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THE last 12 months have seen Hastings fall foul of a string of bad luck and bad news.

Millions cut in funding from central government, the fire on Hastings Pier and the news that the long-awaited Hastings Bexhill Link Road was now in major doubt are just some of the big news stories to hit 1066 Country in 2010.

A number of local charities are facing difficult futures, a host of popular and much-loved residents have passed away, and unemployment in the town remains among the highest in the south east.

And, just as Hastings was dragged through the mill by the national press in the aftermath of the tragic death of Mohammed al-Majed, high profile crimes like the sham marriages scandal have seen the town’s name once again make headlines for the wrong reasons.

However, amid the bad news, there have been some shining examples of why Hastings remains such a vibrant and brilliant place to live.

Street artist Banksy chose St Leonards for his latest work, Saga based its latest office in Hastings – bringing with it 800 new jobs – and the Jerwood chose the Old Town for its latest gallery.

Here at the Observer we realise the role a local newspaper can play in lifting the mood of a town. We will still report the crime as and when it happens and no paper in the country would dream of imposing a blanket ban on bad news. A paper has a responsibility to report everything that goes on – positive or negative.

But what we can – and will do in 2011 – is highlight the very best of local achievement and flag up the many reasons to be cheerful here in our unique corner of East Sussex.

Today the Observer launches its I ♥ Hastings campaign. Throughout 2011 we will be stamping our new eye-catching logo on positive stories as they appear in our pages.

We are proud to serve the community here in Hastings. Now we want our readers to tell us why they are proud to live here.

Know someone doing something positive for the community? Let us know. Is there a charity or a fundraiser we are not featuring? Drop us an email and we will. Has a youngster achieved something special in their spare time? Ring the Observer and we will do all we can to give them the recognition they deserve.

The Observer has been running the Hastings Achievers Awards in recent years, so we know the good stories are out there.

Whether it be a dinner lady who gives up her time to coach a school football team, a pensioner who spends his Christmas cooking for the homeless, or someone running a marathon dressed as Spiderman, we want to know about it.

Observer editor-in-chief Keith Ridley said: “What’s special about Hastings is the spirit of the people who live here. And for all the issues and challenges we face, it’s so easy to fall in love with the place.

“Community matters here and we want to reflect that. The Observer can’t hide from some of the sadder and serious stories, but we promise to help you feel good about this very special town whenever we can.

“Let’s celebrate all that’s special about Hastings in 2011. Please help us to do so.”

• You can email observer@trbeckett.co.uk, ring us on 01424 856786, or drop into our office in Battle Road.

Together we can talk up this town and hopefully 2011 can be the year that Hastings finally shakes off its unfair reputation.