Scrubs help

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Ready, steady, sew!

Volunteers are using their love of sewing to help make scrubs for health care workers

There’s no end of people putting their skills to use during the coronavirus crisis and that includes those handy with a sewing machine who have been making scrubs for health care workers.

Madeleine Steele, pictured, is just one who has been helping. She set up the South Oxfordshire and Berkshire Scrub Hub from her home in Crowmarsh making garments and masks for the NHS and people working in social care.

She said: “It was a Facebook post on Easter Monday that I saw about people making scrubs and I thought that’s a great idea, I’ll see if I can join in. There weren’t any other ScrubHubs in our area so I called my old school friend and asked her if she wanted to set it up with me.”

The South Oxfordshire and Berkshire Scrub Hub is a network of volunteers operating in Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford, Henley, Reading, Caversham, Woodley, Earley, Winnersh, Wokingham and Tilehurst.

Their aim is to plug the gap as an emergency helping hand by supporting our health care professionals without scrubs during the current crisis.
The volunteer network ‘who love to sew’ is operating all over the country answering calls from workers through their networks and communities. The scrubs are made to order by experienced volunteers, working safely within the guidelines of the lock down, often with donated materials.

To find out more visit scrubhub.org.uk/south-oxfordshire-berkshire

If you are member of the public and you’d like to sponsor their efforts visit the GoFundMe page.

Donations will help support the NHS Practitioners health service who care for and support the mental well being of NHS workers, who are doing such a selfless job during this time.

Facing the challenge

Local schools are supporting NHS frontline workers in the battle against coronavirus
with the production of face shields and protective screens

PPE – before the coronavirus most of us would not have heard of this or indeed be aware of its importance – now we hear of the need for it on a daily basis.

Schools across Berkshire have been working to produce face shields and screens for use in GP practices and hospitals.

One project was the brainchild of Leighton Park School’s Head of Design and Technology, Mark Smith who began making the protective wear in the Reading school’s workshop with an original target of 200.

Mark said: “We are fortunate at Leighton Park to have access to tools and resources that can make a difference and keep our keyworkers safe: I just had to do something.”

Using the laser cutter to create re-usable plastic headbands he then attached disposable A4 PVC sheets donated by Reading-based stationery suppliers Frasers Office Supplies.

A plea for additional laser cutters was met by other schools in the area and there is now a network of manufacturers involved including the University of Reading, Neal’s Export Packaging Ltd, in Silchester, and rLAB, a community workshop space.

School partners include Denefield School, Edgbarrow School, Prospect School, Reading Blue Coats, Shiplake College, Holme Grange School, The Forest School, Brackenhale School, Waingels College, The Bulmershe School, Luckley House, Warriner School, Little Heath, Ranelagh and St Joseph’s College.

Since starting production on April 2nd they have supplied more than 80 organisations with shields.

The Oratory school near Woodcote has also risen to the challenge to help the local community after it was approached by Dr Amanda Gemmill, a GP and the school’s Head of PSHE. She asked the Design LabOratory to construct protective screens for the Goring and Woodcote surgeries to offer protection to reception staff.

The Design LabOratory began with three polycarbonate screens which were installed on a Saturday to ensure the surgery was not disrupted.

Word of the screens spread and Strawberry Hill Medical Centre in Newbury put in a request which required more material and a more robust construction. They have since made screens for surgeries in Woodcote, Goring, Newbury, Henley, Wokingham and Abingdon with orders from two practices in Oxford.

The Design LabOratory is now producing face shields with the use of 3D printers and has delivered to medical practices in Woodcote and Goring, to Marcham Road Surgery in Abingdon, Sue Ryder in Nettlebed and Townlands Hospital in Henley.

Working together

Buckinghamshire schools come together to make PPE for healthcare workers

Schools and colleges across the county have been playing their part to support the NHS and other local health services to help keep frontline staff safe. Using their 3D printers they have created safety visors for the NHS and donated PPE equipment to support healthcare staff.

