Wallingford vehicle rally

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

The popular annual Wallingford Vehicle Rally & Parade has been cancelled this year but the organisers are keeping their fingers crossed for a ‘mini lockdown parade’ on August 2nd.

They say: “We are currently in negotiations to hold a short driving tour around the area on Sunday 2nd August for all those purchased any ticket for this year’s event.

“We are currently working on a route that won’t cause disruption to the usual traffic and will contact everyone via email very soon with details.”

It will be free of charge, but they ask you make a small donation in the collection buckets on the day or via the crowd funder link that will be set up nearer the time so we can then share this with the local charitable causes who usually benefit and are struggling for funding during these trying times.

Organisers added: “Thank you for your patience, we are disappointed we are unable to hold the event this year but the health of participants, traders, staff and general public have to be our prime concern. Stay safe and we will be in touch with ticket holders this week and please keep an eye on our social media for updates for Sunday 2nd August 2020 mini lockdown parade.”

Info

All those who purchased tickets for the 2020 event can either request a refund (follow the link on your ticket confirmation) or your purchase will be valid for the 2021 event which will be held on Sunday, 9th May 2021. If they don’t hear from you, they will simply send you information and wrist bands in April for the event.

Share your views on climate change

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Young people are being urged to help shape West Oxfordshire District Council’s response to the climate emergency.

Students, schools and youngsters from across the district are invited to express their views and ideas in a special online consultation at www.westoxon.gov.uk/environment/climate-action

As part of that WODC have arranged a competition which encourages them to get creative and submit their art to express how they feel about climate change and how their perfect, future world would look.

All entries will be considered whether working alone, with siblings or as a team of remotely-working friends. The cross-party Climate Action Working Group will be judging the entries and sharing with you all their favourites.

Post your videos – songs, raps, poems, dance, whatever grabs you – to describe what climate change means for you. Let them know what you’d like to see happen to make a change for the better and help protect the natural world.

Share your videos with everyone by posting them using this hashtag #climateactionwoxon.

If you love to draw, paint or take photographs, use the medium of art to describe your perfect, future world where we have come together and successfully tackled the issues of climate change.

What does your perfect world look like? Are we still driving cars? What do our buildings and homes look like? How do we heat and power them? What jobs are we doing? What technologies are we using? How are we living with nature? And what do our natural landscapes and pathways to school and work look like?

Your future world may be the whole planet or just your street. Release the artist in you and illustrate what you see.

Share your art and post it to: Your Views on Climate Action, West Oxfordshire District Council, Witney OX28 1NB or email [email protected]

This consultation is open until June 16th.

Art from your armchair

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

 Local artists open up virtual exhibition for Oxfordshire Artweeks Festival

Artists looking forward to welcoming the public to their studios for Oxfordshire Artweeks are now doing so virtually until May 25th.

The 13 resident artists and associate members of Ayres House Studios, Wallingford, were looking forward to inviting visitors into the previously derelict building; throwing open their studio doors to exhibit both art work and studio space – now sadly impossible due to social restrictions.

In October 2019 the artists took over Ayres House on Station Road. The building was used as a rectory until the 1950s and had been empty for many years and was officially opened with a launch celebration in December.

Studio Manager, Emma Souter of Adumbration Arts said: “It’s such a lovely building with so much potential, I think it needs us as much as we need it.”

On show ‘virtually’ will be paintings, ceramics, sculpture, textiles, upholstery, jewellery, photography, installations, artist’s books, performance and art restoration. The artists are from both academic and self-taught backgrounds, including those from high art, conceptual, fine art and applied crafts.

Daily content will be shared to provide a creative overview from the studios, highlighting what the artists have been doing before and during the coronavirus.

Among those helping out has been Becky Colwell who has used her textile skills to help make scrubs for the NHS and is looking forward to being able to teach sewing classes when the studios re open to the public.

Emma of Neoteric Dance Company has created a new dance film A Home in Isolation, documenting the experiences faced by so many at this time. Alongside this she is also supporting individuals who may be struggling emotionally and physical at this time, by offering virtual spaces to talk and process their experiences, seeing her transfer her Dance Movement Psychotherapy skills to a virtual platform.

During lockdown the studio is welcoming applications from artists who would like to join the studios and for those who would like to join as associate members. They are also seeking proposals for community and collaborative projects so they are ready for when restrictions are lifted. Once back they will re-open Monday Makers and the various courses, workshops and exhibitions which were suspended due to Covid19.

Until then why not visit Ayres House Studios online from the comfort of your homes throughout May.

During Artweeks there will be a chance to view works online via https://www.artweeks.org/festival/2020/ayres-house-studios and on the Studios social media pages https://www.facebook.com/ayreshousestudios and https://www.instagram.com/ayreshousestudios where new posts will be shared daily throughout the festival.

