Loughborough Echo

Review of the year

From covid variants and royal controvers­y to sporting highs and lows, TED HENNESSEY looks back at 2021


DESPITE moving into the second year of living with the coronaviru­s pandemic, optimism was in the air as the UK’s second vaccine against Covid-19, developed by OxfordAstr­aZeneca, was rolled out.

As the months went by, more people received their first, second and booster jabs. However, early in January, England was placed into its third national lockdown, as the number of new daily confirmed cases surpassed 60,000 for the first time.

On the back of this, schools were shut and GCSE and A-level exams in England were replaced by teacher assessment­s.

As this occurred, dozens of care home residents were among people evacuated to safety after Storm Christoph brought heavy rain and flooding to parts of northern England and Wales, while WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange won his fight to avoid extraditio­n to the United States.

February saw the death of charity fundraiser Captain Sir Tom Moore at the age of 100.

It came as Public Health England (PHE) began investigat­ing strains of coronaviru­s which first arose in Kent. The E484K mutation, also present in the South African variant, was found in at least eight postcode areas of England.

Elsewhere, it was ruled that Shamima Begum could not return to the UK to pursue an appeal against the removal of her British citizenshi­p.

However, the news cycle in February and the following few months would be dominated by the royal family after the Duke of Edinburgh was admitted to hospital, while the Duke and Duchess of Sussex announced they would no longer be working members of the family.

In March, Harry and Meghan took part in their controvers­ial TV interview with Oprah Winfrey, during which the duchess accused a member of the royal family of making a racist comment about Archie, before revealing she had suicidal thoughts.

The fallout of the interview saw Buckingham Palace react by saying it was taking their claims “very seriously”.

As the story rumbled on, police were searching for missing 33-yearold Sarah Everard, before discoverin­g her body in Kent woodland.

Serving Metropolit­an Police officer Wayne Couzens was arrested and charged with her murder and a vigil was held, leading to clashes between attendees and police. A one-minute silence was held on March 23 to mark a year since the pandemic began, days before MPs voted to extend emergency Covid-19 powers by six months.

April saw the death of Prince Philip at Windsor Castle at the age of 99. His funeral was held over a week later, with emotional scenes showing the Queen sitting alone in St George’s Chapel.

Football fans across the nation were left outraged as 12 football clubs, including the “big six” from the Premier League, agreed to join a new breakaway European Super League, bringing condemnati­on from Uefa, Fifa and

Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Protests took place and following the backlash, all six English clubs withdrew days later.

It came as scientists warned of a new variant originatin­g in India, prompting the Prime Minister to cancel a scheduled trip to the country.

P ic tu re s emerged in June of Health Secretary Matt Hancock kissing an aide in his office.

Mr Hancock was replaced by

Sajid Javid after leaving the role a day later. However, as the sun began to shine, the sporting world started to dominate headlines, with England beginning what would be a historic run in the delayed Euro 2020 championsh­ips. The Three Lions, marched all the way to the final at Wembley Stadium, beating Germany along the wa5.

A close match in July against Italy saw England pushed into a tense penalty shootout, which ended in heartbreak.

The royal family was back in the headlines that month as Jeffrey Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre started legal action against the Duke of York for allegedly sexually assaulting her when she was a teenager. September saw a sporting fairy tale as 18-year-old Emma Raducanu became the first British woman to win a grand slam singles title since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977, as she stormed to victory in the US Open.

Later that month, Wayne Couzens, 48, was handed a whole life sentence over the death of Ms Everard.

But it was shortages which dominated the headlines, as concerns rose over a lack of HGV drivers and a shortage of fuel at petrol stations, leading to panic-buying among consumers.

Over this month and the following few, Insulate Britain carried out road-blocks across the UK, sparking clashes with motorists and police.

As autumn arrived, so did tragedy, Conservati­ve MP Sir David Amess died after being stabbed multiple times at a meeting with constituen­ts in Essex. Ali Harbi Ali, 25, was charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism.

The Queen missed a number of events – including Cop26, Remembranc­e Sunday and the General Synod service – as doctors advised her to rest.

On Remembranc­e Sunday a suspected terrorist blew himself up outside Liverpool Women’s Hospital, raising the UK terror threat level to severe.

That week also saw Azeem Rafiq appear before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee to share his emotional and explosive experience of racism in cricket.

In the Channel, 27 people died after a boat capsized while travelling to England. The incident led to political tension between the UK and France.

The emergence of the Omicron variant sparked fears over another Christmas with restrictio­ns in place.

Its discovery meant an introducti­on of travel restrictio­ns and the need to wear face masks in shops and on public transport.

In December December, 32-year-old Emma Tustin was jailed for life for the murder of six-year-old Arthur LabinjoHug­hes after she cruelly abused, starved and poisoned him.

His father, Thomas Hughes, 29, was found guilty of his manslaught­er.

Meanwhile, allegation­s of rule-breaking festivitie­s in the run-up to Christmas 2020 plagued Downing Street one year on.

Leaked footage from No 10’s £2.6 million press briefing room showed former press secretary Allegra Stratton laughing as she appeared to rehearse answers to questions over a lockdown-busting Christmas party.

Ms Stratton resigned over the furore.

Mr Johnson also faced questions over whether he misled his ministeria­l standards adviser during an investigat­ion into the funding of lavish refurbishm­ents to his flat in No 11.

In the middle of the political drama, Mr and Mrs Johnson announced the birth of their second child, a baby girl.

 ?? ?? The Sarah tory Everard vigil The Queen een at The Duke of Edinburgh’s gh’s funeral Gareth Southgate consoles England’s Jadon Sancho Allegra Stratton laughs about a Downing Street party during lockdown Emma Radacanu hoists the American Open tennis trophy
The Sarah tory Everard vigil The Queen een at The Duke of Edinburgh’s gh’s funeral Gareth Southgate consoles England’s Jadon Sancho Allegra Stratton laughs about a Downing Street party during lockdown Emma Radacanu hoists the American Open tennis trophy
 ?? ?? Harry and Meghan talk to Oprah
Harry and Meghan talk to Oprah
 ?? ?? Storm Christoph caused flooding
Storm Christoph caused flooding
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 ?? ?? Boris Johnson watches the vaccine roll out in January
Boris Johnson watches the vaccine roll out in January
 ?? ?? SLAIN: Sir David Amess MP
SLAIN: Sir David Amess MP
 ?? ?? TRAGIC: Arthur Labinjo -Hughes
TRAGIC: Arthur Labinjo -Hughes
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