Review of the year 2019: January brings wall-climbing ‘Spider-Gran’, cars plunging into lakes and a dramatic house fire
PUBLISHED: 11:59 23 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:59 23 December 2019
The year kicked off dramatically in Welwyn Hatfield with residents forced to spend Christmas in temporary accommodation, neighbours saving children from a house fire and a 99-year-old great-grandmother scaling a climbing wall.
Residents of Queensway House high-rise in Hatfield had to leave their homes over the festive season after the building's lift malfunctioned. Those on upper floors who could not manage 11 flights of stairs were offered alternative accommodation, and some council tenants were permanently rehoused.
More than 2,800 people signed a petition to save Gosling Sports Park from closure, and sports groups, parents and councillors gathered at a public meeting to support campaign group Save Gosling.
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Heroes Harry Hagger and Conner Martin ran into a burning building on Knella Road to help save two children and their mother from a house fire. The older children in the house had to dangle their younger brother by his feet from the window to get him down to Conner, and the two men comforted the children while waiting for the fire service to arrive.
In cheerier news, 99-year-old Hatfield resident Greta Plowman proved age is no barrier by scaling an indoor rock climbing wall at Manchester Climbing Centre, saying: "It was a thrilling experience to get to the top".
More drama occurred when a car plunged into freezing cold water at Stanborough Lakes in Welwyn Garden City, and had to be pulled out by Herts Boat Rescue. Meanwhile Welwyn Garden City resident Matthew Fathers made the front page after being sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering 31-year-old dad Andrew Mason.
On a more uplifting note, overweight dogs Archie and Coco reached the final stage in a national slimming competition, prompting one of the WHT's best rhyming headlines: 'Welwyn vets help chunky hounds lose the pounds'.
Former WHT reporter and WWII refugee Peter Zander was fondly remembered following his death at the age of 96, singer Rod Stewart made an appearance at Potters Bar Football Club, and couple Brian and Gillian Scott gave up all beverages except water for the 'ultimate' Dry January to raise money for people with cystic fibrosis.