Disability day

Karen Neville


Event at The Oracle promotes disability awareness

Reading residents are invited to a family event which aims to promote disability awareness, with a wide range of activities on offer.

Reading’s Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network (PDSN) is hosting the Disability Awareness Day 2019 tomorrow, Thursday 15th August, under the theme of ‘Staying Healthy – Mind & Body.’

The free event at The Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading will run from 11am to 3pm and will offer fun, interactive and informative sessions.

A wide range of activities will be on offer for all age groups and abilities, including blood pressure checks from the Stroke Association, lip reading learner sessions and hearing tests from Action on Hearing Loss, shoulder & neck massages, as well as musical entertainment.

For further information and/or additional support at the event, please contact [email protected] or call 0118 937 2383.

Simone Illger is chair of the PDSN (Physical Disability and Sensory Needs Network) and a disabled Reading resident. She said: “There is so much on offer at our event this year – with some great activities and stalls offering advice and support. I’d really encourage people to stop by and find out more.”

Have your say!

Today is also the last day for you to have your say in a consultation called Active Reading which aims to help develop healthy, active lifestyles. To find out more and have your say

Right at Home

Round & About


The Right at Home Reading & Wokingham District Team have earned a well-deserved round of applause after scooping two awards recently.

The team won a Top20 Homecare Provided 2019 Award for being one of the top 20 homecare providers out of 1,358 agencies in South East England.

And this award came hot on the heels of the Twyford-based company being given a 5 Star Employer 2019 award. This award came from independent research agency WorkBuzz after an extensive survey of Right at Home employees.

Right at Home managing director Kevin Lancaster is quite rightly delighted at the success. He said: “When I opened the 50th UK Right at Home in Twyford I was determined to build a care company of the highest quality, delivering at a level that I would be proud to offer my own family.

“It’s heart-warming to get such great independent feedback from our employees, clients and their families that our approach to providing care is working so well with our local community and our super team.”

Right at Home is the only Top20 Homecare Award Winner in both the Reading and Wokingham area, and the Reading & Wokingham branch joins nearby Right at Home Maidenhead as one of only three homecare companies in the whole of Berkshire with a 10/10 rating on the homecare.co.uk independent review website.

For more information

Visit the Right at Home site

Community shop

Round & About


Visit summer market ad find out what makes Hampstead Norreys Community Shop an award winner

Congratulations to the Hampstead Norreys Community Shop which has been named south east regional winner in the village shop/post office category of the Countryside Alliance Awards.

The awards dubbed the ‘rural Oscars’ are now in the 14th year and recognise the skills, produce, tradition, enterprise and the people behind the businesses.

All the regional winners in five categories – local food/drink; butcher; rural enterprise; pub and village shop/post office – will now attend the national final at the House of Lords in June to see who will be crowned the overall champion.

The community shop and café opened in 2011 and has become the hub of the village. As well as stocking a wide range of groceries at good prices there are a range of ‘made for Hampstead Norreys’ goods such as jam and marmalade and items that make good presents. And if they don’t have what you want, they’ll try to get it for you!

Speciality bread comes from Hetherton’s in Newbury, meat and fish from Vicars Game of Ashampstead as well as locally produced fruit, veg and free-range eggs.

This amazing community shop has also introduced Paypoint, has a prescription drop off and collection service and allows you to have parcels delivered there too.

And they say if there are other services you would like to see introduced just speak to the manager Mandy and they’ll do their best to help.

The courtyard café serves delicious foods for breakfast and lunch and if you have any specific dietary requirements let chef Jamie know  and he’ll do his best to help.

If you’ve not discovered this village treasure yet then make sure you visit the summer market on Saturday, 1st June. There’ll be more than 30 stalls including food and drink from Noi’s Thai Kitchen and Tutts Clump Cider, health and beauty, arts and crafts, homemade cakes, fashion and jewellery, live music and Armadillo Images in the orange tent.

Admission is free, there’s parking and toilet facilities.  
Pop along and see for yourself and find out what makes the community shop so worthy of its regional award.

Fingers crossed for the national final!

Find out more about the Countryside Alliance Awards

Photo: Manager Mandy and chef Jamie celebrate the community shop’s 8th birthday earlier this year

Street parties

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Don’t miss out on your chance to party in Reading

If you want to get your friends and neighbours together this summer for a street party you only have a week left to get your application in to Reading Borough Council. 

Communities are being invited to hold a get together without paying the usual road closure fees but must complete and return a form by Monday, 22nd April.

There are three weekends in June and July when residents are being invited to hold street parties for the Big Lunch on the weekend of Saturday 1st/Sunday 2nd June, The Great Get Together on Saturday 22nd/Sunday 23rd June and  Reading Summer Street Party Weekend on Saturday 6th/Sunday 7th July.

