8 stories which made us smile in 2020

Last year was a difficult one for so many people in so many different ways.

So, we’ve gone back through our files to bring you 10 stories which made us smile in 2020.

1. Newport County Community member raises £900 for the NHS

A FOOTBALL-MAD Newport man with autism raised almost £1,000 for the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board by doing training “drills” in his back garden.

Luke Degilbert, aged 25, who is a fixture of Newport County’s County in the Community Team and the Dragon’s Disability Team, started the fundraising to “give something back to the NHS”.

He said: “I have been in and out of hospital all my life, the NHS has been massive for me.

“I have broken my leg on multiple occasions because of my triggers due to autism, and when you love football like me you need support at that time.”

Mr Degilbert was “blown away” by the support he received from the football community, including Premier League club Leicester City, and people from across Gwent.


2. Meet the first baby to be born in Grange Hospital car park

YOUNG Flynn Cooper was so eager to come into the world he could not wait to be born in Gwent’s new multi-million pound Grange University Hospital.

Staff at the hospital, which opened on November 17, had already celebrated the birth of the site’s first baby, Poppy Brooks.

And luckily they were on hand to help out when Flynn made his earlier than expected appearance – in the hospital’s car park as evening fell on that opening day.

Despite not being due to arrive until November 21, Flynn Raymond Colin Cooper was so excited to meet his family, including big brother Freddie, that he arrived four days early, before mum and dad – Chelsea Waite and Ieuan Cooper, from Blackwood – could even get through the hospital door.

3. Charity champions: Secret knitters reveal magic garden in aid of hospice

Knitters and crafters, of the Prosecco & Purls group, were joined by more than 40 secret knitters to create a Magic Garden by yarn bombing the Roman town of Caerleon.

There were teddy bears enjoying a picnic, a fairy grotto, Bill and Ben the Flower Pot men, colourfully wrapped trees, intricate dream catchers and small surprises spying from various vantage points throughout the garden.

There’s a bollard encasing ice cream cone which looks good enough to eat, knitted railings and a wishing wall where children can pin their dreams.

Organised by Dame Rosemary Butler, Reverend Elaine Hills, Barbara Parsons and Christabel Dawson in association with Caerleon Festival, the aim was to raise money for Newport-based St David’s Hospice Care.

4. World tour beckons for lucky Lottery winner

A GWENT shop assistant has won £10,000 a month for a year after playing The National Lottery for just the second time.

Ziyaad Fathe-Aldeen, 31, won the prize after matching the five main numbers in the Set For Life draw on November 25.

Ziyaad said he had only played The National Lottery once before, buying a EuroMillions ticket a few months ago.

He bought his winning ticket at the shop where he works – the Premier Stop, Gloucester Court, Caerleon, after being inspired by customers buying tickets.

“A few of them were buying tickets so I thought I would have a go, and I bought a Lucky Dip,” he said. “You’ve got to be in it to win it.”

5. Long-serving volunteers given award by theatre

A COUPLE who have volunteered at a Monmouthshire theatre for 34 years were given an award in February to recognise their loyalty and hard work.

Mel Hughes, 95, and Vera Hughes, 90, from Llanellen, have served at the Borough Theatre in Abergavenny since the 1980s, after retiring from their jobs as a plumber and a nurse respectively.

Since they started volunteering at the theatre in 1986, Mr Hughes has served as a steward, while Mrs Hughes has performed meet and greet duties, and they regularly spend their time outside their voluntary roles watching musicals at the theatre.

At the theatre’s awards night at the Angel Hotel, the A4B programme – an umbrella organisation which helps to run the theatre – recognised the pair with a special award for those that do not perform on stage, but without whom the theatre could not function.

6. Fisherman makes incredible find in estuary

FISHERMEN from the Black Rock Lave Net Heritage Fishery made an incredible discovery on the bed of the Severn estuary back in May.

When out inspecting the area at low tide ahead of the fishing season, Martin Morgan and his brother Richard spotted an Auroch horn wedged in to a sandbank.

“A sandbank had shifted and created a stream,” said Mr Morgan. “Me and my brother spotted the horn on the side of that sandbank.

“It’s an incredible find. Of all the years I have been out here I’ve never found anything like that.

“Professor Martin Bell at Reading University has been in touch with us, and once the pandemic clears we will get it

looked at. I think they were extinct in the UK about 3,000 years ago.”

7. Auction business moves online and hasn’t looked back

A Newport-based auction business had to move its sales totally online when the pandemic hit in March – and it has proved such a success, it looks like it will be the future for them.

Paul Fosh Auctions, which until then had held ballroom sales in Cardiff, have notched up record figures in the virtual world during 2020.

The business owner Paul Fosh is pictured when he was caught mid snack as he conducted an online sale from his office in Lower Dock Street, Newport.


8. Specialist team rescue dog stuck in mountain ravine

A PET labrador has been reunited with its owner, after mountain rescuers spent seven hours freeing the dog from a mountain ravine in Torfaen.

Carla, a black Labrador, had seemingly vanished without trace on moorland near Varteg in July.

Members of the public helped search for the dog, eventually finding her trapped in a deep, narrow crack in the ground.

The professionals were called in, first from Longtown Mountain Rescue Team and later from the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team.