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The Olympic Torch, the Diamond Jubilee and a visit from the Queen herself, 2012 was a memorable year in Havering for many reasons. Ian Weinfass looks back at some of the year’s highlights from the Recorder.

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The Queen and Pyrgo Priory Pupils in Harold Hill. PICTURE: Paul BennettThe Queen and Pyrgo Priory Pupils in Harold Hill. PICTURE: Paul Bennett

JANUARY: In January the Recorder highlighted the disturbing gulf between the haves and have-nots of Havering’s children.

More than a third of youngsters in the Gooshays ward, which encompasses the Harold Hill Estate, live beneath the bread line, charity Campaign to End Child Poverty revealed – more than 10 per cent higher than the national average.

Meanwhile just three per cent of youngsters in Upminster face the same scenario.

1st Battallion Royal Anglian Regiment parade through Romford town centre. PICTURE: Paul Bennett1st Battallion Royal Anglian Regiment parade through Romford town centre. PICTURE: Paul Bennett

FEBRUARY: In February it was revealed that Havering school children were among the least ambitious when it came to applying for places at Oxford and Cambridge universities.

Only 15 secondary pupils from Dagenham and Rainham had applied to Oxbridge the previous year, the lowest of all 68 London Parliamentary constituencies.

Romford was also in the bottom ten.

Chinese pianist Lang Lang carries the Flame in The Queen's Green, Hornchurch. PICTURE: Carmen ValinoChinese pianist Lang Lang carries the Flame in The Queen's Green, Hornchurch. PICTURE: Carmen Valino

MARCH: Have-a-go hero Upminster mum Denise Marley was rewarded for her bravery in March after she had tackled a robber and pinned him to the ground until police arrived.

The 48-year-old was presented with a certificate from the High Sheriff of Essex, for helping to bring the crook to justice.

APRIL: After the Recorder highlighted the story in April, Barry Monaghan’s heroics were picked up by news websites around the world.

Jubilee party revellers in Rutland Drive, Hornchurch. Picture: Ian WeinfassJubilee party revellers in Rutland Drive, Hornchurch. Picture: Ian Weinfass

The Hornchurch man, 60, battled a carjacker, holding on as the thief tried to shake him off at speeds of 80mph through the countryside.

MAY: In May, the army moved in to a Collier Row tower block to prepare to act as an observation base during the London Olympics.

The Ministry of Defence used Highfield Towers, in Hillrise Road, use the block for the duration of the Games, but did not station missiles there.

Steve Walker, was found safe and well after going missing in the Brecon Beacons (photo: BBC Wales)Steve Walker, was found safe and well after going missing in the Brecon Beacons (photo: BBC Wales)

JUNE: An appeal in June to help pay for the funeral of a young father from Harold Hill was successful.

Luke Harwood, 18, was found dead with head injuries at the end of May. His family appealed for help as they could not afford to give him the burial they wanted to.

The Mayer Funeral Home met most of the costs of his funeral after reading the story in the newspaper.

Five people are due to stand trial for his murder in January.

Also in June, thousands across Havering celebrated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee at street parties.

JULY: Hundreds of thousands of people turned out to take their once in a lifetime opportunity of seeing the Olympic Torch in Havering in July.

The torch travelled through Romford, Hornchurch and Rainham five days before the London 2012 Olympics kicked off.

AUGUST: In August Romford fitness trainer Steve Walker exclusively told the Recorder about the ordeal he went through when he went missing in a Welsh mountain range.

The 34-year-old endured a landslide, being swept down a river and trekking eight miles with a number of injuries.

SEPTEMBER: In September it was announced that the Queen would be visiting Harold Hill for the first time.

The next month, 1,000 turned out to see Her Majesty officially opened the new Drapers Academy building in Settle Road.

It was the Monarch’s second visit to Havering since she assumed the throne.

OCTOBER: For the first time in its 75-year history, St George’s Hospital in Hornchurch was completely emptied, following a Legionella scare.

The Suttons Lane hospital – which had already been earmarked for possible refurbishment or closure – saw its patients transferred to other centres.

At the end of 2012 no patients had returned to the site.

NOVEMBER: Hundreds turned out to see The Royal Anglian Regiment proudly march through Romford town centre in November after their return from Afghanistan.

But The Bull Pub, in Market Place, faced a national backlash after a member of staff refused to serve a group after the march.

A spokesman for the pub apologised and said it had been a mistake.

DECEMBER: In December, haunting images of Romford holidaymaker Shane Virmani’s final moments emerged.

The 26-year-old drowned in August in a hotel swimming pool in Crete.

It had been believed that he had drunkenly fallen into the water, but CCTV footage revealed that Shane, who couldn’t swim, was dragged into the pool.

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