The Star 2011 Year Review: March and April

Royal wedding: Celebrating at a Wisewood Primary Party were Gail Cross, Joanne Holland  and Fran Zelly.
Royal wedding: Celebrating at a Wisewood Primary Party were Gail Cross, Joanne Holland and Fran Zelly.
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Estranged twins, the closure of a city police station and a royal wedding... that was March and April in The Star in 2011.

Reporter Erin Cardiff reflects on the issues and incidents that made it on to our pages in spring.

13.04.11, Page 3

THEY were adopted separately at birth.

Then for the next 67 years these twin sisters never saw each other, despite living just three miles apart in South Yorkshire.

In April, The Star bought you the most remarkable of reunion stories.

Judith and Jennifer Walton’s journey began when they were given up by their unmarried mum Eva in 1943. In the years that followed their paths crossed many times - but the penny never dropped that they were twin sisters. Without either of them knowing, they shared the same doctor and dentist, and their children and grandchildren were members of the same drama group.

Jen worked for 40 years in the Rotherham town centre Boots store - the same store where Judith, renamed Kath by her adoptive parents, got her prescriptions.

Jen’s husband Howard also attended the same schools as Kath in the year below her,

And a workmate of Jen’s was pals with Kath.

But the twins never twigged they were so close and shared so much in common.

They were brought together by an ITV1 series called ‘Long Lost Family’,

which was hosted by Nicky Campbell and Davina McCall.

Their emotional story was told in the show’s first episode on 21 April.

Following a tearful reunion Jen, of Church View, Thrybergh, said she had often dreamed of one day finding her sister, but because it never happened she thought her twin must be living in Australia.

Jen said: “When I found she was round the corner, I felt so happy.

“Now we see each other every week and pop round to each other’s home for cups of tea.”

Delighted Kath, of Eastwood Mount, Clifton, added: “Last year we celebrated our joint birthday together, with our families. I couldn’t wish for more.” Mum-of-three Jen had first tried 14 years ago to trace Kath through social services, without success. But the TV team had more luck and set up an emotional first meeting at Clifton Park bandstand - where the twins had both played as kids.

Married mum-of-two Kath said: “It was wonderful. I saw her coming and wanted to run, then we hugged.

“We couldn’t take our eyes off each other. I kept asking her questions.

“I have photos Jenni has given me of Mum and have learned about her. If Jenni and I had been children together we would have been double trouble. But we can still make mischief together.”

Kath was told at 21 that she had been adopted - but did not know about her twin.

Jen added: “I had seen a clairvoyant who told me, ‘You are a twin and will find her. She lives near a church where the wall is falling down’ - and it’s all true!”

19.03.11, Page 3

March was the end of an era for criminals and coppers alike – as Sheffield’s West Bar police station closed it doors for the last time after almost 50 years.

What was once Sheffield’s tallest and most modern building ended up a crumbling shell and police chiefs locked it up for one final time ready for developers to demolish to make way for a new plush hotel and restaurant.

West Bar ‘nick’ opened in 1965 and became a landmark building, towering above all the others in the city centre.

It was the place where, in 1982, the European Cup was handed in after a man stole it from Aston Villa players who were celebrating in a pub in Tamworth.

Bobbies on duty at the time held a football game in the West Bar backyard to compete for the trophy until it was reclaimed.

And it was the base for Sgt Howard Webb before he went off on the football refereeing sabbatical which last summer saw him preside over the World Cup final.

But over the years the ageing building gradually fell into a state of sorry disrepair and, despite it being an authentic vintage cop shop, even the producers of the BBC’s Life On Mars police series found it too dilapidated to be considered as a location for filming their shows.

Sheffield’s District Commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Torr, said: “West Bar was an iconic building - it was once the tallest building in Sheffield and everyone knew West Bar nick, so closing it for the last time really is the end of an era.

“It is a sad day for the office and staff who have worked there over the years. A lot of people have fond memories of the place.”

Builders are due to move in early as April next year, with brief to transform the seven-storey 1960s tower into a 141-room hotel, a restaurant and an 80- space car park.

Following West Bar’s closure, all enquiries are now handled at South Yorkshire Police’s HQ on Snig Hill.

