Review of the year 2013: January

Victoria Pendleton with her gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. Picture by www.britishcycling.or

Victoria Pendleton with her gold medal at the London 2012 Olympics. Picture by - Credit: Archant

A state-of-the-art school building opening and controversial town centre redevelopment plans were just some of the stories to come out of Comet country in the first month of 2013.

• January got off to a great start when eight Comet country residents were named in the Queen’s New Year honours list.

Stotfold cycling queen Victoria Pendleton topped off an Olympic year with a CBE, while Hitchin saw four of its residents honoured.

Diane Burleigh got an OBE for services to the legal profession and Hannah Seakins and Jane White got OBEs for military operations and services to the community respectively, while Robert Girvan received the new British Empire Medal.

Letchworth GC stalwart John Stoddard got an MBE for services to the community, with Stevenage council leader Sharon Taylor and former county council chief executive Caroline Tapster getting OBEs and CBEs respectively for services to local government.

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• A 63-year-old grandfather from Baldock won £1million on the EuroMillions lottery draw.

John Baxter, who celebrated with his wife Carol, said: “Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would win £1million. The house has been full of family and friends coming round to congratulate us.”

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• Stevenage saw the opening of the new Lonsdale Marriotts school building, which was described by then-headteacher Geraint Edwards as “probably the best building in the country at present time.”

• A family spoke of their relief when their young child was saved from a burning block of flats. Shaun Truett, 26, and his girlfiend Megan Bradbury, 20, were relieved when their one-year-old son Tyler was saved from the fire on Beverley Road, Stevenage. No-one was hurt in the fire, which was treated as accidental.

• Residents hit out at new plans for a redevelopment of the Churchgate area in Hitchin. Mike Clark, chairman of Hitchin Forum, said that Simons, the company contracted to carry out planned works, had “been fiddling with these proposals for three years,” continuing: “In that time, the whole shape of retailing has changed irrevocably.” A final decision on how to proceed with Churchgate plans has yet to be reached.

• There was cause for celebration when regular Comet reader Peter Wickens, 36, of Weston, proposed to girlfriend Rachel Gort, 37, via the ads section of the paper. Mr Wickens said: “I suppose I just wanted to do something different.”

• A man who was threatened with a kitchen knife during an attempted robbery turned the tables on the would-be thief when he chased him out of his shop. Cashier Chandrakasan Selvanayagam, 32, of London Road, Baldock, said: “It all happened very quickly. I was on my own and this has never happened before.”

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