The Hunts Post year in review

The Hunts Post editoral team Julian Makey, Debbie Davies, Katie Ridley and Daniel Mansfield.

The Hunts Post editoral team Julian Makey, Debbie Davies, Katie Ridley and Daniel Mansfield. - Credit: Archant

Looking at the stories that made the headlines in 2019

Marissa Aldrich

Marissa Aldrich - Credit: Archant

The Hunts Post looks back at the events and the people that made the headlines in 2019


The year started off with friends and family members paying tribute to a mother-of-two who died on December 22 in Love's Way, in St Neots. Twenty-nine year old Marissa Aldrich was found dead in an area of scrubland at around 2.30am. A post-mortem revealed that she had drowned. Marissa's mother, Gemma described Marissa as a "fantastic friend".

In lighter news, a Huntingdon man who was desperate to reach Hinchingbrooke Hospital after being told his mother had just hours to live thanked fire-fighters and construction workers after they helped him through gridlocked traffic in time to say his goodbyes. David Bates was stuck at work when he received news that his mother was unwell.

Jonathan Djanogly

Jonathan Djanogly - Credit: Archant

On his way to the hospital, however, David found himself stuck in traffic on the A14 which had been closed in both directions following a lorry fire. His boss got out of the car and asked construction staff to help get David to the hospital in time.

"They whisked me off, passing the lorry fire and dropped me off right at the front of the hospital. Without them I may not have got to spend those last precious few hours with my mum," he said.

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Jordan Shepherd and Ashley White were sentenced to a combined total of almost 60 years for the murder of Sam Mechelewski. The pair stabbed Mr Mechelewski in Hinchingbrooke Country Park on January 31, 2018. They were found guilty of his murder after a seven-week trial at Cambridge Crown Court. It took the jury five days to reach the guilty verdict. White was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of 29 years and Shepherd was sentenced to life with a minimum of 28 years and six months. Judge Julian Goose described Mr Mechelewski's death as a "brutal attack".


Lucy Conrad with dad Chris and mum Debbie in their garden

Lucy Conrad with dad Chris and mum Debbie in their garden - Credit: Archant

Cambridgeshire County Council agreed to keep the number 30 bus service running for another 12 months after fears were raised by councillors over the lack on public transport in Ramsey. In September 2018, community groups in Ramsey clubbed together to start a petition in an effort to secure more funding for the bus and keep what they called a "vital service" running.

In other news, the mayor of St Ives hit back at "vile" race-hate messages which had been posted around the town.

Councillor Tim Drye said the "disgraceful" stickers had appeared on lampposts and pedestrian crossings around the town, as well as on doorways in St Audrey's Lane. He said: "I am confident that the overwhelming population of the town will join me and together we will challenge these seeds of hatred wherever they emerge."


Tiffany with Annabelle who is thought to be one of the last babies to be born at Papworth Hospital b

Tiffany with Annabelle who is thought to be one of the last babies to be born at Papworth Hospital before it moves to Cambridge - Credit: Archant

The town mayors joined together for some pancake day fun as they took part in the annual pancake race in the Market Square, in Huntingdon.

In other news, a newborn from Somersham was one of the last babies to be born at the old Papworth Hospital site in Papworth Everard, marking the end of an era for the facility. Weighing just 3lbs 9ozs, Annabelle Haddow was eight weeks premature when she was born after mum Tiffany Haddow was transferred to the intensive care unit at the hospital in Papworth Everard, a few weeks before giving birth.

St Neots Town Council gave its unanimous support for a new splash park to be built in the town, despite a set back with funding arrangements. The council agreed to grant the St Neots Aquatic and Leisure CIO £250,000 for a splash pad at a full town council meeting on February 26, but then received advice the following day calling the decision into question.

Concerns were also raised about the source of the funding, the short time scale for the project and the fact that some councillors had not seen the business plan. The council's finance officer, Teodora Kostova, pointed out there was no money in the current budget to finance the splash pad and she thought it would have to be considered for the next financial year in 2020.

The Toby Jug canvassing for votes in St Ives

The Toby Jug canvassing for votes in St Ives - Credit: Archant


In April, a mum from Little Paxton started campaigning for a change in law to help her severely epileptic daughter access treatment that. Lucy Conrad, 15, from Little Paxton, previously had up to one hundred seizures each day, some of which could last for up to five hours, but since taking canaboid oil (CBD), she went 80 days without a seizure.

