REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2016: The highs and lows of the past 12 months in Derbyshire

Kym Marsh

Kym Marsh

Head of content Ashley Booker takes a look back at the people and events which made the headlines across the county in 2016.

JANUARY

James and Paul Truswell with their new Vis Vires Chesterfield watches

James and Paul Truswell with their new Vis Vires Chesterfield watches

Chesterfield’s long-awaited new Queen’s Park Sports Centre was officially opened, replacing the old 1960s building.

Coronation Street star Kym Marsh joined the celebrations by taking over the studio sessions at the state-of-the-art facility.

The £11.25 million project was funded by £6.5m from the borough council,£2.5m from Chesterfield College and £2m from Sport England.

Meanwhile, a campaigner called for urgent action to save Chesterfield’s historic black and white buildings.

The Unimog.

The Unimog.

Concerned Andrew Hollyer launched an online petition to highlight the ‘very poor state’ of some of the buildings in the town centre.

Andrew said: “One of the big attractions of living in Chesterfield is the wonderful range of black and white buildings.

“They’re not Tudor – which they’re sometimes mistaken for – but nevertheless they still have a very interesting history and help make Chesterfield the place it is.”

But it was good news for a landmark Chesterfield statue which at one stage controversially ‘disappeared’ was given Grade II listed status.

Miley Cox is entertained by a street organ on the Barrow Hill Heritage Trail.

Miley Cox is entertained by a street organ on the Barrow Hill Heritage Trail.

The Rosewall sculpture, based on Future Walk in the West Bars area of the town, is one of Dame Barbara Hepworth’s finest works.

In 2009, the distinctive 2.5-tonne statue was returned to the place where it rested for more than four decades – three-and-a-half years after a public outcry saved it from being sold privately at auction.

The stone is carved into heavy, curling lines around two large holes. It was named after a hill in Cornwall which is surrounded by ancient stone.

FEBRUARY

The The Battle of Chesterfield commemorations in May

The The Battle of Chesterfield commemorations in May

Up to £3million is needed to help breathe new life into Chesterfield’s historic outdoor market, it emerged.

The major funding was being sought by Chesterfield Borough Council to make future improvements to the town institution – including possibly changing its layout.

In addition, the council said it was looking at making short-term changes to the outdoor market so it can thrive in the modern shopping world.

Some initial ideas included helping the traders make greater use of social media to promote their products and offering incentives to new stallholders.

Beer lovers were in their very own version of heaven as Chesterfield’s Winding Wheel once again played host to the town’s annual Real Ale and Cider Festival.

Tantalising the taste buds of the ale aficionados present were more than 100 beers from across the country such as Hop A Doodle Doo, Weal the Scrum, Slumbering Monk and Noggin Filler.

World Champion Lizzie Armitstead won stage 3 of the Aviva  Women's Tour of Britain in Chesterfield.

World Champion Lizzie Armitstead won stage 3 of the Aviva Women's Tour of Britain in Chesterfield.

The event was organised by the Chesterfield branch of the Campaign for Real Ale.

Chesterfield brothers James Truswell and Paul Guy founded Vis Vires, a firm selling luxury ladies and gents‘ timepieces which promote Chesterfield and Derbyshire right across the world.

Each watch is engraved with ‘Chesterfield, United Kingdom’ on the back and the brothers have named their flagship timepiece after the town.

They also sell a range of watches called ‘Devonshire’, ‘Chatsworth’ and ‘Thornbridge’ in honour of the stately homes.

MARCH

It was revealed that Premier Inn was to be the key occupier of Chesterfield’s former Co-op.An 89-bedroom hotel and a Beefeater restaurant will open at the Elder Way site next year in a move set to create 60 jobs.

Last year, Chesterfield Borough Council conditionally approved a planning application to convert the former Co-op building into a £20 million hotel and leisure hub.

The application included a budget hotel on the upper floor, six family restaurants on the ground floor and a health and fitness area in the basement.

Meanwhile, fire bosses defended spending almost £300,000 on a specialist truck which is used to rescue obese people.

The Unimog U5000 vehicle, dubbed by some as ‘The Brute’, was purchased by Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) to carry out bariatric and animal rescues and supporting other emergency services.

The Mercedes Chassis model, which includes a crane, cost a total of £282,863.26.

DFRS had attended 53 incidents involving obese people since 2013, according to statistics.

