REVIEW OF THE YEAR - Looking back at some of the highs and lows from 2015 in Chesterfield and Derbyshire

Chesterfield hotel.
Chesterfield hotel.
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It’s been a busy year around Chesterfield and Derbyshire with news ranging from the tragic to the comic to the downright bizarre. Here is the first part of our review of some of the hundreds of stories we have covered in your Derbyshire Times this year. Don’t miss next week’s paper for part two of the review, covering July to December.

January

Bride-to-be Vicky Verity was forced to move her wedding venue after the closure of Chesterfield Hotel was announced. Vicky had been looking forward to her Valentine’s Day wedding at the hotel. The historic hotel, dating from 1877, closed its doors at the end of the month.

Commuters and pedestrians had to battle perilous ice on the roads and pavements across north Derbyshire and Chesterfield towards the end of the month, following heavy snowfall which ground traffic and commuters to a standstill, freezing conditions overnight laid the roads and pavements thick with compacted ice.

Ground near the Growth sculpture on Horns Bridge roundabout in Chesterfield had to be dug up to repair an electricity cable. A fault with an 11,000-vault cable under the island sparked a power cut for large swathes of the town.

February

Clare Farmer, left, with her children, Jack and Harry and Lauren Hucknall with Rowan and Arlo outside the Sunshine Nursery which has unexpectedly announced it's closure.

Clare Farmer, left, with her children, Jack and Harry and Lauren Hucknall with Rowan and Arlo outside the Sunshine Nursery which has unexpectedly announced it's closure.

Dog-owners bore the brunt in February when Bolsover District Council launched a new task force to combat dog-fouling, as well as other nuisance behaviour.

Six vehicles were seized during a targeted police operation in Shirland. Safer Neighbourhood officers teamed up to carry out vehicle safety checks on the A61. A total of 50 vehicles were stopped as officers cracked down on offences such as motorists not wearing a seatbelt, using a mobile phone at the wheel and vehicle defects.

Stuart Laver, of Chesterfield, had a lucky escape when he narrowly avoided being hit on the head by a clump of tiles which fell from the top of a three-storey building. The 41-year-old was walking along West Bars, in Chesterfield, when the incident happened.

March

Shirebrook protest rally at Sports Direct.

Shirebrook protest rally at Sports Direct.

Chesterfield Borough Council approved a £4.5million facelift of the London Boroughs estate in Barrow Hill. The cash injection was set to bring the area into the 21st century with new roads, better car parking, redesigned footpaths and improved green spaces.

Police issued an appeal for witnesses after men entered a house in Dronfield and threatened the owners and their children with a firearm. The offenders struck at the house on Stubley Lane. One of the men kicked the home owner in the head and knocked him unconscious.

Parents dropping children at Sunshine Nursery, on the Walton Hospital site, were left shocked after an NHS official informed them it was due to close. They were told the nursery had been running at a loss for years and there was nothing parents could do to stop the closure.

Further afield, Belper skateboarder Mitchell Rodgers was killed when he was hit by a train at the town’s railway station. It was reported that he had been chased by police shortly before his death.

Victory for Labours Toby Perkins

Victory for Labours Toby Perkins

April

Shirebrook-based Sports Direct was back in the headlines, after a damning Channel 4 documentary exposed working conditions inside the company’s warehouse.

A seriously ill man died in hospital from a wrongly-placed feed tube which was found to have gone into a lung instead of his stomach, it emerged in April. Chesterfield coroner’s court heard how John Craven, 73, of Cuttholme Road, Chesterfield, died from a perforated lung with pneumonia at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Overwhelmed guests and community heroes celebrated the courage and spirit of human endeavour during this year’s Derbyshire Times’s Pride Awards. Those who have defied the odds, gone beyond the call of duty and shown great courage in the face of adversity were honoured at the annual event at Chesterfield’s Proact Stadium. Community fundraiser Ruby Pearce, aged eight, was crowned the overall 2015 Derbyshire Times Pride Awards winner with her five-year-old sister Kitty.

May

Police were called to a house in Chesterfield to reports that a man had collapsed after taking drugs. Officers attended and a substance was seized which proved to be a legal high called MDMB-CHMICA, which is reported to be involved in the deaths of two people and the hospitalisation of three other people in Germany.

North St, Langley Mill, scene of fatal fire. 'Trevor Smith from Hucknall, Amy's Grandad, and her Great Grandma Jean Smith, from Bestwood Park, arrive at the scene to lay their floral tributes to their grandaughter and great-grandaughter, baby Ruby.

North St, Langley Mill, scene of fatal fire. 'Trevor Smith from Hucknall, Amy's Grandad, and her Great Grandma Jean Smith, from Bestwood Park, arrive at the scene to lay their floral tributes to their grandaughter and great-grandaughter, baby Ruby.

May was also General election time, with Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins and North East Derbyshire’s Natascha Engel both retaining their seats. Elsewhere, Dennis Skinner for Bolsover, Patrick McLoughlin for Derbyshire Dales and Amber Valley MP Nigel Mills all retained their seats.

Shortly afterwards, Mr Perkins was announced as campaign manager for Labour Leadership hopeful Liz Kendall.

Residents in Tupton were left in mourning after the death of Gemma Holt, 23, of Station New Road, was found by passers-by hanging from a tree. She was described as a ‘lovely young woman’.

June

The proposed sale of a Chesterfield car park was slammed by residents who said it would cause road ‘chaos’ in the town, after Chesterfield Borough Council put Ashgate Road car park on the market.

Estelle Lodde, 37, and Mark Lodde, 33, of Midland Terrace, Barrow Hill, left their three reptiles, dog and cat alone to starve in filthy conditions in their empty house while they stayed just half a mile away have been banned from keeping dogs and reptiles for five years. They pleaded guilty to seven animal welfare offences involving their pets.

Chesterfield UKIP activist Kerrie Webb had party leader Nigel Farage’s face tattooed on to her arm, permanently pledging her support to the man she claimed is her inspiration.

Tragedy struck in June when three people died in a flat fire in Langley Mill. Amy Smith, 17, and her six-and-a-half-month-old daughter Ruby-Grace Gaunt, who lived in the flat, died along with friend Edward Green, 17, of Belper, after the blaze took hold in the early hours of the morning.

Pictured (from top) Chesterfield Hotel, Bolsover dog wardens, parents from the Sunshine Nursery, campaigners outside Sports Direct, Chesterfield MP Toby Perkins, and grieving relatives following the fatal flat fire in Langley Mill.