Lucy, who currently attends Samuel Pepys special school in St Neots, had tried a number of different treatments over the years to help reduce the number of seizures without much success.

However, she started taking legal CBD oil in March 2017 and her mother said the treatment had helped to control her seizures and had changed her life.

The Caxton Gibbet roundabout of the A428 and A1198 in Cambridgeshire PICTURE: Highways England

The Caxton Gibbet roundabout of the A428 and A1198 in Cambridgeshire PICTURE: Highways England - Credit: Archant

Cannabinoid, which is also known as CBD, is legal in the UK as long as its tetrahydrocannabinolic acid (THC) content is less than 0.2 per cent, but it cannot be prescribed by doctors due to it being unlicensed. For that reason, Lucy currently has to be taken out of school because council rules mean she isn't allowed to receive the oil treatment on site. Since then, her mum Debbie has been campaigning to help Lucy access it.

We also ran stories of all the athletes and fund-raisers from the area running the London Marathon and the charities they were raising money for.


Tributes were paid to the former leader of the eccentric party Lord Toby Jug who died on May 2. Brian Borthwick, who was known as Lord Toby Jug, stood against top politicians at general elections across the country over the years and was the leader of the Eccentric Party of Great Britain. Friends and fellow politicians described him as "good fun" and said "politics were brightened by him".

HDC leader Grahm Bull is stepping down

HDC leader Grahm Bull is stepping down - Credit: Archant

In a later edition, The Hunts Post spoke to the new mayors of the towns, as they celebrated at their mayor making ceromies. Councillor Steve Corney, was elected as the mayor of Ramsey, Councillor Daniel Rowe, as mayor of St Ives, Councillor Gordon Thorpe, as mayor of St Neots, Councillor Steve McAdam as mayor of Huntingdon and Councillor Dick Taplin as mayor of Godmanchester.

A barber from St Ives shaved off his hair for the mental health charity MIND to remember a friend who had taken his own life. Elio Videtta, owner of El's Barbershop in St Ives, raised £1,364 for the Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and South Lincolnshire MIND (CPSL Mind), after his friend and former client, Carl Malick, took his own life in April 2018, aged 28.


In June, the trial into the murder of Marissa Aldrich started, after Robert McWhir denied the charge. Cambridge Crown Court heard Ms Aldrich and McWhir had an "on-off relationship" and that he could be jealous. After a two-week trial Mcwhir was found guilty of the murder. The court heard McWhir, 26, of Potton Road, St Neots, drowned Ms Aldirch after holding her head down in a pond containing just 10cm of water. The jurors took 10 hours to reach their verdict and he was sentenced to a minimum of 18 years in prison.

In other news, a school principal who turned his office into a "sex dungeon" and helped himself to nearly £103,000 of school funds was banned from teaching for life.

James Stewart, 74, who had been principal of Sawtry Community College for nearly 30 years, blew the money on custom-made furniture, drink and smoked salmon for his office, which he had converted into an apartment, complete with a bed and cooking equipment.

Stewart, who was paid £120,000 a year, was jailed for four years in October 2017, after pleading guilty to five counts of fraud, alongside an addition charge of misconduct in a public office.


The inquest into the death of Rosa King, who died after being mauled by a tiger at Hamerton Zoo opened on July 2. The five day inquest concluded that her death was accidental.

The family of a 23-year-old, who died following a collision in Buckden, paid tribute saying he was a "much loved son".

Jamie Pegram, 23, of School Lane, Buckden, was driving a blue Vauxhall Corsa along Mill Road when he was involved in a collision with a Range Rover. Hundreds of people paid tributes to Mr Pegram.

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly said he had "mixed views" about the legalisation of cannabis following a fact-finding trip to Canada.

The Conservative MP visited Canada as part of a BBC Newsbeat documentary discussing the potential legalisation of cannabis in the UK and said that he believed that it could be legalised within the next 10 to 15 years.

Mr Djanogly, alongside two other cross-party MPs, were filmed on their journey for the documentary called Legalising Cannabis: Canada's Story.

Labour's David Lammy and Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb also made the trip, with Mr Lammy backing legalisation, against his party's official stance.


