Downend Voice March 2024

Page 1

New MP promises 'different' politics

KINGSWOOD'S new MP has promised to show his new constituents that "politics can be different" after his by-election victory.

Labour's Damien Egan overturned a Conservative majority of more than 11,000 to win the seat, which includes Mangotsfield and parts of Downend.

He won the poll with a majority of 2,501 over

Tory candidate Sam Bromiley, defending the seat after Chris Skidmore resigned in January.

Mr Egan said his first priority would be to "get to work" quickly on issues that had come up on doorsteps during the campaign, including access to NHS dentists and doctors, crime and the cost of living.

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Gav's solo debut

A Downend singer whose band hit Bristol's music scene in the 1970s is releasing his first solo album – at the age of 71.


Post office hitch

Downend's post office has reopened after a revamp – with no Post Office counter service.


School praised

Inspectors have praised the values at the heart of a Downend infant school.


Driving ahead

The Voice has looked inside the hi-tech centre powering cars, lorries, ships and planes into the future.


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Hundreds of people crowded around the clock tower in Page Park to watch a traditional Chinese lion dance welcoming the Lunar New Year. Full
story: Page 9 Lion roars

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Post office 'will return'

POST Office counter services will be returned to Downend's high street "as soon as possible", the company says.

The McColls newsagent in Downend Road, which included a post office counter with security screens at the back of the shop, closed for refurbishment in January.

It reopened in February as a Morrisons Daily, as part of a reorganisation by the supermarket chain, which bought McColls out of administration in 2022.

But the old counter has been removed and the store currently has no Post Office services, despite having prominent logos on the new shopfront.

A hand-written sign was placed in the window saying: "No post office until further notice (Sorry)."

Resident Margaret Hanwell said she was writing to Morrisons to complain.

She said: "I was advised that when the post office re-starts it will just be the one cash register alongside main till.

"It doesn’t strike me that Morrisons are really interested in providing a post office service to the people of Downend.

"It seems almost inevitable that the service to local people will diminish, as the post office staff will have a smaller and less secure space to work in."

A Post Office spokesperson said: "Due to an unforeseen issue with cabling, the Post Office counter is not currently operational.

"We are working hard to restore the Post Office service as soon as possible.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused by the branch being closed longer than expected. In the interim, alternative branches include Mangotsfield and Staple Hill.”

A Morrisons spokesperson said: "We have looked into this with the team and the post office is temporarily closed and we hope to reopen soon."

Woman dies in M4 crash

POLICE are calling for drivers to come forward if they have dashcam footage of a crash on the M4 near Hambrook, which claimed a woman's life.

The woman, who was in her 60s, died in a collision involving five vehicles on the westbound carriageway, between the M32 junction and the M4 Almondsbury interchange.

It happened shortly before 1pm on February 10.

A police spokesperson said the woman died at the scene of the collision, adding: "Her next of kin has been informed and our thoughts are with them at this time."

The woman had not been named as the Voice went to print.

Police have called on any witnesses or motorists with footage that could help their investigation to call 101 and quote the incident reference number 5224 036 088.

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Labour wins by-election

From Page 1

Speaking to the Voice at the count after his election was confirmed, Mr Egan said: "The fact that there's no NHS dentists (taking on new patients) anywhere in Bristol is huge. People are also finding it really hard to get to a doctor."

The new MP also said people had also raised concerns about policing and feeling unsafe, and the cost of living.

He said: "The cost of living isn't just a slogan, this is people's lives, people telling me how they feel like they're not living but existing. People are working really hard, they're doing extra hours, life is very tough for people at the moment."

The Kingswood constituency is being abolished at the next general election, which has to take place in the next 10 months.

Mr Egan will be Labour's candidate for the new Bristol North East constituency, which includes Staple Hill and Mangotsfield, but voters in Downend and Emersons Green will all join Filton & Bradley Stoke, while areas such as Hanham will become part of North East Somerset & Hanham.

The new MP said he would not ignore constituents he might only be representing for a few months.

He said: "I think I've even got more responsibility for those people, making sure they've got a responsive MP representing and putting their voice in Parliament."

In his victory speech after the count, Mr Egan said: "Thank you for giving me your trust, and for allowing me to serve the community that I'm from. It's a trust that I promise to repay, to show you that politics can be different, and it can make a difference."

Tories lose seat held since 2010

The decision of Chris Skidmore, who had held Kingswood for the Conservatives for nearly 14 years, to force a by-election placed the area in the national


Damien Egan (Labour): 11,176

Sam Bromiley (Conservative): 8,675

Rupert Lowe (Reform UK): 2,578

Lorraine Francis (Green Party): 1,450

Andrew Brown (Lib Dem): 861

Nicholas Wood (UKIP): 129

Turnout 37.11 per cent

Tory to Labour swing 16.4 per cent

political spotlight and heaped more pressure on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

Mr Skidmore, a former energy minister and champion of the UK's commitment to net zero carbon emissions, quit over the government's Offshore Petroleum Licensing Bill, which would "cause future harm" through the promotion of new oil and gas production.

The Conservatives chose their group leader on South Gloucestershire Council, Sam Bromiley, to defend the seat.

His campaign focused on two main issues – opposition to the council's Local Plan proposals to allow new homes to be built on Green Belt land between Shortwood and Warmley, and the fact that Mr Egan, who grew up in Kingswood and Staple Hill, had been the directly-elected mayor of Lewisham in London before the by-election was called.

Cllr Bromiley left Thornbury Leisure Centre without giving interviews after the result was declared in the early hours of February 16.

He later issued a statement on

social media, which said: "Thank you to all those who voted Conservative in the Kingswood by-election.

"I have thoroughly enjoyed the last few weeks meeting residents and hearing about their concerns and ideas for our area.

"Looking forward to keeping the conversation going!"

Mr Sunak said the circumstances of the by-election and a second in Wellingborough, where the sitting MP had been unseated by a recall petition, were "particularly challenging".

Third place for Reform UK

Reform UK, the successor to the Brexit Party which did not field a candidate in Kingswood in 2019,

came third in an election the party had originally said it would not contest because of the cost to the taxpayer.

However it reversed that decision and selected as its candidate Rupert Lowe, a businessman, farmer and former city banker based in the Cotswolds.

Mr Lowe's 2,578 votes exceeded the size of Labour's majority and was the first time the party had achieved over 10% of a Westminster by-election vote.

He said afterwards that those who voted for him had "sent Westminster a message".

A spokesperson for South Gloucestershire Council said it had applied for £189,000 from the government to cover the total cost of running the by-election.

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Damien Egan speaks after the result is announced, watched by Sam Bromiley (Con), Nicholas Wood (Ukip), Rupert Lowe (Reform), Andrew Brown (Lib Dem) and Lorraine Francis (Green)

Total council tax bills rise by over £100

A TYPICAL council tax bill in the Downend area will rise by just over £100 in April.

When increases in the charges levied by South Gloucestershire Council, parish councils, the police and fire services are added up, a Band D homeowner living within the area covered by Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council is set to pay an extra £102.81 or 4.75% this year, with their total bill now £2,267.66.

South Gloucestershire Council was being recommended to agree a 4.99% increase – the maximum allowed without calling a referendum – at its meeting in late February, to take its charge to residents with homes in the average Band D tax bracket up by £86.39, from £1,727.98 to £1,814.37.

Councillors are also being recommended to bring in a series of charges, including for parking at council-run car parks, which will raise an estimated £1.5

million every year.

The rest of the increase in council tax bills comes from other public bodies.

Avon & Somerset's police and crime commissioner Mark Shelford is raising charges for a Band D tax payer by £13 (4.88%) from £266.20 to £279.20.