Thanks to the fantastic work of schools from all parts of the county, hundreds of visors have been produced and distributed to frontline healthcare professionals. Many local businesses played their part too, donating items such as lab coats, goggles and gloves, after hearing about the work schools were doing from parents or teachers.

Many schools across the county, including Buckingham School, Stowe School, Westbury School, Sir Thomas Fremantle School, Holmer Green School, Sir William Borlase’s School, Wycombe Grammar School, Wycombe High School, Highworth Combined School and Sir William Ramsay School have also produced (using their 3D printers) or donated essential PPE equipment such as goggles and lab coats.

Buckinghamshire UTC has also donated 30 protective goggles and their Principal Sarah Valentine personally bought six lab coats from Amazon for delivery to Stoke Mandeville Hospital.

Cllr Anita Cranmer, Buckinghamshire Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “I’m hugely impressed by the time, effort and heart that our education community has put into creating and donating PPE for our healthcare workers.

“This is a fantastic example of how Buckinghamshire is coming together and a tribute to our hardworking and dedicated healthcare workers who are helping to keep us all safe during these challenging times. Another amazing initiative that shows just how #ProudofBucks we are.”

In addition, Aylesbury High School, The Grange School in Aylesbury, Beachborough School at Westbury, and the University of Buckingham have also got involved in the production and donation of PPE to local NHS trusts.

Vince Murray, Headteacher of The Grange School, said: “As a school we were more than willing to respond to the call for PPE equipment through the collection of goggles and laboratory coats. It was also lovely to see some of our students making ‘scrub bags’ for the NHS, alongside their teacher (Miss Friend) while they were in school.

“We see ourselves as a community school. We were only too happy to contribute, in a small way, to maintaining the safety of other key workers looking after those in our hospitals, and providing essential care for others at a time when they need it most.”

Scrubs help

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Sew essential

Mel Downing is one of a consortium of local curtain makers who came together to make scrubs for healthcare workers

At the end of March we were aware there was a real shortage of scrubs – all healthcare workers were going to need them and due to the contagious nature of Covid-19 would need several sets each and wash bags for them to be put in once taken off and laundered.

A consortium of local curtain makers set up a Justgiving page to raise money to buy rolls of washable polycotton, within days we had raised a few thousand. The total now is more than £15,000.

I have run Melanie Downing Interiors, a busy curtain design company for 25 years and one of my blind makers Julie Knaggs had trained as a pattern cutter. We decided the best way forward was to bulk cut the fabric and then hand out kits for people to sew depending on their skills.

This saved us so much time and also very little wasted fabric. It was really important we sent out beautifully made scrubs that were made to last. We created a Facebook page and very quickly had an army of more than 80 volunteers from curtain makers, dress makers, costume makers, and even a tutu maker.

Local hubs were established in Farnham, Guildford, Haslemere, Petersfield, Petworth and Godalming to try and reduce journeys and volunteer drivers co-ordinated delivery and collection.

Realising the phenomenal demand we also enlisted the help of Mint Velvet who delivered 800 sets to Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford, for us.
We have supplied more than 2,500 sets to The Royal Surrey, Frimley Park, Basingstoke Hospital and Hospice, Haslemere, Petworth, Milford and Alton Community Hospitals, Phyllis Tuckwell, Marie Curie, Macmillan, Meath Home, Ticehurst Care Home, Aldershot Community team and numerous GP surgeries as well as several private requests.

It has been an incredible logistical challenge to achieve so much in such a short space of time but worth it to know it is being used.

There are so many talented people in the area and the team spirit has just been such a positive experience. I feel lucky to have been able to use my business experience and skills to co-ordinate such an important project with the help of so many really amazing people.

We are now starting to make masks which will be distributed primarily via local food banks and hope these will be sent out with a wash bag and soap stressing the importance of continued hand washing.

Most of the professional seamstresses in the team are currently unable to work due to restrictions re visiting people’s homes but hoping we can soon get back to work!