More info

For those interested in visiting Ayres House, signing up for a class or joining the studios after restrictions have eased, please email [email protected] or call Adumbration Arts on 01865 819869.

Barry the pig

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Barry the pig needs your help – his home is flooded and he can’t swim!

He lives with dogs, cats, sheep, alpacas, ponies, parrots and tortoises at the Berkshire branch of the National Animal Welfare Trust at Trindledown Farm, in Great Shefford, near Hungerford.

The ten-acre site is a rescue and rehoming centre specialising in the care of elderly animals and needs your help to stay open after being hit by flooding.

Barry hates water and the branch has launched a Just Giving campaign called Barry Can’t Swim with the aim of raising £5,000 to build ditches along the boundary to enable the flood water to drain away naturally into the flood alleviation stream further down in the village.

The centre is totally self-funded and receives no help from anywhere except its fundraising activities and relies on being open to the public for events as well as the income from the café and onsite charity shop.

Ellie Humphreys works for the charity and says: “We are flooded and on the verge of having to close the centre to the public until the water subsides.

“The rehoming of animals does not cover the cost of vets bills, accommodation or maintenance of the 20-year-old farm.

“Not only is this impacting on our funds, all of our field animals have been put on higher ground which is not ideal for elderly animals and their joints.”

And it’s far from ideal for Barry in particular. He lives with a sheep called Bjork who has special needs and was rejected by the other sheep, but now their area is becoming inaccessible.

Ellie adds: “The last time we flooded was 2014 where our fields were out of action for three months.

“Unfortunately we are in the Lambourn Valley so we receive the overflow of water from the higher ground which then runs through half our grazing land, our dog exercise areas and our car parking field.”

Not having the fields also means they cannot rotate the field animals to eat the grass so the centre is forced to buy hay and feed adding to the costs.

Help Barry

The Just Giving campaign aims to raise £5,000 to pay for the ditch work, to help click below

Garden Re-Leaf Day 2020

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Plans are blooming for the ninth annual Garden Re-Leaf Day, which takes place on Friday, 13th March.

This year, Chilton Garden Centre will be the central hub for fundraising activity, as it hosts the fifth Garden Re-Leaf Sponsored Walk and Cycle Challenge.

Members of the gardening sector and hopefully local residents will trek across the Chiltern Hills to raise money for the children’s hospice garden charity, Greenfingers Charity.

Gardeners young and old are invited to take part in fundraising events – either a gentle 10-mile stroll or complete a more challenging 20-mile route through the Chiltern hills. There will also be a Garden Re-Leaf Cycle Challenge for bike enthusiasts. With a 25km route through the Oxfordshire countryside entrants are invited to complete as many rotations around the course as they can throughout the day.

Garden Re-Leaf Day is to celebrate the start of the garden year with fundraising events to raise money for Greenfingers, a charity dedicated to improving the lives of children in hospices through the creation of magical gardens.

In total, 58 Greenfingers gardens have been built since the charity’s creation in 1998 with many being funded by monies from Garden Re-Leaf Day.

In 2017, a new Oxfordshire based garden was opened at Helen & Douglas House, enabling children who call this hospice ‘home’ to find a moment of calm away from the hustle and bustle of daily hospice life. The Kaleidoscope Garden, designed by Oxford garden designer Nicola Wakefield and built by local landscapers GreenArt Garden Design and landscaping, features a colourful and protected garden pavilion that is now being enjoyed by patients, their families, friends, carers and hard-working hospice staff.

Last year in 2019, the charity’s 20th anniversary, four sensory and therapeutic gardens were built in London, The Wirral, Sunderland and St Austell, offering children and families the perfect out door space in which to make memories.

More gardens are in the pipeline to be built this year and this is where Garden Re-Leaf Day comes into its own, raising muchneeded funds.

Linda Petronsdirector of fundraising & communications at Greenfingers said: “Each year, Garden Re-Leaf Day helps over 350 life-limited children to enjoy a quiet place of relaxation and contemplation away from the hustle and bustle of hospice life, something that is so incredibly important for them and their families. 

Being able to do offer this for seriously sick children and their families is only possible due to the fundraising activities that our supporters undertake.

Garden Re-Leaf Day offers a great opportunity to get involved – it’s just one day of the year where you can help make a difference. Whether you raise £10 or £10,000, every single penny counts. We hope that the people of Oxfordshire will get involved on March 13th!”

More info

To find out more about Garden Re-Leaf Day and the work that the Greenfingers charity undertakes visit

Journey of discovery

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Fi Harding tells us more about Chiltern Arts Festival 2020 which takes place at various venues between Friday 28th February and Saturday 7th March

As the world celebrates 250 years since Beethoven’s birth, Chiltern Arts is celebrating overcoming adversity in the arts, with its usual array of venues including those in Henley, Marlow, Wallingford and, for the first time, Princes Risborough.

