By Ann Molyneux-Jackson
Published on Friday 30 December 2011 14:00
2011 has been a year where the achievements, generosity, kindness, courage and bravery of people in the city has been truly amazing. Ann Molyneux-Jackson looks back at some of this yearâ€™s Pride In Peterborough front pages.
ALL the talk of economic doom and gloom and tales of broken Britain that have been around this year are enough to make even the most optimistic person feel a bit downhearted. But here in Peterborough we have much to be proud of.
In fact, The Evening Telegraph has published more than its fair share of heart-warming and inspirational stories in 2011.
There was four-year-old schoolboy Charlie Bennett, who inspired his classmates to raise money during their harvest festival for the childrenâ€™s cancer charity CLIC Sergeant as well as Oakdale Treble 20 Club, a group for the over 60s.
The youngster, from Stanground, has faced dozens of trips to hospital and intensive chemotherapy since being diagnosed with leukaemia last November.
Fortunately, Charlie was well enough to start the reception class at Oakdale Primary School in Stanground this September where his new friends were so impressed with how he has coped with the disease, they brought in fruit and vegetables to sell and raised more than ÂŁ100.
Jasmine Knight is another inspirational youngster who hit the headlines this year after she pressed the button to start the Race For Life in the city.
The four-year-old, who is currently battling leukaemia, having been diagnosed last July, sent the more than 3,000 women who took part in the event, which raises money for Cancer Research UK, on their way with a smile.
Jasmineâ€™s mum Sue Knight, from Woodston, Peterborough said: â€śJasmine loved standing on the podium and was as excited as she is for Christmas and birthdays. She had been ill and was being treated in hospital at Christmas and on her birthday which makes it extra special.â€ť
All the half marathon runners, wheelchair competitors and those who took part in the fun run at this yearâ€™s Perkins Great Eastern Run raised thousands of pounds for charity when they hit the streets in October.
But they couldnâ€™t have done it without the people who helped to organise the event and those who marshalled and cheered the runners on around the course.
A total of 3,261 people took part in the half marathon and 1,171 in the fun run, while even more cheered them on as they made their way along the route.
There were many wacky costumes including Steph and Tony Robinson who dressed as cockroaches, Damian Atkinson who wore a full bomb suit and a team of smurfs wearing Peterborough United kits.
Amongst the runners were many inspirational stories of people taking part to raise charity donations inspired by personal hardships. Friends and family of Rob Davys, the experienced Bushfield Joggers club member who died while running last yearâ€™s half marathon, took part in his memory. His widow Sue and son Glynn both completed the course.
Wheelchair competitor Nikki Emerson (23), from London, also got to the finishing line despite two punctures.
Members of Whittlesey Juniors Under 8s football team took part in a charity match in memory of team member Jacob Cliftonâ€™s mum Leanne, who died earlier this year after a long battle with cancer.
The money was raised for the townâ€™s Jenner Health Centre, which offered support for Leanne and her family and respite care.
A team including under 8s coach Ady Barkess and some of the playersâ€™ dads took on a team made up of managers and assistants.
The boys took on a managerial role for the event, picking the teams, making the substitutions and doing the half-time team talk. Then they took buckets round collecting spare change from visitors.
The generosity of youngsters in the city has also extended overseas.
Children from Jack Hunt School in Netherton, Peterborough, helped to change the lives of orphaned youngsters at The Bethany School in Watamu, Kenya by donating a shipment of toys, books and clothes.
The Year 9 pupils made toys, puzzles and games as part of their product design course to send to the African school, and then following an appeal made by the school in The Evening Telegraph, generous readers also donated unwanted books and clothing, while Peterborough United gave a number of football kits. These were shipped to Kenya in boxes donated by Armadillo Self Storage.
Students Catherine Hurst and Charlotte Gray put together a thought-provoking project which turned heads and moved shoppers to tears in Queensgate in the run up to Remembrance Day.
Catherine (17) and Charlotte (21), from Peterborough Regional College, were volunteering with charity Young Lives when they worked on the Poppy Appeal display, which dominated the main court in the shopping centre.
