The year 2012 has been a varied and interesting time for news and stories from around the district.
The Visitor was congratulated for helping to secure revamped tourism signs for the resort. It was also reported that controversial plans by Morecambe FC to hold pop music concerts on the Globe Arena were approved, a son took his mother’s dead body on a 30-mile bus journey and petrol stations were forced to close as people started panic buying ahead of a proposed fuel tanker driver’s strike. Reporter Michelle Blade looks at the stories that hit the headlines from January to June.
* HUNDREDS attended candlelight vigils in Lancaster, Salford and New Delhi for the victim of a Boxing Day shooting.
The supporters placed flowers, candles and messages at the spot where Anuj Bidve, who was a postgraduate student in microelectronics at Lancaster University, was shot dead.
* THE Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy became a target for motormouthed TV host Jeremy Clarkson.
The insensitive Top Gear star sparked a furore after making a joke in The Sun about the disaster in February 2004.
Writing about synchronised swimming, the Top Gear presenter said: “It’s Chinese women in hats, upside down, in a bit of water.
“You can see that sort of thing on Morecambe beach. For free.”
* A WOMAN whose mummified body was found in her house in Italy five months after she was last seen alive was originally from Morecambe, according to Italian police.
Susan Mount, 62, had not been seen since early August.
Her body was discovered after neighbours complained of a strong smell coming from her studio apartment in Tribiano, a small village near Milan.
Firefighters made the grim discovery after being authorised to break in.
* A SON took his mother’s dead body on a 30-mile bus journey after she died as they enjoyed a day out together. The 52-year-old man, who was thought to have learning difficulties, wanted to get his 88-year-old mother home when she passed away suddenly on a trip to Lancaster.
The woman was believed to have died on the bus journey back from Lancaster to Preston.
* A HARRIS hawk was returned to its owner after police found the bird during a drugs raid.
Officers became aware that the stolen bird could have been brought into the north of Lancashire when a car was stopped in Lancaster and a bird of prey, reported stolen from a falconry in Settle, Yorkshire, was found inside.
A drugs warrant was executed at an address in Morecambe.
* A WOMAN who suffers from a condition which causes her to grow a beard like a man wanted to raise awareness of the syndrome.
Cheryl Howe, 29, of Clarence Street, Morecambe – who had been called ‘gorilla’, planet of the apes’, and ‘shemale’ by people in the street – had appeared on ITV’s This Morning and was featured in a magazine in a bid to increase knowledge about polycystic ovary syndrome.
* A MAIN town centre shopping street was sealed off after an antiques dealer discovered a hand grenade in a box of bric-a-brac.
John Brown was shocked to find the nine bang steel cylinder grenade whilst he was sorting through old militaria in his antiques and flowers shop on Pedder Street in Morecambe.
The grenade turned out to be a training device.
* LANCASTER’S community radio station – Diversity FM – became the latest victim of the recession.
Lancaster YMCA pulled the plug due to lack of funding.
Diversity FM, based in the YMCA building near Lancaster bus station, was costing £6,500 per month to keep on the air.
* A YOUNG woman who had suffered countless verbal and physical attacks purely because she was disabled, was heading a national campaign.
Beccy Oughton had been shouted at, manhandled and accused of faking her disability.
Beccy, 35, a lecturer for people who have learning difficulties, was part of a campaign calling for other people with disabilities to go to police if they are abused.
* THE Visitor was congratulated for helping to secure revamped tourism signs for the resort.
Campaigners had been working for 10 years to give the brown signs off junction 35 of the M6 motorway a much needed makeover.
But only weeks after a front page story in the paper highlighted the sorry state of the signs, city councillors rubber stamped an agreement with the county council to put £5,000 each towards revamping tourists’ first impressions of the resort.
* FOUR friends successfully completed a marathon charity road trip.
Visitor reporter Adam Lord, John Ferguson, James Dick and David Murphy had aimed to visit 100 sports grounds in aid of St John’s Hospice.
However, the lads returned having surpassed that by stopping at 102 grounds in 98 hours and 50 minutes, finishing at Morecambe’s Globe Arena.
They were hoping to raise more than £5,000.
* PROUD residents of the district were named amongst the 8,000 people to carry the Olympic torch on its way to the Games in London.
