Review of 2012: Looking back at events in Leicestershire in January and February
Health Reporter Cathy Buss chats to the Tansey family, who are battling to save children’s heart surgery at Glenfield
Adam and Annita Tansey are preparing a fabulous Christmas spread for their children, family and very close friends. It will be fun, but it will also be tinged with apprehension as the Tanseys ponder what 2013 holds for them and their three-year-old son, Albert, who was born with half a heart.
Albert became the face of the campaign to save children's heart surgery at Leicester's Glenfield Hospital after an NHS review of services named it as one of four English hospitals which should stop operating on children born with heart problems.
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Campaigners fought long and hard to keep the service at Glenfield, but the future of specialist service – and Albert's future – are still uncertain.
"We live with uncertainty," said Adam, of Burbage.
"When Albert was four days old we were told life would become a rollercoaster of a ride. We never realised how hard that would be.
"Annita and I are always on edge. We are always watching for the next deterioration in Albert, but you do become used to those things."
The youngster has had three life-saving operations at the hands of children's heart surgeons at Glenfield Hospital.
He will need another by the time he is five.
The past year has proved to be a rollercoaster ride in itself – sometimes at near breakneck speed.
Adam, an insurance broker, said: "We came out of the blocks at Christmas last year waiting to hear if Glenfield would be a centre for children's heart surgery.
"We thought we might hear something in about March, but then the decision was delayed until the beginning of July."
As the couple waited, they threw their energy into the charity they founded in July 2011, called Keep The Beat.
It has so far raised about £45,000 to help young heart patients.
In the past year, the money raised by the charity has been used to buy two special sensory machines, paid for the refurbishment of the staff kitchen on the unit's Ward 30 and refurbished the "quiet room" on the intensive care unit.
This Christmas, the charity has also helped to create a special Santa's grotto on the ward, and charity cash was used to buy individual Christmas gifts for the young patients.
Adam said: "Not a day goes by when we don't do something for the charity."
A highlight has been creating the Keep The Beat cycling club, which promotes the charity.
In June, eight members raised nearly £10,000 by riding coast to coast, from Seascale in Cumbria to Whitby in Yorkshire.
Adam, who was among those taking part, said: "It was a great focus for us, with training and organising, but it was also the first time that I have ever been away from Albert for a night.
"It was a big emotional effort to think of how far away I'd be if something went wrong."
Four days later, the Joint Committee of Primary Care Trusts – which was looking at which children's heart centres should close as it worked to reduce the number from 11 to seven – dealt the campaigners a blow.
Glenfield, it said, was to close. That meant children in Leicestershire born with heart problems would instead have to travel to Birmingham for surgery.
The Tanseys were with hospital staff and other campaigners watching the long meeting at which the decision was announced over the internet.
"The penny began to drop that it wasn't going our way, and the decision went against us," said Adam.
"I didn't really have time to think about it at the time as everything became a whirlwind of events and speaking to the media.
"I woke up the next morning not really knowing what to do."
It was then suggested he set up an online petition.
If 100,000 people signed it, there was a chance of a Parliamentary debate.
However, four days later the family's life took another dramatic turn as Albert suffered a heart attack.
Annita said: "That Sunday night it felt as if Albert was slipping away. It was one of the lowest points of my life. I felt so helpless.
"For this to happen so soon after the decision about Glenfield took us to rock bottom."
Doctors told Adam and Annita that although there were risks, Albert's best chance was for them to operate to try to find out what had happened.
Adam said: "We were told there was a 50 per cent chance of Albert making it, but we said 'yes'. We knew it was the best chance and best hope for Albert to have some kind of life."
Doctors found a blood clot and, in what is thought to be first operation of its kind involving heart surgeons who usually operate on adults as opposed to children, they removed it.
Albert was allowed home about a week later.
Annita said: "I am so proud Albert has come through."
Adam added: "It has changed our lives and our ability to look at anything long term.
"Albert should have an operation when he is about five to fix the half a heart he was born with. We hope he can have that final stage operation."
Despite the setback, Annita almost single-handedly organised the second Keep The Beat annual ball in November, attended by more than 200 people. It raised £9,600.
The second annual sponsored Santa cycle ride was also held this month, and has so far raised £4,000.
Adam said: "We are looking forward to Christmas, but I find Christmas and birthdays are hard to deal with.
"They remind you of how delicate Albert is and you wonder how many more there will be."
