Abingdon’s big party

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Hundreds will be looking forward to enjoying the popular Fun and Music in the Park on 1st June

Abingdon’s popular Fun and Music in the Park returns to the historic Abbey Gardens on Saturday, 1st June with a variety of entertainment for the whole family.

The grounds will be full with rides, stalls, face painting, street food, live music and dance, bouncy inflatables and loads more free activities to keep you enthralled all day.

Fun in the park is a free walk-in event from 10.30am to 3pm and open to all.

It’s also a great opportunity to find out about some of the wide range of local societies and community groups in and around Abingdon and they amazing work they do and how you can get involved.

From 5pm until 10pm, Music in the Park takes over with some fab local bands including Jake in the Duke Box, Nevada, Fallen Angels, The Voodoo Penguins and Hope and Glory, taking to the stage.

Take along a picnic and enjoy dancing on the grass before a proms style concert by Abingdon Town Band accompanied by fireworks to make the evening finish in a very special way.

Music in the Park is entry via wristband only with sales online and over the counter at Roysse Court from 1st May. On this day too, there will be an early morning celebration of May Day in the Abbey Grounds.

Abingdon Town Council, which organises the event is reminding revellers to take all litter home with them after the fun ends.

For more information contact the council on 01235 522642 or visit Abingdon.gov

The English Wine & Food Festival

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Vineyard varieties: The English Wine & Food Festival in Wallingford will showcase wines from 11 local vineyards

Raise a glass to all the great wine being produced on your doorstep at the English Wine & Food Festival.

If you didn’t even know there were vineyards in the Thames and Chiltern region then this is a great opportunity to discover and taste it for yourself.

There are 11 local vineyards taking part in the event which will offer members of the public the opportunity to taste, compare and buy award-winning wines all in one location – Brightwell Vineyard in Wallingford.

You’ll get to meet winemakers, growers and a Master of Wine specialising in English wine as well as learning more about the grape varieties that do well in our unpredictable climate.

You may know classic grape varieties such as Pinot Noir and Chardonnay but do you know your Bacchus from your Ortega?

The festival is a must for foodies as well as wine lovers with the chance to pair the wide range of crisp, fruity wines with the freshly made local dishes on offer.

The festival on Saturday, 8th June will include vineyard walks, wine sales and tastings, local vineyard information, artisan hot and cold food, local crafts and a pay bar.

The local vineyards taking part are:

Fairmile Vineyard, Henley

Brightwell Vineyard, Wallingford

Bothy Vineyard, Frilford Heath

Oaken Grove Vineyard, Marlow

Harrow & Hope Vineyard, Marlow

Stanlake Park Wine Estate

Winding Wood Vineyard, Hungerford

Chafor Wine Estate, Gawcott

Daws Hill Vineyard, Radnor

Hendred Vineyard, East Hendred

Wyfold Vineyard, Marlow.

Entry £2 adult, children free and wine tastings cost £10 for 10 wines or £8 if bought early. You can book your tickets here

ARCh: Help a child learn to

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Imagine not being able to read properly? There are many primary school children all over the county who struggle to do just this but with your help they could develop a love of what you’re doing now.

Imagine not being able to read properly? There are many primary school children all over the county who struggle to do just this but with your help they could develop a love of what you’re doing now.

ARCh (Assisted Reading for Children) is an award-winning local charity which recruits, trains and supports volunteers to work one-to-one with pupils, inspiring them to develop a love of reading.

Having grown rapidly since its launch in 2008, ARCh has helped around 6,000 Oxfordshire children to love reading, enhancing their lives at school and beyond.

At present there are around 250 ARCh volunteers working in 100 primary schools throughout Oxfordshire but more are needed and the charity hopes to place new volunteers on the next two-day training course at the start of next term.

After successful application, checking and training process, each volunteer is assigned three primary school children to work one-to-one with, for 30 minutes at a time, twice a week, during the school day. Volunteers are asked to commit to work with these children for the entire year, to build a nurturing, mentoring relationship.

The charity provides books and games, personalised to suit each child.
Sessions involve a mixture of chat, sharing books and playing games. They are fun and encouraging and so build up the children’s confidence and self esteem.

