IT has been a busy year with ups and downs, with everything from continued Covid restrictions to big names performing at Castle Park.

Here is a summary highlighting the main stories of the year from January to June.


A MURDER probe was launched after the stabbed body of Mary Wells, 21, was found in Greenstead, Colchester.

Police were called to the home in Laing Road.

Adam Butt, 21, was charged with murder but denied it.

However, at a later court hearing Butt admitted manslaughter on the basis of diminished responsibility.

The court heard a jury trial could still proceed on the murder charge, but discussions between the Crown Prosecution Service and Butt’s defence team have continued.

Butt, of Laing Road, remains remanded at a psychiatric hospital.

Mary was an American citizen and was believed to have travelled to the UK on a sixmonth visa.

An inquest at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court heard she had come to see a man she had met online.

A fundraising page, set up to help Mary’s grieving family with the process of transporting her body home, said: “Mary had a tough couple of years. She lost her mum due to health problems and lost her grandmother, who took care of her after her mum died two years ago.”

  • RESIDENTS were left fuming after their village was named as one of the worst places to live in England.

Jaywick was ranked the eighth worst place by the satirical website, I Live Here.

It claimed a ‘record-breaking’ 125,681 people voted.

But ward councillor Dan Casey said he was “disgusted” by the website’s article.

  • A DELIGHTED family from Colchester won £10,000 on ITV’s Family Fortunes.

Gazette: Michael Baah, girlfriend Kate Mills, and her family won £10,000 on the TV quiz show Family Fortunes Photo by ITVMichael Baah, girlfriend Kate Mills, and her family won £10,000 on the TV quiz show Family Fortunes Photo by ITV

Michael Baah, 34, girlfriend Kate Mills, her mum, Gill, and two dads John Mills and Bradley Mace, planned to split the winnings and buy flights to New Zealand.


IT was confirmed that Mistley Quay would finally be set free after more than a decade of campaigning by residents.

The Supreme Court dismissed an appeal by port owner TW Logistics, which challenged the validity of the quay being registered as a village green.

A 1.8-metre high metal fence was put up by the company in 2008 after the Health and Safety Executive raised concerns that people could fall into the water.

It sparked years of legal wranglings with quayside resident Ian Tucker challenging the move for obstructing locals’ right to enjoy the quay and its views of the River Stour.

Following a ten-day public inquiry in 2014 Essex County Council agreed to register part of the picturesque waterfront, which had been used by dog walkers and residents for decades, as a village green.

The Supreme Court finally dismissed the last of three appeals by the port owner and upheld the village green registration.

  •  IT’S not every day someone finds a cannabis farm when searching for a new home, especially when the potential buyer is a police officer.

But that was what happened when an off-duty police officer made the discovery in a house they were viewing in the Colchester district.

Following this, officers from the town’s community policing team executed a warrant at the house and confirmed there was a “fairly large” cannabis grow in the garage.

Read more >> Off duty police officer finds cannabis factory in house for sale

The discovery turned out to be about £20,000 worth of the Class B drug’s plants.

Police said the occupant would be spoken to in relation to cannabis cultivation offences.


BEACH hut owners were given a slap on the wrist and reminded of the lockdown restrictions after coronavirus marshals caught them enjoying the sunshine.

Tendring Council’s community ambassadors spent a weekend patrolling seafronts alongside police and came across a group of people sitting outside a beach hut.

They were issued with a notice.

  • MULTI-million pound plans to turn an “eyesore” derelict bus garage in Colchester town centre into new business units were approved.

Colchester Council’s plans will see at least 12 digital and creative workspaces created over four floors inside the former First depot, in Queen Street. Plans also include a café and an arcade-style walkthrough from Queen Street to a new public square behind.

  • HEAVY winds destroyed the roof of a historic town centre building which is home to popular café, Jenkins.

Overnight gales caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage to the roofs of two properties in St John’s Street, Colchester.

  • CHILDREN in primary and secondary schools began returning to the classroom as part of the first stage of the easing of lockdown.

But the “big bang” approach came under-fire from unions and parents.


RELIEVED couple Romea Cafasso and David Thompson were staggered when their pet dog - who went missing in a blizzard - was found more than 40 miles away.