Avon Fire Authority is expected to raise its annual charge by £2.48 or 2.99% to £85.43 in Band D.

However the final amount paid by people living in different neighbourhoods varies according to the services provided buy their parish councils.

Town and parish councils are not subject to government restrictions on how much they can raise charges without calling a referendum.

The Band D charge levied by Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council has gone down by 37p, from £65.74 to £65.37, after the council froze its overall budget at £304,500.

However Emersons Green Town Council, which covers some areas of Mangotsfield and Downend, has almost doubled its budget, raising it by 91% from £306,000 to £584,600.

Its charge to a Band D taxpayer has risen by £39.73, to £83.72, meaning that overall bill for a Band D taxpayer in its area is £2,287.67, some 6.63% higher than last year.

Staple Hill & Mangotsfield Parish Council, which was founded last year with a precept set in advance by South Gloucestershire Council, has decided its own budget this year.

It has risen by 18.6%, from £106,800 to £126,616, with the precept rising by £4.95 from £26.68 to £31.63.

However, because the new parish council has taken over some responsibilities for local facilities from South Gloucestershire, it means another element of the bill for neighbourhood facilities, known

New charges and cuts to balance books

DRIVERS will pay an estimated £1.5 million every year in new parking fees to South Gloucestershire Council.

Despite two thirds of people responding to a consultation opposing the new charges, council bosses are pressing ahead with the unpopular plan anyway.

The parking fees will first be introduced to council-owned car parks across South Gloucestershire, before on-street parking fees are brought in too.

Council-owned car parks in the area include Page Road, Byron Place and Haynes Lane in Staple Hill, St James in Mangotsfield, Kingswood shopping centre and the Lyde Green Park and Ride.

Council leader Claire Young has said some parking spaces will stay free

The Liberal Democrat/Labour run council is hoping that the extra income means fewer cuts have to be made to essential public services.

However union Unison says cuts of £473,000 to libraries and £79,000 to the contact centre and One Stop Shops, by cutting opening hours, and £641,000 a year from trading arm Integra, mean "likely" job losses, cuts to working hours and opening times.

Plans to introduce a £10 fee for disabled drivers to apply for or renew a blue badge, to raise an extra £46,000 per year, could

as 'special expenses', has gone down by £1.73, while Downend's has gone up by £1.31.

The lowest overall Band D bill in the area is for residents of Frenchay, which is part of Winterbourne parish.

There the parish council has raised its precept by 15p, from £45.36 to £45.51 and the special expenses bill is up by 87p, with the overall band D bill £2,231.58.

The parish budget has risen by 3% from £189,050 to £194,750 but new homes in the area mean there are more taxpayers, spreading the cost of the increased spending among more people.

The biggest increase in South Gloucestershire is in Charlton Hayes, where the parish council has more than trebled its budget from £65,700 to £234,500, and the £88.39 precept rise, from £35.10 to £123.49, is more than the increase levied by South Gloucestershire Council.

“isolate an already isolated community”, disability group Equalities Voice has warned.

By Alex

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Band D council tax bills 2024/25 Downend & Bromley Heath: £304,500 £65.37 £23.29 £2,267.66 Staple Hill & Mangotsfield: £126,616 £31.63 £41.34 £2,251.97 Emersons Green: £584,600 £83.72 £24.95 £2,287.67 Winterbourne: £194,750 £45.51 £7.07 £2,231.58 Figures from South Gloucestershire Council Parish/ town council: Total council tax Parish budget Parish precept Special expenses
& Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporting Service Council leader Claire Young and co-leader Ian Boulton during a debate on cuts

Magical day for rugby mascots

THREE young Downend rugby fans had an experience of a lifetime when they stepped onto the Twickenham turf as England mascots.

Ella Sackett-Lloyd, Megan Race and Sam Race accompanied England players Alex Mitchell, Maro Itoje and Tommy Freeman respectively as the national side took to the field for the Six Nations clash with Wales on February 10.

They then sat close to the pitch as England came from behind to win the game 16-14.

Stanbridge Primary School Year 4 pupil Megan, aged eight, and Sam, 11, who is in Year 7 at Downend, were invited by the RFU Injured Players Foundation.

The England Rugby official charity has supported their dad, Mike, since he suffered a serious brain injury in January last year while playing for Mangotsfieldbased Cleve RFC.

Both Sam and Megan play for Cleve, Sam in the under-12s and Megan for the Under-9s.

Cleve RFC Minis & Junior

chairman Mark Hutton said:

"The IPF have been by Mike’s side throughout his recovery and rehabilitation, and without their support, Mike would not have made the recovery he has.

"He has been able to return to work and back onto the touchline, as a coach with the Under-9s at Cleve."

Seven-year-old Ella, who is in Year 3 at Stanbridge,

won the opportunity through a competition organised by sponsors O2, entered by her brother Trai.

Ella's mum Caroline Sackett said: "Ella has always loved rugby, both messing around in the park and as a spectator.

"She absolutely adored the game. The seats were right behind the subs' bench so they were right there in the thick of it.

"It was a total surprise when she got there to see Megan, who she knows from school, with her brother."

The mascots were given England kits and greeted the players off the team bus, as they headed to the changing rooms.

They were then allowed pitchside during the warm-up, when they got to spend time with some of the players.

Mark said: "The absolute highlight was walking out with the players onto the pitch.

"As the noise died down, they all took their place on the pitch to proudly sing the National Anthem and then a tense 80 minutes of rugby followed, as England eventually overcame their Welsh opponents.

"This was an incredible experience for the children and their families, one that will live long in the memory and keep beaming smiles on their faces for some time to come."

For more information about the Injured Players Foundation, visit

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Ella Sackett-Lloyd, Megan and Sam Race walk out with the England players. Picture: Louise Race

Old school will be 'handed to community'

FRENCHAY residents look set to win their campaign to secure the former primary school building for community use.

Frenchay & Downend ward South Gloucestershire councillors Liz Brennan and Ben Burton say the old school "will be handed to the local community" in the coming year, following a decision by the cabinet in February.

The council stopped short of officially confirming the move when approached by the Voice.

A spokesperson said: "We are exploring opportunities to work with the Frenchay community to provide a space/facilities for local people.

"Those discussions are ongoing and we will provide an update in the Spring."

However Cllr Brennan said the Grade II listed building next to Frenchay Common, which has been vacant since the school moved to its new premises in 2022, would become a combined nursery, community café and healthcare ‘drop in’ space.

She said: “This is largely the result of a brilliant campaign led by the Frenchay Residents Association, a group of volunteers who have shown just what can be achieved when local people work together for the greater good.

"This is a fantastic result for the local community and I would like to thank everybody who has helped to make it a reality."

Frenchay Residents Association chair Adrian Collins said: “We are absolutely delighted with this opportunity, which was first put together as a formal proposal back in the summer of 2020.

“Both Gordon Cole and Hugh Whatley on the FRA team have worked so hard on this project, and the community that will benefit from this owe them and Cllr Liz Brennan an awful lot."

“As grandparents with future generations in mind, we are delighted to have the support of SGC and so many officers."

Pavilion contractor appointed

DOWNEND & Bromley Heath Parish Council has appointed a contractor to build a new pavilion on King George V playing fields.

Councillors voted by a small margin to approve Avonmouth-based portable building supplier Wernick for the project over Yorkshire firm Derbybeech, which had been the previous preferred bidder, at a meeting in February.

The quoted price for the modular building agreed by councillors was £734,960.

Last year the total cost of the project, which will include landscaping, a car park upgrade and storage units for sports equipment, was estimated at up to £1.25 million in total.

