Review of the Year 2019: April

PUBLISHED: 12:02 26 December 2019

Deke Duncan and BBC Three Counties Radio presenter Justin Dealey broadcast from Deke's garden shed studio. Picture: Pamela Duncan.

Deke Duncan and BBC Three Counties Radio presenter Justin Dealey broadcast from Deke's garden shed studio. Picture: Pamela Duncan.

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April saw Stevenage DJ Deke Duncan fulfil his lifelong dream of broadcasting a BBC radio show live from his garden shed.

Anthony starting the London Marathon earlier this year. Picture: Supplied.Anthony starting the London Marathon earlier this year. Picture: Supplied.

Deke started playing pop records from his back garden in Stevenage's Gonville Cresecent in 1974, and for 45 years held the smallest audience in the country - playing only to his wife through a speaker set up in their living room.

After tracking Deke down on Twitter, BBC Three Counties presenter Justin Dealey co-hosted a Good Friday special live from Deke's shed, where the duo rocked out to one hour of guilty pleasures.

Volunteers setting up clothing stands for the Feed Up Warm Up drop-in in Stevenage. Picture: Matt PowellVolunteers setting up clothing stands for the Feed Up Warm Up drop-in in Stevenage. Picture: Matt Powell

Meanwhile, runners from Stevenage and North Herts tackled the London Marathon in memory of loved ones. Laura Manton, from Stevenage, took on the 26.2-mile course in tribute to her grandfather - a war veteran who collected money for the Poppy Appeal in Stevenage for over 60 years.

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Homeless charity Feed Up Warm Up opened their first Stevenage drop-in at the St George and St Andrew church. Founder Shane Cole said that after starting his first drop-in service in Hitchin he "noticed a bigger homeless problem in Stevenage than we faced in Hitchin."

This was borne out by the funeral of Chris O'Sullivan, a local homeless man who sadly died in January - aged 55 - when he was found to have succumbed to the cold in a tent on Six Hills Way in Stevenage.

Chris O'Sullivan handed out refreshments to spectators of the Tour Series cycle race in Stevenage last May. Picture: Fiona Souter.Chris O'Sullivan handed out refreshments to spectators of the Tour Series cycle race in Stevenage last May. Picture: Fiona Souter.

Chris's funeral was held at the Church of the Holy Trinity in the Old Town, with more than 70 people paying their respects.

Church curate Fiona Souter said at the time: "He was a very giving person. In May last year, Chris helped hand out free refreshments in the churchyard to people watching the bike race through Old Town...he was tolerant and accepting of people's different lifestyles."

McDonalds in Welwyn Garden City town centre. Picture Danny LooMcDonalds in Welwyn Garden City town centre. Picture Danny Loo

As April drew to a close, the much-loved McDonald's chain in Stevenage town centre closed its doors for the final time. The closure prompted concern from shoppers about the high number of empty units in the town centre.
Social media bid a fond farewell to the restaurant, with Stevenage residents sharing their favourite - and not so favourite - memories. Lucy Gaules paid tribute on Facebook, saying: "I used to attend some brilliant birthday parties and a couple of Halloween parties here back in the early 90s. Such a pity it is closing as it holds so many childhood memories for most of us."


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