Eleven year-old toy poodle, Jet, was returned home to Ardleigh after being missing for six weeks.

Gazette: Romea Cafasso was reunited with Jet more than 40 miles from home in Basildon Picture:Basildon Dogs TrustRomea Cafasso was reunited with Jet more than 40 miles from home in Basildon Picture:Basildon Dogs Trust

The family feared the worst after their pooch became lost in Storm Darcy.

A massive search effort was launched on social media, boosted by the support of residents, to try to track down Jet.

Six weeks past but then Jet was discovered 40 miles away in Basildon.

  • VISITS by Prince Philip to north Essex were remembered after he died aged 99.

Each time he visited, he won praise for his dignity and easy manner.

The Duke of Edinburgh first visited Colchester in 1958 alongside the Queen.

He also visited the Essex and Suffolk Gliding Club Airfield in June 1998 as patron of the British Gliding Association.

In 2004 he accompanied the Queen on visits to Harwich and Colchester.

  •  NURSING stars at Colchester Hospital were recognised by the NHS’s chief nurse, Ruth May.

She visited the hospital to hand out awards to the team in recognition of their contribution to patients and the profession.

  • PRIMARK proved to be the most popular shop in Colchester as customers welcomed the return of non-essential shops.

As coronavirus restrictions eased, many retailers opened their doors for the first time since early January. Spending data was gathered by Revolut.


HACKERS targeted Colchester Institute in a cyber security attack.

The internal and external networks were breached so staff were left unable to communicate using their usual email system and the college’s online application system was also shut down.

Teaching, however, was able to continue on campus and lessons were still delivered remotely.

Experienced third-party IT specialists were parachuted in to mitigate the threat and work with the school’s internal computer team.

  • HARWICH received the film star treatment as camera crews for the second Downton Abbey movie returned to shoot in locations around the town.

Parts of the town were taken back to the 1900s as the film set transformed areas including King’s Quay Street by the Electric Palace cinema.

Gazette: Downton Abbey being filmed in HarwichDownton Abbey being filmed in Harwich

Among the cast of the film will be Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael and Jim Carter.

  •  SCHOOL bosses were left feeling disappointed after teachers decided to strike in protest of a proposed restructure.

Members of the National Education Union who work at Tendring Technology College formed picket lines outside the school’s Frinton and Thorpele-Soken campuses.

The demonstrations were in response to a staffing shake-up planned by the Academies Enterprise Trust.

During the strike students were taught remotely or worked independently.

  • BORIS Johnson was “impressed” by Colchester Hospital and “valued” the opportunity to meet hardworking staff.

The Prime Minister paid a visit to the Turner Road site where he met with patients and the dedicated medics leading the country out of the pandemic.

Read more >> Boris Johnson meets medics and patients at Colchester Hospital

Mr Johnson was escorted on the visit by the hospital’s chief executive Nick Hulme.

He toured the hospital’s new Collingwood cancer centre and the elective surgical ward where he engaged in conversations with staff.


NEW plans for a £65 million retail, leisure and employment park in Stanway were unveiled by the Tollgate Partnership Limited.

Dubbed Tollgate Village 2.0, the latest proposals feature office space for small businesses along with a 60-bed hotel, an eight-screen cinema, bowling alley, restaurants and shops.

The firm says the development will create 880 new jobs and 480 during construction, pumping about £26 million into the economy.

Original plans by the partnership were given approval after an appeal in 2017, however, these have been revised to reflect changes in the market.

  •  AMATUER metal detectorist Adam Ferguson saved the day yet again after hunting down a beachgoer’s lost wedding ring on Walton beach.

Gazette: Detectorist strikes again to help dad find wedding ring on beachDetectorist strikes again to help dad find wedding ring on beach

Adam, from Clacton, reunited dad Stephen Reynolds with his lost wedding ring. He hit the headlines last year after reuniting Star Wars Rogue One actor Rufus Wright with his gold wedding band.

  • CLACTON saw the biggest increase in Google searches for staycation holidays in the UK.

The resort saw a massive 175 per cent increase in people hunting for hotels after Covid restrictions forced many holidaymakers to scrap plans to travel abroad.