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Woman uses emotional support pet SKUNK called Pongo to battle years of anxiety and depression – and even takes it for walks in her Yorkshire town

***EXCLUSIVE*** A nurse battling anxiety and depression for many years has told how her symptoms have eased dramatically - thanks to her pet SKUNK. Paula Bavill, 46, purchased Pongo two years ago but didn't know at the time her furry friend would end up changing her life forever. Paula was previously unable to attend large gatherings and events with confined crowds because of crippling mental health issues she had suffered from for a decade. However, now Paula now can often be seen walking around in public with Pongo in a pouch on her chest or plodding along attached to a lead at her feet.

Jodipan: Indonesia's amazing rainbow village

Wandering about the streets of Malang unassumingly, many tourists will be pleasantly surprised by the sudden bursts of bright colors in the most unlikely neighborhood of Jodipan, the amazing rainbow village of Java, Indonesia. Just a year ago, this riverside village was a slum area on the verge of eviction. The local government had decided that the living conditions of this village were atrocious enough to call for total relocation of residents. That’s when a group of students from Muhammadiyah University of Malang resolved that perhaps a little splashy color may just change everything—and it did. After forming a partnership with a local paint distributor that agreed to support the project, the group gathered about 30 painters and local artists to do the magic.

Fans of the 1940s dress up as fighter pilots, spivs, squaddies, bobbies and NAZIS in World War Two re-enactment

Visitors to the northern village of Haworth were transported back in time for a 1940s weekend featuring an explosive battle reenactment, dressed up locals and themed history exhibits. Revellers could even watch a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight flypast, ride on a steam train adapted for the period and dance to performers in the streets as they played music from the Second World War. The event takes place every year in the village of Haworth, near Bradford, West Yorkshire, and this year's offering certainly did not disappoint.

Woman, 23, claims she 'has had a never-ending headache for eight years' after being struck by a ball on the back of her skull

***EXCLUSIVE*** TEXAS, USA: This woman was struck by a BALL in the back of her head which triggered a headache which hasn’t gone in EIGHT YEARS - and she’s even been hospitalised after being triggered by light, noise and WEATHER CHANGES. Ashley Rogers (23) from Houston, Texas, USA, played volleyball and softball from a young age, but in January 2011, while on the way to volleyball practice she experienced a terrible headache, which lasted for the next week.  The headache returned on March 17 and lasted for four days until it started to recede on March 21, 2011. Unfortunately, Ashley suffered a blow to the back of her head from a softball on the same day her head was getting better, which reignited her headache and it has never gone away since. Ashley explains her pain levels as a usual day being a seven out of 10 for pain, however on days when it is triggered and gets worse it becomes a level 10 and she has been forced to go to the hospital when the pain is too much for her to manage. There are certain triggers which can affect Ashley’s pain, these include loud noise, bright light, lack of sleep, stress, weather changes, menstrual cycles and sudden movement. During a flare up, Ashley will hibernate in her room where she can block out all light and sound. She usually lies down with an ice pack and pain medication as she waits for it to soothe. Ashley has not had a headache-free day in the last eight years, which has taken its toll on her life drastically. The headache stops her from playing sports, exercising, reading, writing and going out with friends. Despite the intense pain that Ashley’s invisible illness puts her through, it can be difficult for some people to empathise as they can’t physically see anything wrong with her.

Therapist, 24, has to relearn how to walk, talk, read and write again after suffering a traumatic brain injury from a car crash that doctors dismissed

