was lonely but over time, I grew in confidence and now, I walk into the ward and can tell who would like a chat. I've learned so much.</p><p>A-Level pupil James Grieves, 17, of Stannington, Northumberland, has volunteered once a week at Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital for the past year</p><p>'It made me realise that teenagers and older people have so much in common.</p><p>'Teenagers are at a crossroads in their lives, and we don't yet know who we are. But many elderly people have lost their identities because they've put everything into work for years – and then suddenly that's all gone.</p><p>'I volunteer once a week for two-and-a-half hours, on a Tuesday after lessons.'</p><p>Interviews by Angela Epstein, Jo Waters and Amanda Cable</p><p>The Daily Mail and the charity Helpforce invite you to join our Christmas campaign by giving some of your time in 2019 as a volunteer for the NHS. Here, we explain all you need to know...</p><p>The simple answer is no. If you join our campaign, you will start volunteering some time in 2019. Once Helpforce has put your NHS organisation in touch with you, it can take up to three months – and in some cases six – before you start, because of the necessary checks and training that have to be carried out.</p><p>Volunteers can help provide better experiences for patients, and free-up time for healthcare workers to focus on delivering the incredible work they've been trained to do.</p><p>And while there are thousands of volunteers carrying out vital work in the NHS, there is more we can do. The Join The Hospital Helpforce campaign aims to harness the power of dedicated volunteers to create a more compassionate care system.</p><p>No – they provide extra help that wouldn't be covered by a staff role. NHS Trusts need volunteers as they provide a valuable support role to busy staff and to patients who are going through a difficult time. Volunteers can make the difference to someone's day by providing simple but significant support.</p><p>Helpforce is asking for volunteers to commit to at least three consecutive hours a week for six months, or one day a month for six months.</p><p>The minimum age is 16 but some NHS organisations are not able to take volunteers until they are 18 due to their own policies.</p><p>Youth groups #iwill and the Pears Foundation are together aiming to increase the number of volunteering opportunities for young people – visit iwill.org.uk for details.</p><p>Visit hospitalhelpforce.com and fill in the pledge form.</p><p>Once you've completed it, you should hear back immediately with a thank you email, then again by February once Helpforce has matched you with an NHS organisation.</p><p>If you don't, please go to the Frequently Asked Questions section of the website.</p><p>Training varies between NHS organisations and the role you are taking up. But all of it will help keep you safe and give you the skills to make you feel confident when volunteering on a busy ward with staff and patients.</p><p>Training typically includes some or all of the following elements: health and safety, fire training, equality and diversity, safeguarding, conflict resolution, information governance and infection control.</p><p>Once you have been matched to an NHS organisation, you will be asked to meet its volunteer co-ordinator.</p><p>They will want to find out more about you – your experience, interests and motivation to volunteer – and you will have health and criminal record checks. You may also be required to provide a reference.</p><p>You can choose to volunteer for the NHS at any time, but this campaign is being supported during December and will close at the start of January.</p><p>If it isn't a good time for you to volunteer but you may want to in the future, you can get in touch with your local hospital or other NHS organisation at a later date. You can also look at volunteering opportunities at do-it.org.</p><p>Go to the Frequently Asked Questions web page (hospitalhelpforce.com/faqs). The 'Need Help?' icon will link you to one of Helpforce's ambassadors who will be happy to help.</p><p>YOU can donate to Helpforce – the charity will use all of the money raised to help support hospitals in the creation of new volunteering roles and bring more volunteers to their wards.</p><p>There are two ways you can donate: via the donate button at hospitalhelpforce.com, or by sending a cheque.</p><p>Please make it payable to Helpforce Community Trust, and post it to: Helpforce S90, South Wing, Somerset House, The Strand, London, WC2R 1LA.</p><p>Sorry we are not currently accepting comments on this article.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 December 14, 2018
  • More than half a million lonely elderly people will spend Christmas on their own, survey reveals 