Councillors rejected an alternative option to refurbish the existing dilapidated building.

Parish councillors Raj Sood, Janet Biggin and Phil Abbott voted for the Wernick bid, while Ben Burton, who has led the project as chair of the sports pitches working group, and Jacky Dockerty voted for the Derbybeech bid. Councillor Dave Somers abstained.

The council's finance and general purposes committee will now start discussions with the contractor on "any possible savings that can be made", ahead of a finalised specification being presented to the full council's next meeting, where "a programme of ‘next steps’ and timescales will also be finalised".

The new building will include changing facilities that meet Sport England requirements for accessibility and child safeguarding, plus meeting rooms, office space and a recreational area that could be used by the community.

The parish council first unveiled detailed plans for a new pavilion to replace the existing run-down building in late 2020. At the time the cost was estimated at £600,000 to £700,000.

A proposal to apply for a £400,000 loan to meet the rising costs of the project was backed by residents who responded to a two-month public consultation last year.

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Match remembers knife crime victims

A MATCH to remember two Bristol boys who lost their lives to knife crime has been held at Mangotsfield United's Cossham Street ground.

The match was hosted by the Bristol Showmen's Guild to raise money for the families of Mason Rist, 15, and Max Dixon, 16, who were stabbed to death in Knowle West in January.

It came as a prison chaplain who helps mentor young people urged anyone at risk of getting involved with knife crime to reach out and talk.

The football match, held on February 12 between a Showmen's Guild team and a select Knowle West side, was attended by Max and Mason's families.

The two boys' mothers led the teams onto the pitch for a balloon release before kick-off, with a banner saying: "Only cowards carry knives".

Organiser Stevie Rawlings said the match was part of a drive to raise up to £8,000 for the families to help pay funeral

costs, and had already raised more than £4,000.

He said: "It's the least the Showmen's Guild can do, to raise some money and help them."

A total of 14 people have been arrested in connection with the killing of Mason and Max on January 28. Five have been charged with murder – teenagers aged 14, 15, 16 and 17, and a 44-year-old man.

Another teenager, 16-year-old

Darrien Williams, was stabbed to death in Easton on February 14. Two boys aged 15 have been arrested in connection with his murder.

As the number of serious knife crime incidents soars, prison chaplain Larry Harvey is calling on young people thinking of carrying knives, and concerned families, to call him for a "different perspective".

Larry has worked as a prison

chaplain for 20 years – 10 at Bristol Prison and 10 at the former Ashfield Young Offender Institution in Pucklechurch.

He also works for a mentoring service for children and provides animal therapy sessions in Lyde Green.

Larry, of Coalpit Heath, said: "If you don't carry a knife you can't use it.

"Taking someone's life will cost you yours – 25 years, minimum, could be 35 depending on how you behave. There are no winners.

"Mates and girlfriends will disappear, meaning no visits or money being sent in.

"When you're finally released, if you are, you'll probably end up in a hostel or a bedsit at the very end of your life, on your own."

Larry has printed his message on cards and posters and is urging anyone who wants to talk to call him on 07825 321358. He is also looking for people to help distribute posters and cards to help spread the message.

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Players from the Bristol Showmen's Guild and Knowle West teams and the mothers of Max Dixon and Mason Rist release balloons to remember the two teenagers

Car park flats rejected

PLANS to build flats on a car park in Staple Hill have been rejected by South Gloucestershire Council.

The application was for six two-bedroom flats in a threestorey building on the private car park next to Top to Bottom in Fountain Square, facing onto Beaufort Road, with 'undercroft' parking for nine cars.

The plans, reported in February's Voice, involved demolishing part of the shop, which would have had deliveries made via its front door had the flats been built.

Staple Hill & Mangotsfield Parish Council objected to the plans as overdevelopment, with a lack of infrastructure to support more homes.

South Gloucestershire officers rejected them because they "would not provide any private or communal amenity space for future occupiers".

The developer has the right to appeal against the decision.

Dad's flats plan approved

A FATHER'S plans to build flats for his children on the site of garages in Mangotsfield have been approved, despite objections that they would overlook neighbours' homes.

Three garages behind a row of houses in St James Street will be knocked down and replaced with two one-bedroom flats under the plans submitted by Alan Britton.

Councillors on South Gloucestershire Council's development management committee heard from Staple Hill & Mangotsfield councillor and council co-leader Ian Boulton, who referred it to them for a decision on February 15.

He said: “Concerns were raised about the cramped site, overdevelopment, and nearby properties fear they will be overlooked. They feel that the parking is insufficient, and we would like some reassurance that this doesn’t contravene the council’s policy.”

Neighbour John Sutton said: “It’s ill conceived, it’s too big, it would overlook my property, and it’s totally the wrong site.

"There would be no space to park and it would create a lack of privacy. This area was once just back gardens.”

Mr Britton said it would be a “family development”.

He said: "All the parking spaces comply with the

guidelines set out, and in fact I would say they are slightly bigger than what is necessary.

"I’m not Wimpey or Bovis Homes, this is a family development so I can maybe get my children onto the property market. We’re not here to make money, it’s just something we’re hoping to do to benefit our children.

“The three garages are used at the moment by three different people. The actual traffic movement will be reduced, rather than increased.”

Members of the committee voted to grant permission by seven votes to two.

Hanham ward councillor June Bamford said: “I think it would be a great improvement. If the site is in such a mess with rats and goodness knows what, this can only be an improvement. You do expect a degree of overlooking, we are in a semi-urban area.”

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Lion dance pulls crowds to park

A BIG crowd welcomed in the Chinese New Year at a celebration in Page Park.

A display by Bristol University's Chinese Lion Dance Troupe was the highlight of the event to welcome the lunar Year of the Dragon on February 10, which also included a Malaysian dance show, musical performances, crafts and mochi rice cake making.

Hundreds of people gathered around the park's clock tower and the path from the Bean Tree Cafe, making the most of a rare dry day to come and see the lion dance.

Children reached out to touch the lion's fur as the two performers inside made it bow, rear and roar to a traditional rhythmic accompaniment.

The event was organised by Melody Beard from the Bean Tree Cafe and Hongkongers in Britain, an organisation supporting people who have moved from Hong Kong to settle into the UK, which provided 15 performers and helpers for the event.

Julian Chan, one of the co-founders of the organisation, said: "It's good to have a mix of both locals and Hongkongers here today.

"This is a really good opportunity to come together."

Hongkongers in Britain is a national project

supporting different groups around the country helping people from Hong Kong to settle and integrate.

Locally there are regular outreach sessions giving information and support on areas including physical and mental health.

The group also participates in social, cultural and festival celebrations.

Around 1,500 to 2,000 people from Hong Kong have moved to South Gloucestershire since the UK government offered anyone with British National (Overseas) status living in the former colony the right to settle here in 2021.

Friends of Page Park vice-chair Steph Purser said: "The lion dance was incredible and the kids loved it – so did the adults!

"Thank you so much Melody for all the organising and to the marshals Colin, Jane, Pat and Sheila for helping to keep everything moving for the performers."

Clean-up day

PEOPLE are being asked to come and help give Page Park a spring clean.

The Friends of Page Park are organising a morning clean-up event on April 13 from 9.30am1pm.

Anyone who is able to come and help clean up around the gates and railings will be welcome, particularly if they bring a sponge and bucket with them.

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The lion dance was a hit with children in Page Park
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Singer Gav, 71, makes debut solo album

A DOWNEND singer is about to release his first ever solo album –at the age of 71.

Gavin King is also touring with his band Private Dicks, who first hit Bristol's music scene in the late 1970s and split up in 1981, before reforming decades later.

