REVIEW OF THE YEAR: We take a look at what made the headlines from January to June, 2017
We take a look back at what made the headlines in 2017 – first up, it’s January to June...
A Norfolk grandmother was jumping for joy as we welcomed 2017 – after scooping a huge £300,000 win on a scratch card.
June Kilbourn, 59, said she treated herself to the £3 scratch card on her morning trip to the Co-op in Harleston, before heading off to work at Wharton Nurseries in Weybread.
“I went home and while the kettle was boiling and I played the scratch card and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that I’d won the top prize,” she said.
A planning application for 136 new homes in Diss was approved by South Norfolk Council.
Persimmon Homes were granted to build the development on land north of Frenze Hall Lane. An initial application for 142 properties at the same site had been turned down in 2016.
Nick Woods, of pressure group Diss-Organised formed in the wake of the proposal, said: “The proposal is a long way from perfect, but the layout and design is better than it was before.
“We hope residents groups remain a model for all future developers seeking to build in rural communities and talking to local residents really does pay dividends.”
And South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon slammed plans to close the Crown post office in Market Place, Diss – describing it as a “foolish proposal” that has to be stopped.
The branch was among 37 Crown offices expected to shut nationwide – subject to local consultations.
A spokesperson for the Post Office said they felt the branch was “not sustainable”.
But Mr Bacon said: “Given the Heritage Triangle project, it is simply essential that we keep the excellent existing footfall from the post office in this part of Diss – and the best way to do that is keep the post office where it is.”
The court case of Ali Qazimaj, the man accused of a double-murder in Weybread, began at Ipswich Crown Court.
He was charged with the killings of Peter and Sylvia Stuart in 2016.
Mr Stuart’s body was found, with multiple stab wounds, under tarpaulin in a ditch close to their home.
The body of Mrs Stuart had not been found – and has not been found to this day.
Thousands of birds were culled in Suffolk after an outbreak of bird flu.
About 23,000 birds were killed and a ten-kilometre Temporary Control Zone was instituted around Bridge Farm, Redgrave.
Banham Poultry, which manages the site, said they notified the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs after observing increased mortality in one of its flocks of birds.
“There will now be humanely culled by authorities in accordance with EU legislation,” a spokesperson for the company said.
It was announced in February the Jewson branch off Fair Green in Stanley Road, Diss was to close, leading to a number of job losses.
Fair Green residents feared it could affect them. Gary Alexander, Fair Green Neighbourhood Association chairman, said: “We think this could have a big impact on the residents.”
A Jewson spokesperson said: “Because of a small local demand, unfortunately we are closing the branch on Stanley Road as we look to consolidate our business in the town into our presence on Victoria Road.”
The family of murdered pensioners Peter and Sylvia Stuart spoke out after Ali Qazimaj was found guilty of their murder.
“To the twisted individual who committed this wicked crime, we hope you spend the rest of your existence reflecting on the utter senselessness and brutality of what you did to two innocent people,” they said following his conviction.
Qazimaj, who claimed throughout his four-week trial he did not kill the couple, was jailed for at least 35 years.
There were emotional scenes at Butlins in Minehead after Mendham darts ace Peter Wright claimed his first television title.
The man known as ‘Snakebite’, who now lives across the border in Norfolk, was victorious at the UK Open – where he had been runner-up in the previous two years – defeating Welshman Gerwyn Price 11-6 in the final.
He said Michael Edwards, better known as Eddie the Eagle, inspired him to glory.
“I watched the Eddie the Eagle film on a plane travelling between events recently and there are some similarities between us,” he said. “It inspired me how he kept going after people told him he could not do it.
“I have had people tell me my whole career that I would fall short.”
MP’s reacted after being caught up in the Westminster terror attack, which killed four people.
Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP was returning from The Strand after a lecture at King’s College, London. He and his staff were safe, and took refuge in a friends flat.
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon, also unhurt, was in lockdown with another 250 MPs in the House of Commons.