    More than half a million lonely elderly people will spend Christmas on their own, survey reveals 

    Age UK suggests many of them will spend the festive period grieving for happier times before the deaths of loved ones.</p><p>The report said that for 530,000 over-65s, Christmas will be ‘just another day’, while around a quarter of a million said being lonely is ‘a normal part of life’ for them.</p><p>Survey reveals more than half a million elderly are likely to be alone at Christmas. Stock picture</p><p>Caroline Abrahams of Age UK said: ‘There is far more awareness now of the problem of loneliness, and as a result I think many families and friends make a real effort to be kind to older people, especially at this time of year. However, as our research shows, sadly, some older people are still being left out in the cold and have no one at all to turn to for advice or support.</p><p>The older people who will feel the pain of isolation at Christmas are among 1.7million who can go for long periods of time without ever seeing a friend, Age UK said.</p><p>The findings come at a time of growing concern over large numbers of people who go from day to day without talking to any friends or family members.</p><p>The report said: ‘Although loneliness is by no means an inevitable part of ageing, difficult life events that many experience as people get older, such as bereavement, serious illness or reducing mobility, can all be triggers for becoming more isolated and feeling lonelier.’</p><p>It added: ‘Christmas isn’t something to look forward to because it brings back too many memories of people who have passed away and happier times.’</p><p>Earlier this year the Government appointed the first minister for loneliness, after research found evidence that the problem is widespread among young people as well as the oldest generation.</p><p>In October, Theresa May launched a campaign to reduce isolation, and suggested people could be prescribed cookery and art lessons on the NHS in a bid to get them out and about.</p><p>Age UK’s assessment said that 1.7million older people in England have not seen a friend in a month, and that 300,000 people over the age of 65 have not had a conversation with a family member or a friend over the same period of time.</p><p>Actress Joanna Lumley, who supports the charity, said: ‘Sadly, the feelings of loneliness are too common in many older people’s lives and it’s really quite a worry.</p><p>‘It can affect your mental and even physical health.</p><p>‘We can see from this latest research that so many older people accept loneliness as part of life, so my plea is to take action for yourself or an older relative or friend who you think might be feeling isolated.’</p><p>The figures were gathered from a poll of 1,917 people aged over 65, together with evidence of population estimates from the Office For National Statistics. </p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 December 14, 2018
  • Strasbourg Christmas market shooting: Police cordon off road amid manhunt

    Strasbourg Christmas market shooting: Police cordon off road amid manhunt

    illed by police during a shoot-out with armed officers who were hunting for the terrorist. </p><p>The terrorist was killed after anti-terror police stumbled upon him in the street and officers returned fire when he shot at them and tried to flee, a French official said.</p><p>As a police helicopter circled overhead, reports on social media suggested there had been shots fired in the Neudorf area of Strasbourg where a manhunt was underway at the time. </p><p>It was then reported Chekatt had been shot and 'neutralised', but initially it was not clear if the suspected terrorist had been gunned down and killed or was captured alive by French police. </p><p>But his death was soon confirmed by police and minutes after the announcement, officers said their appeals for witnesses had paid off. </p><p>The local branch of the national police tweeted tonight: 'Thank you for your reports that helped to find the wanted individual.' </p><p>A local police official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the man who shot at police was armed with a pistol and a knife. </p><p>A police source told FranceInfo: 'The suspect of the Strasbourg attack on Tuesday night, right in the city centre, had taken refuge in a warehouse located at Plaine des Bouchers, not far from Neudorf.' </p><p>Just over an hour after Chekatt was shot dead, ISIS claimed the terrorist as a 'soldier' of Daesh, according to the propaganda new agency of the jihadist organisation, Amaq. </p><p>A French police officer running during an operation in the Plaine des Bouchers area of Strasbourg near the Neudorf neighbourhood where the suspected ISIS terrorist was gunned down in a shoot-out with cops</p><p>A dead body laying in the doorway of a building after a shootout with police