Gav's solo album, Skeletons, turns tales from his life story into song.

Lead single Profiled, released on March 23, tells how he believes comic actor and Hollywood star Simon Pegg 'borrowed' some of that story for his character in comedy sci-fi horror movie The World's End: a middle-aged man called Gary King, who wouldn't let go of his youth.

Gav first sang in public as a choirboy 65 years ago, and has been in and out of bands since the age of 18.

Private Dicks – named after the American slang for a private detective – formed in 1979, appeared on renowned Bristol punk/New Wave compilation album Avon Calling, were played on Radio One and built up a live following.

They split not long after turning down a management contract from Mark Dean, who would go on to manage Wham!, after legal advice that it was the "worst contract ever".

Following the split Gavin continued to perform in bands but, after becoming a father in the late 80s, ended up in a full-time job managing a dental practice.

Private Dicks reformed in 2005 when Simon Edwards, whose company Heartbeat Records released Avon Calling, reissued the album on CD and asked Gav to "get the boys back together again" for the launch party.

Since then they have played in the UK and abroad. One of the musicians to gig with them, before and after the split, is Robbie Williams' long-time guitarist Neil Taylor, who also played on Tears for Fears' smash hit Everybody Wants to Rule the World.

Neil produced Skeletons, with Gav sending him recordings of vocals and music recorded at home in Downend and Neil working on them before the pair met up in the studio, working together on the album for six


Gav said: "People have been trying to get me to write a book. I've got a lot of stories but I write song lyrics, so I've written about certain things that have happened in my life.

"The album is called Skeletons because we've all got them."

Gav said Simon Pegg heard about him while shadowing a beat bobby in the village of Christian Malford in Wiltshire to research hit cop comedy Hot Fuzz.

PC Phil Jones told Pegg tales of Gav's antics during visits to village pub the Rising Sun –which is the name of the pub in the final scene of The World's End.

When the film came out in 2013, Gav received a message from a friend who had seen it and immediately thought of him.

He said: "Simon Pegg said (Gary King) is a sad, sad manchild who wants to put the band back together again – but he also said he was his favourite character and the one he'd most like to play again."

The Voice has approached Simon Pegg's spokesperson for a comment.

As well as Neil Taylor, Gav has worked with many other musicians who later found success: in the 70s he was in a band called Uncle Po with Dexy's Midnight Runners violinist Helen O'Hara, and a member of 80s band Distant Cousins, Charlie Jones, played with

Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and Goldfrapp.

Gav joked: "Everyone made it big but me!"

Simon Edwards, who is based in Fishponds, decided to

resurrect Heartbeat Records just to release Gav's solo album.

He said: "I first became aware of Gavin back in the mid-70's when he fronted Uncle Po – he came across as the perfect front man, full of energy, charismatic and with a great voice."

As well as Avon Calling, Heartbeat Records also released Private Dicks' single She Said Go.

When the band reformed, Simon would "make a point of catching their live shows whenever I could".

After Gavin asked him to listen to his new material, Simon said: "I was so impressed with what he had written, and the reasons behind the songs, I felt compelled to be a part of his plan to release an album."

Skeletons is released on March 29 and available to order from local record shops, online via the Bristol Archive Records website and sites including Amazon and Rough Trade.

Tracks will also be available for streaming on Apple and Spotify.

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A STUDY to test the potential for former coal mines to be used to heat homes has been given £1.6 million in funding.

Metro Mayor Dan Norris announced the study, backed by the government's Coal Authority and Historic England, to see if water warmed naturally deep underground in old mine workings by geological activity can be brought to the surface to provide viable domestic heat.

The process would involve using pumps to raise the temperature to the level required for heating and hot water.

In 2022 South Gloucestershire Council said it was investigating the potential use of former mine workings in the district, including mines

£1.6m for coal mines study

around Lyde Green, Emersons Green and south of Staple Hill, which had been identified as "areas of interest" by the Coal Authority.

Mr Norris, who comes from a mining family, backs the idea, and says there is the potential to heat more than 100,000 homes in the region, where almost a quarter sit above once-thriving coal mines flooded with water.

He said: "I love the idea that coal mines could be repurposed to provide the clean energy of the future – it’s coming full circle.

The study will map the mine areas which have the greatest

potential heat resource, leading to detailed ground investigation works.

Coal Authority head of heat Gareth Farr said: "The Coal Authority is committed to facilitating mine water heat networks across Great Britain.

"We hope that the industrial heritage of coal mining in the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority will also be able to support mine water heat networks in the future."

Mr Norris promoted the idea at a recent session of the Energy Security and Net Zero Select Committee’s “heating our

homes” inquiry in the House of Commons.

He told MPs: "There is a nice irony in it, because since the mining industry contributed so greatly to CO2 emissions, it would be lovely to get something positive about the climate emergency, which is a huge problem and one we can’t roll back on."

Mr Norris also backed the idea of using the Severn Estuary’s vast tidal power to help solve the energy crisis at the session in January.

Mining magnate's 200th birthday: Page 18

Boffins make hydrogen power breakthrough

ENGINEERS at a hi-tech research plant in Emersons Green have run an internal combustion engine on hydrogen for the first time.

IAAPS described the successful test as a "significant breakthrough", made using

"green hydrogen" produced at the centre on the Bristol & Bath Science Park, where an electrolyser splits water into hydrogen and oxygen. A spokesperson for the centre, which is owned by Bath University, said: "This

development marks a milestone in IAAPS' ongoing efforts to advance hydrogen technologies and plays a vital role in steering the wider transport industry towards sustainable propulsion systems."

IAAPS says the breakthrough is good news for future projects both at the facility and the broader industry.

It is already involved in a number of other "ambitious initiatives" that can benefit.

IAAPS principal engineer at and project lead Dr Karl Giles said it meant hydrogen was being used as a viable fuel source.

He said: "This result underscores IAAPS' dedication to pushing the boundaries of innovation in the automotive industry.

"The ability to burn hydrogen safely in an internal combustion engine not only demonstrates the technical feasibility, but also

brings us one step closer to a future where hydrogen-powered vehicles could play a crucial role in achieving sustainable transportation."

IAAPS engineering director Professor Rob Oliver said the project was important to the global effort towards net-zero emissions.

He said: "This successful outcome is testament to IAAPS' unwavering commitment to sustainable propulsion systems.

"As we continue to innovate, we are actively contributing to the global efforts to achieve netzero emissions.

"This breakthrough not only opens new doors for the transport industry but also reinforces our role as leaders in advancing technologies that will drive us towards a cleaner, greener future."

Inside IAAPS: Page 24

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The love letter box

A NEW postbox-topping crochet creation has been unveiled in Downend, days after a stolen one was found dumped.

Downend WI's knitting group unveiled the Valentine's Daythemed decoration, with wool and felt hearts and roses, to raise money for Children’s Hospice South West.

It has been fixed to the post box in the high street with a QR code linking to a JustGiving page where people can make donations.

The topper was designed by WI member Vanessa Martin, who also made the large red heart on top, while fellow members Carol Davies, Kathy Paramore and Suzzie Belcher made the banner, pink hearts and base respectively, and other WI members made the felt hearts, adding them at the WI's recent tenth birthday event.

Suzzie said: "It’s very apt that this topper is filled with love, especially for the children at the hospice.

"We are hoping that our Downend community will get behind this worthy cause, show their love, and help raise some well deserved funds for this charity."

The fundraising page can be found at

A week earlier a snowmanthemed topper which had been stolen from the postbox before Christmas was found by workers at Mangotsfield Cemetery, next to Downend School.

The topper had been made by the Knit and Natter group at high street shop Fabrics Plus, and was taken there by the workers on January 31.

