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End of year Review 2020 - Part 1
A year of heartache and tremendous sacrifices...

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THIS week is our 1000th edition since our Trade Mark registration for Southport Reporter was accepted. We would also like to say that this year's Review of 2020 is sponsored by Southport's puzzle and jigsaw shop, Mind Games. Oddly, 2020 is going to be a puzzle for many years to come. Just how, as a nation, did we get into such a mess and how will we recover from it? However will it be regarded in years to come? We should use this year to take notes and learn from all that is good and what went sadly wrong.

This year has been dominated by 2 major issues in the UK; the Covid19 Pandemic and Brexit negotiations.

This is Part 1 of our 2 edition review of a year that has been like no other and has affected all of us, like no other.

2020 started with a gambling epidemic is sweeping the UK, and it was not just the public that was taking unnecessary chances. It was to take until the end of the year for at least 1 gamble to pay off, the Government achieved a Brexit deal, of sorts, despite the odds. 2021 will begin to reveal just what the pay out will be.

It would have been nice to end 2020 with a White Christmas; the gambling industry which has been gaining momentum over the last few years and online and smartphone gambling has reached epic proportions. Using its increased spends on advertising and marketing targeting online punters, many cut its odds on there being a White Christmas, but this perennial 'White Christmas' punt could prove to be their last throw of the dice. Many betting shops fall under non-essential high street retail, so are having to close within many areas and tighter restrictions are likely to hit in 2021.

Incidentally, thanks to climate change, the chances of getting a White Christmas is increasingly low. Also, it is worth adding that the chance of a White Easter is higher and that a White Christmas was more common in the 18th and 19th Centuries, before the change of calendar in 1752, which effectively brought Christmas Day back by 12 days. There may just be one more chance of generalised snow left in 2020, with temperatures dropping, but a chance of frost on New Year's Eve is more likely, or rain. It also highlights one of the topics of conversation over 2020, the climate and our growing awareness of global warming and its consequences, that we have experienced throughout 2020.

It is worth adding that in 2020, in response to the rise in gambling addiction, the UK Government launched a number of reforms to prevent the rise of gambling addiction. Also, the world's 1st Gambling Addiction Treatment Centre for women was announced that it's going to be opened in 2021, in Midlands. On that note, if you are affected by gambling addiction or want advice on it, please do go to:- BeGambleAware.Org or by call the National Gambling Helpline on:- 08088020133.

So what other things did 2020 bring us?

The year started with pressures of the Brexit Transition period Ending hanging over us so 2020 was always going to lead to emotional confusion, but little did we know what else was lurking. We probably all remember a strange rumbling about new virus over in China, but this was soon to become the dominant feature to over shadow Brexit.

In Liverpool and Southport, January started with us doing the normal rounds of local venues, on a cold New Year's Eve, leading to us welcoming in 2020, at Southport's Sacrebleu. With hindsight, as:- 'sacrebleu' or 'sacre bleu' is a French profanity; it might have been a sign of things to come.

Then came Liverpool John Lennon Airport holding a consultation on the future aircraft flight paths, as well as watching the delivery of the 1st Class 777 METRO, from the factory in Switzerland.

On 10 January 2019, Everton FC fan, Michael Cullen, aka Speedo Mick, doing a 1,000 mile charity walk in just Speedos, but having to press pause on his efforts. We watched, on a very cold morning, at Birches Brow Boutique Guest Rooms, in Aughton, Ormskirk as he tried to continue with the Liverpool leg of his walk, however his leg gave way. But he said that morning he was not going to give up...

Then on yet another very cold morning, Saturday, 18 January 2020, the 55 year old, Speedo Mick was off again from Birches Brow Boutique Guest Rooms, with Liverpool in sight. But the best was yet to be…

On 24 January 2020, we headed off, out of the office and over to Empire Restaurant, on Nevill Street, Southport, to watch them start the annual New Year festivities. All was joyful and celebration was in the air.

26 January 2020, the Liverpool Chinese Community came out to celebrate the start of 4718, the year of the Metal Rat, on 24 January 2020. This was to be the last major event we would cover in 2020. Already, people were starting to become worried and many Chinese Community events had been scrapped, over a slight concern that the virus could find its way into the UK. Despite this and the rain, the colourful celebrations took place, but with far less people attending than normal.