ARCh development manager Jane Rendle said: “There are lots of children in primary schools throughout the county who would benefit from ARCh support.  No formal qualifications are required to volunteer, just enthusiasm for reading, enjoyment of children’s company and good communication skills.

“Our volunteers gain a lot from their experience. Many say the time they spend with their ARCh children is the highlight of their week; they come away from school with a big smile on their face!”

The charity won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service on 2016 and is the current OCVA Charity of the Year.

Anyone interested should visit the ARCh website to download an application form or call their office on 01869 320380 for an informal chat. 

Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush

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Burst though bubbles and help raise funds for Helen & Douglas House

Frothy, foamy, fabulous fun is on offer all in aid of a good cause next month where you can join hundreds of others fit to burst and fundraising.

Run, jump and dive through thousands of coloured bubbles at the Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush on Sunday, 2nd June at Cutteslowe Park, Oxford and in Prospect Park, Reading on Sunday, 9th June, in a 5k challenge with a difference.

Anyone of any age is welcome to join in the fun and running isn’t compulsory, you can walk or even toddle your way through the family-friendly fun.

Burst through four colour stations with cannon pumping bubbles up to four feet high and get engulfed in light, foamy fun while wearing a Bubble T-shirt which you’ll get on the day. Once you’ve completed the run, special Bubble Rush medals will be handed out.

The route is 2.5k which you can choose to tackle once or twice but remember if you choose to do two loops it’s double the fun – you’ll get covered in colour eight times!

Funds raised at Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush will help towards the £3million it costs annually to run the hospice and make a real difference to local terminally ill children and their families.

Helen & Douglas House helps families to cope with the challenges of looking after a baby or child who will die prematurely and allows them to spend time together creating memories.

Places for the Bubble Rush are limited so book as soon as you can, entry is available at various prices for families, individual adults and children and the run takes place in two waves at 10am and 11am.

To register to take part visit eventbrite and visit Helen & Douglas House for more information about and how you can help through their other fundraising events.

Photo credit: Helen Stuwart

Pacific row

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Picture: From left, Emma Rogers, Jess Shuman, Kat Butler, Anna Campbell

Girls dreaming big: Crew preparing for 4,000km row across Pacific aim to inspire others

Kat is one of four ordinary girls bidding to do something extraordinary to try to encourage girls to dream dare do.

She and three others, Emma, Jess and Anna, are part of the Girls Who Dare crew who will be rowing in the Great Pacific Race in May 2020.
Described as the “world’s toughest endurance challenge”, the girls will row 24 hours a day, living on a 24ft boat as they row the 4,000km across the Pacific from California to Hawaii, with the aim of breaking the world record which stands at 50 days.

Kat who rows at Wallingford Rowing Club, has been rowing for about six years having taken it up after being inspired by the 2012 London Olympics.

She works as a trauma and orthopaedic registrar and admits it has been hard fitting in the training around 14 hour days/nights but says it has been going well, but added: “Jess has just had an appendectomy (better now than half way across the Pacific!) so her training is a little stilted at the moment but she’s getting back into it.”

The four girls had not met until Emma put the idea of the challenge out on Facebook, where Kat admits she “jumped at the chance”.
She said: “For me it’s the mental and physical challenge, and such an amazing once in a lifetime opportunity. We then further advertised on social media and found Jess and Anna.”

The girls will sleep in cabins at either end of the boat with rowing space in the middle. The cabins are the size of a single bed, although there is no bed or mattress, the floors are padded and sleeping bags will keep the girls warm during their rest periods.

They’ll spend two hours rowing and two hours sleeping; food will be mostly freeze-dried meals and energy bars; a change into less wet clothing; quick wash with a baby wipe and into the sleeping bag.
Kat admits the physical side does not particularly worry her but that the mental challenge will be tough.

She says: “I have no idea how I will respond to the fear of a 40ft wave and being so sleep deprived all I want to do is cry, having sores on my hands and bottom that cause unresolving pain and to top it off the potential for being hit in the head by flying fish! Who knows how you will respond to that?”

