Year in Review: Looking back on May to August

Black Lives Matter protest in Verulamium Park, St Albans. Picture: Stephanie Belton

Black Lives Matter protest in Verulamium Park, St Albans. Picture: Stephanie Belton - Credit: Archant

By the time we reached May, rumours of an end to the lockdown had become reality, with businesses gearing up to reopen the following month, accompanied by road closures, enforced social distancing and outdoor trading.

The 75th anniversary of VE Day was commemorated in a very different fashion to how had been originally envisioned, with the Big Picnic for Hope, a virtual get-together promoted by St Albans Cathedral, encouraging people to mark the occasion in the safety of their homes and gardens. Professional violinist Leanne

The brightly coloured scrubs made by members of the Salisbury Avenue Sewing Circle.

The brightly coloured scrubs made by members of the Salisbury Avenue Sewing Circle. - Credit: Archant

Black Lives Matter protest in Verulamium Park, St Albans. Picture: Stephanie Belton

Black Lives Matter protest in Verulamium Park, St Albans. Picture: Stephanie Belton - Credit: Archant

The presentation of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to Computer Friendly at St Albans Cathed

The presentation of the Queen's Award for Voluntary Service to Computer Friendly at St Albans Cathedral. Deputy Lieutenant, Stuart Nagler; Deputy Lieutenant Penny Williams; Lord-Lieutenant of Hertfordshire, Robert Voss, CBE; chair of trustees for Computer Friendly, Tony Bourke; Past Mayor of Harpenden, Rosemary Farmer; past chair of trustees for Computer Friendly, John Talbot. - Credit: Archant

The brightly coloured scrubs made by members of the Salisbury Avenue Sewing Circle.

The brightly coloured scrubs made by members of the Salisbury Avenue Sewing Circle. - Credit: Archant

Sinha took the suggestion to heart and performed a concert of Second World War classics to her neighbours from her garden.

The cathedral was lit up in blue as part of the ongoing Clap for Carers, which had become such a big part of most people’s Thursday evening routines, the Herts Ad’s publicity for a crowdfunding campaign to save The Horn pub and music venue proved instrumental in its success, and questions were asked about the viability of Luton Airport’s expansion bid given the impact of coronavirus on the aviation industry.

We revealed how members of Salisbury Avenue Sewing Circle had dusted off their sewing machines and produced much-needed scrubs for NHS workers, celebrated the 20th birthday of drug and alcohol 12-step recovery centre The Living Room, and saw Labour stalwart Cllr Roma Mills quit the party to become an independent.


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As we moved into June, hairdressers told us how they had been affected by the three months of lockdown, and raged against being categorised as hospitality, which forced them to delay reopening for business a further month.

We asked whatever happened to Alice Fredenham, the Harpenden-based singer who first burst onto our TV screens on The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent, but disappeared off the radar after the release of her debut album.

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MP Daisy Cooper led a cross-party drive to help save our struggling pubs, and St Albans-based charity Computer Friendly was recognised with the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement reached St Albans, with thousands of people gathering in support of the international campaign for a socially distant demonstration in Verulamium Park organised by Sanya Qayyum and Chloe Christine.

Desperate to spend her hard-earned salary in the city’s newly-opened shops, reporter Laura Bill took to the streets of St Albans to catch up with old friends in Cositas, The Dressing Room and Chloe James, and put together a video showing how they had adjusted to trading under the new restrictions.

Reaching July, we saw St Albans district council investigating potential fraud surrounding eight different applications for business grants to help with the impact of coronavirus, and there was outrage after golliwogs were spotted on sale at the city’s vintage market.

Glasses were raised, and their contents swiftly consumed, as our pubs and restaurants finally opened their doors after months of lockdown, while panto legend Bob Golding penned a heart-breaking open letter to the St Albans public to “help save art”, as entertainment venues like the Alban Arena remained closed.

There were celebrations after it was confirmed the controversial Harpenden incinerator plan would not be going ahead, but in St Albans the district council backed down over plans for a garden village on the proposed site of the rail freight depot in Park Street, although Daisy Cooper vowed to continue the fight against the scheme.

As the month came to a close, the beauty industry was finally allowed to re-open for business, secret plans to create a unitary authority in Herts and scrap district and borough councils were revealed, and a bid for a new play area at Clarence Park hit its fundraising target following a massive grant from Veolia Environment Trust.

We remembered infamous Herts Ad letter writer Barry Cashin following his death from cancer, St Albans Charter Market traders kicked off over council Covid restrictions which included a reduction in stalls and a fortnightly rota to enforce social distancing, and Year 6 pupils bid primary school goodbye after months of lockdown disruption to their education.

The ongoing campaign for a new hospital for the area has been a constant throughout the year, and August saw further opposition to the redevelopment of Watford General Hospital, as proposed by West Herts Hospital Trust.

Former BBC technology journalist Kate Russell launched FerretTube, a live web cam streaming 24/7, there was chaos surrounding university places after predicted grades were awarded for A-levels, and the Charter Market row was resolved following the introduction of a new stall layout.

A family was left devastated after their father-in-law’s ashes were stolen during a house burglary, fly-tippers blighted a quarter of a mile of a country lane near Wheathampstead with used motor oil, and Preet Cox, organiser of the popular St Albans Rainbow Trail, was honoured with a prestigious Hero of Hertfordshire award.

As August drew to a close, the next big milestone faced by local families was the reopening of schools a week later...
 

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