Review of the decade: The Havering news the Recorder brought you throughout the 2010s

PUBLISHED: 07:00 01 January 2020

A selection of front pages included in the Recorder's review of the 2010s. Pictures: Recorder Archives

A selection of front pages included in the Recorder's review of the 2010s. Pictures: Recorder Archives


Now that 2019 has drawn to a close it’s time to sit back and take a look at some of the biggest news to have come out of Havering over the last 10 years.

2010 - My 'ulcer' was a baby!

As the decade kicked off a Romford woman who was told that she would never conceive was celebrating after unexpectedly giving birth to a healthy baby in June 2010.

Lisa Witchalls, 25, of Crow Lane, had no idea she was nine months pregnant when she was rushed to Queen's Hospital, giving birth just hours later.

Lisa said: "It has taken me some time to get my head around that I am actually a mum.

"I went from being told that I would never have children, to giving birth. But the whole family is just ecstatic."

She was rushed to hospital on Sunday, June 6 after coming home from a day out with her boyfriend Dean.

Lisa was taken to the accident and emergency department.

She said: "I was just really worried because I thought that I had an ulcer, but the paramedics had told Dean that I must have been pregnant."

Hours after being told, Lisa gave birth to little baby Reece, weighing 7lb 4oz.

2011 - Praise be! Vicar's vigil saves church

A hero vicar and his parishioners, who slept in their beloved church to catch copper crooks decimating the roof, helped bag a suspect in June 2011.

The Rev Barry Hobson, organist Andrew Losq, and resident Phil Jones took it in turns to bed down in St Andrew's Church, after raiders targeted the upper roofing seven times in just two months.

The crooks had caused an estimated £20,000 of damage to the 800-year-old Grade I listed building, which will need specialist materials for repair work.

The Rev Hobson said: "I felt angry more than anything. We decided to do something ourselves when we realised we were being targeted persistently and they weren't going to stop until they had taken everything."

The group set up a rota system based on the nights the church had been attacked in the past - then waited and watched.

At 1am one morning they heard two men approaching the church and called the police. One man was arrested by another got away.

2012 - Welcome back Your Majesty!

Thousands of cheering well-wishers packed the streets in Harold Hill on Friday, October 26 2012, to welcome Her Majesty the Queen.

Residents turned out in droves hoping to catch a glimpse of the royal visitor as she came to officially open the new multi-million pound Drapers' Academy buildings, in Settle Road.

The Queen will enjoy a special lunch with students and staff. She arrived at around 12 noon and left shortly after 2.15pm.

It was the Queen's first visit to Harold Hill and only her second time ever visiting Havering - nearly a decade after her first tour of the borough in 2003.

Principal Matthew Slater said: "It's a proud moment to have a monarch visit in what is such an important year for her and a pivotal year for us."

Gloria Salter, 69, who grew up in nearby Dagnam Park Drive, said: "It is so wonderful that she's here, although it's a bit of a shame about the weather."

2013 - Baby born in supermarket

A new mum included a baby among her Tesco deliveries after staff at the Rainham Extra shop helped her give birth to her daughter when she went into labour in the store back in August 2013.

Every little helped for mum-of-three Chanelle Mackay when workers at the Bridge Road supermarket delivered her baby before an ambulance arrived.

The 25-year-old had just finished shopping with her family at about 8.30pm when her contractions began.

Chanelle, who was not due to give birth for two more weeks, was helped into a wheelchair by produce manager Natasha Hunt.

Natasha took her to wait for a first-aider, but when the contractions grew stronger, the emergency services were called.

Chanelle was taken into an office, while paramedics on the phone talked Natasha through what to do as the labour progressed rapidly.

It soon became clear the ambulance was unlikely to arrive in time, and there was about to be a rather unexpected item in the bagging area.

Sure enough, Demi Mackay was born at 9.20pm, weighing a healthy 6lbs 6oz.

2014 - Council lock-in!

Chaos descended on Havering Town Hall during the public sector strikes in July 2014 as eight councillors found themselves trapped inside the building after a meeting, setting off an alarm in the process.

Members of the individuals overview and scrutiny committee could not believe it when they attempted to leave at 10.30pm to find the doors locked and the remises "deserted" due to a security mix-up.

It followed a day of drama, due to staff striking, that included an alarm going off in reception for more than six hours and a lighting problem.

