5:00am Tuesday 1st January 2013
The past twelve months have been a mixed bag and our review of the year looks back on just some of the things to hit the headlines in 2012.
The Wimbledon Guardian launched its Drop the Dons campaign, starting a petition which called on MK Dons FC - formerly Wimbledon FC - to drop its nickname out of recognition for the real Dons, AFC Wimbledon.
We said: “It is only a matter of time before AFC Wimbledon and MK Dons are drawn to play each other, whether in league or cup competition.”
Little did we know the confrontation would occur less than a year later, when the two teams faced each other for the first time in December.
An on-call doctor left patients waiting up to three hours for urgent treatment and took at least £100,000 in a series of shocking failings at a care service.
Dr Ravi Sondhi withdrew the money from Croydoc, a private company providing out-of-hours GP care to Merton patients. His clinic in Morden was shut 83 times in less than a year when his wife, also a GP, failed to turn up for shifts.
A family discovered they had spent seven years grieving at the wrong graveside after a stonemason’s blunder.
After Dennis Brown’s headstone went missing, his family was told it had been moved to another plot in London Road cemetery, Mitcham, where he had actually been buried in 2004. Merton Council said the stone had been inscribed with an incorrect grave number.
Little League football in the borough was threatened with closure after Merton Council said they would no longer subsidise free sport for 430 children each week.
The organisers of the five leagues were told they would have to pay £5,000 a year to use council-run parks, having been charged nothing for 40 years before.
The council had cited “extreme budget constraints” but, following an outcry by parents and councillors, dropped the idea.
A thug who used a meat cleaver to viciously attack a New Years Eve partygoer in Lower Morden was jailed for 13 years.
Barry Hughes left Matthew Jeeves with horrific facial injuries after attacking him in Canterbury Road in the early hours of New Years Day in 2008.
Crucial DNA evidence used to convict Hughes came from his mother’s shoes, which had Jeeves’ blood on them.
A devout Christian claimed she was forced to quit her job because Merton Council wouldn’t give her Sundays off work.
Celestina Mba, a children’s care worker from Mitcham, lost a lawsuit she took to an employment tribunal in which she claimed discrimination against her religion.
The 57-year-old worked at Brightwell Children’s Home, Morden, until June 2010.
Schools were branded as “unwittingly institutionally racist” by a Merton councillor, prompting anger from teachers and unions.
Councillor Agatha Akyigyina made the comments during a council schools committee meeting, which was discussing figures which shows black children were excluded at a rate high than the national average. Coun Akyigyina has never retracted or explained her comments since.
A Wimbledon Guardian reader helped catch a 15-year-old who terrified a bus driver by threatening to shoot her.
The teen, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was convicted by Wimbledon Magistrates court for holding an imitation firearm in July 2011 while boarding the 200 bus in Fair Green, Mitcham.
Merton police said the teen was identified by a member of the public who recognised his picture in an appeal featured in this newspaper.
Bomb disposal experts carried out a controlled explosion on Wimbledon Common after a brother and sister unearthed an unexploded hand grenade.
Tony Burcombe and Lara Sparrow were treasure hunting with metal detectors, when they came across the explosive, which had no locking pin.
The area used to be an army training ground during the Second World War.
Wimbledon’s mascot, Haydon the Womble, was banned from carrying the Olympic flame in a summer parade by London 2012 organisers because he could not wear their corporate uniform.
The revelation was made after the Wimbledon Guardian discovered not one of the 20 torchbearers parading through Merton had any connection to the borough - so the Wimbledon Guardian decided to organise its own in Mitcham.
Half a million litres of clean water went straight down the drain during a hosepipe ban.
The leak outside a block of Merton Priory Homes-owned block of flats in Seddon Road, Morden, was reported to Thames Water on January 7 but only fixed after we reported it on April 20.
Merton Council’s education chief was sacked after he was secretly filmed ripping down a poster opposing his plans to expand a Wimbledon primary school.
Councillor Peter Walker was dismissed from his cabinet position for “wholly acceptable conduct” towards campaigners against the redevelopment of Dundonald Primary School.
