Review Part 2: That was the year that was for St Albans and Harpenden

The St Albans Abbey made for a fantastic setting for the St Albans Fashion Show

The St Albans Abbey made for a fantastic setting for the St Albans Fashion Show - Credit: Archant

A look back on news stories from the Herts Ad between July and December

Philomena Lee

Philomena Lee - Credit: Archant

Continuing our review of the year...

Programme Name: The Apprentice - TX: 07/05/2013 - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Embargoed for publication u

Programme Name: The Apprentice - TX: 07/05/2013 - Episode: n/a (No. 1) - Embargoed for publication until: 30/04/2013 - Picture Shows: The Apprentice: Series 9 Luisa Zissman ***to go live on to long lead press Monday 22nd April*** Luisa Zissman - (C) Boundless - Photographer: Jim Marks - Credit: BBC/Boundless

One of July’s top stories came when the Herts Advertiser was the only local newspaper to bag an interview with Dixie’s Cupcakery owner Luisa Zissman who finished her 12-week stint on BBC’s The Apprentice as runner-up.

Things continued to hot up in the district but one school in Harpenden was keeping its cool when over a ton of fresh snow was delivered to their playground after one of its pupils won an art competition.

Rail freight developers Helioslough had their bid to force the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to make a final decision on the scheme planned for the former Radlett Airfield site rejected by the High Court.

And a step-dad was full of rage when he claimed he wrongly received a parking ticket while dropping his disabled step-son off at Westminster Lodge Leisure Centre.

Column inches were filled in August with the story of a family’s dramatic search for their pet cat who escaped out of the window at a veterinary surgery after having a routine operation. Luckily, there was a happy ending to the tale when he turned up 24 hours later on Redbourn High Street.

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After an 800-year absence, one of four original copies of the Magna Carta returned to the city under lock and key where it would remain for the rest of the month for visitors to come and admire.

It was confirmed the shutters would be coming down on the front desk at St Albans police station as part of a cost-cutting exercise meaning residents would now have to report crimes by phone or at other custody centres in the county.

Finally, jubilant teenagers whooped as GCSE and A-level results came rolling in, with many schools in St Albans and Harpenden celebrating another year of record-breaking exam success.

Residents were riled about a number of issues in September, including locals in Harpenden who felt they had been kept in the dark about a county council proposal for a new secondary school on Green Belt land.

In St Albans a resident group was also up in arms about plans to alter the traffic flow in the historic heart of the city to improve the safety of pupils being bused to and from school.

The St Albans Food and Drink Awards were in crisis after they lost the support of several high-profile restaurateurs, which ended in the awards ceremony being panned.

But on a brighter note, work got underway on a new £6.2 million sports complex at Batchwood following a fire that ripped through the original facility two years ago.

St Jude’s Storm swept through the district in October forcing rail services to grind to a halt and leaving a trail of destruction across St Albans.

Shocked onlookers watched as the roof of a double-decker bus was ripped off after it ploughed into a Harpenden railway bridge.

Thousands of students missed out on a day’s schooling when two of the largest teaching unions went on strike over pay, pensions and working conditions.

Meanwhile, good-willed members of the community set about raising money to replace a disabled teenager’s specially-adapted bike after it was stolen from a garage in Harpenden.

November was a month of firsts, beginning with the inaugural St Albans Fashion Week, which saw fashionistas descend on the city for workshops, VIP dinners and a sold-out catwalk show.

Then towards the end of the month, the grounds of the Cathedral were transformed into a winter wonderland for the first-ever German-style Christmas market. For the next 24 days shoppers came from far and wide to browse dozens of chalets selling traditional German food and gifts.

Elsewhere, St Albans woman Philomena Lee opened up about her painful past while a film about her life was being shown in cinemas all around the world.

And St Albans MP Anne Main met with Queen guitarist Brian May to discuss the ongoing controversial pilot badger culls.

Finally, to round off an eventful year plans to convert the Town Hall into a new museum and gallery took a step forward in December when the district council received a £282,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

The county council made a surprise U-turn and announced at a heated meeting it would stall selling the former Radlett Airfield site to rail freight developers Helioslough.

Pop star Gareth Gates joined a stellar cast to play Prince Charming in Cinderella, which became the Alban Arena’s most successful Christmas pantomime to date.

And we reported on former troublemaker Michelle Taylor who had turned over a new leaf after being given an anti-social behaviour order and arrested 86 times.

As 2014 dawns the Herts Advertiser team is vowing to work harder and faster to bring you the very latest news and sport from across the St Albans district.

This year we have continued to engage with our loyal readers via social media and set ourselves the challenge of strengthening the communities we have on Facebook and Twitter.

Our team of reporters tweet throughout the day to bring you breaking news stories, to ask your opinions on topical debates, to tell you about our latest reader offers and let you know what is coming in tomorrow’s paper.

Readers use our Facebook page to share news of events taking place in the district and to contact reporters and to offer their views on a subject.

For the latest news, follow us on Twitter @hertsad or join us on Facebook at