Adam's petition achieved the required 100,000, and the issue was debated in Parliament. On the same day that the debate was taking place, it was announced that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had ordered an independent review into the decision about which centres should close.
The review, being done by the Independent Reconfiguration Panel, is going on at the moment, and has given campaigners hope that Glenfield will continue to save the lives of youngsters such as Albert.
Adam said: "When this whole review started it felt a bit like a big navy frigate at full steam and we wondered how we could turn things round.
"We have taken it one job at a time. Now it feels as if we are sideways on in the ocean and wait to hear what the panel recommends.
"The one thing I would like to hear in 2013 is that there will be two children's heart centres in the middle of the country – one in Birmingham and one at Glenfield."
Annita said: "I hope Albert keeps on being the little boy we love and adore and who has touched so many hearts."
While most of us start the new year with a hangover, new mum Jagruti Kanbar was celebrating for very different reasons.
After trying for 15 years, her baby twins – a boy and a girl – were born on January 1.
It couldn’t have been a better way to start the year for Jagruti, who was one of a dozen mums in the county to give birth between midnight and 10am on New Year’s Day.
Just a few days later, it was the weather hitting the headlines, as strong winds battered the county.
Carl Massey had a lucky escape as part of his house in Broughton Astley collapsed in winds of up 45mph and torrential rain, while a tree smashed through the window of Anna Nobel’s home in Lubenham.
In the world of celebrity, Rosemary Conley, below, was representing Leicestershire in Dancing on Ice, and Leicester City star Gary Lineker joined Twitter – big news in the social networking world.
Leicester City fans were celebrating as the club made the fourth round of the FA Cup, with striker Jermaine Beckford being hailed a hero for his hat-trick in a 4-0 victory over Nottingham Forest at the King Power Stadium.
However, their march towards Wembley was halted when City later lost 5-2 to Chelsea.
In other City news, defender Wes Morgan, below, joined the team for a cool £1 million after leaving rivals Forest.
He took little time in taking on the captain’s armband.
Also during January, city mayor Sir Peter Soulsby announced plans to demolish the Belgrave flyover, and Starbucks became the latest business to leave Gallowtree Gate.
Someone’s luck was out, after being in – a £1 million winning lottery ticket was found to have been bought in Leicester, but the ticket-holder never claimed.
Lottery bosses made several appeals for the mystery winner, but to no avail.
A shadow fell across the county as funerals were held for former police inspector Toby Day, his wife, Samantha, and their six-year-old daughter, Genevieve.
Mr Day strangled and stabbed his wife and daughter before turning the knife on himself a week after he had been sacked by Leicestershire Police for gross misconduct.
There were two things everyone was talking about in the first week of February – the English Defence League and snow.
About 700 people took part in the EDL march through the city on Saturday, February 4, while some 200 took part in the counter protest by Unite Against Fascism.
Despite a few brief skirmishes, the day had passed without a repeat of the violence which broke out when the EDL last visited the city in October 2010, and no arrests were made on the day.
Later that evening, the city centre was brought almost to a standstill as snow fell across the county.
About four inches (10cm) of snow fell, closing East Midlands Airport and blanketing roads, fields and parks.
Many steep roads were impassable, and Burleys Flyover, in Leicester, was among the routes shut.
Into the later hours, taxis in the city centre stopped operating and motorists reported seeing abandoned cars as drivers gave up trying to control their vehicles.
Meanwhile, there was more misery among motorists as petrol prices hit the 150p mark.
In local politics, there @was also outrage as Leicester City Council earmarked three areas for travellers’ sites.
And over at County Hall, the then-county council leader David Parsons found himself on the first of what would become several front pages as it emerged he was facing an investigation by a standards watchdog over alleged expenses irregularities.
While that inquiry was just starting, former Leicester City owner Milan Mandaric was cleared of tax evasion charges following a five-year police investigation.
There was finally closure for the family of Vinny Derrick, who had been missing for eight years, when his body was discovered beneath a flyover near Stockport.
The 28-year-old, from Castle Donington, had last been seen on a night out with friends in Manchester in 2003.
Happier news for the month included the rescue of youngster Millie Chapman from the Grand Union Canal, near the Packhorse Bridge, in Aylestone, by a mystery hero.
He was later identified as Hugo Worthy and the pair were reunited following an appeal to trace him in the Mercury.
And with a line-up including Chris Addison, Sarah Millican and Greg Davies, Leicester Comedy Festival provided lots of cheer to the city.