Cllr Philip Hyde, vice-chairman of the committee, said: "It was a very long meeting and when we came out the place was deserted, we went downstairs and the alarms went off.

"We went round for 20 minutes looking for doors that were open and eventually got out through a security door that wasn't locked."

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Council leader Cllr Roger Ramsey admitted the strikes had caused some minor problems.

2015 - Freddy enjoys 'new pair of legs!'

Ardleigh Green four-year-old Freddy Hazelwood walked unaided for the first time just hours after a "miracle" operation in January 2015, to the joy of his parents.

Recorder readers were among those who raised money - almost £100,000 - for the four-year-old, who has cerebral palsy, to travel to America for the life changing surgery.

His family thanked all of those who donated money to help their dream come true.

Freddy's mum Shelley said: "It was an absolute miracle.

"Me and my husband just looked at each other in complete shock that he had made so much progress in such a short amount of time.

"It was like they had given him a completely new pair of legs."

Before the operation Freddy - who was diagnosed with spastic displegia at the age of two - was forced to use his walking frame wherever he went.

But thanks to the determination of his family and the generosity of his friends, £90,850 was raised to pay for the operation.

2016 - Forget scripture, we've got Kanye

A Hornchurch church's noticeboards were going viral back in May 2016 for their surprising quotes from figures as varied as Kanye West and the Dalai Llama

The quotes are not graffiti scrawled by teenagers, but the work of 63-year-old volunteer Terry Keens.

The alternative signs, written on two blackboards outside St Andrew's Church, High Street, have been spreading joy - and occasionally causing raised eyebrows - among passersby and the congregation.

Terry, who also quotes leaders from religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism, said: "I love writing the messages on the boards. You walk by churches and they have quotes from the Bible and people don't take any notice.

"I like to mix it up.

"It doesn't matter who said it, it's about the meaning behind it. Christianity is about feeling and experiencing love."

The signs were endorsed by the church's Rev Barry Hobson.

He described the conversation-starter boards as "deliciously controversial".

2017 - You should not have to pay for this

Havering Council was calling for the borough's residents to help in the fight against fly-tipping as it revealed it was expecting to spend more than £1million on clearing dumped waste for the first time.

In early February 2017 residents near Little Gerpins Lane, Upminster, woke to find a huge skip, along with 40 to 60 tonnes of rubbish sprayed along the lane.

It was the fourth time in a week that criminals had off-loaded waste there.

A Havering Council spokesman confirmed the local authority was stepping up its enforcement actions against those who illegally dumped waste in a bid to reduce the number of fly-tips reported.

He added: "The council is looking at using all possible legal powers to tackle fly-tipping, including asking the courts to remove the driving licences from convicted fly-tippers.

"It's completely unfair that council taxpayers are footing the bill for criminals, and the more we catch the more will be fined."

2018 - Pride and no prejudice

It was an historic year for Romford as 2018 saw the town host its first ever Pride parade in July.

Rainbow flags were proudly waved at Romford Pride on Saturday as supporters marched through South Street to mark the occasion.

Drag queens, members of the community and organisations such as the Queen's Theatre led the way as onlookers continued to cheer.

Visitors on the day were also able to enjoy market stalls, music from live performers and a fun fair.

Speaking ahead of the parade, co-organiser Stephen Freeman, 25, of Romford, said: "I do want it to be an annual event that people will love but I think the LGBT+ community needs it to be.

"They have a voice but are struggling to be listened to, often going unheard, and the needs of that community is washed away with localised homophobia.

"Having Romford Pride would show residents that these people are just as much part of the community as them."

2019 - Rest in peace, Jodie

Not just Havering, but the entire country was stunned by the news that 17-year-old Dagenham Girl Scout Jodie Chesney had been stabbed to death in a Harold Hill Park on March 1, 2019.

In the immediate aftermath of her murder, Jodie's dad Peter paid tribute to his daughter as "the nicest person you'll ever know", adding: "Everything about her was good and kind."

In the weeks after the tragic incident a campaign began to honour Jodie's memory with her favourite colour, purple.

There are still purple ribbons hanging from lampposts and railings across the borough to this day.

On November 18 2019, Svenson Ong-a-Kwie, 19, of Hillfoot Road, Collier Road, and 17-year-old Aaron Isaacs from Barking were jailed for life at the Old Bailey after being found guilty of Jodie's murder.

The court heard that Jodie had been a completely innocent victim of a "tit-for-tat" drug dealing feud in Harold Hill.

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