Year in Review part 1: news stories from St Albans and Harpenden over 2013
PUBLISHED: 07:12 01 January 2014 | UPDATED: 15:37 02 January 2014
The top news items from the Herts Advertiser between January and June
There was a chill in the air in January when the district was covered in a blanket of snow forcing many schools to close and leaving a mum outraged when her four-year-old son had to wait 30 minutes for an ambulance when he had a nasty sledging accident.
But our hearts were warmed by news that a lucky lady from St Albans was pulled up on stage by her boyfriend at a Gary Barlow concert and asked for her hand in marriage.
Anti-rail freight campaigners STRiFE were fired up at the start of the year and set about collecting a 10,000-signature petition to trigger a debate at County Hall over the future of the former Radlett Airfield site.
And the High Street took a bashing when music store HMV and video games rental chain Blockbuster went into administration, which led to the closure of their city centre stores.
February may have been a short month but there was plenty to report, starting with district councillors giving the thumbs up to a controversial housing project to be built on the former Eversheds site off London Road.
Then came the shock resignation of Herts deputy police and crime commissioner, Harpenden town councillor Dr Rachel Frosh, after a Hitler comment she retweeted on a social media site caused outrage.
This was shortly followed by a terrifying ordeal experienced by commuters when an electric cable struck the roof of a First Capital Connect train at Radlett railway station. Thankfully no one was injured but the incident caused hours of delays on the network.
And let us not forget the giant teapots that paraded through Market Place during filming for a national television commercial, as well as the teams of pancake flippers that turned out for the annual race on Shrove Tuesday.
As we entered March the curtain rose on St Albans’ inaugural film festival, which brought movie fans flocking to the city to lap up everything from exclusive film screenings to a glitzy awards ceremony.
This was aptly timed with the announcement the district council had allowed work to begin to restore the long-awaited Odyssey Cinema on London Road to its former glory – fingers crossed doors will open in the Summer of 2014.
Things got egg-citing for Easter down at the Cathedral when food critic Jay Rayner stopped by to taste the famous Alban Bun while filming a segment for BBC’s The One Show.
Finally, March was also the month good news came for brave St Albans boy Bailey Sarwa, who at the age of 13 fought off his rare cancer for the second time in eight years.
Our readers were all smiles in April when they learned St Albans was the fifth happiest place to live according to a survey carried out by online estate agents Rightmove.
But there were unhappy faces among market traders who claimed the district council was not providing enough pitches for stallholders. This led to the launch of the Herts Advertiser’s ‘Don’t Stall Our Market’ campaign to drum up support for the historic market.
Meanwhile, this newspaper got behind an astronaut hopeful from Wheathampstead, Sue Nelson, who entered a competition to win a place on a space plane set to fly 103km above earth.
Members of a local running club also hit the headlines after they spoke out about being caught up in the deadly bomb attack at the Boston Marathon.
Harpenden songstress Alice Fredenham was the name on everyone’s lips in May when she made the semi-finals of ITV’s Britain’s Got Talent. Unfortunately she crashed out of the competition at this stage but her big break came by the end of the year when she signed a recording contract with Sony.
Sticking with the music theme, the boys from post-hardcore band Enter Shikari were back on home turf to launch their own brand of beer at The Boot in Market Place.
Elsewhere, new beach volleyball courts created from sand used during the London 2012 Olympics were officially opened in Verulamium Park, and Cllr Annie Brewster became the 469th Mayor of St Albans.
The district also went to the polls in the county council elections resulting in the Tories retaining control of County Hall for another four years despite Labour celebrating gains in St Albans.
June opened with news that hospital chiefs had ditched the widely-criticised plans to charge disabled patients to park at St Albans City Hospital.
Thousands of party-goers lined St Peter’s Street for the first Alban Weekend, which was designed to showcase the city’s 2,000 years of history and featured 12ft parading puppets and a lively street party.
Later in the month, during an inquest a coroner ruled on one of the largest hoards of Roman coins to be found in the UK as treasure. They were discovered by a rookie metal detectorist in Sandridge woodland, and it is hoped will eventually be displayed Verulamium Museum.
And enough was enough for a former The Great British Bake-Off contestant who launched an attack on the district council for the “inflexible” annual fees charged to street traders.