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Review of 2012: From the Jubilee to man who listens to trees

By Crawley News  |  Posted: December 29, 2012

  • DIAMOND OF A DAY: Emelia-Rose Mason and Kira Brooks at a Jubilee party in Maidenbower

  • BIG PAYMENT: Jennifer Millar-Smith was paid £1,133 for attending one meeting

  • REASON TO DANCE: Parkwood Leisure took over The Hawth and promised that events such as the Mela would not be scrapped

  • STAYING UNDER COUNCIL CONTROL: Nikki Menezes and a pancake tortoise at Tilgate Nature Centre

  • INSPIRATIONAL: Soldier Jay Baldwin overcame horrific injuries to get back in the gym

  • VETERAN POLITICIAN: Bert Crane stood down after 58 years representing Crawley residents

  • HAPPY EVER AFTER: William and Marilyn Buttigieg said they had proved wrong those who doubted their relationship would last

  • I'M NOT BARKING: Alex Metcalf with his tree-listening device

  • REVISION ROW: Police were called to remove Jamie Gagliardi from Ifield Community College

  • DESTRUCTION: Angela Rayment surveys all that was left of her farm

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FOOD retail giant Nestlé announced it would be saying cheerio to its Croydon home after 48 years there and moving to Manor Royal. The move was hailed by business leaders across Crawley as a huge boost for the local economy. Most of the firm's estimated 840 head office staff moved with the company. Nestlé eventually moved into 1 City Place in October, with Olympic heroes Tom Daley and Matthew Pinsent invited along for a tour of the offices.

THE News revealed that councillor Jennifer Millar-Smith was paid more than £1,100 for attending a meeting which lasted just two hours and 23 minutes.

Mrs Millar-Smith received the pay-out for chairing a scrutiny panel despite the fact it was disbanded after one short meeting.

There was no suggestion Mrs Millar-Smith had done anything wrong by claiming the money but it led to calls for allowances to be reviewed. The council has since voted to restrict the number of "special responsibility allowances" members can claim.

Mrs Millar-Smith announced she would be donating the sum, £1,133, to charity.

THE council announced that The Hawth theatre would be managed by an outside company. Parkwood Leisure would take over the reins on February 1, with the announcement following nearly 18 months of speculation.

Concerns over the future of popular community events organised by The Hawth such as Crawley International Mela, were quelled when Parkwood declared they would still be run. Since the takeover a brand new cinema has opened at The Hawth, run by Curzon. The council still owns the theatre but by outsourcing its management it hopes to save £2.53 million over ten years.

CRAWLEY Borough Council turned down a £3 million offer of investment and decided to retain control of Tilgate Nature Centre.

The council made the move after a passionate Facebook campaign by residents to stop parts of Tilgate Park being "privatised". Drusillas wanted to turn the popular attraction into a wildlife park, similar to its zoo in East Sussex.

Then in September it was revealed that the nature centre was set to fall £50,000 short of its expected income for the year.

Drusillas' managing director Laurence Smith said he was still interested in running the centre if the council chose to change its mind.

DISAPPOINTED schoolchildren still had to go to school despite ten centimetres of snow covering the town on February 4 and 5.

As temperatures plunged below zero, Crawley seemed to cope far better than when heavy snow brought the town to a virtual standstill the previous winter.

But not one school was closed on the Monday.

SOLDIER Jay Baldwin was left fighting for his life after being injured in an explosion in Afghanistan. He was flown back to the UK after emergency surgery at Camp Bastion. Jay was getting ready to tackle a group of insurgents when he stepped on an improvised explosive device, losing both his legs.

Despite his horrific injuries, the determined 27-year-old refused to be downbeat, was given prosthetic legs and later in the year was back in the gym working on his fitness.

A HORSHAM councillor angered Crawley politicians after comparing part of our borough to a "shanty town".

Roy Cornell made the jibe at a Horsham District Council meeting. Referring to part of a report that criticised Horsham's ability to compete with towns like Crawley, he said: "Crawley? In one part of Crawley it's like a shanty town. I don't think Horsham has very much to worry about there."

Claire Denman, Crawley Borough Council's cabinet member for economic development, said the comment was born out of "ignorance".

Cllr Cornell later apologised, saying that his choice of words was "regrettable".

THE News revealed that more than £1,000 of taxpayers' money was spent on flowers for the mayor's civic ball.

The event raised just £2,500 for charity, leading critics to question the extravagance.