***EXCLUSIVE*** ALBANY, NEW YORK, USA: This woman has had to learn to walk, talk, read and write again after suffering a traumatic brain injury when the car she was driving slid on ice and crashed into a telephone pole leading to her head slamming into her steering wheel at 30mph – but it took doctors FOUR MONTHS to admit her to a rehab facility after initially believing she was FINE and DISCHARGING her the NEXT DAY. On January 24, 2017, rehab therapist, Kaitlyn McInerney (24) from Albany, New York, USA, was on her way to work at her new job where she was excited to be working on the hospital floor on her own for the first time. As she was new to the hospital, Kaitlyn didn’t yet have a parking permit so had been parking on the streets nearby. It had been snowing overnight and the roads were slippery, as Kaitlyn turned down a side road to park, her car spun on the ice and crashed into a telephone pole, her airbags failed, and her head slammed into her steering wheel at a speed of 30mph. Kaitlyn describes the aftermath of the accident as ‘an outer body experience’ as she was aware of everything going on around her but was dazed and unable to articulate how she was feeling to the paramedics who rushed to the scene. Kaitlyn was in hospital for just one day following the accident after doctors took CT scans and x-rays, and told her she had severe concussion and whiplash and the reason she was unable to speak was due to her suffering from PTSD after hitting her head and it would come back on its own. It took Kaitlyn four months before she was admitted to a rehabilitation facility as at home she was suffering from severe headaches, dizziness, nausea, sensitivity to light and sound, and was still struggling to talk, walk, read and write. In May 2017, she was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury (TBI), post-concussive syndrome, aphasia, photophobia, pseudo seizures and migraines. Since being in rehab, Kaitlyn has learnt how to walk, talk, read, write and even eat again with the help of occupational, physical, vision and light and speech therapies. Kaitlyn found it hard to adjust to the ‘new’ her and when she found therapy difficult would mourn the person she once was but credits her mum, Lynda, for supporting her and being a positive influence in her recovery and now she refuses to be seen as a victim.

Obese couple who tipped the scales at more than 500lbs reveal how they've shed almost HALF their combined body weight

***EXCLUSIVE*** Meet the former food addict couple who have collectively lost nearly SEVENTEEN STONE despite still EATING SIX TIMES A DAY and say their sex life is LIMITLESS because of it. Business owners, Corey (30) and Marie Martin (32) from North Carolina, USA, admit that they were addicted to food and would consume copious amounts of it for comfort. Their bad habits resulted in their weights increasing to 19st 2Ib, with Corey being a shirt size XXL and Marie being a UK size 26. They both felt uncomfortable in their own skin and hated shopping; Corey would avoid going to a beach without a shirt on. In 2014, Marie was told by a doctor that if she didn’t improve her health, she wouldn’t live to see 30, which shocked her into making a drastic change. She turned her whole lifestyle upside down, but still managed to fit in six meals a day as part of her diet. Marie is now 9st 9Ibs and UK size six to eight. Her new outlook on her health and the dramatic change her body went through then encouraged her husband, Corey, to change his lifestyle too. Corey is now a healthy size at 12st 2Ibs and shirt size small to medium. Corey and Marie, who are also parents to their daughter, Avalee (2), now both encourage each other when exercising and hold each other accountable. Their relationship has since strengthened; they feel more energetic with their active daughter and while they say their sex life has always been ‘amazing’, their weight loss has allowed them to explore each other in a deeper sense and they now feel limitless in the bedroom.

Mother whose son, 16, is non-verbal autistic insists on dressing him in designer clothes to boost his self-esteem and - and says her YouTube star child is to be 'envied not pitied' because he's taught them 'pure love'

