Review of the year from January to June

Summer recovering after her operation.
Summer recovering after her operation.
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From courageous teenagers to shaggy dog tales, from the refugee crisis to the cockling tragedy, the news this year has been varied and hard-hitting. Reporter Michelle Blade looks back on the stories that hit the headlines during the first six months of the year.

JANUARY

Flooding around Lancaster.  Claughton.

Flooding around Lancaster. Claughton.

All-time records for rainfall in Morecambe and Lancaster were shattered, weather experts revealed.

The district suffered the wettest November and December since records began in 1966 as storms lashed the region causing floods and power cuts.

There was only one day without rain in November.

A courageous teenager who had a bone marrow transplant was celebrating after getting through to the final of Junior Miss Lancashire.

Six-year-old Owen Parker with the temporary cast on his leg, which was injured after a gate fell on him at Williamson Park in Lancaster.

Six-year-old Owen Parker with the temporary cast on his leg, which was injured after a gate fell on him at Williamson Park in Lancaster.

Rachel Simpson was recovering from life-saving surgery after being diagnosed with a mutated GATA2 gene.

The 15-year-old found out she was in the top 20 of the competition.

A shaggy dog tale with a bizarre twist left police puzzled on both sides of the Atlantic.

Officers called to deal with a stray dog in a garden in Lancaster offered their apologies but they couldn’t get there......they happened to be 3,500 miles away in the United States.

Photo Neil Cross
Charlie the life saving poodle with John & Sheila Waldie from Bare

Photo Neil Cross Charlie the life saving poodle with John & Sheila Waldie from Bare

Instead of ringing the local police, the householder in Lancashire somehow managed to dial Lancaster in Pennsylvania to summon help.

Great-grandfather Barry Taylor was celebrating 20 years since he underwent life-saving heart transplant surgery.

The 68-year-old expressed his thanks to his donor’s family as he reached a milestone he never thought he’d see.

He and his wife Angie, who live in Combermere Road, Heysham, were joined by family - including 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren - at a special dinner to mark the momentous occasion.

Teenager Darcy Wilan with Irene Sellers, whose life she saved.

Teenager Darcy Wilan with Irene Sellers, whose life she saved.

FEBRUARY

It was billed as the Last Chance to Dance and 1,300 ravers grabbed it with both hands....in the air.

The farewell to the Carleton club was a massive event pulling in dance music lovers from far and wide.

Glowsticks, laser beams, MCs yelling ‘make some noise’! and a packed dancefloor took a generation back to when the West End club was famed for all-night raves.

Trees in Lancaster’s Market Square were not for the chop after all.

Campaigners cheered as Lancaster City Council did a U-turn after a petition of more than 1,000 signatures called for seven lime trees to be saved.

Photo Neil Cross
Rachel Simpson, of Heysham, who is in the final of junior Miss Lancashire after she has recently undergone a bone marrow transplant.

Photo Neil Cross Rachel Simpson, of Heysham, who is in the final of junior Miss Lancashire after she has recently undergone a bone marrow transplant.

The trees were to remain and the council would instead find ways to stop passersby from slipping underneath them due to sap secreted by the trees.

Bosses at Heysham power stations gave the green light for nuclear energy to be produced there until at least 2030.

The move would safeguard around 1,500 local jobs and continue to pump £80m into the district’s economy every year.

EDF Energy announced that Heysham 1 would run until at least 2024, formerly 2019, and Heysham 2 until 2030, formerly 2023.

Homes in the district would take in refugees as part of nationwide plans to solve the humanitarian crisis.

Lancaster City Council confirmed it would take part in a Government drive to find homes for 20,000 Syrian refugees in the UK.

An average of 100 refugees a year will settle in Lancashire over the next five years.

MARCH

Plans to make a musical about the Morecambe Bay cockling tragedy were slammed as “crass and insensitive”.

An online campaign - backed by at least three local councillors - called for the planned theatre show based around the deaths of 23 Chinese cocklers to be scrapped.

But the co-writer of the piece, described as “stirring, emotive, beautiful and thoughtful” by a leading light in London theatre - said he hoped the musical would not be insensitive in any way.

A mum said her son could have been crushed to death under a heavy iron gate which fell on him as he played in Williamson Park in Lancaster.

Claire Parker’s son Owen Parker, aged six, a pupil at Westgate Primary School, jumped out of the way as the gate toppled over but it clipped his knee, causing bruising and a possible fracture.

Lancaster City Council said an internal investigation had been launched to thoroughly scrutinise the incident.

A popular Morecambe supermarket closed its doors for good.

Booths of Torrisholme shut and a spokesman said the majority of staff would be redeployed in either the Scotforth or Carnforth stores.

The former Booths store is now a dental centre.

A war hero who lost both his legs in Afghanistan was handcycling the TT race circuit to raise money for charity and break a world record.

Stuart Robinson of Morecambe was undertaking the gruelling 37.75 mile challenge with Kurt McGuinness, brother of TT legend John McGuinness and Anton Shephard, a former motocross rider paralysed from the chest down since 2014.