An unlicensed and uninsured driver was jailed for six-and-a-half years after killing a 14-year-old girl by running her over and driving away.
Alessia Boschiazzo, a student at Ursuline High School, Wimbledon, died after suffering head injuries and a broken pelvis in February 2011.
Stephen Saunders, 22, Gardeners Close, Mottingham torched his car after fleeing the scene in Addiscombe, Croydon.
NHS bosses revealed plans to axe A&E and maternity services at St Helier Hospital.
The recommendations by the Better Services, Better Value (BSBV) were branded as “disgusting” by Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond and “absolutely outrageous” by Mitcham and Morden MP Siobhain McDonagh.
The plans were due to go to a three-month public consultation, which, to date, has never taken place.
The Queen made a historic visit to Mitcham delighting thousands of people who had queued in the rain to greet her outside St Mark's Academy.
Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the school as part of this year's Diamond Jubilee celebrations and enjoyed a British picnic themed lunch.
The royal couple were joined by some of South London’s ‘achievers’ and all 13 borough mayors including former Mayor of Merton, Councillor Gilli Lewis-Lavender before unveiling a plaque to mark the visit.
A Wolverine impersonator was found dead at his home after a bizarre sex game went tragically wrong. James “Logan” Lockless, 50, choked to death after wrapping himself in cling film and binding himself in a red nylon sheet.
The Wimbledon-based karate teacher also worked as a lookalike of comic book hero Wolverine.
Merton Council refused to quash a parking fine after a woman’s ticket curled up and became obscured in her car window.
Debbie King paid £10 to park in Hartfield Road, Wimbledon, and said “bureaucracy seems to have gone mad” after the council refused to acknowledge she had honestly tried to pay a ticket, which had become damp by rain.
A talented England cricketer died on the Tube tracks at Wimbledon Park after running away from police, who had stopped him for driving erratically.
Surrey batsman Tom Maynard was struck by the first District Line train at about 5am on June 19 after fleeing on foot in Arthur Road. His death sparked at outpouring of sorrow from the cricket community.
Hundreds of thousands of residents lined the streets of Merton on one of the hottest days of the year to welcome the Olympic torch as it passed through the borough.
Sue Barker, Andy Murray, Venus Williams and Capital FM radio presenters Dave Berry and Lisa Snowden were just some of the celebrities to carry the torch through Merton along with dozens of deserving residents selected by the London 2012 organising committee.
Olympic champion Linford Christie, who won gold in the 100m at the 1992 Barcelona Games, visited young people in Mitcham to marshal a series of 60m races.
The event was organised by charity Street Athletics which was founded by Christie and ex-sprinter Darren Campbell to help children overcome barriers preventing them from reaching their ambitions.
A "cash cow" bus lane in Wimbledon earned Merton Council nearly £150,000 in just 10 weeks and more than £300,000 after five months prompting a comedy cow to parade the streets calling for it to be scrapped.
The annual income of the bus lane in Hartfield Road, Wimbledon, had been estimated at £110,000.
A community mourned the loss of 12-year-old Tia Sharp whose body was found in her grandmother's loft in New Addington, Croydon, on August 10 after a week long search.
Stuart Hazell, 37, has been charged with her murder and is due to enter a plea at the Old Bailey on March 8 with a trial, should he plead guilty, expected in May.
Wimbledon’s Olympic athletes shone as Olympic fever hit the country. Rower Sophie Hosking, a former Wimbledon Guardian paper girl, took home gold in the women’s double lightweight sculls with partner Kat Copeland, earning her the honour of having a Royal Mail post box painted gold outside Elys in Wimbledon town centre.
With not one Merton resident selected to carry the Olympic torch through Merton, the Wimbledon Guardian held their own torch relay at the Mitcham and Tooting Football Club.
It featured Merton’s deserving community heroes including a belly dancing grandmother, two former Olympians and a 30 year old woman born with spina bifida who was told she wouldn’t live past childhood.