The Great Get Together is a chance for communities up and down the country to get together to celebrate kindness, respect and all we have in common, and was inspired by MP Jo Cox who was killed in June 2016.

The  Reading  Summer Street Party Weekend is an extra opportunity for local communities and neighbours to spend some time together.
Councillor Tony Page,  Reading’s lead  councillor for strategic environment, planning and transport, said: “It is important to recognise the many things we all have in common and to come together to celebrate our communities.

“We often only catch a glimpse of our neighbours as we go about our every-day business so this is an opportunity to stop and get to know the people living in our street.

“As in previous years, the  council  is keen to help enable these street parties by waiving the usual road closure fees and I would encourage residents to get their applications in as soon as possible.”

Anyone who wishes to apply to hold a street party on any of the specified weekends should complete the form available at www.reading.gov.uk/streetparties  and send it to: Street Parties, Communications Department,  Reading  Borough  Council, Civic Offices, Bridge Street,  Reading, RG1 2LU.

Permission will normally be given, without the usual road-closure fees, subject to it not affecting a main through-route or public transport route.

The deadline for applications is 22nd April 2019. 

  Helpful tips, advice and support for organising a successful event can be found on the Street Party website  and The Big Lunch website 

Bracknell ice skating stars

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Congratulations to three talented young couples from Bracknell Ice Skating Club who have done so well in the British Figure Skating Championships.

Emily Phillips and Jayin Panesar (right) are British Champions 2018 in the advanced novice category with a total score of 101.68.

Siblings Katya and Alex Fairbridge are British Champions 2018 in the intermediate category. This skating couple are aged 12 and 15 respectively and skated two pattern dances which, combined with their free dance, gave them a gold winning score of 56.20. The Fairbridges follow in the footsteps of the famous Olympic Ice Dance Couple Torvill and Dean who won the same trophy in 1994.

Krista Good and Advay Chopra entered the Championships as beginners and came third overall in the basic novice level, coming second in their pattern dances and third in the free dance. They are a new couple to ice dance and are thrilled.

All three couples are coached by Lucine Chakmakjian and David Phillips who have coached at Bracknell for 20 years and produced multiple British Champions in skating.
David Phillips says: “What a phenomenal achievement for these skaters who have worked so hard and given up so much to follow their dreams. They have made Bracknell Ice Rink, their parents and us very proud.”

Lizz Nelhams, Bracknell Skating Club Chairwoman adds: “We are so impressed by the Bracknell skaters who took part in the championships. They are all dedicated skaters and deserve these superb results. We look forward to seeing them continue their development at Bracknell Ice Rink.”

Bracknell Ice Skating Club is one of the UK’s largest and most active clubs and hosts a weekly Ice Ability session.

  For more information visit www.bracknell-ice-skating-club.co.uk

Literature lovers: events in Wokingham

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Janet Ferguson explains why you should join Wokingham Literary Society and some of the highlights to tempt you this month.

Looking for something new to do during those long dark winter evenings?

Wokingham Literary Society will begin the New Year on Thursday, 17th January, with a talk by Martin Hughes entitled Comedy Thrillers.

The speaker will explain that it is far more common to hear the phrase “comedy thriller” referring to films than books. For comedy, do we need pictures as well as words? Is it because of the ability of pictures to combine attractive people and amusing lifestyles amid sad and scary events while words alone remain too close to the event’s sad and serious nature? Martin will look mainly at three books which amuse us even amid their thriller plots; Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man, Christopher Brookmyre’s The Sacred Art of Stealing, and P.G.Wodehouse’s Summer Lightning.

The society’s second speaker on Thursday, 31st January is Jill Swale who will look at The Language of Persuasion – the techniques from famous speeches, literature and the press. Jill plans to explain why Tony Blair’s “Education, education, education”, Neil Armstrong’s “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” and Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address (“of the people, by the people, for the people”), are so effective and well-remembered. She’ll look at how writers use loaded language and rhetorical questions to sway the reader, appealing to particular emotions.

New members and visitors welcome. £2 on the door.

Young minds

Liz Nicholls


Kevin Leivers of The Naked Pharmacy explains how parents can help boost children’s mental health to cope with their learning journey at school

September summons our youngsters back to school, college and university. Increased screen time, pressure to succeed and the inability to switch off can tip the nervous system into permanent “sympathetic nervous system” mode. This is the “fight or flight” mode the body originally evolved as a mechanism to protect us from imminent danger. The anxiety response in the brain causes a cascade of hormones with wide-ranging effects such as shortness of breath, a racing heart, paling or flushing of the face, sweaty hands… The list goes on and, if left unchecked, may lead to more regular and extreme symptoms.

