Stories that hit the headlines in 2014

Bob Bingham, former editor of the Northumberland Gazette.
Bob Bingham, former editor of the Northumberland Gazette.

The first part of our look back at the big news stories of the past year in north Northumberland.

The second part of the Gazette review of the year, covering July to December, was published in the paper the following week.

Connie Mossman celebrates her 107th birthday.

Connie Mossman celebrates her 107th birthday.

JANUARY

Alnwick man Colyn Pentleton, who runs The Farm Bakery Shop in Amble, spoke of the terrifying moments when he realised there was a fire aboard the ferry on which he and his family were travelling from North Shields to Amsterdam. The DFDS vessel had to return to port and a Sunderland man was later jailed for nine years after admitting arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The Gazette – and north Northumberland – said farewell to former editor Bob Bingham, who passed away at the age of 72 following a battle with cancer. His 30-year career at the Gazette included 16 years as editor from 1987 to his retirement in 2003.

We launched a campaign to Stop Nuisance Robocalls after scores of people across Northumberland were telephoned late at night or in the early hours of the morning, sparking fury on social-media sites.

Alnwick Shrove Tuesday football match 2014.

Alnwick Shrove Tuesday football match 2014.

The co-founder and former leader of far-right organisation, the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, who had left the group and teamed up with de-radicalisation thinktank the Quilliam Foundation, was due to speak to students at Duchess’s Community High School, but the visit was cancelled after it hit national headlines. The ex-EDL leader said he wasn’t surprised it was cancelled once news got out and the school’s head said it would have been a good opportunity for students.

Two families were left heartbroken after two Amble fishermen were found dead aboard a fishing boat in Whitby Harbour. It later emerged that Mark Arries, 26, and Edward Ide, 21, were victims of carbon-monoxide poisoning.

FEBRUARY

The Abbeyfield Society announced a £13million plan to revolutionise housing and care provision for the elderly in north Northumberland, which would involve a hub-and-spokes model with a central base at Ravenslaw in Alnwick, with smaller sheltered houses in the rural and coastal areas.

Summer Carss who has had two heart transplants.

Summer Carss who has had two heart transplants.

Amble’s Connie Mossman, who was born in the harbour town in 1907 and remembers troops heading off to the First World War, celebrated her 107th birthday.

Alnwick was hoping for a boost to the economy and jobs after plans for a Wetherspoon’s pub in the Corn Exchange and a scheme for an Aldi supermarket and Majestic Wine store at the former Willis site were given the go-ahead. Meanwhile the town’s second petrol station at Cawledge reopened under new ownership, also bringing new jobs.

The distraught parents of Longhoughton lad Josh Jarvis spoke of their heartache after the 21-year-old student was killed while cycling in Manchester where he was at university.

The Stephen Carey Fund was named as the Jam Jar Army beneficiary for 2014.

Mark Mather who farms near Wooler.'Picture Jane Coltman

Mark Mather who farms near Wooler.'Picture Jane Coltman

Not for the first time, the Gazette encouraged residents to report dog owners who fail to pick up after their pets, with our campaign Drop Them In It!, following an avalanche of complaints about pavements and parks.

MARCH

It was announced that 40 jobs under threat at Alnwick’s Defra site at Lion House were safe until June 2015, following the takeover of Government back-office functions by private firm Steria.

The parish of St Paul’s won the traditional Shrovetide football match by two hales to one on a muddy Pastures.

The plans for Amble’s Harbour Village and its wider aim to become the seafood town received a major boost as a £1.8million grant from the Government’s Coastal Communities Fund was confirmed.

An outline bid to build more than 200 homes at Greensfield, to the south of Alnwick, by Northumberland Estates was given the green light, despite concerns from neighbouring residents.

Queen's Baton Relay at Alnwick'The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland with Stephen Miller.

Queen's Baton Relay at Alnwick'The Duke and Duchess of Northumberland with Stephen Miller.

Furious parents vowed to fight to save St Cuthbert’s RC First School in Amble, whose governing body recommended shutting the site after it was placed in special measures following an Ofsted inspection in October 2013.

Anger over parking chaos in Alnwick Market Place boiled over after a blood-donor session in the Northumberland Hall had to be cancelled because the NHS Blood and Transplant team was unable to park and unload its equipment.

APRIL

After years of campaigning from some, free parking came into force in many places, after the county council allowed towns and parishes to decide their own parking regimes. Fees were abolished in Alnwick, Bamburgh, Beadnell, Berwick, Hexham, Morpeth, Rothbury and Wooler.

Staff, politicians and bosses have all expressed grave misgivings about staff levels at HMP Northumberland following a ‘stand-off’ which saw 50 prisoners refuse to return to their cells in one wing of the Acklington prison.

Three-year-old Summer Carss, from Shilbottle, came out of isolation following her second heart transplant.

Residents in Bamburgh expressed their disbelief after what was described as a religious ritual involving a dead sheep took place in the shadow of the famous castle.

Also at Bamburgh, a shipwreck discovered on the beach, which dates from around the 1770s, was scheduled as an ancient monument.

There was excitement in Alnmouth as the episode of the ITV detective drama Vera, which used the village as the backdrop, was aired.

The policy board signed off the closure of St Cuthbert’s RC First School in Amble, despite ongoing opposition from parents.

MAY

It was announced that the summer concert in the Pastures beneath Alnwick Castle would be a double bill of Scottish rock band Simple Minds, supported by Toploader on the Saturday and a proms-style event on the Sunday, although the latter was later cancelled due to a lack of tickets sold.

Two former Far East prisoners of war from north Northumberland passed away in their 90s. Jack Phillips, from Rothbury, and Edward Crate, from Howick, both spent three-and-a-half years as prisoners after the surrender to Japanese forces in Singapore.

Wooler farmer Mark Mather, who lost his leg following a horrific shotgun accident six years ago, added his voice to concerns over the coverage that will be provided to north Northumberland when the UK’s Search and Rescue helicopter service is taken over from next year. The nearest helicopter to the area is set to be based at Humberside or Glasgow, instead of RAF Boulmer.

There was a whole lot of interest in Alnwick as a large hole opened up in the middle of Hotspur Street on a Wednesday afternoon. The cause was a disintigrated plastic pipe under the road.

It had been coming, but the council’s administration voted to axe free transport for post-16 students, saving £2.4million a year, in a move that was criticised for its impact on rural areas of the county.

Members of the Aln Valley Railway unveiled a £1.88million fund-raising campaign to get to Alnmouth to fulfil dreams of being fully operational by 2020.

The scheme to build a new high school in Alnwick kicked into top gear following the award of the contract for all 12 schools in the North East being funded through the Priority School Building Programme. It was announced that a planning application would be submitted in the summer with a proposed completion date of August 2016.

JUNE

A true friend of Northumberland and a devoted friend of the community, John Taylor, who served as a councillor for 28 years, died at the age of 77 after a short illness. Tributes were paid by leading figures in the community.

Furious parents vowed to force a U-turn on the decision to axe free post-16 transport with the launch of a Facebook group and a demonstration outside the Duchess’s Community High School.

In a frank interview with the Gazette, Amina Uddin, whose family runs Barresdale Triple Diner and Mivesi in Alnwick, spoke out about the racial abuse she and her family had suffered at the hands of a minority of people in the town.

Alnwick Castle played host to the Queen’s Baton Relay, the traditional curtain-raiser to the Commonwealth Games, in what was its last international stop before heading north across the border into the host nation.

Seven-year-old Ella Holland was ecstatic after her pet tortoise Andy-Bob was found wandering along a road, 12 months after he disappeared from her family garden at Brunton.