in Strasbourg, thought to be that of the Christmas market gunman</p><p>French police officers raided a warehouse in Plaine des Bouchers area of Strasbourg near the Neudorf neighbourhood where terrorist Cherif Chekatt was gunned down</p><p>French special police forces secured an area during a police operation where the suspected gunman, Cherif Chekatt, was killed tonight</p><p>Chekatt was killed after firing on police officers, who returned fire, as a police helicopter had been circling overhead</p><p>Donald Tusk says the Brexit deal is 'not open for renegotiation'</p><p>Eight-year-old takes the wheel after mum has a seizure while driving</p><p>Jacob Rees-Mogg hints PM should step down after 'very bad result'</p><p>Police body-cam footage shows murder suspect found 'unconscious'</p><p>Subway rider Anna Lushchinskaya starts fight with another passenger</p><p>Russian priest violently baptises a terrified two-year-old girl</p><p>David Dimbleby receives standing ovation on his final Question Time</p><p>Comic cancels show after he's forced to sign 'behaviour contract'</p><p>Black First Land First leader calls for killing of white people</p><p>Chinese worker survives after being impaled by steel spikes</p><p>Strasbourg suspect shot dead in brief gun battle with French police</p><p>Jean-Claude Juncker: British 'need to say what they want'</p><p>The French interior minister also later confirmed the death of suspected gunman in a shoot-out with police. </p><p>Christophe Castaner said three police officers stumbled across a man they believed to be Chekatt in the street and went to arrest him. </p><p>As the officers approached him Chekatt turned to fire at them but they shot and killed him. </p><p>The gunman had been on the run since he killed three people in Strasbourg's popular Christmas market two days ago and was shot dead by police this evening.   </p><p>Police officer Emmanuel Georg told BFM TV station that three police officers patrolling the neighbourhood tried to intercept a suspect corresponding to Chekatt's description as he was about to enter a building.</p><p>The officer said: 'He opened fired, they responded and managed to shoot him down.'</p><p>An eye witness to the shoot-out said he heard shots and rushed to the window to see what was happening and closed the shutters when he spotted the cornered suspect across the street.</p><p>Cem Akcakaya said: 'I was very afraid for my children, I told them to go away, and I went to the side.'</p><p>After it was over, he said he saw the man motionless on his back on the pavement, his left arm askew.</p><p>More than 720 French security forces had been hunting for the 29-year-old since the bloodshed on Tuesday night.</p><p>A police source said he was shot and killed by police in the Plaine des Bouchers area, near the Neudorf area of the city.  </p><p>The police operation was launched around 8.30pm around just over a mile (nearly 2kms) from where he launched his deadly attack on festive shoppers. </p><p>Several sources also claim that during the shooting no members of the police were injured during the operation.  </p><p>More than 720 French security forces had been hunting for the 29-year-old terrorist since the bloodshed at a Christmas market in the city on Tuesday night</p><p>French special police forces secure an area during a police operation in Neudorf in the Meinau district after the deadly shooting in Strasbourg, France</p><p>Investigators working on the street during a police operation in which the suspected gunman, Cherif Chekatt, who killed three people at a Christmas market in Strasbourg, was killed this evening</p><p>Heavily armed police swooped on the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg today amid a massive manhunt for the Christmas market shooter</p><p>Forensic and armed officers working at the scene where Chekatt was killed in a shoot-out today</p><p>Donald Tusk says the Brexit deal is 'not open for renegotiation'</p><p>Eight-year-old takes the wheel after mum has a seizure while driving</p><p>Jacob Rees-Mogg hints PM should step down after 'very bad result'</p><p>Police body-cam footage shows murder suspect found 'unconscious'</p><p>Subway rider Anna Lushchinskaya starts fight with another passenger</p><p>Russian priest violently baptises a terrified two-year-old girl</p><p>David Dimbleby receives standing ovation on his final Question Time</p><p>Comic cancels show after he's forced to sign 'behaviour contract'</p><p>Black First Land First leader calls for killing of white people</p><p>Chinese worker survives after being impaled by steel spikes</p><p>Strasbourg suspect shot dead in brief gun battle with French police</p><p>Jean-Claude Juncker: British 'need to say what they want'</p><p>In an update shared via social media, the IS Amaq news agency said: 'Amaq identifies Strasbourg gunman