2015: Eyewitness accounts of the yearaEUR( tm) s most defining moments

From Paris to the refugee crisis, and from Pluto to that flying weasel, these images recall the years most memorable events. Those closest to the action tell their stories

Sepp Blatter is rained with cash

20 July: the Fifa president seems uncomfortable as comedian Simon Brodkin throws dollar bills at him during a press conference

Money, fund, money: Sepp Blater confronts the future as false dollar bills fall to the ground all around him. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/ Reuters

Andrew Jennings, corruption examiner I havent been welcome at a Fifa press conference since 2003, but I have been watching Fifa for about 15 years.[ At a press conference in 2002, Jennings asked Blatter if hed ever taken a bribe. Since then he has been at the heart of the investigations into the organisation, and his reporting helped prompt the FBI to investigate .]

Not being at the conferences since hasnt truly bothered me. You travel to Zurich, you get one question, Blatter ignores it and moves on to someone else[ although he has repeatedly denied any wrong doing ]. I know nothing about athletic; I am international crimes reporter, but I enjoyed the picture, and Ive enjoyed watching Blatters downfall.

It hasnt been a surprise I have been talking to the FBI since 2009 it was a question of how long they would take. But its an organised crime squad from the FBI, it is very large, and they are taking their time.

The Swiss are taking their time, too. They are working through nine terabytes of data that they found at the Fifa headquarters, so they have plenty of information.

Its inconvenient for daily journalists who want a quick turnaround, but the investigators will complete their work. These individual visuals dont build much difference. Fifa is dead. Some say it will affect the game, but I dont think so. Fifa is just the superstructure. Kids arent going to stop playing football.

Still, this is a good painting, an important painting, because it says it all. Its very near to the truth and it could become Blatters defining image. It wasnt even real money. Blatter had false money thrown at him and he seemed most discommoded. He ended the press conference, opened the door and strolled out. Its as carnival a image as you could have. Theres not much more to it, hes simply a shit.

Rihanna arrives at the Met Ball

4 May: the singer steals the indicate with her memorable red-carpet creation

Attaining an entrance: Rihanna pauses on the stairs as she strolls into the 2015 Metropolitan Museum of Art annual jamboree. Photograph: Timothy A Clary/ AFP/ Getty Images

Mel Ottenberg, stylist The Guo Pei coat was incredibly heavy with all the amazing beadwork, and it was incredibly long, endless. The whole thing weighed over 55 lb, which stimulates going up stairs almost impossible on your own, so I was on the red carpet to help. Anyone would need assist getting up the stairs with that coat on, even a statuesque red-carpet pro like Rihanna.

Getting out of the car and on to the carpet was quite a mission, but also fun, we were chuckling about it on the way to the ball. The scene when we arrived was electric. Its always fun to insure peoples reactions. The frenzy of the photographers is genius at the Met Ball as they all scramble to get the shooting. Its a mega glamorous moment. But this was something extra!

In general I dislike the idea of being on the red carpet and fluffing someones look. But you just have to fix the look sometimes, and then jump out of the way to avoid being in the photos. Its a little ridiculous, and you have to have a sense of humour about it.

The Met Ball is a big moment for the woman youre styling. You want her to feel special and not have anything to worry about. Underneath the coat was a custom-made pink satin Agent Provocateur bustier. After the red carpet, we switched into another look for the rest of the evening. You could not go into an event wearing the coat, there wouldnt have been room. For that night in the coat, it was all about the staircase and red carpet.

I believe Rihanna was the only celebrity wearing a Chinese designer. It actually set Guo Pei on the world stage. I loved all the social media afterwards: the memes were astonishing. There were so many good omelette ones; one with a huge household having a party on the develop. It was hysterical.

The Met Ball is a celebration of manner and style so its a great opportunity to go all out. Its one of my favourite moments of the year.

Rihanna in the Guo Pei coat was the covering of the New York Times the next day, and as a New Yorker, theres nothing better than that!

