Review of 2012: January to March

2012 was a year of success and celebration for Huntingdonshire - but there have been challenging times too, with many organisations taking drastic measures because of the economic conditions. ANDREW PAPWORTH looks back on the first few months of an eventful year.


STUKELEY Meadows mother Julie Jones was named as Mum of the Year.

The single mother-of-three was nominated for the Tesco Compassionate Mum of the Year award after she agreed to open the doors of her Rydal Close home to the children of her best friend Caroline Atkin after both she and her husband died within six months of each other.

The selfless act led to her being nominated by her mother, Josie, and two friends, before being invited to collect the prize at a ceremony at London’s Waldorf Hotel.

“I love the children like they were my own and would never have seen them brought up in care,” Julie said.

A HUNTINGDONSHIRE landmark was moved from its location outside RAF Brampton prior to the military base’s closure in 2013.

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A ceremony was held to say farewell to the McDonnell-Douglas Phantom FGR jet fighter/bomber, which had been outside the site for two decades.

The plane wad dismantled over the following months to be transported to RAF Wattisham in Suffolk.

DAVID Lawless and four of his horses took up starring roles in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster movie War Horse.

Harvey, Scott, Comet and Boy, based at New Farm, in Alconbury, were specifically chosen for the Hollywood film because of their placid and amenable natures, which made them easier to handle on set.

The 36-year-old father-of-two said working with the legendary director over two days of filming was an unforgettable experience.

“He was very definite in what he wanted and closely involved in everything,” Mr Lawless said.

“It was very challenging at times. Getting so many horses to do exactly what you want can be tricky - filming can take so long and the animals have a mind of their own.

“I was really impressed with the film. There were some epic scenes on the battlefields and there must have been 100 horses running around. I think they did a very good job.”


CIRCLE officially took over the running of Hinchingbrooke Hospital.

The private company was the surprise winner of a 10-year contract to run the struggling hospital, beating rivals Serco with a plan to turn Hinchingbrooke around and sort out its financial problems.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly and officials from the Royal College of Nursing welcomed the move and urged patients to give the firm time.

But it was not long before the Hands Off Hinchingbrooke campaign launched, calling for the deal to be scrapped.

Later, the House of Commons’ Public Accounts Committee said more consideration should have been given to closing the site and transferring services to Addenbrooke’s or Peterborough hospitals.

FIZZY the African Grey parrot hit the headlines after startling burglars at The George pub in Fenstanton.

The raiders fled as a result of Fizzy squawking and rattling around in her cage, which scared them away.

Other businesses in the village were not so fortunate - 30 ball gowns and jewellery worth about �6,000 was stolen from the nearby Frock Exchange, whereas confectionary and drinks were taken from Barkers Bakery.

A TEENAGER gave a clamping company a taste of its own medicine when she locked herself inside the firm’s van.

Sophie Sweet, 18, and her mum Emma, 34, had returned to the scene of what they believed was unfair clamping at the Males’ Budgens’ car park in St Ives.

They had stopped in the staff car park to allow Emma’s husband Patrick, 29, to use a public toilet.

On their return to the scene they intended to take photographs to dispute the ticket when Sophie jumped in the van and locked herself in.

“I would never have dreamed of doing something like this,” she said. “My mum just told me to do it and I just did.”

However Budgens owner Steve Males said those who parked in the restricted area would continue to be clamped.


CAMBRIDGESHIRE Fire and Rescue began talks on merging services with Suffolk.

Assistant chief fire officer Neil Newberry said the service had an “obligation to make long-term plans in order to protect the front line service” in the wake of budget cuts.

Chief fire officer Graham Stagg and Fire Authority chairman Fred Brown met the fire minister Brandon Lewis with their Suffolk counterparts in December to discuss the deal further. A consultation on the plans runs until January 14 2013.

The Hunts Post launched the Save Our Service campaign in May, calling on the Government to prevent further budget cuts which could endanger the lives of Huntingdonshire residents.

A CHURCH faced a race against time to fix crumbling masonry in time for a couple’s wedding.

The 12th century wall at St John the Baptist Church in Woodhurst collapsed after nearby trees soaked up water from the clay soil, causing the walls to move and crack.

However Annabel Armstrong and Neil Farbon, the church’s treasurer, were determined for their big day to go ahead.

They married as planned at the church in May, even though scaffolding had been put up to keep the wall in place.

The church eventually found grants totalling �20,000 so it could repair the wall in time for its Christmas services in December.

CONTROVERSY over an increase in councillors’ allowances came to an end when an independent panel finally ruled out a pay rise.

A previous panel had recommended that members of Cambridgeshire County Council have their allowances increased by 25 per cent.

But the local authority admitted it broke its own constitution because the appointment of the original panel should have been made by the council’s standards committee.

The second panel, chaired by David Sales, recommended that allowances should remain at �7,610.

It also advised introducing a ‘one special responsibility allowance’ rule to limit the amount councillors could earn by serving on numerous panels and committees.

Kilian Bourke, the opposition Liberal Democrat leader on the council, said he was “very. very happy” with the news.