Youngsters who suffer from anxiety may feel abnormal and isolated. Depression is deeply personal and masks itself in varied symptoms. Research by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that perhaps the most effective treatment is personal empowerment of the sufferer’s own treatment. This means that they can learn to recognise and manage their symptoms, assisted by their parents.

Finding the tools that work for the individual is key to success. A regular exercise routine is both physically and mentally beneficial for health, especially within a group or team which will help reduce isolation. Regular sleep and a bedtime routine is very important, so turn off all blue light-emitting devices, avoid late food or drink (give at least two hours to digest) and avoid caffeine and sugary drinks after 1pm. Encourage children to express themselves by drawing or writing; it’s such a beautiful tool as an outlet to release thoughts.

Correct breathing is also vital. The hormonal cascade during an anxiety response causes us to shallow breathe and suck in more air than we breathe out, making panic worse.

Tony Ulatowski has used “The Big Breath” with more than 400 students in London, from pre-schoolers to secondary students, for the last year and received overwhelmingly positive feedback from parents, teachers and pupils. He says: “One of the teachers told of a four-year-old girl with anger issues who’s learnt to take herself away, regulate her emotions and just two or three of the big breaths help her feel better.”

A healthy diet including “live” foods, vegetables and fruits is hugely helpful; 90% of serotonin is produced in the gut. A study from New Zealand in 2017 found depressed patients significantly improved on a modified Mediterranean diet. There are also some natural supplements which are safe, effective, non-addictive and adaptogenic that provide an evidence-based approach for mood imbalance and anxiety in children and teenagers. One of the most widely tested is the ancient spice saffron. Saffron targets the gut as well as the brain.

Dr Paul Clayton, Fellow at The Institute of Food, Brain and Behaviour, believes saffron should be considered in place of current therapies. He says: “By targeting core aspects of mood and anxiety, saffron works far more rapidly than the pharmaceuticals, which shoot at the wrong target. Saffron restores normal nerve function; if you have chronic inflammation, the “brakes” are put on a few key processes. Moreover, it acts very fast (hours, not weeks or months), has no withdrawal symptoms, no side effects, and is safe to use with children.”

Visit www.thenakedpharmacy.com or email [email protected] or call 01483 685630.

Did you know?

1 In the UK 16 million people experience mental illness.
2 Three out of four mental illnesses start before the age of 18.
3 10% of school children have a diagnosable mental illness.
4 Three out of four young people with mental illness are not receiving treatment.
5 The average wait for effective treatment is 10 years.
6 Suicide is still the biggest killer of young people in the UK.
7 People with severe mental illness die 10-20 years earlier than the general population.

Acting up

The Boost! School of Acting team believe taking part in drama-based group activities can help develop social skills and reduce anxiety. They offer Saturday morning lessons in Oxfordshire for 4-6-year-olds and 7-10-year olds in Clifton Hampden and Monday morning sessions for pre-schoolers in Didcot. They also want to start a new group for teenagers – parents and teens themselves who might be interested, please get in touch! Visit www.boost-drama.co.uk

Elegant Equine

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The Royal Horse Show celebrates 75 years at Windsor Castle, writes Rachel Wakefield

Windsor Castle will once again open its gates to the public for the Royal Windsor Horse Show, from Wednesday, 9th until Sunday, 13th May, for a spectacular 75th year.

With all eyes on Windsor ahead of the highly anticipated Royal wedding the following week, more than 55,000 spectators are expected to attend for top-class sporting action, entertainment and shopping across the five days.

This event is respected as a world-class equestrian competition. Last year, there was more than 3,000 entries; and, because of its upgrade to 5-star status, attracts the sports’ most prominent competitors. It is also the only show in the UK to host four of the eight The International Federation for Equestrian Sports (FEI) disciplines: show jumping; dressage, carriage driving and endurance.

The CSI5* Show Jumping category will return to the Castle Arena from Friday, 11th until Sunday, 13th May. It also includes a Saturday evening performance, with the climax of the action, being the Rolex Grand Prix taking place on the final day. Current World No.1 and reigning champion, Kent Farrington will be returning from injury to defend his title. Speaking after his victory in 2017, Kent said: “The Royal Windsor Horse Show, is one of my favourite shows. There’s a combination of, amazing setting, an unbelievable crowd, top course designing and great footing.”

The CDI4* Al Shira’aa Dressage Grand Prix and Freestyle to Music category will take place on the evenings of Thursday, 10th and Friday, 11th May respectively. Riders will have the unique opportunity to be judged by Susan Hoevenaars, one of the judges at the upcoming FEI World Equestrian Games™ 2018, an unmissable chance for hopefuls heading there this September.

