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Solar eclipse 2024: All regions declaring states of emergency as millions of tourists expected

Ahead of the rare total solar eclipse on Monday, several regions of the US and Canada have declared states of emergency as they prepare for a potential influx of millions of tourists. On Monday, April 8, the Moon will totally cover the Sun in an incredibly rare celestial phenomenon that will be able to be seen from across the US, with the path of totality streaking from Texas to Maine and dipping into parts of southern Canada. An estimated 4 million people are expected to travel for the big event, which will be the last major one of its kind in America until 2044 when a much smaller but similar eclipse will grace Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. The next large one will occur the following year. READ MORE: Solar eclipse viewers advised to wear certain colours to experience optical illusion But many of the areas that find themselves to be the best places to view the phenomenon aren’t readily able to handle the mass influx of people, leading to many declaring states of emergency, which can activate the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), with the thought that FEMA might be able to provide supplies to areas in need. Here is a list of the places that have declared states of emergency ahead of Monday’s celestial event and what some of the declarations entail. Niagara Falls, Ontario The city of Niagara Falls in Ontario, Canada, declared a state of emergency earlier in the week, a preemptive action as the North American landmark anticipates more than 1 million tourists amid the event. It’s the first time an eclipse will touch the province since 1979 and after the landmark was declared to be one of the best places to view the phenomenon, tourists quickly started booking flights and making travel plans. For all the latest news, politics, sports, and showbiz from the USA, go to The Mirror US Niagara Falls Mayor Jim Diodati said in March that he expects the small city to receive the most visitors it’s ever had in a day. That’s why he declared a state of emergency, which mobilised additional entities to oversee traffic and prepare for emergency situations. All of Indiana The entire state of Indiana was put under an emergency declaration by Governor Eric Holcomb last week, as he cited an influx of hundreds of thousands of visitors to the region amid the “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. The masses of people could impact emergency response times, he stated in his executive order, as cell towers could be down and other impediments to daily life could occur. The state of emergency is in effect until 11.59pm local time on April 9. In the order, Holcomb cited Indiana’s membership in the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), which is a national program that allows states to call on each other for help amid emergencies. All of Arkansas The entire state of Arkansas, which also finds itself in the path of totality, is under a state of emergency amid concerns over a mass influx of people for the eclipse on Monday. Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced the declaration on Friday as she also revealed the allocation of $100,000 to assist with commerce and travel. Backed-up traffic, she said, could impede necessary deliveries, and she hoped to alleviate that. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported that Sanders released a statement about the declaration on Friday, which reads: “This will assist commercial carriers transporting essential items to customers in Arkansas during the eclipse. We want to make sure Arkansans and all visitors have an enjoyable experience and come back again and again.” Several Texas counties With the path of totality expected to grace much of Texas on Monday, regions of the state that find themselves near or in the line declared states of emergency as many cited traffic and the need to be prepared for emergencies. Millions of visitors are expected to travel to the region to view the celestial phenomenon, and, just like the other areas that declared emergencies, the region can’t handle that many people with ease. Several New York counties Also in the path of totality are several counties in Upstate New York, including Essex, Oswego and Wayne Counties. All declared states of emergency, citing potentially dangerous influxes of traffic and potentially severe cell service disruptions. According to local stations WPTZ and WSYR, the declarations are slated to last from April 6 through April 10 as the counties buckle down for masses of people. Increased preparations in Ohio While the state of Ohio hasn’t yet officially declared a state of emergency, its emergency operations teams were activated by Governor Mike DeWine ahead of the celestial phenomenon. In a press release from his office, he stated: “While we are confident that our local communities have fully prepared for the influx of spectators, having our Emergency Operations Center at the ready will allow us to immediately respond if any unexpected needs arise.”

