2018 Year in Review: Wall-climbing, lake sinking, schools merging, museum opening and centre closing
PUBLISHED: 09:00 29 December 2018
April got off to a cruel start for Herts Ad reporter Franki Berry, who concluded a gruelling exercise regimen at Nuffield Health, Fitness and Wellbeing Gym.
Franki said she was “amazed” by the results, and now makes the other reporters look bad by exercising in her lunch breaks. However she was not the only reporter to undergo a daring physical challenge that month, as the entire Herts Ad team braved the climbing wall at Westminster Lodge.
When we weren’t trembling at the top of climbing walls and running on treadmills we were covering the news. Headlines for April included a consultation on busking regulations, which was introduced to protect residents from excessive noise and repetitive performances.
Following on from the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage earlier in the year, Nikki Casey from Radlett was included on Amnesty International’s ‘Suffragette Spirit’ map for founding the charity St Albans EPS.
The charity works with vulnerable families in the St Albans area to offer them help and support, and Nikki said she was “extremely proud” of the achievement.
In Redbourn, a new primary school formed by merging the infants and the juniors school under one umbrella. The ribbon was cut by the oldest and youngest pupils, Amy and Jake, and the school welcomed new headteacher Sarah Hinchliffe.
Parents and campaigners fighting to keep Nascot Lawn respite centre open delivered a petition to Downing Street in mid-April, which received nearly 4,000 signatures.
Many parents of disabled children in St Albans district rely on the care and short breaks offered by respite services.
April ended with a splash for one unfortunate St Albans boy, who had to be rescued by strangers after falling up to his nose in Verulamium Lake.
Ten-year-old Oscar told the Herts Ad how he sank into the quicksand-like water, and his mum Shirani called for improved cleanliness at the artificial lake.
Trains caused May-hem in May, with a Thameslink timetable change resulting in disruption to the railway network through St Albans and Harpenden. The new timetable was introduced on Sunday, May 20, with the RMT Union dubbing the next working day ‘Meltdown Monday’ due to widespread delays and cancellations.
In more cheery news, Bishop Michael Curry, who officiated the Royal Wedding, visited St Albans Cathedral alongside Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. He arrived straight from his memorable sermon at Harry and Meghan’s nuptials to celebrate the ‘Thy Kingdome Come’ movement, which takes place on the eve of Pentecost Sunday (May 20) - perhaps better known in St Albans as ‘the day the train timetables changed’.
St Albans district also welcomed a new mayor, Cllr Rosemary Farmer, who took over the role from Cllr Mohammed Iqbal Zia. And London Colney’s Local History Society archives were saved thanks to a Herts Ad appeal - with local organisations coming forward offering to store the archives.
The biggest story in June was the grand opening of St Albans Museum + Gallery. The former town hall underwent a £7.75 million restoration, with a restored historic courtroom and prison cells, as well as newly-created galleries and a basement gallery excavated in the basement to host touring exhibitions.
The ongoing petition for a new hospital central to west Herts was rejected by the Government, but that has not stopped the New Hospital Campaign from continuing to fight for their cause. Campaigner Andy Love accused the Government of “passing the buck” by devolving responsibility to the local NHS Trust.
In June Herts Ad reporters continued the tradition of absurd personal challenges, with editor Matt Adams and reporter Franki Berry tackling Harpenden’s 5K Farm Run obstacle course for Rennie Grove Hospice.
Franki was quoted in the paper saying: “I’m not very good at running or cardio,” and “I’m pretty new to this exercise malarkey,” which is pretty suspicious given her tough exercise regime back in April.
While I of course supported my colleagues in this endeavour, I prefer not to do exercise if I can possibly help it. Instead, I had a great time looking for food in the wilderness of St Albans with the Foragers, who run the Verulam Arms pub and are great at enabling journalists to effectively skive off work and drink ‘wild’ Bloody Marys by the River Ver.