A spokesman for DFRS said: “The specialist vehicle, which replaces and improves upon existing vehicles, will provide 20 years’ service allowing the service to deal with all manner of incidents and it will also help to improve firefighter safety.”

One of Chesterfield’s top attractions was told it was to get a £1.17 million cash boost to help put it back on track and safeguard its future.

Funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund will kick-start major restoration works to transform the railway roundhouse at Barrow Hill into a nationally-important museum.

The railway roundhouse is the last operational facility of its kind in Britain and plays a ‘unique’ role in telling the story of this country’s ‘evocative transport heritage’.

High quality visitor facilities, a dedicated learning and meeting space and a conservation workshop will all be created at the attraction - which will also boast a new entrance, shop and café.

APRIL

Chesterfield FC confirmed that their new shirt sponsorship deal is the ‘most lucrative’ in the club’s history.

The Spireites revealed that the 2016/17 home and away shirts would bear the logo of construction firm GF Tomlinson.

A three-year deal was agreed with the Derbyshire-based company, with an option for a three-year extension.

Elsewhere, specially designed oxygen masks were donated to the fire service to help save animals from blazes.

Not-for-profit organisation Smokey Paws handed over the two sets of life-saving equipment to Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS).

The masks, which are suitable for all types of animals from dogs to hamsters, are in use at the Chesterfield and Staveley fire stations and will be carried on fire engines.

DFRS group manager, Bob Curry, said: “We are very, very grateful to the charity.

Children in period costume welcomed the mayor and mayoress of Chesterfield to launch a heritage trail.

A guest in the guise of Queen Victoria and a villager taking on the role of town crier contributed to a day of celebration at Barrow Hill.

Children played Victorian games, Staveley Ex-Servicemen’s Male Voice Choir led a rousing sing-a-long and music was provided by organ-grinder Matthew Cooke.

Barrow Hill Primary School pupils produced artwork on a village theme and displayed their creations at the memorial club where prizes were presented by the mayor to the winners.

MAY

There was a great turnout for the Battle of Chesterfield events in the heart of the town centre.

Crowds were treated to a number of free enactments and performances - with organisers hailing the event a success and said it was helped by the weather.

A Chesterfield man who has overcome a serious disability to become a record breaker set another - but this time in heels.

Marti Powell, 35, ran the fastest 100-metre dash by a man in heels - setting a new world record in the process.

He was in a car accident 15 years ago, which left him paralysed and unable to talk, but he has fought his way back to health and is now a multiple world record breaker.

He said: “Everybody wants to be remembered. If you are the same as everybody else you are just the same, whereas if you do something different you will be remembered.”

The ‘Beast of Bolsover’, MP Dennis Skinner, left politicians and journalists gobsmacked when he blurted out a remark about the BBC at the state opening of Parliament.

His jibes have become an annual tradition as Black Rod, the Queen’s representative, invites MPs to join her in the House of Lords.

This year, the Labour MP took the opportunity to slam reforms made to the BBC’s Royal Charter, calling out ‘hands off the BBC’.

JUNE

Chesterfield voted by 60 per cent to 40 per cent to leave the European Union - as Britain voted to quit the European Union,

The vote sent shockwaves through the political world and led to the resignation of Prime Minister David Cameron.

Chesterfield, Labour MP Toby Perkins said he was ‘sad’ at the result but would play his part in making Britain ‘a country to be proud of’.

In sport, the Aviva Women’s Tour featuring some of the world’s greatest cyclists peddled its way into Chesterfield.

Stage 3 of the race took the riders from Ashbourne to Chesterfield town centre and thousands went wild during the fabulous, international sporting spectacle.

British rider Lizzie Armitstead won the stage, which also raced through Buxton and Matlock.

Mayor of Chesterfield Steve Brunt said: “It’s unbelievable for Chesterfield. It’s been a fantastic opportunity and it’s putting the town on the map and encouraging health and well-being - which is one of our main policies - especially for young people and girls to get out on their bikes and get fit. This might also inspire a future champion from Chesterfield.”

Staying on a sporting theme, Chesterfield FC pulled off one of the most talked about signings of the summer by snapping up striker Ched Evans.

The Spireites hit the national headlines with the signing of former Sheffield United free agent Evans who had a rape conviction quashed earlier this year and hadn’t played competitive football for more than four years.