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Montreal restaurant hands out 1,200 free meals a day during Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, the Goût du Bled restaurant in Montreal prepares and distributes 1,200 meals a day to local Muslims who are in need. Meryem Zemouri’s husband owns the restaurant, but during Ramadan she’s in charge, co-ordinating dozens of volunteers in different shifts as the kitchen rolls 16 hours a day. “It was my idea since I was very young. It was a dream for me that is now coming true,” Zemouri said, when CBC visited the restaurant Wednesday. Every afternoon at around 4:30, people line up around the block to pick up the meals packed up in bags to take home. Almost all are Muslims who’ve been fasting during the day. “Our religion says that during the holy month of Ramadan, you have to do a lot of good things,” said Zemouri. “You have to help others.” “In the evening, there are people in need who cannot afford to eat well, so we offer these complete meals.” Frenzy of activity Zemouri lives in the on-island suburb of Côte Saint-Luc with her husband and four children, but during Ramadan she stays in an apartment near the restaurant in Saint-Léonard so she can be close to the action. When CBC visited, there were four huge pots of vegetable soup simmering in the cramped and sweltering basement kitchen, flavoured with cinnamon, mint and coriander. Another four big pots were filled with potatoes and chickpeas, to be served with hundreds of pieces of fried chicken already prepared. In one corner, volunteers were preparing hundreds of rolls called boureks made with ground meat, cheese and parsley to go with the soup. In another corner, four other volunteers were peeling potatoes and chopping onions. Upstairs in the dining room, hundreds of salads were being packed into plastic containers, while a volunteer unpacked fresh dates imported from Algeria. Zemouri shows up at 7:00 a.m. every day to begin cooking with her first shift of volunteers. By mid-afternoon, more volunteers show up to start packing the food. This is Zemouri’s favourite time of day. Even though exhausted volunteers — who are all fasting without food or water — have been working hard for hours, the atmosphere is festive. “We laugh. We dance. We sing. God gives us strength. It’s magnificent,” said Zemouri. All the meals are usually distributed by about 6:30 p.m.. Zemouri heads home for dinner with her own family, but then she’s back at the restaurant as a third crew of volunteers arrives to start prepping ingredients for the next day. She heads home around 3:00 a.m. for a few hours sleep before starting all over again. “Often when I’m tired, I stand in front of the window and watch the people who come to get this food. That gives me strength for the next day, to do even more,” she said. Community effort Zemouri said most of the people who come for the food are recent immigrants or asylum seekers from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt. (No one is turned away, and Zemouri says sometimes curious non-Muslims show up.) Often these immigrants have to wait months for work permits and struggle to get by. It’s the same for some of the volunteers in the kitchen. With no work, they have little to do during the day, so they help out. Zemouri said the people who come for the meals are always grateful. “Even their parents who are in other countries sometimes send me messages saying: ‘thank you for feeding our children who are alone there,’ and that really touches me,” she said. The ingredients are mostly donated or offered at a reduced rate by a few local businesses. And people from the community drop by with bags of groceries or cash. There’s no corporate sponsorship, no support from governments or community groups. “It’s a source of pride for our community to do this. It’s very important and everyone appreciates it. That’s what the Muslim community is,” said Zemouri. And while it truly is a group effort, Zemouri is the driving force: part matriarch, part four-star general. Without her singular vision, this likely wouldn’t get done. “Nothing will stop me. As long as I can, I’m sure I’ll continue,” she said.

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Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid to fly to Washington for talks

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid will fly to Washington on Sunday for talks. Lapid will meet with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and several influential senators, the politician announced on his Telegram channel on Saturday. Further details were not initially disclosed. Lapid is the leader of the centrist Future Party. The relationship between the US administration under President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has cooled considerably recently.

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Woman moving from Denver to Kansas City floored by $10,000 quote from movers. Can you afford to move?