***EXCLUSIVE*** ATHENS, GEORGIA, USA: This mum started sharing her life living with her nonverbal autistic teenage son on social media to show the lighter side of autism to provide hope to other families after being fed up of seeing only bleak portrayals of it in the media – and says that she IS NOT TO BE PITIED BUT ENVIED. YouTuber and mum-of-two, Geege Dudley (51) from Athens, Georgia, USA, was met with nothing but doom and gloom when her son, Pootie (16) was diagnosed with severe autism at just one-and-a-half-years-old within five-minutes of seeing a doctor for an assessment. With not much known about autism at the time, Geege would drop everything whenever a show came on television about living with the condition but was left feeling disheartened as families were often portrayed as being miserable and exhausted. But Geege was determined that her family would not have the same destiny, so she stopped comparing Pootie to other children his age and focussed on what joy autism brings to their lives instead of what some may think it takes away. Pootie is at the most severe end of the autism spectrum and is non-verbal but he goes to school where he receives speech, occupational and behavioural therapy to help him reach his goals and to be able to live his life to the fullest. For Geege, the most important thing was to make sure that Pootie has the most normal life possible so she takes him out with her to the shops, to grab tacos and to have his hair cut, and when he isn’t in therapy, she just focusses on being his mum instead of constantly picking him up on his actions. Fashion, dignity and image is important to Geege for her son, and so she has made it her priority to make sure that her son wears stylish clothes and cologne that makes him look and feel good, instead of easy-to-wear tracksuits that many children with special needs wear. This has boosted Pootie’s self-esteem as he is fussed over wherever he goes. Geege says that Pootie has enriched her life beyond belief and that she is to be envied not pitied by others and feels blessed to be his mum. She shares their life on Instagram and on YouTube with their channel, Planet Poot, to show the lighter side of autism, with an unexpectedly hilarious, relatable twist.

Yobs smash model railway exhibition with hammers and destroy £8k trains

***EXCLUSIVE*** Shocking pictures show the scale of destruction caused by yobs after they went on the rampage at a model railway exhibition. Tens of thousands of pounds worth of exhibits were destroyed by the vandals after they broke into a secondary school in the early hours of Saturday. The act of 'total wanton destruction' left 'grown men in tears' and led to the cancellation of the Market Deeping Model Railway Club's show in Stamford, Lincs. Images taken by club members show how the thugs left the Stamford Welland Academy looking like a 'bomb site'.

A woman almost lost her leg after banging it against a baby gate and developing a flesh-eating bug which ravaged the limb and left her in a coma

***EXCLUSIVE*** Sophie Mason, 34, tripped and hit her right thigh against a metal stair gate, but she ignored the bruise on her leg until it started burning, oozing with puss and she began throwing up days later. She was rushed to Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester, on December 27th - two days after the accident - and was placed in an induced coma as an infection had caused her organs to start to shut down. Doctors discovered the bang had triggered Necrotizing fasciitis (NF) - a flesh-eating disease which results in the death of parts of the body's soft tissue. During eight weeks in hospital - a week of which Sophie spent in a coma - medics scraped the infection out of the wound, used a vacuum machine to clean it and performed a skin graft. Sophie has since made an incredible recovery and is back at home in Eccles, Manchester.

This modern house designed like a Medieval castle has gone on sale - for £1.5m

***EXCLUSIVE*** The Grade II listed home looks like it was built in a bygone era, but was actually constructed in 1992. It comes complete with boundary walls, portcullis, dragon gargoyle and a private lift. The unique four bedroom property in Torquay, Devon, also enjoys stunning sea and coastal views.

A smart skin patch that cools down or warms up the wearer has been developed by scientists

***EXCLUSIVE*** The two inch square device works like a personalised thermostat and can be used at home, work or on the go. It is soft enough to be embedded in clothing - making the person comfortable whatever the weather. Powered by a flexible, stretchable battery pack the US team believe it will help save energy on air conditioning and heating.

Potholers' paradise! One of Britain's most complex cave systems is open for visitors again

Adventurers will get the chance to explore one of Britain's largest caves as it opens to the public once again. Gaping Gill in Yorkshire opens just twice a year, giving a glimpse into one of the longest and most complex cave systems in the UK. Visiting cavers can travel to the site near Ingleborough Cave in the Yorkshire Dales and be winched down from a hole in the roof into the 420ft-long main chamber. The descent is not for the faint-hearted, however. It's a 360ft drop and takes about a minute to reach the bottom. 

