THIS year residents in Andover have welcomed a major funding announcement, supported the foodbank and those who were victims of fires, and mourned the death of a popular train station cat. 

Here we look back at some of the stories the Advertiser covered from September to December.


As September came, we reported on the GCSE successes of students across Andover and the wider Test Valley.

There was joy, shock and in some case disappointment as months of hard work were finally realised.

In the same week a tribunal decision found that a Lloyds Bank manager who was sacked for using the N-word while seeking advice during race education training won a discrimination and unfair dismissal case.

The former Mayor of Test Valley Carl Borg-Neal raised a question over what to do if he heard a black colleague using the racial epithet, but accidentally said it in full.

More 150 people turned out to bid a farewell to an ‘old school, family gym’ as it closed in Andover after 25 years of serving fitness enthusiasts.

Andover Advertiser: Caffrey's gym members gathered for the farewell party.Caffrey’s Gym, in Charlton Road, shut down due to the cost-of-living crisis, with owner and driving force Martin Caffrey saying he worked at the gym since the start and is ‘walking away with literally nothing’. 

He said the pandemic took its toll on the gym’s membership and it became increasingly challenging to sustain the business. 

Postal disruption in Andover continued to cause upset, frustration and anger among residents who were receiving late mail or - in worst cases - none at all.

The problem saw, and is continuing to see, people miss vital medical appointments, bills and face fines. 

Royal Mail said it acknowledged the issue and told the Advertiser it was down to vacancy issues at the local sorting offices.

Shoppers reacted to the announced closure of Wilko in Andover

The Bridge Street shop closed on September 21, as part of the company’s broader shutdown.

The owner of a Caribbean takeaway left severely damaged by an arson attack said it left him feeling devastated and fearing opening a second restaurant in Andover as he believed the attack was related to his expansion plans.

Andover Advertiser: Jiggaz Grill was set on fire after vandals smashed the windows two days prior.Jiggaz Grill, in Zouch Market, Tidworth, was set alight on Saturday, September 16. Just two days earlier bricks were thrown through windows and the front door damaged. 

Owner Jaipaul Powell was concerned that his business was being targeted. 

Plans for a new purpose-built distillery for River Test Gin, in Longparish, were approved despite objections from the parish council.

Chapel Art Studios celebrated the opening of its new community space on Andover high street.


Andover’s MP, alongside health chiefs, vowed to sort out the lack of NHS dentistry in the town.

Recruitment challenges were blamed for a lack of NHS dentists in Andover and the surrounding area, with residents left or being forced to go private to get their teeth looked at.

Employees at an Andover car wash were arrested on immigration offences after police and government officials carried out a search of Magic Hand Car Wash, in Hanson Road, on Wednesday, October 4.

Also in October, 80-year-old Mary Dunn, her friends and family, raised nearly £14,000 for the Nick Jonas Unit at Winchester hospital, following her battle with breast cancer.

Andover Advertiser: Mary Dunn and her familyFriends and family of Mary walked along the Test Way from Romsey to Upper Clatford church, with the grandmother joining in for the last part of the walk.

An Advertiser investigation found shops in Andover were following policy by not selling vapes to young reporter Lola Crossman.

Lola, who was 16 at the time, visited six shops and found that all refused to sell the age-restricted items without ID.

It came following growing concerns about young people having access to vapes.

Harlees, an award-winning fish and chips business, opened in Weyhill Road.

Andover residents came together to celebrate the town’s unsung heroes on Tuesday, October 24, at the Pride of Andover Awards.

Andover Advertiser: Pride of Andover AwardsFrom fundraisers to those who have selflessly given their time to make the town a better place - a wide range of community champions were honoured for going above and beyond.

Winning not only the Inspiring Others Award, but also the Spirit of Andover - the winner of winners accolade - was Siobhan Down who set up the Yellow Brick Road Project, which is now in its 10th year.

Also in October, residents and railway station users mourned the death of ‘loving and gentle’ station cat Jess.

Andover Advertiser: Jess the station catJess lived at the station for 13 years after its previous owners abandoned it when moving away from the area.

A station spokesperson said: “He was a welcome face for so many of our customers over the years.”


As November rolled around, there was a call made for a statue of Jess the station cat to be created.