Shop owner Robin Honeywill said: "Thank you to the local cemetery workers who found our stolen post box topper and returned it. Although grubby, it is in one piece."

The topper was given a cleanup and put on display in the shop window, along with a fundraising QR code for charity Raeyah’s Hands of Support.

The charity was set up by the family of Emersons Green girl Raeyah Evans-Rice, who was just four years old when she died in March last year, from a rare form of cancer.

It provides practical and financial support for families with children undergoing cancer treatment at Bristol Children's Hospital, especially those with

an autism diagnosis.

The knitters had created the display to raise money for Raeyah’s Hands of Support.

Raeyah's mum Becky Evans said: "We're really pleased it has been found and has been placed in the window for the public to enjoy, as they did before it was stolen."

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Vanessa Martin, Kathy Paramore, Carol Davies and Suzzie Belcher of Downend WI with the Valentine-themed postbox topper

Nursery increases security after child walks out

A STAPLE Hill day nursery has put changes in place after a young child was able to leave unaccompanied.

Managers at Hillsides Secret Garden nursery in Gladstone Street notified regulator Ofsted after the incident on February 5, in which a two-year-old boy left the nursery and was found by a member of the public in nearby Leicester Square.

A resident took him into his house and called the police.

Staff searching for him arrived soon afterwards.

A spokesperson for the nursery said: "Everyone at the nursery is devastated by the incident. No such event has ever occurred here before. The nursery has acted quickly to put changes in place to ensure it can never happen again.

"We thank the two members of the public who helped, especially the gentleman that allowed the child and three members of the team to wait in his house."

In a statement on its website Ofsted said: "The provider notified us that a child was able to leave the nursery for a short period of time before the child was safely returned.

"On February 7, we carried out a regulatory telephone call.

"We found the provider was not meeting some of the requirements and had taken action to put this right.

"The provider immediately installed an alarm on the front door and has had spring arms fitted to both front doors.

"The provider has had an additional gate installed on the path leading out of the nursery garden and has a new safety gate on the toddler room door that closes more easily.

"Risk assessments have been reviewed and shared with staff and a meeting has been planned to review the incident."

Hillsides Secret Garden opened in 2013 and was given a 'good' allround rating by inspectors after its last Ofsted inspection in 2022.

MP's Ukraine scrappage call

MP Jack Lopresti is calling for 4x4s and pickup trucks taken off the road under scrappage schemes to be sent to Ukraine.

The Filton and Bradley Stoke MP says vehicles such as older Mitsubishi L200, Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger cars which do not meet the requirements of schemes like London's ULEZ and Bristol's CAZ could be put to use as ambulances, weapons platforms, mobile drone control stations, command vehicles or general transports by forces resisting the Russian invasion, instead of being crushed.

Mr Lopresti, who has visited Ukraine five times in the past year, most recently at the beginning of February, is calling for either a national scheme to coordinate vehicles given up as part of scrappage programmes for residents or for councils to liaise directly with the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence to collect vehicles.

He recently met with Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove to discuss the proposals.

Mr Lopresti said: “The Ukrainian military is desperately short of 4x4s and pickup trucks for use on the front line.

"There are many local authorities with ULEZ-related scrappage schemes across the country. Last year, there were thousands of otherwise roadworthy vehicles scrapped which could have otherwise been put to good use on the frontline in Ukraine.

“The need is clearly desperate. Ukrainian forces have experienced recent successes in the Black Sea, but these vehicles are needed on the frontline. If you have a larger vehicle and are thinking about participating in a scrappage scheme, I urge you to seek out charities such as Car for Ukraine, which can use these vehicles to help those in need.”

MP writes: Page 32

14 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377 BRISTOL NORTH - 0117 373 8367 23 Badminton Road, Downend, Bristol BS16 6BB NEWS

Staple Hill remembers firefighter Fleur

STAPLE Hill residents joined with firefighters past and present to remember Fleur Lombard, who lost her life tackling a blaze at a Staple Hill supermarket.

Fleur was just 21 when she was killed at the Co-op Leo’s store in Broad Street, which had been set alight by an arsonist, on February 4 1996.

She died as a result of the intense heat when she was caught in a flashover, where all the exposed flammable material suddenly ignited inside the building.

Each year on the anniversary of her death a ceremony is held at 11am at the memorial which stands opposite the supermarket, which was rebuilt and is now occupied by Tesco.

Avon Fire & Rescue Service area manager Vaughan Jenkins read the Firefighter's Prayer and led a minute's silence in memory of the only female firefighter to die on duty in peacetime Britain.

He then read the citation for the Queen's Gallantry Medal awarded to Fleur and the George Medal awarded to her colleague Robert Seaman, for their actions in going in to the burning building, where it was feared workers or shoppers might be trapped.

Chief Fire Officer Simon Shilton, who was one of the firefighters called to the blaze that claimed Fleur's life, said: "The

local community still remember, along with representatives from the supermarket.

"It's fantastic that, more than 20 years on, the memory still lives on."

John Terry, who was the chief fire officer and in charge of the operation on the day of the blaze, represented Fleur's parents, who are now in their 80s and live in North Yorkshire.

He said: "I'm pleased to represent them,

and they think it's tremendous that the people of Staple Hill still remember.

"It's fantastic to see the number of people that turn up here still."

Terry and Fleur's father Roger run a bursary fund in her memory, to encourage firefighters to travel and learn about the work of other fire services in the UK, Europe and worldwide.

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n Chief Fire Officer Simon Shilton, retired CFO John Terry and Fire Brigades Union representatives prepare to lay wreaths at the memorial to Fleur Lombard in Staple Hill

Welcome back Billie-Jo!

Spring is in the air, and with it comes an exciting update from us at Turners Opticians. We're thrilled to announce the return of our muchloved Dispensing Optician, Billie-Jo, who is back from maternity leave. As a mother of two wonderful boys, Billie-Jo's caring nature has made her a favourite among our patients, both old and new.

Billie-Jo started her career as a trainee with us over 13 years ago and has become an immensely important part of our team. She has become a highly respected and much-indemand glasses dispensing and lens expert, so feel free to ask her any questions you may have next time you’re in the practice.

Welcome back Billie-Jo!

Computer Vision Syndrome


Alongside Billie-Jo's return, we're thrilled to introduce a game-changer in eye care – our computer glasses. Designed to shield your eyes when using digital screens, this nifty eyewear helps to protect your visual comfort and overall well-being.

So why might you need such a thing?

With the development of technology, a lot of us spend a substantial amount of time on digital devices. As convenient as these screens are, they can harm our eyes causing Computer Vision Syndrome (sometimes known as CVS or Digital Eye Strain). Many jobs now involve prolonged screen time on computers, but using e-readers and smartphones can contribute to these problems, too.

Extended screen time has given rise to CVS as people use both intermediate and near vision when focusing on these screens.

A study conducted by the National Library of Medicine suggests that 90% of us who use computers for more than three hours a day should be doing more to protect our eyes. When we consider how long we use screens over a 24-hour period for both work and leisure, this statistic is rather striking!

Some common symptoms of CVS include:

· Tension headaches and migraines

· Temporary blurred vision and difficulty focusing on distant objects

· Dry and irritated eyes from reduced blinking

· Neck and shoulder pain from poor posture when using digital devices

Helping You Care For Your Eyes

Our computer glasses are a must for anyone who regularly sits in front of a device or display screen. What sets our computer glasses apart is not just their cutting-edge lens design but also the use of our clear comfort material. This winning combination ensures that our patients experience unparalleled clarity and comfort while looking at their screens.