February started with a visit to West Lancashire Cemetery and Crematorium who contacted us about them marking their 4th Anniversary by rising over ₤10,000 for local charities.

Then came flooding, with Formby being hit hard on 9 February 2020. Drainage, building on flood plains and related global warming issues took the spotlight as storm Ciara hit the Region. Also, the controversial building development on Liverpool Road, started, with a flooded field and the developers Barratt Homes, were under fire for cutting down a 100 year old hedge on Liverpool Road, Formby, without permission.

Despite the bad weather, also on 9 February 2020, the local car club UK Hot Cars held the 1st of the 2020, Southport Marine Lake and it was very well attended!

Next storm to come was Storm Dennis, which was branded a "menace" by many. Thankfully, Merseyside was not as affected as it was with Ciara, a few days before.

We also watched a rising number of Fake Social Media Accounts popping up, on all the main social media platforms. This rise was to play a major role of issues to follow later in the year and tied into our event with IMPRESS in March 2020.

At the end of February 2020, the online educational publisher Twinkl and the EPSRC UK Robotics and Autonomous Systems Network (UK RAS Network), have launched a National School Robot Competition, and encouraged Schools from Liverpool to get involved.

We heard the chilling fact at the end of February, that Barnardo's had found that child sexual abuse far more widespread than people believe.

March started off very wet, with roads around Rimrose Valley being flooded.

HMS Prince of Wales visits the Mersey, on 28 February 2020... This was an amazing sight to see, despite the cold, damp and windy conditions.

At the start of March 2020, questions started being asked in our area:- "Are we Coronavirus prepared?" as Southport Hospital had Coronavirus Pods installed, and other Hospitals all over the UK are also putting control measures in place.

Kappa Band plays at Bijou Cinema along with 2 Mighty Radio show hosts on Friday, 6 March 2020, at the Bijou Cinema.

Both the UK Hot Cars and North West EV Owners Group joined forces to put on a fantastic organised car display, on 8 March 2020. This was to be the last official UK Hot Cars event of 2020.

Then came what was meant to be the 1st of a year long series of events, to be run by ourselves, via our PR brand This was an exclusive evening and screening with writer Andy Briggs. The fantastic story writer delivered a very engaging talk about his role in the film:- 'Crowhurst' at the Southport Bijou Cinema.

On 11 March 2020, IMPRESS, the UK's independent press regulator, held an interactive talk, with a question and answer session at the Bijou Cinema, Southport. Despite the looming Covid19 issues, several local schools still managed to attend the daytime event and in the evening, we had another successful event. Again, this was 1 of the many events we had planned to run over 2020, as part of our program of events.

Over the 13 March to 15 March 2020, small crowd attended the 'Nightingale's Song' events in Sefton, as part of the planned Borough of Culture. We watched the last night's events at the Atkinson, in the Town Centre of Southport.

Also in March, the idea of a national lockdown for the UK was mooted on 16 March 2020, Mr Hancock updated the House of Commons on the Government's plan to fight Coronavirus. Matt Hancock told the House of Commons that all unnecessary social contact should cease. This included a new requirement to isolate for 2 weeks if you or a member of your household has symptoms, and advice:- "against all unnecessary social contact with others and unnecessary travel." He said people should work from home if they possibly can, and avoid pubs, clubs, cinemas and restaurants. However, he stopped short of telling people they must stay at home, or telling these businesses to close. Also that same day, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson, made a televised statement saying:- "now is the time for everyone to stop non-essential contact," referring to it both as "advice" and a "very draconian measure."

The 17 March 2020 was the last pub event we would cover in 2020. St Patrick's Night 2020, in Southport, was normally a big event in the Irish Community, but the Pandemic definitely turned it a new shade of green. The event was very poorly attended than those we had covered in the past.
It was not until 23 March 2020 that Mr Johnson told people they:- "must" stay at home and said that:- "we will immediately" close some businesses. As lockdown started Entertainment and Hospitality premises were close temporarily, but for many, this would be a start of the nightmare many businesses would face.