as an IS "'soldier".' </p><p>The Islamic State group's self-styled news agency said that Chekatt was 'an Islamic State soldier' who 'carried out the operation in response to calls for targeting citizens of coalition countries' fighting the terrorist group's militants in Syria and Iraq. </p><p>Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries told reporters after news that Chekatt had been killed: 'I think it will help to get back to a life that I would describe as normal. With the death of this terrorist... citizens, like me, are relieved.' </p><p>Today the death toll from Tuesday's attack rose to three as police combed the city in the east of France for a second day and manned checkpoints on the German border.</p><p>Police issued a wanted poster in multiple languages for Chekatt, who was the main suspect in the attack and who had been on a watchlist as a potential security threat.</p><p>Authorities say the 29-year-old was known to have developed radical religious views while in prison. </p><p>Neighbours on the housing estate where Chekatt family's lived described the suspect as a typical young man who dressed in jogging pants and trainers rather than traditional Islamic robes. </p><p>A leader of a community group said outside Chekkat's apartment building in Strasbourg: 'He was a little gangster, but I didn't see any signs of him being radicalised.' </p><p>The Paris prosecutor's office said Chekatt's parents and two brothers were being held in custody, while two of his sisters in Paris were also questioned today and one of their homes was being searched. </p><p>French President Emmanuel Macron expressed 'the solidarity of the whole country' towards the victims as he arrived for a European summit in Brussels this evening. </p><p>'It is not only France that has been hit... but a great European city as well,' he added, referring to the seat of the European parliament in the eastern French city that lies on the border with Germany. </p><p>Rescue workers walked past hooded police officers standing guard in Strasbourg, eastern France tonight, where Chekatt was shot and killed</p><p>Hooded police officers block the access in the Meinau district in Strasbourg, eastern France, as the manhunt for the terrorist continued as night fell  </p><p>Police cars at the scene of the shooting in the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg this evening as officers in body armour and carrying rifles hunted for Chekatt throughout the day </p><p>The Paris prosecutor's office said Chekatt's parents and two brothers were being held in custody, while two of his sisters in Paris were also questioned today and one of their homes was searched</p><p>A hooded police officer holding his gun in Strasbourg, eastern France, as armed officers combed the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg in search for the gunman</p><p>Residents of Strasbourg's Neudorf neighborhood expressed relief, such as Pierre Plasse, who said: 'Everybody's quite happy that the killer has been finally shot. I think now, the city and life can keep going on in Strasbourg.'</p><p>Earlier today elite RAID police officers were scouring the French-German border for a car belonging to the mother of Chekatt amid fears he has fled eastwards in her vehicle. </p><p>A custody image of Cherif Chekatt released by police</p><p>Officers were searching across three locations in the late afternoon, including the area where Chekatt was last seen. </p><p>Swiss police are also said to have increased their security amid fears he was fleeing across Europe. </p><p>Heavily armed police swooped on the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg on Thursday amid a massive manhunt for Christmas market shooter, Chekatt.</p><p>Police cars blocked a street as officers carrying rifles and dressed in body armour gathered in the neighbourhood where Chekatt was dropped off by a taxi driver following his bloody rampage on Tuesday.</p><p>As officers searched for the killer it emerged that they had found jihadist literature at his apartment, as well as a grenade, a loaded rifle and four knives. </p><p>Chekatt killed three people and wounded 12 during an attack on the city's Christmas Market before fleeing when he was shot through the shoulder.  </p><p>Heavily armed French police descended on a street in the Neudorf neighbourhood of Strasbourg on Thursday amid a manhunt for Christmas market shooter Cherif Chekatt</p><p>Officers blocked a street in the east of the French city, though it was not immediately clear whether they had tracked Chekatt down</p><p>The raid comes two days after Chekatt killed three and wounded 12 after opening fire at the city's Christmas market before fleeing when he was shot in the shoulder</p><p>Officers sweep the streets in Neudorf, the neighbourhood where Chekatt was dropped off by a taxi driver after his rampage</p><p>Officers have been searching for two days for any sign of shooter Cherif Chekatt, amid fears he might strike a second time</p><p>French special police forces were also spotted in the Meinau neighbourhood, close to Neudorf, while heavily armed</p><p>One French police official said security forces, including the elite Raid squad, were taking action on Thursday based on a 'supposition only' that Chekatt, a serial criminal, could be hiding in a nearby building. </p><p>This evening police ended their search in Neudorf without finding the killer, but as darkness fell officers continued to scour the nearby Meinau neighbourhood and the Plaine des Bouchers area. </p><p>Police also arrested a member of Chekatt's 'entourage' today, believed to be a friend who had served time with him in prison, after the killer's parents and two brothers were earlier taken into custody. </p><p>Cherif Chekatt, 29, is being hunted by French police after opening fire at a Christmas market in Strasbourg this week, killing three</p><p>In the search this afternoon raid officers fanned out along one street, some with their guns trained on the houses in front of them, as television cameras watched on, while other officers extended a security perimeter in the neighbourhood. </p><p>Children at a nearby school were placed in lock down while the operation took place, with parents told not to come and pick them up. </p><p>Five people have been detained, believed to be Chekatt's parents, two of his brothers and another person taken into custody on Thursday. </p><p>The fifth person is reported to be a 39-year-old friend of the killer who once shared a prison with him. </p><p>Chekatt is said to have stayed with the friend in Lingolsheim on the night before the attack.</p><p>Officers apparently became suspicious over the sister's links to a doctor who may have helped treat Chekatt after he was shot in the arm. </p><p>Another 500 troops have been sent to guard public places including Christmas markets amid fears Chekatt will attack again, with 1,300 more due to join soon. </p><p>A government spokesman confirmed authorities have been told to capture Chekatt 'dead or alive', and that the most important thing is that he is found quickly.</p><p>Officers have warned that Chekatt, who has been convicted 27 times starting when he was just 13, should be considered dangerous and not to approach him.  </p><p>Chekatt was put under observation by anti-terror police and was still being watched at the time he committed his attack, but didn't show 'any obvious signs'. </p><p>French special police forces secure an area during a police operation in the Meinau district</p><p>Meanwhile Interior minister Christophe Castaner was dispatched to Strasbourg to handle the crisis while Emmanuel Macron is in Brussels at an EU summit.</p><p>The attack came just as President Emmanuel Macron sought to take back control of the nation after a month of anti-government protests that have spread violence across the country. </p><p>Speaking before his arrival, Castaner said: 'This [operation] is a question of suspicion, as there have been several over the last 36 hours. This is not a confirmation and it does not announce anything, the investigation continues.'  </p><p>Earlier today the death toll from the attack rose to three as a victim who had already been declared brain-dead finally succumbed to his wounds. </p><p>The man, an Afghan national who worked as a car mechanic in Strasbourg, died of his injuries today after he was reportedly shot in the head in Tuesday's rampage.  </p><p>It was also revealed that 45-year-old Anupong Suebsamarn, who was shot dead at the market, had not intended to be in Strasbourg at the time. </p><p>Suebsamarn had been planning to go to Paris with his wife, but had changed plans at the last minute because of the Yellow Vest protests, which have seen some of the city's busiest landmarks paralysed by rioting.  </p><p>Police officers secure a street in Neudorf, a neighbourhood in the east of Strasbourg</p><p>A French special police captain gives orders to one of his men amid the armed operation</p><p>A police source said officers acted on a 'supposition' that Chekatt was hiding in a house somewhere in the neighbourhood</p><p>Officers including those from the elite RAID unit were taking part in the operation in Strasbourg's eastern region</p><p>One Italian, 28-year-old Antonio Megalizzi, was reported to be in critical condition. Italian daily La Repubblica reported he was in Strasbourg to follow the session of the European Parliament. </p><p>Leaders of the mosque he attended initially said he had died after falling into a coma, but this was never confirmed by authorities. </p><p>Meanwhile L'Est Républicain reported that two people from eastern France were injured in the attack, one of whom was shot in the back of the neck and was in intensive care. </p><p>The other is an 18-year-old woman who has been operated on and is now recovering.