At Turners Opticians, our priority has always been the eye health of our patients. We use innovative technology to thoroughly assess your eyes and identify any vision problems you may have.

If you would like to find out more about our computer glasses, call our Henleaze team on 0117 962 2474 or Fishponds team on 0117 965 4434, or visit our website

16 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377 ADVERTISING FEATURE
Turner of Turners Opticians
Peter Turner is an Independent Prescribing Senior Optometrist at Turners Opticians in Bristol, who also works as a Senior Medical Optometrist at Bristol Eye Hospital. Peter has a specialist interest in visual development and visual performance.
962 2474
965 4434

YOUR Community NEWS

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Your chance to get involved and help address the climate and nature emergency

Following discussions with South Gloucestershire Council and fellow neighbouring Parish Councils, Downend and Bromley Heath Parish Council has decided to produce a Local Climate and Nature Action Plan (LCNAP) for the local community.

An LCNAP is all about helping the parish reduce its carbon emissions, prepare for the local impacts of a changing climate and restore nature. The work

to develop the Parish Council’s LCNAP is in its early stages and so to help guide its development and prioritise potential projects, the following draft aims have been agreed:

• To reduce our local carbon footprint

• To create more habitats and corridors for wildlife

• To facilitate collaborations with local stakeholders

• To increase our understanding of local species

• To increase community engagement and communication

• To work with the Parish Council to include environmental issues in the decisionmaking process

• To protect and enhance green spaces across the parish

The Parish Council is proposing to develop a 3-year action plan setting out a range of projects geared toward achieving the above aims. Critical to the success of the development, implementation and monitoring of the LCNAP will be the involvement of the local community and various volunteers, partners and stakeholders.

Next steps and how can I get involved

We have set up a working group, currently comprising Parish Councillors, which meets fortnightly and is charged with taking forward this work. The working group will report on progress at the Full Council meetings and the current aim is to have the Parish Council’s LCNAP in place by the spring of 2024.

We are very keen to hear from anyone who is interested in the LCNAP, in particular:

• Volunteers - those who wish to be actively involved in implementing projects

• Partners - those who wish to help shape and steer the development of the LCNAP

• Stakeholders - those who wish to be kept informed and offer support or advice

If you would like to be involved in the LCNAP, please contact the Parish Clerk via email:

Councillors Jacky Dockerty, Stephen Pick and Mike Richards (LCNAP Working Group)


As mentioned in our last Downend Voice article, the StreetSafe tool has been introduced as part of the Government’s response to tackling violence against women and girls. It identifies public spaces where you have felt or feel unsafe, because of issues such as anti-social behaviour (for example being verbally abused or followed) and environmental issues (for example lack of street lighting, abandoned buildings or vandalism).

Anyone who has concerns about a particular location is encouraged to provide information anonymously, via the StreetSafe tool online. To access this, please use the QR code or visit

No crime needs to have been committed for you to indicate where you feel or have felt unsafe. Reports submitted via StreetSafe provide insight that will help to inform the working priorities of police and community safety partners, making streets safer for everyone.

IMPORTANT: Please be aware that the StreetSafe tool should not be used to report crimes. To report an incident to the police, call 101 or go online:

In an emergency, where lives are in immediate danger or a crime is in progress, always call 999.


Following the deployment of SpeedVisors on Oakdale Road at the request of both the Parish Council and Bromley Heath Neighbourhood Watch, the results show an 85th percentile speed of 29mph for both directions in what is a 20mph zone. These findings have been shared with Avon & Somerset Police who may choose to investigate this and find out whether undertaking enforcement activities would be an appropriate measure to help influence road user behaviour. If you would like to comment on these results, or indeed any other speeding concerns around the area, please come along to a future meeting of the Parish Council. The upcoming meetings will take place on 15 February and 21 March, 7pm at Badminton Road Methodist Church.


Do you live in Downend or Bromley Heath or within a 3-mile radius? Are you willing to commit some of your spare time to helping others? If the answer is ‘Yes’, then why not apply to become a Parish Councillor?

For further information, please contact the Clerk to the Council, tel. 0117 9567001 or email




DOWNEND & BROMLEY HEATH PARISH COUNCILLORS Downend Ward Councillor Phillip Abbott 0117 957 0075 Councillor Janet Biggin 0117 957 6987 Councillor Ben Burton 07870 639 486 Councillor Jacky Dockerty 07963 841 270 Councillor James Griffiths 07988 775 028 Councillor Matt Pitts 07837 870 039 Councillor Mike Richards 07846 893 543 Councillor Raj Kumar Sood 07901 621 632 Staple Hill Ward Councillor Dave Somers Tel. 07831 239 195 Councillor Stephen Pick Tel. 07584 425 242
the Council
Clerk to
Angela Hocking
& Bromley Heath Parish Council Parish Office, Downend Library, Buckingham Gardens, Downend, Bristol BS16 5TW
0117 9567001 Email:


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Mangotsfield festival returns

THIS year's Mangotsfield Festival will take place on June 8, organisers have announced.

The festival will be held on the Pomphrey Hill North playing fields, off Johnson Road, where it moved last year on its return after four years away.

A traditional parade from Mangotsfield Common, the green outside the Lamb, will start at around 10.15am led by The Sambistas, who are returning after a successful debut at last year's parade.

An opening ceremony at 11am will be followed by live music and dance in the main arena, a dog show, kids' zone and stalls, including games, food and drink.

Mangotsfield Festival Planning Committee are appealing for volunteers to help run the event and asking visitors to make donations to ensure the festival can survive.

Ross Janes, from the committee, said: "I think we can all agree that last year's festival was a triumphant return

to form, and a great success for the community. We had plenty of positive feedback from those who attended and our aim is to ensure that a fun day is had by everyone.

"But we also want to ensure that the festival is financially viable for us to continue putting on a show year, after year. With the change in venue we have lost a major revenue stream, as we are no longer able to charge for entry; as with last year, we will be asking those attending to make a donation."

People attending are being advised there will be no on-site parking available.

The organisers ask anyone who would like to volunteer to email them at committee@

Anyone interested in setting up a stall at the festival should contact stalls@

You can can also find updates on Mangotsfield Village Festival Facebook page.

Celebrating Handel Cossham

A CONFERENCE is being held to mark the bi-centenary of the birth of Handel Cossham.

The industrialist, philanthropist, educationalist and politician, who left money to found Cossham Hospital following his death in 1890, owned collieries including Parkfield and Brandy Bottom.

The conference is being held in Thornbury, the town where Cossham was born in 1824, at Turnberrie's Community Centre in Bath Road on April 13 from 10am to 4.30pm.

Organised by Avon Local History & Archaeology and Bristol & Gloucestershire Archaeological Society, places can be booked online at, via Eventbrite or by writing to William Evans, 5 Parry’s Grove, Bristol BS9 1TT.
by the West of England Mayoral Combined Authority
NEWS 18 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377
The Sambistas, who led last year's festival parade, will be back

School's Lego logo

A DOWNEND infant school has created a giant version of its logo using thousands of pieces of Lego.

The project at Christ Church C of E Infant School was the idea of parent Luke Beadle, a member of Bristol Lego group GertLUG, who worked with the school's friends group to make sure every child had a chance to help make it.

Luke then organised a Lego brick show, with displays by local Lego 'engineers' and activities for families from

Christ Church and other schools.

The event raised £1,668 towards outdoor learning resources for the school.

Head teacher Anna Martin said: "We are so lucky to have Luke and the incredible groups of parents who work tirelessly for the Friends to raise money for our school.

"Time and time again they manage to find creative ways for the children and their families to have fun whilst raising money.

