SOFO exhibition

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Photo: Laurie Weeden Glider Pilot Regiment

Honouring and remembering at new Second World War exhibition at Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum

As Remembrance nears, there’s a very timely new exhibition of photographic portraits on display at the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum, Woodstock.

The exhibition, titled 3945 Portraits, is the work of award-winning photographer Glyn Dewis and features portraits of Second World War veterans.

Glyn is leading an ongoing project to photograph Second World War veterans from all branches of the armed forces, and from a wide range of different regiments and corps, including the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry.

The portraits are on display until 5th January alongside recorded interviews with the featured veterans, recounting their wartime experiences, as well as a number of drawings produced by children as a ‘thank you’ to them.

The project, and the exhibition itself, is designed to “remember, honour and educate”. Glyn said he intends to “honour and remember our surviving World War Two veterans by photographing as many of them as possible in order to provide both them and their families with classic, timeless portraits they treasure and can remain in their families for generations to come” and “to sensitively educate the current and future younger generations about the events of World War Two and of those who served, survived and were lost”.

The exhibition opened on Saturday, 19th October with a number of the featured veterans present, and a surprise medal presentation for one of them. Two members of the Glider Pilot Regiment who were good friends during their service but had not seen each other since the end of the war, were also reunited during the launch, having both had their portraits taken by Glyn.

Glyn will also be running two 3945 Portraits project workshops on the 9th November and 7th December between 11am and 2pm. These will demonstrate how the portraits were taken using minimal kit and often in very limited space, showing how we can all create classic portraits without the need for all the latest and greatest equipment. Spaces can be booked on the SOFO Museum website.

The Soldiers of Oxfordshire Museum is open from Tuesday-Friday 10am-5pm, Saturday 11am-5pm and Sunday 2pm-5pm. The county’s only military history museum is located in the grounds of the Oxfordshire Museum, Park Street, Woodstock.

For information

To find out about visiting the museum head to SOFO and for details about the portraits project, click below

Wear it pink day

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Wear it pink is back! This October, Breast Cancer Now is encouraging everyone in Oxfordshire to wear it pink and help make life-saving breast cancer research and life-changing support happen.

Breast Cancer Now’s wear it pink day takes place across Oxfordshire today (Friday, 18th October), during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. One of the UK’s biggest fundraising events, the event has had an enormous impact on the lives of those affected by breast cancer since launching in 2002 and has raised over £33million for breast cancer research to date.

Anyone can take part in wear it pink. Some people will choose to hold a cake sale, while others will opt to organise a raffle and some will arrange a pink fancy dress day at their school or workplace. No matter how people choose to wear it pink, all the money raised will help to fund vital breast cancer research and support.

Lottie Barnden, head of mass participation at Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now, said: “In 2017, in Oxfordshire around 584 women were given the devastating news they have breast cancer. In the same period around 111 women from the area sadly died from breast cancer.

“We currently fund around a third of all breast cancer research happening in the UK, and last year we responded to nearly seven million breast cancer support requests. Without the generosity of wear it pink supporters we simply cannot continue to fund this crucial research and support, for all those affected by breast cancer now, and in the future.

“That is why we are urging everyone across the UK to get involved in wear it pink on Friday, 18th October to help us make life-saving breast cancer research and life-changing support happen!”

Breast Cancer Care and Breast Cancer Now have united to create the UK’s first comprehensive breast cancer charity, united around the shared ambition that by 2050 everyone who develops breast cancer will live, and receive the support they need to live well. The charity cannot reach this goal without the money raised from wear it pink.

Wear it pink today and raise funds for breast cancer research and support. Visit to find out what you can do to support breast cancer research this month and every other month.

For more information about the annual campaign to raise awareness of the disease and a free guide for women over 40, visit

Show your support

Help to support the Breast Cancer Awareness Month by checking out these special edition pink goodies!

Plastic problem

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BBC TV presenter Michaela Strachan discusses the problems facing our planet…

From 1990s kids’ TV to the BBC’s Countryfile, Springwatch and Autumnwatch, presenter and nature lover Michaela Strachan has been on our screens for three decades. David Lamont of Plastic Free Home got her views on things…

Q. How would you describe the challenges facing our planet? “The challenges are huge and many. Habitat loss, climate change, consumerism, greed, plastic pollution… the list goes on. Deforestation is a massive threat. If we compared the rate of loss relative to a city, the whole of London, would be wiped out in just under a week – think how many people that would make homeless. It certainly puts it into perspective.”