The trio planned to complete the course within five or six hours.

A loving son scored a goal in tribute to his football fanatic dad on the day he died.

Arron Cross insisted on playing for Morecambe Royals just hours after his father Ashley passed away because it’s what his dad would have wanted.

Young Arron then scored in the North Lancashire and District Football league match with Millhead.

APRIL

A chance glance at a newspaper article asking for pet blood donors prompted a Morecambe woman to put her pooch forward to help save dogs’ lives.

Sheila Waldie of Beaufort Road, Bare noticed a full page in a magazine appealing for pet blood donor.

Her and her husband John, put their five-year-old poodle Charlie, forward as a donor.

A paramedic issued a stark warning to drug users after being called to two heroin overdoses in a week where the person was not breathing.

Vinny Romano, an advanced paramedic based in Lancaster, said there was a more potent batch of heroin circulating and was urging users not to use alone.

Police said they were unaware of a problem with pure heroin in the area.

Two couples who picked up smelly rubbery rocks on the beach in Morecambe Bay were hoping they would turn out to be lumps of whale vomit - worth a potential of £50,000 each.

Gary and Angela Williams from Overton were strolling along Middleton Sands beach when they smelled rotting fish.

They followed the stench and found an unusual looking ‘rock’ which looked like a piece of ambergris.

Just days later, Len Robinson from Bare came across a very similar item rolling about in the water.

Both couples had to get their rocks verified by experts.

Pop legends Madness and The Boomtown Rats were being mooted as headline acts for a new 12-hour live music event in Morecambe.

News of the mahor all-ticket music festival was unveiled as the town geared up for its biggest ever carnival.

The event in September 2017 - aimed at taking Morecambe’s festivals season to the next level - would be held on land formerly occupied by The Dome with plans to attract 20,000 people paying £40 a ticket.

MAY

A daughter of a keen Morecambe golfer has thanked her “daddy’s angels” after a group of friends rushed to save his life.

Family of Geoff Suthers say they don’t know how to thank the men who acted quickly after the 63-year-old went into a cardiac arrest.

Geoff collapsed as he took his second shot at Morecambe Golf Club.

ITV News correspondent Emma Murphy presented Heysham High’s annual pride awards.

The year’s winners included a year 7 student who was a young carer as well as being a model students; a young lady who, despite visual impairment, was always willing to go out of her way to help others; and a year 10 student who saved the life of a disabled lady she stopped to help when others were just walking past.

A national fatness test revealed Lancashire is the third worst area in England for hospital admissions due to obesity.

More than 11,000 patients were taken into hospitals in the county for weight-related conditions during 2014/2015, with only Hertfordshire and Cornwall treating more.

“Thank you for saving my life”- these were the words of an epileptic woman to a brave teenager who found her collapsed in the street.

Irene Sellers suffered a seizure on her way home from playing pool and was lying on the floor.

Darcy Willan, 14, a Heysham High School pupil, came across Irene on the pavement and stayed with her until emergency services arrived.

Irene, 60, who is deaf and has learning disabilities, sent Darcy a card thanking her for saving her life.

A 14-year-old boy with cerebral palsy was preparing for a mile-long zip wire in memory of his friend.

Wheelchair-bound Cameron Redpath was to complete the Will Lewis zip wire over a slate mine in Bangor, Wales.

The zip wire attempt was to raise funds for Dreamflight, a charity which sends seriously ill children on a holiday of a lifetime.

Cameron’s friend Will Lewis, who lost his battle with leukaemia in June 2014, was due to take part in the challenge with Cameron.

JUNE

Disappointment turned to delight for a music fan after his favourite band turned up to play in his back garden.

Morecambe group The Thyme Machine felt bad after Darren Fox and his teenage son Theo were forced to leave their gig because Theo was underage.

The next day, the four-piece turned up out of the blue at Darren’s house in their tour bus and ended up playing a full one-hour set to the whole family.

A tiny puppy with a badly broken leg was on the road to recovery after undergoing surgery.

Named Summer by staff at Animal Care in Lancaster, who looked after her, the eight-week-old pup had to have her front right leg amputated because her injuries were so severe.

Summer went into a foster home and was eventually rehomed.

Around 200 people attended a vigil at Lancaster Priory to remember the 49 people shot dead in Orlando and MP Jo Cox who was shot and stabbed to death in June.

The Rev Chris Newlands, Vicar of Lancaster, Lancaster MP Cat Smith, Ian Ashton, LGBT liaison officer at Lancashire Police and Robert Mee, from LGBT charity Out in the Bay, all spoke at the service.

A soap star at the centre of a major storyline in TV’s Coronation Street took time out to support The Dukes in Lancaster.

Cherylee Houston from Morecambe, who plays Izzy Armstrong, was one of The Dukes Honorary Patrons and recorded a video about the theatre.

Cherylee’s Corrie character was awaiting sentencing in the soap after being caught with cannabis which she took for pain relief.