The Liberal Democrats retained their seat in the Godmanchester district council by-election as councillor Sarah Wilson was chosen to represent the town. The by-election came after the Liberal Democrat David Underwood stood down on health grounds.

In other news, thousands of people had their say on new proposals for the A428. Highways England ran an eight-week consultation on the proposals between June 3 and July 28, with about 2,500 people taking the chance to discuss the proposal at one of 15 consultation events. The scheme would see a new 10-mile dual carriageway linking the Black Cat roundabout in Bedfordshire to the Caxton Gibbet roundabout in Cambridgeshire.


In September, The Hunts Post launched a new "looking back" feature which has proved popular with readers, helping them to find out more about old photographs. Since this has launched, we have seen old photographs more than a hundred years old featured, and readers have been able to shed some light on who is in the pictures.

We also launched our "Let's Talk Rubbish" campaign, where we have encouraged readers to get involved an help tidy up the district. So far more than a hundred bags of rubbish have been collected by people around the district, but we still need your help to get to our ambitious target of 1,000 bags.

The MP for North West Cambridgeshire, announced that he would join the race to become the next speaker in the House of Commons. Shalish Vara, said he felt that he had what it takes to become the next speaker. He later pulled out of the race.


In October, the trust that runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital confirmed there were no plans to close or downgrade the hospital's accident and emergency department. Senior staff were forced to issue a denial after union representatives put out a statement claiming there were no plans to "downgrade" Hinchingbrooke's A&E department, which they said would "all but guarantee complete closure".

On October 13, police launched a murder investigation after Huntingdon man Alex Fitzpatrick was stabbed in St Neots. Robert Parkins, 32, of Darrington Close, Eaton Socon, denied murdering 30-year-old Alex Fitzpatrick, from Huntingdon, who died from stab wounds after an incident in Prince Close. The trial is due to start in March.

In other news, a man from St Neots, whose father died after he contracted HIV and Hepatitis from contaminated blood products gave evidence at a national inquiry.

Tony Farrugia, gave evidence at the Infected Blood Inquiry, in London, and during his testimony, which was powerful, but also harrowing, he described how he was "robbed of a childhood".

He said: "I was taken from the care home in Luton on a minibus to The London hospital and I remember sitting in the garden with my dad. He was very skinny and I was a bit shocked as he was over six feet tall. I had an ice cream and my dad asked me if he could have some because he had mouth ulcers and his mouth was sore. But a nurse refused to let him as she was worried about us sharing food. That was the last time I saw him."

The inquiry is due to start again in February.


In November, a group of eco-activists in St Neots came together to host their first ever climate emergency event on Saturday. People from around the town gathered at the United Reform Church for 'The Time is Now' event, which encouraged people to discuss climate change and what they could do to help the planet.

Among those who organised the event was 14-year-old Rose Coggins, who, in her spare time, campaigns to help reduce the amount of plastic that is wasted.

Rosie said: ""I wanted to put on an information event but wasn't sure how to, so it's great to join in and help organise it with people who feel the same as I do."

In other news, Cambridgeshire's police and crime commissioner Jason Ablewhite quit his post after an investigation was launched into allegations against him.

Thousands of people around Huntingdonshire signed a petition to increase safety measures on the B1040 cross roads following a collision which left two people dead, and 18 people injured.

Lastly, the leader of Huntingdonshire District Council Councillor Graham Bull stood down from his position.


In December, tributes were paid to a man from Brampton, who was described as the "heart and soul of the community".

Shaun Collins, known as 'Moonie', passed away aged 49 of heart failure.

Since the news, hundreds of people paid tribute to him describing him as "caring and supportive" and a "wonderful man with such a big heart".

A new leader for Huntingdonshire District Council was appointed. Conservative councillor Ryan Fuller, was previously the deputy leader at the council and was elected at a meeting in December following the resignation of Councillor Graham Bull.

New information arose regarding the resignation of Jason Ablewhite, the former police and crime commissioner. The Hunts Post revealed that a nine-day exchange of increasingly personal messages led to the resignation of Mr Ablewhite. Mr Ablewhite is accused of sending suggestive Facebook messages and an explicit photo to a 50-year old vulnerable woman. A spokesman for the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire confirmed the investigation was a matter for the IOPC.

The Conservatives did well in the December General Election, as Jonathan Djanogly was elected as MP for Huntingdon and Shalish Vara for North West Cambridgeshire.