Q. Do we have time to turn things around? “There’s been a real shift in consciousness. With movements like Extinction Rebellion, amazing young campaigner Greta Thunberg, parliament declaring a state of climate emergency, documentaries like Our Planet, we can’t help but be aware. As David Attenborough said: ‘Saving our planet is within our reach’. The human species is incredible at reacting in a crisis and coming up with amazing and innovative solutions and there is no doubt we have reached the crisis stage. We have to all make an enormous shift in our thinking, habits and way of life. And put the planet before profit and that’s a huge challenge. A recent study by New Zealand Cider brand [delicious by the way!] Old Mout showed 80% of Brits want more ways to take action and those aged 45-54, closely followed by millennials.”

Q. How does the situation make you feel? “I tend to have huge swings in my emotions when it comes to the future of the planet and what we have done to it. When you look at the facts, it’s hugely depressing, but then you look at what people are achieving and it lifts you back into a more positive frame of mind. I am ashamed at the absurdity of humanity, the crazy things we do thinking we are progressing and moving forward when so often we aren’t.”

Q. Do you think that big brands are taking things seriously and doing enough? “Many aren’t but it’s great to see that others are. I’ve been working with Old Mout Cider now for three years, because they care about the environment. For two years they put money into helping the endangered Kiwi in New Zealand and raised awareness; this year they’re partnering with the WWF to help save half a million acres of natural habitat and we’ve done a lot of campaigning to get people thinking and talking about how we can all be more environmentally aware.”

Q. Do you think we need to take things more seriously? “Of course we do and we need governments and policy makers to force radical change. Individuals often think that what they do won’t make any difference, but if we all do small things it collectively makes a huge difference. Now we need to give people hope, ideas and inspiration.”

Get involved

Like Plastic Free Home on facebook and visit their website for the latest news, ideas, debate and much more

First aid in schools

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After 10 years of campaigning by the British Red Cross, school children across England will learn lifesaving skills as part of the school curriculum from next year.

Pupils in state-funded schools will learn first aid from September 2020. Primary children will be taught basic first aid such as how to call the emergency services or how to help someone with a head injury while secondary pupils will learn lifesaving skills such as helping someone who is having a cardiac arrest.

Research by the British Red Cross found that nine out of 10 children agreed knowing first aid skills would make them feel more confident to help in a first aid emergency and that it was one of the most important lessons they could learn at school.

Another study revealed up to 59 per cent of deaths from injuries could be prevented if first aid had been given before medical services arrived.

One of those who has been championing the campaign is Marina Fogle, co-founder of the Bump Class and host of The ParentHood podcast. She is married to British Red Cross ambassador and adventurer Ben Fogle.

She said: “I’m delighted that first aid lessons are now part of the national curriculum. So many women I know, especially those weaning their babies, are terrified of the possibility of their child choking.

“You never know how you might act in an emergency, but children learning first aid could make all the difference if one of their younger siblings were choking at home.

“Now we have to make sure school children in the rest of the country – outside England – get the same chance to learn how to save a life.”

The British Red Cross is also relaunching its first aid mobile app so everyone can have lifesaving skills at their fingertips.

Teachers wishing to sign up to receive free British Red Cross resources that will support them to teach first aid can do so at

Find out more

For more information about a range of first aid tips

Mental health day

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Look after your emotional well-being and you’ll be looking after your mental health.

That’s the message from the Samaritans today (Thursday, 10th October), World Mental Health Day.

This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) has chosen the theme suicide prevention. Every 40 seconds, someone in the world takes their own life. The organisation is encouraging people to prepare to take “40 seconds of action” to help: improve awareness of the significance of suicide as a global public health problem; improve knowledge of what can be done to prevent suicide; reduce the stigma associated with suicide; and let people who are struggling know that they are not alone.

