Football defeat kicks off second half 2021 in review

In the second part of our review of 2021 for Sittingbourne we lurch from Euro 2020 match defeat to Santa suffering a punch by a drunken yob. July What a month!

We celebrated Freedom Day as Swale council reopened Sittingbourne High Street after a year of emergency Covid restrictions and England reached the final of the Euros against Italy. Alas, it all came tumbling down for the Three Lions thanks to those pesky penalties. Our favourite circus boss Roger Santus was back in the Big Top after spending seven months in a coma after being knocked off his bike.

Roman, seven, and River, three, from Murston supporting England in the final game against Italy in the Euros 2020 in July Roman, seven, and River, three, from Murston supporting England in the final game against Italy in the Euros 2020 in JulyPolice carrying out a search in Sittingbourne after a teenage girl was stabbed Police carrying out a search in Sittingbourne after a teenage girl was stabbed

In court, in a separate case, former semi-pro footballer Andre Trenton was cleared of causing the death of 15-year-old Georgia Mann after she was hit by a truck as he filled up his car with petrol on the A249 at Bobbing.

The month ended in tragedy when a 16-year-old schoolgirl was found with with 50 to 60 stab wounds in The Orchard near Eden village, but survived the ordeal.

A teenager, who cannot be named, admitted attempted murder in December. He will be sentenced in early 2022. August

Tragedy struck in the Big Top when aerialist Megan Christian, 20, from Sittingbourne fell from her trapeze during a Santus Circus show on Sheppey. The performance was stopped and the shocked audience sent home as Megan was rushed to hospital with neck injuries.

Trapeze artist Megan Christian from Sittingbourne suffered a fall. Picture: Santus Circus Instagram Trapeze artist Megan Christian from Sittingbourne suffered a fall. Picture: Santus Circus Instagram

Pupils received the results of their GCSEs and A-levels after what was agreed had been a "difficult" year. Covid had closed classrooms so teenagers had ended up studying from home.

Things were beginning to return to normal, though, as Murston's Woodfest went ahead as planned with headliners Marylebone Jelly and Marvellous Mo and the Backline Ferrets, following in the footsteps of Stockbury's Chickenfest which was one of Swale's first music festivals to return following the end of lockdown.

Key-workers Linda and Stewart Preston scooped GBP300,000 on the National Lottery and quick-thinking PCSOs Lee Fennel and John Core helped save the life of a collapsed cyclist by plying him with chocolate. September The month began sadly with the news that it had been young mum Charlotte Buesden, 28, from Sheppey who had died when her car and a lorry crashed in Swale Way, Kemsley.

Friends described her as "beautiful and kind" and left more than 40 floral tributes alongside of the road.

Amey James, founder of The Happy Pants Ranch at Bobbing, which was at the centre of a planning blunder Amey James, founder of The Happy Pants Ranch at Bobbing, which was at the centre of a planning blunderPupil Ellie Wolfe, 12, cut the ribbon to unveil the recreation of the 2,000-year-old Romano-British temple discovered near her home at Newington, Sittingbourne Pupil Ellie Wolfe, 12, cut the ribbon to unveil the recreation of the 2,000-year-old Romano-British temple discovered near her home at Newington, Sittingbourne

Swale council hit the news with a spectacular planning bungle when junior staff checking the website accidentally published joke comments which, to everyone's horror, turned out to be legally binding. Among the victims was Happy Pants Ranch animal sanctuary. Its application for a change of use of land was labelled "whack".

After 10 years, Sittingbourne finally got its GBP240,000 skate park at The Mill opened. The spectacular Colour Run returned to Milton Creek Country Park to raise funds for Wisdom Hospice and there was panic at the pumps when garages ran out of fuel. Newington unveiled a 2,000-year-old Roman temple found while building a new housing estate.

October Milo the cockatiel, who loved whistling The Addams Family and The Great Escape, made his own bid for freedom when the family dog left the back door open and he flew off.

Milo the cockatiel went missing from Sittingbourne Picture: Julie Trout Milo the cockatiel went missing from Sittingbourne Picture: Julie TroutCllr James Hall and residents at the entrance to the bus lane at Murston Cllr James Hall and residents at the entrance to the bus lane at Murston

Despite distraught owner Julie Trout appealing for information, the parrot remains on the run, or should that be on the wing? Julie says: "Sadly, he has not returned.

But I haven't given up hope." The Charcoal Grill takeaway was given zero stars for hygiene when inspectors found mouse droppings inside a packet of pitta bread and ants crawling over a food wrapper. Dad Robert Amey, 48, created a haunted house of horror for Halloween complete with a ghoulish graveyard and raised GBP2,639 for charity.

Cllr James Hall managed to get security gates installed across a notorious rat run leading to the Great Easthall estate which had been used for buses. Alas, within days vandals had removed the gates. Meanwhile, motorists had windscreens smashed on the M2 by yobs hurling bricks from bridges.

November

Eight-year-old Brooke Cressey, from Sittingbourne, won a national times table contest - beating almost 400,000 other youngsters Eight-year-old Brooke Cressey, from Sittingbourne, won a national times table contest - beating almost 400,000 other youngsters

The town's Royal British Legion branch was suspended over a rogue bank account just days before Remembrance Sunday. While nothing was thought to be untoward, the issue concerned rules that two bank accounts couldn't bear the legion's name Swale council was drafted in to organise a reduced ceremony at the war memorial. Visitors to Pumpkin Moon at Bapchild complained there were no pumpkins.

Others suggested they should not have left it so late to visit the fields a day before Halloween. Sittingbourne's Heritage Museum was given a GBP10,000 lifeline from the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group's Movement For Good scheme and consultant nurse and trainer Cliff Evans was named Nurse Leader of the Year for his work in the emergency department at Medway Maritime Hospital. Brooke Cressey, eight, was named Britain's brainiest schoolgirl after completing 210 sums in a minute - and work began on the flyover at Stockbury roundabout.

December

Santa got back on the road after he was punched Santa got back on the road after he was punched

Delighted residents celebrated their first "Silent Night" after two years of campaigning to stop train drivers sounding their shrill klaxon horns between 6am and midnight as they travelled over a pedestrian crossing at Milton Regis. Santa ended up in a fight when a drunk clambered into his sleigh and threatened to punch him when told there were no presents for him. A man was later arrested.

Whistling postman Dale Howting raised a record GBP12,500 for charity despite having his bike stolen in April by thugs who pocketed GBP50 of donations. Happy Pants Ranch, which had been told its planning application was "whack" earlier, discovered planners really were going to turn it down. Berkeley House care home was closed after a CQC inspection discovered "appalling" conditions and residents given five hours to leave.

And we celebrated the 10th anniversary of this newspaper launching by looking back over the past decade.