This website uses cookies. Using this website means you are okay with this but you can find out more and learn how to manage your cookie choices here.
News

The Burton Mail's review of the year: St Peter's Bridge shuts and opens, Burton Albion stay up and one little girl gets an X Factor surprise

It is safe to say that 2017 has been a memorable year, take a tour with us through some of the top stories

It's been a fantastic year in Burton and South Derbyshire, with stories which made us laugh, cry and burst with pride.

As we head into 2018, let's take a look back and reflect on some of the top news stories from the area in the last 12 months.

January

Kind-hearted fund-raisers made the start of the year a happy one for Lewis Weinman.

The eight-year-old had spent Christmas 2016 in hospital after being diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumour.

But a campaign to transform Lewis' Woodville family's falling-down shed into a "cave" he could play in raised £10,000. Tradesmen offered their service for free to do the work.

There was good news for customers of the 50s American Diner, in Church Gresley.

The John Street cafe reopened following a huge fire which broke out in the kitchen on December 3.

After a five-week clean-up and renovationcosting £40,000, the diner looked as good as new.

Barton under Needwood made national headlines for the state of its roads, which were labelled the worst for potholes in the country.

They were described as being "like the surface of the moon" after the story was picked up by national press.

Tattooists in Burton showed their support for youngster Mia Parnell, who suffers from an undiagnosed degenerative condition.

Black Pearl Studio showed its support by offering customers a special swan design in Mia's honour to raise money towards her bucket list.

Three schools had a shock when Army bomb squads turned up to dispose of a potentially-unstable chemical that was being used in chemistry lab.

There were 600 schools in the country found to be using dinitrophenylhydrazine, which is dangerous if allowed to dry out.

February

There was exciting news for commuters after Midlands Connect revealed outline plans to turn the A38 in to an expressway.

This would see the major road treated like a motorway, ensuring it was "safe, well-built and resilient".

Fly-tipping reached new heights in February after tonnes of waste was found dumped in Yoxall and Uttoxeter.

The chopped-up rubbish consisted of industrial materials, building rubble, window frames, carpets, wood, plastics and children's toys.

Getting rid of the waste in Yoxall cost the taxpayer £2,000 after contractors removed several lorries-worth of rubbish estimated to weigh 140 tonnes.

Happy couples were left fearing for their big day after Dovecliff Hall Hotel went in to administration.

Couples received a letter in the post informing them of the news, leaving many in limbo as to what was going to happen to their nuptuals.

Dovecliff Hall Hotel

Mia Parnell saw one of her dreams come true after meeting some of her favourite celebrities on Britain's Got Talent.

The schoolgirl met judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and David Walliams.

She said she was "treated like royalty" as she sat in the judges chairs.

March

Four female elephants who had made Twycross Zoo their home moved on to help ensure the long-term survival of the species.

Mimbu, Tara, Noorjahan and Esha, the all-female herd of elephants, moved to Blackpool Zoo.

Originating from the open grasslands, marshes, savannahs and tropical forests of India, Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka, the Asian elephants are classified as an endangered species.

Kathryn Smith

Kathryn Smith, who murdered her toddler daughter, saw her bid to clear her name delayed.

Smith, who murdered Ayeeshia-Jayne Smith, had been jailed for life and was told she must serve minimum of 24 years.

She appealed the conviction, but the hearing was delayed as new medical evidence came to light.

Father speaks out after Ayeeshia memorial garden vandalised

Smith later lost her appeal, but her minimum sentence was reduced to 19 years.

Following the outcome of the appeal, the serious case review relating to Ayeeshia's death was finally released.

It concluded that more could have been done to save the youngster.

Burton's Queen's Hospital

The Burton Mail saw leaked documents which confirmed plans were being drawn up for a proposed merger between Burton and Derby hospitals trusts.

It was reported that if the merger was approved, it could have a major effect on a host of clinical areas.

They included cancer and stroke care, orthopaedics, radiology and acute medicine.

The plans were designed to move some services to Derby and keep others in Burton.

The area's MPs spoke out after a terrorist mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, in London, before crashing into railings outside parliament.

A police officer died after being stabbed by the offender. At least two more people were killed and 20 others were reported injured.

April

Christina Thomas, who had attempted to take her own life, thanked mental health charity Bank House, in Swadlincote, for saving her life.

Bank House has been supporting people with mental health issues for more than 20 years.

Costa Coffee Drive-Thru, off Derby Road, Burton

It was revealed that Burton would be getting its fifth Costa Coffee shop.

The coffee chain was given permission to set up home on the car park serving Centrum East retail park, in Wellington Road.

It would join branches next to Coopers Square shopping centre entrance; in the Octagon Shopping Centre; in Tesco, on St Peter's Bridge; and a drive-thru off Derby Road. The latest Costa is yet to be built.

Marks and Spencer announced 200 job vacancies at its Castle Donington distribution hub as it prepared for a lift in summer sales.

The hub, which holds up to 16 million products across 900,000 sq ft of floor space, is one of Europe’s largest distribution facilities.

