Part two of our highlights from 2013

Storm surge aftermath. Flood damaged cars in the car park at VVV.
Storm surge aftermath. Flood damaged cars in the car park at VVV.

In the second part of our review of 2013, Guardian reporter Gayle Rouncivell looks back at the stories that made the news between July and December.


A man lost at sea wrote about his fear of drowning before embarking on a voyage across treacherous waters.

Matt Wootton, 35, was on board a 70ft wooden schooner called Nina when a storm hit between New Zealand and Australia.

It is believed the boat sank quickly in the storm.

Consultation is to be held by Lancaster City Council into the possibile closure of Skerton High School.

The school was given an Ofsted category of ‘serious weaknesses’ in June.

Council officers blamed the proposals on low roll numbers and poor performance.

Parents vowed to fight the plans.

A pizza counter worker won £1m on the Euromillions lottery.

Carnforth mum-of-two Gail Colledge, 53, used loose change in her pocket to buy the winning ticket.


A man was killed and his girlfriend critically injured in a double stabbing art a caravan park.

Adam Stirrup, 28, a driver for Stagecoach based at the firm’s depot in lancaster, died after receiving multiple stab wounds in the attack at Stud Farm Holiday Park in Heysham.

His partner Katrina Rodrum, 26, was stabbed in the nec, abdomen and back.

Opponents blasted a ‘proliferation’ of wind turbines along the M6 after planners gave the thumbs up to two new developments.

New structures will be built near Burton services and at Nether Kellet.

A former football social club looks set to be redeveloped as a homeless hostel.

Housing association Adactus is on the verge of completing a deal to buy the Dolly Blue Tavern at Lancaster City FC’s Giant Axe ground from owner Prospect Estates.

The news comes as plans for another 130 new affordable homes in the district were revealed by Lancaster City Council as it takes action to cut waiting lists for social housing.


The cost of the Heysham-M6 link road has increased by £1.3m as the district waits for a judge’s verdict.

Justice Turner heard the legal challenge against the decision to grant permission for the road in July and is yet to make a decision.

Plans for housing at the former Moor Hospital site are given the green light.

The first phase of work at the listed building includes the conversion of the Annexe building to 34 homes with car parking.

The troubled trust which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary has met just seven of 40 recommendations made after a critical report of its Accident and Emergency unit.

Care Quality Commission chiefs said there was “still a great deal of work” needed to make services safer and more effective at UHMBT.

Lancaster student Ebrahim spoke out about Britain’s failure to help his war-ravaged homeland Syria, the country where his 18-year-old cousin was killed during the uprising.

The Ripley pupil said his family had been forced to flee to Turkey to escape the carnage.


Cosmetics company Lush is supporting campaigners against the Heysham-M6 link road. The firm, which has a shop in Lancaster, said it had given funding to Transport Solutions for Lancaster and Morecambe to pay for expert advice and representation.

The company said it was “proud” to be involved in the campaign.

Lancaster Catholic priest Canon Stephen Shield appeared in court prior to a trial.

He is accused of three counts of indecent assaulting a male in the 1990s.

Shield, 53, was dean at Lancaster Cathedral in St Peter’s Road, Lancaster.

Retired postman Robin Bamber, 50, was praised by police after helping to put a burglar behind bars after spotting he was wearing gloves on a hot day and taking a photograph.

The sharp-eyed father-of-two took two pictures of Matthew Taylor in the street the morning after he broke into his next door neighbour’s home while they slept.

Taylor, 27, of Alexandra Road in Morecambe, was jailed for three years at Preston Crown Court after admitting two burglaries.

An 18-year-old student was raped in a Lancaster nightclub just three days after arriving in the city.

The teenager was pushed into a toilet cubicle at the Sugarhouse nightclub during a ‘Freshers’ night event for new students.

A pupil at under threat Skerton High school said the school helped turn her life around after she tried to kill herself.

The 13-year-old said she was so badly bullied at her former school that she self harmed and tried to take her own life.


We launched our Save Our Hospice campaign, which aims to raise £500,000 to help keep St John’s Hospice in Lancaster open and helping the community.

A man was hospitalised after being attacked with a machete in his own home. The 45-year-old was slashed at his flat at Captains Row, Skerton, by two suspects who ransacked his apartment.

Police said the incident was a targeted attack and reassured residents that such crimes were rare in Lancaster.

New police powers will be used on Lancaster’s Ridge estate following a big increase in anti-social behaviour.

The powers will enable police to “disperse” groups of two or more people away from Ridge Square if they are behaving in an anti-social manner causing alarm, harassment or distress to others.

The measures, which are currently under consultation but which are expected to be brought in soon, are the result of a “significant increase” in complaints from residents over the last year.


Lancaster’s market hall is set to become the city’s biggest retail store under new £10m plans to redevelop it.

London-based Allied Lancaster Ltd, owner of Marketgate Shopping Centre, is seeking permission to create a 40,000 sq ft two-storey unit for an “anchor tenant”, which will see the part demolition of the former indoor market in Common Garden Street.

Rumours that clothing giant Primark could be that anchor tenant have so far been unconfirmed.

Three members of staff from Hillcroft Nursing Home in Slyne were found guilty of physically abusing eight dementia sufferers at a Preston Crown Court trial. A jury heard that they “mocked, bullied and assaulted” them for laughs when they were “bored”. Katie Cairns, 27, of Riverview Court, Morecambe, team leader Carol Ann Moore, 54, of Ripon Avenue, Lancaster, and Gemma Pearson, 28, of Hill Street, Carnforth, were all involved in the trial.

A fourth carer, Darren Smith, 35, of Howgill Avenue, Lancaster, previously admitted abusing eight residents.

The charges related from May 2010 to September 2011.

All four were convicted of the ill-treatment and wilful neglect of a person with lack of capacity under the Mental Capacity Act.

They will be sentenced on January 10 and face possible jail terms of up to five years.

Lancastrians joined the rest of the world in reflecting on the death of former South African president Nelson Mandela. A book of remembrance was set up on a stall in Market Square, Lancaster, after the anti-apartheid hero died aged 95.

Lancashire’s new bishop, the Rt Rev Julian Henderson, led the county’s tributes and remembered a 2010 visit to Robbin Island, where Mandela was imprisoned for sabotage after campaigning for equal rights.

A violent storm battered the district, causing damaged buildings, trees, cars and coastal areas and leading to a massive clear-up operation.

Dalton Square in Lancaster had to be closed so that the city council’s tree surgeons could deal with damaged trees, and Williamson Park and Happy Mount Park also had to close for a short time.

Raging seas tore apart a car park and flooded a leisure club at Hest Bank. Tarmac was ripped to pieces, boulders were washed ashore, cars floated on the violent waters, the gym’s swimming pool was flooded with seawater and people were trapped inside the VVV Health and Leisure Club.