Contact Mel Downing – www.melaniedowning.co.uk 01428 713868; Coleen Smart – www.honeybeehandmade.co.uk 01483 577168; Caroline Lockie – Sewn – 01483 425577; Jo Martin – www.josephineellen.co.uk; Julie Knaggs – www.montaguesadles.co.uk

Stitches in time

A teacher has set up a volunteer sewing group to make scrubs for health care workers

Sewing enthusiasts have been taking to their machines to answer the call for scrubs, masks, scrub bags and gowns to help support front line workers.

Head of Design & Technology at Glebelands School in Cranleigh, Tamsin Mitchell (pictured), heard local frontline workers were faced with a drastic shortage of scrubs, masks, and similar equipment, and decided to pitch in.

Having seen a Facebook post from a nurse who works for Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford, she contacted her to see if there was anything she could sew to help.

“She wanted scrubs bags, so people can change at hospital and take their uniform home in the bag and pop it straight in the wash. I went online to see if I could get more people on board, and I found a national group called For the Love of Scrubs. They had subpages for local areas, and there wasn’t one for Cranleigh. So I volunteered.”

Tamsin formed NHS Sewing Cranleigh and Dorking to mobilise local sewing enthusiasts including Glebelands pupils. The group already has more than 65 members, who have together produced items for St Joseph’s Specialist School and College and more than half a dozen other local organisations, including care homes and medical practices.

Tamsin said: “It’s a real community effort. Everyone is stepping up to the plate and helping each other. In a time of need, it’s the practical and creative skills that make a difference.”

Anyone in need of items or wanting to join the group should contact Tamsin through the NHS Sewing Cranleigh and Dorking group on Facebook.

Supporting Surrey SAR

The science department at King Edward’s Witley donates PPE to Surrey Search & Rescue

In 2010, relies solely on donations to purchase vital lifesaving equipment and provide training for its team.King Edward’s Witley has delivered much-needed supplies of personal protective equipment in response to an urgent appeal from Surrey Search & Rescue.

Woking-based charity, Surrey SAR – a voluntary specialist search team – posted a request on Facebook for vital supplies of PPE to protect their responders as they help Surrey Police and the county council at this time, checking on the welfare of vulnerable members of the community.

King Edward’s science department technician, Alison Hill sourced, sterilised and packed boxes of protective goggles and disposable gloves which were given to the charity.

Head of Science, Jim Culbert said they were delighted to be able to support Surrey SAR: “This is an amazing organisation. During the current coronavirus pandemic, Surrey Search & Rescue is playing a pivotal role in checking on the welfare of those who are deemed particularly susceptible to the virus, ensuring they remain well and lending a caring and sympathetic ear when people need it most.”

Surrey SAR assists the emergency services in the search for missing vulnerable adults and children. Volunteers, assisted by search dogs and drones, deliver an on-call response service 24 hours a day across Surrey and surrounding areas, when the emergency services need their specialist skills.

On average 2,100 people go missing in Surrey each year and as such Surrey SAR is one of the busiest search & rescue teams in the UK. The charity, which was formed in 2010, relies solely on donations to purchase vital lifesaving equipment and provide training for its team.

You can donate or read more about Surrey Search and Rescue here.

Gardening leave

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How does your garden grow? Does it rival Chelsea Flower Show or is it just patches of green and brown in need of some love and attention? Once it looks good, sit back and enjoy it in style and comfort

We’ve had some good weather in the last few weeks and that has definitely been a bonus as we all adhere to the ‘stay in’ restrictions. The other thing it’s meant is that we’re all enjoying our gardens more – showering them with TLC and generally being more appreciative of our personal green space.

And as we move towards summer with fingers crossed for both sunshine and being able to be with our family and friends again, let’s get out in our gardens and make the most of them!

It’s really important at this time to think about our mental wellbeing as well as keeping physical activity up, simply weeding and prepping pots for new plants boosts your spirits. Then sit back and admire your handy work in some stylish furniture on your patio or decking and under the shade of a gazebo!

The lawn

The crowning glory of many a garden is the lawn and whether you’re attempting to emulate Wembley-like turf for the kids to play football on or a lush green carpet to simply sit back and admire, how do you achieve that? You may have had to reseed in the spring with regular feeding, the lawn is a living plant like any other in your garden and needs nurturing. Cut the grass little and often and give it air if needed, make deep holes to allow it to become aerated and you’ve given yourself a good start.

