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Best and worst of 2012 in Kent

By Canterbury Times  |  Posted: January 04, 2013

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THE world of pantomime was in mourning after comedian Dave Lee lost his battle to cancer. Bobby Davro led the tributes to the larger-than-life funnyman, whom he described as: "A big personality, big talent and a big heart."

Thousands of fans and celebrities packed Canterbury Cathedral to pay their last respects.

Herne Bay MP Roger Gale was knighted in the Queen's New Year Honours list. He dedicated the honour to his wife Suzy, saying: "She has worked alongside me and supported me throughout every day that I have been a Member of Parliament."

Also decorated was Professor Jim Mansell, emeritus professor of learning disability in the University of Kent's Tizard Centre, who was awarded a CBE.

A mystery writer flooded Whitstable's pubs, homes and shops with apology letters, leaving dozens of landlords, business owners and residents baffled as to who had wronged them.

The note simply read: "I take back any false or bad remarks, any rudeness, or negative actions."

Iris Hill spotted an unusual opportunity when she came down with chicken pox. The six-year-old from Whitstable raised £20 for the Kent Wildlife Trust by getting family and friends to sponsor her spots.

Villagers waged war on Tesco's plans for two new stores in Herne Bay. People power defeated the supermarket's bid to take over an empty pub in Herne, but failed to stop the town's second Tesco Express from opening in Sea Street.

Tragedy struck an hour into the new year, when Herne Bay builder Mick Cox was hit by a car as he walked home from a party.

Senior Herne Bay councillor Andrew Cook was left red-faced after his son Charles was convicted of threatening a traffic warden. He was given eight points on his licence and a community order.

Faversham landlord Jim Pearson was given a suspended prison sentence after admitting to attacking his wife Kim. He was spared jail for the sake of his pub, The Elephant, but was sentenced to community service and ordered to complete an anger management course. The pair had reconciled by the time of the trial.

Doris Drury became the first resident of Faversham's Mill House care home to get a card from the Queen. She revealed her secret to reaching 100 – eating well.

Fundraiser Ian Tarrant was forced to take Faversham's Charity Car and Bike Show off the road after it became too big to handle. Promoter David Clarke later stepped in to save the event.

A major police investigation was launched after Canterbury buskers Hugo Wenn, 17, and Daniel Lloyd, 25, were found drowned in Reed Pond.

It emerged that the pair had taken party drug Mexxy, a "legal high" which was later banned by the Government.

Schoolgirl Ellisa Walker-Reid picked up a haunting role, appearing alongside Harry Potter's Daniel Radcliffe in the big-screen remake of The Woman In Black. The 11-year-old St Edmund's School pupil played a child who jumps to her death from a window moments into the film.

Ridlands Farm was announced as the new home for Canterbury City Football Club and its £2 million stadium.

Animal lovers were appalled after a foal was found dead in a Faversham field without food or water, despite a string of warnings to the RSPCA.

Faversham chef Daniel Freeman was jailed for five years after torching the restaurant where he worked following a promotion. Freeman said he could not handle the stress of his new position at Mickey's Diner, on the A2 at Harbledown.

Celebrity snapper John Farrier had Beatles for sale after he discovered rare early pictures of the Fab Four in concert which he had taken when he was just 16. He later exhibited them at the Lilford Gallery.

Umbrella Community Centre manager Rob Isted complained of being bogged down by thieves stealing toilet paper from the Whitstable charity. He estimated the thefts added up to £150 each year.

Finn the whippet was whimpering after a walk along Tankerton seafront turned into a bloodbath. Laura Jordan's pet fought for its life after severing an artery on broken glass in the sand.

Campaigners in Herne Bay unveiled plans for a new pavilion on the seafront.

Widow Beverley Cox was devastated when thieves stole the Valentine's bouquet she had left for her late husband. The flowers were left in Eddington Lane, Herne Bay, where builder Mick was killed on New Year's Eve.

