Hunts Post Review of the Year: January - March

Lisa Leader passed away on Friday November 26 peacefully at her home.

Lisa Leader passed away on Friday November 26 peacefully at her home. - Credit: Jackie Wardropper

One story continued to dominate the news, both locally and nationally, during 2021 - Covid-19 and the pandemic.

The Hunts Post told how people coped with the disease and the impact it had on their lives and work during the year.

Many businesses, especially those in the leisure and hospitality industries, battled on but were left wondering if they would survive and employees still found themselves working part-time on furlough as the pandemic continued to bite.

Even as the number of cases went down and restrictions lifted, Covid-19 continued to have a knock-on effect and, as the year neared its end, cases were rising rapidly again and further limitations were on the agenda.

But the Hunts Post continued to report on the other issues which affected readers.

JANUARY

Mental health welfare became a key priority as people battled both Covid-19 and the impact it had on daily life.

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The Hunts Post told how the NHS and mental health services were behind a "We're here to help" campaign urging people to seek help if they were feeling under pressure nine months after the first lockdown.

Jackie Wardropper thanked the huge number of supporters who had reached £100,000 in their fundraising for specialist treatment for her daughter Lisa Leader who was battling brain cancer. Sadly, the young mum from Godmanchester lost her fight for life in November.

Jackie said she had been "overwhelmed" by the response from fundraisers.

The pandemic saw a marquee go up outside a surgery in St Neots to help with the inoculation against Covid-19  after the first vaccines began to be delivered to those who qualified, including the elderly and those with underlying health concerns.

The number of cases recorded locally were at an all-time high. In Huntingdonshire the first week of the month saw 525 cases per 100,000 of the population, up from 282 the week before. 

Jay Clack, 20, thanked people who rallied round to support him after he received "spiteful" messages following his posting of his near-death experiences online.

St Neots entrepreneur Alex Hughes raised £5,000 for mental health services with a 24-hour speaking marathon encouraging people to look after themselves.

Astronomers at Alconbury unveiled a project to listen to "alien factories" in space using technology which was the first of its kind in the UK and in St Ives residents were encouraged to leave their Christmas decorations out for the rest of the month to spread some joy as part of the CALMtown initiative. 

FEBRUARY

Low cost food operation Diamond Hampers opened The Pantry in Huntingdon with its stock of food left unsold by supermarkets destined for families in need from across the district. 

In Huntingdon a large-scale inoculation point to tackle Covid-19 opened at the Oak Tree Centre, part of the biggest programme of its kind in the NHS.

Up to 30 full and part-time jobs were being created by cafe-bar firm Loungers which announced it was opening a new branch in the former Dorothy Perkins shop in St Neots.

Talented 15-year-old Bailey Marshall-Law, a student at Sawtry Village Academy, raised awareness of hidden disabilities with specially designed t-shirts.

Isla Hastings, 7,  who has the rare condition Freeman Sheldon Syndrome, raised money for Addenbrooke's Hospital, which cares for her, by cycling 46 miles.

Dr David Vickers, medical director Cambridgeshire Community Services, said he was "delighted" with the Covid-19 vaccine rollout during a visit to the Oak Tree Centre in Huntingdon and the Hunts Post also watched as patients were inoculated at another centre. 

Plans to boost St Neots town centre with £11m were unveiled with the money coming from a range of sources, including Huntingdonshire District Council.

Villagers at Hemingford Grey called for action from Anglian Water after sewage flooded on to footpaths.

Cambridgeshire County Council pledged £2.73m to tackle flooding, to clean drains and to maintain verges after the district was hit by torrential rain.

MARCH

Mayor of Huntingdon Cllr Karl Webb condemns vandals who painted racist graffiti on a Chinese takeaway restaurant in the town.

Huntingdonshire District Council agreed to put a further £1.7m into plans to regenerate St Neots town centre.

North West Cambridgeshire MP Shailesh Vara was calling for talks on "dangerous" junctions on the A14 which were said to have worsened after the £1.5 million scheme to upgrade the road.

March 13 marked the first anniversary of the first local case of Covid-19 and the Hunts Post paid tribute to the organisations and individuals who have played key parts in supporting the community through the pandemic.  

A new park in St Ives was named after teacher Henry Berman and his wife Joan, who became an MBE for her work with people with learning difficulties, to mark their contributions to the community.

Plans for a new secondary school in St Neots were approved by the Department for Education.

A trial closure of the historic bridge between Huntingdon and Godmanchester to traffic was put on hold because of concerns over traffic, the re-routing of buses and impact on trade. The aim was to encourage traffic to use the new link on the A1307, part of the former A14.