September’s centenary has spurred me to learn more about the Women’s Institute, which has been an unexpected joy. All of the members I’ve spoken to, or met on my travels, have spoken so warmly about the confidence, friendship and fun they’ve gained from this organisation.
For the last 100 years, women all over the country have been serving their communities, and not just tea and cake, either, no. The more I learn about the WI, which is today the largest voluntary women’s organisation in the UK, the more I admire it. Giving women a voice, its members continue to campaign for the biggest issues affecting our lives. I might even join their ranks soon (if they’ll allow a bolshy single mum who doesn’t bake into their number, which, I’m told, they might!) So possibly see you there if you, too, are inspired by their story.
RIght, now, to clothes and dressing up! And this story has a fairytale ending. Have you heard of the Oxfordshire Drama Wardrobe Collection? This is a registered charity which had a bit of a Cinderella patch – many months of difficulty meant the charity was close to closure. Now Lynda Hart has been in touch to say: “I am pleased to report ODWC has turned itself around and is now thriving in a new (smaller and cheaper) home. “There are more volunteers and we are able to increase opening times. We’re trying to provide an improved service to drama groups, schools, colleges and individuals, indeed anyone who needs a costume for whatever reason by offering an more open-door policy.” To the, ODWC holds an open day on Saturday, 26th, when you can browse the huge selection of costumes from Romans to 1950s, plus panto and show costumes and accessories, totalling 5,000 items available for hire. There will be two or three sale rails, refreshments and a good atmosphere, so pop by to Unit 25, Hanney Road, Steventon (OX13 6AP), 10am-4pm. Visit www.oxondramawardrobe.co.uk
The bells, the bells! If you live in our near Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, you will have heard St Agatha’s church bells all ajingle in the village. Well, those bells, which have been ringing for an astonishing 800 years, need saving. Villagers have launched a campaign and £45,000 is needed to restore and retune this historic asset, whilst the framework supporting the bells in the church tower need refurbishing. Fundraising chairman Tony Lascelles says: “The bells have marked services, weddings and funerals as well as national occasions, perhaps most famously the visit of King George II in 1727. The village has a long-standing tradition of bell-ringing and the current team of ringers under Tower Captain Roy Thorpe spans many ages, both male and female. The bells are an important aspect of the village’s heritage; they would be a sad loss to our community. We will raise the funds through a combination of personal donations, local fundraising activities and grants”. A date for your diary, then is an Open Garden and Plant Sale on Sunday 27th, followed by an organ recital in the church and a Safari Supper around the village. All donations are most gratefully accepted and we will keep Round & About readers updated on this important campaign. Want to help? Call David Greasby on 01491 836943 or Tony Lascelles on 01491 837910.
Now to Hagbourne Village Hall, which has won a ‘Green’ Energy Grant of £2,320. The money has been provided by the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE2) and funding partner Grundon Waste Management Ltd and will be used to install additional insulation in its roof space, as well as to replace the existing fluorescent tubes with modern LED units. With work due to be completed next, the work will not only help to reduce energy costs, but will also provide a much cosier environment particularly for the pre-school group who use the village hall during the daytime. Hagbourne Village Hall is one of the social centres for the villages of East and West Hagbourne. The scene of countless parties, annual meetings, the local pre-school, the home of the HAMS theatre group, numerous sport- and hobby-based activities, and the location for many post-church events, the Hagbourne Village Hall is alive with the life of these two villages. Richard Elliott, chairman of the Village Hall Management Committee, said: “These were two of the recommendations made by the recent energy audit which was also mostly funded by TOE2, and without which we would not have considered these measures.”