Pots and containers

If you only really have a patio or small space to make the most of, pots and containers are the answer. Not only are they a practical way to grow plants, they’ll be easier to maintain – just remember they need a lot of root space, water and stability to protect them from the wind. And there are a great variety of pots and containers out there now not just the traditional terracotta, although you could update these with a lick of paint making them as colourful and attractive as the plants they’ll hold.

Outdoor entertaining

This is the fun part of the garden and even if we can’t have our friends and family round to enjoy it at the moment with us, making those video calls with a glass of wine in the garden does at least make it more bearable! More and more now gardens are becoming a true extension of people’s homes so the need for a paved entertaining area with space for a table and chairs is essential.

The ambitious among you could also get your teeth into a pizza oven too, it could be used as a wood-fired fireplace even if you aren’t hungry. Sunken fire pits are becoming more popular and for the really decadent, how about a hot tub to help extend the use of the garden into the evening and in the cooler weather?

Talking of the weather, while we’ve been lucky the past few weeks with some glorious sunshine to enjoy, we all know how fickle the English climate can be so some sort of shelter is a must, choose a summerhouse, gazebo, pergola, awning, shade sails or umbrellas – you’re spoilt for choice if the weather does spoil the party.

Water features

You’ve got the basics done so now it’s time to take it up a notch, how about a water feature to enhance the space and provide a focal point, not to mention the relaxing sound running water makes. Water features don’t just mean ponds, there are any number of ornamental structures available which needn’t take up a great deal of space but can be a real talking point.

Flooring

Decking or natural stone paving are the most traditional methods of flooring for your garden space, think about what you want to use your garden for and if it’s uneven and you want to avoid enormous amounts of levelling then gravel may be the answer.

Lighting

How about shedding some light on your garden too – it will allow you to eat, read or just sit and enjoy it long into the evening and lighting doesn’t have to mean multi-coloured Christmas tree-like adornments, although if it’s a party garden that may be ideal. From spotlights to tea lights, stylish decorative lighting needn’t cost the earth. The right lighting really can add a magical touch to your garden but make sure you position it well – you don’t want guests to feel they are being interrogated!

Play area

Many gardens need to fulfil more than just one function, as well as being somewhere to relax, for many families they have to be somewhere children can play too. So how to combine the two? Perhaps screen off an area using trellis, use a shed to store bulky equipment, consider natural materials for swings and playhouses so it blends in more than manmade alternatives – it’s more environmentally friendly too.

Growing your own

If you’re lucky enough to have room in your garden to grow some veggies, there has never been a better time to give it a go. Not only does it deal with environmental concerns but it’s also a cheap alternative, why not get the kids involved and turn it into part of home schooling too! Nothing beats the taste of fresh veg, herbs and fruit grown by your own hands and don’t let lack of space stop you, tomatoes and strawberries can be grown in pots.

Vertical gardens

These are a great way for people with small gardens to surround themselves with plants. Green walls and vertical gardening allows urban-dwellers to make more of their space. Specialist green wall companies are popping up who can install and help maintain your systems.

Wildlife friendly gardens

Do your bit for the environment with plants and structures that attract wildlife, birds, insects and small mammals. Log piles, hedgehog boxes, bee hotels and more will help to bring wildlife that is interesting to watch, and keep down pests such as slugs and aphids. Many plants are attractive to pollinating insects too.

And most importantly once you’ve created your perfect haven make sure you take time to enjoy it with a glass of something refreshing!

Need some inspiration...

Many gardens can be toured virtually while closed, take a look at:
RHS Wisley – enjoy the Glasshouse, Wisteria Walk, Rock Garden and The Mixed Borders as well as aerial views of the gardens
The National Garden Scheme (NGS) has launched a virtual library of tours around its gardens, find out more at ngs.org.uk
Virtual tours, gardens through the ages and top gardening tips can be found at

Taylor Wimpey reopens showhomes

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Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire has begun a phased approach to reopening its sales office and show homes across the county.