The Majid family arrives in Europe

15 August: an image of a parent sobbing as his family arrive by barge in Turkey encapsulates the human suffering behind the refugee crisis

Safe landing: Laith Majid from Deir Ezzor in Syria, holding his son and daughter, breaks out in tears of joy after arriving via a flimsy inflatable boat crammed with about 15 men, women and children on the shore of the island of Kos in Greece. Photograph: Daniel Etter/ New York Times/ Redux/ Eyevine

Neda Al-Amirij, wife and mother We come from Baghdad. I am an English educator and my husband Laith is a mechanic. We and our four children had a good life, until thugs stimulated it unbearable. We are Sunni Muslims: the ruling party in Iraq are Shias. Shias came to our house and threatened us. They were like a mafia. They said: Leave or we will kill you. The children couldnt play in the street. I was worried theyd be kidnapped, so we sold everything and left. Our goal was Germany. The Queen, Angela Merkel, is like a mom to us.

We arrived in Turkey. In Bodrum we had to take a boat to Greece. It was a tiny plastic boat for the 15 -mile trip, full of people. We were not allowed to take our luggage the smugglers hurled it into the water.

During the night, the barge started to lose air. We were crazy with anxiety. We supposed this is it, we will die. But somehow we made it to the coast of Kos. There was a young man from Germany, Daniel Etter, who helped us to reach land. We were screaming with relief. Daniel attained the photo of Laith in which he holds Nour, 7, and Taha, 9. It was published in the New York Times. We told him “were in” Syrians, because we were warned in Turkey that they might send us back if we said we were from Iraq.

From Athens we were smuggled to Berlin in the back of a truck, which cost 1,800. The trip took several days. In Berlin we got a room in the former army barracks of Spandau. We were very happy that wed built it. But life as refugees is not easy. In September the German government sent us to a little village near GAPttingen. We had to sleep on the floor of the canteen, in between thousands of other refugees. Ahmed contracted pneumonia.

So I decided to break the rules and took their own families by train back to Berlin. Luckily we got our old room in Spandau back. Here we live today. We are learning German; our youngest, Nour, is quite fluent. On 11 January we will get official government assistance. But only after that will they decide if we get permanent asylum. We want to start a new life in Germany.

A weasel hitches a ride on a woodpecker

2 March: how a woodland walking objective up with a remarkable wildlife shoot

We have lift-off: Martin Le-May shot this image in Hornchurch Country Park in London. The weasel assaulted the woodpecker and refused to give up even when the bird took flight. Photograph: Martin LeMay

Martin Le-May, amateur photographer My wife had insured a couple of woodpeckers in Hornchurch Country Park, and she imagination get a better view of one. I knew a place where they hang out. We were strolling along when I heard an odd noise in the grass a woodpecker being attacked by something. I realised that if the bird took off it was going to fly straight towards me.

I picked up my camera, a Canon 70 D, and started shooting. I took about eight images in total, and the whole thing lasted no longer than 10 seconds. They landed about 20 yards in front of us, and I recollect believing I wasnt sure if I wanted to watch a woodpecker be ripped to death in front of me. But I believe our presence was enough to set the weasel off. It ran away hungry and the bird flew off.

To be honest at first I was more excited about a painting Id taken earlier, which I had thought was a fieldfare a type of thrush. But when I got the pictures up on my computer and assured the weasel and woodpecker shoot I called my wife who was attaining tea in the kitchen and said: You should look at this. Its pretty spectacular.

I shared it with a small group of photographer friends and one of them asked to put it on Twitter. Within an hour it had been shared 5,000 times. By the next morning it had been ensure by more than 1m people on BuzzFeed and there were reporters at my door.

I dont for one moment think its the best picture ever taken, but in terms of subject and content Im never going to top it. Another photographer told me that it wasnt merely one-in-a-lifetime, but one in seven or eight. Im keeping a scrapbook, though, so that when my children create some grandchildren I can sit down with them the working day and say: Granddad was a little bit famous, once.

David Cameron is flirted with on morning TV

17 March: was it flirting or friendliness? The interview which made headlines for unexpected reasons

Call me Dave: Susanna Reid interviews David Cameron on Good Morning Britain. Photograph: REX Shutterstock

Susanna Reid, presenter My interview with David Cameron for Good Morning Britain seven weeks before the election stimulated headlines, but not for the reasons youd expect. Im used to the description of my interview style as flirtatious, but thats not how Id describe it. Its relaxed and friendly, and when you are relax and friendly sometimes people expose more about themselves. I think that was the lawsuit here. The viewers insured more of David Cameron the person, as opposed to the politician.

