Mick Swindells memorial
Friends and family of the brave detective constable gathered for a tearful ceremony at the spot where he was stabbed by paranoid schizophrenic Glaister Butler in 2004.
A guard of honour stood to attention as a granite stone was unveiled on the western bank of the Tame Valley Canal, close to Spaghetti Junction. Among a crowd of more than 200 mourners were Det Con Swindells’ widow Carol and daughter Kelly, who led the tributes, as well as West Midlands Police Chief Constable Sir Paul Scott Lee.
Det Con Swindells was stabbed as he raced to help colleagues who were trying to arrest Butler after the knifeman had threatened passers by with the blade.
Duncan Edwards memorial
Fifty years after one the Midlands’ most famous footballing sons was killed in a plane crash, Dudley fell silent in a solemn tribute.
Duncan Edwards was just 21 and had a glittering football career ahead of him when he perished along with 22 others in the disaster which claimed the lives of eight of the famous Manchester United team dubbed the Busby Babes.
The squad has been flying home from a match in Belgrade and the pilot was making a third take-off attempt when the plane skidded and crashed off the end of the slush-covered runway in Munich, where they has stopped to refuel.
Dudley came to a halt for a moving tribute as more than 1,000 people gathered to mark the anniversary of the 1958 crash.
‘Blind’ Dave Heeley’s marathon feat.
The 50-year-old West Bromwich father of three became a record breaker and an inspiration to millions when he took one of the toughest challenges on earth – despite being blind.
Dave Heeley, who became known to the nation as Blind Dave, completed a gruelling seven marathons in seven days, each in a different continent. By the time he crossed the line in London he had pounded more than 183 miles through blistering heat, wind and rain and jetted 29,000 around the globe.
Blind Dave stole the headlines, but partner and guide Mac Carr was with him every step of the way. more>
Tory Party Conference.
The red carpet was rolled out as 15,000 delegates, lobbyists and journalists descended on the city for the Conservative Party Conference in September.
The three-day event at the ICC boosted Birmingham’s economy by an estimated £20 million, thanks to increased trade for the city’s hotels, bars, shops and restaurants.
Conservative leader David Cameron praised Birmingham as a “great” conference city and said the Tories had been impressed with the regeneration of the city centre. He said: “Where better to have the largest conference we’ve had in recent times than in what is, outside of the capital, Britain’s economic powerhouse and most visited city.”
New Street Station Plans.
Billed as an iconic new gateway to Birmingham, plans for the revamped New Street Station will cement the city’s place as one of Europe’s style capitals.
The £600 million scheme is the brainchild of principal architect Alejandro Zaera-Polo, who wanted to create a vibrant and bright hub for a truly world-class city. Plans, unveiled in September, include covering the station with reflective sheets of metal and digital displays in an atrium designed to flood the station with light.
The design will double passenger numbers by building a bigger concourse, increasing the number of escalators and lifts and improving pedestrian links with eight entrances.
Gerry Tobin Trial.
The final journey of Hell’s Angel Gerry Tobin brought the shadowy world of biker gangs into focus following his murder in August 2007. Seven members of the Outlaws motorcycle gang were jailed for life at Birmingham Crown Court in November this year for Mr Tobin’s murder as he rode along the M40.
Two shots were fired at the 35-year-old biker from two different guns as he returned to his south-east London home from the Bulldog Bash biker festival in Long Marston, near Stratford-upon-Avon.
During the seven-week trial, the jury was told that the mechanic was targeted by the rival gang simply because he was a “fully-patched” Hells Angel. more>
Matt Croucher George Cross.
A heroic Solihull marine who dived on a grenade to save his comrades became one of the few living recipients of the George Cross this year.
Lance Corporal Matt Croucher flung himself on the Taliban booby trap and walked
away with just a nosebleed when his rucksack absorbed the blast.
The 24-year-old Royal Marine reservist, who now lives in Acocks Green, was on a reconnaissance mission in Helmand province in February looking for an enemy bomb-making factory when he felt himself walk into a tripwire.
Realising it had been pulled, he threw himself down, pinning the device between his rucksack and the ground to absorb the explosion. Lance Corporal Croucher was awarded the country’s highest honour by the Queen at Buckingham Palace in October.
Cabinet Meeting in Birmingham.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown selected the Second City as the venue for the first Cabinet meeting outside London since the 1920s. The Cabinet met for their weekly meeting at the ICC in September in a bid to engage with people outside of Westminster.
Mr Brown also held talks with the region’s business and council leaders following the announcement of a £64 million package of economic aid for the West Midlands, while Cabinet members visited schemes across the city.
Eleanor Simmonds' Olympic medals.
Walsall teenager Eleanor Simmonds added to Britain’s Beijing gold rush with two first class finishes in the Paralympics.
The 14-year-old became one of Britain’s youngest paralympic gold medallists as after clinching gold in the women’s S6 100 and 400 metres freestyle in September. The Aldridge swimmer, who who was born with achondroplasia, or dwarfism, topped off her most successful year yet by winning Young Sports Personality of the Year award at the annual BBC Sports Personality of The Year Awards.