At this stage Coronavirus had already started disrupting everything we know and adapting wasn't always easy. Southport on 1st day of the UK's full lockdown, on 24 March 2020 was very strange.

In the 1st week of April arsonists torched 5G phone masts following bizarre fake news reports on social media that the technology is linked to Coronavirus. This was 1 of many fake new issues to strike of 2020. The targeted attacks included 5G masts in the Liverpool area following the fake "radiation" claims made about the spread of the virus, that oddly continued to pop up well into the last few days of 2020.

Aintree University Hospital Staff Nurse Liz Glanister, 68, died at Royal Liverpool University Hospital, on Friday, 3 April 2020, after testing positive for the virus. She was 1 of the first NHS worker to die from this virus. Unfortunately, many other key and essential workers would lose their lives in the subsequent months. The Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, Tweeted on 6 April:- "Each day there are thousands of people who risk their own lives to save others. This virus will extract the worst kind of penalty for their sacrifice. Today our flag is at half mast for Liz Glanister in respect of her sacrifice. #savelives #NHSheroes."

As the UK moved into the start of restrictions, Sefton Borough of Culture unveiled a large painting by the street artist Paul Curtis, that had been commissioned and had been aimed to be completed for the 2020 Grand National, in March. The painting of the legendary horse, Red Rum, is now located on the side of a building on Scarisbrick Avenue, Southport, facing towards the Promenade and the beach. The large mural was the 1st of several large paintings on buildings, to be commissioned over 2020.

However ,The Randox Health Grand National 2020 was another faller to the Pandemic. The 3 day event at Aintree Racecourse was cancelled for the 1st time since World War 2, with great loss of revenue for the area as a whole.

The effects of the Covid19 reshapes film production industry all over the world and in March we spoke to the CEO of NEEDaFIXER, Sofia Panayiotaki, about the impact that the virus was having on the filming industry.

Also in March, following the series of storms, many concerned Formby residents reported a major change on the Formby Sand Dunes. An area known as:- 'Devil's Hole' had started to open up to the sea and this was a very worrying sight. Another area within the same network, but on the opposite side of Lifeboat Road, was also noted to be eroding fast, but this received less attention than might have been expected, if Covid19 was not dominating the headlines. So, expect this to feature more in 2021.

On the 15 April 2020, 31 years on, Liverpool still remembered and marked the Hillsborough Disaster, even in the middle of the Covid19 crisis. Sadly,  the public events had to be cancelled.

Also in that week, the Mayor of Liverpool, Joe Anderson, has issued a heartfelt thank you to the 1,600 strong army of Liverpool volunteers who have offered to give up their time to help those in need in the City.

The UK's horticultural businesses, which where estimated to have been worth ₤1.4 Billion, announced that they could be wiped out in just weeks, with Porters Fuchsias a family run wholesale bedding plant grower, based in Formby, Merseyside, just 1 of those facing disaster.

On 21 April, the Southport and Formby District General Hospital, confirmed the tragic loss of Josephine Peter, a nurse who died at the Hospital after testing positive for Covid19. She was yet another NHS staff member to die from this horrific disease within our Region.

26 April 2020 to 27 April 2020, a pilot mobile testing site for the Coronavirus was set up in Southport, on the Esplanade Park and Ride, next to Southport's Eco Centre.

April was a good time for wildlife and a charity, the Butterfly Conservation, launched plea to public to help measure impacts of climate change while its scientists are in lockdown.

St John Ambulance throughout the 1st lockdown provided support for the NHS, in Hospitals and at the Nightingale Hospitals, as well as providing 999 cover along the side of the North West Ambulance Service. But the charity faced increasing pressure financially, with very little support from the establishment.

Councils were warned that they could be facing a:- "tidal wave of waste of rubbish" after the lockdown, due to tips and recycling centres being closed.

Just like the younger, but better known Southport Flower Show and many other events, in April 2020, the 100th Ainsdale Show announced that would have been held on 4 July 2020 was to be postponed until 2021.

April also had an unusual request given to the public who were asked to help record a week in lockdown. Historic England wants to spark a conversation about identity and its connection to history and place.