It featured a ring of 10,000 red paper poppies, donated by the Royal British Legion, and pages from the Evening Telegraph. Passers-by were able to write messages on card which was then added to the display. Many also made donations to one of the three charities the students had nominated â€“ Help for Heroes, the Royal British Legion and Peterborough City Council War Memorial, and Young Lives.
Buzz Lightyear, Batman and a big baby were among the characters seen brightening up Peterborough city centre as childrenâ€™s disability charity Family Voice joined together with the Peterborough and District Deaf Childrenâ€™s Society for a fund-raising drive.
The charities proved a colourful bunch as they got plenty of attention from shoppers and passers-by and raised ÂŁ522 which was split equally between the two charities.
Members of the charity also raised ÂŁ1,000 for the Rudolf Fund with a menâ€™s waxing event and a sponsored skydive in the summer.
Amanda Keedy, whose husband Paul died of a suspected asthma attack at the age of just 39, has spent the months since the tragedy raising money for the charity Asthma UK.
With the help of family members, she held a tribute evening in his memory at Peterborough Greyhound Stadium and collected money at the Bretton Festival.
The fact that 80-year-old Malcolm Smith had lost several family members to cancer inspired him to donate the ÂŁ1,200 proceeds from his book about growing up near the brick yards in Fletton, Peterborough, to a good cause.
Proceeds from sales of his book, Once A Fletton Brick, Always A Fletton Brick, have been split between Sue Ryder – Thorpe Hall Hospice and Cancer Research UK.
He said: â€śI sadly lost my daughter to cervical cancer, at 39 years old.
â€śMany of my family have died of cancer so the donation to Cancer Research is in their memory. My step- brother Walter Johnson died in the Thorpe Hall Hospice.â€ť
Mr Smith, of Melrose Drive, Peterborough, has sold more than 200 copies of the book and has had to publish more to meet demand.
Skydiving grandad Brian Jennings didnâ€™t let his age or a fear of heights stand in the way of his charitable efforts for Age UK.
Brian, aged 82, from Yaxley, near Peterborough delighted the organisers of a charity tandem skydive â€“ safelocaltrade.com â€“ by signing up to their team.
Then, without showing any nerves, he jumped out of a light aircraft at 13,000 feet above Sibson Airfield, near Peterborough.
Charity fund-raiser John Reynolds is showing no signs of putting his feet up and taking it easy.
A the age of 82 John, from Stanground, Peterborough rode his trusty Trek hybrid bike 170 miles coast-to-coast from Morecambe in Lancashire to Bridlington in East Yorkshire in three-and-a-half days.
It was the latest of a dozen long distance bike rides that he had completed and which have helped him raise hundreds of pounds for charity.
Dedicated mum Karen Newton also got on her bike as part of an appeal to raise ÂŁ40,000 to pay for a life-changing operation in the USA to help her son Tyler Maxwell to walk for the first time.
With a team of volunteers she cycled 60 miles from her home in Maxey, near Peterborough to the seaside resort of Hunstanton in August. Karen had already collected ÂŁ7,400 from a parachute jump earlier in the year.
The three-year-old was diagnosed with spastic diplegia cerebral palsy in May 2009 and was unable to sit or roll, let alone walk or kick a football like youngsters at his age.
There have also been impressive stories of bravery, like courageous Ali Hasan who, without a thought for his own safety, smashed his way in through the back door of his neighbourâ€™s burning house in Searjeant Street, Millfield, Peterborough to rescue four people trapped inside.
Mr Ali, an assistant manager at fast food outlet KFC in Peterborough, said: â€śI had to keep running in and out to breathe. I am not a hero but I couldnâ€™t let another human being die.â€ť
There have also been heart-warming tales of community-minded individuals giving something back to their local area.
Like the volunteers from Peterborough-based amphibian charity Froglife, helped by group of young men getting their lives back on track at the YMCAâ€™s Timestop in the city, who gave The Green Backyard in Oundle Road, Peterborough a makeover.
Kind-hearted employees from Perkins Engines also gave their time to transform Peterboroughâ€™s Wildlife Haven at Railworld after it was badly damaged in an arson attack in June.
Perkinsâ€™ charity and sponsorship team donated ÂŁ500 to buy new tools, while employees donated second-hand tools to the cause.
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