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Page last updated at 09:28 GMT, Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Faces of the year - part one

Clockwise from top left: Chesley Sullenberger, Ivan Cameron, Richard Timney, Ian Tomlinson, Benson the carp, Jon Morter, Robert Pattinson, Falcon Heene, Terry Herbert, Sir Peter Viggers, John Bercow and Shaheen Jafargholi

Some of the males who have made the headlines in 2009, top left to right: Chesley Sullenberger, Ivan Cameron, Richard Timney, Ian Tomlinson. Middle left to right: Sir Peter Viggers, John Bercow, Shaheen Jafargholi, Benson the carp. Bottom left to right: Terry Herbert, Falcon Heene, Robert Pattinson, Jon Morter.


Within a minute of taking off from New York's La Guardia airport in January, both engines of US Airways Flight 1549 were crippled when a flock of birds flew into them. With immense calm the pilot, Captain Chesley Sullenberger, guided the aircraft gently into the Hudson River, saving all 155 people on board. The 57-year-old Sullenberger, who had more than 40 years of flying experience, became an instant hero. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg described his action as "a miracle on the Hudson".


February saw the death of Ivan Cameron, son of Conservative leader David. The six-year-old had cerebral palsy and a rare form of epilepsy characterised by spasms. Ivan required 24-hour care and, according to his father, was often in a lot of pain. David and Samantha Cameron described Ivan as their "beautiful boy" and praised NHS staff for the care they'd given their son. In his tribute, Gordon Brown, who had himself lost a young daughter, described every child as "precious and irreplaceable".


Among the more embarrassing revelations of the MPs' expenses scandal was that of Richard Timney, the husband and parliamentary aide of the then home secretary, Jacqui Smith. His wife had "mistakenly" claimed for two porn films her husband had viewed. On hearing of the news in March, Ms Smith was said to have been "livid and shocked" and to have given her husband "a real ear-bashing". In turn, Richard Timney was forced to apologise saying: "I can fully understand why people might be angry and offended by this."


Newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson was inadvertently caught up in April's G20 Summit demonstrations in London and was struck by a police baton as he walked home. Video footage showed him falling and hitting his head on the ground. He got up only to collapse minutes later and die. A first post-mortem concluded he'd suffered a heart attack, a second confirmed he'd died from internal bleeding. His death raised serious questions about the tactics of the Metropolitan Police's Territorial Support Group, about whether the Independent Police Complaints Commission had deliberately delayed and obstructed the subsequent criminal inquiry, and the role of citizens in monitoring police tactics through video cameras.


Among the more outlandish claims within the MPs' expenses scandal was the £1,600 by the Tory grandee, Sir Peter Viggers, for a floating duck island for the garden of his Hampshire home. Even more surprising perhaps, given the prevailing culture, was that the claim was turned down. Nevertheless, Sir Peter, MP for Gosport, was paid £30,000 of taxpayers' money for "gardening" over three years, including nearly £500 for 28 tons of manure. Shortly after the revelation in May, Sir Peter announced he would not be standing at the next election.


In June the Conservative MP for Buckingham, John Bercow, was elected as the 157th speaker of the House of Commons. Curiously, he received few votes from his own party members. Personality clashes and a feeling that the once right-winger was edging towards defecting to Labour, made him unpopular with Conservatives. This, in turn, was enough to earn him the support of many Labour MPs. Potentially, his job could become more interesting next year as his wife Sally has just won a place on an approved list of Labour candidates for the next general election.


Having become a finalist on Britain's Got Talent, 12-year-old Shaheen Jafargholi, from Swansea, was due to realise his dreams by singing a duet with Michael Jackson at the singer's comeback concerts at London's O2 arena in July. Instead, he found himself lining up with such stars as Stevie Wonder, Mariah Carey and Lionel Ritchie at Jackson's memorial concert at a packed Staples Centre in Los Angeles. Jafargholi sang a Jackson Five hit, Who's Lovin' You? He described the experience as "something special".


For anglers, no carp came bigger or more prized than the one they called Benson, who swam in the Bluebell Lakes at Oundle, near Peterborough. In August Benson was found dead, believed poisoned by uncooked nuts used as bait. An estimated 10,000 anglers had tried to catch him but only 63 succeeded. Some had made hooking Benson their life's work. At 64lb (29kg), he weighed the same as an average nine-year-old child. The owner of the lakes, Tony Bridgefoot, described Benson as "a beautiful creature".


The unemployed 55-year-old metal detecting enthusiast couldn't believe his luck when he was working the field of a farm near his Staffordshire home. He happened upon the UK's largest haul of Anglo-Saxon treasure. There were 1,500 items of gold and silver embedded with precious stones and jewels. The find was of great archaeological significance and worth more than £3m. It was made public in September. Herbert said he dug up so much gold over five days he was seeing it in his sleep. Herbert will split the money with the farmer who owns the land on which he discovered the hoard.


When six-year-old Falcon Heene was feared to be inside a missing helium balloon belonging to his father that was floating thousands of feet above Colorado in October, a huge search-and-rescue operation was mounted. American TV networks interrupted their schedules to cover the drama. When the balloon finally landed with no trace of the child, he was presumed dead. That is until he was found hiding in a box in his family's garage attic. It was all a publicity stunt and, as one commentator noted, served as a reminder of the lengths people will go to achieve fame in our celebrity-obsessed culture.


Teenage heart-throb Robert Pattinson was back in his native land in November from his Californian home to attend the London premiere of New Moon, the second in the Twilight vampire movie saga. The 23-year-old British actor plays the 109-year-old vampire Edward Cullen in the cult series. Pattinson's fans call themselves "Robsessed" and devotees of the films, known as Twi-Hards, stage conventions and follow their heroes around the world. 2009 is the year in which Pattinson, who first came to attention in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, became a fully-fledged A-list celebrity.


A successful campaign to prevent an X Factor winner from reaching the Christmas number one spot was launched by Jon Morter. The 35-year-old hi-fi technician was fed up with Simon Cowell's stranglehold on the festive chart. "It's a great British tradition that's died," he said. "I felt I had to do something about it." So he started a Facebook campaign to make the unseasonably raucous Rage Against The Machine's 1993 single Killing In The Name number one, at the expense of Joe McElderry's The Climb. "Rage" outsold the latter by more than 50,000 copies. "It was a protest against the Cowell music machine," Morter added. Cowell congratulated him on his success.

Compiled by Bob Chaundy. Part two - the women - is here.

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