Moving is almost always a pain: you have to pack, purge or sell all of your belongings. But now, it’s also a lot more expensive to transport everything from one place to another. Valerie, who goes by @valuhrina on TikTok, discovered this the hard way when she prepared to move from Denver to Kansas City. In her viral video, she claimed that a moving company quoted her $10,000 to move her belongings from a one-bedroom apartment just one state away. Don’t miss ‘It’s not taxed at all’: Warren Buffett shares the ‘best investment’ you can make when battling rising costs — take advantage todayCar insurance rates have spiked in the US to a stunning $2,150/year — but you can be smarter than that. Here’s how you can save yourself as much as $820 annually in minutes (it’s 100% free)Jeff Bezos told his siblings to invest $10K in his startup called Amazon, and now their stake is worth over $1B — 3 ways to get rich without having to gamble on risky public stocks “Who hires movers at that kind of price?” she asked. “That’s half a year’s rent — almost — just to move.” As the cost of housing increases, so does the cost of moving. But there are ways that you can avoid these exorbitant fees. Why is moving so expensive? Valerie said in a follow-up that she’d posted her original video about the $10,000 moving fee because she wanted to know if anyone paid those prices — and TikTok delivered. One commenter pointed out that many companies pay relocation packages for their employees. A company has much more money to spare than an individual, so $10,000 is something they could cover for a worker. However, another commenter, who said that they’re a job recruiter, added that $10,000 is still a lot of money and probably wouldn’t be entirely covered by an employer. The high cost of moving may be part of the reason that 2023 saw the least amount of moves since 1948 (when the U.S. government first started tracking this data), according to a Census analysis from the moving company, Hire a Helper. Although 2022 saw the highest moving costs yet on record, they still never quite reached the $10,000 range. The average move cost $427 in 2022, according to that year’s report from Hire a Helper. The prices dropped slightly in 2023, averaging out at $407. However, the New York Times disagreed with this assessment. They said moves can cost between a few thousand dollars for a local move up to $10,000 for a cross-country move. The prices depend on miles traveled, time to move and the weight of your belongings. Stairs can also impact the price. Although Valerie is only moving one state away, a commenter pointed out that the drive from Denver to Kansas City is nine hours — one way. She’d have to take into account that the movers have to drive back, so it’s really an 18-hour round-trip for them. Read more: Suze Orman says Americans are poorer than they think — but having a dream retirement is so much easier when you know these 3 simple money moves How to make the cost of moving cheaper Valerie decided she isn’t going to use movers. In fact, she checked if their quote would cost more than renting her own truck and moving herself. She said that she doesn’t know many people in Kansas City, according to another video she posted to TikTok. Her new home in Kansas City is a fourth-floor walkup, so she thought movers might help make the move a little easier. But once she heard the price, she decided to stick with U-Haul, although she didn’t disclose the quote they gave her. Commenters recommended that she hire people off of Taskrabbit to help move her things into the new Kansas City apartment. Other commenters said it’s cheaper for her to sell her bigger items — such as a sectional sofa and a queen-size bed — and buy new ones in Kansas City. Another option is to use freight shipping. It takes a bit more time for your things to get to you, but can be significantly cheaper. What to read next Thanks to Jeff Bezos, you can now use $100 to cash in on prime real estate — without the headache of being a landlord. Here’s howRich young Americans have lost confidence in the stock market — and are betting on these 3 assets instead. Get in now for strong long-term tailwindsCar insurance premiums in America are through the roof — and only getting worse. But 5 minutes could have you paying as little as $29/month This article provides information only and should not be construed as advice. It is provided without warranty of any kind.

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This old restaurant was a Kansas City favorite … until everything (literally) fell apart