We’re quite used to this beautiful part of the world being used on the big and small screen, and now here’s another locally filmed highlight. Captain Webb, a film about the first man to swim the English Channel and featuring local people as ‘extras’, will have a special screening at Wallingford Corn Exchange on Sunday 6th at 7.30pm. Scenes shot in Goring Village Hall and Englefield, near Pangbourne, included supporting artists from Wallingford’s Sinodun Players, Goring Gap Players, Henley, Didcot and surrounding areas. The film depicts how in 1875 retired merchant seaman Captain Matthew Webb (aka The Greatest Living Englishman), braved treacherous currents and strong winds to swim from Dover to France. It is directed by Justin Hardy (son of actor Robert Hardy) and you can buy tickets by visiting www.cornexchange.org.uk or call 01491 825000.
It seems many good-hearted members of our community are on a mission to save our village churches and enjoy some traditional music this month. The Band of Music is launching a new concert series as a joint venture with St Mary’s Church in Wallingford. The series aims to raise money for St Mary’s church tower, and bring more high quality live music to the town. The band is made up of full-time professional players on historical instruments, four of whom live in Cholsey; they are Frances Norbury (oboe), Daniel Edgar and Nia Lewis (violins), Tim Smedley (cello) and Christopher Bucknall (harpsichord). The first concert is at 7.30pm on Saturday 19th September, entitled Glorious Baroque and including works by Purcell, Telemann, Couperin, Corelli, Scarlatti and Rebel. Tickets are £15. If that whets your appetite to hear some more of the band’s highlights, there are concerts also planned for Saturday, 14th November, at 1pm (Mozart, Haydn and JC Bach), and Sunday, 3rd January, at 4pm (baroque music for voice, oboe and strings). For more information and details on how to purchase tickets please keep an eye on The Band of Music website at www.thebandofmusic.co.uk
Focusing now on the success of Wallingford Photographic Club, which has been going strong since the 1960s and is well worth joining. This year’s annual club exhibition was held in St Mary’s Church Wallingford. Tony France of Wallingford Photographic Club has been in touch to tell us:“The move to our new venue has been a great success with more visitors than in previous years. Great interest was shown in the images on display and the work of the club.” The new season starts on Thursday 10th, with the club’s first welcome meeting held at the Crowmarsh Pavilion, at 7.30pm for 8pm until 10pm. This season the club has a great programme of guest speakers, competitions and members’ evenings, so if you liked the exhibition and are interested in photography, do feel free to visit, where photographers of all ages and levels of ability, both male and female, will give you a warm welcome. For more information, visit www.wallingfordphoto.club/
Did you Wallingford Gardening Club’s annual garden party in July? By kind permission of Mary Dunn at Brightwell, the event was a huge success. On Thursday 3rd, at 6pm, the club will visit ‘Home Close’ at Southend, Garsington (OX44 9DH). Isabelle Darby of the group wrote to tell us: “All visitors are very welcome to join us!” For further details, call 01491 836867. Talks at Ridgeway Community Centre will resume on 8th October.
Just in case you need some more fun and frivolity in your life now school has started again, this one is for you! You can take your youngsters to enjoy a children’s fancy dress fun run on Sunday, 6th September, starting at 10am. The course is about 1km long and takes in the supreme setting of the Wittenham Clumps (OX14 4QZ) on the Little Wittenham Nature Reserve and the new Thames-side wetland site. The event is open to children up to the age of 11 years (younger children, or groups of, will need to be accompanied on the run). If you want to stretch your legs with a longer distance, there is a 10k run starting at 11am. Sponsorship is appreciated and funds will go to help The Earth Trust’s excellent work preserving the natural environment and heritage. It’s free to attend the children’s event, and £12 to enter the 10k, but please register in advance by visiting www.earthtrust.org.uk/10kRun/ChildrensFunRun.aspx or call 01865 407792.
