Hold the front page! North Norfolk News editor reveals his top stories from 2016
PUBLISHED: 03:45 31 December 2016 | UPDATED: 10:27 31 December 2016
ALLY McGILVRAY looks back at some of the headlines making the front page over the past 12 months.
From bombs in bedrooms and a dog trapped down a well to runaway romance and carnival capers, my first year in the editor’s chair at the North Norfolk News has been a memorable one.
I joined the newsroom in Cromer in January and before I could be tested on how to pronounce Happisburgh (that’s Hazebro btw) we had launched and won a campaign - entitled Save Our Seaside (SOS) - against Norfolk County Council’s plans to drive ahead with charges for on-street parking in Cromer and Sheringham.
We introduced a new layout to the paper, along with a regular school noticeboard page and turning back feature, and dramatically increased our coverage of some of the biggest events of the year – including special pull-outs on the summer carnivals and agricultural shows; all of which have been well received.
The News, which is the only paper dedicated to North Norfolk, also took the lead with its first ever Pet Idol competition which proved popular.
And, as our online audience continued to grow, we gave readers an alternative look at the stories making the headlines using social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter and reached new heights with live streaming of events such as the Red Arrows’ appearance at Cromer Carnival, from the top of the tower at the town’s parish church. And I am petrified of heights.
Getting kicked out a meeting of Sheringham Town Council in April as members discussed a controversial proposal to merge the role of town crier with Cromer was less scary but proved a talking point and highlighted the friendly rivalry that exists between the two towns.
Witnessing a blaze rip through a house at Silvergate, near Blickling, as I ran along the Weaver’s Way at the end of the month signalled the dangers of the lack of mobile phone service in the area as my calls to 999 failed to connect – a new campaign may be called for in 2017.
However, 2016 wasn’t as bad as some people are trying to make out. Here in north Norfolk we had a scorcher. The hot weather attracted many visitors to the coast, giving a boost to local businesses after the Brexit fallout. And many more could follow next year if a bid to rebrand it the Deep History Coast is successful.
So, what were my top four stories of 2016? These must be up there…
4. Mum, there’s a bomb in my room! A North Norfolk News reader got a surprise when she spotted September’s front page splash. The lady from Blakeney read our exclusive about an amateur metal detectorist discovering one of his prized possessions was an unexploded bomb - and then realised she had two similar devices which she has been polishing for the last 20 years!
In our earlier story we reported how Steven Attew, 25, inherited a mess tin full of war treasures from his granddad – local historian Geoff Perkins - and he gave them pride of place in a display cabinet in his room at his mother’s house at Meadow Close, Felbrigg.
However, the labourer revealed he realised a small mortar bomb among his collection was still live after watching footage of one being destroyed in a controlled explosion online.
He called his mum, Carol Harrington, to alert her to the danger before rushing from his home in nearby Little Snoring to move it to the garden and phone police, who called in the bomb squad.
3, Runaway romance. Childhood sweethearts who sparked a nationwide police search when they ran off to get married 50 years ago revealed they were still together – and celebrated their golden wedding anniversary in September.
Jean and Noel Hicks, of Stalham, made headlines when they disappeared from their family homes in May 1966.
They had planned to run off to Scotland, where marriage was legal at 16 without parental consent, but didn’t have enough money so ended up sleeping rough in London, where they ate out of bins to survive.
The teenage runaways, who soon secured jobs and a place to stay in the capital, were eventually found 10 days later and returned home to Norfolk where they went on to marry four months later.
2. Gold star. Horse breeders from north Norfolk were riding high in August after returning home from Rio, where they watched their star stallion strike gold in the Olympics, to discover their story could be made into a film to rival blockbuster movie Black Beauty.
However, they revealed they almost retired him after he broke down following his success at the games in London four years ago.
Gary and Beverley Widdowson, of Kelling Hall, near Holt, made history by becoming the first owners to have two horses in the same team at the Olympics.
While Big Star carried rider Nick Skelton to victory in the individual event in Brazil after a six-way jump-off, stablemate Cassionato, ridden by Michael Whitaker, had to bow out early with a stomach bug, despite qualifying.
1. Aldborough schoolgirl’s selfie puts EU crisis in frame. A compassionate couple from north Norfolk who took their children on a trip to Greece to help refugees fleeing war and persecution revealed they were initially turned away by police.
Carmine and Jenny De Grandis, from Aldborough, visited a refugee camp in the country with their children - nine-year-old Federico, Chiara, aged 11, and Aldo, 13 - to raise awareness of their plight and deliver much-needed aid.
They packed light so they could take with them 80kgs of supplies, including clothes, toys, medicine and mosquito nets, much of which was donated following a public appeal and online fundraising campaign.
The selfless family joined the CK Team, an international group of volunteers, which has been helping refugees arriving on the island from Syria and other war-torn countries.
But it was Chiara’s selfie with two migrant girls in a refugee camp which brought the crisis home.
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