Uniquely KC is a Star series exploring what makes Kansas City special. Are you feeling nostalgic for a Kansas City area restaurant that closed years ago? Share your memories, and we may write about the place in a future story. It was something to behold. A mansion built of weathered wood, seemingly nailed haphazardly together. Half of it stood on crisscrossed stilts overlooking the Kansas City skyline. The structure leaned forward on a hill, as if one push would send it tumbling. “Ramshackle chic,” as one Kansas City Star reporter described it in 1980. Somewhat prophetic words, though at the time its makers insisted the building was only designed to look shabby. They fully intended Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine to stand for years to come. Never mind the rainwater that occasionally dripped from the ceiling. Or the cracks that spiderwebbed across the kitchen floor. Or the beams that drifted further and further apart. Tim Phillips, a former waiter at Baby Doe’s, brought up the old Kansas City restaurant in conversation years later. “The one that fell down the hill?” someone piped up in response. Yes. That’s the one. But as its many fans would say, it was fun while it lasted. One of its frequent visitors, Stephen Hawks, recently wrote to The Star hoping to find out more about the place. He remembers the dazzling skyline views and nights he and his future wife spent on the dance floor. Opening day hiccups In 1979, Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine was erected on a bluff 150 feet above Interstate 35 at the Cambridge Circle interchange. It stood just east of the state line so its downstairs club could serve copious amounts of alcohol, avoiding the stringent liquor laws Kansas had then. At the time, the mine shaft-themed restaurant was expected to transform the Cambridge Terraces area southwest of downtown into a booming development. “This restaurant is the start of a development that will include motel facilities, other restaurants, office complexes …” a developer told The Star in 1979. Though today, the area is relatively quiet, save a few office buildings. Perhaps the restaurant’s brief life is to blame. California-based Specialty Restaurants Corp. had already opened Baby Doe’s restaurants in Dallas, Denver and Birmingham, Alabama, and was hoping to bring the concept to the Midwest. The four-story building was set up to hold 300 diners, with an additional 200 in the basement club. (Which, Phillips said, could be quite rowdy in the evening.) To create the massive structure, developers foraged the country for old barn wood. It was a $1.5 million project, though, as one Kansas City Times writer noted, it looked to be about 100 years old. Things were almost ready to go in August 1980. The last rickety beam was in place, and reservations for opening day were set. But days before Baby Doe’s debut, the sprinkler system still wasn’t working, and the Kansas City Fire Department told restaurant staff to call off the opening celebrations. An omen? Perhaps. Or maybe pure bad luck. “The cancellation forced restaurant employees to spend a good part of Tuesday on the telephone telling people, including (the mayor) and other city officials, not to come for cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and prime rib dinner that were to have marked the christening of Baby Doe’s,” The Times (the former sister paper of The Star) chronicled at the time. Phillips remembers. “We were told, ‘OK, we’re opening tomorrow night,’ and then here comes the fire department up the hill,” he said. Despite the hiccup, it did open about a week later. Then diners arrived in droves to chow down on crab legs and prime rib while marveling at panoramic views of the city. Terri Lawson, who also worked there as a server, reminisced about the nights spent partying in the cavernous basement. She raved about the architecture and “really good” beer cheese soup. “It was a special place,” she said. “People would celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, whatever.” A petting zoo outside welcomed families ahead of lunch and dinner. She still remembers the little mule, Clementine, who brayed “hello” customers. (Mules were once used to pull coal carts in mines.) A junked car from the late 1800s, early 1900s sat near the entrance. “If somebody wanted a tour, we had to stop what we were doing and take them to each room,” Lawson said. “The floors were creaky, and it gave me the real feel that you were in an actual mine.” Reviews rolled in, and despite the lively atmosphere, critics noted the food was lackluster. “Only the atmosphere is matchless,” reads one especially brutal headline from The Star in 1981. But it was certainly a popular place. Another article claimed wait times could be up to three hours in the first few months of its opening. ‘Hold on to the Matchless’ Employees were expected to be well-versed in the true history of Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor, a Colorado socialite who rose to fame after senator and silver tycoon Horrace Tabor left his wife, Augusta, to marry the much younger woman. Horace was one of Colorado’s wealthiest men at the time. Horace’s lucrative silver mine in Leadville — called the Matchless Mine — was the blueprint for each Baby Doe’s restaurant. But the Tabors lost their riches after the price of silver plummeted during the Panic of 1893. They died paupers. As the legend goes, Horace’s last deathbed plea to his wife was, “Hold on to the Matchless. It will make millions again.” Keeping her promise, Baby Doe lived in a shabby cabin near the mine decades after Horace’s death. Much like the Tabors’ fortune, Baby Doe’s Matchless Mine was a powder keg waiting to explode. Toward the end of its run, employees began to notice that the beams holding the roof up began to move further apart. Equally concerning was the rift that was growing in the kitchen floor. Then its back windows shattered. Restaurant owners began to realize they were holding a lit fuse. On August 3, 1985, The Times reported the support beams had moved up to one-and-a-half feet apart in a week, partially separating the restaurant’s dining rooms from the rest of the building. The shifting hill on which Baby Doe’s stood was to blame, engineers concluded, and it had caused $500,000 worth of damage to the restaurant. Baby Doe’s closed down that week, though restaurant owners said they still hoped to reopen after making repairs. They had previously hoped to expand on the hill to accommodate more customers. Owners held onto hope for months that, like Horace’s deathbed cry, the Matchless would make millions again. But the building was razed a year later. In 1991, a Jackson County Circuit judge ruled that the restaurant’s owner, Specialty Restaurants Corp., owed the property owner, Dean Realty Co., $1.5 million for defaulting on its lease and failing to build the restaurant properly. While other Baby Doe’s locations survived longer than Kansas City’s, none are still open. Unless, of course, you count the real Matchless Mine in Colorado. The rundown property where Horace made his fortune can be toured today, though visitors are prohibited from entering the mine shaft. Too dangerous, its website notes.