A 70-year-old man who tattooed heavy metal lyrics onto an underage Herne Bay schoolgirl told a court he was not a "villain".

Donovan Carfoot inked a four-line quote on the 15-year-old's back but said he thought she was older.

Traffic was banned from going through the Westgate Towers in the most radical change to Canterbury's roads for 20 years.

Drivers complained of long delays and confusion but officials said the changes were vital to protect the historic towers. The trial continued despite a petition signed by 4,000 people calling for it to be scrapped.

Sturry library was closed for a month after a car ploughed into the building, four days after a suspected arson attack. It is believed the car was being reversed by an elderly woman.

Tax inspector Shirley Banfield went on trial for murdering her husband Don for his pension money, along with her daughter Lynette. The pair were sentenced to life imprisonment, even though no body was ever found.

Swale council opted to scrap arts funding and debt services, but froze council tax in the face of £1.6 million budget cuts. Labour councillors attacked the Tory-led plans for failing to help people with disabilities and low-paid workers.

Birthday boy Robert Seabrook celebrated his 11th birthday... in a Faversham pub. Despite being 44 years old, leap year baby Robert celebrated with a magician and traditional party games.

Faversham mum Rebecca Shannon, 38, was inspired to endure her own "week of hell" after joining comedian John Bishop on a leg of his gruelling triathlon through the town.

The comedian rowed, cycled and ran the 295 miles from Paris to London in five days for Sport Relief, raising £1.6 million. Meanwhile Rebecca walked three and a half marathons in four days along Hadrian's Wall for her own charity.

Herne Bay FC boss Simon Halsey packed his lucky gloves ahead of the biggest match in the club's history, vying for a place in the final of the FA vase. The club drew at home but gave up on their dream of playing at Wembley after losing away at West Auckland Town.

Burglars fled Herne Village Stores without their trousers, after the owners disturbed them.

The CCTV showed two youths smashing the shop's window before one fell over the ice cream counter and began bleeding. He then ran away, discarding his tracksuit bottoms.

Britain's oldest woman, 112-year-old Violet Wood, died at Kent and Canterbury Hospital. Record-breaking Violet was a popular resident of St Martin's Rest Home. Her son David, 87, said: "When we went to register her death, the computer wouldn't recognise her age and the girl had to override it."

Sundae Sundae boss Steve Graham was selling his homes, business and beach hut for £675,000. He decided to sell up and travel after the death of his wife, Jan.

THE Royal Mail delivered a blow by announcing the sale of its Whitstable sorting office, meaning a 15-mile trip for customers picking up undelivered post. The company also decided to close Herne Bay's depot.

Reporter Alisdaire Hickson returned home to Canterbury after being freed from an Egyptian prison. Mr Hickson, 48, spent two months in jail after being arrested on suspicion of throwing rocks during a protest.

Criminals behind a plot to steal £174,000 worth of superglue from lorries on the A2 came unstuck. The gang of seven was sentenced to a total of 16 years in prison after being stopped by police between Canterbury and Faversham.

Town bosses were left red-faced after a continental market abandoned Herne Bay on the second day after a lack of customers.

Two men were quizzed after a Herne parish councillor found his Lithuanian lodger covered in blood in Canterbury Road. Arunas Ruzinas spent a week in intensive care.

City councillor Phil Cartwright found a trail of destruction after a runaway car crashed through hedges and fences before landing upside down in his garden.

Boughton mum Jane Hitchins survived after being crushed by a 100ft wave in a round-the-world yacht race. Ms Hitchins, 50, suffered a broken back and ribs, a punctured lung and ruptured spleen in the disaster, off the coast of America.

Abbey School pupil Zac Smith-Wallace said his ordeal at the hands of 15 youths – who attacked him on his way home from school – had made him want to join the police.

Natalie Caward mourned her dog Surf after Dunkirk farmer Colin Tearle shot the pet for worrying his 170 newborn lambs. He said the dog was "the size of a wolf" and left him with no choice but to reach for his gun.