We wanted to do a series of interviews with all the party leaders to disclose the people behind the political facades. Ben Shephard interviewed Ed Miliband on the school running; Kate Garraway met Nigel Farage on the beach; I went to Nicola Sturgeons house and rifled through her shoe collection.

I wanted to ask what its like to juggle the biggest job in the country with having children. Do the children get pestered at school because their daddy is PM? Does he get to go to mothers evening? Not as often as hed like. Also you would assume the PM would get his child into their first-choice state school. He didnt.

I expect Number 10 were amazed that it was reported as an analysis of the interviewer rather than the subject. One newspaper hired a body language expert to analyse how I was sitting, and how I was chewing my pen. A close aide said Cameron told him his radar must have been down as he didnt pick up on it during the course of its interview.

Was I flirting? Neither of the two people involved know about this. I chew my pen in a lot of the interviews I do, with men and women. Does the office need to get more biros in to serve my chewing habit? Probably.

A television crew in Virginia is assaulted live their lives air

26 August: journalist Alison Parker and cameraman Adam Ward are murdered during a routine broadcast

Lethal intent: a framegrab from the video positioned on Bryce Williamss Twitter account of the moment he shot Alison Parker as she conducts a live on-air interview with Vicki Gardner. Photo: Vester Lee Flanagan II/ AP

Vicki Gardner, victim It was a beautiful morning and “were in” overlooking Smith Mountain Lake. I work for the chamber of commerce and Alison[ Parker] was interviewing me. I assured someone approach who I believed might be a maintenance worker. But “theres never” anyone around at 7am. He turned on a light and began shooting.

He shot Alison first, then Adam[ Ward ], the cameraman. When Adam fell, I fell with him. It was obvious Adam was gone. Then he went after Alison. She had run to a corner, but there was no other place for her to run. He returned and “ve been shot” in the back, but then operated out of bullets. I knew I couldnt let on I was alive and didnt dare do anything. It was very quiet. I was afraid to look up as I has no notion where he was.

The bullet hit my spine, but didnt go across it. It took out a kidney and reach my colon. If it had hit one of my major arteries I would have bled to demise. I was in intensive care for several weeks and I have been recovering at home since.

I looked at the worst mankind can offer. But the worst is nothing, and the best is everywhere. The community rallied around me, they held a lovely remembrance service at the site in September. My hospital room was filled with containers and bags of cards and letters and gifts from all over the world. They were wonderful messages of encouragement.

I write a Christmas newsletter every year which is always quite funny, but this year I was unsure how to paint what took place in a humorous style. But I managed it. I am so looking forward to getting back to work in January. I have taken the addresses of the people who sent gifts and cards, and I want to send a thank you note to all of them. I hope by telling the story that something good comes of this, that people come closer, as our community has, rather than closing the door, and being angry.

Labours election pledges are carved in stone

2 May: Ed Miliband unveils the Ed stone

Written in stone: the former Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labours pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/ PA

Solomon Curtis, former Labour nominee There was a mob of 40 supporters and Labour nominees from East Sussex, gathered in the car park and all we could see was this hideous metal structure, hanging in the air.

While we were waiting for Ed Miliband to arrive, the local Green Party candidate, Jake Bowers, rolled up in a horse-drawn carriage and positioned himself on a patch of grass, with his PA system. Ed got off the coach-and-four, unveiled the stone and talked about his pledges being carved in stone. You could see he wasnt all that comfortable.

Someone made a comment, said theyre going to say its a headstone, or Ed Stone. We were quickly told not to repeat that, in the hope it wasnt picked up by the media which, of course, it was. Ed was quite jokey, he smiled and had a giggle about putting it in No 10 when we got into office. It was surreal, like something from Alice in Wonderland, with this 8ft-tall Ed Stone and Jake Bowerss massive horse.

I went to a very standard rally in the centre of Hastings afterwards, so I forgot about the Ed Stone until the next morning, when I woke to hundreds of photos sent to me by friends, where Ed had been photoshopped as Moses in front of the stone and, of course, there I was stood next to him.