A Derbyshire Times poll attracted more than 1,000 responses, with 55 per cent of them disapproving of the signing.


JULY

Wonderful walkers raised a whopping £168,371 for Ashgate Hospice.

Two thousand participants stepped out on the 10k Sparkle Walk around Chesterfield, which was organised by Ashgate Hospicecare and sponsored by Blundells estate agent.

Emma West, of Holmewood, walked in memory of her uncle, John West. She said: “I was near the front of the walkers and it was amazing to look back and see the sea of flashing bunny ears.

“The whole night was high-spirited and luckily, the weather held good and stayed dry.”

In education, school chiefs were slammed for making parents buy plain uniform items at a price three times higher than local retailers.

Parents were told that pupils must only wear trousers and skirts purchased directly from Springwell Community College in Staveley.

But the garments – which have no logos on them – looked no different from the ones on sale at local stores for a third of the price.

Ian Wingfield, headteacher at Springwell said: “During the last few years there has been a large growth in the range of trouser styles being marketed as ‘school uniform’ by supermarkets and other outlets. This has presented problems of consistency and has taken up a lot of staff time as we try to ensure that the college dress code is adhered to.”

Meanwhile, rainbow colours were in abundance at Chesterfield Pride which took place in Queen’s Park.

There was live music and lots of activities including a fun fair, children’s play area and market stalls.

Turnout was high and organisers praised the wonderful, colourful event which put a smile of lots of people’s faces.

AUGUST

Chesterfield Royal Hospital imposed a ban on smoking on its entire site.

The decision was taken after a consultation with staff, patients and visitors and aimed to create a cleaner,clearer and healthier Royal.

A hospital spokesman said: “The message is simple – when you’re on site please don’t light-up a cigarette or use an e-cig.”

In politics, town leaders were at war over one of the biggest decisions Derbyshire has faced in decades.

The leader of Derbyshire County Council made a last ditch plea for the people of Chesterfield to make their voices heard in the major devolution debate.

Anne Western claimed Chesterfield Royal Hospital could be at risk if the borough joined Sheffield City Region and said public services would be fractured.

But Chesterfield Borough Council’s John Burrows says the Sheffield deal would be good for the town,bringing millions of pounds of investment as well as jobs,skills and housing.

On a lighter note, five of Chesterfield’s parks retained their prestigious Green Flag awards, meaning they were among the best in the country.

The parks and open spaces, maintained by Chesterfield Borough Council, received an inspection from the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Those retaining their Green Flags were , Eastwood Park, Hasland, Holmebrook Valley Park, Poolsbrook Country Park and Queen’s Park.

The grounds of Chesterfield and District Crematorium in Brimington, have also retained Green Flag status.

SEPTEMBER

A bus driver who helped save the life of a suicidal man threatening to jump off a Chesterfield bridge was hailed a hero.

Mick Rosato stopped when he saw the desperate man and spent ten minutes talking to him.

He urged him not to take his own life, telling him that help was at hand.

The man eventually ended his suicide attempt and was taken to Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Mr Rosato, 50, of Chesterfield, said: “I’d like to think that if I was in that awful position then someone would stop and help me.”

Baking superstars Paul Hollywood and Mary Berry joined Olympic medallist Jessica Ennis-Hill at Chatsworth Country Fair.

As honorary fair president, Jessica opened the annual event alongside the Duke of Devonshire.

The action-packed schedule included an awe inspiring aerobatic display by the Red Arrows.

Jessica said: “I have always loved visiting Chatsworth – it is such a beautiful venue with the most amazing grounds. When I get a day off I often visit for a walk and relax.”

Chesterfield was selected to receive key support from some of the UK’s biggest brands as part of the Healthy High Streets programme.

Over the next three years, the drive aims to cut the number of vacant shops by 20percent,boost footfall by ten per cent and create new jobs in Chesterfield – amid a growth in online shopping.

Councillor Amanda Serjeant, Chesterfield Borough Council’s cabinet member for town centre and visitor economy, said: “By bringing in corporate partners from shop chains and working with a Healthy High Streets’ advisor, we are able to share national experience and expertise alongside local knowledge.”

OCTOBER

Dronfield woman Jessica Cunningham was named among 18 candidates who will compete in a new series of The Apprentice.