‘It’s a busy year for Chiltern Arts,” says founder and creative director Naomi Taylor, “and an exciting one! I’m particularly excited to have a theme linking all events for the first time and I hope people will get on board and follow the festival as a bit of a journey of discovery. There are also lots of opportunities to get involved as well as sitting back and enjoying; a Come and Sing day, poetry competition and Youth Music and Art Day… come and join us for what we think will be a brilliant week!”

Chiltern Arts offers an array of concerts for all musical tastes: Septura Brass Septet celebrate the music of female composers; the Come and Sing Company invite you to explore Tippett’s Five Spirituals alongside Tippett’s biographer Oliver Soden; the Marian Consort uncover the Catholic music kept under wraps in Elizabethan England; the Phoenix Piano Trio present piano trios from Beethoven and Fauré, both of whom suffered hearing loss; pianist Danny Driver presents Beethoven and the loss of Vital Senses with music from Gabriela Lena Frank and Rodrigo partnering Beethoven’s impressive Hammerklavier; and the City of London Sinfonia close with Beethoven’s famous Septet.

One of the highlights is undoubtedly a mini-residency from eminent solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, performing with Trio HLK a piece called Extra Sensory Perception; and we’re thrilled to be commissioning a piece from Stephen Goss for Dame Evelyn and Matthew Wadsworth. The piece will be premiered at the Candlelit Lute recital in Great Missenden on Thursday 5th March. Dame Evelyn and Matthew both also precede their respective events with pre-concert talks.

Chiltern Arts’ popular concert and dinner event returns to The Gatsby in Berkhamsted with music from members of the Piccadilly Dance Orchestra, featuring cabaret and a seven-piece band.

Three outstanding young professional ensembles feature at the festival: the Salomé String Quartet, baroque quartet Ensemble Hesperi and wind group the Magnard Ensemble. The first entirely youth-focused event features music from several local young musicians and performers, including students from the Mary Hare School for the Deaf, Amersham Music Centre, Tring School and Chiltern Music Academy, as well as a massed choir led by the Marian Consort.

More info..

The poetry competition also returns, open to writers of all ages. There’s information about all of these events online, where you can also request a brochure, buy tickets and find out how you can get involved with Chiltern Arts. You can also call the box office on 01442 920303.

Cornering youth market

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Dance, theatre, yoga, music and making your own bedroom decorations are among the fun activities for young people at Cornerstone’s Youth Festival.

The week-long extravaganza which runs during half term, 16th to 23rd February begins on Sunday with The Elves and the Shoemakers. Meet Sam who is big on imagination but short on business knowhow until one night, two small green visitors climb in and start stitching, cutting and gluing… Suitable for ages 3 upwards, tickets £9.50, concs £7.50, family £30.

Get active with a series of classes focussing on movement with fun from 18th to 21st starting with a children’s art and yoga class, £15, for school years 1-6 and unleash your inner dancer on Wednesday with beginner’s Latin and ballroom dancing, £25, school years 1-6 – perfect for those with an eye on being a Strictly star in the future.

Thursday and Friday it’s the turn of those in years 7-13 with break dancing for beginners, £15, where you’ll learn the basics and then develop the confidence to explore your own style. Friday sees a physical theatre workshop, £20, in which you’ll learn techniques for creating a narrative through movement and storytelling which will be performed at the end of the session.

Award-winning comedy musicians Bowjangles will be putting on a magical show taking you through myths, legends and folklore through a portal in a cello case – where else? – to find a priceless relic, a magical violin bow known as Excalibow. Suitable for all ages, £14, and may contain a few well-known ABBA hits!

Join Yana on Sunday 23rd as she journeys through a strange land, all alone and far from home, unable to understand anything other children are saying and then she encounters a Yeti… This cast of extraordinary puppets  are out to show friends come in the most unexpected shapes and sizes in Yana and the Yeti, £9.50, concs £7.50.

If craft is your thing there’s also the opportunity to spruce up your bedroom for years 1-6 by making your own bedroom decorations on Saturday 22nd, £25, with collage, paint, printing and mark making.

Cornerstone also offers a range of courses for children and young people including theatre, photography, dance and young reviewers.

More info

For more details about these and the Youth Festival and to book any of the events visit cornerstone-arts.org or call 01235 515144

Home help

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Didcot’s own Matt Richardson tells Peter Anderson how much he’s looking forward to his show at the Cornerstone – not least because his mum always helps his home gig sell out!

Matt’s first tour at the tender age of 21 was called Hometown Hero, and now he brings his latest tour Imposter to his home town. With this tour, he’s celebrating a decade delighting audiences, both as a stand-up and as a link on many television shows. When I caught up with the lad from Didcot I found, among other things, his mother is still one of his best, and busiest fans.