“Put simply, this is an opportunity to show you care,” said Chris Lindsay, director of Samaritans of Bracknell, Wokingham, Ascot & Districts. “Talking, rather than bottling things up, helps but sometimes, when we are worried about someone, we are not sure how to start the conversation,”

The website offers “SHUSH” tips on how to be a good listener.

“We would like to get the message across that Samaritans can help people acquire the skills to look after their emotional health and look out for others, before they reach crisis point,” said Chris.

Samaritans offers free resources for schools and colleges to incorporate into their emotional health programmes.

The charity also offers Wellbeing in the Workplace. This is an online learning programme which brings Samaritans’ listening and wellbeing expertise into the workplace.

“It’s okay if you’re not an expert – just listening can help someone work through what’s on their mind. When people feel listened to, it can save a life,” said Chris.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every day of the year. The charity provides a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them. Call 116 123 (free to call) (UK), email [email protected], or visit for further details.

YoungMinds, the UK’s leading charity fighting for children and young people’s mental health, is encouraging people to say #HelloYellow today and help raise funds for YoungMinds.

Whether you choose to go for a subtle splash of colour or really turn up the sunshine with head to toe yellow, join in to show young people they’re not alone with their mental health.

Find out more

Autism hour

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For autistic people every day experiences such as trips to the shops can be challenging which is why the National Autistic Society is asking everyone to do their bit and help.

October 5th marked the start of Autism Hour which runs over the course of the week until Saturday 12th.

Shops and businesses are asked to dim their lights and reduce noise to help create a calmer atmosphere for autistic shoppers.

The campaign is being sponsored by The Entertainer for the second year. The toy shop chain holds autism hours every Saturday to make the experience less overwhelming.

There are more than 700,000 autistic people in the UK but only 16 per cent feel the public understand them. Last year, more than 11,000 businesses including The Entertainer, Argos, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s took part in the National Autism Society’s autism hour campaign, taking the first steps to create autism friendly communities in the UK.

Why not ask your local shops to join in? The NAS website has a prepared letter you can hand to local retailers asking them to take part and explaining what’s involved.

There are two key parts to autism hour:

Make adjustments to the shop so it is less overwhelming, turn down any music and other background noise and dim the lights if it is safe to do so

Share information about autism with staff
Autism Hour can make a real difference but many businesses go further by holding the hours every week or month.

Among those extending this commitment is Reading’s Oracle shopping centre which last week launched a weekly ‘quiet hour’ to make shopping accessible for all.

The Quiet Hour will take place between 9.30am and 10.30am every Tuesday when the new initiative will see ambient lighting, music and tannoy announcements either turned off or down to a minimum to ensure the centre is accessible to all shoppers in Reading.

Andy Briggs, general manager at The Oracle, said: “At The Oracle we pride ourselves in offering a fantastic shopping and leisure experience for everyone.

“We strive to offer a safe and comfortable space for friends and family to shop, connect and have fun and the introduction of our weekly Quiet Hour is just another step in our ongoing efforts to ensure a great experience for all.”

Find out more

For more information, visit the Customer Service Desk on Level 1 or call

0118 965 9000

Wisley in October

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The glorious Wisley is always worth a visit whatever the time of year and this month is no exception.

They begin by celebrating the natural beauty of wood today and tomorrow (5th and 6th) with Woodfest, featuring artisan woodcraft demonstrations, tree listening, horse logging and tours of Wisley’s woodland at this event sponsored by Stihl.

Also on Sunday 6th  the Cyclamen Society holds its autumn show with some of the best plants grown by the most experienced cyclamen growers in the country; plant sales with both sought after forms not often found elsewhere and common forms at low prices, suitable for the beginner; experts on hand for advice.

The Garden is open from 9am – 6pm at weekends and these events are included in Garden admission.

Enjoy a Taste of Autumn with RHS Garden Wisley’s popular autumn celebration of harvest and local produce, from 16th - 20th October.

Celebrate the sights, sounds and tastes of the season with 30 exhibitors, featuring Surrey Bees and The National Vegetable Society, as well as many others, offering the opportunity to buy food and drink products. Plus enjoy delicious produce – including Wisley apple tastings, apple pressing and apple identification.

On Sunday 20th, they welcome the Conifer Society for their annual show which includes displays and talks about conifer care and use.