A dramatic shot of a gazelle charging over the edge of a sand dune in the Namib desert has won an international photo prize

***EXCLUSIVE*** The shot that beat hundreds of others to the top place of the Natural World competition run by the Society of International Nature and Wildlife Photographers, was taken from the open door of a helicopter. British snappers came second and third in the contest, one with a dragonfly being carried by four red ants and a lovely picture of a six month old gorilla baby snuggling up to its mother in Rwanda. Entrants from across the globe were highly commended with a stunning shot of a leopard rolling in the snow in Russia to a fox stealing a frozen fish in Hungary and a close up of a salsify plant in Slovakia. Winner Buddy Eleazer from Pennsylvania in the US said: "The picture is of a gemsbok or Oryx gazelle and was taken in the Namib-Naukluft Desert approximately 20 miles inland.

Fifty years of the Topgun fighter unit that inspired the Eighties hit movie are celebrated in stunning new book

***EXCLUSIVE*** Topgun, the US Navy’s world-famous fighter unit which inspired one of the eighties most beloved films, turns FIFTY this year and is celebrated in a new book which is sure to take your breath away. “I feel the need—the need for speed!” The exploits of Maverick (Tom Cruise), Iceman (Val Kilmer), Charlie (Kelly McGillis) and Goose (Anthony Edwards) was a staple of many childhoods with the elite fighter pilot blockbuster making over £275million worldwide at the box office. But although the film is a scintillating adrenaline-filled and emotionally-charged rollercoaster, which inspired multiple generations to take to the skies, the history of the ‘Topgun’ military school stretches back way beyond the movie’s 1986 release date.

Pokemon themed wedding

***EXCLUSIVE*** A couple dressed head-to-toe in bright colours tied the knot yesterday with a complete Pokémon wedding. Steve, 57, and Sharon Griffin, 48, from King's Lynn, Norfolk decided to make the day truly their own by theming it around the popular Japanese franchise. Pokémon, also known as Pocket Monsters in Japan, is a media franchise managed by The Pokémon Company. 

Gold Bullion Book

***EXCLUSIVE*** A unique 'priceless' version of the long-awaited new novel by The Silence of the Lambs author, which contains 24 carat gold and is to be hidden as part of a national treasure hunt, was unveiled today. The extraordinary signed copy of Cari Mora by Thomas Harris, his first novel for 13 years, is to be hidden for hunters to find by following a series of clues on social media.

Squirrels use tools to open nuts

***EXCLUSIVE*** Squirrels use a variety of miniature tools including a hammer, scissors and a saw to try and break open nuts. The determined red squirrels even worked together to crack some of the walnuts open. The animals also use tools including a nutcracker, a corkscrew, an axe and a mallet. These funny photographs were captured by professional wildlife photographer Geert Weggen in his back garden in Bispgarden, Sweden.

Storm Chaser

***EXCLUSIVE*** These dramatic pictures show a 'spectacular' storm cloud brooding over an Italian landscape. The heavy clouds take on a 'spaceship' structure over ploughed fields in Montagnana, Italy, as the storm begins to develop. Photographer Marko Korosec, 37, said it was the most 'impressive' storm he has ever seen in Europe after 20 years of chasing storms across the world. Comparing the cloud formation to ones he had seen in 'Tornado Alley' - the areas of the United States most prone to tornadoes - he was impressed by the structure.

Foaling around

***EXCLUSIVE*** Foal-ing around - a New Forest Pony tries to relieve an itchy back by rolling around on the floor while flailing its legs in the air. The new born pony, which is only two days old, can be seen rolling from side to side on the grass. After a few seconds the pony returns to its feet and re-joins its mother. Amateur photographer and carer Steve Hogan photographed the funny scratching technique near Lymington in the New Forest, Hants.

Bird clears nostrils of buffalo

***EXCLUSIVE*** A pair ox peckers pick the nose of a buffalo. The pair of birds were in search of parasites that make their home on large animals. Photographer Xavier Ortega, 63, from Barcelona said: “Oxpeckers feed almost exclusively on what they fond on their large hosts. Their diet includes insects, dead skin, mucus, saliva, blood, etc.”