Its much easier to talk about the Labour loss now its over, but I was so disappointed at the time. We should have foreseen what would happen in Scotland. It was a horrific loss.

The first images of Pluto are sent back to Earth

14 July: the New Horizons space probe passes Pluto after a 10 -year journey

The far edge: a combination of images of Pluto captured by the New Horizons spacecraft with enhanced colours to indicate differences in the composition and texture of countries around the world surface. Photograph: Uncredited/ AP

Alan Stern, project leader It was not until the morning after the New Horizons space probe swept over Pluto and on into deep space that we realised what a wonderful world we had uncovered. It was then that we got the first images back from the probe on our screens and they were spectacular.

We could see Pluto had a blue atmosphere, a complex system of moons, and a smooth ice plain the size of Texas. The control room went wild. There were hugs and smiles and people spiking their limbs in the air. Im sure I use a lot of four-letter words and none of them were Nasa. We had not just made this historic journey across the solar system, but we had found that Pluto was, scientifically, beyond our wildest dreams.

We expected to find a complicated, icy outer world, of course. But what our brief encounter disclosed was a world that was something between Earth and Mars but at the outer edge of the solar system, 3bn miles away. We could see signs of active geology. The ice plain, Sputnik Plenum, has either been created in the very recent past or is continually being renewed. We can also find very old terrains and some intermediately aged terrains. So it is clear it has been geologically alive throughout its entire 4.5 bn-year history. It should have cooled off by now, but it hasnt. It is a puzzle of gargantuan proportions for planetary geophysics.

And that is why I believe we have to go back. We need to send an orbiter or a lander to Pluto next time. It took 26 years to scheme, construct, launching and track New Horizons, but I still want to be part of the team that goes back to Pluto. It is such a wonderful little world the solar system last important outpost.

Fans are massacred at the Bataclan

13 November: a night of terror unfolds across Paris as 129 people are shot and hundreds more are injured

Fleeing from terror: three images taken from a smartphone video by Le Monde journalist Daniel Psenny proves spectators escaping the Bataclan. Photo: Daniel Psenny/ AFP/ Getty Images

Katie Healy, concert goer My boyfriend David had surprised me with a trip to Paris for my birthday, and we were looking forward to seeing Eagles of Death Metal while we were there. The crowd at the gig seemed so joyful, and from all walks of life.

As the band were playing, something splashed on my shoulder. I thought someone had spilled their beverage on me, and I turned to David to say something, but then I assured the flashing of a machine gun and realised that the liquid was blood. The crowd heaved and we fell. I made the back of my head on the floor. The gunmen were hollering, but I didnt understand what they were saying, especially not over the screams.

David scrambled to lie over me. We were telling each other to stay calm, and that we loved one another. Then the shooting stopped and everyone get up and ran. But we hadnt get far when the shooting restarted and we fell to the ground again. It was horrendous. There was a woman to my right “whos been” being severely shot, and a man to my left who was gurgling, choking on his own blood.

It became eerily quiet. The gunmen were walking around, killing people one by one we could feel the floorboards vibrate with every gunshot. I said to David, who was lying on top of me: This is it. I love you, goodbye.

Then, suddenly, he said: Get up and run. I was too afraid to move, but David had considered a door open in his eyeline and a small group of people escape, so he grabbed me. We ran over the dead bodies and induced it out the door.

Outside, we maintained operating. David couldnt move very fast, as he had been shot in the foot, but I dragged him as far as I could. A lady hear my shriekings and let us into her apartment complex. She tied her scarf around Davids foot to try and stop the bleeding she probably saved his life.

Luckily a doctor who lived in the same block came out to help and selflessly decided to drive us to the hospital. The collision and emergency department felt like a war zone. It was full of people who had been shot, and ambulances seemed to be arriving all night. I remained with David in the hospital until we returned to Ireland on Monday night. He was immediately transferred to another hospital for further surgery. Hes had four operations in total.

Its been a bit of a blur since weve been back. Theres a great amount of shock. It doesnt feel real, and we both feel guilty that we escaped with our lives while the people around us, who we were chuckling and dancing with, succumbed. And for what? We feel exceedingly lucky.