But it the team work and the aim of inspiring others that will drive Kat and her crewmates on, “I am hoping as a team we can work together, supporting each other and driving each other on to complete this amazing challenge and hopefully setting a new world record as we go. Dream big!”

For more information and to support the girls, visit Girls who dare

Wallingford Car Rally

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Rev up for rally: Hundreds of vintage and classic cars are set to take to the streets for this year’s Wallingford Car Rally

Petrol heads and fans of vintage vehicles will be lining the streets to get a look at the hundreds of cars set to roll through town as part of this year’s Wallingford Car Rally.

Thousands watched last year as the colourful, classic and quirky drove through the town before parking up at The Kinecroft for a fun-packed day celebrating all things motor-related.

Wallingford’s hugely popular classic car rally and parade is rolling back in to town on 12th May and is set to feature hundreds of amazing cars and motorbikes.

Last year almost £18,000 was given to local good causes – Wallingford Scouts, The Corn Exchange, Riding for the Disabled, SeeSaw, MacMillan and Wallingford Fire Service among others and brought the total raised overall since the event started to almost £120,000.

Entries for the parade, which starts at 10.30am, are now full – they sold out in an impressive 23 minutes – but everyone is welcome to come along on the day and watch the parade drive into the Kinecroft before enjoying the day’s events there which run until around 5pm.

In addition to the cars, visitors will be able to enjoy a great selection of fun activities for the whole family including a climbing wall, penny arcade and many food traders.

Admission is free but buckets are on site for donations directly to local causes.

Visitors on the day can also enjoy rides in a classic or supercar courtesy of The Sporting Bears Motor Club which offer rides in the cars in exchange for a donation.

For more information visit the Wallingford Car Rally site

Abingdon Jazz Festival

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Jumping for joy at Abingdon Jazz Festival

Jazz is alive and well in Abingdon this month when the town plays host to the Abingdon Jazz Festival courtesy of the Friends of Abingdon and Music at the Unicorn.

The festival will take place throughout the town centre including the ancient Long Gallery of the old Abingdon Abbey Buildings from 10th to 12th May. The festival will include at least eight main concerts in the centre of town.

This year’s artists will include Art Themen, Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble, Fleur Stevenson Trio, Funk Bake, New Jazz Sextet and many many more.

Themen will be well known to many music fans of all genres, over his long career he has played with Rod Stewart, Alexis Korner, Joe Cocker and Long John Baldry among others.

Gilad’s music is more of a cultural hybrid, he merges the music of the Middle East and Eastern Europe with jazz and contemporary music.

Exciting modern jazz ensemble Thixoitropy will play new compositions as well as some of the standards; the Fleur Stevenson Trio features one of the new breed of jazz singers and with the Alvin Roy Quartet, The Heavy Dexters, Funk Bake and the New Jazz Sextet there really something to suit every jazz buff.

Chairman of Friends of Abingdon, Brian Brown said they are delighted to be preseting the festival. He added: “The festival will be centred in the Friends’ medieval and atmospheric Abbey Buildings plus other buildings throughout the town. Great musicians, wonderful acoustics ad lots of fun.”

Michael Ward, chairman of Music at the Unicorn called it a “celebration of brilliant live music with something for everyone”. He said: “A third of the events are free so if you’ve never experienced live jazz before this is the event for you.”

Art Themen

a celebration of brilliant live music with something for everyone

For more information and to book tickets visit www.abingdonjazzfestival.org.uk 

Abingdon Air Show

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Abingdon Air & Country Show has achieved soaring success and helped lots of good causes locally so put this year’s even in your diary…

The annual Air & Country Show at Abingdon Airfield, Dalton Barracks has reached its 20th anniversary this year, something the main organiser Neil Porter never thought would be achieved. Once the bills have been paid, over £89,000 has been donated to charities over this period, with a residue left back to help kickstart the following years event. The show relies on public footfall and exhibitors booking in to help fund each show.

The small committee of five people, including Neil, organise this in their spare time, and over time have been blessed with some wonderful attractions. This year will see, among other highlights, a World War Two DC3 Dakota paradrop, recognising the 75th anniversary of D Day.

The show is set for Sunday 5th May, starting at 10am, with various air and ground attractions.