The CAIO4* Land Rover International Driving Grand Prix, a FEI World Cup™ qualifier adds to the roster of top international competition.Competitive Endurance action will take to Windsor Great Park on Friday, 11th May, as the CEI2* Royal Windsor Endurance supported by The Kingdom of Bahrain sets off about 120km of the countryside of Windsor and Ascot for the ultimate test of stamina for both horse and rider.

More than 120 showing classes will join the four FEI disciplines in the action-packed schedule with many of HM The Queen’s horses regularly in the starting line-ups. Competitors will strive to follow in the footsteps of HM The Queen’s Barbers Shop to be crowned Royal Windsor Supreme Showing Champion on the final day.

Visit www.rwhs.co.uk or call 01753 860633

Great expectations

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Youngsters – of all ages, from tots to teens – can enjoy a taste of wildlife and the countryside thanks to volunteers helping with events in Windsor Great Park, writes Peter Anderson

There are lots of super-natural events in Windsor Great Park’s educational centre.

Windsor Great Park Environmental Centre is an exciting five-year partnership project between the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and The Crown Estate. From the Nature Tots to the Young and Teen Ranger meetings, there are monthly sessions where children can get real hands-on experience of life in the countryside, and the flora and fauna you can find here, with guidance from skilled supervisors.

Nature Tots is a parent-and-toddler group with a difference. You can head along with your pre-school little one and introduce them to the great outdoors. The 90-minute sessions spend about the first 15 minutes outside before coming indoors and there are a wide-range of activities to spark their curiosity and have fun in natural surroundings. Each session will include seasonal nature discovery, games, crafts and lots of fun! Story-time and drinks also included. Children must be accompanied by a supervising adult, and younger brothers and sisters are welcome.

Young Rangers is a monthly wildlife group which meets in the early evening for children aged between eight and 12. Here they can become nature detectives and find all about the birds, bats, deer, mini-beasts and more, which live in the park and forest. Activities include pond-dipping, bug hunts, animal tracking, shelter building and bushcraft. Drinks will also be provided during the sessions, and they will require a signed consent form from an adult. There are two sessions per month, but the second one is a repeat to allow for any children who cannot make the first session.

Teen Rangers is a monthly group of budding naturalists aged between 12 and 16 who meet in the early evening. Here you can spend time in the forest discovering who and what lives there, but it may not be them you spot first! You may need to use your tracking skills, but you will have skilled volunteers and trainers from BBOWT to help you with that, as well as shelter-building and bushcraft, as you learn all about the flora and fauna in this marvellous location.

For further information on dates, times and suggested donations, please visit www.bbowt.org.uk. The website also has information on other events organised by the trust and how you can donate to help the valuable work BBOWT does to protect and preserve natural surroundings around the three counties.

Free Spirit

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Her Majesty chose The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project as a partner for this year’s Royal Windsor Horse Show, writes Rachel Wakefield

The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project, is a charity which acknowledges the horse’s unfaltering service to mankind throughout history, through war, sport, industry, therapy and recreation. This charity has been announced as the official partner of Royal Windsor Horse Show, taking place from Wednesday, 9th to Sunday, 13th May, in the private grounds of Windsor Castle.

The project has been created to raise funds for a memorial, named The Free Spirit Horse Memorial, which will be located at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire and will be unveiled, this year, to coincide with the centenary anniversary of the end of the First World War.

The memorial will be accessible to able bodied and disabled people, providing a tactile as well as a visual experience, with seating for reflection and contemplation, information plaques in braille for those who are visually impaired, Makaton symbols and dyslexia approved font to aid communication. This accessibility was of paramount importance to the project organisers as it mirrors the horse, who does not judge but treats and respects each person as an individual, bringing together all members of the community without prejudice.

As part of its charitable aims, the Free Spirit project also provides education around the role of the horse through art, music and history to ensure that the significance of the horse is taught to future generations.

The project has released a charity single to help raise funds which is downloadable through Spotify and I-Tunes. The song brings together young people from a variety of backgrounds and is an expression of their thoughts and feelings in regards to the horse now, and in the future.

Ambassador of the project, Sarah Clegg says the song is: “Sensitively written and beautifully performed, the Free Spirit Song represents the very best of young creativity in honouring the horse.”

Horse Show director, Simon Brooks-Ward says: “We are delighted to be supporting The Free Spirit Horse Memorial Project. Royal Windsor Horse Show is an annual celebration of top equestrian sport and entertainment, so this partnership is a natural fit, commemorating the role of horses in society, past and present.”

Further information on events that pay tribute to this honourable and emotive creatureå can be found at www.freespiritmemorial.co.uk