The Greek finance minister resigns following the countrys No vote

6 July: despite the enormous majority of Greek citizens voting No in the countrys referendum, the prime minister dismiss their wishes

On his motorcycle: Yanis Varoufakis leaves the finance ministry in Athens. Photo: Yorgos Karahalis/ Getty Images

Yanis Varoufakis, former ministers of finance On the morning of the referendum, I was thinking about my letter of resignation, as I had said I would resign if it were a Yes vote. I wasnt feeling confident: the banks were shut, the No campaign was losing supporting, and I thought it would be very close.

I spent the morning working at home, then left the house with my father and wife, talking to strangers to gauge the mood. It was clear that it would soon be a landslide No vote. I felt elated, and slightly ashamed that I had not trusted the Greek people.

That 62% of our citizens, despite being exceptionally worried about the future, and warned by the powers that be about the risks of voting No, ran against that on the basic principle of republic, divests hope that we live in a just society.

I presumed Syriza would honour that vote. But the longer Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras delayed announcing victory, the more concerned I became about his intentions.

Those who were pushing Tsipras towards accepting the bailout terms wanted to ease me out, as I would be the one to sign any agreement. When I walked into Tsiprass office, he was distraught. I had no aim of hanging in there and causing problems. I tried to dissuaded him in a frank exchange of quite a few hours, and realised I could not.

I came home at around 4am. It took me almost three hours to compose a short resignation letter: it was hardest thing Ive ever written because I didnt wishes to undermine the prime minister, but I needed to convey to our voters that we had let them down.

A friend of ours 18 -year-old son, when he found out I was resigning at 7am, turned around and said very laconically, Well this is it: Syriza is over. I was not ready to accept that Syriza was over that night. I thought Alexis Tsipras might agree to disagree, but he refused to co-operate.

My relationship with Tsipras doesnt exist now. Weve never had a cross word between us, but there is nothing left to discuss. I dont think he could bear to appear me in the eye.

A dress causes colour consternation

26 February: was it black and blue or white and gold? A disagreement between a mom and daughter over the colour of a dress for a bridal produces 20 m tweets

Hue and cry: the colour-changing dress. What colour did you think it was? Photograph: Moira Kerr/ StockPix

By Cecilia Bleasdale, mom I was in Manchester shopping with my partner Paul for an outfit for my daughter Graces wedding. We went to Roman Original and I took some photograph to reveal Grace, who lives on Colonsay in Scotland. I sent her three scenes and said: How about the third one? She responded: The white and gold one? I said: No, its blue and black. She sent the photograph back and said: This is what you sent me. I said: Yes, its blue and black. She said: If you think that you need your eyes tested.

Anyway I bought the dress, which is now being APS5 0, and nobody at the marriage said anything about it, but Caitlin McNeill, from the band, posted my picture of it on Tumblr. A few weeks later the photograph had gone viral.

We were asked to appear on the Ellen[ DeGeneres] show in LA. Grace and Keir interrupted their honeymoon for it. Id never flown long-haul before we tend to holiday in Britain so we went to Universal Studios and had a tour of the Hollywood Hills. It was all quite surreal. Researchers got in touch to tell me that it opened a debate about how we insure colour. Ive had to go to a solicitor to protect my copyright, and Ive expended more on fees than Ive generated from the picture. There are pluses and minuses.

A plane crashes during the Shoreham airshow

22 August: a much-loved summer airshow ends in catastrophe as a plane crashes on to a busy road

Fireball: the moment a fighter jet crashed into traffic on A27 Photograph: StockPix

Dom Lawson, a motorist driving past the event Its one of those things which allows you look back and understand what was going on, but at the time its so surreal, its not something you ever expect to see. It was like watching Die Hard, where a plane explodes. If you were at an airport youd be amazed to see that scene, let alone on the A27, a road I take five times a week.

It was a hot day, the sunlight shine. I was driving with the windows down, music blaring. I was staying at my girlfriends house in Croydon that weekend, but Id forgotten something so was stimulating the 25 -minute journey back to my place in Worthing. Because of the music, I didnt hear the plane the first time I assured it was through my windscreen.