More details can be found on the Abingdon Air Show website

Henley Arts Trail

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How many of the 300 exhibitors will you see and enjoy around Henley?

This year’s Henley Arts Trail is the biggest to date with almost 300 artists and makers at 33 venues covering an area of 50 square miles of countryside.

Taking place over the May bank holiday weekend, 4th to 6th, the trail showcases the vibrant visual arts and crafts scene around Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

The trail attracts around 10,000 visitors across the region taking in Bix, Twyford, Shiplake, Sonning, Hurst and Waltham St Lawrence with work displayed in studios, garden sheds, garages and village halls.

Such is the variety of work in the trail that life-size sculptures sit alongside delicate jewellery and abstract paintings nestle next to detailed nature art.

Many of the venues are dotted in villages along the Thames, offering a great opportunity to enjoy some splendid countryside at the same time. However many venues you are visiting it couldn’t be easier with the help of a map you can download from the website or pick up a leaflet from libraries or in village newsletters.

Organiser, Jo Keiller, says: “The standard of work on show is exceptional. Where else can you see the work of an artist who exhibits internationally, alongside emerging talent taking part in their first show? Talent is often hidden in spare rooms and garages, so the trail gives artists the chance to connect with the public and the public to discover new and exciting makers.”

Many venues offer refreshments and some boast demonstrations or workshops for visitors to get fully immersed in the art trail experience.

Find out more and see the map on the Henley Arts Trail site

Against Breast Cancer

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Join Against Breast Cancer (ABC) for a full or half marathon or a 10km sponsored walk alongside the beautiful River Thames on Sunday, 5th May.

Breast Walk Ever Berkshire is suitable for all and dogs are welcome too. So why not sign up and help the ABC team in their mission to prevent secondary spread, the main cause of breast-cancer related deaths.

In joining the team of Breast Walkers you will be provided with a training plan and fundraising support as well as the promise of a free post walk massage! Alison Bone – a volunteer for Against Breast Cancer – is doing just that having helped with marshalling Breast Walk Ever in 2018. Ali, like so many has her personal reason to walk having been affected by breast cancer.

Ali discovered a lump in her left breast in early 2000 and was diagnosed with grade 3 breast cancer. This came as a complete shock to Ali as there was no history of breast cancer in her family.

Ali has two children who were aged just 11 and nine at the time and she speaks of the heartbreak in telling them and her father. Ali was thankfully able to participate in a trial to see if her cancer had spread instead of removing all her lymph nodes. As a keen tennis player, Ali was very relieved in not having to have her lymph nodes removed. She had already asked her son’s tennis coach to teach her to play right handed which was fortunately now not necessary!

Ali had six rounds of a combination of two chemotherapy drugs three weeks apart and after her fifth round she required a blood transfusion. In July that year Ali had three more weeks of daily radiotherapy and regular checks concluded that Ali was now clear of cancer.

It was however during a routine mammogram 12 years later that a lump was found, this time in Ali’s right breast and the cancer was ER Positive. It was then that Ali decided to seek clarity as to whether there was a genetic link. In August 2012 Ali had another lumpectomy, and a further six rounds of chemotherapy and four weeks of daily radiotherapy. In March 2013 Ali received confirmation that she had the BRCA2 gene mutation.

By 2014, Ali’s daughter was tested. Ali and her daughter were both so very delighted and relieved to find that there was no genetic risk.

After seeking advice from a number of sources, Ali herself had a double mastectomy two years after learning of the BRCA2 gene mutation and is now participating in a study to try and understand why the mutation tends to occur often in those with a family history.

Ali is planning to walk the Breast Walk Ever Berks alongside her team of friends this year. “I have found walking a great way to get my fitness back after surgery. Walking as part of a group is a great way to help motivate each other”.

Why not join Alison with your own team on May 5th safe in the knowledge that you are helping to bring a vaccine Against Breast Cancer ever closer.

Entry to Breast Walk Ever Berks ranges from £10-£26 depending on distance and Concessions are available for senior citizens and students. We ask all participants to try and raise £50 towards our research.

We look forward to welcoming you to the banks of the Thames this Spring.