"Luke is so generous with his time and commitment to our school, and he loves seeing the progress that the children make over time with their Lego builds.

"We can’t wait to proudly display our huge Lego logo in the entrance of the school and for each child to be able to see how they contributed to a Lego legacy!"

Luke Beadle and children from Christ Church Infants with the school's new giant logo

Ofsted praise for 'caring community'

INSPECTORS have praised the values at the heart of Christ Church C of E Infant School in Downend.

A team from regulator Ofsted visited the school in Christchurch Avenue at the end of last year.

Their report said the school was 'good' overall, with 'outstanding' personal development of pupils.

The inspectors said: "The school’s values, which include friendship, courage and thankfulness, are at the heart of everything that happens.

"As a result, pupils are eager to share their learning and understand how to treat one another with respect.

"Parents are overwhelmingly positive. They feel that the school is a caring community where every pupil is valued as an individual."

The inspectors praised the teaching of maths and reading,

support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and help given to pupils who need it to catch up.

They said: "The school has high expectations for what all pupils can achieve.

"An ambitious curriculum has been designed well to include all pupils' needs."

The inspectors said pupils "enjoy their learning", persevering when they find things difficult, and praised the school's focus on ensuring attendance, with consistent management and support for families where it is an issue.

Highlighting children's "exemplary" personal development, the report said: "The school provides pupils with a wide range of opportunities which align closely to the school’s values.

"Pupils talk confidently about fundamental British values

such as democracy. They have a mature understanding of how people are different and why it is important to treat everyone equally.

"Pupils develop their character by raising money for charities or by creating planters in the local community.

"Pupils are very well prepared for life in modern Britain."

The report said staff "enjoy working at the school and work well together", praising work to prioritise their workload and well-being, and high-quality training which develops their subject knowledge and expertise.

To further improve, the inspectors recommended the school, which has 224 pupils aged from four to seven, ensure that checks on children's understanding were effective across all subjects, to find gaps in their knowledge and adapt future learning to fill them.

Head teacher Anna Martin said: "As a Church of England school, the vision and values of the school underpin everything that we do and I was delighted that this was seen by inspectors.

"The school works very hard to make sure that every child has a rich and varied experience at CCI, and as a result the staff really enjoy teaching the exciting curriculum and enrichment activities.

"Well-being for staff and pupils is a big priority for the school, so seeing this recognised in this way is excellent.

"We want children to fall in love with school, so that they leave us wanting to attend school and then work in later life.

"We hope that children feel that learning is enjoyable, exciting and rewarding, setting them up with a great mindset going forwards."

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Saddle up for hospice

CYCLISTS are being encouraged to sign up for the area's biggest charity bike ride, the Tour de Bristol.

The event in aid of St Peter’s Hospice, challenges riders to take on one of three different routes – 40km, 65km or 100km – across Bristol and South Gloucestershire, all starting at UWE’s Centre for Sport at the university's Frenchay campus on April 13.

Cyclists can also take on a virtual challenge by choosing a route and date to suit themselves.

People can join in by registering at www.tourdebristol.

St Peter’s Hospice fundraising manager Hayley Ali said: “It's the Hospice's largest event and an incredible day of fundraising, with cyclists of all ages and abilities coming together from across Bristol and beyond.

School head of drama Helen Garner said: "I was really impressed with how the students supported each other throughout the rehearsal and production period.

"Well-known numbers such as Revolting Children, When I Grow Up and Naughty wowed audiences, along with excellent comic performances.

MORE than 60 pupils from Mangotsfield School took part in a production of hit show Matilda the Musical.

Teachers 'double-cast' the lead roles to give more students the opportunity to perform in the show, which is based on Roald Dahl's classic story of a schoolgirl with magical powers who takes on a tyrannical headmistress.

The show was performed to parents as well as children from nearby primary schools, including Barley Close.

"The set design was an array of colourful letters, which would cleverly be moved by the cast to spell out words appropriate to different scenes.

"The first large-scale production since covid, this was a real team effort, with staff and students pulling together to get the show on the road –rehearsing, painting and building in the evenings and weekends.

"We hope this will now continue the tradition of regular and top-level drama productions at Mangotsfield School."

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Petition on Hambrook lights

A PETITION calling on South Gloucestershire Council to reinstate all options for drivers using the Hambrook traffic lights has gained more than 1,600 supporters.

Moorend resident Angeline Gay launched the petition, titled "Reinstate Traffic Lights at Hambrook Junction for Efficient Commuting", on the website in early February.

It calls for the council to allow drivers heading west on the A4174 to turn right towards Winterbourne and traffic heading north from Frenchay to be able to come straight across the junction.

Restrictions were first imposed in 2019 to cut nitrogen dioxide pollution to within legal levels.

Angie said the situation for the 200 households in Moorend and others further afield had got worse since the closure of the A432 Badminton Road bridge over the M4.

She said: "We have one way into Hambrook and one way out. This change not only adds unnecessary time and distance to our daily commute but also increases fuel consumption and contributes to air pollution. The response to the petition has been really good. The comments are mainly pointing to how much disruption this is causing the community."

A council spokesperson said for the petition to be considered, a report with signatories’ details would need to be submitted directly to the authority.

The spokesperson said: "For the time being restrictions to traffic movements at Hambrook lights must remain in place. This is because roadside nitrogen dioxide levels must be compliant for at least a year.

"Recent data has shown significant improvements in the emissions at this location. We are not able to remove the restrictions until we can evidence to the Department for Transport and Defra that the emission levels are low enough and are not likely to increase."

The petition can be found online at

M32 bus lanes to 'turbocharge' network

NEW bus lanes planned along the M32 would “turbocharge” the bus network and give South Gloucestershire services a critical boost, it has been claimed.

National Highways is planning £200 million of repairs to the Eastville flyover, which takes the motorway over the Muller road roundabout near Ikea, starting in two to three years' time.

Bristol City Council's cabinet member for transport, Don Alexander, says this will be the catalyst for reallocating more space to buses, with bus stops along the road planned too.

Cllr Alexander told a cabinet meeting in February: “For us as a region it’s very important that that £200 million isn’t spent just recreating what’s basically a 1960s piece of transport infrastructure, because there’s so many more possibilities for using that space and that amount of money.

"If we could reassign some of the space to buses that is currently given to cars, then the amount of patronage would turbocharge our bus network, not just here in Bristol, but in South Gloucestershire, too. We’ve done the calculations on that.

“It’s important for Bristol but it’s critical for South Gloucestershire, when many of their buses are requiring ongoing subsidy.

"As a region and as a unitary authority, we want that project to move at pace. We don’t want it to be kicked down the road. It’s a very challenging project, we recognise that, but the benefits of it potentially are absolutely enormous.”

The long-term plans include reclassifying the M32 as an A-road and building bus lanes along the whole length.

Another key part of the plan is building a new park and ride, near Junction 1 of the M32 at Hambrook, although no site has been found after at least 20 years of discussions.

21 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169 NEWS

High street grants

SOUTH Gloucestershire Council is launching a new grants scheme to bring vacant high street shops and businesses back into use.

The Vacant Commercial Property Grant Scheme, which opened at the end of January, is available to landlords with vacant commercial high street properties in eight areas, including Downend and Staple Hill.

Grant amounts range from £2,500 to £25,000, to fund extensions and improvements, fit-out costs and new equipment required by the business providing services, which has to provide "match funding" of 25%.

Money for the scheme is coming from the West of England Combined Authority through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Applications are being invited until the end of June.

For more information visit

Gloom as more residents say life in South Glos is getting worse

ALMOST half of survey respondents say South Gloucestershire became a worse place to live over the past two years.