Find out about conifers for every size and aspect of garden as well as a show of cones and photographs.

The Garden is open from 9am – 6pm throughout Taste of Autumn, and these events are included in normal Garden admission.

Come and spend half term with Wisley from 26th October – 3rd November. Autumn is full of colour and they are celebrating this with nature’s colours in the foliage and in the insect world.

Join in the big draw event and meet the entomologists. They will also be welcoming the Birds of Prey to the garden over the weekend 26th and 27th . They will give agility displays at 11am and 2pm each day and will be on display on their perches between times.

Also starting on 26th October and running until 17th November, is an exciting new display in the Glasshouse:  Mexican Day of the Dead, where brightly coloured tropical plants mingle with skeletons.

The Glasshouse is open from 10am – 3.45pm daily. These events are included in normal Garden admission.

Find out more

For more information about any of these events

Good Beer Guide

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The latest edition of CAMRA’s Good Beer Guide has just been released and there are plenty of reasons to raise a glass in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

The local brewing and pub scene is booming in the area and as well as the hundreds of pubs worth visiting, there are also plenty of breweries springing up.

New ones it notes can be found at:

Brewery58, Wallingford – started in summer 2017 with a home brew kit, now produces Wallingford Bridge IPA, 3.9%

Elements Brewing Co, Upton, Burford – selection of craft beers, tap room  offering food to enjoy the brews

Wantage Brewery – microbrewery started at outbuildings at The King’s Arms, Wantage in spring 2019

Saviour Brewery, Hampstead Marshall – brewery in grounds of The White Hart pub, only available on the premises with special brews to match the season including Boozer 3.5%, Gold 5% and Tipple 4.2%

Old Windsor Brewery, Windsor – craft brewery specialising in creating small batches of quality, full flavoured, craft beers notably The Duke’s Hart which boasts a dark rich colour and smooth texture 4.8%

Bad Joke Brew Co, Amersham –  began brewed in spring 2018, produces five beers

The Bell Inn in Aldworth, pictured, has been named one of the best pubs in the UK and is through to the next stage of the competition, hoping to be one of four finalists in the search for CAMRA’s best pub of the year, which was revealed in February.

A former Pub of the Year winner, it is the only pub with a heritage interior in Berkshire. The large open garden and excellent beer attract walker and drinkers from far and wide.

The Good Beer Guide reviews more than 4,500 pubs nationwide to find the best outlets in the country.

CAMRA’s chief executive Tom Stainer said: “The Good Beer Guide has always had an important role in acting as a barometer of the beer and pub industry. We believe information gleaned from the Guide is absolutely vital in the drive to save our pubs from closure and campaign for policies that better support pubs, local brewers and their customers.”

Across the Southern Central area, the guide includes 69 from Oxfordshire, 54 from Berkshire and 54 from Buckinghamshire in addition to 65 breweries across the area.

New additions to the Good Beer Guide in Surrey include:

The Anchor, High Street, Ripley GU23 6AE – a Grade II listed pub, parts of the building date back to the 1500s (be sure to duck in places), The contemporary meets the historic

The Bulls Head, The Street, West Clandon GU4 7ST – 16th century village inn near Clandon Park. Many original features, oak beams, low ceilings and cosy log fire

The Drummond, Woodbrige Road, Guildford GU1 4RF – large open-plan with eclectic range of furniture, modern art and several chandeliers. Classic pub food and modern dishes.

The Grantley Arms, The Street, Wonersh, GU5 0PE – half-timbered village pub dating from late 16th or early 17th century, cheerful interior

The Half Moon, High Street, Ripley GU23 6AN – 18th century building with the feel of a café-cum-pub, stripped wood floor and bare brick walls contrast well with painted ones

The Rodboro Buildings, Bridge Street, Guildford GU1 4RY – Wetherspoons pub spread over three levels in a Grade II listed former industrial building

The Running Stream, Weybourne Road, Farnham GU9 9HE – old-fashioned locals pub, horseshoe shaped room surrounds central bar

The Sandrock, Sandrock Hill Road, Wrecclesham GU10 4NS – reopened after almost a year, refurbished and relaunched as a traditional pub with contemporary feel late last year


Read about more local breweries, producers, foodies and restaurateurs across our readership patch

Thames Valley Tech Awards 2019

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The diversity of technology and brilliant businesses in the region has been celebrated at the Thames Valley Tech Awards 2019.