Time to club together! Especially as it’s Clubs & Society this month (no, I didn’t know, either) – on Sunday 13th, to be exact. Didcot First is inviting all locals to learn new skills, join a new team or take up a new hobby at a free community event at Didcot Civic Hall, Britwell Road, from 10am to 2pm and will host a wide variety of clubs, groups and societies. The day will provide you with lots of information on the clubs activities along with exciting demonstrations. It promises to be a great opportunity to find out more about all those groups indulging – and sharing – in what floats their boat, from Didcot Scrabble Club to Oxfordshire Federation of Young Farmers and Blewbury Croquet Club. To find out more, turn up on the day or visit www.didcotfirst.org.uk
Attention bargain-hunters! Plenty of bric a brac and clothing will be on sale when the doors open on the regular September jumble sale held at Wallingford Methodist Church in St. Leonard’s Square. Refreshments will also be available at the sale on Saturday 19th, between 2pm and 4pm. Proceeds will benefit the church centre and donations of saleable items for the jumble sale will be gratefully received between 10am and midday on the day. For items which may need collection, please contact 01491 836649.
Like shopping but feel Didcot could do with a retail boost? People in Didcot are set to see a big increase in shopping and dining in the town after plans to expand the Orchard Centre were approved. This summer, South Oxfordshire District Council’s Planning Committee voted in favour of approving proposals to almost double the size of the Orchard Centre. The plans include 24 new shops to the High Street area as well as three new areas of public space, six new restaurants and cafes, a gym and more parking spaces for cars and bikes. The expanded centre, with work to cost £50million, has been approved in a bid to put Didcot firmly on the map as a regional retail destination and also create more than 500 jobs. Elsewhere ambitious plans have been submitted for ‘Didcot Gateway’, a new entrance to the town to be located directly opposite the station. There are also proposals for the site at the former Didcot A Power Station and the first of many new community facilities have been introduced at Great Western Park. Cllr John Cotton, leader of South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “On behalf of the 88 per cent of people surveyed who wanted to see this scheme go ahead, I’m glad Hammerson have the green light. People across Didcot and the surrounding villages understand the value these new shops, cafes and gym will bring to the town and everyone can now look forward to the opening date in 2017.” Mr Cotton also said the team were working to deal with the parking and bus route concerns raised by neighbours and that “a better, long-term solution will come.” Exciting times ahead for Didcot!
More for Didcot folk now, you lucky lot! You could benefit from a benefit trial organised by South Oxfordshire District Council and its largest social landlord, Soha. The two organisations are running a pilot programme which will see people paid their housing benefit directly rather than the current method of payments being made directly to their housing association. The trial is in preparation for the introduction of Universal Credit, a national change which will see people receive one regular combined benefit payment (including housing benefit) rather than money paid separately for each benefit they are entitled to.
How’s your garden harvest going? I’ve spent the summer munching through my crop of Tumbledown Tom tomatoes and lamb’s leaf lettuce in a bid to beat the slugs. So the next event is definitely of interest to top up my skills and enjoyment! National gardening expert Pippa Greenwood will be talking about how to “Grow great veg …. and have fun!” at Benson Parish Hall on Thursday 1st October at 7pm for 7.30pm. The event is organised jointly by Warborough & Shillingford Garden Club and Benson Garden Club. Everyone is welcome and tickets at £8 each (including refreshments) are available from the Information Centre in the Market Place, Wallingford, or by calling Jane Franklin on 01865 891208 or Anne Catterson-Smith on 01865 859963. Many will recognise Pippa from her appearances on Gardeners’ World or you may have heard her on Radio 4’s Gardeners’ Question Time. Following her talk, there will be a Q&A session and the opportunity to purchase Pippa’s latest books.
A wonderful collision of art and science, next. Friends of St Mary’s and St Leonard’s Churches – Quilting the Large Hadron Collider is the fascinating topic of an illustrated talk by Kate Findlay. Kate will welcome visitors on Saturday, 3rd Ocrober, at the Masonic Hall, in Goldsmiths Lane, Wallingford (OX10 0DU), from 7pm. Kate became fascinated by the Large Hadron Collider in 2008 after seeing images of parts of this gigantic machine. For four years she worked exclusively on a series of textile pieces which formed a body of work which was exhibited in galleries in major cities and around the country. She speaks about her work to groups, as well as continuing her own textile work and teaching. She is currently working on pieces which include fibre optics and for light relief includes fabric collages of birds and images of Henley. Tickets are on sale now £12 including supper. Bar is available at good prices. For more information, call Sheila Findlay on 01491 836517 or Belinda Lee-Jones on 01491 836223.