“I love the show at The Cornerstone whenever I do it,” says Matt. “It’s full of familiar faces and it’s always a lovely sell-out! My mum basically does all the leg work and promotes it to everyone she knows, so it’s a very stress-free show for the promoter!”

What can the audiences look forward to?” It’s loads of new material, about growing up and settling down with some stories about my slightly unusual life on the fringes of the public eye, with one or two of my old routines thrown in from my previous shows as a slight celebration of my decade in the business!”

Feeling he is an imposter as an adult now 28, what’s Matt favourite age? “About 21 or 22. You’ve broken into the world and feel like everything is in front of you and anything is possible, but a lot of the reality hasn’t set in yet. And your parents are still happy to cover your rent once in a while.”

His career has included television work, does the stand-up experience stand him in good stead? “Yes, I really think it does. I’ve done a lot of shows that require dealing with members of the public, and I think years on stage talking to them really sets you up for that. Live TV is such a different beast to stand-up, but I’ve had to make up 10 minutes of a show after the autocue failed and there was nothing to prompt me. The one thing live TV and stand-up have in common are this – when it’s going badly time slows down to a crawl!”

Is there somewhere he would love to perform? “I’d be quite keen to gig in America. I’ve filmed there lots over the years, but I’d be really interested to see how my act goes down with their comedy club audiences. I’ve got a lot of routines I worry are far too UK centric, and I am planning on world domination (once I can sell out Didcot without my mum, of course).”

More info

Matt is performing on Saturday 15th February; visit the Cornerstone website for ticket information.

Unique Unicorn

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Photo: Shackleton Trio

The new year has already got off to a great start for Music at the Unicorn with two fantastic pieces of news.

Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention and guitar virtuoso PJ Wright have once again agreed to be patrons for MATU and they have a new programme curator in the form of Duncan Chappell of Big Ginger Tom Music.

Both Dave and PJ are delighted to be continuing their links with the popular music venue and Duncan has already been hard at work putting together an exciting mix of acts for the 2020 programme which will feature acts old and new as well as many local treats.

He said: “This is an exciting time for me and I’m very proud to be part of this wonderful organisation. I know I can do a great job for MATU. We’re all looking forward to a fantastic 2020.

“The new programme will be ready soon and we will be distributing it early in the new year. Come and see us!”

Among the goodies Duncan has lined up for the Unicorn are the stunning vocals of Me for Queen who kicked off the year in January. March brings Jim Moray with Tom Moore on the 26th, one of England’s finest interpreters of traditional song who has changed the sound of folk music.

Among other highlights Duncan has put together are the Shackleton Trio on 21st May. The musicians have played to great acclaim on the folk circuit with their original work blending with imaginative re-workings of traditional folk songs often with a twist.

Multi-award winning folk duo Ninebarrow have impressed audiences across the country with their innovative take on folk favourites and their delivery of old songs rooted in the landscape and history of the British Isles and are named after Nine Barrow Down in Dorset’s Purbeck hills. Ninebarrow are at the Unicorn on 10th September, but definitely worth the wait.

As 2020 draws to a close there’s no let up in the great music on offer with the aptly-named  The Willows playing on 1st October as autumn blows in with their music influenced by both sides of the Atlantic.

Warm up with family trio Cup O’Joe on 12th November, the two brothers and sister have been playing together since they were in their teens and were due to release a new album in January featuring many original tracks.

More info

To find out more about the fabulous bands playing at the Unicorn in 2020 and ticket information

Seal of approval

Round & About

Wallingford & Didcot

Main image: Sleeping like a Weddell by Ralf Schneider Highly Commended 2019, Black and White. Left: Canopy hangout by Carlos Pérez Naval, Spain Highly Commended 2019, Young Wildlife Photographers: 11-14 years old . Middle: Lucky break by Jason Bantle, Canada Highly Commended 2019, Urban Wildlife. Right: The climbing dead by Frank Deschandol Highly Commended 2019, Plants and Fungi

The world-renowned Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, on loan from the Natural History Museum in London, will open at The Base on Friday, 7th February.

“It’s a delight and privilege to bring this exhibition to The Base,” says Corn Exchange Newbury director Grant Brisland. “The previous instalment launched the building [last February] and was enjoyed by over 3,500 people. As we individually and collectively take steps to reduce our impact on the environment, these pictures remind us what we’re aiming to protect for future generations.”

This year’s 100 award-winning images have embarked on an international tour that will allow them to be seen by over a million people. Catch the exhibition at The Base from this month until April.

More info

There are also special events such as Relaxed Days (20th Feb & 8th Apr), a Clay Animals workshop on 22nd February and a Cartoon Animal Drawing workshop on 1st March. Visit the website or call 0845 5218 218. www.facebook.com/WildlifePhotographerOfTheYear