Helen & Douglas House Bubble Rush

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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

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

Abingdon Jazz Festival

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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

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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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

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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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

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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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

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.

Doctor Who at Escape Hunt

Cherry Butler

Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

Worlds Collide, the new Doctor Who escape room in Reading, proves challenging for Cherry Butler.

Worlds Collide, the first escape game officially based on the BBC series, gives players an hour to solve various puzzles and stop the Doctor’s arch-enemies, the Cybermen, breaking though a tear in the fabric of space and time and “upgrading” the human race.

You don’t have to be a true Whovian to play, but you do need your thinking cap on to make sense of the numerous puzzles.

There are some fun pieces referencing the TV show, but they seem to be window dressing rather than knowledge about them being integral to the game. This adds to the entertainment for fans but means you can play even if you haven’t watched Doctor Who since Tom Baker was in it.

Some of the scene setting was a clever surprise, while some was a tad lengthy without really helping us get to grips with the clues.

Not all the puzzles are Doctor Who or sci-fi related. There are so many that we found it a bit tricky to focus and follow the thread; one thing distracted us for ages, but only worked later. With few of the standard letter/number codes, combination locks or hidden keys, they make for a genuine challenge.

Escape Hunt’s rooms are high tech in comparison with more home-grown games. This slickness works well for the sci-fi theme; the sleek-looking setting lives up to the screen version with plenty of light-up gizmos. On the flipside, automation can occasionally cause frustration when items break down or don’t quite connect.

The minimum age to play is 10, accompanied by an adult. Having young Doctor Who fans with sharp brains and curious minds on your team might be handy! As long as they are prepared for a taxing – but not too tense – time.

A game costs £30-£33 per person depending on the number of players (up to six in a team), so Worlds Collide is priced higher than the other rooms at Escape Hunt Reading. Alice in Puzzleland, Wild West, Viking and pirate themed games cost £20-25 per person, with concessions for students and over 60s.

Reading’s games are upstairs in Kings Walk shopping arcade. Escape Hunt also has rooms in Oxford, Bristol and other cities around the UK and worldwide.

You can find out more and book at escapehunt.com

Image courtesy of Escape Hunt

Full steam ahead

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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

Step back in time as Didcot Railway Centre launches Lady of Legend

The Great Western Society will see 15 years of hard work, sweat and tears realised when Lady of Legend is officially launched at Didcot Railway Centre.

Since 2004, the society has been working to recreate an example of the iconic ‘Saint’ class locomotive and now work is complete it will be unveiled by culinary queen Prue Leith, a former member of the British Railways Board, on Friday, 5th April at 11.15am.

The GWR ‘Saint’ class locomotives, introduced by G J Churchward in 1902, represented one of the most important steps forward in railway traction of the 20th century. The class incorporated many revolutionary advances in design and the ‘Saints’ are now acknowledged to have had a huge influence on almost every aspect of steam locomotive development.

The final engine, the Saint David, was withdrawn from service and scrapped in 1953, ending the work of the service – until now.

Lady of Legend will be on display over the weekend to visitors to the railway centre as will another well-known local lady, baking icon Christine Wallace, who will be familiar to many from Bake Off.

She will be found in a marquee at the centre cooking up Edwardian dishes from the era and dressed as Downton Abbey cook, Mrs Patmore. Edwardian cookery was quite lavish so visitors will be in for an extra treat with tastings available.

Also on show will be several other engines, coaches and wagons and you can enjoy a ride in coaches from the 1930s.

For more information and to book tickets, visit Didcot Railway Centre

First aid: Shockingly simple

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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

Pint of Life volunteer Christopher Tancock offers invaluable advice on how to save a life 

You walk into the lounge to find your best friend unconscious, they’ve turned grey, they’re not breathing – what do you do?  

This scenario may sound unlikely, but situations like this play out every day. You can call an ambulance, but unless you can keep the casualty going in the 8-10 minutes it takes to arrive, they are unlikely to survive. 

Pint of Life aims to help prevent such situations by teaching basic first aid in local communities in a free and innovative way. The sessions demonstrate, for example, that after trying to get a response, you should check the patient’s airway and breathing. If you find they are not breathing, the best thing to do is to dial 999, get hold of a defibrillator fast and start CPR.  

The chain of survival means that for maximum chance of survival, a patient needs fast CPR, defibrillation and hospitalisation – only 40% of casualties receive CPR from passers-by in the UK. Even more frighteningly, fewer than 2% of those who need one get a defibrillator before the ambulance arrives.  

