The good news of 2022: From the lionesses’ Euros win to Ukraine’s Eurovision victory

(Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)
(Danny Lawson/PA) (PA Wire)

This year hasn’t been easy, but amidst the doom and gloom, there were moments which offered true happiness.

The UK faced a big loss when Queen Elizabeth passed away at Balmoral, after reigning for 70 years. But when one chapter closes, a new one opens.

From sporting glory and immense progress in women’s sport, to acts of incredible defiance and hope in Ukraine, there have been moments inspired by great acts of bravery.

We take a look back at the events which made us smile this year.

Ten billionth Covid vaccine

People queuing to get their Covid-19 vaccine at Shakespeare’s Globe in London (AFP via Getty Images)
People queuing to get their Covid-19 vaccine at Shakespeare’s Globe in London (AFP via Getty Images)

10 billion Covid-19 vaccine doses were administered globally in January 2022, a milestone that reflects the astonishing speed with which governments and drug companies have mobilized, making it the greatest immunization campaign in history.

This milestone allowed many nations to coexist with the virus without being confined by it.

The release of Nazanin

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian charity worker who had been held in Iran for almost six years, was released from prison in March and was finally reunited with her husband, Richard Ratcliffe, and daughter Gabriella.

Tears of joy were shed at the airport, on the TV news and in the Evening Standard offices when Naznin and Anoosheh Ashoori were reunited with their loved ones in the early hours of Thursday, March 17.

She was first arrested in Tehran’s airport in 2016 on her way home to London, and was used as a diplomatic pawn.

After her capture, Nazanin’s husband Richard went on multiple hunger strikes (his last one went on for 21 days) outside the Foreign Office in London to have his wife released from custody.

Ukraine’s Eurovision win

Kalush Orchestra celebrate Ukraine’s Eurovision win (AFP via Getty Images)
Kalush Orchestra celebrate Ukraine’s Eurovision win (AFP via Getty Images)

In May, at the height of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the Kalush Orchestra provided an important morale boost and show of global solidarity when they won the Eurovision Song Contest.

The winning song "Stefania" was written as a homage to the frontman's mother but ended up becoming a national anthem for the country.

The group have subsequently dedicated the song to all matriarchs in Ukraine, as lines such as “I’ll always find my way home, even if all roads are destroyed” found new resonance.

The band also auctioned the winning trophy, raising £711k for their countries embattled army.

After Ukraine’s victory, they should traditionally be hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2023, but due to Russia’s invasion of the country, the contest can not be held in Ukraine. Instead, the UK will host Eurovision 2023 in Liverpool.

Deborah James raised £7m for Cancer Research

Deborah James and Steve Bland (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)
Deborah James and Steve Bland (Ian West/PA) (PA Wire)

In June 2022, Deborah James , aka BowelBabe, captured the hearts of the nation in her fierce battle against cancer.

In her final months James campaigned tirelessly to raise both funds and awareness, inspiring us all with her uneding bravery and optimism.

Just a day after she passed away, donations to Dame Deborah James’ JustGiving campaign for Cancer Research UK crossed the £7 million milestone.

The author and broadcaster was diagnosed with bowel cancer in December 2016.

‘I believe I may have had the most surreal, mind blowing, humbling 5 days of my life.’ Dame Deborah wrote in an Instagram post when the fund was just shy of £6 million in the middle of May.

Prince Louis’ amusing faces at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee

Prince Louis of Cambridge (R) holds his ears as he stands next to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to watch a special flypast from Buckingham Palace balcony (AFP via Getty Images)
Prince Louis of Cambridge (R) holds his ears as he stands next to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II to watch a special flypast from Buckingham Palace balcony (AFP via Getty Images)

The Platinum Jubilee was a massive event held to celebrate Queen Elizabeth’s 70 years on the throne, but it was Kate Middleton and Prince William’s youngest son, four-year-old Prince Louis who received the greatest attention.

Prince Louis dances during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)
Prince Louis dances during the Platinum Jubilee Pageant (Chris Jackson/PA) (PA Wire)

While Prince George and Princess Charlotte are fairly well versed in attending royal events, little Prince Louis is fairly new to the whole thing. And being an eccentric 4-year-old meant that every single emotion he felt the entire weekend was written all over his face, much to Princess Charlotte’s irritation, and to our delight.

England’s lionesses win their first ever major championship

In Pictures | Women’s Euro 2022 Final: England vs Germany

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
(REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
(The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)
(PA Wire)
(PA Wire)
(The FA via Getty Images)
(The FA via Getty Images)
(REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
(REUTERS)
(REUTERS)
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)
(REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

In August, England’s lionesses catapulted women’s sport to the forefront with their incredible win at the Euros.

People cried, danced, hugged and pinched themselves after an extra-time goal from Chloe Kelly secured a first major trophy for the Lionesses — and England’s first since 1966.

When England won the World Cup at Wembley 56 years ago, women were banned from playing football in this country. Now, they were centre stage and national heroes.

The euphoria was encapsulated by player Chloe Kelly, who offered up one of the great post-match interviews when she spoke to the BBC.

Before vanishing with the microphone, Kelly performed "Sweet Caroline” Neil Diamond’s timeless song that has become England’s national anthem, while bouncing around, shouting, and dancing.

Alex Scott wears One Love armband

While covering the Iran game for the BBC as a pundit during the tournament, former England defender Scott duly chose to wear the armband. (BBC Sport)
While covering the Iran game for the BBC as a pundit during the tournament, former England defender Scott duly chose to wear the armband. (BBC Sport)

After a rocky start to the Qatar World Cup in which beer was banned last minute, rainbow flags and hats were confiscated at stadiums and footballers were threatened with sanctions for wearing campaign armbands, Alex Scott united the nation in a brave act of solidarity.

After the England team were deemed to have “bottled it” following threats from Fifa, Scott stood proud in Qatar’s stadiums, wearing the One Love armband "to promote inclusion and send a message against discrimination of any kind."

The former footballer was widely praised for the move, with Pride in Football, which represents LGBT+ fan groups in the UK, writing on Twitter: “England may not be wearing the #OneLove armband, but @AlexScott is right now on BBC.

“This is more than just LGBTQ+ rights, this is Human Rights.”

To view this content, you'll need to update your privacy settings.
Please click here to do so.