“It is a reminder that the security and police are out there for a reason, and this place [Westminster] is a target for people who hate democracy.”
Tributes poured in after three teenagers will killed in a road accident in Pulham Market, which rocked the community.
Kyle Warren, 17, Billy Hines, 16, and Dominic O’Neill, 18, who all lived locally, died in the accident in Tivetshall Road.
Courtney Yeomans-Wood, a friend of Kyle Warren and Billy Hines, wrote on Facebook: “Honestly, the nicest boys you could ask for. Genuinely kind, caring, and funny boys.”
Scole’s Duncan Slater made history once again – this time completing the gruelling Marathon des Sables ultramarathon in the searing heat of the Sahara Desert.
The former RAF serviceman, who lost both of his legs while serving in Afghanistan in 2009, became the first double-leg amputee to complete it.
Injury prevented him from completing the challenge in his first attempt in 2016, while he was also the first double-amputee to ski to the South Pole in 2013.
The history maker told the Diss Express: “It’s a dream come true.”
Doubt was cast over the future of Diss’s ambulance station after the East of England Ambulance NHS Trust announced plans to remodel its facilities.
Bosses at the trust described the proposals as a “hub and “spoke” model, with 18 hubs supporting clusters of community ambulance stations.
Simon Morley, a paramedic based at the town’s ambulance station, said he was “extremely distressed” at the new plans, and said he had “great fears” for both staff and the public in rural locations.
But trust insisted the strategy was not a closure programme – and it was too early to say what would be happening at individual stations.
Years of hard work came to an end in Diss, as the £1.8 million refurbishment of the Corn Hall was officially opened.
Duncan Slater and town mayor Mike Bardwell cut the ribbon in front of a large crowd, welcoming a raft of improvements to the historic building which was built in 1854.
They included a new cafe and bar, interactive boards and a timeline of the history of the town, and big LED lights in the main auditorium, mimicking natural live, as well as improved acoustics and under floor heating.
It represented the first phase of the Heritage Lottery funded £3.1 million Heritage Triangle regeneration project.
A pair of “unsung heroes” were recognised in Diss after the town’s Honoured Citizen Award was shared between two former councillors.
Community champions Elizabeth Dewhurst and Harold Rackham were presented their awards by mayor Mike Bardwell.
Diss Town Council leader Graham Minshull said: “It was an incredibly close decision because they have done an awful lot for the town.”
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon stepped up the fight to save Diss’s Crown Post Office – urging “people power” in a bid to keep the service in Market Place.
Mr Bacon, who at the time was a parliamentary candidate after the General Election was called, described the building as the “jewel in the crown” of the town.
“There are things that can be done and it requires a lot of will, drive, imagination and, honestly, a bit of luck,” he said.
“If there’s not a precedent, let’s create a precedent. Let’s come up with a compelling offer that works fro the community and keeps the post office at the heart of the town.”
Twisted metal and ash were all that remained of a Bacton business after a fierce blaze tore through the building.
In total 12 crews attended the fire at Finbows Furnishers at Finbows Yard in Station Road, which took two hours to put out.
“The building is a total loss,” said Jason Scruby, a partner of the business. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.
“I keep thinking I’m going to wake up at some point, but it’s happened unfortunately.”
The Diss Express area remained blue after the General Election – on what proved to be a difficult night for the Tories.
Conservatives Richard Bacon, Dr Dan Poulter, and Elizabeth Truss were all re-elected to their constituencies – South Norfolk, Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and South West Norfolk respectively.
Against the majority of polls, the Conservative party lost their majority, leaving the country with a hung parliament.
Diss once again showed it’s community spirit in June.
The town rallied to support victims of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, with a van full of essentials being delivered to London, while it also came out in force to support the annual carnival.
For 2017 it moved location to Diss Park – and an estimated 7,000 people turned out on the day.
Chris Moyse, chairman of the organising committee, said: “Facebook has seen a deluge of positive feedback, so we feel we absolutely nailed it this year.”
Read the second half of the year review in today’s print edition of the Diss Express.