Review of the Year - 2019

Review of the Year – 2019

January | February | March | April | May | June | July | August | September | October | November | December


Here we are at the end of yet another year, each year just seems to go by faster and faster, and how will 2019 be remembered. Well we fear that the only thing that will be remembered in 2019 is the nightmare that was the wranglings in the House of Commons over Brexit; Brexit day came and went several times. Here at Fox Towers, we don’t get involved in I’m a Remainer or I’m a Brexiteer talk, we just like to look at the facts as they happened and that is how we will take this year’s review when we discuss the ups and downs of the subject.

The year began in the usual way with Big Ben chiming his bongs, closely followed by the usual New Year celebration fireworks live from the River Thames, all of which were in the shadow of the celebrations that had already occurred in the time zones to the east, for example at L’Arc de Triomphe, an hour earlier and before that in Marina Bay, Dubai and even earlier at the Sydney Opera House. With many more firework celebrations to occur in the western time zones namely Times Square.

Here in the UK many television sets were playing the tunes of Madness live from their concert in London to mark the start of another new year; this must surely go down as one of the last live performances of 2018 as well as one of the first live performances to take place in 2019, especially as it spanned across the midnight hour.

2019 however had so many other things going on; we had births, deaths, personal and sporting achievements and not to forget 2 Prime Ministers and 2 Speakers of the House of Commons. An eventful year we have just lived through, sit back with a cup of tea and remind yourself of the weird and wonderful year it was!

January  

Pot the reds then, screw back
For the yellow green brown blue pink and black
Snooker loopy nuts are we
We’re all snooker loopy

Chas and Dave, Snooker Loopy

We start our review of the year right at the beginning on the first of January, when all 593 public telephones rang at 11AM across Liverpool and St Helens as an act of remembrance to all those lost due to suicide according to Official National Statistics in 2016. At 11AM on New Year’s Day more people die from suicide than any other day of the year. The ringing of telephones was organised by ZU-UK, a theatre and digital art company. The Project is called Pick Me Up (and hold me tight) and was aimed to encourage people to think about our ability to listen in a world that is becoming ever noisier. The area was chosen due to the high level of suicide deaths around Liverpool and St Helens.

The Government announced on the 3rd that it was going to introduce CPR training into the secondary school curriculum as of 2020.The plans mean that young people will leave their secondary education with the skill of CPR, the knowledge of the importance and use of an Automated External Defibrillator and basic first aid knowledge of minor first aid injuries. This is an important step forward, as countries that already teach first aid in schools see cardiac arrest survival rates almost double that of the United Kingdom!

The 3rd also saw everyone’s favourite bakery chain, Greggs launch their meat-free sausage roll!

We move on into the world of entertainment and find the 76th Golden Globe awards on the 6th of January. The awards saw Green Book as the most successful film winning 3 of the 5 awards that it was nominated for, whereas Bohemian Rhapsody won both of the awards that it was up for including Best Actor for Remi Malik. Glenn Close walked away with the Best Actress award for her role in The Wife, beating Lady Gaga to the accolade.

Swiftly through January and we find the first of the Brexit roller coasters that are entwined through this year. On the 15th, Prime Minster Theresa May lost a vote on her Brexit withdrawal deal. The vote was the biggest defeat of any Prime Minister in the House of Commons, with 432 against the motion to that of 202 who agreed to the deal; this included 118 of her own Conservatives rebelling! The Leader of the Opposition tables a vote of no confidence in the Government, which the Prime Minister wins the following day by just 19 votes. Theresa May then says that she will meet with the leaders of other parties to find a way through, and Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition, declines the invite until No Deal has been taken off the table.

The Duke Of Edinburgh, Prince Philip hit the news on the 17th after he had a car accident, on the A4149 near Sandringham; he was unhurt but shocked and shaken. The occupants of the other car involved included a 9mth-old, its mother and her friend. The only injuries sustained included an arm injury and cuts, all involved survived the accident.

On the same day as the accident, the first celebrity death that we have focussed on occurred and that was actor Windsor Davies. Windsor was born on the 28th August 1930 and was 88 when he died. He had an instantly recognisable Welsh voice, and had been in many films and voice-overs for advertising campaigns, but he is probably best known for his role in It Ain’t Half Hot Mum.

The first major snooker tournament of the year was won on the 20th by Judd Trump, who became the 2019 Snooker Masters Champion.

Just 2 days later, David Gilbert made snooker’s 147th professional maximum 147 break. That very evening saw the National Television Awards take place. The one winner that stands out is local lad James Moore from Cheltenham, who plays Ryan Stocks in Yorkshire soap, Emmerdale. James secured the award for Best Newcomer. He also, with the rest of the cast, picked up Best Serial Drama for Emmerdale.

On the 26th Dam I at Córrego do Feijão iron ore mine, suffered a catastrophic failure, which released a mudflow which flowed through the mine’s offices and canteen, at lunchtime, and then on through houses, farms, inns and roads downstream. The failure and resulting mudflow caused 256 officially confirmed deaths and a further 14 still missing with no body found.

The 29th saw bit of snow at Fox Towers, and when we say a bit it was very much a case of blink and you missed it! However, the day will go down in history for its events over in London at the House of Commons. There were 7 amendments to the motion put forward by the Government concerning the Withdrawal Bill, and only 2 amendments were carried, but left behind confusion as to what the House would actually agree to. The 2 confirmed amendments that were agreed were that MPs agreed the UK will not be allowed to leave the EU with no deal, a non-binding result and that the House would support the Bill if the backstop was replaced by an amendment. More Brexit madness later in the year!

February

Cheer up sleepy Jean
Oh, what can it mean to a
Daydream believer and a
Homecoming queen?

Daydream Believer, The Monkees

To start the month of February we have the sad news of the death of Clive Swift, he is probably best known for his role as the long-suffering husband to Hyacinth Bucket, (pronounced Bouquet!) Clive was born on the 9th of February 1936 and was therefore 82 years old at his death. It is fair to say however that throughout his working career, Clive was much more than just Richard Bucket and his record shows an impressive number of films and programmes including 2 separate appearances in Doctor Who.

In a landmark case on the 1st of February, a 37-year-old Ugandan woman was found guilty of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) the first successful case of its type in the UK. The Ugandan woman and a 43-year-old Ghanaian man both from Walthamstow, London were accused of having cut their daughter on the Summer Bank Holiday in 2017. Although the Ugandan woman was found guilty, her partner was cleared of all charges. FGM was made illegal in the UK, more than 3 decades ago, but this case was the first one to end with a successful prosecution!

On the 6th a body was recovered from a plane which had vanished over the English Channel, it was identified the following day to be that of footballer Emiliano Sala. The plane went missing on the 21st of January, as it was transporting Emiliano from Nantes to Cardiff City, where he was due to meet up with his new teammates for training the following day having signed a contract to play for them in the English Premier League. He sadly never arrived.

The 10th saw 2 award ceremonies held: the BAFTAs and the Grammys. The highlights of the 72nd BAFTAs awarded on the evening saw Bohemian Rhapsody’s Remi Malik win Best Actor with the Best Actress award going to Olivia Coleman for her role in The Favourite. The Favourite scooped 7 of the 12 awards that it was nominated for, this also includes best British Film. The 61st Grammys were held on the same day; the Grammys award a wide range of awards across the full range and spectrum of music genres.

The 12th saw former England Goalkeeper Gordon Banks OBE die. Gordon started for England in goal for the successful 1966 World Cup winning campaign. Gordon won 73 caps for England having played with Chesterfield, Leicester City, Stoke City and Fort Lauderdale Strikers in America. He died at the age of 81.

