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The 8 Kent heroes and villains of 2019

It's been quite the year for news in Kent, with three elections, Brexit being linked to a predicted rise in dogging and Boris Johnson being found in a church's nativity scene.

But aside from politics we thought it was only right to acknowledge the heroes and villains of 2019, so without further ado here are the top eight from across the garden of England.

Scroll down to take our polls to determine the hero and villain of 2019

Jason Cooper set up a protest outside TUI in Westwood Cross, saying the holiday firm ruined his wedding
Jason Cooper set up a protest outside TUI in Westwood Cross, saying the holiday firm ruined his wedding

The man who erected scaffolding outside TUI after his wedding was ruined

When it comes to heroic tales perhaps the most famous protagonist is David from the ancient yarn, David and Goliath.

This year Kent's version of the Biblical shepherd was enraged husband Jason Cooper.

He blamed travel company TUI for ruining his big day after his wedding party arrived at the hotel in Zante to find it could only accommodate half his guests.

Undeterred by the prospect of taking on a commercial Goliath, 37-year-old Mr Cooper erected scaffolding outside the company's Broadstairs branch and adorned it with a sign which read 'TUI ruined my wedding'. Staff dialled 999 but the police decided it was a civil matter.

Demelza store manager Nick Rogers with one of the vandalised books
Demelza store manager Nick Rogers with one of the vandalised books

The Herne Bay 'book ripper' who's still at large

There's something strange going on in Herne Bay.

The coastal town has become home to a peculiar crook this year.

'Mindless vandal' is a ridiculous term because all acts of vandalism are, by definition, mindless but what can be said is that some at least have a point - civil disobedience, for example, or people cutting down their neighbour's view-obstructing trees.

Whoever is tearing through the pages of novels at charity shops in the coastal enclave is a true villain.

Who are they? What do they want? Where is their lair? When will they next strike? Why are they doing it?

Questions on everyone's lips and ones we may never get the answers to.

Liam Friday and wife Michelle
Liam Friday and wife Michelle

The topless man who slammed Tesco's 'sexist' clothing policy

Celebrating body image in 2019 is very important.

As is standing up for what is fair.

So in many ways Liam Friday is the hero we all needed this year... even if we didn't realise it.

When temperatures soared in August and barbecues sizzled Liam and wife Michelle sought refuge from the heat inside their local Tesco Express.

But topless Mr Friday was outraged when he was refused entry by a security guard who seemed less prudish when in came to letting in bikini-clad Mrs Friday.

"It's 2019 not 1960," raged Mr Friday, revealing he'd already been to the shop without a shirt on that day and branding the stance "sexist".

In the end the couple spent their money at a more liberal convenience store and the whole debacle resulted in one of the year's best cartoons.

“The thing for me is we’re supposed to have equal rights, but it feels like men are being treated worse than women here,” concluded this equality champion.

Cartoonist Royston's take on the matter
Cartoonist Royston's take on the matter
Fergus Wilson Picture: Matthew Walker
Fergus Wilson Picture: Matthew Walker

Fergus Wilson

Where do we start?

Fergus Wilson has become something of a household name in recent years.

The multi-millionaire is Britain's largest private landlord and certainly doesn't shy away from controversy.

Be it banning plumbers and single mothers from his houses or becoming so enraged by one hapless reporter's remarks about his race horses that he offered to fight the poor bloke for £10,000, you could say he rather likes the limelight.

But it was the revelation this year that aged 11 he used to beat up other children for money that cements his position in this list.

In a tell-all interview back in February the eccentric tycoon revealed his violent past setting up junior fight clubs on his Essex estate and battering the competition, the confession conjuring up Beano-esque images.

Samuel Boakes with friends and family Picture: Steve Crispe
Samuel Boakes with friends and family Picture: Steve Crispe

All the people who sent this lad birthday cards

When he was born Samuel Boakes wasn't expected to live past the age of 3.

This summer he turned 21 and what better way to celebrate than to get the whole world involved?

After a plea from his mum echoed by KentOnline's sister paper the Medway Messenger more than 200 people from as far away as Australia and The Cayman Islands sent him messages and presents.

Samuel has the extremely rare Bainbridge-Ropers Syndrome which means he is non-verbal and spends 80% of his time in a wheelchair.

But he loves cards and thinks they are like mini books so the thought of mum Ruth Dalton reading him well wishes from thousands of miles away is enough to warm even the coldest heart.

Every one of his 203 pen pals are heroes.

The Banksy Mural in Dover
The Banksy Mural in Dover

Whoever covered up the Dover Banksy

One of the great unsolved mysteries of the year - arguably only beaten by who on Earth would stop Liam Friday going in to Tesco topless - is who on Earth covered up Banksy's Brexit mural.

The giant stenciled image of a workman chipping away a star from the EU flag welcomed drivers as they arrived at Dover docks for two years and had been valued at £1 million.

But overnight in August it disappeared, a large white square the only sign anything of any interest had once adorned the side of the nondescript building it once called home.

Who would do such a thing?

The covered up Banksy. Picture: Matt Bristow
The covered up Banksy. Picture: Matt Bristow

Quite a few fingers pointed back at the artist himself - after all, in October 2018 he'd wired up his £1m 'Girl With Balloon' to shred itself upon sale.

But he soon denied such a stunt, revealing how he had actually intended to adapt the work and saying: "Oh. I had planned that on the day of Brexit I was going to change the piece in Dover to this. But is seems they've painted over it.

"Never mind. I guess a big white flag says it just as well."

So far no one has come forward to admit to being the villain who stripped this port community of its pride.

Craig David at Rochester Castle Picture: Phil Lee
Craig David at Rochester Castle Picture: Phil Lee

Craig David

The man, the myth, the legend.

In recent years Craig David rose like a phoenix from the ashes and proved why he'd enjoyed such success in the early noughties.

At just 27 he'd released a greatest hits album and inspired a comedy sketch but the 7 Days singer then embarked on some much-needed years in the wilderness.

But despite him penning perhaps the seminal R&B album of all time at the tender age of 19 his place on the list has nothing to do with his undeniable musical talents.

Craig is a hero because like a knight in a white tracksuit he rode to Rochester's rescue at the town's time of need.

When Jess Glynne pulled out of the Castle Concerts with illness Craig, who'd already sold out previous performances at the venue, stepped in and saved the day and arguably the whole events existence.

Lloyd Jones put up a temporary Spider-Man marker at his son Ollie's grave in Maidstone
Lloyd Jones put up a temporary Spider-Man marker at his son Ollie's grave in Maidstone


Perhaps it's apt that in a list such as this the most heinous of all the villains should be a movie giant specialising in super hero flicks.

For it was Disney-owned Marvel's decision to ban a grieving father from marking his four-year-old son's grave with a Spider-Man headstone which really enraged readers.

And rightly so, especially given the entertainment company's questionable reasoning that it doesn't want its characters associated with death.

The family erected a temporary marker but were made to remove it.

But the most heart-wrenching part of the whole story was dad Lloyd Jones' take.

"Now he has died and we won't be spending any more money, they don't care," he said.

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