Review of the Year 2013: May and June

South Wales Argus: PROMOTION PARTY: Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh at Wembley PROMOTION PARTY: Newport County manager Justin Edinburgh at Wembley

We continue our look at some of the top stories from this year with a look at May and June. See tomorrow’s paper for July and August and remember some of the big stories from the end of summer.

May 5

WATCHES were being checked, extra time was looming, the tension was becoming unbearable.

Four minutes plus injury time to go in the Blue Square Bet Premier League play-off final at Wembley ... then striker Christian Jolley outfoxed a Wrexham defender and slotted home the 86th minute goal that set Newport County on the way back into the Football League after a 25-year absence.

This was day when the hopes and dreams of County fans over a quarter of a century were finally realised.

Jolley's goal, followed up by fellow striker Aaron O'Connor in injury time as Wrexham's quest for an equaliser left holes in their defence, crowned a day to remember for more than 6,500 fans who had journeyed up the M4 from Newport eager to be a part of a key moment in the city's sporting history.

This was barely half the amount who had followed County to Wembley 12 months before for a failed FA Trophy final bid, and a little less than the red mass that filled the Wrexham end.

No matter. County's followers just sang louder, longer and ultimately in triumph.

In truth, this was a game in which Wrexham had the upper hand for long stretches, and had the better chances, until County's double knockout blow late on.

But each and every player called on to deliver County back to the Football League played their part, none more so than goalkeeper Lenny Pidgeley, who defied Wrexham's forward line on several occasions with excellent saves.

Manager Justin Edinburgh and his players were drenched in acclaim and champagne at the final whistle as they savoured an achievement that had seemed at times during a long and sapping season, to be beyond their reach.

Champagne was flowing among the fans in Wembley's car and coach park too, and there will have been plenty of sore heads back in Newport on the following morning. But that was a Bank Holiday Monday, so a well-deserved lie-in was probably the best medicine.

Fans turned out in force again several days later to applaud the players as they toured the city centre in an open-topped bus.

County president David Hando, one of the faithful who rallied to build up the club again after it folded in the late 1980s, hailed the return to the Football League as "mission accomplished."

May 6

RESIDENTS of Markham gathered at the village institute to launch a year of celebrations to mark the community's 100th anniversary.

Built in 1913 to house colliery workers and their families, Markham was the first mining village in Wales to have a bath in every property.

The colliery, which cost around £600,000 to sink, at one time employed 1,000 people, but it closed in the 1980s.

May 10

THE Argus and Blaenau Gwent AM Alan Davies launched a campaign to save the minor injuries unit at Ysbyty Aneurin Bevan in Ebbw Vale, from closure.

The unit, opened with the hospital in autumn 2010, required a minimum 25 patients a day to come through its doors to ensure staff maintained their skills.

For many months, attendances had been barely half this figure, and Aneurin Bevan Health Board was considering closing it. In March, it increased the opening hours and also increased x-ray cover, measures that brought a rise in usage, but not to the required levels.

Patients, politicians, Blaenau Gwent council and Ebbw Vale rugby club were among those who supported the campaign, which focused on making people more aware of opening times, where the unit was, and what type of injuries it could deal with.

By mid-June it was dealing with an average of 34 patients a day and in August the health board declared that it would stay open for the foreseeable future, given the increase in patient numbers.

May 13

THE chairman of a new taskforce looking into ways of improving Newport city centre warned that trying to compete with Cardiff and Bristol was folly, and that the city needed "a serious business district."

Simon Gibson said there were no politicians involved in his group because "they have had their go."

He said the city needs a major regeneration project on the scale of Cardiff Bay or MediaCity UK in Salford, and that it has the potential to be one of the UK's "hottest" cities, already being the technology capital of Wales.

May 15

GWENT was at the centre of public health experts' concerns about a future outbreak of measles as it was revealed that an estimated 10,000 children in the area remained at risk, mainly 10-18 year-olds.

The warning from Public Health Wales came as measures continued to try to protect as many young people as possible from the disease following the major outbreak in Swansea.

More than 9,500 non-routine MMR jabs had been given in Gwent in the previous few weeks, through special clinics and a schools and colleges vaccination programme.

May 16

TWO years after a report which saw its education department put into special measures, Blaenau Gwent council was told that standards still were not good enough.

Control over education would not be handed back to the council and special measures would remain, an Estyn report stated.

Council leader Hedley McCarthy insisted the council would be "unrelenting" in its mission to speed up the pace of school improvement.

The report said the leadership of education and leisure in Blaenau Gwent had been "in a state of flux for a number of years."

May 20

CWMBRAN mum Maz Loder told the Argus about the day last March when she gave birth to her first baby 14 weeks early, and lost her mother to breast cancer.