</p><p>Strasbourg-based art collective Mimir told Les Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace that two of their members, both musicians, were injured near the Savons d'Hélène café where they were performing. </p><p>One of them, a percussionist, was shot in the neck and is in a coma. The second, a guitarist, was also injured, but less severely. </p><p>A third man, also with links to Mimir is seriously wounded in the head. </p><p>French police have appealed for members of the public to look for Chekatt and to contact them if they have information, but not to approach him</p><p>In total 720 police and gendarmes had been searching for Chekatt across a vast swathe of eastern France, using helicopters, roadside searches and border surveillance</p><p>Hundreds of troops were also drafted in to guard public places, including Christmas markets, amid fears Chekatt will attack again</p><p>Anupong Suebsamarn, 45, who was shot dead at the market had not initially planned to be there and was supposed to be in Paris, but changed his plans at the last minute</p><p>Police warned that Chekatt should be considered dangerous and that members of the public should inform authorities and not approach him</p><p>The French government has urged Yellow Vest protesters to hold off another round of demonstrations scheduled to take place in Paris this weekend. </p><p>Spokesman Benjamin Griveaux said ministers decided against banning the marches outright, but asked people to be 'reasonable' amid a massive manhunt for Strasbourg shooter Cherif Chekatt.</p><p>It comes after conspiracy theorists accused the government of staging the terror attack in order to quash the Yellow Vest movement.</p><p>Writing in online forums, one protester said: 'You'll see next week there won't be a single yellow vest. Well played, Macron.'  </p><p>President Emmanuel Macron has already offered the marchers a £9billion package of concessions including pay rises and tax cuts.</p><p>But many complained that the measures were too little, too late, and vowed to continue with weeks of protests, which have often turned violent.  </p><p>'Our security forces have been deployed extensively these past few weeks,' Griveaux said, while insisting that 'it's not up to us to say if the movement should be called off or not.'</p><p>In the wake of the Strasbourg attack, 'it would be better if everyone could go about their business calmly on Saturday, before the year-end celebrations with their families, instead of demonstrating and putting our security forces to work once again.' </p><p>Last Saturday nearly 90,000 police were mobilised across the country for the protests, with 8,000 officers and a dozen armoured vehicles deployed in the capital where scores of stores, museums and monuments were closed. </p><p>Le Parisien also reported that a house painter, married with two children, was seriously injured. </p><p>Amid the hunt for Chekatt, France raised its three-stage threat index to the highest level and bolstered troops around France.</p><p>Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said that the French native, born in Strasbourg, had run-ins with police starting at age 10.</p><p>Chekatt was mostly convicted in France but also in Switzerland and Germany, for crimes including armed robbery. </p><p>He had been flagged for extremism and was on a watch list, but the interior minister said 'the signs were weak'.</p><p>'It's a large zone and the search is difficult,' senior Interior Ministry official Laurent Nunez said on France-Inter radio.</p><p>Strasbourg is on the border with Germany, where the suspect was convicted in 2016 of breaking into a dental practice and a pharmacy in two towns. </p><p>He said: 'The only thing that attracted attention was his very religious attitude. He made a point of never taking alcohol or illegal drugs. </p><p>'It was also important to him that he did not have to eat pork in the prison. My client was actually a very sociable type, often joking.'</p><p>Prosecutor Remy Heitz said the man attacked with a handgun and a knife about 8pm local time on Tuesday, and was shot in the arm during an exchange of fire with soldiers during his rampage.</p><p>He then took a taxi to another part of the city, boasting of the attack to the driver, and later exchanged more gunfire with police and disappeared, Mr Heitz said.</p><p>Witnesses described shots and screams after the gunman opened fire and yelled 'God is great!' in Arabic, the prosecutor added. Swaths of the city were under lockdown for hours.   </p><p>The attack in the heart of old Strasbourg, near its famous cathedral and within the Christmas market that draws many tourists, unsettled the border city that also is home to the European Parliament.