Andy Woods, who used to work near the station, called to a life-sized statue of the feline at Andover railway station so it “can be back where he belongs”.

In the first paper of the month we showcased the hundreds of runners who put their best feet forward to take part in the half marathon, organised by Andover Trail Events.

Andover Advertiser: Andover Half MarathonThe event raised money for Maggie’s in Southampton, a charity that provides cancer support and information, after organiser Mark O’Meara’s own battle with cancer.

Nick Tuftnell, 46, from Bristol but grew up in Andover claimed first place with a time of 1.22.58.

Following a month-long vote, which closed on Thursday, November 2, it was announced that Andover BID will run for five more years.

The vote saw a 48.96 per cent turnout, with 118 votes cast - 79 in favour and 39 against.

A developer revealed that it is pushing ahead with plans for a new care home in the town.

Frontier Estates unveiled a proposal to build a 72-bedroom state-of-art care home on the site of the former Babbage House, in Anton Mill Road.

Family-owned business Andover Patio Centre celebrated its 60th anniversary.

On Remembrance Sunday, hundreds of people from across Andover and beyond paid their respects to fallen soldiers.

Popular Andover music venue The Rockhouse saw its supervisor removed over concerns surrounding alcohol-related crimes.

Test Valley Borough Council’s licensing sub-committee removed Tony Noakes as designated premises supervisor following a review application by Hampshire Constabulary.

Mr Noakes vowed to appeal and stated his role will continue throughout the appeal process.

The Advertiser launched a campaign to help Andover Foodbank over the Christmas period and into the new year, highlighting the amazing work of the staff and volunteers who go above and beyond to help those in need, while urging readers to donate.

Andover Advertiser: Andover Foodbank volunteersAndover Trees United, founded in 2011 by Wendy Davis, celebrated being awarded the esteemed King’s Award for Voluntary Service.

Ms Davis said that the award will “allow our communities to see our charity and its efforts in a new light”.

Festive fun officially came to Andover on Friday, November 17, when the Christmas lights were switched on by the Mayor of Andover and Father Christmas.

A Christmas festival took place across the town centre, with plenty of activities for all the family.

A major announcement was made in November. Test Valley Borough Council were awarded £18.3m in Levelling Up funding from the Government to accelerate the regeneration of Andover town centre.

A new theatre and a cultural hub will be built on the Chantry Centre, replacing The Lights.

Council leader Phil North said: “It is a massive achievement for Andover.

“It is really the biggest news I have ever dealt with.”

The funding will also aid the development of a riverside walk on Western Avenue.


An award-winning preschool and nursery celebrated being rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Established in 2017, Finkley Andover Nursery and Preschool, was praised for creating an ‘extremely unique, child-centred learning environment’.

We reported that Andover Town Council revealed a proposal to buy land to create more sports and recreation facilities for residents.

The authority said it is considering buying the land north of Ox Drove, in Picket Piece, which was initially reserved for a junior sports pitch, but this is no longer required.

Councillors agreed that work should be continued to build a business case for the proposal.

Just weeks before Christmas a family in Ragged Appleshaw lost their home in a devastating fire.

Andover Advertiser: he fire happened at Harrow Farm Cottages where several fire crews were deployed to tackle theThe blaze at Harrow Farm Cottages broke out at the home of the Burgess family, on Saturday, December 2, and spread to the neighbouring property, which belong to dad Rich’s parents Debbie and Danny.

The family said Christmas presents were destroyed, along with clothing, children’s toys and many treasured items.

Another fire in Penton Mewsey caused devastation for businesses and collectors on Friday, December 8.

Eight historical buses were destroyed in the blaze, along with six business.

One of those was Tenzone Targets which suffered significant losses, with the majority of its products being destroyed in the fire.

Fundraisers set up to help both the Burgess family and Tenzone Targets raised thousands of pounds, demonstrating that community spirit was truly alive.

Owner of The Record Box, in George Yard, Phil Nightingale, along with borough councillor Iris Andersen called on businesses and residents to donate to the Burgess family.

Another fundraiser launched by Rich’s sister raised more than £3,600.

The fundraiser for Tenzone Targets gained widespread support from the archery community and more than £22,000 was donated.