Here's a look at some of the best stories from the second half of 2019. 


A BUILDING business won a top development prize at a regional ceremony after having £24,000 worth of equipment stolen in the previous six months.

Derek Mason Developments, based in Sible Hedingham, won the Best Small New Housing Development at the Local Authority Building Control Awards in Norwich.

However, leading up to the award, the company had three expensive dumpers stolen from various sites.

Beating out entries form across the east of England with the work it produced on Burlington House in Suffolk, each submission was rated on its project’s aesthetics, sustainability, performance and special working relationships.

Derek Mason Developments was then also entered into the National Awards.

Halstead Gazette: Derek Mason Developments picked up their awards at the Local Authority Building Control Awards in Norwich.Derek Mason Developments picked up their awards at the Local Authority Building Control Awards in Norwich.

THREE drama groups collaborated to stage their version of the extremely popular 60's and 70's TV sitcom, Dad's Army.

A cast of 20 was formed from the Coggeshall CATS, Halstead Stane Street Players and Castle Hedingham's Castle Players for a three show run at the Halstead Empire Theatre.

Dad's Army follows the hilarious exploits of the Home Guard based in Walmington-on-sea and the groups felt the production was the right choice with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings a few months prior.

Director, John Sanders said: “When I first embarked on the idea I knew it would be a task to get a cast together but we have not only managed to get the cast but we have some excellent talent among them to portray the characters that the nation has grown to love over the years.”

Halstead Gazette: The Dad's Army cast was made up of three different acting groups. The Dad's Army cast was made up of three different acting groups.

A CYCLIST raised about £10,000 pounds for the St Helena Hospice charity after collecting a bottle of beer and then biking more than 190-miles in memory of a woman who lost her life to cancer.

Tim Nash, 57, embarked on a five-day journey that saw him cycle from Hillsborough football stadium in Sheffield to the Bell Inn in Castle Hedingham after picking up a sentimental bottle of booze.

He was inspired to tackle the gruelling pilgrimage after friend and colleague Keira Dixon died of brain cancer at the age of just 21 after a four-year battle.

Tim had learnt about her admiration for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club and suggested they should try a bottle of the Championship side’s official beer – The Wednesday but before they had the chance, Keira tragically died.

Halstead Gazette: Tim Nash traveled 190 miles to bring home the beer in memory of his lost friend, Keira Dixon (inset).Tim Nash traveled 190 miles to bring home the beer in memory of his lost friend, Keira Dixon (inset).


A PAIR of animal lovers’ horses had a fortunate escape after an arson attack on their barn.

The building, which is in a meadow next to Blue Bridge in Halstead, is rented by partners Ian Groves and Daisy lower but was left a smouldering wreck after hay in the barn was set alight.

It took an hour for firefighters to tackle and finally put out the flames

Fortunately, the horses, which are normally stabled in the barn, were down the other end of the field but the blaze still caused thousands of pounds of damage.

Halstead Gazette: Ian and Daisy's barn was burnt to the ground.Ian and Daisy's barn was burnt to the ground.

A CHARITY group is hoping to raise thousands of pounds to replace a wooden war memorial in Gosfield with a more lasting tribute.

The Gosfield War Memorial Group was founded in November 2018 during the 100th anniversary of the First World War armistice, after discussions about the constant repair work needed to maintain the current memorial.

The team now hopes to raise more than £12,000 for a brand-new memorial to those who lost their lives in the first and second world wars, in time for this year’s Remembrance Sunday.

The old memorial will be moved inside Maurice Rowson Hall where it will be preserved.

Halstead Gazette: ARTIST'S IMPRESSION: What the new war memorial could look likeARTIST'S IMPRESSION: What the new war memorial could look like

A WOMAN was reunited with her grandfather’s First World War medals after they were stolen during a burglary.

The woman, from Felsted, who asked not to be named, returned home to find her home and been ransacked but three days later two suspects were seen driving in Theftord with number plates covered.

They abandoned their car following a police chase and were found hiding in woodland.

One had a blue jewellery bag down his trousers containing the medals, a silver Royal wedding coin and jewellery.

