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Elderly couple feared dead after Blenheim cottage destroyed by fire

The cottage is in the grounds of Blenheim Palace Credit: PA

The search continues for an elderly couple whose cottage on the Blenheim estate in Oxfordshire was destroyed by fire.

They are thought to have been killed in the fire which swept through Fisheries Cottage on Wednesday night.

Details of the fire only came to light on Friday, when police and the fire service released a statement:

“Sadly at this stage we strongly believe that two occupants living at the property are still inside.

“We are working with the next of kin of the occupants and giving them regular updates, as our multi agency team continues to search the property.

“At this stage we believe that there are no suspicious circumstances, and along with Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue we continue to investigate the cause of the fire.”

– DS Robert Platt, Thames Valley Police
The cottage lies to the north of the palace grounds Credit: Google Images

It's thought the blaze occurred unnoticed on Wednesday night before the smouldering embers were discovered at 7.50 on Thursday morning.

Group Manager Kerry Blair the Fire Risk Manager for Cherwell and West Oxfordshire said:

“Due to the structural instability of the building following the fire, Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue and Thames Valley Police have worked with structural engineers to secure the stability of the premises to enable a safe investigation to be undertaken.”

The identity of the cottage owners has not been released.

Part of the footpath that surrounds the cottage is closed to the public until Monday.

Police say a search of the property remains ongoing.

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Father's epic Skye challenge from Oxfordshire

A father is looking for people to join him on all or part of his journey as he takes on an epic fundraising challenge this summer in memory of his son.

Skye Hall died last August, aged five, after being diagnosed with medulloblastoma, an aggressive and cancerous brain tumour.

His father, Andrew Hall, 43, from Oxford, has organised 2Skye4Skye, a challenge which will see people travel from Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire to the highest point on the Isle of Skye in Scotland to raise money for the charity that he and his wife, Sally, established in Skye's name - Blue Skye Thinking.

Skye Hall Credit: PA

The 636-mile journey, taking in the Peak District, the Lake District, Loch Lomond, and Scotland's west coast, will include a combination of cycling, kayaking and hill walking.

Andrew said: "I wanted to do something special to celebrate Skye's life and have spent a long time thinking about what that should be.

"Then a very dear friend, Ed Blagrove, announced that he would like to do events in 2015 totalling the distance from Oxfordshire to the Isle of Skye.

Having done a few crazy things in the past myself, it seemed logical to take up the challenge and travel to the Isle of Skye itself.

"We will be departing from Blenheim Palace at 10am on Saturday 25 July and are looking to complete the journey in 10 days.

"This will not only be a physical challenge, but one filled with emotion for me, but I am sure Skye would have loved to have been part of this, as he loved the outdoors. We are looking for people to join us for some or all of the adventure and hope to get a good group together to take part."

The first day will see cyclists ride north through Oxfordshire and into Warwickshire passing through Nuneaton and on to the spa town of Buxton.

The journey continues through to Manchester, and on to Lancaster and the Lakes, where the cyclists will swap their bikes for a paddle, and kayak the length of Lake Windermere to Ambleside, where they will once again hop into the saddle and continue through to Carlisle and cross the border into Scotland.

The journey continues through Kilmarnock and Glasgow and follows the bank of Loch Lomond to its northernmost tip and then winds in the Scottish hills towards Fort William, where it is envisaged that Ben Nevis will be conquered en route to Skye.

Once reaching Skye, the final challenge will be to summit Sgurr Alasdair, the highest point on the Isle of Skye.

All the money raised will go into research into new treatments for childhood cancer. The charity's next goal is to reach £200,000 to put into place a post-doctoral researcher for three years.

Chinese tourist campaign launched at Blenheim Palace

Video. It's one of the country's finest stately homes. Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire is hoping to play a major role in attracting Chinese tourists to Britain, a country they have traditionally seen as too 'wet and cold.'

Today, a campaign was launched at the Palace to make us the number one destination in Europe for Chinese visitors.

Rachel Hepworth reports.

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Blenheim Palace going green with hydropower plans

The palace is trying to become one of Britain's greenest Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

Blenheim Palace, in Oxfordshire, will install a £180,000 hydropower scheme to generate clean electricity. The palace has teamed up with UK renewables firm Hallidays Hydropower to install the "Archimedean screw" design of hydropower as part of measures make the palace one of Britain's greenest.

The technology will be fitted on the River Glyme, at Bladon Dam, within the "Capability" Brown landscape surrounding the palace, and will generate enough clean electricity to power the equivalent of 18 homes as well as cutting carbon emissions.

It is expected to have a lifespan of 40 years, and subsidies for electricity generated from small-scale renewables, known as feed-in tariffs, will pay an estimated £12,600 a year for the scheme over the first 20 years.

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