A look back into the second part of 2018 in Halstead.

In July Halstead Fire Service were called out to 65 separate incidents across Essex and Suffolk, with more than half being outdoor blazes. 
This was a particularly busy summer for the service due to the months heatwaves.
Firefighter, Dominic Adams, said: “It’s not really surprising we have had so many field fires, the land is tinder dry and the patch we cover is the biggest rural area in Essex – there’s lots of farm land and open spaces.”
Residents were advised to follow basic safety procedures to prevent outdoor fires.
Cigarettes should be extinguished properly and not thrown out car windows.
Rubbish, especially glass, should be disposed of correctly, as should barbecues. Having bonfires during the hot and dry weather conditions we saw during July was also discouraged.
A music festival first was hailed a success with more than 700 people attending Heditude.
The festival which was held on the Hedingham United football ground saw 11 bands and solo artists perform.
£1,100 worth of proceeds from the event went to Hedingham United and Essex and Herts Air Ambulance.
Among the six main acts who performed were original Celtic folk band, The Band From County Hell, Gorillah Radio, The Green Brothers, Tundra, Hargreaves and Amy Westney.
Heditude is set to be taking place again in 2019 with hopes to raise even more funds for the two causes.

One of the most talked about stories in Halstead.
A cash machine was stolen after a lorry reversed into the Co-op on Halstead High Street.
The “bold-as-brass” gang used a one-of-a-kind museum mail van to make their get away which were dumped in Ridgewell. 
Following the incident MP James Cleverly predicted that ATM machines may become a thing of the past.
Meanwhile the community clubbed together to launch a new scheme to reduce food waste.
The community fridge runs from the Lodge Gate building in Causeway where the public can leave any unwanted food for others to take. 
The fridge free and is open to everyone and to donate and collect food. 
Later on in the year the fridge was moved inside into the office room of the Lodge Gate building in The Causeway to protect it from the impending winter weather.
Residents also came together to support the proposals for a new heritage park for an area of land to the east of High Street.
The proposed new heritage park was set to include a wildlife area, children’s play facilities and the restoration of the 16 air raid shelters sited on the land.
Plans were botched later on in the year as planning permission came through to build 73 homes on the site which was said to have no regard for the heritage park plans.
The Halstead 21st Century Group have been campaigning against the application. 

September saw Halstead crowned Anglia in Bloom’s best town for the tenth year running. 
The team celebrated their decade of dominance during a special ceremony held at the Apex Theatre in Bury St Edmunds.
Margaret Eskins, chairman, said their continued success is not taken for granted. 
She added: “I think winning ten in a row is just unbelievable.
“We have been able to do this because of all of the wonderful people that help. They are absolutely amazing and it’s a real privilege to be the chairman of such a wonderful team.
“Everyone mucks in, roles their sleeves up and just gets on with it. It’s not a summer thing, this is 365 days a year hard work.”
Onlookers were slammed by police for filming paramedics fighting to save the life of a biker. 
Police branded the behaviour “disgusting” after it was posted to social media where the teenagers parents found it.
PC Simon Culling who was at the scene said: “Take a moment to think how you would feel in their shoes.”
Elsewhere, it was a frustrating month for pensioners living in Vicarage Court retirement complex who had repeatedly gotten stuck in their faulty lift.
Firefighters were called to free residents nine times over the course of the year, some of which had only brought a first floor flat because of the life access. 
A stairlift was installed following the residents complaints and the lift was promised to be repaired.

A study found that Halstead’s community spirit is an example to other towns. 
A report conducted by think tank found that 60 percent of people feel there is a strong sense of community in Halstead. 
Isabel Young, who led the research, said: “The people of Halstead are an example to other towns across the UK and show us that social isolation and loneliness can be combated when people come together.”
In a slightly less community spirited note, residents fury as “disgraceful” vandals targeted a war memorial bench. 
Sible Hedingham Parish Council shelled out nearly £900 towards two benches featuring a six foot-tall aluminium Tommy silhouette which was part of the There But Not There campaign. 
The silhouette which was damaged was fixed shortly after, but calls for more respect have been made.
But October was still a month of joy for a youngster as his dream came true when he defied a debilitating, lifelong condition to play his very first football match.
Ten year old Lenny Pyne proudly played for Coggeshall Town U8’s as the teams goal keeper after growing strong enough to fight against his quadriplegia spastic cerebral palsy.
After gaining special dispensation from the FA, he has played his first competitive match alongside younger brother Stanley.
His father Matt, who was at Lenny’s first game, said: “It was an emotional match really. I help run the team and it was really something to see him fulfill a lifelong dream.

November marked 100 years since the end of the First World War.
Halstead Royal British Legion chairman Tony Jones says the attendance at the town’s Remembrance service was one of the highest ever, with an estimated 700 people turning out to the wreath laying ceremony.
He said: “To see so many people coming to pay their respects and to take part in our acts of remembrance both in the public gardens and at St Andrew’s Church was very rewarding.”
Essex County Council announced major plans to reshape the library set up, with
the building in Swan Street, Sible Hedingham, one of 25 listed for closure. 
The service in Halstead was also facing changes, with the library’s opening hours likely to be reduced. 
Sible Hedingham Parish Council chairman, Ron Volkwyn, said: “The library is an important part of the village, it has been there for as long as I can remember. 
“The parish council will be following this up to see what we can do to save it.”
There is currently a public consultation going on of which a decision will be made next year.
Beavers have returned to Essex for the first time in 400 years.
A pair of Eurasian Beavers have moved to the Spains Hall Estate in Finchingfield for a project set up by the Essex & Suffolk Rivers Trust and Essex Wildlife Trust.
The beavers had been hunted to near-extinction for meat, fur and scent glands by the beginning of the 16th century.
After moving them back to Essex, it is hoped the new inhabitants will improve diversity and help prevent flooding in the area.

Towards the end of the year temporary planning permission expired for the Gosfield Community Shop.
Volunteers called for an extension, however Braintree council turned down their application.
A new permanent base for the shop is needed and a Fundraising page has been set up. 
Gosfield Parish Council chairman, Bob Waters, said: “The will and ambition is there, so it is not the end of the road yet.”
In Halstead, a man is furious after his wall was hit by car for fifth time.
Stephen Amass, who lives on Sudbury Road, said: “I felt gutted when I found out what had happened, only the week before another car hit my wall.
“I’m furious, dealing with two different insurance claims right now and in the time I’ve lived here, this is the fifth time my wall has been hit.”
And to end the year on a festive note, three mini-Santas have been spreading festive cheer at Forest Home care home in Sible Hedingham. 
Bailey Skingle, Destiny Skingle and Devon Oliver collected 32 Christmas bags to take to residents. 
Proud mum to Bailey and Destiny, Lynda Clark, said: ““Bailey, Devon and Destiny were welcomed into the home with a huge round of applause.
“There were tears from some residents who were overjoyed with their gifts as well as cuddles and smiles from others.
“I believe this will now become a yearly tradition.”