The list of inspiring torch bearers to represent the Lancaster and Morecambe area included a former Miss Morecambe beauty queen and a student from Carnforth who had overcome health problems through sport.
* CONTROVERSIAL plans by Morecambe FC to hold pop music concerts on the Globe arena were approved.
Council officers recommended that the club be allowed to hold three days of live music per year at the Westgate ground – featuring big tour names – after previously turning the plans down.
* PETROL stations were forced to close as people panic bought petrol ahead of a possible fuel strike by fuel tanker drivers.
Sainsbury’s on Lancaster Road had to shut at various points and Asda also had to close due to high demand.
Morrisons, the resort’s other supermarket petrol station, also experienced long queues as people dashed to fill up their tanks.
* CONCERN had been raised about plans to develop wind farms which may impede Isle of Man crossings from Heysham and Liverpool.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company said the planned wind farm construction in the Irish Sea could threaten the future of the Liverpool route, reduce TT services and lead to higher levels of cancellations.
* A MEMORIAL service was held for a fundraiser whose determination and passion for her cause touched the hearts of people in Morecambe and the wider area.
Kate Hardcastle, who died in November 2011 aged 68, campaigned tirelessly to raise money for Pancreatic Cancer Research UK.
Kate was well known in Morecambe for dressing all in purple, the charity’s colour, while she travelled around raising awareness of the disease which claimed the lives of her brother and mother.
* DEMENTIA sufferers were to benefit after a pilot project was given the go ahead.
The 12-month pilot project, which will offer 10 beds at Dolphinlee House on Patterdale Road in Lancaster at a cost of £417,110, aimed to provide better support for dementia sufferers in the community.
* AN outrageous snub for Dame Thora Hird renewed calls for a lasting memorial in the town to celebrate her life and work.
English Heritage’s refusal to honour the Morecambe-born actress had reignited the debate about how best to commemorate the Last of the Summer Wine star.
* BATHERS in Morecambe were being warned by the city council of “a deterioration in water quality” after raw sewage leaked into the River Lune.
A Lancaster resident reported seeing dead fish floating in the river and raw sewage coats the surface of the water between the Millennium Bridge and Greyhound Bridge. United Utilities said that a sewage pipe on the corner of St George’s Quay and Lune had been accidentally drilled into.
* THREE friends set up a charity to raise money to help the people of Syria which is currently in the midst of violent conflict.
The students at Heysham High School wanted to raise awareness of the human tragedy and suffering of the people of Syria and were aiming to raise as much cash as possible to help those desperately in need of aid.
The trio presented a petition at 10 Downing Street with signatures from people calling for more action to help the people of Syria.
* A LANCASTER-BASED construction company was awarded the contract to build the new Coronation Street set at Trafford Wharf in Manchester.
Askam Construction will be building the new Street and associated buildings with the brief being not to lose its famous character.
Due to high definition TV, the attention to detail will be under extra scrutiny.
* A SONGWRITER who grew up in Heysham was celebrating after his song went to number one in the USA following an appearance on American Idol.
Greg Holden’s track Home rode high at the top of the American iTunes chart after Phillip Phillips performed the Americana-style folk tune as his “winner’s song”.
* ARMY veterans bombarded the Friends of the Winter Gardens with angry emails after four union flags were hung upside down outside the theatre over jubilee weekend.
Ex-forces personnel said they were offended by the flags of Her Majesty flying upside down because this is either a sign of distress or an insult to the Queen.
* VOLUNTEERS at Happy Mount Park won the Queen’s award for voluntary service.
The gong, the equivalent of an MBE, was awarded to the group for their work in transforming the park in Bare.
* RESIDENTS were evacuated from a block of flats after an explosion outside which left some homes without electricity.
A manhole cover and stone cobbles in the residents’ car park behind The Harwood House Hotel off West End Road were blasted into the air. Nobody was close enough to be hurt. A fault in an underground cable caused the explosion.
* A BOY clung on to his tiny cousin to stop her drowning after she fell into a dyke full of water. Brave Joshua Baldwin was hailed a hero by his family after he held on to two-year-old Caitlin Sharrock to stop her sinking further into the water-logged ditch in Heysham.