Death of Rashid Ullah.
A family was left in mourning when a Birmingham toddler died after accidentally being shot in the head by his sister.
Rashid Rullah was hit in the back of the head with a pellet from an air rifle at his family’s home in Washwood Heath in August. The 18-month-old,who lay in critical condition following the accident, died nine days later at Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
In a statement issued three days after the shooting, Rashid’s parents said: “We hope that anyone who has an air weapon realises how dangerous these guns can be and what serious injuries they can cause.”
Birmingham Skyline Gaffe.
Birmingham City Council recycling bosses were forced to defend the mix-up between Birmingham, Alabama, for our own city in an official leaflet delivered to 360,000 homes.
Householders were greeted with a picture of Stateside Birmingham instead of the UK’s Second City skyline in August. The leaflet outlined recycling facilities in Birmingham, bearing the legend “Thank You Birmingham” above a city skyline clearly lacking the familiar landmarks of the Rotunda, BT Tower or Beetham Tower.
A council spokesman defended the image as a “generic urban skyline picture” designed to symbolically represent an urban area.
The shocking case of a seven-year-old Birmingham schoolgirl alleged to have starved to death hit the national headlines in May.
Khyra Ishaq, from Handsworth, was pronounced dead after paramedics were called to her home in Leyton Road in the early hours of May 17.
Her mother Angela Gordon and partner Junaid Abuhamza are both due to appear at Birmingham Crown Court on charges of murder and “causing or allowing” Khyra’s death in December.
M6 Family Crash.
A young family of six were tragically killed in a motorway crash while visiting relatives in Birmingham in October.
Chef David Statham, 38, his wife Michelle, 33, and their four children, Reece, 13, Jay, nine, Mason, 20 months, and 10-week-old baby daughter Ellouise, were killed on the M6 while returning to their home in Llandudno, north Wales. The couple, who had been together for 19 years, had lived in Erdington before moving to Llandudno five years ago.
Portuguese HGV driver Paulo Jorge Nogueira de Silva, 46, has been remanded in custody charged with six counts of causing death by dangerous driving until January 13.
Assisted Suicide Death.
The death of a promising young Worcester rugby player in September sparked a national debate on assisted suicide.
Daniel James, who represented England at under-16s level, travelled to a clinic in Switzerland to die, more than a year after a rugby accident which left him paralysed from the chest down. The 23-year-old dislocated his spine when a scrum collapsed during a training session at Nuneaton Rugby Football Club in March last year.
The Crown Prosecution Service announced this month that no charges would be brought against his parent Mark and Julie James under the Suicide Act.
Climate Change Festival.
Birmingham city centre became a riot of sound and colour during a festival celebrating the value of the environment. The Climate Change Festival took over Victoria, Chamberlain and Centenary Squares for nine days in June as thousands of people pledged to do their bit for the environment.
More than 1,500 people signed pledges to reduce their own carbon footprint by 100kg over the next year, in a bid to help Birmingham City Council’s target of reducing CO2 emissions by 60 per cent by 2026.
Festival highlights included a visit from solo yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur plus street theatre and a recycling roadshow.
Shropshire mansion blaze.
A quiet corner of Shropshire became the focus for the nation’s media in September when the bodies of a family of three were found in their burnt-out mansion. Self-made businessman Christopher Foster took his own life after murdering his wife and teenage daughter and torched their £1.2 million Maesbrook estate, police believe.
CCTV footage showed 50-year-old Mr Foster carrying a gun into the burning building, where the remains of 49-year-old Jill and Katie, 15, were later found in an area beneath their bedrooms.
Debt collectors were due to visit Mr Foster after his oil pipe insulation firm crashed.
Cerys Edwards Comes Home.
The family of Sutton Coldfield toddler Cerys Edwards welcomed their daughter back home for the first time in almost two years in October. The three-year-old had been resident in a rehabilitation hospital in Surrey for 16 months after suffering horrific injuries in a crash two years ago,
Her parents Tracey and Gareth were able to move her into a rented house close to their home while they look for a suitable house which can be adapted to cater for Cerys’s care.
Cerys’s family has launched a petition urging the Government to increase the maximum penalty available for dangerous driving from two to 10 years and prevent newly-qualified drivers from driving high-performance cars.
Post Office Closures.
Customers, politicians and Post Office staff took to the streets when plans to bring the shutters down on 26 Post Offices in Birmingham were announced in July.
The Birmingham Mail took the Think Again on Post Office Closures campaign to the heart of central government when it delivered a petition to the door of 10 Downing Street urging Gordon Brown to halt to the closure programme.
Return of Wispa Bar.
Wispa bars made a welcome return to shelves last month after a lenghtly internet campaign to revive it melted the hearts of Cadbury’s bosses.
The Bournville firm bowed to public pressure when more than 47,000 people joined a Facebook group demanding the bar be reissued. And the decision seems to have paid off, with Wispa sales topping 12 million in the last four weeks alone.
The brand’s trimphant return is to be marked with an TV commercial featuring thousands of Wispa fans, which will be screened on December 20.