A Facebook party got out of control when 80 gatecrashers brawled in Whitstable. The 14-year-old organiser's parents were on holiday when the teenagers ran riot, smashing and stealing from their Bridgefield Road home.

The family of Canterbury builder Gary Dickinson discovered that his unexpected death was caused by a bite from the family dog. Mr Dickinson died from a rare infection 48 hours after the nip. Doctors at Kent and Canterbury Hospital initially sent him home with suspected food poisoning.

Railway workers made a grisly discovery by the side of the tracks at Herne Bay. A skull and bones were found, and later discovered to belong to Harold Bartlett, who went missing from his home in Broomfield in 2004. The cause of death was unknown.

Families living in Faversham Reach discovered a public right of way through their homes. They began a campaign to reroute the creekside footpath after ramblers complained of the obstruction.

Schoolgirl Orla Lineham Fox took on the might of Canterbury City Council in a battle to save Kingsmead playing field. The 10-year-old St Stephen's Junior School pupil said: "It's not just for me and my friends but for all the people of the area who live and breathe better because there is a lovely green field nearby."

Councillors ignored the plea and voted to sell off the fields to developers.

Protesters sank plans for 11 luxury flats in a towering ship-like design along Faversham Creek. Chairman of the Faversham Creek Trust Griselda Mussett warned she would chain herself to the railings if the plans were approved.

Teynham carnival princess Sharlie Lightfoot was sacked after getting her neck pierced. The 15-year-old – who had her sash taken away weeks before her first appearance – insisted there was nothing in the rules about piercings.

A rent row brought traditional shipbuilding to a close along Faversham Creek, after shipwright Tim Goldsack moved his business to cheaper premises at Oare.

Three women sent the chainsaws packing after they chained themselves to a tree due to be cut down by National Rail. A crowd of 250 protesters added their voices to calls to save the tree, along Whitstable railway line, which was home to nesting birds.

GENEROUS soldier John Delahoy stunned staff at Chestfield Medical Centre when he left the doctors £50,000 in his will. The 92-year-old asked for the money to be spent on staff training and development.

Revellers across the district enjoyed a royal knees-up to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, kicked off the Jubilee celebrations at the newly built West Faversham Community Centre. Meanwhile, a special Jubilee Proms drew hundreds of partygoers to the market place.

Herne Bay had cause for a double celebration, as the Jubilee coincided with the reopening of the pier. The ribbon was cut by bionic marathon hero Claire Lomas – who completed the race in 17 days despite being paralysed from the chest down.

Whitstable and Herne Bay Lions president Mike Shaw lit beacon number 4,304 on Duncan Downs in a fiery tribute to the Queen's 60th year on the throne. The Queen lit the final beacon at Buckingham Palace minutes later.

An army parachutist from Canterbury barracks was recovering after breaking his arm and leg in a freefall display disaster. The soldier plunged into the ground at 80mph during a parachute jump at Dover's military tattoo.

A Whitstable family were delighted to find their pet cat – six years after he went missing. Dave was found in a garden and taken to a vet, where his owner Richard Maxted was traced via microchip.

Radio DJ Chris Evans caused a storm by telling thousands of listeners that there was nothing going on in Whitstable. He said he would build a helter-skelter on the beach if he was in charge, prompting shopkeeper Steve Graham to retort: "If he wants candy floss, helter-skelters and Kiss Me Quick hats I'd suggest he goes to Margate."

Hop Festival chairman Paul Durkin resigned after 20 years due to personality clashes with board members.

A Bay teenager was left partially blinded after an acid attack at a house party at Prospect Farm. Witnesses spoke of how the 18-year-old started screaming after ammonia was thrown in his face.

A mystery benefactor stepped in to save May Lodge Club, returning the £1 million seafront property for the use of the Royal British Legion. The club had closed after a bitter row in January.

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