Review of the Year 2019: April brings vandalism, arson and Eastenders stars to Welwyn Hatfield

PUBLISHED: 11:58 26 December 2019

Debenhams in Welwyn Garden City is confirmed to close in 2020. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

Debenhams in Welwyn Garden City is confirmed to close in 2020. Picture: Charlotte McLaughlin.

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April began with tragedy after one person was found dead following a fire in WGC, but brightened up later with passersby saving a man from cardiac arrest and a campaign to clean up Hatfield.

The Old Town litter pick team during the Clean Up Hatfield spring campaign. Picture: suppliedThe Old Town litter pick team during the Clean Up Hatfield spring campaign. Picture: supplied

Firefighters battled a blaze at a house in Oaktree Garth for more than three hours in the early morning, but sadly a body was found inside.

Another fire, this time arson, left a caravan a burnt-out husk, and on the University of Hertfordshire campus a McLaren car - costing between £126,000 and £150,000 - spontaneously went up in flames.

Footsteps 123 Nursery at the Jim MacDonald Centre in Hatfield was reportedly trashed by children aged between 10 and 12, who broke in and caused an estimated £4,000 worth of damage to the nursery garden.

Nursery manager Amy Payne described the vandalism as "gutting", but praised how the community rallied around to raise money for repairs.

Floral tributes left outside the house on Oaktree Garth after a fire there last week. Picture: DANNY LOOFloral tributes left outside the house on Oaktree Garth after a fire there last week. Picture: DANNY LOO

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Meanwhile Debenham's in WGC announced that it would close in 2020, along with 21 other branches across the country. Labour parliamentary candidate Rosie Newbigging described the closure as a "devastating blow" to the town centre, while one member of the public said: "It's a shame but no surprise, every visit was a disappointment."

However the month was not all bad, as Mike Buzzacott thanked passersby who saved his life after he had a cardiac arrest outside the Campus West cinema in WGC. A nearby couple ran to Mike's aid, while a cinema staff member dialled 999 and brought out a defibrillator.

Mike said: "The people who helped at the time were the difference between life and death."

Mike Buzzacott and his wife are grateful for the intervention of police and the public to save his life when he had a cardiac arrest. Picture: supplied by Mike BuzzacottMike Buzzacott and his wife are grateful for the intervention of police and the public to save his life when he had a cardiac arrest. Picture: supplied by Mike Buzzacott

EastEnders stars descended upon Birdcage Bridal Boutique in Panshanger, with actors Natalie Cassidy, Shona McGarty, Maisie Smith and Zack Morris filming at the shop - which was renamed 'Valerie's Veils' for the production.

More than 150 bags of litter were collected all over Hatfield as part of the Clean Up Hatfield Spring Campaign, with more than 125 volunteers taking part.

Finally Anson Court care home resident and former classical opera singer Elsie Hannah was visited by Connaught Opera, who put on a special performance of Victorian Vignettes for the residents.


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