Pat Keenor: Welcome to 2013
HAPPY New Year to everyone in glorious North Devon which in my opinion is full of the some of the best people in the world and also some of the craziest....
In retrospective mood I've been taking a look back over last year's front pages where among all the doom and gloom and the villains who are "mad, bad and dangerous to know", there are those stories which warm the heart, make you laugh or make you despair.
So I've decided to hand out a few of my own plaudits for 2012 – the Who'd Want To Live Anywhere Else? awards:
The I'll Hunt You Down Like A Dog Award goes to angry publican Chris Batchelor, of the Pack O' Cards pub in Combe Martin.
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A motorist hit his son's Mini in the car park and drove off. Waitress Emma Doran had written down the car's registration number so Chris set off to find the culprit.
Suspecting they were holidaymakers, he scoured public and hotel car parks throughout the area and eventually found the Mini parked at a Barnstaple hotel and reported the driver to the police.
There, that will teach tourists not to tangle with North Devonians.
The Sledgehammer To Crack A Nut award goes to the London Organising Committee of the London Games (LOCOG). Just hours after the Olympic torch passed through North Devon, Webbers estate agents in Braunton were instructed to take down their window display because they were breaching sponsorship rules.
Were they trying to convince Bradley Wiggins to wear a Webbers t-shirt while straining every fibre to win a gold medal? Or Mo Farah to perform some kind of Web-Bot after breaching the tape?
No, in the Webbers window was a homemade torch, bunting, flags, a bike with a cut-out of Chris Hoy and five painted hula hoops that looked like the Olympic rings.
The Helpful Elves Award goes to the person or people who read our story about an elderly couple from Frithelstock Stone who, through the Journal, had appealed for help in shifting a tree which had crashed down in their garden after high winds.
Someone answered the plea and like elves in the night, crept in to remove all trace of the tree while the couple was out. The Journal had already received 12 offers of help when the speedy elves stepped in.
I wonder if I dare mention that my garden could do with a spruce up....
The Tell It Like It Is Award goes to Ilfracombe town councillor Frank Pearson who branded parents who parked near a school causing traffic congestion and danger to pupils "fat and lazy".
They should be walking to school with their kids, he said.
It was a brave comment but those of us who have tried to weave in and out of cars parked willy nilly outside schools applaud it.
The Most Barking Health And Safety Rule Award goes to the NHS Blood And Transplant unit which stopped a Bishops Nympton woman from giving blood.
Sarah Midwinter, of Bishops Nympton, who had given blood for 30 years, was turned away because nurses were no longer allowed to tap her arm to bring a vein to the surface because "there was a danger of infection".
What? Do nurses no longer wash their hands or use disinfectant? Do they all have talons for nails and might inadvertently puncture your skin while tapping you?
When there are frequent appeals for people to give blood, rules like these are a nonsense at best and life-threatening at worse – for the potential recipients of blood, not for the donors.
The Take The Law Into Your Own Hands Award goes to Ilfracombe pub landlords Brett Houlford and Irene Neason.
This intrepid pair were fed up with an alleyway being used as a lavatory and for drug taking, couples having sex, underage drinking and fly-tipping.
In a simple solution, they put a barred gate at either end, which they can unlock if anyone asks them to.
Sorted. And a victory for some North Devon common sense.