On the same day was the news of the sad death of Shouri the tiger at Longleat. It appears that Shouri died after a fight with Red and Yana, 2 of Longleat’s other tigers. Shouri gained access to an adjacent paddock, where Red and Yana were waiting to be let into the main enclosure. It would appear that during the process of moving the tigers between paddocks, a connecting door was left open leaving Shouri access to Yana and Red. Longleat launched an investigation into the circumstances that led up to the death of Shouri. Shouri was an Amur Tiger which is classed as endangered in the wild with as few as 500 remaining in their natural habitat. There is a belief that in the past numbers have been as little as 20 – 30 Amur tigers in their natural habitat, luckily conservation efforts have raised this number back up.

Photograph of Shouri used with thanks to Longleat Safari Park.

St Valentine’s Day is seen as a romantic day by many. Prime Minister, Theresa May, however will most likely remember this one as a day that she was yet again defeated in a vote in the House of Commons on her Brexit strategy. The number of MPs who voted for her deal was 258 with 303 MPs against the strategy. 67 of her own Party MPs abstained from the vote.

More political unrest occurred on the 18th when 7 labour MPs quit their party to start The Independent Group. These Labour MPs were:

  • Chuka Umunna,
  • Luciana Berger,
  • Chris Leslie,
  • Angela Smith,
  • Mike Gapes,
  • Gavin Shuker, and
  • Ann Coffey.

They were joined on the 20th by:

  • Joan Ryan, (Formerly Labour),
  • Heidi Allen (Formerly Conservative),
  • Sarah Wollaston (Formerly Conservative), and
  • Anna Soubry (Formerly Conservative).

Also in politics, on the 20th Home Secretary Sajid Javid stripped Shamima Begum, a teenager who left the UK to join Islamic State, of her UK citizenship.

On the evening of the 20th, the annual BRIT Awards’ ceremony took place. The ceremony saw 2 awards given to The 1975 and Calvin Harris, the most given to any artist, both of these artists secured 100% of their nominations.

On the 21st we marked the death of The Monkees’ star Peter Tork, real name Peter Halsten Thorkelson. Peter was the keyboardist and bass guitarist of The Monkees. The band are probably most well-known for Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer and The Monkees. Peter was 77 when he died.

The second meeting between Kim Jong-Un, Chairman of North Korea and President of the USA Donald Trump took place on February the 27th and 28th. The White House announced that the summit had been cut short with no agreement. The President later explained it was because North Korea wanted an end to all sanctions. Ri Yong-Ho, North Korean Foreign Minister asserted that the country only sought a partial lifting of 5 sanctions placed on North Korea between 2016 and 2017 by the United Nations.

André Previn KBE died on the 28th of the month. André is best known as a pianist, composer, arranger and conductor. He died at the age of 89.

March

I’m a firestarter, twisted firestarter
You’re a firestarter, twisted Firestarter

Firestarter, The Prodigy

We move on swiftly into the 3rd month of the year, March. The 4th was a sad day as it saw 2 famous people pass away, the first being Keith Flint of the Prodigy; the band are probably best known for their track Firestarter. Keith died at the age of 49. The second famous person to die on the 4th was Luke Perry aged 52. Luke was best known for his role as Dylan McKay in Beverly Hills 90210. He also starred in other TV shows and films, including the Buffy the Vampire Slayer precursor film, which was not that well received by film critics.

On the 10th of March, Snooker’s Ronnie O’ Sullivan won the Snooker Players Championship scoring his 1000th professional century break in the final to do it, the most of any player in the game ever. His closest competitor at the time of writing is on 750 professional century breaks.

On the 11th, a woman had to apologise to officials at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park, as she had climbed a safety fence trying to take a photograph of a jaguar. The female jaguar attacked the woman in her 30s, emergency responders found her with lacerations on her arms where the jaguar had dug its claws in. The Zoo then publicly stated that the jaguar in question would come to no harm having attacked the visitor as she should not have crossed the safety barriers!

Another vote took place on the Prime Minister’s deal on the withdrawal from the European Union, again the Prime Minister lost the vote 391 to 242 a majority of 149 against the deal. The 13th saw MPs agree to reject the UK leaving the EU without a deal by a majority of 4 votes, 312 to 308 in a non-binding vote. The next day of votes in the House of Commons saw MPs vote to ask the European Union for an extension to Article 50 beyond March 29th.

Also, on the 14th of March, the UK woke up to the news that FIA Formula 1 Race Director, Charlie Whiting had died overnight on the eve of the new Formula 1 season. Charlie will be remembered in the racing community for the safety improvements he oversaw. These include the introduction of what some call unsightly, the halo, the headrest, safety survival cell, front and side impact structures and high cockpit sides.

Overnight, into the 15th, 2 consecutive terrorist shootings took place at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The attacks took place during Friday prayers starting at Al Noor Mosque at 1:40pm local time and continued at the Linwood Islamic Centre at 1:55pm. The gunman live streamed the first attack on Facebook! The attacks killed 51 people and injured 49 others.

In the UK we ended the 15th with BBC Comic Relief, the fundraiser on the night raised £63,548,668.

On the 18th the Speaker of the House of Commons announced that Meaningful Vote 3 as it became known could not take place, in doing so he was quoting a parliamentary rule that dates back to 1604. He said the only way that it could be debated is if it is substantially different to the first 2. In doing so, he received calls from MPs saying that a constitutional crisis would ensue, with just 11 days to Brexit day.

The Prime Minister sent a letter to the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, on the 20th asking for an extension to Article 50, as she was required to do by law to prevent a no-deal Brexit. Later that day she gave a speech inside no 10 where she stated that she was on the side of the public.

On the 21st a 7-week hunt for missing student Libby Squire came to an end as Humberside Police found the Buckingham student’s body the day before, and had it formally identified as that of Libby.

The European Union offered the UK a new Brexit date of April the 12th should the UK Parliament pass the Withdrawal Agreement, or the 22nd May should the deal not get through the House of Commons. This new offer was presented on the 21st of March.

The 22nd of the month saw safety advice being given to people who wear lanyards when driving. The warning was given in case the car airbag goes off. The warning came after an NHS worker suffered a perforated bowel from keys that were attached to her lanyard. Another worker had suffered from a punctured lung when the lanyard was pushed into her chest. Although these types of accidents are rare, they can happen, and obviously the types of injuries caused can be severe.

On the 25th in the process to find a way through the Brexit block of Parliament, a vote on an amendment by Oliver Letwin was passed which gave Parliament the option to hold indicative votes, it was passed by 329 to 302. The indicative votes took place on the 27th, with none of the 8 proposals winning a majority in Parliament. There was however a successful vote to change in statute Brexit day. 441 yay votes against 105 nos meant it was passed by a 336 majority. The 29th was the first Brexit date of the year, this day came and went, the UK remaining in the EU, moving towards another Brexit day deadline.

April

Morning in Paris, the city awakes,
To the bells of Notre Dame,
The fisherman fishes, the bakerman bakes,
To the bells of Notre Dame

The Bells of Notre Dame, The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Onwards the year went, with further indicative votes taking place in the House of Commons on the 1st, with none of the votes getting a majority, further proof that the House of Commons couldn’t find something that they could agree on around the complex subject of Brexit. Immediately after the votes, Nick Boles MP quit the Conservative Party; in a speech he criticises his former colleagues for not compromising on the possible options.

The following day, in her quest to get her Brexit deal through, Theresa May offers to meet with the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn on a plan to go forward with, but would keep her deal as her part of the plan. She also announced that she intended to again ask for an extension to the deadline. A vote on a bill by Labour MP Yvette Cooper forces the Prime Minister to go through with her intention to extend Brexit by 313 votes to 312.

Away from the Houses of Parliament we found our attention facing the courts, where prosecutors sought a retrial of Hillsborough Match Commander David Duckenfield after a jury failed to reach a verdict in his trial. We shall come back to this story later in the year.

To end the first week of April, Theresa May wrote a letter to the EU to ask for the extension, she wanted to extend until June the 30th. EU ministers responded that the letter was too vague to justify an extension.

On the 6th of April, we turned our attention to Aintree, where the annual Grand National was being held, like most people, wondering which of the horses would make it over the 40 fences and who would be in first place. The other thought and hope was that all the horses would make it around the course safely. This year, as it was last year, a horse called Tiger Roll won the iconic race. Sadly, Up For Review did not make it safely around the track and died at Aintree.