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Harris: Farmers’ work ‘needs to be rewarded, respected and valued’

New Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach-in-waiting, Simon Harris has said he wants to engage in a new partnership on agriculture where farmers are central to the changes being made. The party leader said he wants to say to farmers and to rural Ireland that “Fine Gael will never talk down to you on climate action”, but instead sit down and work with and for farmers. Harris, who will be nominated for election as Taoiseach next week, was speaking at the 82nd Fine Gael Ard Fheis at the University of Galway this evening (Saturday, April 6). “We won’t lecture you because I want to engage in a new partnership on agriculture where farmers are central to the changes we are making. “For example, I want to implement the agri-environment strategies – such as the biomethane strategy – so farmers can earn a good income while protecting our environment. “I will work with you and support you so that, together, we retain Ireland’s nitrates derogation which is necessary for our agri-food sector,” the new Fine Gael leader said. Harris on farming Fine Gael has held 15 meetings across the country with farmers, the party leader said and added that “we have listened; we now need to turn that listening into action”. Harris said he has asked the party’s agriculture group to come forward a plan within the next six weeks on how Fine Gael intends to act on issues like succession, retirement and other stresses facing the farming community. Addressing the 82nd Fine Gael Ard Fheis today, Harris said he is regularly engaging with the farming community across his constituency in Co. Wicklow, and added: “As we know and they know, it has been a brutal year for farmers, because the weather has been awful. You need help, and we will respond. “Under my leadership, I will look at practical supports to help the farming community because agriculture is a vital part of the Irish economy. Your work needs to be rewarded, respected and valued.” During his address, Harris also reiterated his commitment to establish new vet schools in rural Ireland. “I may be leaving my current Department [of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science], but I will be making sure we establish new vet schools in rural Ireland,” Harris said. The department confirmed to Agriland that it continues to engage with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) and the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on this matter.

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Why Celtic are getting a Rangers send off the NIGHT BEFORE blockbuster title crunch at Ibrox

The UK is currently being battered pillar to post by Storm Kathleen. But that’s only the support act to the main event that is set to bring Glasgow to a standstill for two hours plus on Sunday lunchtime. Flights are getting cancelled and ferries are failing to leave the dock but that hasn’t stopped a large number of Celtic fans from making their way to Parkhead to wave off their heroes ahead of the huge battle at Ibrox tomorrow. Wind, sleet, snow or storm, football fans are one of a kind and they are always out in force for their teams and that was no different today up and down the country across the grounds and out and about in the east end. The question that people may well be asking themselves is WHY are the Hoops team being waved off the night BEFORE the game? Parkhead to Ibrox isn’t exactly a million miles away but the answer is a simple one. The champions are spending the night together in a comfortable hotel. Those who gathered at the Celtic Way, led by the Green Brigade, urged the table toppers to triumph ‘By any means necessary’ when John Beaton’s first whistle echoes around Ibrox. The away fan lock out continues for now, meaning 50,000 plus Rangers fans will be making plenty of noise in Govan in an attempt to roar their troops on, but the Hoops faithful have made sure their team have had their send-off and big backing with Rodgers and his players leaving Celtic Park earlier on. The manager and coaching staff were quick to recognise the significant turnout as punters chanted the name of the boss and several of his star turns – including fit-again fans’ favourite Reo Hatate. Victory tomorrow for either side will see them take control of their own destiny in what has turned into a title race for the ages. Yes, the UK is currently experiencing the effect of Storm Kathleen at present. But that will be NOTHING compared to what is to come for Rodgers, Philippe Clement and their sides in Govan. The hours, minutes and seconds continue to tick on by ahead of the hotly anticipated battle and the good news for football fans across the globe and not just those associated to either side is there could be another TWO of these meetings before the summer.

