Year in review 2021: January, February and March

Kamala from Welwyn Garden City was also looking forward to getting her vaccination and had no hesitation in recommending...

January saw COVID-19 vaccines arrive in Welwyn Hatfield. - Credit: East and North Herts CCG

The year kicked off with the positive news that COVID-19 vaccinations would begin in our area from a central hub at the University of Hertfordshire.

Four Hatfield GP services joined the battle against the virus as they began to vaccinate patients, with more than 78,000 residents in Welwyn Hatfield now double jabbed.

Professor Quintin Mckellar, vice-chancellor at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “The University of Hertfordshire remains committed to supporting the national fight against COVID-19. The opening of a new vaccination centre on our campus, in partnership with the NHS, is an important milestone to help ensure those most at risk are protected against the disease.

“I am incredibly proud of how the university has supported the NHS and our community during the pandemic. Our staff and students have worked tirelessly, supporting and caring for the most vulnerable as well as donating health and medical supplies to those working on the frontline.”

With the country still in lockdown, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council continued to support the homeless by finding them housing – despite the Government scheme coming to an end.

A spokesperson for the council said: "At the moment the numbers are not as high as we experienced in March, however it is only a few days since the lockdown was announced by the Prime Minister last Monday.

"We are currently accommodating eight individuals in three hotels and are working to find sustainable accommodation outcomes for them.”

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The COVID-19 vaccination effort was well underway by mid-January, with more than 2,500 getting jabbed in the first two weeks of 2021.

Elsewhere, a rising star in the acting world made her big screen debut.

Summer-Rose 

Summer-Rose Churchhouse - Credit: Supplied by Christine Henderson

Summer-Rose Churchhouse from Potters Bar played Mollie in the independent film Behind Closed Doors, which follows the life of Lisa Crawford, who is living through an abusive marriage in lockdown until her best friend convinces her to seek the help she needs. 

She followed in the footsteps of her sister, Scarlet Grace, who starred in the TV series Truth Seekers, filmed in Welwyn Garden City at the Shredded Wheat Quarter, alongside Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. 

January ended with the inquest into the murder of University of Hertfordshire student Joy Morgan reaching the verdict of ‘unlawful killing’.

Joy, 20, was found in a Stevenage woodland in October 2019, with Shohfah-El Israel jailed for life with a minimum term of 17 years for her death.

February started with the tragic news of the death of Christie Frewin, who was found at her home in Lady Grove, Welwyn Garden City.

Christie Frewin sadly died on January 27, 2021.

Christie Frewin sadly died on January 27, 2021. - Credit: Herts police

Alex Staines, 30, from Upperfield, Welwyn Garden City, was charged with murdering the mother.

Christie’s family paid tribute, saying in a statement: “I’m not really sure where to begin. Christie had so many amazing qualities. She was the sweetest, most kind, loving sister, daughter and mother to her children that we could have ever asked for. 

“I love you forever and always baby girl. Until we meet again princess.”

The month also brought bad news for the elderly day care centre at Friendship House.

130 weekly users of the service were left in limbo after the charity it could not survive when it was unable to raise donations to fund its staffing and operating costs.

"We've tried to find a solution but at the end of the day it's about money," said Steve Russell, Chairman of Friendship House.

The day care centre provided everything from bingo, company, exercise classes and spiritualist groups to a chiropodist, hearing advice and advice for the elderly struggling with forms.

There was plenty of fun to be had in February too with snow falling in Welwyn Hatfield, while Knebworth Care Home resident Marjorie Broadhurst celebrated her 100th birthday, revealing ‘keeping busy’ was her secret to a long life.

Marjorie Broadhurst

Marjorie Broadhurst turned 100 in February. - Credit: Archant

March saw the easing of lockdown restrictions and the emotional reunion of care home residents and their families.

“We had some emotional reunions," said Teresa Torres, home manager at Oakview Lodge Care Home. “It was wonderful to see our residents reunited with loved ones. This has been a difficult time for all our families, the return of visitors to our home will bring a much-needed boost to wellbeing.”

There was outrage too, as Welwyn Garden City residents slammed housing plans in the Wheat Quarter and on the former BioPark site, believing them to threaten the identity of the town.

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