Jack Lannen, 19, of Warren Road in Halstead, was sentenced 13 months in a Young Offenders’ Institute for burglary and handling stolen goods.

Daryl Flanagan, 36, of Lancaster Avenue in Surrey, received 12 months in prison for handing stolen goods.


A UNIQUE ice-cream described by judges as “happiness in a bowl” was named the best food or drink product in East Anglia.

Hadley’s Dairy was awarded the Great Taste Golden Fork award for its Hadley’s Burnt Honey ice cream.

Created by Colne Engaine farmer Jane Hadley, who has been making ice cream for nearly two decades, the dessert product impressed at each stage of the blind-tasting judging process.

Made using Lavenham honey, which is caramelised and combined with ice cream custard, the product wowed judges for delivering a “little scoop with such depth”.

HALSTEAD cranked the flower power up to eleven to be crowned Anglia in Bloom’s best medium-sized town ... AGAIN!

Green-fingered volunteers from Halstead ensured the town struck gold for the 11th time in a row at the awards ceremony at Burgess Hall in St Ives.

Halstead came out on top as the overall winner in the medium-sized town category and Halstead Public Gardens scooped a gold award in the parks category.

A gold award was also given to the Halstead team for Priory Hall in the care home category, and the team received a silver gilt in the cemeteries section. Victory has become a habit for the town, which has claimed top spot annually since 2009.

A MUM of two worked alongside the top trendsetters in London Fashion Week.

Emma Lee, 36, of Halstead, launched her own Rebel Nails business last summer.

She got her break after being asked to join a team of six by Suzanna Clayton from Souz & Co nails.

The team, who all work as nail technicians across the country, made 600 custom-made tips for London-based designer Pierre Garroudis’ catwalk show in Islington with just an hour and a half to apply the nails to 50 models for the eccentric show.

Emma said: “Doing nails still allows me to get my creativity going.

“I loved working within the fashion industry and im definitely looking forward to doing it more."

Halstead Gazette: Emma Lee, of Halstead, launched her own Rebel Nails business in 2018.Emma Lee, of Halstead, launched her own Rebel Nails business in 2018.


A POPULAR wine bar reopened to the public nearly 20 months to the day it was ravaged by fire.

Whispers, on High Street, Halstead, sustained severe fire and water damage when a blaze, which was started accidentally in the first floor kitchen, tore through the grade II listed building it is based in.

Having worked hard to resurrect his business, owner Frank Ladkin admitted he and his staff were excited to finally be welcoming the public back

"We're all geared up and pretty much ready to go now." he said.

"It's looking really good inside. If I'm honest it won't look like much has changed other than the new bar and furniture."

Halstead Gazette: Whispers reopend a year and half after the devastating fire. Whispers reopend a year and half after the devastating fire.

A SON decided to ditch his car and trek more than 50 miles home from work – all in memory of his dad.

Steve Pollard, of Halstead, trekked from the Lakeside Shopping Centre in Thurrock to his home town over a weekend.

The gruelling challenge was to raise money for Cancer Research UK.

Steve’s dad Bob, 61, lost his battle with oesophageal cancer ten years ago.

Steve, 39, said he wanted to do something to help others who still have a chance.

He works near Lakeside and had the idea of walking home after work instead of driving.

Steve managed to raise £800, smashing his £400 goal.

Halstead Gazette: HOME AT LAST: Steve Pollard reached Halstead with pals Kieran Offord, Scott MacMahon and Sean Savage.HOME AT LAST: Steve Pollard reached Halstead with pals Kieran Offord, Scott MacMahon and Sean Savage.

A MUCH-VALUED landscape in Halstead was saved after contentious plans to build 200 new homes were thrown out.

Braintree Council’s planning committee unanimously voted to refuse Gladman Developments permission to build a new estate on farmland to the west of Sudbury Road.

The scheme had received 77 objections from residents and Halstead Town Council also said it was “strongly” opposed to the blueprints.

Planning officers had recommended the plans should be refused due to the “considerable harm” the development would cause to the landscape on the northern edge of the town.

And councillors agreed with those concerns and voted against the scheme.


A CHARITABLE adventurer came back from her travels after a gruelling trek of more than 35km along the Great Wall of China.