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MOVIE REVIEW: We wrap up warm for sequel ‘Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

Set three years after the events of Afterlife , Frozen Empire sees the new Busters living in New York, where an ancient artefact unleashes an evil force that threatens the whole world. The previous film’s co-writer Gil Kenan ( Monster House , Poltergeist remake) takes over from Jason Reitman (back as part of the story team) in the director’s chair, and he takes a similar nostalgiac approach. The trailer hinted at an action and spook-heavy adventure with very high stakes but it takes a long while for Frozen Empire to get going. The first hour is very dialogue and exposition heavy and while it does a pretty good job of building up the threat posed by the main antagonist, it doesn’t make for the finest viewing. There are also far too many characters thrown at us. You already have the new and old Busters , so pop in a new villain, Kumail Nanjiani’s Nadeem , Emily Alyn Lind’s Melody , British comedian James Acaster ( Lars ) and others and there’s not enough screen time to go around. Consequently, the likes of Finn Wolfhard ( Trevor ), Bill Murray ( Peter ), Ernie Hudson ( Winston ) and Annie Potts ( Janine ) are given little to do, and there isn’t much development in Paul Rudd ( Gary ) and Carrie Coon’s ( Callie ) relationship. Rudd is his usual reliable charming self, though, while Mckenna Grace ( Phoebe ) impresses in the film’s most well-rounded role, Dan Aykroyd ( Ray ) seizes his meaty part and it was great to see the original movie’s Walter Peck (William Atherton) return – with even more power. The Busters’ new technology, such as a drone trap, allows Kenan extra freedom with his camera, swooping in and out of the fire house and along the streets of New York. When the villain finally unleashes his full chilly powers, he’s an intimidating force and the team-up required to take him on is a crowd-pleaser. But the original 1984 Ghostbusters remains comfortably on its classic perch as while Frozen Empire raises spirits and smiles, it even falls below the far-from-perfect Afterlife . ● What are your thoughts on the Ghostbusters movies? Which ones are your favourites? Pop me an email at ian.bunting@reachplc.com and I will pass on your comments – and any movie or TV show recommendations you have – to your fellow readers. ● Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is showing in cinemas now. *Don’t miss the latest headlines from around Lanarkshire. Sign up to our newsletters here. And did you know Lanarkshire Live had its own app? Download yours for free here.

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Sam Quek throws four parties in one to celebrate family milestones after tough times

