The year when we got a new pub with a thatched roof

The thatched roof goes up at the new pub in Hartlepool.
The thatched roof goes up at the new pub in Hartlepool.

Christmas is a time for receiving and giving gifts.

But 12 years ago, one Hartlepool girl was making the headlines for the gifts she was naturally given.

Donna Swift.

Donna Swift.

In our latest focus on festive seasons down the years, we look at 2004.

Donna Swift was kicking up a real storm in America in 2004.

This 19-year-old from Hartlepool was impressing after winning a scholarship to NAIA College, Ohio, where she first studied before hopefully mjoving on to Akron University in the same state.

But the talented central midfielder was back home in England after five months in the State and told the Mail at the time: “It is brilliant over there. I love it.

It is brilliant over there. I love it. We are playing three games a week so it is very intensive

Donna Swift

“We are playing three games a week so it is very intensive.”

Her talents were first noticed when she was spotted by an American scout while she was playing football at East Durham and Houghall Community College.

It soon led to her heading to the USA where 3,000 people would regularly watch her play.

Donna’s dream was to be a professional player in America and she had three and a half years left on her degree when she spoke to the Mail.

Did she achieve her dream? Let us know.

Just as keen to make an impression that year was a businessman who set up a new sausage-making business in the town.

His name was Jedediah Caleb Bartimaeus Headbanger, or Graham Smith as he used to be known before he changed his name by deed poll.

His variety of sausage included the chilli wave, the spicy pork, and the ale and pepper yorkies.

Jedediah used to be a publican before progressing on to the licensing trade.

He called his firm Headbangers and, because no-one was taking his venture seriously, he changed his name by deed poll to show he meant business.

He said he was confident his company would be a success and he was already planning more varieties as well as expansion.

Also in the news that year were two well known sights in Hartlepool.

Little Dennis was the mini fire engine which was created out of an old service vehicle at Hartlepool Power Station.

But it was used to help raise money and helped to bring in £15,000 in five years. It put the venture in contention for a Spirit of Fire Award in London that year. Did it win?

And 2004 was the year when a brand new pub was built in Hartlepool complete with thatched roof. Its founder, businessman Leo Gillen expected to open it by the following February.

If you have memories of Christmas 2004, email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk