2021 was another year dominated by COVID-19 news. We were in and out of lockdown, restrictions changed every other week, and we were kept from seeing our loved ones.
But while the pandemic dominated the news cycle, there were several other important stories this year.
As a court reporter for the Bendigo Advertiser, most of my stories for 2021 came from the courtroom.
There was the teen who was found guilty of murdering Maryborough man John Bourke.
Mr Bourke, who was violently killed in his home in July 2018, was remembered as a generous man who helped everyone.
The 18-year-old boy convicted of his murder was sentenced to more than a decade in custody.
The full story of the teen's sentence, along with words from Mr Bourke's family, can be read here.
Another family who spoke of their grief in court were the loved ones of Raymond Meadows.
The 62-year-old was walking with his guide dog along the Calder Highway in June 2019 when Billy-Jo Salter crashed into the pair.
Salter in November pleaded guilty to dangerous driving causing Mr Meadows' death.
The Wedderburn man's family said they would never forgive Salter for his crimes.
Another sad story to come out of court this year was the plea of Glenn Stratton.
The 54-year-old Castlemaine man helped his father die by suicide in May.
While Stratton pleaded guilty to assisting the suicide, his family described his actions as brave and selfless.
The Supreme Court justice ultimately agreed, saying she would show mercy and not send Stratton to prison.
The family of Goornong teen Jye Eiffert also spoke of their grief in the County Court.
The boy was tragically killed just weeks out from his 17th birthday after the car he was travelling in crashed on McCrae Street in Bendigo last year.
The driver of the car, 19-year-old Timothy Werps, pleaded guilty to culpable driving causing Jye's death and negligent driving causing serious injury to a second passenger.
In a change of pace, another important series of stories were the profiles published during Trans Awareness Week.
We learnt about the Bendigo Trans and Gender Diverse Clothing Swap, a safe space for people to create a wardrobe that reaffirms their identity.
They each opened up about their experiences of being a trans person in Greater Bendigo.
There is no doubt that 2021 has been a challenging year. A lot of the news has been tough to read and listen to.
While most of these stories were not uplifting, and in fact many were difficult to report, they were also important to share with the broader community.
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