Taylor Wimpey was the first UK homebuilder to stop construction on sites and close sales centres in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdown restrictions. A phased return to construction has since restarted on a number of sites across England and Wales, with staff and subcontractors operating under a robust set of revised health and safety practices and protocols.

On Friday 22nd May, developments including Bridleways and Castle Grange in Banbury, Great Western Park in Didcot and Thornbury Green in Eynsham reopened their doors to customers with strict social distancing requirements in place.

A new set of protocols for all sales offices and show homes has been developed alongside new safety measures which have been introduced to protect the health and safety of its customers and employees.

These include the installation of Perspex screens and marker guides for social distancing. Show home viewings will be unaccompanied and only one family at a time will be able to view each home.

The sales teams have been helping customers remotely through the lockdown period and customers are encouraged to maintain contact digitally where possible. Customers wishing to visit the development will need to book an appointment over the phone.

Danielle Heard, Sales and Marketing Director for Taylor Wimpey Oxfordshire, said: “Reopening our sales offices and show homes is a significant step for both staff and customers. I want to assure the public that we are not prepared to compromise health and safety, which is why we will be operating our sales offices on a strict appointment-only basis.”

To book an appointment to visit or to speak to the sales team to find out about the homes available, customers can visit www.taylorwimpey.co.uk

To find out more

For more information about Taylor Wimpey’s protocol for safe working practices

Surrey Hills

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The Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is looking forward to welcoming people back to visit but stress this is not the time to come and enjoy the countryside.

They want to reinforce the Government’s message in the releasing of lockdown measures in the countryside and encourage you to use the greenspaces closer to home and observe social distancing rather than travel distances.

Heather Kerswell, Chair of the Surrey Hills AONB Board comments:

“As we move out of the lockdown period over the coming months we look forward to welcoming visitors back to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“We know you will be keen to return to the Surrey Hills but just for now please stay local! This will ensure we all respect Government safety measures, local communities and wildlife.

“As freedom returns and we embrace a new normal, we will be keen for everyone to come and enjoy the benefits of natural beauty while supporting the local business community who very much need our custom at this time thank you.”

This very slight lifting of lockdown measures will still see many businesses remain closed, particularly those catering for the visitor such as attractions, hotels, restaurants, cafes, pubs, public toilets etc. The worry for many rural communities is people descending on beauty spots and picturesque Surrey villages making social distancing difficult and therefore increasing the risk of spreading the disease.

Chris Howard, Chairman of the Tourist Board – Visit Surrey added: “Whilst we are all anxious to get back out into the countryside, it is worth bearing in mind that facilities are still very limited due to the coronavirus restrictions. This means a lack of open toilets, and places to get food.

“Plan your outings carefully and get to know some of the amazing places right on your doorstep. Remember, the lockdown rules have only been tweaked slightly.”

Stephanie Fudge, National Trust General Manager for the Surrey Hills reinforced this saying that while the National Trust has been working on reopening plans, the safety of staff, volunteers, visitors and local residents is the priority.

She said: “Any reopening will need to be gradual and phased and visitors’ experience is likely to be different from usual, including the need to manage volume at our pay for entry places. Countryside car park opening will also be phased.”

Surrey Hills AONB has set out some key guidance points for accessing the Surrey Hills over the coming months:

· Keeping yourself and others safe is paramount and we encourage you to adhere to guidance set out by DEFRA in their Countryside Code.

· We are aware that many visitors who love to walk and cycle will have greatly missed the Surrey Hills landscape, the views and the well-known beauty spots. We encourage you to use countryside sites close to your home rather than travelling. Over the coming weeks and months we will see carparks and facilities gradually re-open and we urge you to check before you travel that car parks are open and would advise you away from the more well-known sites which may become congested and therefore difficult to socially distance.

· Please be aware that our local farms are under great seasonal pressures during this time and we would encourage you to respect their needs by keeping dogs on leads and follow all designated foot paths and bridleways to keep yourselves and farm animals safe.

· During the lockdown period, nature has had an opportunity to thrive and we ask you to look after nature by being extra cautious. Please stick to footpaths and bridleways so as not to disturb ground nesting birds and other wildlife.