It was just so bizarre the sound it made, the huge ball of fire when it reached the ground. There was an eerie silence and it was like everyone was thinking: What the fucking was that? What have we just seen? All the dust flew away from us the momentum of the plane taking it.

Things started to click. I knew there was an air show that day. But when we all got out of our autoes and considered half the plane lying on the tarmac, thats when it sank in that people had been killed. The rest of it used to go, in the explosion.

I still cant recollect when the traffic lights changed. I had either been moving at less than 5mph or I may have been stationary, all I know is I had stopped at the red signal when the plane went down. Now it seems theres a very clear divide between the ones who stopped at the traffic lights and the people who were hit.

The smoke cleared. There were two or three vehicles on fire, but no one moving in them. The emergency services were already at the air show so were there rapidly, within five minutes. They put up tape and started organising the cars, and everyone very quietly did as they were told. There was one guy I was speaking to in a nearby vehicle who had been driving his young family: a newborn and a toddler, along with his wife and mother. He was in shock.

After about an hour, we were free to drive home. I remember crawling along the seafront in very heavy traffic reasoning: I cant believe Im still alive. A matter of 10 seconds and it could have been very different.

A feminist pressure group blizzards the premiere of Suffragette

7 October: protestors lie on the red carpet and let off fireworks to protest about womens rights

Votes for women: Sisters Uncut protest against cuts to support for victims of domestic violence at the Suffragette premiere in Leicester Square. Photo: Tristan Fewings/ Getty Images

Abi Morgan, scriptwriter Premieres are fun, but the fluff and red carpet is so far removed from the rest of the process that as we pulled up my initial reaction was: Wow, they have really gone to town with the fireworks. Amazing smoke bombs in the suffragette colouring clouded the air and my partner, children and I marvelled at it from inside the car.

It speedily filtered down to us that it was a protest. There was so much noise and so many people that you couldnt hear much. I think it was a journalist who told me that it was Sisters Uncut: a direct-action group defending cuts to domestic violence services. But perhaps because we have all spend so long in the minds of revolutionaries it only added to the spirit and excitement of the evening. It seemed to make sense of something which can too often be was transformed into a vanity parade.

The film draws on the idea that 100 years on, so many of the issues that affected the women of 1912 still affect women globally today equality of pay, sexual violence at work and at home, educational and parental rights. It was very apt that they should choose to use this movie to draw attention to such an important cause. I was delighted.

I havent personally had contact with Sisters Uncut, but peaceful protest is a mark of any good democracy. It was great for my daughter and son to see that. One of the great joys of Suffragette is the subsistence it has garnered from so many people. People have told us we caught the zeitgeist with Suffragette, but all you are ever trying to do is reflect back on the world. Its great if that comes part of the vehicle for change.

Alexander McQueens retrospective starts at the V& A

14 March: Savage Beauty showcases the extraordinary talent of one of Britains most influential designers

Strike a pose: Alexander McQueen: Barbarian Beauty at the Victoria& Albert Museum. Photo: Mike Marsland/ WireImage

AimA( c) e Mullins, athlete, actor and model It was unbelievably moving to ensure the work of someone you adored memorialised as an exhibition at the V& A. To generate that body of work by the age of 40 you cant assist but have your whole being swell with a sense of awe, wonder and, for those of us who knew Lee[ McQueen ], pride. It felt as if the clothes were talismen and if you were to touch one of the sleeves, you were whisked off to another time, another place.

The essential London-ness of Lee was something I really felt with the show being presented in his home town; and a show that powerful also reminds us that we need to do what we can to protect those sensitive souls among us.

The prosthetic legs Lee designed for me to wear to open his S/ S 99 indicate were on display in the Cabinet of Curiosity. They fit perfectly, but are made from solid ash and are very heavy. Its not like slipping on a pair of high heels. I got them simply hours before I had to walk out in front of this packed house. It was terrifying.

He wanted them to be my party legs, but I thought they should be viewed by the public. The reaction has been palpable. Anyone who ensure them up close says they are one of the most exquisite things theyve ever seen. The bold verse of taking a wooden leg historically the domain of pirates, war veterans and trauma survivors and attaining it an objet dart are worth being a centrepiece in a museum is the essence of McQueen.

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