WT Parker saves jobs

Historic Burton business WT Parker Group announced it would continue its 95-year association with the town after a takeover secured its long term future – and the jobs of nearly 500 people.

The firm, which has been based at its headquarters in Moor Street since 1969, was purchased by holding firm Edwin James Holdings.

May

Football fans across the town celebrated after Burton Albion wrote another unforgettable chapter into their 67-year history by securing a second season of Championship football.

Nigel Clough's Brewers team needed a draw or win in the tense trip to Barnsley.

Luke Varney ensured it finished 1-1 and Albion were staying up.

Terrified phone shop workers who were forced to kneel in a storeroom by hooded robbers brandishing knives spoke about their nightmare ordeal.

Staff at Carphone Warehouse, in Middleway Park, Burton, told of their terror after two men wearing ski masks burst into the store.

Branston man Ian Leech set off on a mammoth bike ride in honour of his daughter Mel, who died from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2008 at the age of just 20.

Since then Ian, who is community engagement manager for St Giles Hospice, has raised thousands of pounds for charity in her memory.

This particular challenge saw him travel to 30 football stadiums, travelling more than 600 miles in the saddle in honour of football-mad Mel, who would have celebrated her 30th birthday in August.

Ian Leech at the King Power Stadium, in Leicester

Parts of Burton town centre were cordoned off and shoppers were evacuated after a suspicious package led to the bomb squad being drafted in.

Police officers, fire crews and members of the bomb squad shut down part of the town centre for almost three hours after a package, which was later found to be nothing more than a bag of rubbish, was found in Station Street.

Popular bakery Birds revealed it was closing its café in Burton, but reassured customers it was committed to improve its town store and open a shop.

The café in Burton’s high street served its last slice of toast and pot of tea after a decline in sales due to the changing nature of high street shopping, said bosses.

June

A street sign in Hilton was vandalised after residents asked for it to be renamed because it shared a name with terrorist group Isis.

Isis Way had the first word blocked out by what appeared to be black paint or spray paint, leading the street sign to just read "Way".

Staffordshire's top cop Jane Sawyers lifted the lid on 33 years of policing, as she got ready to hang up her handcuffs for good.

The Chief Constable of Staffordshire joined the force in 1984 and said she had been destined for a career in policing and would "do it all again in a heartbeat".

Isis Way in Hilton will not have its name changed

Detectives announced a major breakthrough in a 46-year-old Burton murder case that had baffled the town for decades.

They came up with a possible name for the man dubbed "Fred the Head", who was found in a shallow grave near the River Trent in 1971 after using hi-tech facial reconstruction techniques and matching dental records to missing people.

The move featured on the top TV show Crimewatch Roadshow.

The facial reconstruction image of 'Fred the Head'

A kind-hearted trio of friends from Burton spent 24 hours collecting vital supplies for those devastated by the Grenfell Tower fire in London.

Emma Oliver, Samantha Pickering and Rich Cope enlisted the help of the community to take part in a "phenomenal humanitarian mission" to help those whose lives were shattered by the high-rise tower block fire, which killed 71 people.

BBC One Crimewatch Roadshow reveals major new lead in Fred the Head murder case

Swadlincote man Adam Lamberton sparked debate when he decided to keep his children off school due to the hot weather.

When temperatures soared to 22C, he decided he did not want his children, George and Tom, to go to school at Pingle Academy, in Swadlincote.

July

Football-mad groom Rich Seagrave certainly stood out from the crowd thanks his brightly coloured black and yellow suit as he prepared to say "I do" to his fiancée, Rebecca.

The 31-year-old die-hard Brewers fan even cut into his football-themed wedding cake to the tune of the club's favourite song Start Me Up by the Rolling Stones.

The couple got hitched on the fifth anniversary of the day they met and bridesmaids wore the team's trademark yellow.

But Rebecca chose to be traditional with a white wedding dress.

Rich Seagrave with Billy Brewer

Nine-year-old Mia Parnell dreamed of meeting singing sensation Matt Terry since he first appeared on the top TV show X Factor and won the talent show in 2016.

Mia followed his success and put meeting him at the very top of her bucket list.

So when it was announced that the pop star was coming to Burton to take part in BurtonFest 2017, the Burton Mail stepped in to help make the magic happen.

After approaching the event organiser Adam Cornes, the news of the meet and greet with her idol was broken to Mia with a personal video message from the talent show winner.

August

Gizmo

Quick-thinking firefighters showed their fondness for felines after helping a stricken kitty who had become distressed after getting impaled on railings.

One-year-old Gizmo was stuck by her back leg on the spiked point of metal railings on top of a fence.

While waiting for the RSPCA and a vet, they kept the cat calm and administered oxygen using a Smokey Paws animal mask.

After treatment to the wound and stitches, Gizmo made a full recovery and was soon reunited with her owner.

Staffordshire County Council announced plans to close the main route into Burton - St Peter's Bridge in Stapenhill - for three months, to replace rusted bearings which were vital to the safety of the structure.

The news angered many residents who use the main route as part of their daily commute.