When Olympian and TV host Sam Quek and her husband Tom Mairs started to plan their kids’ party, they knew they wanted to go big. The family had been through a tough time, losing two beloved relatives, a close friend, and their dog within months. Daughter Molly, three, was also hospitalised with a virus. But, like all athletes, gold medallist Sam, 35, has never been one to let life’s hurdles stop her in her tracks. So she decided it was time for her family to celebrate – and they went all out, throwing a “four-in-one” bash: joint christenings and birthday parties for Molly and brother Zac, two, complete with jungle theme, a zoo of model animals, ball pool slides, and a waterfall cake with five tiers. “They both love everything to do with the zoo and animals. I had a vision of what it would look like but it exceeded all my expectations,” says hockey champ and Question of Sport team captain Sam. “Molly and Zac absolutely loved it. We had about 150 there in the end – it was like a second wedding – but we decided to either go big or go home and it was brilliant.” The siblings were born only 12 months and one week apart. As both were Covid babies, there was little opportunity for big get-togethers to mark their arrival. “We wanted to make memories for everyone; create something nobody would forget,” says property entrepreneur Tom, 38. “We had a really tough back end to last year. We lost Sam’s gran, we’d already lost her aunt and one of my close colleagues, and then we lost our dog too. “Work was difficult. Molly had been hospitalised for a couple of days with a virus. We realised both families hadn’t been together to celebrate anything happy for a while, so here was our chance. We wanted everyone to have a brilliant time and look back on it with joy.” Sam leaned into the jungle theme after her stint on 2016’s I’m A Celebrity, and supported local businesses buying the cake and dresses – with a designer using a button and bow from Sam’s 2018 wedding gown on Molly’s dress. The party at a Merseyside hotel near their Wirral home was a high point in a busy few years for the former Olympian, who won a gold medal in hockey for Team GB at the Rio 2016 Olympics. A regular on TV since, she’s fronted sports shows for Channel 5 and BT Sport, and competed in Celebrity MasterChef, anchored the BBC ’s Tokyo Olympic coverage, and presented for BBC’s Morning Live show while juggling pregnancy and motherhood. Sam, who also last year co-hosted the opening ceremony of the Eurovision Song Contest in Liverpool, admits becoming a mum has changed her irrevocably. “I am so much more in touch with my emotions,” she reveals. “When you’re an elite athlete you can’t let your emotions wander, they have to be contained. You have to be very results-focused. “Having the kids has definitely softened me up. I feel more empowered to go through my emotions and if I’m sad I will cry; it’s good to let the kids see that that’s OK.” Now she has the children, balancing everything is not easy. “Life is very, very busy and every day is different,” she says. “I love that but I used to feel very guilty about going to work. We could have nannies but I like being a hands-on mother.” As for making friends with other mums, Sam admits it’s a bit like dating. “You go out for coffee and it’s one on one and you either click or you don’t,” she reveals. “Or you’re getting on fine and then before you know it the other person is asking for Liverpool FC tickets!” Sam, who still plays hockey at club level as well as squash and football, would love it if either of her children showed a passion for sport. She says: “It has shaped me as the person I am. It teaches you how to problem solve and navigate relationships and how to both win and lose. So yes, we’ve had an eye out for any talent since they were first born. “I remember when Molly put a dummy in her mouth with her eyes closed and I thought, ‘Look at that hand-eye co-ordination!’ “She loves swimming and has good balance. She comes to watch me play hockey and was chasing a ball around with a hair brush saying, ‘Look at me, Mummy, I am playing hockey!’” Zac, meanwhile, is turning into a competent little driver, racing round their Merseyside kitchen and leaning into bends like a pro in a minicar. “There might be some Formula One talent there!” laughs Tom. As for having more kids, Sam says: “We’ve not written it off, but this moment in time we are done. I’m a genetic twin – can you imagine going from two to four? “I want to be a successful mum and presenter. You can do both but it is harder when you’re a mum. I don’t want to miss those important moments with my kids.” Work-wise, she has plenty of plans in the pipeline – revealing conversations are ongoing about getting involved in this summer’s Paris Olympics coverage. Her 15 years of top level sport have taught her a valuable life lesson: “Believe in yourself. Even now I sometimes lose sight of what I’ve done and achieved.” From the look of her beaming little family, what she’s achieved is a lot more than just her gold medal. ■ For the full interview and exclusive pictures don’t miss next week’s OK! out on April 9

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Prison bosses race to stop ‘Breaking Bad’ style lab producing super-strong Spice

Lags are cooking up new strains of zombie drug Spice 20 times stronger than the regular type. A prison report revealed the Breaking Bad-style operation is taking place in a secret lab behind bars. And jail chiefs are now scrambling to shut it down before the new crystal form of the drug wreaks havoc. Spice, which can contain rat poison and solvents like glue, paint and cleaning fluids, is often smoked in a joint, cannabis-style. But enterprising lags have found a way to turn it into crystals and make it stronger by adding more chemicals – just like in Netflix series Breaking Bad, where a chemistry teacher sets up his own makeshift methamphetamine lab. A jail source said: “Most of the time, prisoners smoke Spice through vapes but herbal spice is still doing the rounds and now crystal spice. Every time we think we have a handle on it, the ingredients change. Now, what we have is prisoners making their own versions in makeshift labs, bulking the drug up with anything they can lay their hands on. They are using prescription drugs they get for anything from ADHD to stomach cramps.” Another source added: “The regular form of Spice is already highly potent so it’s extremely worrying to think what effect this could have on the men. It is thought the super-strong Spice is being produced at HMP Portland – a category C prison and young offender institution for adult males in Dorset.” The development came after bosses installed a scanner that stopped Spice being smuggled in and another to check it was not carried in by rogue staff. A report by inspectors said: “Intelligence suggested Spice was being produced within the prison from crystal form. This is being closely monitored.” It comes after six inmates died at HMP Parc in Bridgend, Wales, after taking a lethal dose of Spice. The Ministry of Justice was contacted for comment. The Prison Service said HMP Portland is working hard to “build an environment where prisoners feel safe”. It added the jail is investing in new measures to stop drugs entering and using drug dogs to sniff out drugs inside.

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