FROM extremist marches through the streets of Waltham Forest to UFO sightings in the skies over Epping Forest – 2012 has been a busy one on the Guardian’s website.

Our top ten online stories were read more than 220,000 times, an increase of 100,000 on 2011.

It was an emotional plea from the son of a missing pensioner which proved to be our most read story of the year.

More than 64,000 of you visited our site to read Michael Ryan’s appeal for help to find his mum Nancy, who went missing from her Woodford Bridge home in August.

Sadly, Mrs Ryan’s body was found in the River Roding shortly after Michael’s appeal, but he thanked our readers for their support during the search for his mum.

Another tragic story proved to be our second most read news item online.

Almost 30,000 of you read the breaking news that 16-year-old schoolgirl Wendy Maguire had fallen to her death from a footbridge over the A12 in Leytonstone in January.

Our third most popular story went global, as Internet surfers from around the world logged on to look at pictures of a UFO taken by an 11-year-old boy from Loughton.

Jack Brody’s picture of a mysterious saucer hovering over Epping Forest pulled in 24,450 views with UFO enthusiasts from as far afield as Australia, Japan and the USA sharing the story.

The battle to save Walthamstow Stadium created plenty of interest this year.

Our reporter Daniel Binns’s live blog of a stormy planning meeting where developers were given initial permission to develop the site received more than 15,000 hits.

Almost 200 of you left comments on the website during Daniel’s live updates, and the fight to save the Stow continues to create debate.

While the Olympics grabbed most of the back page headlines this year, it was a West Ham story which proved the biggest draw for sports fans on our website.

Wolves winger Michael Kightly eventually signed for Stoke, but 13,221 of you logged on to read a report linking him to the Hammers in June.

Other big stories included the news that a teenager had been stabbed to death in Leyton which drew 12,593 hits, reports on a violent EDL march in Walthamstow which was read more than 17,000 times and a dramatic fire at a building in Highams Park which was read 12,358 times.

1. Son of missing pensioner makes emotional plea (64,525 vies)
2. Schoolgirl dead after falling off bridge (29,522 views)
3. UFO pictured over forest (24,450 views)
4. Forest searched for missing woman (20,161 views)
5. Police make arrests as far right march turns violent (17,510 views)
6. Decision day for Walthamstow Stadium (15,638 views)
7. Man dies from stab wounds (13,923 views)
8. Hammers linked with winger Kightly (13,221 views)
9. Teenager murdered during fight in street (12,593 views)
10. Major fire in shop building (12,358 views)