2018 Year in Review: Launch of It’s OK to Say, sinkhole and knitted post-box toppers in October, November and December

BHS St Albans

BHS St Albans - Credit: Archant

October began with 11-year-old Margot Speirs shaving her head to raise over £5,000 for Cancer Research. Previously she had donated her hair to the Little Princess Trust but had wanted to make even more impact this time.

Matt Adams and Stacey Turner on Radio Verulam's Drive Time Show with Danny Smith.

Matt Adams and Stacey Turner on Radio Verulam's Drive Time Show with Danny Smith. - Credit: Archant

Later that month saw the launch of the Herts Ad’s mental health awareness campaign, It’s OK To Say. Herts Ad group editor Matt Adams and children’s anxiety specialist, Stacey Turner introduced the initiative on Radio Verulam, and since then they have been working within the city to encourage open dialogue on mental health issues.

The project has gained the support of mental health champion for St Albans council Cllr Anthony Rowlands, Radio Verulam’s West Herts Drivetime presenter Danny Smith and charity yacht sailor Shona Davies, and St Albans Chamber of Commerce. Local companies have also been in touch to tell us about ways that they are investing in the mental well-being of their staff.

Also in October, the long-awaited hotel scheme for BHS site was finally given the go-ahead. Planning permission was granted for an 130-bed hotel on St Peter’s Street.

Reef Estates development director Will Rohleder said: “Our plans will provide a much-needed hotel that will help meet the city’s ambitions to increase tourism and will activate a street scene that has been vacant for over two years.

The year-long fight to save Cottonmill level crossing gained the support of County Hall in November. Sopwell resident Janet Charles presented a petition calling for the crossing to remain open and stated that the closure would be “devastating”. Network Rail believed the route to be dangerous, with too many unwanted trespassers, but residents said closing the path altogether would cut the ward in half. The council’s executive member for highways, Phil Bibby, told the meeting he had “great sympathy” with local residents.

He said he was supportive of residents and council officers working together with Network Rail in a bid to find an acceptable solution.

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Twenty-one homes were disturbed by a suspected sinkhole in November. The four-metre wide hole was discovered on Cedar Court on Tuesday, November 6 in the early hours of the morning. Police and firefighters attended the scene and some residents had to stay in hotels or with relatives after they were evacuated.

November also brought with it concerns that Margaret Wix Primary School may have its pupil entry halved by September 2020. The Herts county council proposal was made in order to “ensure the future financial stability of the school”.

December gave rise to mixed emotions as the Polar Bear Plunge knitting teams created Christmas toppers for 23 pillar boxes across the district. But hours of hard work in the name of fundraising suffered a cruel blow when vandals torched the topper in Sun Lane, Harpenden. The works of art raised awareness of the New Year’s Day charity plunge in aid of The Ollie Foundation, Earthworks and The Counselling Foundation.

Finally, a dream wedding was planned in 36 hours for terminally ill mother, Tasha Burton, who had been admitted to The Hospice of St Francis on Tuesday, November 27. Everyone rallied round to ensure that Tasha and her fiancé Daniel Corley could become man and wife.

The wedding took place at the hospice and Tasha said: “It was just lovely, absolutely amazing. I was just so taken aback by it all.”

Daniel added: “It’s been the most amazing day.”

Walking out as husband and wife to John Legend’s All of Me, Daniel and Tasha released two white homing doves to symbolise love, togetherness, luck and hope. Tasha sadly passed away on December, 6 from bowel cancer.

That brings us to the end of another year of news, good and bad. Everyone here at the Herts Ad team would like to wish you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.