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Review of the year: A soggy year of drama, tragedy, heroics and farce

By Mid Devon Gazette  |  Posted: December 31, 2012

By Richard Wevill

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JANUARY

The year began with two popular Tiverton businesses ceasing to trade. The closure of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds tearoom, in Gold Street, was lamented by customers who enjoyed its bygone-days charm. Those who preferred something a little stronger than a pot of tea were disappointed by the loss of the Racehorse, in Wellbrook Street, which landlord Tony Dryhurst had run for 30 years. The pub re-opened a few months later and plans were unveiled a few weeks ago for a bistro to revive the former Four and Twenty Blackbirds premises.

Kermit the Frog made for an unusual front page appearance in the Gazette, with the news that Mid Devon District Council was paying for cinema tickets for tenants (for Muppets the Movie, no less) only a few weeks after councillors gave themselves a 23 per cent pay rise.

Drivers in Crediton had reason to celebrate, with Devon County Council finally giving the go-ahead for a £7.75m link road for the town, which will be built by 2015.

FEBRUARY

The month began with a massive fire sweeping through six thatched properties in Crediton's Mill Street and Buller Square, and the rebuilding of the properties continues almost a year on.

Unambiguous signs were fixed to the wall of an alleyway in the centre of Tiverton as a polite request to members of the public to stop relieving themselves close to businesses including an estate agents and a gym.

A Blackborough farmer appeared on the ITV dating show Take Me Out. Rugby-playing Olly Read said he enjoyed his date with Mollie, daughter of pop star Beverley Craven, but was happiest back on the farm milking the 120 cows his family keeps. Meanwhile, Lewis Clarke, a Tiverton town councillor, also made a memorable appearance on the Channel 4 daytime game show Coach Trip.

MARCH

Tiverton's revamped Post Office re-opened following a £50,000-plus modernisation which provided the Market Walk premises with a more 'open plan' appearance.

Residents in Cullompton were celebrating after bus operator Stagecoach made a U-turn on plans to stop services to cut Swallow Way, Langlands Road and Tiverton Road from its 1B route, following a passenger outcry.

A milkman was feted in Crediton after alerting police when he spotted a break-in at a sausage factory while on his morning round.

APRIL

Tributes were paid to the Mid Devon man who died in a fatal road traffic accident in Lea Road. Friends described Nigel Gutteridge as being "immersed in the local community".

The attentions of the art world focussed on Tiverton for, aptly enough, 15 minutes of fame, when local man Andy Fields revealed a sketch which he believed had been drawn by pop artist Andy Warhol while still a child.

Transport issues remained to the fore in Cullompton with hopes for a new rail station. It could lead to an hourly stopping service between Exeter and Taunton.

MAY

SCHOOLS in Tiverton voted overwhelmingly to join the new co-operative trust established by Tiverton High School to foster closer working between the primary, secondary and further education providers in the town.

A Cullompton football coach said he was lucky to be alive after a retained firefighter and first aider resuscitated him after he suffered a heart attack on the pitch. Paul Tapp was saved by the quick action of Chris Richards who had a defibrillator pack in his car. Later, Chris met former Bolton Wanderers star Fabrice Muamba when he was presented with a prize at a national awards ceremony

Prominent huntsman John Norrish was jailed after a jury found him guilty of raping a woman in a car park after a hunt ball near Crediton.

JUNE

Jubilee fever swept Mid Devon with street parties, bunting and patriotic fervour affecting young and old alike in towns and villages across the district

An innovative approach in education was featured with the story of Labrador puppy Robbie, who was a hit with Uffculme School pupils as a 'reading therapy' dog.

Proposals to merge Queen's Elizabeth's Academy operations onto a single site were revealed. For decades the Crediton secondary has been split between the lower school, at Barnfield, and the upper school, in Western Road, but plans for an ambitious expansion were unveiled this month.

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