ITV Border's top 20 online stories of 2020

It's safe to say 2020 has been a year of political drama, shocking news, community spirit and surprising discoveries. ITV Border has covered it all.

To sum up the year we present 20 of the biggest stories from 2020 that you, our viewers, read online.

1. How volunteers are helping animals injured in Australian bushfires

From thousands of miles away, crafters in the Border region rallied together to help animals that had been burnt by the devastating wildfires in Australia in January.

It is estimated that more than three billion animals were killed or displaced in the fast-spreading bushfires across every state on the continent.

Two women, originally from Australia, appealed to their local community for help knit joey pouches, koala mittens, and bat wraps for the injured animals.

2. Tributes paid to 'larger than life' police officer who died

In January, Cumbria Police mourned the loss of one of their own. Police Constable Nick Dumphreys died after an incident on the southbound carriageway.

The 47-year-old father joined Cumbria Constabulary in 2003, working for the majority of his time with the constabulary’s Mobile Support Group. His family paid tribute to their 'kind and loving husband and father'.

3. Storm Ciara

Homes and businesses across Cumbria and the Scottish Borders were hit by severe weather and flooded, as Storm Ciara battered the region in early February.

In Hawick, the front of a bistro collapsed after the building's foundations were swept away. Project Hawick was set up a Crowd Funding page to support all the businesses affected in the town.

And Appleby was one of the worst-hit areas in the UK, where residents battled to save their homes from the River Eden.

Appleby was one of the worst-hit areas in the UK in February. Credit: PA

4. International Women's Day

As part of our International Women's Day coverage in March, we spoke to five inspiring females from Cumbria and the south of Scotland.

From to rugby international Lana Skeldon to the the Red Shepherdess. From Sellafield worker Nicole Cowels to Paralympian Shelby Watson.

In this Frank, Fearless and Female episode, we hear from broadcaster Fiona Armstrong, who speaks of the struggles of starting off in a male-dominated industry and her most memorable story - the Lockerbie Bombing.

5. Large wildfire hit Dumfries and Galloway

In April, a giant wildfire was 'deliberately' set in Dumfries and Galloway and spread over 15km.

It took days to put the fire out, with more than 60 firefighters, 10 fire appliances, two helicopters and various support resources.

Dry conditions and winds caused the fire to spread across 4,000 acres of heather, scrub and forestry.

Wildfire in Dumfries and Galloway.

6. First coronavirus deaths recorded in Cumbria.

This was the beginning of a long and challenging year for the ITV Border region. On 20 March, the first coronavirus victims were recorded in Cumbria.

The director of public health told ITV Border that both of the patients were being treated at the Cumberland Infirmary, in Carlisle, and believed to have had underlying health problems.

Credit: ITN

7. 'Much loved' nurse dies of coronavirus in Scottish Borders

A "much loved" nurse from the Scottish Borders was one of the first health workers in the ITV Border region who died after testing positive for coronavirus.

Angie Cunningham passed away in April after being treated for the virus in the intensive care unit in the hospital that she worked for three decades.

She was remembered by colleagues as a "much respected" member of the team who was "proud to be a nurse". Hundreds lined the streets of her home village as the funeral cortege passed by.

8. First photos of temporary coronavirus hospitals in Cumbria

With cases soaring across the UK, temporary hospitals popped up across Cumbria.

The army were brought in to transform some of the county's unused leisure centres in to makeshift wards.

The facilities in Carlisle, Whitehaven, Penrith, Kendal and Barrow added an 500 beds for those recovering from the virus to free up more space in Cumbria's hospitals.

Thankfully, they were never needed and most have since been mothballed.

Temporary hospital in Carlisle. Credit: MOD

9. The Syrian refugee making PPE for frontline workers

With a PPE shortage across the UK, a family of Syrian refugee who were resettled in Dumfries and Galloway started to make masks and scrubs for health workers on the frontline.

Ismail Diab was a tailor in Damascus before his family fled due to fighting and violence during the ongoing Syrian conflict. After two years living in the UK, he told ITV Border that he wanted to 'give something back' to the community that helped when he and his family came to country.

