The top stories of 2011

Ray French with his MBE medal, presented by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 10, 2011. See PA story ROYAL Investiture. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Ray French with his MBE medal, presented by Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during an investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace, central London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Thursday March 10, 2011. See PA story ROYAL Investiture. Photo credit should read: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

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July:

n A ST Helens soldier killed during an Afghan fire fight with Taliban insurgents was awarded a posthumous bravery medal. The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge met privately with the family of fallen soldier Christopher Davies, 22, following the Irish Guards’ return home from a six-month tour of duty - and presented them with a posthumous Elizabeth Cross medal in his memory.

n A POLICEMAN from St Helens PC Grham Hislop who single-handedly broke up a clash between 30 youths brandishing knives, petrol bombs and baseball bats was named Britain’s bravest bobby.

n A VICIOUS teenage girl who robbed a pensioner at knifepoint and carried out a horrific street attack on a terrified schoolboy was jailed for six years. Notorious Jessica Peace, of Central Street, forced her way into the home of a vulnerable 71-year-old before robbing him and, just months later, stole a 15-year-old boy’s mobile phone after repeatedly headbutting him in the face.

August:

n A LEVEL pass rates topped 98 per cent across St Helens - echoing the record-breaking national attainment picture. Almost half of the local pupils achieved at least one A*-B grade and most sixth forms recorded significantly improved overall pass rates.

September:

n “I NEVER left his side.” That was the testimony of Guardsman Lee Collins, whose brave efforts to repel Taliban insurgents were heralded by hero soldier Christopher Davies’ family in September. An inquest held at St Helens Town Hall heard how Guardsman Davies was on patrol with fellow Irish Guards in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, when tragedy struck on November 17, 2011.

n A QUIET residential street in St Helens was singled out as having one of the slowest broadband connections in Britain. But, to residents of leafy Spinners Drive, in Sutton, the news that their road had the 18th slowest broadband in the UK came as no surprise.

October:

n A WAR of words erupted after comedian Freddie Starr left hundreds of theatre goers in the lurch after claiming his dressing room wasn’t up to scratch. Staff at St Helens Theatre Royal were stunned when the 68-year-old funnyman walked out just hours before the local date of his comeback tour show.

n A BRONZE statue of Saints legend Keiron Cunningham finally took its rightful place outside the new stadium - Langtree Park. And the 34-year-old even clambered up a ladder to have his photo taken alongside it!

n A SUSPECTED arson attack led to a mass evacuation and sparked chaos on a busy St Helens railway line. Hundreds of Sutton residents were evacuated from their homes amid fears that a fire on a railway embankment, near to a dilapidated industrial unit, could ignite a series of gas cylinders and spark a devastating explosion.

November:

n A FUND-RAISING campaign was launched to help a brave little girl who needs a pioneering operation to walk for the very first time. Four-year-old Susanna Petersburska’s parents must raise £60,000 to send their beloved daughter to the US for ground-breaking treatment.

n ST Helens fell silent as the town paid its respects to the fallen on Remembrance Sunday. The service was particularly poignant as it was the first to be held since St Helens soldier Christopher Davies was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2010.

n GRANDFATHER-of-two Harry Jackson, 68, raised hundreds of pounds for Children In Need - by completing a staggering 5,000 sit-ups in just over an hour.

December:

n ST Helens boxer Martin Murray produced an awesome display of skill and toughness in his world title shot against German Felix Sturm - but fell just short of snatching the title. The 28-year-old middleweight gave as good as he got against the hard-as-nails champion as a stunning bout ended in a draw.

n DEPUTY Prime Minister Nick Clegg hailed Pilkington Glass as an “iconic” global leader on a visit to the company’s St Helens HQ. The Lib Dem leader then told how a £36m government and private sector grant awarded to the firm would help create jobs and stimulate the local economy.