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The biggest stories of the decade on KentOnline

As we prepare to welcome in a new decade, we take a look back at the ten most-read stories on KentOnline of the past ten years.

1. The collapse of a pedestrian footbridge on the M20

An aerial view of the accident scene
An aerial view of the accident scene

KentOnline has reported on many incidents on the county's roads, but nothing could have prepared our reporters or readers for the events of August 27, 2016.

A major incident was declared after a lorry transporting a digger struck a pedestrian footbridge on the M20 between junction four and three, with the structure crashing down onto the carriageway.

It seemed inevitable that there would be multiple fatalities, but remarkably nobody was killed in the incident. Part of the bridge fell onto the driver of another lorry, who was treated for shock, whilst a motorcyclist suffered fractured ribs.

Heavy machinery brought in to remove debris
Heavy machinery brought in to remove debris

The story quickly became the most read single article in KentOnline's 20-year-plus history, with hundreds of thousands of people following the coverage on the day. To date it has been read by more than three quarters of a million people.

2. The tragic death of Pat Lamb

Pat Lamb disappeared while on his way home from a night out in Maidstone in December 2014. The story reached its heartbreaking conclusion a month later when the 28-year-old's body was found in the River Medway at Cuxton.

Pat Lamb's disappearance sparked a huge community response
Pat Lamb's disappearance sparked a huge community response

Despite the tragedy of Pat's death, his family were able to take some comfort from the huge outpouring of support from the community. The search for Pat was one of the first examples of traditional and social media combining to draw attention to the story.

Floral tributes for Pat Lamb are placed on a bench
Floral tributes for Pat Lamb are placed on a bench

Thousands of people joined the Find Pat Lamb Facebook page, whilst KentOnline recreated Pat's last known hours in a video reconstruction. It was a reaction that ensured Pat would never be forgotten.

3. The murder of Molly McLaren

The unfolding horror in the car park at the Dockside Outlet Centre in Chatham on June 29 2017 became the third most read story in KentOnline's history.

'Beautiful and clever' Molly McLaren
'Beautiful and clever' Molly McLaren

Molly McLaren, described as beautiful and intelligent by friends and family, lost her life in a frenzied attack at the hands of a deranged ex-boyfriend.

It was revealed in the trial held at Maidstone Crown Court that her attacker had a history of stalking his previous partners, and Molly's death has led to recommendations being made about greater co-operation between police forces in different parts of the country.

4. The Beast from the East

Readers sometimes say KentOnline reporters are obsessed with weather stories - we'd say EVERYONE seems obsessed with them. The Beast from the East struck in February 2018, and it's the fourth most read story we've published with well over 300,000 page impressions.

Temperatures dropped as low as -11C overnight as the county was blanketed in thick snow.

The Beast from the East wasn't all bad news
The Beast from the East wasn't all bad news

The transport network ground to a halt and almost every school closed.

5. DIY SOS: Desperate plea for the Big Build

Kyle Ratcliffe and husband Garry are one of Kent's most inspiring couples, adopting four children with complex and life-limiting medical conditions.

The family, who live in Minster on the Isle of Sheppey, appeared on DIY SOS with Nick Knowles in September 2016 and programme makers appealed for KentOnline readers to help rebuild the family home.

And people responded in huge numbers, with more than 280,000 reading it and hundreds volunteering their services.

6. Huge boom shakes West Kent

This was an example of a real breaking news story. When an explosion was heard across West Kent in October 2014, we had very little information to go on. As the day developed, it emerged the boom was the result of Typhoon fighter jets from RAF Coningsby breaking the sound barrier as they raced to intercept a Russian-built Latvian cargo plane which had failed to respond to numerous attempted communications.

It was later revealed the foreign plane would have been shot down if its crew had not responded to the final warning issued by one of the RAF pilots.

Our graphic explaining the sonic boom
Our graphic explaining the sonic boom

Hundreds of thousands of people wanted to know what the noise was, making this our sixth most read story of the decade.

Our designers created this graphic to show exactly what happened.

7. Earthquake tremors felt in parts of Kent

KentOnline news editor Lowri Stafford was one of the first to feel the earthquake tremors in Kent in May 2015 and quickly had a story online after the rumbles woke her up at 3am.

As earthquakes go, it was a bit of a baby - measuring4.2 on the Richter scale. Not everyone took it that seriously, with a #PrayForKent hashtag going viral along with pictures of garden chairs lying on their side and dusbin lids sitting slightly askew. No matter the size of the quake, people lapped up the story - it had more than 220,000 page impressions.

This is where the earthquake struck
This is where the earthquake struck

8. Neil Ruddock appears on Can't Pay? We'll Take it Away

OK we admit it, we were surprised to find this on the list too. Former footballer Neil Ruddock's appearance on this Channel 5 show, featuring debt collectors turning up at his home near Ashford, has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times, and still crops up on our daily most-read list years after its initial broadcast in September 2014.

Neil 'Razor' Ruddock at his Kent home
Neil 'Razor' Ruddock at his Kent home

The theory on the KentOnline desk is that Channel 5's love of repeats means the show crops up time and again in the schedule - and this story surfaces shortly afterwards.

9. The Sheppey Crossing Crash

In September 2013 more than 130 vehicles were involved in one of the UK's biggest road accidents after colliding in poor weather conditions on the Sheppey Crossing. At the time it was the most-read KentOnline story since launch.

A general view of the scene on the London bound carriageway of the Sheppey Bridge Crossing
A general view of the scene on the London bound carriageway of the Sheppey Bridge Crossing

Much like the M20 bridge collapse, it was a miracle nobody was killed - although more than 60 people were taken to hospitals across the county.

The accident became so infamous that three years later it featured on an ITV documentary, Anatomy of a Crash.

10. Fire in Week Street, Maidstone

The tenth most-read story this decade was the huge blaze in Week Street, Maidstone.

The fire completely destroyed The Works bookshop in the early hours of June 8 2015. Five other shops were also affected, with damage estimated at £5m.

Scene of the fire in Week Street, Maidstone
Scene of the fire in Week Street, Maidstone

A man arrested in connection with the incident walked free from court after being cleared of any involvement.

That completes our round-up of the decade's most read stories. Thanks for making us Kent's biggest breaking news service and here's to the next ten years.

Read more: The most read stories of 2019


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