On the 8th awareness around Silent Solutions, a police system to filter out large amounts of accidental emergency calls, began. We polled our Facebook followers and found that 80% of them knew about Silent Solutions. Silent Solutions works by leading callers through a system of prompts to receive some communication from the caller, should they be unable to talk or make sound in the environment that they are in. The final prompt being to press ‘55’ to indicate that it is a real emergency. This is a system that can save lives if only people know about it and use it effectively.

Back to Brexit on the 10th, where the UK and the EU agreed to an extension of Article 50 up to the 31st October 2019. There would be no allowance of the opening of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations, and the UK had to hold EU elections on May 23rd or we would have been forced to leave the EU on June 1st.

April the 12th, a Brexit day came, and passed by with the UK still a member state of the EU, on the day that Nigel Farage formed his new political party, The Brexit Party.

As we reach the 14th we can celebrate the achievements of Tiger Woods. Tiger won the Masters Championship, his first major win in 11 years on the golf circuit.

Just before 18:20 on the 15th a structure fire broke out beneath the roof of the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral in Paris. By the time that the fire had been extinguished, sadly the famous spire and most of its roof had been destroyed and its upper walls severely damaged. Due to the stone vaulted ceiling, much more damage was avoided. During the early stages of the emergency, many pieces of art and religious relics were moved to safety, whereas others suffered some smoke damage. Some exterior artwork was also damaged, or destroyed. The altar, 2 pipe organs, and its 3 13th century rose windows suffered little to no damage at all. 3 emergency workers were injured and contamination of the site and the surrounding areas resulted.

On the 18th during a riot, journalist Lyra McKee was shot and killed in the Creggan area of Derry. She had written several articles on the Troubles in Northern Ireland during her career. She has also served as an editor for Mediagazer which is a news aggregator website. The Prime Minister remarked on her death that ‘Lyra died doing her job with great courage.’

Photograph of journalist Lyra McKee

24th saw further developments in the Conservative Party and the move towards the UK’s exit from the EU, when the 1922 Committee of the Conservative Party voted against changing the rules of the Party in regards to having leadership challenges, something that Theresa May was immune from under the current rules of the Party due to the leadership challenge she won last year. The 1922 Committee did however ask for clarifying on when she would leave office.

The Prime Minister, Theresa May and Taoiseach Leo Varadkar met on the 26th when they discussed and subsequently released a joint statement which set out plans for a new process of talks designed to restore devolution to Northern Ireland. The talks were due to start on the 7th May.

The last event that we will mention in April was the release of the new Sonic The Hedgehog movie trailer. The trailer was met with much criticism of the way that the film version of Sonic looked. It was later announced that Sonic would be reworked following the criticism prior to the movie being released, the film would therefore not be released this year as planned and has been put back to a release date of February the 14th 2020.

Controversial first view of the cinematic Sonic The Hedgehog

May

 Once there was a little girl called Sophie,
and she was having tea with her mummy in the kitchen.
Suddenly there was a ring at the door.
Sophie’s mummy said,
 ‘I wonder who that can be. It can’t be the milkman because he came this morning.

The Tiger Who Came To Tea, Judith Kerr

More political unrest arrived in the country on the 2nd with the hosting of the local elections. The results saw a dramatic loss of seats and vote share for the 2 major parties, although the Conservatives fared much worse. The results saw:

Conservatives  won 93 Councils down 44 with 3564 Councillors down 1330,

Labour   Won 60 Councils down 6 with 2021 Councillors down 84,

Liberal Democrats won 18 Councils up 10 with 1352 Councillors up 706,

Residents Association won 2 Councils up 1 with 119 Councillors up 49,

Green Party   won no Councils, no change with 265 Councillors up 194,

UKIP   won no Councils, no change with 31 Councillors down 145.

Other independents and parties picked up and dropped councillors, but we have only focussed here on what many people would consider the big parties. You can find the full result with breakdowns of who holds which Council on the BBC website.

In amongst all of the political nonsense, there was some good news for the country in May, when His Royal Highness Prince Harry and his wife Meghan gave birth to a new baby boy on the 6th. The child was not seen until the 8th, nor was his name announced until after his first public appearance. The new royal baby is to be called Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor. To read more on this story, visit our May article, where we discuss this little boy and whether he has a royal title or not.

Sadly. the happy news cannot continue as we look back at the day the death of comedian Freddie Starr was announced. The day was the 9th. Over the years Freddie was a comedian, impressionist, singer and an actor. He is well known across society and was the subject of a very famous headline through his career.

The 11th saw the 2018/19 football Premier League end in what was one of the tightest standings of time. The title was won by Manchester City with 98 points with their closest rivals, Liverpool FC on 97. Both teams had gone on an unbeaten run since the turn of the year, and the pundits remarked that either club would have been worthy winners of the trophy this season. We send our congratulations to both clubs on this feat, but obviously to Manchester City for winning the title.

On the 13th of the month, more than 2 years since it went missing, an Automated External Defibrillator was handed back into the NHS. The defibrillator had been stolen from Haylands Primary School on the Isle of Wight. The badly damaged defibrillator was found by some children under a bush as they were playing football. This device has gone under maintenance to see if it can be put back into service. Head of the Ambulance Training and Community Response Services for the Isle of Wight Louise Walker said:

‘Stealing or vandalising a Public Access Defibrillator (PAD)
can mean that someone dies. When someone goes into cardiac arrest
(this means they are unconscious and not breathing normally)
their survival rate without a defibrillator is likely to be less than 7%
however this can increase up to 74% with early defibrillation.

Every minute you delay defibrillation to someone who needs it,
their chance of survival decreases by 10%.
The first three minutes of a cardiac arrest are the most crucial;
when someone rings 999 for the Ambulance their system
automatically flags up the nearest defibrillator within a 200-metre radius.’

The 13th was also the day that the death of Doris Day was announced. Doris is renowned around the world for her musical talent. Not only was she a singer, she was an actress and an animal rights activist. As of 2012, Doris Day was one of only 8 performers to have been the top box office earner 4 times in the United States. Through her work, she will live on.

On the 18th Ofsted announced the New Education Inspection Framework that they would use to inspect all education settings that came under its jurisdiction from September. The guidance came with mixed opinions of the sector, although a lot had said that it was better than the consultation paper that had been previously released and consulted on.

The 18th was also the night of the annual music ‘extravaganza’ which is the Eurovision Song Contest. This year the winning country was The Netherlands with Arcade by Duncan Laurence. This was the Netherlands’ 5th victory in the competition. As for the United Kingdom, well what can we say other than it was as usual a disappointing night as we finished in last place with 11 points for our entrant Michael Rice who performed Bigger Than Us.

On the 19th at Euroformula Open Pau Grand Prix Billy Monger won his first race. This is even more remarkable when you remember that Billy suffered an horrific accident in April 2017 where he had both of his legs amputated.

Staying with motor racing for the 21st of the month, which was the day that Formula One legend, Niki Lauda died. Niki had died peacefully in his sleep in hospital, following a period of ill health, he was at this time the Non-Executive Chairman of the Mercedes Petronas Formula 1 Team. Niki had several rat-based nicknames over his career due to his buck teeth, and was the Formula 1 World Drivers Champion on 3 occasions in 1975, 1977 and 1984. His famous battle with James Hunt was immortalised into film in 2013. Niki died at the age of 70.

The same day, 93-year-old Nancy Wiggington died. Nancy, who was professionally known as Nan Winton, was famous for being the first woman newsreader to read the national news on BBC Television on the 20th June 1960.

As has already been mentioned with regard to the European Union, the 22nd May which was meant to be Brexit day came and went, meaning that the UK would now hold the EU elections later this month.