10. Husband of care home resident who died of coronavirus calls for answers

In June, ITV Border spoke to the husband of one of eight people who died at a care home in the Scottish Borders. He wanted to know how they all tested positive for the virus.

Grace Dougal, 80, died at Saltgreens Care Home, in Eyemouth. Her husband, David, spoke exclusively to Tim Backshall for our Representing Border programme.

"I'd like to find out what happened. I'm not after scalps or anything but I think we should be told what's happened," he said.

11. The Victorian tunnel uncovered in the Lake District after 50 years

In the summer, a multi-million pound project to create a new path in the Lake District uncovered a hidden Victorian tunnel.

The 80-metre long railway tunnel was filled in after the line was scrapped under the Beeching cuts in the early 1970s.

The arched underground passage was built in 1872 and was originally part of a mineral line bringing coal between west Cumbria and Durham.

12. Black Lives Matter protests resonate in Cumbria and southern Scotland

2020 was a year of racial unrest across the world. The death of George Floyd - a black American man who died while a police officer knelt on his neck - sparked outrage around the world.

The Black Lives Matter movement resonated in Cumbria and the south of Scotland, with two socially distanced and peaceful demonstrations. The protests took place in Carlisle and Dumfries.

13. Save Our Stan

Despite a global pandemic, Carlisle showed the biggest community spirit when one of their own was in need this year.

The parents of a two-year-old Stanley Dalton shared a desperate appeal after their son was diagnosed with cancer for the third time - and there was nothing that could be done.

Their only hope was to raise half a million pounds to send him to Singapore for a clinical trial that could save his life. The money was raised in a matter of weeks, with hundreds of donations and countless fundraisers.

Credit: Family photo

14. Newton Rigg College closure confirmed

In July, we brought you the news that Newton Rigg College in Penrith is to close from July 2021, leaving Cumbria without any specialist agricultural education provider.

The future of the farming school was uncertain after Askham Bryan College, which has run the centre for nearly 10 years, asked for an independent review to be carried out by the Department for Education.

This was a huge blow for the farming community at an already challenging time

Prince Charles on a royal visit to Newton Rigg College. Credit: PA

15. Dumfries man caught up in Beirut explosion

One of the most devastating stories this year was the Beirut explosion at the beginning of August.

We heard from a man from Dumfries, living in the capital, who spoke of the moment he was caught up in the explosion, that has claimed the lives of at least 135 people and injured 5,000.

16. Ten dogs found in 'appalling condition' on Borders roadside

One of the most shocking stories from the Borders was this one. Ten 'filthy and emaciated' dogs were discovered abandoned at the side of one of the busiest roads.

The dogs are said to be extremely matted and traumatised, with one in such a bad condition it had to be put down. 

Thankfully, the remaining dogs made a full recovery and looking for foster families.

17. Taylor Swift's dedicates song to the Lake District on her new album

Who'd have thought a major international pop star would write a song about the Lake District? Well, this year Taylor Swift dedicated one of her award-winning hits to the area.

Her new album, Folklore, celebrates her love of the World Heritage Site with reference to Windermere and famous poets in a bonus track called 'The Lakes'. Swift visited the area back in 2012 with her then-boyfriend Harry Styles. Have a listen...

18. Campsite closes after staycationers leave behind gazebos, airbeds and tents

With coronavirus restrictions eased in the summer, campers from across the UK flocked to the Lake District in search for a relaxing staycation.

One campsite took the 'painful' decision to temporarily close after a number of campers ignored rules, played music until the early hours of the morning and left mounds of rubbish. Take a look!

Credit: Stonethwaite Campsite

19. Premature twins born with coronavirus discharged from hospital

In September, we brought you the uplifting story of premature twins from west Cumbria who had returned home after six weeks in the baby unit.

Kenna and Lissa Curtis, from Distington, were amongst the first in the UK to have been born with coronavirus, which was passed to them via their mum's placenta.

20. The 'world's first jet suit paramedic' unveiled in the Lake District

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's the world's first jet suit paramedic! Millions from around the world watch the trial at the Langdale Pikes, which saw Chief Test Pilot Richard Browning fly through a Lake District Valley.

It's hoped the jet suit will be used with more challenging casualties, like walkers who have fallen on the fells. Take a look at this!