· We encourage you to continue supporting local during this time of transition and want to highlight all the wonderful products and services available on our doorstep in the Surrey Hills. Take a look at our list of businesses offering home deliveries, online support and services, gifts and inspiration.

 

Click for further information on the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

Room for improvement

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With the majority of us spending more time at home at the moment how about lavishing some love on your home and considering how you can improve it, Karen Neville looks at some ways to make the most of your home…

Renovating your home allows you to put your own stamp on it and make the space work for you and your family.

Think about exactly what it is you need, and make changes that will make life easier, whether that’s creating an extra room in the loft, knocking down a wall to create a family-friendly kitchen-diner or adding a conservatory, there are numerous ways you can improve your home and add value as well as falling back in love with where you live.

So what are the most popular ways to add value to your home and feel like it’s one of the family again…

Extension

The most popular way to increase the value of your home is to add space with an extra room, an additional bedroom will earn you the most money. Perhaps you need to make more space for another member of the family or your teenager no longer wants to share with their younger sibling – which could be the answer to a more harmonious life for all under the roof.

Loft conversion

This is a great way to add value and you don’t need planning permission to create a home office or children’s play area. If you don’t have room to add on a room then the only way really can be up!

Loft specialists Access4Lofts Guildford say: “Loft space is often underused or not used at all. The most common reasons for this include challenging or limited practical access to the loft as a result of a small hatch opening or a poor-quality ladder and insufficient usable storage in the loft space from either a lack of, or no suitable flooring or shelving.
“Space can be converted into safe and convenient storage for less than the price of a garden shed. Benefits include reduced utility bills from enhanced insulation and a noticeably decluttered and organised home which looks and feels bigger.”

WOODEN FLOORING

A relatively simple way to improve your home, giving it a fresh, clean look is to switch to wooden flooring, whether synthetic, such as laminate, real wood or engineered. Check out what’s best for your purposes and your lifestyle. Wood’s growing popularity means it’s another way to increase potential sale value should you move.

GARDEN MAKE OVER

Right now our gardens seem more precious than ever. If yours is looking neglected, it could be worth paying someone to sort it out. Add fences or trees to provide privacy, make a specific seating area, perhaps add a patio or decking. It’s also worth considering a covered area such as a pergola or awning or perhaps even a summer house to allow for the British summer weather! Another simple boost can be a garden shed and they needn’t just be for storing your lawnmower etc, take it up a notch and it could be an outdoor office, children’s play area or guest bedroom.

GO GREEN

We’re all trying to be more eco-friendly and aware of our planet and not only can these measures help you save on your bills but they can also add value to your home if you do decide to move. Double glazing, solar panels, adding or improving insulation can all make a real difference, as can LED lighting.

SERVE UP A KITCHEN MAKE OVER

If you decide to make just one improvement to your home, then the kitchen – the heart of the home – is the one to go for. But if you don’t have the resources to go for a complete overhaul then replacing the drawer and door fronts and keeping the units can make a huge difference. Even small changes can help renew your relationship with your kitchen, try new worktops, unique tiles, or quirky doors and handles for a simple lift.

CONSERVATORY

Natural lighting is always a great way to give a home a fresh lease of life and a conservatory with huge windows will certainly fit the bill as well as giving you extra space – use it as an additional living room or a stylish dining area. Most people won’t want to compromise on their garden space so consider sliding doors as the perfect way to blend indoors and outdoors.

EXTRA STORAGE

Creating extra storage in your home allowing you to declutter and streamline can give not just your home, but you a lift too, knowing the toys are stored away and there’s not ‘stuff’ all over the place! Build shelves or create cupboards in a variety of nooks, corners and under the stairs.

KNOCKING THROUGH ROOMS

An open plan living area can result in more room for dining in and entertaining making your existing space more attractive and look less cramped.

BATHROOM

Neutral shades and classic styles are the best way to make a splash with a new bathroom. Allow plenty of natural light to stream in, consider spotlights otherwise..