The second annual awards evening honoured the top tech businesses in a dozen categories with finalists ranging from start ups to well-established firms.

Around 370 finalists and guests attended the awards at the Royal Berkshire Conference Centre at Reading’s Madejski Stadium on 19th September, hosted by Tomorrow’s World’s Kate Bellingham.

The winner of the overall Thames Valley Tech Company for 2019 was Reading-based ESP Global Services. The company uses its own bespoke solutions and off-the-shelf software to provide a client-focused service. Judges praised the regional operations centres and its focus on employee wellbeing calling the company “a worthy winner”.

CEO Andy Jenner said: “Absolutely over the moon to win. Darren Richardson, who set up the business with Mike Harling 27 years ago, sadly passed away last year from cancer. It devastated the company. This award is a real testament to Darren’s drive, ambition and achievements. He would be smiling knowing we have won. We see ESP as a family and have been fortunate in creating a family of 422 people in Reading and across the globe.”

The award winners are:

ESP Global ServicesThames Valley Tech Company

Tech Leadership Team – Sponsored by Goringe
·  Southern Communications, Dummer

Tech Leadership Team – Sponsored by Goringe

Emerging Tech Company – Sponsored by Barclays
·  QBox (Volume), Wokingham

Emerging Tech Company – Sponsored by Barclays

Science & Technology Award – Sponsored by Blake Morgan
·  Oxford nanoSystems, Abingdon

Science & Technology Award – Sponsored by Blake Morgan

Communications Company of the Year – Sponsored by LDC
·  Onecom

Communications Company of the Year – Sponsored by LDC

Tech Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Austin Fraser
·  NewOrbit, Chalgrove

Tech Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Austin Fraser

International Tech Company – Sponsored by Boyes Turner
·  Invenio Business Solutions, Wokingham

International Tech Company – Sponsored by Boyes Turner

Innovative Tech Company — Sponsored by Penningtons Manches Cooper
·  HR Wallingford, Wallingford

Innovative Tech Company — Sponsored by Penningtons Manches Cooper

Epoq IT - Tech SME of the Year

Tech SME of the Year – Sponsored by Onecom

High Growth Tech Business – Sponsored by Grant Thornton
CloudFactory, Reading

High Growth Tech Business – Sponsored by Grant Thornton

Tech Start-Up – Sponsored by Centerprise International
·  Aker Systems, Bicester

Tech Start-Up – Sponsored by Centerprise International

For info

For full details and to read what the winners had to say

Bill’s Newbury

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Photo credit: Milly Fletcher

It’s time to take a fresh look at a familiar face with the grand re-opening of Bill’s in Newbury today (23rd September).

The popular restaurant and bar in Market Place is staying true to its roots but adding a touch of glamour with modern décor, luxurious velvet seating and sparkling chandeliers.

It’s the ideal spot for lunch, after work cocktails or dinner and to celebrate the relaunch they are offering you the chance to win dinner for six people. Anyone booking a table online during the opening week (23rd to 29th September) will automatically be entered into the prize draw.

And for the first two weeks after the relaunch, diners will be asked to vote for their chosen charity – West Berkshire Mencap, Helen & Douglas House and The Samaritans – to support for the next three months. The successful charity will be revealed on 7th October.

The management team in Newbury have been working to build relationships with the local community and the restaurant will be making a 50p contribution for each ‘burger of the week’ sold with the money going to the chosen charity.

Founder of the restaurant chain, which started in Lewes, Sussex in 2000, Bill Collison said: “Good quality food in a welcoming environment has always been at the core of Bill’s. We have loved being in our current spot in Newbury for the past five years and we felt the time was right for a fresh new look for the restaurant.

“We are proud to create restaurants that are full of vibrant colour and vintage trinkets. I believe that the new look transcends all dining times which will only enhance our diners’ experience and showcase our vibrant food and drinks.”

Book online

Book your table online to enter the prize-draw or to find out more head to Bill’s website