Sadly on the 23rd, children’s author Judith Kerr OBE died. Judith was probably best known for her children’s book, The Tiger Who Came to Tea, a television adaption of this book was shown over Christmas. She is also known as writing the novel When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit, which gave a child’s eye view of the Second World War. Judith will be cherished for her novels by many children in years to come. She died at the age of 95 in London.

Book cover of The Tiger Who Came to Tea

On the 24th Prime Minister, Theresa May, made a tearful announcement on the steps of Number 10, when she declared that she would be resigning as the Conservative Leader on the 7th June, with a Leadership campaign from the 10th. During the leader’s campaign Theresa May would stay on as Acting Party Leader and Prime Minister.

On the 26th, the UK’s European Union Election results were announced as follows:

Brexit Party  29 seats 31.6% vote share  31.6% up on previous election

Lib Dem 16 seats 20.3% vote share 13.4% up on previous election

Labour  10 seats 14.1% vote share 11.3% down on previous election

Greens  7 seats  12.1% vote share 4.2% up on previous election

Tory  4 seats  9.1% vote share  14.8% down on previous election

SNP  3 seats  3.6% vote share  1.1% up on previous election

Plaid Cymru 1 seats  1% vote share  0.3% up on previous election

Change UK 0 seats  3.4% vote share  3.4% up on previous election

UKIP  0 seats  3.3% vote share  24.2% down on previous election

The turnout of the UK voters was up 2% to 36.7% from 2014.

June

Ce sont les meilleures équipes
Sie sind die allerbesten Mannschaften
The main event

Die Meister
Die Besten
Les grandes équipes
The champions

The Champions League Anthem, Tony Britten

In the 1st all English club UEFA Champions League Final, Liverpool FC beat Tottenham Hotspur by 2 goals to nil, winning their 6th European Cup trophy in their history, This probably makes up a little bit for missing out on the Premier League title by 1 point just a few weeks earlier.

On the 4th, 6 of the MPs that had joined the Change UK (The Independent Group) only a few months ago, quit. These members were:

  • Luciana Berger,
  • Gavin Shuker,
  • Angela Smith,
  • Chuka Umunna,
  • Sarah Wollaston and
  • Heidi Allen.

This meant that Anna Soubry became the leader of Change UK.

On the 7th day of the month, as announced by her 2 weeks previously, Prime Minister Theresa May officially stood down as leader of the Conservative Party but remained as the Acting Leader until a new one was elected by the members. Her resignation meant that the party launched a Leadership campaign on the following Monday morning.

The BBC made the announcement on the 10th, to some major political and public outcry, that they would stop providing free TV Licences to the over 75s who do not receive Pension Credit.

Labour tried to take control of the Parliamentary timetable on the 12th by tabling a motion that was defeated 309 to 298. Labour had planned to put a motion thorough the timetable to legally prevent a no-deal Brexit on October the 31st had they got their timetable motion passed in the House.

The Conservative Leadership race heated up on the 13th with the first round of voting for the potential leader by their House of Commons colleagues. In the first round Boris Johnson took a lead over the other candidates, and 3 left the challenge altogether, they were, Andrea Leadsom, Mark Harper and Esther McVey. The full results were:

Boris Johnson 114
Jeremy Hunt 43
Michael Gove 37
Dominic Raab 27
Sajid Javid 23
Matt Hancock 20
Rory Stewart 19
Andrea Leadsom 11
Mark Harper 10
Esther McVey 9

We continue with the Leadership campaign and find that on the 14th, Matt Hancock withdrew from the competition, leaving 6 in the race to be the next Conservative leader and Prime Minister of the UK. The front runner of the candidates decided to boycott the debate that was held on the 16th by Channel 4 as well as the press hustings at the Houses of Parliament on the 17th, going into the second round of voting.

At 6pm on the 18th, just 2 hours before a debate on the BBC the second round of votes were in and this time Boris Johnson had a huge majority of his rivals. Dominic Raab was knocked out at this stage of the contest, leaving 5 to face the cameras in a BBC studio for the live debate that evening. The full results of Round 2 were:

Boris Johnson 126
Jeremy Hunt 46
Michael Gove 41
Rory Stewart 37
Sajid Javid 33
Dominic Raab 30

Breaking away from the Leadership contest in the Conservatives, although only briefly, on the 19th Tendai Muswere was the first person to be convicted in the UK of making a firearm on a 3D Printer.

Back we go to the Conservative Party’s Leadership contest for Round 3 which took place on the 19th. Again Boris Johnson received the lion share of the Parliamentary Conservative’s vote, seeing Rory Stewart knocked out at this stage leaving just 4 contestants to go through to the following day’s double vote!

Boris Johnson 143
Jeremy Hunt 54
Michael Gove 51
Sajid Javid 38
Rory Stewart 27

As promised the 20th was a double vote for the contenders to deal with. At 1pm the first result of the day was made public, again with Boris Johnson storming his way to a healthy lead, and the assumption being that now it was just a case of who will join him in the wider party members’ vote. At this stage of the competition Sajid Javid was knocked out, leaving just 3 standing in the battle to get to the wider members’ vote!

Boris Johnson 157
Michael Gove 61
Jeremy Hunt 59
Sajid Javid 34

Onwards at full speed to the 5pm vote. Boris Johnson won the vote, although was last to be announced as a Leadership contender to go to the vote of the members due to his surname being alphabetically last in the list of names. Michael Gove was the one who missed out.

Boris Johnson 160
Jeremy Hunt 77
Michael Gove 75

Interestingly, in this ballot of Conservative MPs, there was the first paper to be rejected in all the competition! Just goes to show that even MPs can’t always fill in the simple paper properly!

On the 29th of the month, the Met Office recorded some of the hottest June temperatures in 40 years with Heathrow and Northolt hitting 34˚C (93.2˚F).

July

God Save the Queen
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen;
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.

The National Anthem

We start our review of July, in the same vein as we did in June, discussing the magical sport that is football, only this time we are focussed on the Women’s game. The 1st of July saw England Women in the semi-final of the Women’s World Cup, at the Parc Olympique Lyonnais. The game was watched in England by 11.7 million people, sadly witnessing a close 2-1 defeat to the United States of America. The England Women finished the tournament after the 3rd/4th place play-off game in 4th place.

The death of John McCririck was announced on the 5th of the month. John was famous for his punditry of horse racing on Channel 4 as well as his time in the Celebrity Big Brother House in 2005. John leaves behind his wife Jennifer neé Barnes who he referred to as ‘His Booby’.

On the 11th of July, it was announced that a parole board had decided that nursery worker abuser, Vanessa George, would be released from prison later this year, under strict conditions as she no longer posed a significant risk. The conditions that she would have to abide by included, not returning to Devon and Cornwall, as well as restrictions on her movement and contacts. Vanessa George was convicted in 2009 having pleaded guilty to 7 sexual assaults of children and making 124 indecent images of children. She was released from prison in September.

The 14th was to go down in history as Super Sunday in sport, firstly the England cricketers won the Cricket World Cup on home soil at Lord’s Cricket Ground. The game was won on a tense Super Over. Earlier that afternoon, British Formula 1 racing driver, Lewis Hamilton had won a record 6th British Grand Prix at Silverstone. While all this was happening, over at SW19, the Wimbledon’s Mens’ Final turned out to be a record breaker. The match lasted a record 4 hours and 57 minutes and was won by Novak Djokovic who beat Roger Federer.

On the 16th on social media a warning appeared that the temperature of water that has sat in a garden hose in sun can reach temperatures of 140 degrees. The advice is to let water run through the hose before spraying it another person, or filling pools etc. with it to allow the water to be at a comfortable temperature and therefore not burn. See a video about this here.

On the evening of the 18th a car cruise was taking place in Stevenage. Unfortunately, on this evening 2 of the cars taking part crashed and collided with spectators standing by the roadside. The accident left 17 people injured, some seriously. A group called Cruise-Herts, have said on Facebook that they were holding a car meet on the Thursday night to raise money for bereaved parents.

