It’s been a busy old year of new stories here in South Tyneside, with some to make you smile and others to make you cry.
Here’s our New Year round-up of the stories which have been the biggest hit on our website, www.shieldsgazette.com during 2016.
The best-read story of the year was back in March, when transgender security guard Jamie Leigh Curtis, 29, from South Shields, told us how she was set to fulfil her dream of becoming a police officer.
“I’m so proud to be representing the transgender community in the police force,” she told us. “You read so many horrific stories of children with gender identity issues being bullied and depressed. I hope my story shows there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
Another well-read story was our round-up of the best and worst food hygiene ratings given to restaurants, takeaways and cafés in South Tyneside by the Food Standards Agency.
Each establishment is given a star rating out of five. The good news is 447 of South Tyneside’s eating places scored full marks. But more than 100 failed to meet the three-star grade.
It involved a 57-year-old man who was in intensive care after barricading himself in a treatment room and reportedly slashing his own throat.
A much more innocuous story was read by almost as many people after a South Shields school sparked outrage at the start of the September term.
In July, we brought you the story of a police fraud probe which was launched after a Disneyland trip organised by a South Shields Facebook business fell through.
More than 100 people were left out of pocket after a four-day trip to Disneyland Paris they had booked through South Shields Day Trips was cancelled at the last minute.
Just before Christmas, we brought you the tragic story of a South Shields dad whose family were devastated when he died suddenly while working on an oil rig.
Emotional tributes were paid to “larger-than-life” Ben Malloy, 25, who died offshore in Denmark just days before he was due to head home to spend the festive season with his partner and their two young children.
Our increasingly extreme weather hasn’t been far out of the news this year, and although we’ve escaped the floods seen elsewhere, Storm Desmond blew its way into our most-read list at the beginning of this month.
The winds were so strong at one point that firefighters had to smash the windows of the Next store in Coronation Place, South Shields, to stop them blowing out.
Crime stories are always well-read, and a particularly tragic one which captured the hearts of readers this year was the Mother’s Day killing of South Shields mum Melissa Liddle.
Anthony Ross repeatedly stabbed the 23-year-old, who was his childhood sweetheart and the mother of his two children, after becoming convinced she was having an affair. He is awaiting sentencing in the new year.
A story which stood out as good news amid a tide of doom and gloom was the opening of a new self-service bar in South Shields – with beer pumps on tables and iPads to place orders.
Tinker Smiths in the town’s Stanhope Street aims to breathe some new life back into the town’s ailing nightlife.
‘Listicles’ have proved extremely popular online this year, and the most popular was one which struck a chord with thousands of people of a certain age in September.
Read ‘19 things you’ll only remember if you went out ‘Down Street’ in Shields on Thursday nights in the 1990s’ and see if it makes you feel old.
Sport is a big driver to our websites too, and another rollercoaster year for Newcastle United, in particular, has resulted in lots of page views.
Our most-read sport story of the year came in July, when we broke the news that the Magpies were closing in on a double transfer swoop.
A move for Anderlecht striker Aleksander Mitrovic was close to being completed and United were also understood to be working on a second deal - though it wasn’t for QPR’s Charlie Austin.
John Carver’s troubled tenure at St James’s Park, which came to an end in June, seems like a lifetime away as Steve McClaren’s side continues to struggle at the bottom of the Premier League.
But our story about him receiving some advice on tactics from young fans was a big hit - and one youngster advised him to play a 2-6-2 formation against Manchester City!
Another big story to emerge from Gallowgate regarded a transfer which DIDN’T happen- the on-off saga of whether midfielder Moussa Sissoko would leave the club.
In a rare piece of positive news at the end of a troubled campaign, Sissoko pledged his future to Newcastle, saying: “I still have four years on my contract, and I am very happy to be staying here with Newcastle.”
Research by broadcaster ESPN and the universities of Gloucestershire and Bath, made Sunderland the fourth-best city in the UK to watch sport, based on a number of factors including value for money, atmosphere, history, transport links, success and venues.
Finally, the remarkable turnaround in South Shields FC’s fortunes has been the talk of North East non-league football since they returned to the town in the summer.
One story which attracted lots of interest was this one where chairman Geoff Thompson outlined his big ambitions for the club and its ground.
So, as you can see, it’s been a busy old year - and you can be assured that we’ll continue bringing you all the best stories from South Tyneside and beyond into the new one too. Happy New Year!