Businesses suffered losses and traffic mayhem took over the town as frustrated drivers looked for alternative routes.

September

Businesses in Burton faced a difficult month in September as shoppers avoided the town due to the continued closure of St Peter's Bridge.

The 10-week closure caused havoc for people trying to get in and out of town, meaning that many opted to do their shopping elsewhere, including in Swadlincote, Ashby or Derby.

Shop and restaurant owners in the town said they had lost out on trade.

Some even warned they were on the brink of closure due to the sudden loss of customers as the vital bridge work to replace rusted bearing went ahead to.

But many business bosses have now reported they have recovered from the difficult times and have been doing well in the lead up to the new year.

The Brewers headed to Old Trafford in their battle to stay in the Carabao Cup, but they went crashing out after a 4-1 defeat to Premier League giants Manchester United.

United looked impressive but there was a token goal for Brewers player Lloyd Dyer.

The clash came 11 years after Albion famously held United to a 0-0 draw at the Pirelli Stadium when they were four divisions below the legendary team.

United's side then included the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney.

Burton Albion came up against some big names at Old Trafford(Image: Matthew Peters/Getty Images )

Later in September, a video emerged of the abandoned car dealership in Castle Gresley, which later went viral.

The video, which showed cars from the 1980s and early 1990s covered in dust, has since been seen almost 300,000 times.

Derelict garage footage shot by the Burton Mail on September 21, 2017

October

A Burton store became the latest to be hit by ram-raiders striking in the area.

Thieves used a digger-type machine to steal the cashpoint from outside Spar in Rosliston Road, ripping it from the wall using the plant machinery.

There have been no arrests in connection to the offence.

It was announced that Burton's Queen's Hospital would be getting a £50 million-plus revamp, including a multi-storey car park and "healthcare village" within the next two years.

The village will be built on the Outwoods site, next to the hospital in Belvedere Road, with a number of old buildings being flattened to make way for the new facilities.

They are expected to be open by the end of 2019.

Burton's Queen's Hospital

The Burton Mail Business Awards were held at the Pirelli Stadium as firms from across the area battled it out to be named top dog.

The annual awards are the highlight of the business year and proved to be a success again.

Willshee's Waste and Recycling was crowned Business of the Year in a ceremony attended by top business leaders, representatives from the Burton Mail and town MP Andrew Griffiths.

November

The Burton Mail beat off stiff competition from seven other newspapers to be crowned Newspaper of the Year at this year's Midlands Media Awards.

St Peter's Bridge in Burton reopened three weeks ahead of schedule. It had been shut for 73 days for urgent repair work to replace rusted bearings.

A record-breaking 188 people slept rough in Burton to raise money and awareness of the plight of homeless people who have to do it every night.

The fund-raisers were taking part in the annual YMCA sleep-out event in the town.

Record-breaking 188 people, including four-year-old girl, brave the cold and sleep rough in Burton to raise money for the YMCA

The Burton Mail launched the fourth year of its Feed Our Families appeal, seeing the communities of Burton and South Derbyshire come together to donate food, with four vital causes being fed.

They were Burton YMCA, South Derbyshire Council for Voluntary Services (CVS), Burton's Salvation Army and The Eaton Foundation.

The food would go to food banks to help the needy, including struggling families, at Christmas.

Russell Brand Book Signing At Langan's Tea Rooms

Global comedian and Hollywood star Russell Brand paid a visit to Langan's Tea Room, in George Street, Burton, where he signed copies of his new book for fans.

Having battled his own drug problems, he hailed the work of Burton Addiction Centre as "wonderful".

Burton MP Andrew Griffiths faced a barrage of criticism after admitting he heckled Jeremy Corbyn about his age during the Budget debate in the House of Commons.

But he said quotes attributed to him suggesting the Labour leader should go into care were "wrong".

December

The streets of Burton were covered in the white stuff(Image: Alex Cantrill-Jones/ACJ Media )

Residents of Burton and South Derbyshire woke up to a surprise blanket of snow on December 10, with mayhem ensuing on the roads.

The weather caused most of the area's schools to close for at least one day.

Burton man Tom Voyce was named as the winner of Sky Arts Landscape Artist of the Year for 2017.

Organisers hailed Small Business Saturday as a huge success after encouraging shoppers to head to the independent businesses in Burton.

People were urged to don their coats and go into town to shop.

Stores in Burton enjoy a bumper Small Business Saturday - but it doesn't end there!

East Staffordshire’s golden boy of the pool Adam Peaty finished fifth in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award with 63,739 votes – more than 3,000 more votes than F1 star Lewis Hamilton.

Organisers of the annual YMCA sleep-out event in Burton revealed the record-breaking total that was raised by the 188 people who slept rough for one night.

The total of £38,472.03 is the highest in the nine years the sleep-out has existed.

Show more

On Christmas Day, there was some festive magic at Queen's Hospital in Burton, as an amazing seven women gave birth.

One of the new mothers was called Santa – Santa Eglite, a Latvian woman who now lives in Burton.

View full mobile page