We move on to some justice news on 19th where we see that Lucy McHugh’s murderer was sentenced to life imprisonment. Lucy was 13 at the time of her death and had been sexually abused by her murderer for a year prior to him taking her life. It is believed that he had killed her to keep her from revealing the sexual abuse.

Also, on the 19th, The Iranian Navy of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps captured a British Tanker, The Stena Impero, They also briefly seized a British operated and Liberian flagged tanker Mesdar. The Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt warns that there will be serious consequences if Iran does not release the tanker. The Stena Impero was released in September.

We have good news to deliver on 20th, where we hear the happy news of the birth of Amur Tiger cubs born at Longleat. The cubs are the first tiger cubs to be born at the park in 20 years and are the young of Yana and Red. At birth the tiny bundles of fur and joy weighed just a kilogram and were born with their eyes closed. It is believed that the current population of Amur tigers is 540 animals, a higher number than there has been for more than a century. There were once 9 species of tiger, but 3 have become extinct, the Bali, Caspian and the Javan. These new little bundles of joy are sure to keep their species around for years to come. The keepers at Longleat have named them Rusty and Yuki.

Photograph of Rusty and Yuki used with thanks to Longleat Safari Park

We have more sporting success to share that happened at the Netball World Cup held in Liverpool, The England Roses won Bronze in Head Coach, Tracy Neville’s, final game on the 21st; the previous day saw the girls fail to make the final by just 2 points.

Back to politics for the announcement of the leaders of the 2 party leadership campaigns, the first to declare its new leader was the Liberal Democrats who elected Jo Swinson to the role with 47,997 votes to 28,021 for Ed Davey. The following day on the 23rd we saw the Conservatives announce that Boris Johnson would become leader of the Conservatives and Prime Minister of the country having beaten Jeremy Hunt by 92,153 votes to 46,656. This result pre-empted Theresa May’s last Prime Minister’s Questions on the 24th, where she swiftly left the Commons and Number 10 to go to see the Queen, as constitution dictates, to formerly resign as Prime Minister. Shortly after, Boris Johnson headed to the Palace to ask for Her Majesty’s permission to form a Government. Wasting no time, Boris Johnson makes Sajid Javid his Chancellor of the Exchequer and Gavin Williamson becomes Education Secretary. It was announced on the 30th that Kemi Badenoch would be the new Children’s Minister in Gavin Williamson’s Education Department.

August

Nightswimming, remembering that night
September’s coming soon
I’m pining for the moon
And what if there were two
Side by side in orbit
Around the fairest sun?
That bright, tight forever drum
Could not describe nightswimming

NightSwimming, REM

On the 1st of August we celebrated our 4th birthday, 4 years of the Fox flying high, and helping to keep people safe in their workplaces; here’s to the next 4 years of the Fox flying high. It was also the day that the Government set aside an extra £2.1bn of funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, doubling what had been set aside in 2019 and making the figure £6.3bn in total.

On the 9th of the month, data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed that the UK economy had shrunk by 0.2% in the second quarter of 2019, its first contraction since 2012.

As we arrived at the 13th we, The Training Fox, announce our sponsorship of Swindon Wildcats Ice Hockey Club. We have become sponsors of their number 18, Loris Taylor, as well as having a presence in the rink in the form of an upper rink advertising board. The Swindon Wildcats, finished last season as the champions of the NIHLS1. We are ‘foxcited’ for this collaboration, and warmly welcomed the Wildcat family into our Fox family. Watch out for our updates on our social media platforms, and the hashtag #FoxWildcatFamily.

Also on the13th the body of 15-year-old Nora Quoirin was discovered. Nora had gone missing from a resort in Malaysia. She had been missing since the 4th of the month. Nora was born with the neurological disorder, holoprosencephaly, and her parents had described her as vulnerable. 2 days later it was discovered that Nora had died 2 to 3 days before she was found unclothed down a steep ravine, which police believe had been previously searched. The cause of her death was intestinal rupture and starvation.

On the 22nd New Prime Minister, Boris Johnson met with the French President Emmanuel Macron, and insists that the Brexit impasse can be broken with ‘energy and creativity’. Emmanuel Macron reiterates that the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland backstop plan is indispensable to preserving political stability and the single currency.

The following day, both Boris and Jeremy Corbyn express their concerns over the fires that are engulfing the Amazon rainforest. These types of fires, whilst mainly illegal, are commonplace in the region, particularly as the enforcement can be lax. The idea behind enforced fires is to clear the way for things such as agriculture, livestock and mining. The UK pledged its commitment to protecting the rainforest and that it would be raised with Brazil at the G7 summit.

Prince Andrew had to defend his relationship with disgraced financier, Jeffrey Epstein on the 24th, when a video emerged of him at the apartment of Epstein. In the defence he says that he ‘did not see or suspect any criminal activity at any time.’

On the 27th for some light relief we tuned into Channel 4 for a programme called Sink or Swim which was in aid of Stand Up 4 Cancer. The idea of the show was for 11 celebrities who have never been taught how to swim, to be taught, or for those with a fear of open water to overcome the fear and then to swim, as a team, The English Channel. The 11 celebrities who started out the process were:

  • Rachel Adedeji,
  • James ‘Arg’ Argent,
  • Alex Brooker,
  • Linford Christie,
  • Diane Louise Jordan,
  • Sair Khan,
  • Georgia Kousoulou,
  • Wes Nelson,
  • Greg Rutherford,
  • Tessa Sanderson, and
  • Simon Webbe.

Sadly, on the 27th Bury F.C were expelled from the football league as a takeover bid collapses.

On the 28th, Prime Minister Boris Johnson asks Her Majesty the Queen to suspend Parliament from early September until 14th October, following protocol she agrees, thus, proroguing Parliament. Brexit supporters welcomed the move whereas Remain supporters were widespread in their condemnation of this course of action and this triggers protests across the country on the 31st.

Boris Johnson loses the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson on the 29th. On stepping down she cited several personal and political reasons for doing so.

Also, on the 29th saw Virgil Van Dijk beat Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo to the PFA Player of the Year award, whilst on the female side, England’s Lucy Bronze beats Amandine Henry and Ada Hegerburg to the PFA Women’s Player of the Year; the first English woman to win the accolade!

Sadly the 29th has some bad news in the tiger world. Soundari became the 2nd tiger to die at Longleat this year following the death of her sister. Soundari died from cancer. Soundari was described as a ‘spectacular individual’ and a ‘magnificent friend’ by the keepers at the park. She was the park’s oldest female.

Photograph of Soundari The Tiger used with thanks to Longleat Safari Park

We end the month of August with the sad news of the death of Formula 2 Racing Driver, Anthoine Hubert who died in an F2 race at Spa-Francorchamps. Anthoine had a glittering potential career ahead of him in the world of motor racing, but sadly was taken too soon at just the age of 22.

September

Politics is more dangerous than war,
for in war you are only killed once.

Sir Winston Churchill

We started September by attending the Wildcats Ice Hockey season launch on the 1st. This gave us an opportunity to meet with our number 18, Loris Taylor, as well as with the other players of the team, as well as to see our new upper rink advertising board.

Before making only his second appearance at the dispatch box on the 3rd, Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Number 10 on the 2nd and stated his opposition to calling a General Election. He also urges MPs, in his words to not vote for ‘another pointless delay to Brexit’.

On the 3rd Prime Minister Boris Johnson loses his working majority as Phillip Lee crosses the floor of the House. In a vote in the House, MPs who are opposed to a no-deal Brexit take control of the business of the House in a vote result of 328 to 301. Having lost the vote, Boris Johnson then withdraws the whip from 21 MPs who voted against the Government for the Bill, key names include:

  • Kenneth Clarke, Father of the House,
  • Sir Nicholas Soames, Sir Winston Churchill’s Grandson.