Bridget Waterer, 59, was part of a 23-strong team who set off from Essex to take on a stretch of one of the Seven Wonders of the World to raise cash for the Essex air Ambulance.

Her personal target was to raise £3,300 for the air ambulance but in total the team raised a whopping £46,000 which would pay for 21 potentially life-saving missions

Bridget added: " My very grateful thanks to all who supported me in so many ways to achieve my target and beyond - those who helped at events and gave so generously to this cause."

Halstead Gazette: Bridget Waterer atop the Great Wall.Bridget Waterer atop the Great Wall.

HALSTEAD'S In Bloom volunteers celebrated winning yet more awards at the 2019 Britain In Bloom competition.

The town came agonisingly close to winning the best town category but was pipped to the post by Haddington in Scotland.

Coming joint second, the Halstead volunteers picked up a gold award and became the most successful town or village in East Anglia winning two more awards.

Halstead In Bloom secretary Julia Smith said: "Needless to say we are all on a high.

"We spoke to the judges and they said that Halstead scored consistently over all the judging criteria elements and the town came very close, described by one of the judges as splitting the atom, to winning the category."

Halstead Gazette: GOLDEN GIRLS: Joan Gibson and Annie Rees, from Halstead in Bloom, collecting the gold award from Baroness Floella Benjamin.GOLDEN GIRLS: Joan Gibson and Annie Rees, from Halstead in Bloom, collecting the gold award from Baroness Floella Benjamin.

DISCUSSIONS have taken place to ensure CCTV cameras are installed to catch speeding drivers.

It comes after residents began campaigning for Halstead Town Council to install traffic calming measures with a petition to stop Colchester Road being used as a ‘racetrack’ attracting more than 200 signatures.

Quotes for the installation of CCTV were received and discussed at the Courtaulds Sports Ground management committee meeting.

Staff at the sports ground and residents frequently must pick up rubbish and listen to drivers wheelspin their cars. Councillor Jackie Pell added: “It is not unique to Colchester Road, it is all roads in the town including Mount Hill for example.

“There is a speed limit and people need to abide by it.”


CONSERVATIVE chairman James Cleverly increased his majority by roughly 6,000 votes as he was re-elected MP for Braintree and Halstead.

Mr Cleverly saw his majority rise to more than 24,000 on election night and cruised to victory with 34,112 votes.

Speaking after holding on to the seat he first won in 2015, Mr Cleverly said: “It is a privilege to be re-elected - I love serving in the constituency and the community. I will continue to do so with passion because this is a wonderful place and there are wonderful, wonderful people here.”

Labour votes in the constituency mirrored many others across the UK, with the party getting just 9,439 - down from 14,451 in 2017.

Halstead Gazette: James Cleverly MP increased his majority in the 2019 general election.James Cleverly MP increased his majority in the 2019 general election.

THE dream of an “accessible green space” in Halstead town centre has been kept alive after an appeal to build on the land was turned down by a planning inspector.

Parkland Developments wanted to build 73 homes, made up of 32 houses and 41 flats, on land just off St Andrew’s Road to the east of the High Street.

The move to develop the land for housing had sparked opposition from some residents due to the site’s rich history.

It has 15 rare Second World War air raid shelters and is close to several listed buildings, including the Grade I listed St Andrew’s Church.

Halstead Gazette: The 21st Century Halstead group were vocal protesters against the 73 home planThe 21st Century Halstead group were vocal protesters against the 73 home plan

A SOLDIER who survived the Second World War after TWICE being wounded in action celebrated his 100th birthday.

Stephen O’Hagan Lynn served as a lance corporal with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

He escaped as the German army advanced on the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk in 1940 and took part in the Normandy Landings four years later.

Three years ago, Stephen, from Earls Colne, was awarded the Legion of Honour – France’s highest award – for his part in the country’s liberation.

Stephen’s son, Tony said: “He has had an interesting life, to say the least.

“He went through the Second World War and was wounded twice but he also brought up five children and worked all his life.”

Halstead Gazette: Stephen O'Hagan Lynn celebrated his 100th BirthdayStephen O'Hagan Lynn celebrated his 100th Birthday