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Former Bedford Blues player dies in Congo plane crash

David Francombe. Credit: Bedford Blues

A former Bedford Blues rugby player has died in a plane crash in Africa.

The aircraft came down in the Democratic Republic of Congo on May 16.

David Francombe played for the Blues in the 80s when he was a student at Bedford College.

The plane came down in DR Congo 10 days ago. Credit: ITV News Anglia

When he'd finished his studies, he returned to his home country of Kenya and went on to captain their national side.

Dave will be remembered with great respect and affection by his Bedford teammates, not just a great on field player, but as a friendly, bear of a man, always ready with a smile and a handshake.

The club sends its sincere sympathy to his family on their tragic loss.

– Bedford Blues statement


Taxi driver jailed over plans to abandon family and join ISIS

Naseer Mirza Taj. Credit: Bedfordshire Police

A taxi driver from Bedford who planned to leave his pregnant wife at home while he travelled to fight for the so called Islamic State has been jailed.

26-year-old Naseer Taj planned to go to Syria, marry a jihadi bride and achieve martyrdom.

But he was arrested in December 2014 two days before he was set to leave.

He was found guilty of the preparation of terrorists acts and sentenced to eight years and three months.

The sad reality is that his intentions meant he has now missed out on the birth of his child and will not be there to see them growing up.

We work hard with partner agencies and our communities to identify those who seek to exploit the vulnerable in our society, or who have extreme views in order to intervene and divert them away from that path.

– Detective Inspector Ryan Brammer

Police watchdog informed of man's death in Bedford

Midland Road in Bedford where a man died earlier today

Bedfordshire Police have confirmed the police watchdog the IPCC have been informed after a man died in Bedford.

It happened at lunchtime today (Wednesday) on the town's Midland Road.

Officers gave first aid at the scene and the ambulance service also attended, but were unable to save the man.

In a brief statement Bedfordshire Police said

The IPCC will be informed of the incident, as is procedure when a person dies who has been in recent contact with the police.

No further details will be released at this time.

– Bedfordshire Police

Bedford lock Flanagan joins Premiership giants Saracens

Mark McCall is happy to have signed Flanagan. Credit: PA

Bedford Blues forward Mark Flanagan has joined Aviva Premiership leaders Saracens on a two-year deal.

The second row has been in fantastic form for the Blues this season, helping them reach The Championship play-offs.

The 26-year-old will complete his move in the summer.

We have been watching Mark for some time and he has proved himself one of the most impressive lock forwards in the Championship.

We're delighted he's chosen to advance his career at Saracens.

– Mark McCall, Saracens Director of Rugby

Meanwhile, Bedford have signed London Irish centre Tom Farrell.


100 boats already signed up for Bedford River Festival

Bedford River Festival, 2014 Credit: ITV News Anglia

Organisers of this summer's Bedford River Festival say they've already had more than 100 boats sign up.

The event takes place in July every two years. The last time it was held in 2014 around 250 thousand people went along over the two days.

One of the boats on parade in 2014 Credit: ITV News Anglia

Events on the river include competitions for the best decorated narrow boats and cruisers, an illuminated boat parade and the ever popular Dragon boat races on Saturday, and raft racing on Sunday.

In addition, 2016 marks 850 years since the signing of the Royal Charter by King Henry II.

The charter granted new rights and powers to the people of Bedford and the River Festival will host a twelfth century village on honour of this special anniversary.

This year the festival is on 16th and 17th July.

"The River Festival is a fantastic event that that is powered by Bedford Borough's community spirit. There is always a vast array of attractions for people of all ages to enjoy, and I am looking forward to seeing this year's programme develop as the event approaches."

– The Mayor of Bedford Borough, Dave Hodgson
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