The then mayor Carol Eade admitted she had no idea how much the ball was costing.

It was later revealed that the entire cost of the event was about £7,300, with just £2,600 recouped through ticket sales.

And new mayor Keith Blake announced earlier this month that the event was to be scrapped in favour of a more modest affair.

VETERAN councillor Bert Crane announced he would be stepping down after 58 years. The West Green councillor, who was first elected in 1954, won every single election he stood in until standing down.

Mr Crane represented Crawley residents on Horsham Rural District Council and Crawley Urban District Council before the borough council was formed. He was subsequently given the freedom of the borough on November 30 for his long service. Mr Crane declared that he was "looking forward to sleeping more".

THE most successful manager in Crawley Town's history sensationally quit the club as it stood on the brink of promotion to League One.

Steve Evans, who in five years guided the team from the foot of the Conference to the brink of League One, left for Rotherham United in April. Evans said he believed the South Yorkshire club had better long-term prospects.

Fans were shocked to hear the news but any fears of a downturn in fortunes were dispelled when the Reds subsequently gained promotion, while Rotherham stayed in League Two.

AN alarm went off on a plane, causing it to make an emergency landing at Gatwick Airport, during which 15 people were injured.

The passengers were hurt while using the emergency inflatable chutes once the plane had landed.

A Virgin Atlantic spokesman said the company would review the safety of the slides.

There were 14 suspected fractures among the 304 passengers who were evacuated.

It was later found that although the alarm had gone off there was no actual danger to the plane.

A COUPLE with a 29-year age gap, who were disowned by their families when they married, declared that they had proved their doubters wrong when they celebrated their third wedding anniversary.

Marilyn and William Buttigieg, who had started dating in secret when she was 45 and he was just 16, toasted three years of being happily married on April 23.

When the couple first married, they suffered taunts in the street of "paedo" and "granny grabber".

The pair jetted off to the Maldives for their anniversary after speaking to the News about their unusual love story.

A PENSIONER lost her house, 13 dogs, eight cats and an entire aviary of birds in a fierce fire.

Angela Rayment had just finished spring-cleaning her farmhouse, in Capel Road, Rusper, when, having popped out for 90 minutes, she returned home to find the blaze destroying the building.

Nearly 40 firefighters battled the fire which started near a wood burner.

It was not known whether the fire was caused by an electrical fault or by the wood burner not going out.

CRAWLEY Town secured back-to-back promotions with an away win at Accrington Stanley on the last day of the season.

A second half strike by Scott Neilson saw the Reds win 1-0 and the final whistle sparked jubilant scenes with fans mobbing players on the pitch.

The third and final automatic promotion spot was clinched even after former manager Steve Evans had left the club with six games left to manage Rotherham.

Promotion proved to be the perfect end to another dramatic season which saw the team again reach the fifth round of the FA Cup before losing to Stoke City.

TV cameras visited the town for one of the messiest ever episodes of the hit cooking show Come Dine With Me.

The Oaks Primary teacher Chris McGivern, polygraph examination consultant Bruce Burgess, care worker Kerry Gates and sing-language interpreter Carly Buckle rustled up a show to remember.

The cooking took a back seat with building tensions between Chris and Bruce quickly becoming the focus.

Chris was left red-faced after Bruce tricked him into believing his night had a toga party theme, resulting in him being the only guest dressed in a Roman outfit.

THOUSANDS of residents defied the wet weather to raise their glasses over a long weekend to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. More than 20 street parties were held in every corner of the town, while 2,000 people attended a three-day musical festival on Southgate Playing Fields.

A world record for the most people wearing paper crowns for ten minutes at the same time was broken at a party at Broadfield Community Centre and the national anthem was performed on an electric guitar from the roof The Royal Oak pub in Ifield.

POLICE were called to Ifield Community College to remove a student who was attempting to revise for an exam.

Jamie Gagliardi was barred from entering the school after a dispute over revision sessions for his A levels.

He defied the ban and when he went to use the computers in the school's library the police were called.

The teenager wasn't charged with anything but his mum was called to pick him up. Police were called back to the school a week later after a 14-year-old boy swore at a teacher and allegedly threatened to break his jaw.

He was released without charge.

AN inventor insisted he was not barking when he arrived in Crawley to showcase his tree-listening device. Alex Metcalf has developed a unique piece of equipment that picks up the sounds of a tree pulling water from its roots and up to its leaves.

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