Jessica Cunningham, 29, an online fashion entrepreneur and operations director for a PR and marketing agency, was set to go head-to-head with fellow competitors to become Lord Sugar’s businesw partner and claim a £250,000 investment.

Jessica said: “I’ve got loads of energy - a bit too much! I’m just going to be a really good candidate. I talk a lot. I’m very much a dreamer,but in a good sense.”

New graduates from Chesterfield College paraded through the town with pride to celebrate successfully completing their courses.

One-and-thirty students took part in the parade from the town hall to the Crooked Spire, where they were formally presented with their certificates.

Accompanying them were the mayor and mayoress of Chesterfield, college leaders and representatives of accrediting universities.

Staying with education, Chesterfield officially became a university town when the new £6.9m University of Derby campus officially opened.

The conversion of the historic former St Helena Girls Grammar School on Sheffield Road will offer 21st Century courses in healthcare, engineering, information technology and business to support the town’s growing economic resurgence. A special ceremony took place to celebrate the official opening - which was led by the Duke of Devonshire.A ‘killer clown’ from Clowne was pulling his bright red hair out after his hobby was hijacked by a new craze.

Chris Carter, 39, has starred in a series of films made by his friend Adam Widdowson for the last five years - but as the ‘killer clown’ craze swept the country the pair found they couldn’t go filming without informing the authorities.

Amateur film-maker Adam, 27,said:“We’ve been doing this for a long time before the current spate of clown activity started.

“Now, when we go filming in the village we have to let people know so we don’t get arrested. It has been making our lives much more difficult.”

NOVEMBER

The actor who stole one of the most memorable scenes in Game of Thrones’ latest run returned to her roots at Crich Tramway Village.

Elizabeth Webster - who played Walda Bolton - was guest of honour for the Starlight Spectacular, a week of illuminated evenings at the National Tramway Museum.

She has been a familiar face at the village all her life, where her dad Roger has been a volunteer since 1975.

Chesterfield’s RSPCA launched a purr-fect charity calendar to help raise funds for our furry and feathered friends.

The calendar was created in associated with the Derbyshire Times and all images featured were taken by our photographers.

It featured rescue animals from the North Derbyshire region who came to the centre in need of veterinary attention, rehabilitation, care and love.

A Clowne schoolgirl was the jewel in Derbyshire’s crown after appearing on a new Royal drama series.

Keira Davis, of Croft View, Clowne, was seen by millions of viewers across the globe on Netflix show The Crown.

The eight-year-old rubbed shoulders with the likes of top actors Claire Foy and Matt Smith during filming of the hit series in London last year.

DECEMBER

The £75million first phase of the Chesterfield Waterside masterplan was given the go-ahead.

Chesterfield Borough Council’s planning committee conditionally approved the Basin Square development with Peter Swallow, managing director of Bolsterstone - the company leading the Chesterfield Waterside project - saying: “This is a massively positive development for the town.

Christmas shoppers in Chesterfield town centre were joined by an unusual visitor from the Arctic.

A lifesize polar bear - which was the guest of Vicar Lane Shopping Centre - strolled around the town a number of times to the amazement of the assembled crowds.

And more than 150 Chesterfield College students and staff joined forces with organisations and businesses for the annual Santa Dash in the town’s Queen’s Park.

The sea of festive runners raised money to help a group of students travel to Africa to volunteer.

Dronfield’s Jessica Cunningham failed to make it through to the final of The Apprenice after she was given her marching orders following a brutal interviews episode.

She was fired after her business plans was torn apart by the interviewers and Lord Sugar.

In firing her, Lord Sugar told Jessica: “Jessica, I think you’ve got great sales ability but it’s a very, very risky idea. Jessica, it is with regret that you’re fired.”

Ashgate Sparkle Night Walk 2016

Ashgate Sparkle Night Walk 2016

Eastwood Park in Chesterfield with the Green Flag award

Eastwood Park in Chesterfield with the Green Flag award

Mick Rosato on the Brewery Street bridge in Chesterfield.

Mick Rosato on the Brewery Street bridge in Chesterfield.

Chesterfield College graduates leave the Town Hall on their parade to St Mary's Church.

Chesterfield College graduates leave the Town Hall on their parade to St Mary's Church.

Game of Thrones actress Elizabeth Webster returns to the Crich Tramway where she volunteered as a child

Game of Thrones actress Elizabeth Webster returns to the Crich Tramway where she volunteered as a child