Mrs Loder and husband Rob's son Elisha was born weighing 1lb 15oz at the Royal Gwent Hospital.

But while Elisha began a battle for survival at the hospital's neonatal unit, Mrs Loder's mum Elizabeth died several hours later, following a 16-year battle with breast cancer, which had spread to her bones.

Mrs Loder also faced a dilemma over breast cancer, being considered a high risk for the disease through her family history . She has to have an annual mammogram which had been cancelled in May as she spent precious time with her baby. Elisha eventually went home early in July.

May 23

A STATUE of Gwent sporting legend Ken Jones was fixed into place in Blaenavon following a two-year fundraising effort.

The bronze statue had been erected at the end of March, but had to be taken down after a few hours because of technical problems with the plinth.

Mr Jones, who died in 2006 aged 84, was a rugby great who played on the wing for Newport and Wales, and also won an Olympic silver medal in London in 1948 with the Great Britain 4x100 metres relay team.

A Blaenavon-based fundraising committee was awarded an £80,000 grant through the Assembly's Heads of the Valleys initiative to complete the project, after the committee had raised £15,000.

June 1

THE 20th Century Society - which campaigns to protect vulnerable modern buildings and artwork - announced that it was to call on Welsh historic monuments body Cadw to bestow listed status on Newport's Chartist Mural.

The proposal would have meant that restrictions would have applied on what the developers of the proposed Friars Walk shopping centre could do with the artwork, which Newport council had earmarked for demolition.

More than 1,000 people had signed a petition calling for mural to be saved. The previous Tory/Liberal Democrat coalition that ran the council had decided to demolish the mural.

"Our preference would be to keep the original in some way," said the society's Henrietta Billings.

June 5

GWENT'S chief constable Carmel Napier announced her retirement, a move that was revealed days later to have followed an ultimatum from Gwent Police and Crime Commissioner Ian Johnston.

He had asked her to retire, or he would seek to remove her from her post, according to documents seen by the Argus.

Tensions had developed between the two in the months since Mr Johnston was elected to his newly-created post in November 2012, highlighted in May by his voicing his concern that crimes in Gwent may not have been recorded properly in a bid to lower the figures.

Mrs Napier hit back over that claim, saying that it could demoralise staff who were working hard to make Gwent a safer place.

Mr Johnston's action provoked a nationwide debate over the role and powers of PCCs but he later told Gwent's PCC panel he was convinced Gwent Police was "in a better place" without Mrs Napier, maintaining she had lost the confidence of staff, officers, and the people of Gwent.

Mrs Napier had called, in the aftermath of her retirement, for the government to look at whether PCCs wielded too much power. She questioned whether the power to call on chief constables to resign or retire protected the independence of operational policing.

June 11

NEWPORT Gwent Dragons unveiled a new director of rugby - former Ospreys boss Lyn Jones.

And the new man told the Argus of his plans to try to revive what he called "a sleeping giant of Welsh rugby."

Jones, signed on a three-year deal after a move from London Welsh, said: "We need to have high standards, be ambitious, and be looking to do the best we can."

"If you think small you will be small, and I want to change that here, and have a better attitude towards being successful," he added.

Jones' appointment followed the Dragons' worst season since regional rugby was established in Wales.

June 13

PEOPLE living in the neighbourhood of the Newbridge Memo got a tour of the first phase of its multi-million pound restoration, ahead of its reopening later in the month.

Howard Stone, Memo chairman, said that as they had put up with "18 months of hassle and disruptions" it was only right that those living nearby got the first chance to see the plush new interior.

The restoration - £5.6 million in total - will transform a building that was seemingly beyond saving just a few years ago, but which is being given a new lease of life by a combination of restoration and new additions.

Newbridge-born project trustee Lyndon Hughes said the project had not been without its problems and heartache. "But it looks brilliant," he said.

June 15

AN Argus story about a Cwmbran girl who got into Turkey with a passport identifying her as a cuddly unicorn was featured in newspapers across the world.

Turkish media also reported that the country's authorities were investigating the case of nine-year-old Emily Harris, who got through Antalya airport with documents for her toy, which is called Lily.

A passport official stamped the novelty passport to please Emily, but forgot to stamp her real one.

The passport was a different size to a real UK passport, featuring gold teddy bears on the front.

June 21

AN insect invasion took over part of Tredegar Park in Newport, when thousands of caterpillars covered benches and trees in their silk.

Caterpillars of the bird cherry ermine moth covered swathes of the park, as they also did in 2011.

The larvae feeds on the leaves of the bird cherry and can completely strip the tree, though it usually recovers.

The web is created as a temporary home, and protection for the caterpillar. The moths were due to emerge in July.


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