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THE YEAR THAT WAS: How we reported 2008: January - March

PUBLISHED: 08:51 31 December 2008 | UPDATED: 15:44 07 September 2010

JANUARY: Hardened bathers kick-started their 2008 with a traditional dive into the freezing waters of Hampstead Heath, while a wave of sadness swept over Highgate. Schoolboy Nassirudeen Osawe was stabbed to death in broad daylight just days before his 17t

JANUARY:

Hardened bathers kick-started their 2008 with a traditional dive into the freezing waters of Hampstead Heath, while a wave of sadness swept over Highgate. Schoolboy Nassirudeen Osawe was stabbed to death in broad daylight just days before his 17th birthday after an argument on a 73 bus ended in tragedy.

Camden became China's top choice in Europe for its biggest TV station CCTV, as residents of Hampstead went rent-a-pooch crazy, taking up the American craze for sharing pets with other families.

The Ham&High received a heartfelt letter protesting innocence from fraudster estate agent Malcolm Green, desperate to clear his name after being jailed for stealing £500,000 from a mentally unwell man in Childs Hill.

New kid on the Hampstead block, Russian billionaire Lev Leviev, was beaten into second place for the most expensive new pad in Britain as the £50million Toprak Mansion on The Bishops Avenue was sold.

Meanwhile, Hampstead lawyer Bruce Hyman was released from jail after two months. He was originally sentenced to a year in prison for perverting the course of justice during a child custody battle.

FEBRUARY

As January ended with scenes of flowers and farewells after the funeral of long time Heath and Hampstead Society chairwoman 'Dame' Peggy Jay, February saw "the beginning of the end" for the NHS. GPs were outraged as three surgeries in Camden were privatised, marking what some called a step towards the death of free healthcare.

Former Soviet premier Mikhail Gorbachev paid a surprise visit to Hampstead Garden Suburb for the anniversary of local estate agent Glentree, as hundreds of teachers walked out over pay, leaving Hampstead schools in chaos.

Camden went up in flames as The Great Fire engulfed markets and shops surrounding the Lock, leaving hundreds without jobs and their livelihoods in ashes.

Angry protesters threw themselves in front of a truck in Kentish Town to fight against their beloved Little Green Street being turned into a thoroughfare for construction vehicles, and campaigners in Camden and Barnet geared up their petitions to save post offices from closure.

MARCH

Post office protests continued as 200 people rallied against the closure of branches in Hampstead. Terry Gilliam, Fiona Bruce and Sadie Frost all registered their opposition.

Following the life sentence given to Kevin Nevers for violently mugging nine women around Hampstead, there was a chilling reminder of the attacks when another mother was viciously robbed, hailing the start of a trend which would last all year.

Glamour model Samantha Fox whipped off her bra in an auction for deaf and blind charity Sense, Camden Mayor's chosen 2008 charity. Meanwhile disabled pensioner, Fieke van den Berg, 76, who could hardly walk, raised money for St Joseph's church in Highgate by embarking on a mile-long trek.

Hampstead mourned the sudden death of Oscar-winning director Anthony Minghella, at the age of 54. Tributes came in from luminaries from across the globe. Meanwhile Camden police's decision to cull half their crime prevention team was met with anger as officer cuts followed no public consultation.


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