The Highs and Lows...
Photographs by Patrick Trollope and report By Dominic Bonner
MANY events in 2002 brought much happiness and woe to us all throughout Southport and Formby. It was our second anniversary as an Internet newspaper. So now it's our chance to recall some of the most notable events of this years stories. Thank you to you all for reading.
January saw us starting off with a very large post Christmas hangover as chaos reigned on the roads with several car collisions on the Coastal road. Indeed it would seem that motorcars were very much a sore point of issue throughout the month as some of us kept crashing about our roads and bad driving was noted regularity for the following months - Whoops. Southport was also deluged with thousands of starfish on its shore. The event was described by most as rather freaky, but local coast guards said:-
"It is just nature doing its thing."
The launch of the Euro in January was to further dampen Tory party spirits with its looming takeover of our national currency. Putting the party deeper into disarray as they continue to argue over whether this country should be a part of it - Er, it's only money guys.
Reports of drug use kicked off February with a national high as statistics of cannabis use were recorded to be at record levels giving support and motivation for the pro-cannabis lobby to urge the government to act and
decriminalize the drug. Which Home Secretary David Blunkett duly noted such a report and gave it a 'C' class rating in terms of illegality.
But this followed many admissions from Labour MP's and indeed a key member of the cabinet's son caught smoking cannabis by national newspapers. Which may have had something to do with this decision being reached. No smoke without fire then?
However, the nation was again to focus on the plight of the media shy Royal family. The death of the Queen's sister, Princess Margaret, dealt a severe blow to the Queen and the already troubled royals.
Invitations were top of the agenda list of 10 Downing Street in March as the PM's wife Cherie Blair formerly invited Formby Woodlands school pupil Ruth Davidson to hob knob with the Blair's after winning a competition. Amusingly, this would not be the only prize that the PM's wife would be awarding to the people and the press this year.
Once again the troubles of the royal family were to head into sadness, as the death of the Queen mother on the Easter Saturday of April would dominate the headlines of national and local newspapers around the country for this month. April continued on a dour note as Southport was battered by heavy weather along its coastline, making it a miserable month for one and all of its residents.
Restoration was to be a major part of the month for the history of Southport. The beleaguered pier received a much-needed repair in time for the May tourist industry of the town. Indeed tourism was set to gain a further boost by the return of the Spring Flower festival.
June flourished a turning tide of good fortune and celebrations for the royal family with the Regina's rejoicing the golden Jubilee of her majesty. The public were treated to a day of rock concerts at Buckingham palace. Whilst the rest of the country, including Southport and Formby, stayed with the spirit of the festivities, revisiting an earlier bonhomie from 25 years previous by holding traditional street parties countrywide.
July and the 'silly season' launched into its usual madness with Southport and Formby going into festival frenzy. Charity events and arts festivals were among the top headlines at the Southport Reporter news desk.
But it was also a time for a political change as Southport gained a new young conservative, by the name of Mark Stuart
Bigley. The conservative party member was keen to express his views on key party issues. Only to learn that his tattered party were to hit their lowest levels of electoral support since it's founding early last century. You pay's your money - oops sore point, as long as it's not the Euro. Only to be overtaken by Charles Kennedy's party of boredom, the Lib Dems who described his party as the new opposition in British Politics. Sure, if you say so.
The first week of August emphasized the point of our sexual infidelity countrywide during national sexual awareness week. More than 33 percent of us were found to be active with Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD's) including HIV among the survey. But did we take notice? No. It would seem that party fever, the success of the Commonwealth games and the hype of Will Smith's 'Men in Black II' were to drive us to distraction.
Furthermore, trouble loomed for the government with the resignation of Education Secretary Estelle Morris on the horizon with A' level results ending in disaster for some students wanting to gain a dream ticket to university. However it would be the fiasco that ensued with the levels of incompetence of trusted marking bodies that would lead to her demise. But her blunt honesty awards her for Most Honest Politician of the year by her comment on quitting saying,
"I am just not up to the job."
September saw Southport close its season of festivals off with Sefton Council with the success of the Blues News event at Southport Arts centre. This month also saw the local newspapers gathering pace for Liverpool city council and their bid for city of culture 2008 gather momentum, with rivals Newcastle running neck and neck for the injection of European cash to improve either city.
Formby took one step closer in October to gaining their much needed swimming pool and health resort by walkers braving the elements to raise funds and re-establishing the Desert Trek walk which had been discontinued for several years. Also concerned parents were given food for thought by the HCSG by publishing a dossier of banned additives in children's foods leading to possible Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder.
Southport graced several Hollywood
celebrities at the beginning of November due to the annual Sci-fi
convention hosted by Cult TV. Celebrities such as Dirk Benedict and
Virginia Haye graced many of the thousands that flocked to the event
held at the Floral hall. Indeed it was to be a month of festivity
and anticipation for Southport, which Century 105's Paul Crone
hosted its annual Christmas lights celebrations attended by 30,000
The final month of the year was to see yet another government
scandal. Traditionally the month of December has always been a point
when the government lets its guard down. But this time it was to
prove that Cherie Blair let the presidential palace down by
interfering with home office concerning matters of deportation about
fraudster Peter Foster. A tearful delivery of apology for her
embarrassment on the PM's government and a series of questions into
her enquiries led to her being dubbed, 'the first lady of fibs' by
the national press, as her explanation frankly did not add up.
Leading to Tony heading out for the Christmas break to their Red sea
holiday resort with the Blair's needing much food for thought for
Christmas also delivered the typical high street lull of shopper's
apathy, only to devour high street bargains with queues that began
in the early hours of Boxing Day, with some camping outside their
store for 5 days in their hope to gain their ultimate post Christmas
Finally the block buster film of the year - Lord of the Rings, The
Two owners poses an interesting anecdote for us all as George Bush
heads a despot style war campaign of words against Saddam Hussain.
Despite the fact that Dubya may have strong opinions of his own and
he may not necessarily agree with them, much to the point, will any
one else agree with them? And if so, are we likely to see the
redemption of Saddam or war in the shape of 'Return of the King?'
All the best for the NEW YEAR...!