As the day rolls into the 4th, another vote goes against Boris Johnson, this one intending to block the passing of a no-deal Brexit which passes and defeats the Prime Minister by 329 votes to 300. Boris Johnson then tables a motion for a snap General Election, he needs a 2/3s majority to win the vote. MPs voting for the General Election equalled 298 and against 56, the Labour party abstained the vote and it did not pass, the 3rd vote Boris Johnson, Prime Minister, had lost in 3 days.

In another blow to Boris Johnson, his own brother, Jo Johnson resigns as an MP and a minister, stating that he is ‘torn between family and the national interest’.

Moving away from UK politics, on the 6th we heard of the death of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s former President at the age of 95. It is probably fair to say that Robert Mugabe will not be missed too much by the people of Zimbabwe.

Former Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd stood down and resigned the Conservative Party whip on the 7th saying that she could not ‘Stand by and watch loyal moderate conservatives being expelled’. Yet another blow to the new Prime Minister’s plan to get Brexit over the line.

It was confirmed on the 8th that Australia would retain the Ashes following the first drawn series since 1972.

In an emotional speech on the afternoon of the 9th John Bercow, Speaker of the House, announced that he would resign either at announcement of a General Election or 31st of October whichever came first. The Benn Act which was intended to prevent the UK from leaving with a no deal received royal assent

On the 13th of the month we once again gave ourselves some downtime and went to Longleat for the annual Sky Safari. As usual we enjoyed the day of animals, hot air balloons and nightglow. One of our highlights this year, and why it makes it into our review of the year, was the Fox balloon that we met. Just looking at the sky in that picture, as we sit here today writing this article looking at the cloudy gloomy sky reminds us that the warmer weather is soon on its way again.

The fox balloon seen and photographed by Steve at Longleat SkySafari

On the 17th a 3-day Supreme Court Case took place, to hear the Prorogation of Parliament appeal. The Court had to decide if firstly, it was justiciable and then whether the prorogation was lawful. The hearing ended on the 19th with the verdict given later in the month.

It was the 19th of the month by the time that we were able to watch the last episode on the series of Channel 4’s Stand Up 2 Cancer’s Sink or Swim. In this episode the members of the team who had qualified for the swim, had to try to swim the width of the English Channel. The team comprised of:

  • Rachel Adedeji,
  • James ‘Arg’ Argent,
  • Alex Brooker,
  • Linford Christie,
  • Sair Khan,
  • Wes Nelson,
  • Greg Rutherford, and
  • Simon Webbe.

We were gutted for the team when the decision was made that they had to call off the swim due to the weather, but we have to say that each and every one of the team worked so hard to get as far as they did, and they should be proud of themselves.

It was the 20th when Prince Andrew entered the news again when he was accused of having sex with a 17-year-old by the now woman in question who also claims that she was trafficked to him. Prince Andrew has denied having ‘any form of sexual contact or relationship with her’.

Sadly, the 23rd saw the collapse of travel company, Thomas Cook after 178 years of service. The collapse saw the biggest ever peacetime repatriation as 150,000 holidaymakers were left stranded.

On the 24th the Supreme Court judgement was announced by the 11 Supreme Judges, and that ruled unanimously that the prorogation of Parliament was both justiciable and unlawful and therefore it was null and void, allowing the MPs to return to the Houses of Parliament as if they had not been prorogued in the first place.

We end September with sporting good news and that is the Silver that Dina Asher-Smith won in the Athletics World Championship 100m.

October

Land of hope and glory, mother of the free
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet

Land of Hope and Glory

Let’s follow up the end of September and start October in a similar vein, and mark Dina Asher-Smith’s achievements in the Athletics World Championships. On the 2nd Dina Asher-Smith became the first British woman to win Gold in a sprint event. Dina secured this achievement by winning the 200m at the Championships.

Back in the world of politics, Boris Johnson published his Brexit plan, which included replacing the backstop. His plan would create an all-island regulatory zone, meaning that Northern Ireland would stay in the European single market for agriculture and industrial goods. The Government also announced plans to prorogue Parliament again from the 8th to the 14th to allow for a Queen’s Speech.

On the 3rd we head back to the World Athletics Championships and mark a Gold medal for Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson in the Heptathlon.

On the 8th again the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, gets his wish and prorogues Parliament.

On the 11th Jamie Theakston completed a 650-mile bike ride, where he visited 8 cities in 8 days all in the aid of charity. The charity in question was Global’s Make Some Noise.

Having been prorogued since the 8th, MPs returned to Westminster for the State opening of Parliament, with all the pomp and pageantry that goes along with it, including the attendance of Her Majesty to read the Queen’s Speech. In the speech there are 26 bills, including some directly relating to the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

It is with a heavy heart that we have to discuss the events of the evening of the 14th on a football pitch in Bulgaria. England was taking on Bulgaria in a qualification game for the UEFA European Championships to be held next year, when some racial abuse was heard being hurled towards the English black players. The reassuring thing of the evening is that UEFA are willing to put into practice the protocol that had been discussed before, sadly though if someone wishes to racially abuse a player then there is very little that can stop them. Currently fines for countries whose fans behave in this manner are not strong enough.

Every 16th is Restart a Heart day. On this day every year, first aid trainers and NHS Ambulance staff give up their time for free to educate people, usually school children, in the life-saving skill of CPR. This year it was announced some weeks later that the total number taught the skill this Restart a Heart Day was 291,645!

On the 17th the UK managed to get an amended deal with the EU for Brexit, The DUP however said that they would not support the deal through its passage through the Houses of Parliament.

On the 18th, and in another first for the UK, Sainsbury’s became the first supermarket to stop selling fireworks in all of their stores.

On the 19th Brexit just got even weirder. It was a special sitting of Parliament on a Saturday, and in a vote on the new deal, MPs pass an amendment that withholds Parliament’s approval until legislation implementing the deal has been passed. This forces the Government to seek an extension to the 31st January. Number 10 confirms that Boris Johnson will write the letter for an extension, but will not sign it! Donald Tusk confirms receipt of the letter, in addition Prime Minister Boris Johnson sends a second letter in which he says that any further delay to Brexit is a mistake.

Another supermarket first occurs on the 20th when 2 supermarkets announce that they will not sell Christmas Crackers containing plastic toys as of 2020. These 2 stores were Waitrose and John Lewis.

The Speaker of the House refuses to allow another debate on the latest Brexit deal on the 20th saying that it would be repetitive and disorderly to do so.

A landmark day in Northern Ireland occurred on the 22nd as abortion was decriminalised in the country. Back in Westminster however, and Boris Johnson secured a victory and a defeat. His victory was that his new Withdrawal Bill should pass to the next stage of the Parliamentary process by a vote of 329 to 299, however his timetable for this process to take place got defeated by 322 to 308. The timetable was for the bill to be scrutinised in just 3 days.

On the 23rd, a lorry container was found to have the bodies of 38 adults and teenagers inside in Essex. A 25-year-old man from Northern Ireland has been arrested on suspicion of murder.

Over at the Rugby World Cup, England beat New Zealand on the 26th in the semi-final by 19 to 7 setting up a World Cup Final between themselves and South Africa, the following week. Sadly, England lost the final.

EU leaders agree on the 28th in principle to a January 31st Brexit deadline. While in Westminster, only 299 MPs voted for a December the 12th General Election, 135 votes short of the total that Boris Johnson needed to trigger the vote, 70 MPs voted against the motion. Immediately after losing the motion, Boris Johnson stated that he would table another motion.

With Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, now publicly saying that he and his party will support a General Election, the Prime Minister tabled another motion on the 29th which was passed by 438 votes to 20 a majority of 418 votes. The date of the General Election was set for December the 12th.

We end the month with another Brexit date in 2019 that came and went. It was also the day that Speaker of the House, John Bercow stepped down, vacating the role of Speaker.

November

Whether you’re a brother or whether you’re a mother
You’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Feel the city breakin’ and everybody shakin’
And we’re stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive
Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive

Stayin’ Alive, The Bee Gees

November started in jubilant mood in the UK as Britain’s Lewis Hamilton was confirmed on the 3rd as a 6-time Formula 1 World Drivers’ Champion with 2 races left to go in the Championship. The accolade puts Lewis 1 championship behind the German legend, Michael Schumacher.