Following the success of a Wallingford folk evening last year, the same Oxfordshire bands will be returning to the town for a repeat performance to aid two charities. Tickets go on sale early this month for the evening with the acclaimed Three Pressed Men supported by the popular musical family group, The Fensoms. The long-established Three Pressed Men, who play a variety of instruments including accordions, will be performing at Wallingford Methodist Church at 7.30 pm on Friday October 9th. The Fensoms, mother, father and daughter, have a more modern take with some of their folk repertoire. Refreshments will be served during the interval and are included in the £10 ticket price. Proceeds from the event will be split between two charities being supported by the church, a clean water project in Uganda and Response, a mental health charity. Tickets are available from the Wallingford town information office or by calling 01491 836649.
A little of what you fancy does you good, so they say! Unfortunately, I’m an all-or-nothing kiinda girl, but I’m trying moderation, and so the next one sounds good. An Autumn Fancies Concert will be held at St. Helen’s Church, Benson, on Saturday, 17th October, at 7.30pm. Proceeds from the event will go to Music For Autism and St Helen’s Church. The singers are Alice Rowse, Christine Cairns, Adrian Boorman and Sara McDouall Saw with Jonathan French on piano. The music is a mix of songs and duets from early music to contemporary. Tickets are £10 (£8) and include wine and refreshments. Buy them from Derry’s Den, Benson or from the singers – call 01491 836771.
Didcot Power Station is quite the landmark, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop being mildy surprised at how different the landscape looks with three ‘sisters’ gone. Stephen Hodges, a 38-year-old mechanical engineer who has lived in Oxfordshire all his life and moved to Didcot about four years ago with his family has penned a poem about them, which we felt was worth sharing with you readers.
Curving gently way up on high,
Towers reaching into the sky,
Generate power for our homes,
Boiling our kettles and charging phones.
I would often stop, stand and stare,
The steam clouds rising without care,
You have known for years this old friend,
Whose life yet, they will not extend.
It can be seen from miles around,
A sure sign you are homeward bound,
Looming large this peaceful giant,
New law says it’s not compliant.
Chimneys climbing into the air,
Childhood memories always there,
Strange to think it will be all gone,
In a changing world life moves on.
Engine hall silent, not a sound,
No turbines vibrating the ground,
Parallels with life, clear to see,
Returned to the earth, we must be.
What do you think? Thank you, Stephen, for sending, we enjoyed it!
Have you taken up the offer of a free NHS health check yet? New data shows more people in Oxfordshire are accepting the invitation for a free check, which is offered to everyone aged between 40 and 74 without a pre-existing condition. It’s a free mid-life MOT which checks for the early signs of dangerous conditions such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. GP practices are funded to complete the checks by the county council’s public health budget. To find out more see www.nhs.uk/choices/nhs-health-check or contact your GP practice.
Following the success of a Wallingford folk evening last year, the same Oxfordshire bands will be returning to the town for a repeat performance to aid two charities. Tickets go on sale early this month for the evening with the acclaimed Three Pressed Men supported by the popular musical family group, The Fensoms. The long established Three Pressed Men, who play a variety of instruments including accordions, will be performing at Wallingford Methodist Church at 7.30pm on Friday, October 9th. The Fensoms, mother, father and daughter, have a more modern take with some of their folk repertoire. Refreshments will be served during the interval and are included in the £10 ticket price. Proceeds from the event will be split between two charities being supported by the church, a clean water project in Uganda and Response, a mental health charity. Tickets are available from the Wallingford town information office or by calling 01491 836649.