30.04.11, Pages 4 & 5

AMID the reunited twins and closing police station stories there was something about a Royal Wedding...

South Yorkshire got all patriotic as we tuned in to watch Will and Kate’s big day at Westminster Abbey, with street parties and celebrations across the county.

Little princes and princesses donned crowns and tiaras as Kiveton and Wales Pre-School Daycare Centre nursery got into the Royal Wedding spirit.

The youngsters gathered beneath a giant Union Jack featuring a picture of the happy couple.

The room was also decorated with flowers and smaller flags to mark the occasion.

The children made flags and red, white and blue foot and hand paintings. There was also a Princes and Princesses parade.

Youngsters at Leapfrog Day Nursery at Rotherham General Hospital were also in celebratory mood, with a fabulous garden party.

Patriotic tots put up bunting, donned specially-made crowns and waved Union Jacks to mark the marriage of their future king and queen. They got into the spirit with a fancy dress competition and prepared paintings for the occasion. Staff invited families to come along to the party, to enjoy the bouncy castle and a spread of party food.

And four happily married couples took the opportunity of the Royal Wedding Day to renew their own vows in a special ceremony.

They are all residents at Brunswick Gardens retirement village in Woodhouse and decided to come together on the same day that Will and Kate tied the knot for an event at the local village hall.

Susan and Peter White said ‘I do’ again after 44 years of married life, while Pauline and Vic Gould decided to show the world how much they love each other again after 29 years together.

Kath and Keith Morgan-Cresswell marked 13 years of marriage and Irene and Andrew Cottam celebrated a decade together.

Now, if only Harry would hurry up and say ‘I do’ – we want another day off work.

30.03.11, Pages 1 & 2

Tragedy struck in March when the murder of a woman and her pregnant daughter left a close-knit Sheffield estate torn apart by shock, and a four-year-old boy motherless.

Louise and Tracy Donnelly were both killed in Tracy’s home on Ironside Road, Gleadless, in the city on March 28.

Louise - whose four-year-old brother Daniel was inside the house when she and Tracy were murdered – was expecting her first child.

She had already excitedly started buying baby things wehn tragedy struck.

The 23-year-old barmaid had told colleagues at the pub where she worked she was around 10 or 11 weeks pregnant and could not wait for her 12-week scan when she would see her child for the first time.

Neighbours fear Tracy’s son Daniel may have witnessed the killings.

Locals spotted the boy wandering outside his house crying and later saw a police officer carrying him outside, wrapped in a blanket.

Louise – known as ‘Lou-Lou’ – lived with boyfriend Ricky Williams, aged 23, in a flat on Blackstock Road, Gleadless, and was staying only temporarily with her mum.

In a tribute to Louise on his Facebook page, Ricky said: “Goodnight babe, love you always. You will always be in my heart. Save me a place up there. I know we will be together again one day.”

Louise’s younger brother Ashley, 19, also left a message in which he simply said: “Rest in peace Mum and Louise.”

Louise had worked for three-and-a-half years as a barmaid, waitress and part-time cook at The New Inn pub in Hemsworth.

Landlady Jacqueline Woonton, 50, said: “She found out she was pregnant in January and was coming up for her first scan.

“She was excited - she was happy to be a mum and couldn’t stop telling everyone. She was already buying baby things. She was wonderful with children, and would have made a fantastic mum. She had so much patience with Daniel and with children around the pub. He’s a bubbly little child. I feel heartbroken. She was a lovely person and never said anything horrible about anybody.

“I’m distraught. All the staff are heartbroken. We’ve lost a wonderful, kind-natured, lovely young lady, who was well-loved and well-liked around Gleadless and with customers. It’s a waste of life.”

Police said an adult relative discovered the bodies of Louise and Tracy and raised the alarm at around 7.40am on March 29.

One neighbour heard screams coming from the property and another said a man was seen fleeing Tracy’s house barefoot and leaping into a car at around 2am.

Tracey Johnston, 27, said she was racked with guilt for not checking on her neighbour after being told a man had been seen running from the house: “I thought of going across but I didn’t want to interfere. I just wish I had gone over. If I had, things might have been different.”

Louise’s mum Tracy moved with Daniel to Ironside Road around a year earlier after she split from Daniel’s father.