In April 2020, it was not just education and business meetings moving online, but Miss Liverpool City Region, a Heat of Miss England Contest, was forced to move online for the very 1st time.

On Monday, 4 May 2020 the local Household Waste Recycling Centres on Merseyside re-opened. It might not have seemed a big deal, but they became so popular, security and Police had to attend many of the locations, to control the traffic.

In May, the company managing the Southport Theatre and Convention Centre announced that it had gone into liquidation. Bliss, who also oversees the Bliss Hotel in the area, had to liquidate the theatre business due to "devastating trading conditions" becoming 1 of the 1st major theatres to goes under, due to the Covid19 restrictions and lack of financial support for the arts.

In a phone interview with CEO of Rated People, Adrienne Minster we found out that the immediate impact on North West businesses of the Covid19 lockdown that the area had a 48% drop in homeowners posting jobs.

As lockdown eases, in June, McDonald's re-opened Drive-Thrus all over England. This move has resulted in large queues which are causing disbelief and traffic jams. We had reports of problems all over Merseyside! Who would have thought people would queue for hours to get a Big Mac?

The heat wave hitting the UK in June resulted in an amazing thunderstorms all over the country on 13 June 2020.   1 of those storms turned into the biggest in years to go over Merseyside.

On Saturday, 13 June 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets in Liverpool and Southport. Sam P Jalloh, an International sporting personality and Author, who lives in Southport headed over to it, with his kids and sent us coverage.

A radical eco-friendly redesign of 1 of Liverpool's most famous roads started. Excavation of the central reservation between Leeds St and Man Island began on Wednesday, 1 July 2020.

We also heard about the amazing work Formby Community Football Club was doing helping the local area over Covid19 lockdown in a video, shot just minutes after a thunder storm passed.

Southport Veterans Mark Armed Forces Day 2020 was marked by a very small attendance on Sunday, 28 June 2020. A few of Southport's Veterans and MP Damien Moore met outside Southport Town Hall.

At the end of June, bars got ready to reopen as did many other venues, but celebrations were to be very short lived.

 Sadly, lockdown easing was to bring new problems. On Wednesday, 24 June 2020, Officers seized music equipment and arrested 5 people at Formby Beach and that was just the start! On 25 June Health Secretary, Matt Hancock, has issued a warning that the UK Government has the power to close beaches after major incidents were declared at Bournemouth, by Christchurch and Poole Council, after thousands of people defied advice to stay away and descended on beaches. Many other English coastal areas have also reported that services were completely overstretched or near breaking point, including Merseyside. It led to a 48hr Section 34 Dispersal Zone being put in place, in response to the incident, which ran until 2:30pm, Friday, 26 June 2020.

We popped out on 4 July 2020 to take a look as people braved the rain and wind to visit:- hair dressers, barbers, pubs, cinemas and restaurants.


Over the 2 weeks of July a heavenly sight was streaking across the sky, but clouds meant it was hard to glimpse for many, but for those who were determined to see it, Comet Neowise made an amazing sight.

Gratifyingly, in July, Merseyside was named the best holiday spot in the North West, as Southport Travelodge has reopened along with many other Hotels.

On Monday, 20 July 2020, Elon Musk's SpaceX defied expectations as the general public and scientific community watched the Crew Dragon, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, launch on a Falcon 9 rocket toward the International Space Station (ISS). It was hoped that we could see the second pass over the UK, but for sum, like us, cloud again got in the way, or more correctly a heat haze, despite the day being sunny. This marked the 1st ever privet spacecraft to carry crew to the ISS, and with Covid19 restrictions, it meant millions where following the liftoff worldwide, for yet another 1st, online.

Also in July another online 1st happened in 2020, as the West Lancashire Yacht Club (WLYC) announced that it would hold the WLYC 24 Hour Race as an eRace, over 19 September to 20 September 2020; the very same weekend the normal race would have been held.

We will bring you Part 2 of or review of 2020 in next weekly issue.

If you have anyone you would like us to mention within Part 2, please let us know, by emailing us to:- News24@SouthportReporter.Com.

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