A police investigation was launched after a one year old girl choked to death on a jelly cube at a nursery in Wimbledon.
Tiya Chauhan, 18 months, was taking part in a sensory game exploring touch and feel at the Dickie Birds nursery in Wimbledon when the tragedy happened.
She was rushed to St Georges Hospital but later died.
The investigation is ongoing.
Rock legend Brian May delighted schoolchildren by paying a surprise visit to a primary school in Mitcham.
The Queen guitarist was at the Lonesome Primary School in Grove Road to talk to children about humane ways of dealing with an ongoing problem of foxes coming into their school grounds.
The well known animal rights activist founded the Save Me charity that lobbies to end cruelty to animals for sport.
A boating holiday turned tragic after a Mitcham mother was found strangled leaving behind a 13-year-old daughter.
Annette Creegan, 41, from Beechholme Avenue, Mitcham was found in the River Bure in Norfolk on September 2, along with her partner John Didier, 41.
The mother had worked as a nurse at the Trinity Hospice in Clapham.
An inquest into their deaths is due next year.
Fans of AFC Wimbledon were given the first glimpse of hope that they may one day return to their spiritual home after the Greyhound Racing Authority (GRA), who own Plough Lane greyhound stadium, submitted a proposal to turn their stadium into a football ground.
The plans, received by Merton Council, featured designs for a 15,000 seat football stadium, 500 homes and leisure facilities.
An Antarctic doctor became part of the filming of the first ever feature length fictional film on the ice capped continent.
Matt Edwards helped write, film and produce horror film South of Sanity with a 21-strong crew whilst working as a medical officer at the Rothera Research Base for the British Antarctic Survey Medical Unit in Antarctica.
A popular pensioner described as a "lovely lady" was killed after she was mauled by a pack of dogs at her daughter's home in Morden.
Gloria Knowles, 71, was attacked after she went into her the garden to feed her daughter's dogs.
She died from shock caused by a blood haemorrhage as a result of the attack.
Five dogs, including two French mastiffs, were seized by police following her death.
A war veteran had two medals stolen 56 years ago replaced thanks to help from Merton Council, a local solicitor and a construction company.
Alan Ansell, 78, from Crown Lane, Morden, served in the Korean War and the Mau Mau Uprising in Kenya in the 1950s and received two medals which were stolen during a break-in a year after receiving them.
More than a half century later Mr Ansell was helped to submit a legally binding document to confirm the theft and was reunited with replacement medals.
A teenager was jailed for 11 years after pointing a gun at police officers’ heads and shooting at them as he fled in "panic".
Brian Mudziwapasi, 19, admitted firing at the three police officers in Morden Road, Mitcham, on the evening of February 21 after refusing to be stopped and searched.
Two men accused of murdering a teenager in a sports shop in Oxford Street on Boxing Day last year were cleared of any wrong-doing.
Seydou Diarrassouba, 18, from Phipps Bridge, Mitcham bled to death outside Foot Locker in London’s Oxford Street after he was stabbed twice in the chest on December 26, 2011.
Jermaine Joseph, 23, who used to live in Mitcham but who moved to Conway Road in Haringey in April 2011, had been charged with the teenager’s murder alongside Thulani Thomas Khumalo, 20, from Etherley Road in Haringey.
Both were cleared of murder and manslaughter following a four week trial at the Old Bailey.
Inequality between the borough's rich and poor appeared to be getting worse, after new figures revealed a girl born in Mitcham can expect to live on average eleven years less than one born in Wimbledon.
Five years ago, the gap in average life expectancy was reported by Merton Council as eight years.
A two-year investigation failed to uncover how a skeleton came to be found in Mitcham Common.
A man was discovered near Red House Road in January 2011 by scrap metal hunters.
An inquest at Westminster Coroner’s Court recorded an open verdict.
Thieves broke in to a charity and stolen presents set for children of families in need.
Workers at Home Start in Colliers Wood said they were have been left shattered 71 carefully wrapped presents were stolen.
Barbara Cluer, director, said rubbish bags were emptied on to the floor and used to steal the gifts.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group