Keeping the happy news coming, the UK’s terror threat warning level was reduced on the 4th from severe to substantial for the first time since 2014. The new Speaker of the House was elected on the same day, and that person was Sir Lindsay Hoyle.

On the 5th it was revealed that Police had been called to Jack and Jill Childcare in Torquay back in July following claims of sexual assault at the nursery. The Police have since said that they have identified several children as ‘potential victims of contact offences’. Ofsted had suspended the setting’s licence to operate until Christmas Eve. The sole member of staff who was arrested in July has been bailed and moved out of the area while police enquiries continued.

At 00:01 on the 6th, Parliament was dissolved in preparation for the General Election.

Following the critics’ view of the Sonic The Hedgehog trailer back in April, the film-makers released a second trailer on the 12th. The reviews of this trailer are much more favourable than the previous one, some people are even commenting that this trailer makes the film look even funnier than the first one did. There have a been lot of comments from film-goers who have said respect to the studio who actually listens!

Revised cinematic Sonic The Hedgehog

Pudsey had his annual outing on the 15th for this year’s BBC Children in Need. The night of the show raised a total of £47,887,382, with the final total still to be announced.

The evening of the 16th was a pretty special evening for us and our Principal/Trainer, Steve, who was presented on the ice with our official shirt as a sponsor of the Swindon Wildcat’s number 18, Loris Taylor, who handed the shirt over to Steve on the evening along with Willie Wildcat. The shirt is the exact replica of the one that Loris wears on the ice during a game.

Steve collecting our official Swindon Wildcat shirt from our Number 18, Loris Taylor and Willie the Wildcat

Away from the ice on the 16th was what has now become known as THAT Prince Andrew Interview! The interview is led by Emily Maitlis and in it, Prince Andrew denies once again having sex with Virginia Giuffre when she was a teenager; he also declares his regret at having met Jeffrey Epstein in 2010. The interview is panned by critics and The Prince is widely criticised for it.

On the 19th The Swindon Wildcats published an interview that we had done with them which focusses on the 10 things you didn’t know about us. You can view this article on their website. Staying with the Swindon Wildcats, who then published the video of us training our number 18, Loris Taylor how to do CPR, you can view this on their or our social media. Alternatively click here.

Also on the 20th, His Royal Highness The Duke of York, Prince Andrew, announces that he is stepping down from royal duty for the foreseeable future as he has become embroiled in the Jeffrey Epstein affair and it has become a major disruption to the Royal Family.

On the 23rd 5 teenagers, including a 13-year-old girl, are arrested following a brawl at the Vue Cinema, Star Complex Birmingham, prior to a screening of Blue Story. The film powerfully shows the futility of gang culture in the current cultural environment. It was reported that the Police had to draw tasers on the group as they were carrying machetes. Amid lots of controversy, Vue Cinemas pulled the film from all of their 91 cinemas, as did Showcase Cinemas (UK), however, Showcase later reversed the decision.

As we near the end of the month we have sadly 2 deaths to discuss. The first is that of Gary Rhodes OBE. Gary was over in Dubai filming for a new television series when he died on a break from filming, he was 59-years-old. Gary will be remembered fondly for his distinctive spiky hair and for his Rhodes Across… series of television cookery shows, as well as for his appearances on the Tate and Lyle’s adverts. The second person for us to discuss who died on this day is Clive James who died at the age of 80. Clive will be remembered for his wry, deadpan humour on shows like Clive James on Television. Racing fans will remember him for his reviews of Formula 1 seasons that he had done in the 80s.

The 28th saw the end of a trial of former South Yorkshire Police Officer David Duckenfield. At the end of the trial he was found not guilty of the death of 95 Liverpool fans in the Hillsborough disaster of the 15th April 1989.

On the 29th, terror returned to our streets once again, and once more at Westminster Bridge. On this occasion 5 people were stabbed, 2 fatally and the terrorist was shot dead by the Police, as he was wearing what looked to be a bomb vest; it was later found to be fake. The terrorist had been released from prison in 2018 having served time for terrorist activities. Members of the public fought back during this attack, using a fire extinguisher and a narwhal tusk, as well as pinning him down on the street before the Police arrived. The people of London that day were brave in the face of adversity.

The last day of the month saw Cirencester come together to mark the start of advent with the annual switch on of the Christmas Lights, this year the ‘plunger’ was pressed by Countryfile’s Ellie Harrison. This year the fireworks that went off the top of the church were silent fireworks, accompanied by a samba band playing as the fireworks went off and thereafter. There was a worry from one or two that the silent fireworks may be a bit of a let-down, however in reality the way that it was done was really ingenious and a nice twist on the classic. We aren’t totally sure that all silent fireworks will take off but for the novelty of this event they were a success.

December

Lay a whisper on my pillow
Leave the winter on the ground
I wake up lonely, this air of silence
In the bedroom and all around


Touch me now
I close my eyes
And dream away

It Must Have Been Love, Roxette

Sadly we start the month marking some deaths. On the 8th we heard of the death of Carrol Spinney. At first his name probably doesn’t mean anything to our readers, but we can tell you that Carrol Spinney played the roles of Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch in Sesame Street. Carroll died aged 85.

On the 9th the volcanic island of Whakaari/White Island erupted explosively. It is reported that there were 47 people on the island at the time, 19 were killed, including 2 who are still classed as missing and presumed dead. Ongoing seismic activity halted recovery work for a week thereafter the incident. Whakaari is situated 30 miles northeast of New Zealand in the Bay of Plenty.

It is sad that we have to mark the passing of 2 people on the 10th. The first to mention is Marie Fredriksson, lead singer of Roxette. Marie died at the age of 61 from the recurrence of a brain tumour. She has had hits in the UK such as It Must Have Been Love, Joy Ride, The Big L and Fading Like a Flower. In her music with Roxette, Marie will live on.

The second person to have died on the 10th is former football manager Jim Smith. Jim was affectionately known as the Bald Eagle and is in the League Managers’ Association Hall of Fame having managed over 1000 games. Jim will forever be missed in the footballing community having died at the age of 79.

David Bellamy passed away on the 11th. He died at the age of 86, having had a successful career as a botanist, television presenter, author and environmental campaigner. He will probably be best remembered for his show Bellamy’s Backyard Safari.

On the 12th of December, we again found ourselves at the ballot box, the 3rd time in 5 years to elect a Government. It took until the 13th for the results of the first Winter General Election in nearly 100 years to be revealed in their entirety. The results of the election were:

Conservatives 365
Labour Party 203
Scottish Nationalist Party 48
Liberal Democrats 11
Democratic Unionist Party 8
Sinn Fein 7
Plaid Cymru 4
Social Democratic Labour Party 2
Alliance Party 1
Brexit Party 0

Following the results, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn announced he will stand down after a period of reflection for the Labour Party, meaning he will remain the leader into the start of the next year, before triggering a leadership campaign.

In news from the Liberal Democrats, newly elected leader, Jo Swinson lost her seat and immediately stood down as leader of the Party therefore starting a leadership campaign immediately.

As is now customary, the 13th of December was Christmas Jumper Day, as always organised in aid of Save the Children. Up and down the country people were donning their Christmas jumpers and donating £2 to the charity. Save the Children exists to help all children reach their full potential.

Sadly, the 13th saw the announcement of the death of ex Emmerdale actress Sheila Mercier, probably more commonly known by her character Annie Sugden. Sheila was 100 years old at the time of her death. She was also rewarded with an episode of This is Your Life, during which she was presented with her red book on the 1000 episode of the soap.

