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Fire tears through multi-millionaire's Berkshire mansion

A multi-millionaire businessman and his family were left homeless after a fire tore through their huge £3.5m riverside mansion yesterday.

Darren Browne said he arrived home from shopping to find the three-storey house ablaze. Damage was expected to run into more than £1 million.

A total of six crews of firefighters spent almost 22 hours battling the blaze Credit: INS News

His son, Conor, had been in the house with his girlfriend and teenage brother Paddy when they spotted the fire starting in a first floor bedroom of the house at around 2.30pm on Sunday afternoon.

The 23-year-old dialled 999 to raise the alarm and fled the detached house with the family dogs, Molly and Digger, before calling his dad, who had been out shopping with wife Sonia.

he mansion which is on the banks of the River Thames in Reading, Berkshire Credit: INS News

Reading free school site still undecided

A site bought for £1.2 million for a new free school in Reading may not end up being used. The Education Funding Agency is considering alternatives for the Heights Primary at Caversham after angry objections from residents. Parents setting up the school say the purchased site IS a compromise but they have been assured by the government it's suitable for the much needed school.

There's concern in Reading tonight over more than a million pounds of public money spent on buying land for a new free school that could now end up being built somewhere else.

Work on the Heights Primary in Caversham has been put on hold following anger from neighbours at the residential site who say it's completely unsuitable.

Several alternatives are now being considered but in the meantime children have to travel across town to a temporary location. Our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has more.


Caversham rowers win at World Championships

Having already secured one gold and three bronze medals during the regatta in South Korea, the eights crew finished ahead of Germany and the United States.

The men's eight were bronze medal winners at the London 2012 Olympics, where Germany took the gold.

But it was a momentous victory on Tangeum Lake on Saturday for the British crew - Daniel Ritchie, Tom Ransley, Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Mohamed Sbihi, Andrew Triggs Hodge, George Nash, William Satch and cox Phelan Hill.

They dictated the pace of the 2000m race, leading at all of the checkpoints.

On the final day of competition the men's lightweight four managed to secure third, with Adam Freeman-Pask, Jonathan Cleggwon, Chris Bartley and William Fletcher taking bronze.

Missing teen may be travelling with a friend

We are growing increasingly concerned for Nicola’s welfare and need to find her as soon as possible to check she is okay. We believe she may be travelling around the country with a friend by train and may have visited the Rochdale area.

I would urge anyone who sees someone matching Nicola’s description to contact us as soon as possible. I would also like to appeal directly to Nicola to contact us. You are not in any trouble, we just need to make sure you are safe."

– Insp Jim Shaw, Thames Valley Police

Anyone with any information about Nicola’s whereabouts should contact Insp Shaw via the 24-hour non-emergency number, 101, quoting URN 565 25/8.


Concern for missing 15-year-old

Nicola Barr was last seen on Wednesday 21st August Credit: Thames Valley Police

Thames Valley Police is appealing for the public’s help in tracing a 15-year-old girl missing from her home in Caversham. Nicola Barr was last seen at her home address at 7am on Wednesday. She was reported missing at 8.30pm that evening when she failed to return home at the agreed time.

Nicola is white, 5ft 6ins, slim, with red hair and hazel coloured eyes. When she was last seen, she was wearing a dark red hooded top, black trainers and a black baseball cap with Heat written on the front.

Investigation launched after body found in river

The body of a man found floating in the River Thames was today at the centre of a police investigation.

A passer-by raised the alarm after making the grim discovery in the water as they were walking along the bank.

Police and paramedics rushed to the towpath but were unable to help the man and he was declared dead at the scene.

Tonight detectives are treating the death in the Caversham area of Reading as unexplained.

It was believed that officers know who the dead man was but are not releasing his name until all his next of kin had been told of his death.

A post mortem examination was expected to take place in due course and an inquest opened and adjourned.

A spokesman for Thames Valley Police said: "We were called at 1.35pm today to reports of a body in the River Thames at Richfield Avenue, Reading.

"Police and the ambulance service attended the scene and at 2.45pm the body of a man was recovered nearby.

"Currently the death is being treated as unexplained."

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