ROOFING, SOFFITS AND FASCIAS

Fascia boards and soffits play a vital role in protecting your home. They are crucial to the structural integrity of a property and usually mounted where the roof meets the outer walls of your home, fascia boards and soffits support holding guttering in place.

Gorgeous with George

No one is a bigger advocate for putting your money where your house is than architect, campaigner and TV presenter George Clarke. He says: “There’s no place like home. Whether it’s transforming a tiny bedroom or managing a large-scale build, we all have the possibility of experimenting with our environment and improving the way we live.

“My advice is to make it personal and beautiful. Your home is like an extended member of your family, unique and personal and its design should reflect that.”

George and his family live in a 1960s house in Notting Hill he has fully refurbished. “It’s not a big house,” he says, “but it has everything I need. My garden studio has to be my favourite part. I’m never happier than when I’m in that space… whether working, reading, sketching or watching TV. It contains most of my books on architecture and design as well as many architectural models of beautiful buildings from around the world. My studio goes some way to proving even the simplest and smallest of structures can be life-changing.”

For more on George & his work, visit

Time to love your home

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With most of us having enforced time at home, Olivia Davies from Mullie has some advice for how you can freshen up your home especially if you’re looking to sell

Are we all painting, decorating and doing DIY ?

Recent figures in paint sales suggest many of us thought a spot of DIY would be a constructive use of our time at home, but I’m personally finding the reality quite different!

With 3 children running round, always hungry, making a mess and needing attention, I don’t quite seem to have the free time I anticipated. I’m drawn to the garden as soon as the sun shines and if I’m honest, my motivation to polish a house nobody visits is somewhat dwindling! So as a result, I have a half-finished multicoloured utility room and a half painted staircase which is already peeling because I didn’t sand it properly – or so I’m told!

Yet being creative and embarking on realistic home improvement projects is not only a productive way to pass this time, it is good for our health and well-being and may even add value to our properties. Having to stay at home does present a rare and invaluable opportunity for those who are thinking about putting their properties on the market or for those who have property sales on hold.

This probably isn’t the right time to embark on large structural changes in your home. Sourcing materials and expertise isn’t going to be easy, and attempting anything dangerous could in turn put extra pressure on the NHS. We do urge you to take great care using tools and chemical and ladders. Above anything else, it is vital that we all stay home, stay safe and save lives.

However, we do believe we would all benefit from spending some time cleaning, clearing, decluttering and freshening things up! This is always good for the soul and for those thinking of selling their property, never underestimate the impact of that first impression when a prospective buyer walks through your front door!

If a buyer is greeted with fresh neutral tones combined with a feeling of space and light, they will want to see more of a home which suggest a positive and peaceful lifestyle. We don’t all have large hallways, but it’s amazing how the illusion of space can be created with the clever use of mirrors, clean lines and flooring that run through to connect the next space.

This doesn’t mean your property should be boring – quite the opposite – that wow factor and an element of surprise is always a winner, but it’s best to keep the crazy colours and textures to your soft furnishings. While buyers like to see personality and energy, they generally want to buy a well maintained blank canvass that they can easily make their own.

Freshly painted woodwork, neutral walls and well positioned furniture complimented by healthy house plants and splashes of colour from pictures and fabrics will combine to create a property that buyers will fall in love with.

And don’t forget to spend a bit doing small jobs at the bottom of the list- like fixing loose door handles, curtain poles or broken bathroom locks! If buyers see that small jobs are left undone, they may wonder what else has been overlooked.

We believe that minor improvements and clever styling of properties before they come to market can considerably increase value. Remember, you are selling a lifestyle as much as the building. You need to prepare your property so that it touches people emotionally by connecting with their hopes, dreams and aspirations.

Home schooling

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Youngsters at home? Don’t panic. Liz Nicholls gathers great educational ideas with the help of Lucy Spencer

When the government announced school was out for the foreseeable, my 11-year-old did a little victory dance. It was a bright moment amid a bleak week, but I was soon chastised when I mentioned this, cheerfully, to a family member who fumed ‘’That’s very irresponsible of you – how are you going to make sure she covers the curriculum?’’