On the 14th we had the evening off and went to support our Swindon Wildcats at the Better Link Ice Rink. Our healthy elf friend, Helfy Elfred came with us and used the opportunity to promote the importance of staying warm by wearing his warm winter coat and boots. The game was the annual Teddy Toss, which has become a big event in the ice hockey community. During the evening 344 teddies were thrown onto the ice after player/coach Aaron Nell had scored the Wildcat’s first goal of the evening. All the teddies donated by the fans were then being donated to Barnado’s to help vulnerable children.

HelfyElfred joined us at the rink to watch our Swindon Wildcats play and beat Peterborough Phantoms 6-4

Every year we sit down to watch the BBC’s ode to sport, the BBC Sports Personality of the Year. This year there were 6 athletes up to win the big prize, these were:

  1. Ben Stokes,
  2. Lewis Hamilton,
  3. Dina Asher-Smith
  • Raheem Stirling,
  • Alun Wyn Jones and
  • Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

As you can see the winner was Ben Stokes, with Lewis Hamilton and Dina Asher-Smith in second and third place respectively. It was a joy to see Dina Asher-Smith awarded a prize in the final 3 following her efforts through the year, particularly at the World Championships where she became the first British woman to win Gold in a sprint event. Other awards of the evening were given also, with the England Cricketers collecting the Team of the Year award, John Blackie Coach of the Year and Kipchoge the World Sports Person of the Year. 2 awards of note that were awarded on the night went to Tanni Grey-Thompson who won the Lifetime Achievement Award and Doddie Weir who won the Helen Rollason Award. The Helen Rollason Award recognises outstanding achievement in the face of adversity. Doddie won this prize having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease in 2016. In 2017 he set up his charity, My Name Doddie’5 Foundation, which seeks to aid research into the disease and improve the lives of those with MND. Doddie was handed his prize by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal, Princess Anne.

We were pleased to launch our Christmas article, in which we focussed on Christmas number ones through the years since records began. You can view our Christmas Number 1 article by clicking here, alternatively you can play our Christmas Number 1 playlist on our YouTube Channel. This year’s Christmas Number 1 was announced on the 20th and once again belongs to YouTuber ‘LadBaby’ with his version of I love Rock ‘N’ Roll only entitled I Love Sausage Rolls. This is only the 3rd act to have 2 consecutive festive chart toppers, along with The Beatles and The Spice Girls; will LadBaby exceed these 2 achievements and claim next year’s Number 1?

In another Brexit update, the House of Commons MPs voted in favour of the Withdrawal from the EU Agreement by 358 to 234 votes, paving the way for the UK to exit the EU on the 31st January 2020. The agreement will now enter the committee stage to be fully scrutinised by the MPs.

It was reported on the 21st that another member of the historic England Football World Cup winning side had passed away. This man in question is one of only 2 English men who know what it feels like to score for your country in a World Cup final as only he and Geoff Hurst scored in the 4-2 defeat of 1966. The man we talk of is obviously Martin Peters. Across his career Peters played for West Ham United, Tottenham Hotspur, Norwich City and Sheffield United, before briefly managing Sheffield United. Martin Peters died at the of 76.

Also, on the 21st of December, Liverpool FC followed up what can only be described as an excellent last half of the year by becoming FIFA Club World Cup Champions, by beating CR Flamengo in the final, 1 – 0 after extra time. The Liverpool Reds are the only side to have completed the continental treble, having won the UEFA Champions League on the 1st June, The UEFA Super Cup against Chelsea on August 14th and now the FIFA Club World Cup.

Christmas Eve this year saw one of the first adaptations of a children’s book onto television, some would say a fitting tribute to Judith Kerr who as we know died earlier this year, of her children’s book The Tiger Who Came to Tea. The television programme kept truthful to the original illustrations of the book, with some slight adaptions to the story, which didn’t alter the story too much. The adaptation was produced with input from the author, prior to her death, including with requests to change the lyrics of the song ‘Hey Tiger’ as performed by Robbie Williams. In reviews by TV critics the show was received positively, and we are sure that it went down well with the viewing families up and down the country.

On to Christmas Day we go and see what 2 eagerly anticipated programmes in the schedule were. The first was an adaptation of Julia Donaldson’s A Snail and A Whale, illustrated by Axel Scheffler. As is usual with the adaptations made by Magic Light productions, the animation stays true to the original illustrations of Axel, and although a few tweaks have been made to the story by Julia, the essence of the story is there and as always a real Christmas treat to see these excellent books come to life. We will, like everyone else, look forward to the announcement of the next of these books to be adapted for the television following on from the previous ones.

The second programme that was eagerly anticipated for Christmas this year was the Christmas special of Gavin and Stacey. The festive episode was the first one in nearly 10 years and saw how the main characters have developed over that time, and also saw Uncle Bryn cooking the Christmas dinner for both families. This has to be one of the funniest moments of the programme. The special was received in a mix of reviews by fans, some who said it was as good as the original series, others saying that they shouldn’t have made this episode. The other controversy that surrounds this episode is the song choice for Uncle Bryn and Vanessa to sing on Christmas Eve, the song was Fairytale of New York. The controversy comes from them choosing to include the word f****t from the original 80s lyrics, taken from the line, ‘You scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy f****t’, which in today’s world is seen as a slur on someone’s sexual orientation and many felt that this should have been changed, or removed.

Onto the 27th of the month where we go and find an event that left no Christmas cheer, when a Bek Air plane crashed in Kazakhstan, which has killed 12 people and left dozens of people injured. The plane was travelling from Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city, to the capital Nur-Sultan. The plane crashed into a building just after it had taken off. There was however no fire on impact with the building. One survivor has told the BBC that the plane had begun to shake violently, and that on impact part of the plane had crushed like an aluminium can! Investigations into the crash will continue into the new year.

Also, on the 27th the annual New Year’s Honours list was released. In a Government gaff, more than 1,000 addresses of the homes and workplaces of the recipients was published on the Government website on Friday night and were not removed until the following morning! It has sparked fears of terror incidents against this year’s recipients.

So who has been rewarded in the New Year’s Honours list?

Firstly, we will take a look at the youngest and oldest recipients. The youngest this year was a teenage charity fundraiser, named Ibrahim Yousaf who is 13 from Oldham who has received a BEM (British Empire Medal) for services to the community. The eldest recipient this year was veteran Wilf Oldham aged 99 who has become an MBE.

Now let’s have a look at some famous recipients on the list that includes Sir Elton John who has received the highest award available, the Companion of Honour. Other musicians who have been rewarded include Queen star Roger Taylor who was given an OBE and Olivia Newton-John who is now a Dame. We look into television where we see 3 chefs awarded: these are Ainsley Harriot (MBE), Nadiya Hussain (MBE) and Nigel Slater (OBE), as well as Gabby Logan who got the MBE for services to sports’ broadcasting and promoting women’s sports. Speaking of sports, we see England cricketers Ben Stokes (OBE) and Eoin Morgan (CBE), with MBEs going to other England Cricketers, Joss Butler and Joe Root, and an OBE to coach Trevor Bayliss. An OBE has been awarded to Jade Jones, and MBEs to Serena Guthrie, Joanne Harten, Jill Scott and Loren Dykes. There are 2 new Sirs in politics, Iain Duncan-Smith and Robert Neil and a Damehood for Diana Johnson for her charitable and political service.

The New Year’s Honours were drawn up and signed off during the Prime Ministership of Theresa May. Our review of the list is just the tip of the 1,097 awards given out this year, you can see the full list on the Government’s website.

New Year’s Honours in Numbers:

New Year’s Honours 2020 awarded:  1,097,
Percentage given for work in the community: 72%,
Women awarded:    556 (51%),
BAME background awarded:   9.1%,
OBEs, MBEs, BEMs:    941,
Sirs, Dames, CBEs, Companions of Honours: 156.

Source: The Cabinet Office.

And Finally….

So as 2019  draws to a close, we hope that you have enjoyed our review of the year.

We are sure you will agree a lot has happened in 2019, and we look forward to seeing what may happen in 2020.

In the meantime….

We would like to wish
All our customers, suppliers, family and friends,
A VERY Happy New Year!

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