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The feel-good news stories you might have missed in 2023

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The start of the new year is the perfect time to reflect on what has happened over the past 12 months. Although the news often focuses on disheartening events, there are plenty of heartwarming stories out there that can restore your faith in humanity.

From science breakthroughs to exciting projects, here are seven stories you might have missed.

1.  Researchers discovered a new treatment for Alzheimer’s

Scientists found that two 20-minute electrical stimulation sessions per day can improve the memory and cognitive performance of elderly people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.

The technology stimulates neural networks in the brain, which improved patients’ brain plasticity and led to the participants of the study having increased speech and recollection skills.

The incredible treatment – known as “transcranial direct current stimulation” (tDCS) – is currently being tested in several different areas of medicine. Researchers are also investigating how it could help treat conditions such as depression and paralysis.

2. Golden mole tracked down for the first time in 100 years

Scientists last recorded a sighting of De Winton’s golden mole in South Africa in 1936. After years of searching, a group of relentless environmentalists and their adorable sniffer dog, Jessie, found tracks and DNA proving that the tiny creatures are still out there.

The discovery marks the 12th species crossed off Re:Wild’s “Top Most Wanted Lost Species List”. The Guinness World Record-setting quest aims to find and protect the world’s most endangered species and has led to them rediscovering species such as Attenborough’s Long-beaked Echidna and Pernambuco Holly, as well as the rare golden mole.

3. Painting stolen 30 years ago returned to Scottish museum

In 1989, thieves stole over a dozen paintings and artefacts from Haggs Castle Museum of Childhood. When an investigation failed to find the missing artworks, the local community assumed they would never be seen again – until one of the paintings resurfaced at an auction in Yorkshire.

Children Wading by Robert Gemmell Hutchison was caught thanks to the hard work of the Art Loss Register, a non-profit databasing company that compiles details on over 700,000 missing artworks and antiquities.

The painting’s owners had no idea their prized possession was stolen and chose to hand it over for free so that everyone could enjoy the beautiful artwork. Although the Museum of Childhood closed down many years ago, you can see Children Wading in the Glasgow Museums Resource Centre.

4. The Wildlife Trust found two sites to redevelop ancient rainforests in the UK

British rainforests used to cover most of our land, but thanks to industrialisation and deforestation, they now take up less than 1% of our country. The Wildlife Trust and Aviva partnered to invest £38 million to transform two carefully selected sites back into thriving rainforests.

The two locations – Creg y Cowin on the Isle Of Man and Bryn Ifan in North Wales – will be restored to their former glory, benefitting both the environment and the local communities. Not only will the new rainforests help us combat global warming, but they will also restore habitats for some of the UK’s most endangered species.

5. Women band together to keep Newcastle safe

Shocked by the murders of Sarah Everard and Sabina Nessa, charity worker Beth Dunn started the Women’s Street Watch Newcastle (WSWN) with her girlfriend to ensure women can enjoy a night out without worrying about getting home safely.

Now they’ve amassed an army of over 50 pink-jacket-wearing volunteers to protect the women of Newcastle and raised £10,000 for a van that provides a safe space to call a taxi or charge phones so people can contact their loved ones.

The brilliant organisation has already inspired a similar scheme in Middlesborough, and the WSWN are helping other cities across the UK – including Edinburgh and Manchester – set up similar programmes to help women across the country.

6. Endangered rhino species protected from poachers

For the first time since 1977, no great one-horned rhinoceroses were poached in the world’s largest reserve.

The Kaziranga National Park in India is home to two-thirds of the endangered species’ population, with over 2,200 rhinos as well as a variety of other amazing animals. The local authorities arrested 58 poachers last year, stopping the beautiful creatures from being killed for their horns.

Thanks to new protections being put in place for the one-horned rhinos, their numbers have risen from only 200 in 2000 to over 3,700 in 2023.

7.  Rise in the number of children reading

The 2023 What Kids Are Reading Report discovered that children in the UK and Ireland read 24% more in the 2021/22 academic year than they did the previous year, devouring over 27 million books.

The researchers found that social media communities such as BookTok encouraged children to read popular books like Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series and Heartstopper, Alice Oseman’s series of graphic novels.

This fantastic upsurge in young readers gives us hope for the new generation, as regularly reading doesn’t just help children academically. It also develops empathy, helps people gain a deeper understanding of the world, and can be a brilliant way for you to build stronger relationships with your loved ones if you read as a family.