</p><p>The German government said it had stepped up controls on the border with France but did not change its threat level.</p><p>'All terrorist attacks touch all of France, and it's plain to see each of the attacks have hit a highly symbolic point or moment,' Mr Philippe told parliament.</p><p>He listed violence since 2015 that killed more than 200: at the Charlie Hebdo satiric newspaper, a Kosher store, restaurants, bars and a concert hall in Paris; along the famed seaside promenade in Nice; and even inside a church in a quiet suburb of the northern city of Rouen, among others.</p><p>Strasbourg's Christmas market 'is a family and brotherly celebration that speaks about hope and what unites us. It's this celebration that was hit yesterday by a terrorist act,' he said.</p><p>The city was in mourning, with candles lit at the site of the attack, and the Christmas market was closed at least through Thursday, according to regional prefect Jean-Luc Marx. </p><p>The Strasbourg suspect, who lived in a rundown apartment block a short drive from the city centre, was flagged by French security forces in 2015 as a possible Islamic extremist.</p><p>France has been hit by a wave of attacks from gunmen claiming allegiance to Al Qaeda or the Islamic State group since 2015, which have claimed the lives of 246 people before Tuesday's attack.</p><p>The Christmas market, a hugely popular attraction in historic Strasbourg, will reopen on Friday, Castaner said.</p><p>People began returning to the area on Thursday with many marking their respects for the victims by leaving candles in the main Kleber square.</p><p>Candlelit vigils were held in Strasbourg for the victims of the shooting on Wednesday. Three people died, one was left brain-dead, and 12 more were wounded</p><p>People lay candles and flowers in tribute to those who died in Place Kléber, in Strasbourg</p><p>There are fears that Chekatt could have fled across the border to Germany, where he has link and has been arrested at least once</p><p>It came only 24 hours after he broke a long public silence and appealed for calm amid the mushrooming 'yellow vest' protest movement that seeks a better standard of living for ordinary citizens.</p><p>He offered a package of measures, but it was not clear if that would halt the weekend protests.</p><p>'The terrorist threat is still at the core of our nation's life,' government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux quoted Mr Macron as saying at the weekly Cabinet meeting.</p><p>Interior Ministry official Mr Nunez said Chekatt had been radicalised in prison and had been monitored by French intelligence services since his release in late 2015, because of his suspected religious extremism.</p><p>Mr Nunez told France-Inter that police went to his apartment in an outer neighbourhood of Strasbourg on Tuesday morning. Authorities said he was not there, although five other people were detained.</p><p>Police seized a grenade, a rifle and knives in the operation, Mr Heitz said.</p><p>The graves were painted with Nazis swastikas and the numbers 88 and 14, which are used by white supremacists to reference the phrase 'heil Hitler' and a 14-word statement he once issued from prison which reads: 'We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.'</p><p>Other graffiti read 'CRIF = ZOG', referencing the French organisation which represents Jewish communities - CRIF - which was compared to a 'Zionist occupation government' or 'ZOG'.</p><p>Jewish graves in a cemetery in Herrlisheim, 12 miles north of Strasbourg, were discovered covered in racist graffiti on Tuesday just hours before the city's Christmas market was attacked by a radical Islamist</p><p>Graves were painted with Nazi swastikas and the numbers 88 - which stands for 'heil Hitler' - and 14 - which represents a white supremacist screed he once penned in prison</p><p>The graves were also painted with a slogan which reads CRIF = ZOG, referencing the organisation that represents French Jews, called CRIF, which was branded a 'Zionist occupation government', or ZOG</p><p>The graves are located in Herrlisheim, a commune around 12 miles to the north of Strasbourg. </p><p>On the same day the most recent graffiti was discovered, Strasbourg saw one of its main avenues renamed for Simone Veil, a Holocaust survivor and former minister who died last year.</p><p>Hours after the vandalism was uncovered, Cherif Chekatt - an Islamic extremist - shot three people dead and wounded another 12 in an attack at Strasbourg's Christmas market.</p><p>Another fruitcake who has no place in a civilised ...</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. 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    1 December 14, 2018

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