Having been hothoused in an uncaring academic grammar school, I’ve yoyoed and am especially lax in my approach to fixed learning. So it was lovely to hear calming words from Lucy Spencer, a private tutor who lives in Sunninghill and works with Education Boutique.

“Home ed may seem daunting but the beauty is your children will have time to realise you don’t only learn English in English lessons but that all sorts of activities help children to develop and grow in confidence. Don’t put too much pressure on yourselves. Build a routine around your personal situation. You don’t have to emulate school at home.

“The government may be in the process of getting clear guidance about all of these changes but, as teachers, we thrive in situations where people need our help. The whole teaching and tutoring community are coming together and are ready to support every family. It looks like we’re entering a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure you include outdoor fresh air time and consider doing some physical exercise as a family first thing to get up and ready for the day!”

Lucy recommends aiming for an activity that can feed into learning for the whole day. Baking, for example: your child can start the day reading recipe books then select a recipe based on checking ingredients, weigh them out, possibly scale the recipe, time the cooking and can even create imaginary packaging and a menu or business plan for how they could sell their creations.

“I’ve been home educating the children of other for years, from my nextdoor neighbour to celebrities. I understand how daunting it may seem – everyone feels the same. Smile, be positive and create your own unique curriculum and style – it’s not all about worksheets.”

MORE RESOURCES:

Visit educationboutique.co.uk for ideas to support common themes children love, including Minecraft, Pokemon, Lego etc.

Visit scholastic.co.uk and bbc.co.uk/bitesize for lots of free learning resources for all ages

Carol Vorderman has live maths fun at 10am daily at themathsfactor.com and check out worldofdavidwalliams.com/elevenses for English fun at 11am.

History with Dan Snow is free for 30 days at tv.historyhit.com/signuppackage

For geography check out lovely Steve Backshall on Twitter & there’s tons of science fun with Professor Brian Cox, Robin Ince & guests at cosmicshambles.com

Worship Online

Round & About

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Holding Sunday services online is one of the ways churches in the Newbury area have had to adapt to not being able to meet physically.

In a surprising development however, churches can also report that online congregations have more than doubled.

Mark Landreth-Smith, pastor of Bridge Church Newbury in Love Lane, said: “We are still feeling our way, to be honest, with streaming services, but it has been a pleasant surprise to see so many people joining in – more than would normally attend on a Sunday.

“I guess some people feel more comfortable in the own home with a mug of coffee watching online. For others, this present crisis may cause them to ask the bigger questions of life: Is there a God…Where is He…What is He doing… Does He even care…?”

Mark is also doing a daily vlog to keep in touch with church members and others who are interested.

“ I was asked to do the vlog and again, am surprised how many people watch it and give feedback, although most of the feedback is about what I am wearing!”.

Churches in the area are still open for business in supporting residents, practical, emotional help and prayer.

Most churches are offering some kind of Sunday online or streaming service. Why not find out what is happening at a church online near you…?

For further information

Contact Christian Together in the Newbury Area

Take your seat…

Round & About

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If you’re missing the chance to enjoy live theatre while the current restrictions are in place, help is at hand courtesy of the National Theatre which has launched the National Theatre at Home.

To make it available to everyone it is releasing one title from its back catalogue each week on the National Theatre YouTube channel to keep audiences engaged and with the hope of attracting new fans.

The idea began at the start of April with the James Corden hit One Man, Two Guvnors, followed by Jane Eyre, Treasure Island and Twelfth Night. More are scheduled throughout May. Each production runs for a week only starting on Thursdays at 7pm.

The National Theatre at Home say: “We have worked hard to create an offer and this free streaming is strictly limited to 7 days per title and we have endeavoured to prioritise titles that have benefitted from theatrical success already.

“We see this as an opportunity to raise awareness about filmed live theatre with a wider audience, and will do what we can to welcome them into your venues upon reopening. And we hope this limited online offer might also support your National Theatre Live fans in these challenging times.”

Take this opportunity to enjoy the theatre from the comfort of your sofa and when we can get out and support live theatre again.

To enjoy these ‘at home’ performances