It was the year that the Queen celebrated 60 years on the throne, the UK basked in the reflected glory of its Olympic and Paralympic athletes and the US re-elected Barack Obama as president.
The death of singer Whitney Houston at a Los Angeles hotel shocked the music world, three members of the all-girl Russian punk band were sentenced to two years in prison for protesting the Putin regime while girls’ education advocate Malala Yousafzai became a household name after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt.
Add to that the commencement of automatic enrolment to workplace pension schemes and the last analogue TV broadcasts as the UK completed its transfer to digital TV, and the scene was set for another eventful 12 months.
Fresh from the SNP’s election victory at the Holyrood elections in 2011, the Scottish Government announced its plan to hold a referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn of 2014. Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond set out the question: ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?’
A few weeks later, one of the most heart-rending stories of the year came in February when Fife Flyers player-coach Todd Dutiaume lost his wife and unborn twins in a pregnancy tragedy. British ice hockey was united in shock after 38-year-old Kelly Dutiaume took ill and died. The lifelong, passionate Fife Flyers fan first met Canadian-born Todd more than a decade earlier after he arrived as a player at the Kirkcaldy club.
It was announced in March that Perth would become Scotland’s seventh city after winning a UK competition marking the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. The town based its bid on Perth’s long history as a city. The status was removed in 1975 as part of a local government shake-up. Perth was one of 25 towns across the UK which applied for the civic honour in the jubilee competition.
Roadworks in St Andrews town centre were halted following the discovery of a number of human skeletons thought to be the remains of 15th century Franciscan monks known to have lived in the town.
Then, after months of feverish anticipation, the Olympic Torch finally arrived in Tayside and Fife on June 12. The torch relay began its 25th day in Aberdeen as it continued its journey across Scotland en route to London. From Aberdeen the relay wound its way through Angus, Perth and Kinross and North-East Fife before arriving in Dundee with thousands of spectators of all ages gathering to watch.
It was an eventful year in Dundee with the announcement that the railway station was set for a £14 million transformation. This would involve the demolition of the existing concourse to make way for a five-storey building including a hotel, cafe and shops.
Dundee was also chosen for an edition of best-selling board game Monopoly, featuring some of the city’s well known landmarks. The city of Dundee was chosen over 10 other locations to have its own version of the game with Dundonians asked to suggest ‘well kent’ landmarks which could be used on the board.
In the year that the Dalai Lama made a historic visit to Dundee to deliver a lecture on the importance of love and compassion, however, the city also lost one of its favourite sons when acclaimed singer-songwriter Michael Marra died aged 60 following a battle with illness. Known as the Bard of Dundee, the Lochee-born legend’s live performances at folk clubs around Scotland were legendary, and he drew comparisons with Tom Waits for his distinctive song-writing style.
As the year came to a close, St James’ Palace announced that former St Andrews University student the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant with her first child.
The year in sport
With athletes like Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton helping Britain win a record 29 gold medals at the London 2012 Olympics, it was Dunblane’s Andy Murray who topped the Courier Country role of honour as Scotland celebrated a record haul of 14 Olympic medals. Not only did Murray win the Olympic men’s singles title, he was also awarded a London silver in the mixed doubles with partner Laura Robson.
His Olympic win against Roger Federer was sweet revenge having lost in the men’s final of Wimbledon a few weeks earlier. Murray’s form continued when he went on to win the US Open Tennis Championship in September – the first British man to win a Grand Slam tournament since 1936. Meanwhile, Perth’s Eilidh Child reached the semi-finals of the 400 metres hurdles at the Olympics.
While summer football’s Euro 2012 in Poland-Ukraine was again a Scotland-free zone, and Rangers entered administration, there was better news for Dundee FC who were promoted back to the SPL.
Dundee United’s short-lived foray into Europe saw a minority of fans clash with Dinamo Moscow fans at Tannadice, while a Raith Rovers chief fired a volley at Holyrood over efforts to tackle sectarianism.
The 2012 Alfred Dunhill Links Championship was won by South African Branden Grace.
The year in culture
It was the moment Scotland’s largest music festival T in the Park had been waiting for when the Stone Roses played their first Scottish show for 17 years at Balado. It was also the first time the original line-up of Ian Brown, John Squire, Reni and Mani had played together in Scotland since their 1990 big top gig at Glasgow Green. Tracks like I Wanna Be Adored, Mersey Paradise and Fools Gold were resurrected in style.
On a smaller scale, the Big Tent eco festival at Falkland was headlined by Fife’s own The Proclaimers while in Dundee there was fury after the farewell concert by Irish boyband Westlife being screened live from Dublin failed. A technical hitch meant the screening at Dundee’s Cineworld had to be abandoned leaving hundreds of fans angry and upset.
Meanwhile, a highlight of the RAF Leuchars diamond jubilee airshow was a flight by the last airworthy Vulcan bomber.
The Courier announced at the start of the year it would be relaunching as a compact. Then editor Richard Neville said a “brighter, bolder” paper would appear. The move followed relaunches by the Press and Journal and the Falkirk Herald, which had both gone compact in previous months. Mr Neville said the change had been driven by the paper’s readers.