Volunteers are also needed to provide temporary homes for cats and kittens who have been neglected, abandoned, or mistreated. The Oxfordshire branch of the RSPCA is appealing for foster carers to look after rescued cats and kittens for a few weeks while the charity searches for a permanent home with new adopters. The fosterer will be supplied with everything they need and reimbursed for all out-of-pocket expenses. To find out more call Rosemary on 01865 821749 or 07887 475403.
Experience Oxfordshire has launched a new guidebook for Oxford, and what’s more it is now available in seven languages. The Quick Guide to Oxford is now on sale in English, German, Japanese, Chinese, French, Spanish and Russian. All guides are priced at £1.95 and are available from the city’s Visitor Information Centre.
Can you go the distance to fight heart disease in Oxfordshire? The British Heart Foundation is holding its annual half marathon and 10km races at Blenheim Palace on Sunday, 4th October. Both routes start in front of the palace before winding through the estate. The event also offers a 2km family fun run finishing in front of the palace alongside the 10km and half marathon runners. Call 0845 130 8663 or visit www.bhf.org.uk/Blenheim
Oxford’s Sobell House Hospice is appealing for people to take part in an autumn walk at Farmoor Reservoir. The five-and-a-half-mile walk on Sunday 27th costs £10 to enter and all money raised will help the hospice to continue its work providing palliative and end-of-life care to the residents of Oxfordshire. To sign up either complete an application form at www.sobellhospicecharity.org.uk or call 01865 857007.
Or join an eight-mile culture crawl on Friday 11th in aid of Maggie’s Oxford. Walkers will head out into the city by night on a route steeped in history, art and culture, enjoying exclusive access to some amazing buildings, including Oxford Castle Unlocked and Christ Church Cathedral. It costs £25 to take part and all walkers are asked to raise £100 for Maggie’s Oxford, which offers practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer, their families and friends. Visit www.maggiescentres.org/culturecrawl
Why not catch up with some friends over a cuppa in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support? The charity is asking for people to host a coffee morning in aid of its work. All you need to do is invite some friends, and ask them to make a donation for the coffee and cake you serve. This year the official coffee morning date is Friday 25th but you can hold yours on whatever date is most convenient for you and your guests. For full details and to sign up for a free coffee morning kit see www.coffee.macmillan.org.uk
Jazz at St Giles is all set for a third season, starting on Saturday 26th with a concert featuring legendary sax star Art Themen and jazz trio 3bpm. The performance will take place at St Giles’ Church at 7.30pm and tickets, which cost £15 or £13 for concessions, will be available on the door. Proceeds from each concert will support St Giles’ work with the homeless and charities helping children in war-torn countries throughout the world. For further information call 01865 514575.
Families can fall down the rabbit hole in North Oxford as Creation presents Alice in the gardens of St Hugh’s College. It runs until Sunday 13th. Visit www.creationtheatre.co.uk or call 01865 766266.
Now to Thames Valley Ancient Egypt Society, who this month welcome Dr Aidan Dodson to the Oakwood Centre in Woodley. On September 19th, Aidan will give a lecture entitled ‘Houses of Eternity: Egyptian Royal Tombs over Three Millennia’. The lecture will trace the history of the King’s tomb along the range of the Nile presenting monuments from the stupendous to the insignificant tracing the King’s journey from this world to the next. So there you go, you need wonder no longer. The talk starts at 2pm and if you’re visiting as opposed to being a fully fledged member then a £3 donation is invited.
Last but certainly not least – I attended an End Of Life workshop in Sonning last month which was fascinating, moving, and well worth sharing. The next event, at Sonning Common Health Centre, takes place on Wednesday, September 16th, starting at 2.30pm, to discuss the often taboo practicalities of end-of-life care. This is a vital event, and watch this space for more in Round & About on this issue. Book a free place by calling SCHC on 01189 722188.
Windrush Innovation Centre, Howbery Park, Crowmarsh Gifford, Wallingford, Oxon, OX10 8BA