People might be afraid to use a defibrillator as they “don’t want to do it wrong” or are worried that they might get into trouble if things don’t turn out well despite their attempts. The fact is that defibrillators can boost survival rates by a huge amount. We need to overcome our fear of these life-saving devices and get to grips with the simple skills that could very well prove the difference between life and death. 

Pint of Life, run by Oxfordshire volunteer Christopher Tancock, shows communities that using a defibrillator is simple. These amazing machines just need to be switched on, after which they guide you through what you need to do (by verbal commands and prompts). Some models even give feedback about your CPR and beep to show when you need to push. None of these community defibrillators can “accidentally” shock someone who doesn’t need to be shocked, either, so they are safe – and very easy – to use. They’re available in many local communities now – in pubs, restaurants, shops and village halls 

When it comes to CPR itself, it’s just a matter of pushing on the centre of the patient’s chest hard and fast… You should aim for two compressions a second and after 30, give the patient two rescue breaths before returning to compressions. Then continue the same sequence. (With children and infants, it’s important to start with five rescue breaths before doing the 30:2 routine).  

These skills are so simple yet so effective. They could change the situation described above from a nightmare to a survival. So why not help yourself to a Pint of Life and learn how to keep someone’s glass half full!  

Cycling golfers!

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Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

Golfers’ cycling challenge to tee up funds for Against Breast Cancer 

A group of golfers are swapping their clubs for bikes to cycle 200 miles to help raise funds for Oxfordshire-based charity Against Breast Cancer. 

Starting in the early hours of Saturday, 6th April, five intrepid golfers and their support team will ride from Royal Lytham St Anne’s in Lancashire to Woburn Golf Club in Buckinghamshire, giving themselves just two days to complete the challenge before sunset the next day. 

The Las Ratas de Grendon golf society raise money each year for the charity through their annual golf tour to Spain and this year decided to add the cycling challenge finishing the day before they fly off. 

Team member Neil McCrorie says: “There will be five of us riding, ranging from ages of 29 to 59 with a wide range of cycling experience so it will be a difficult challenge for us.” 

The team have already raised £1,400 before they set off or embark on their golf tour. Over the years they have donned fancy dress while on tour, surprising many generous members of the public. 

Fellow rider Michael Vaill says: “It’s going to be tough but nothing compared to the challenge that so many have to battle against every day. Riding in memory of our mums, wives and family members who have been lost to this terrible disease.” 

Against Breast Cancer raises vital funds for research into the secondary spread, the main cause of breast cancer deaths. 

Breast cancer is the most common form of the disease in the UK with more than 55,000 women diagnosed every year. 

Las Rats de Grendon have set a target of £2,000 for the ride. 

Sponsor them at www.justgiving/fundraising/las-ratas-de-grendon-golf-society

See how they get on over the April weekend on their Facebook page

Line & light: Art show

Round & About

Botley, Cumnor & Summertown

From Saturday 9th to Sunday 24th March, enjoy an exhibition of photographs, ceramics and life drawings presented by Gaby Guz and Rob Farrands.

Line and Light is the product of a wintertime collaboration between two artists using three media. It is their first joint exhibition. Rob is a photographer who lives in Oxford and Gaby, an alumna of St John’s, is a ceramicist and artist.

Gaby uses line and light to capture the fleeting poses she likes to draw. Her concerns are to convey the essence and emotion of a subject in the brief time that a dynamic pose allows. Her ceramic vessels are largely monochromatic, with bold black and grey lines spreading across egg-shell like pale surfaces.

Rob’s photographs honour the soft, reduced light of the winter solstice. He has shot directly into the light (often including the sun) and dealt with the resulting technical challenges to produce work with strong monochrome tones. His compositions are intended to arouse both a memory of winter’s darkness and the promise of the coming spring.

Rob’s photographs are all taken in Oxford mostly along the banks of the Thames between Iffley and Sandford. He has previously exhibited at the John Radcliffe Hospital in 2016/17 and also in Art Weeks. Gaby’s raku ceramics are monochrome and provide a perfect complement to Rob’s black and white photographs.

The exhibition is at The Barn Gallery, Kendrew Quad, St John’s College, St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3JP. Opening times are 12-5pm weekdays and 11am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays.

Visit gabyguzart.com and  rfarrands.com to see more about Gaby and Rod!