Just three per cent of people said the district had become a better place to live, as new figures show a stark decline in satisfaction with local services and living standards.

Two thirds of people responding to a budget consultation from South Glos Council said they were satisfied with the local area, down from over three quarters two years ago, and 85% a decade ago.

More than 1,800 people responded to the consultation on the budget.

Liberal Democrat council leader Claire Young said the grim figures were due to a national trend that the public believe

the “world as a whole is going downhill”.

During a cabinet meeting on February 5, she was asked why residents’ satisfaction was declining.

Conservative Emersons Green ward councillor Rachael Hunt said: “A number of indicators show a downward trend compared with last year’s results, for example the council’s net satisfaction score is down by more than five percentage points on last year.

"The proportion of residents who say they are satisfied with how the council runs things is down almost 10 per cent on last year.”

The Liberal Democrats have been in power in South Gloucestershire since May last year, in a coalition with Labour.

They took over from the

Conservatives, who had run the council since 2007.

Figures in the consultation report show a steep decline in satisfaction since at least 2013.

Cllr Young said: “I think that reflects a national trend. I think there is a general public perception that the world as a whole is going downhill. I think this fits into that national trend.”

Asked why South Gloucestershire has become a worse place to live, survey respondents most often mentioned the “worsening condition of the roads”, followed by “too much housing without adequate infrastructure”.

Others mentioned changes to the high street in Thornbury, and a lack of maintenance of public areas and footpaths.

“My mother has been so incredibly well looked after. The nursing staff are so very kind, thoughtful and nothing is too much trouble. My mum feels safe and comfortable.”
Joanna, Daughter of Resident at Quarry House (source:
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DOWNEND Folk & Roots were due to welcome Hannah James & Toby Kuhn back in 2020, but youknowwhat got in the way. But the stars have finally aligned on the reschedule and the duo will headline the popular monthly concert on Friday 15 March.

Hannah and Toby met in Summer 2018 at Floating Castle festival in Slovenia and it was clear that these two musicians shared a common approach to music making and a real artistic chemistry. Award-winning folk musician, dancer and composer Hannah James is complemented perfectly by the virtuoso cello of Toby Kuhn.

Known for her work with Lady Maisery, Maddy Prior, Sam Sweeney, Seasick Steve and Songs of Separation, Hannah is one of the key figures in the modern UK folk scene. Rooted in the English Tradition but enriched by her collaborations all over Europe, her charismatic blend of accordion, vocal and clog dancing forged an instant artistic chemistry with impressive French cellist Toby Kuhn. Toby is a post-classical musician with a taste for

improvisation and folk music of all persuasions. Always on the lookout for new ways to play his instrument, his unorthodox approach has won admiration and acclaim from Japan to Canada, bringing the full potential of the cello with him on his journey across style and invention.

Together, their music is soulful, original and conversational. The combination of accordion and cello allows for a huge palette of sounds and textures which lift James’s pure voice and deeply honest songwriting. In the next breath they switch to choppy rhythms and joyful interplay between cello and percussive dance. This duo deliver a diverse, playful and hugely original performance. Their debut album Sleeping Spirals has garnered considerable acclaim.

Opening the evening will be Seb Stone, a traditional singer, whistle player and uilleann piper from the Peak District. In 2022 he won





FOR much of this evening you'd swear that a river bubbled and burbled through Downend. A river over which fresh water drifted and pulsed, coursed and spun. A river where birds swooped, creatures slithered and folk tales were told. A river over which the sun shone.

Both Kitty Macfarlane and Detta Kenzie are from the West Country and both use their glorious, pure voices to hymn our part of the world, the rivers, hills and animals that we all know. It was, somehow, fitting that all of nature's wonders were praised in a church, fitting that we were reminded of fresh spring bursts just as the year swings around.

Downend Folk & Roots celebrates ten years of showcasing beautiful music in 2024 and it seems only right and proper that Bristol based Kitty Macfarlane should help kick off this momentous year. She's been here, very nearly, from the beginning, playing support slots, headlining, sitting in the audience, lending love and light.

The West Country weaves through Macfarlane's songs, as vital and intrinsic as nature itself. She is absolutely masterful at setting a scene, of painting the landscap e that she clearly loves so much. Morgan's Pantry, taken from the Namer of Clouds album, is sublime. As minimal as a clear winter's day, it is just Macfarlane's voice and some muted electronics. The sounds of the sea twine, gently, with a vocal rope of gold, her voice is as strong and tender as the ocean itself. She says that it is an old song that should be sung

with caution, lest the sea spirits be summoned. By the end those spirits are crammed into every nook and cranny of this already packed space.

Bristol’s folklore is skilfully mined for Avona, a tale of the giants, Goram and Vincent, and the woman over whom they fight. Any Bristolian knows this story backwards yet, in Macfarlane’s hands, it becomes full of poetic love and yearning. It ebbs and flows like the tides, swelling and calming as the story unfolds. Should Bristol require a new folk song (that isn’t Goodnight Irene) then this one fits the bill.

As much as Macfarlane’s originals are captivating, it is the covers that show off her remarkable voice. The Snow it Melts the Soonest has the golden glow of an English field at sunrise. If The Detectorists is a televisual distillation of Englishness, so Macfarlane’s voice is the aural equivalent. She shows it again on the Anne Briggs song, Go Your Way, where her voice takes on a calmness that is utterly heartbreaking. On Tim Buckley's Song to The Siren, she strips the song back to a feather-like fragility, it is a rainbow cast in the mist of a waterfall. It is wonderful.

Macfarlane’s love of nature is no secret and there are two songs that show this better than any

both the Future of Folk and Shantyman of the Year Awards at Bromyard Folk Festival. Since then he has performed at a multitude of folk festivals in 2023, as well as at folk clubs across the country, appearing alongside Martin Carthy, Brian Peters and The Wilson Family. He is an active part of the sessions cicuit in Sheffield, as well as playing and singing at occasional sessions in Manchester and his native Peaks.

Tickets for the concert, which takes place at Christ Church Downend on Friday 15 March 2024, are available online at and from Melanie’s Kitchen in Downend (cash only). They are priced at £14 each in advance or £16 on the door. Doors open at 7.00pm and the entertainment starts around 7.45pm.

There will be a bar, stocking cider, soft drinks, wine, hot drinks and real ale from locally-based Hop Union Brewery. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own glass/mug/ tankard, as well as reusable bottles for water, as part of the drive to be more environmentally aware; there is a 50p discount for those that do. There will also be sweet treats available at the bar courtesy of the Radstock-based Great Cake Company, as well as a prize draw, which helps to fund the support artists for each concert.

For further information, please email, visit or find them on social media.

other. Glass Eel is all busy skies and racing oceans, it is the sound of ancient travels and massed migration. There’s rhythm and endless motion, a curious questing that makes the song glitter and shine. Sea Silk drifts in on a sampled voice, Italian, hardworking, honest. It is the story of silk weaving and feminine craft, of skills passed down through generations. An acoustic guitar carefully washes the words, the sun spun from salt water, a blinding dazzle seemingly produced from the air itself.

Detta Kenzie has the most extraordinary voice. Her control is staggering, whether executing the velvet-curtain swoosh of An English Selki or the swirling, spinning headrush of Surfer Boy, a pitch perfect poise ripples through her five-song set.

She starts with the folk standard He's Young but He's Growing. There are any number of versions of this but it is Cara Dillon's that springs immediately to mind. Kenzie shares with Dillon an ability to fully inhabit the song, to wring from it every last emotion.

From there Kenzie shows us that she's a very fine song writer too. An English Selki takes a wellworn tale and infuses it with European charm. There's the merest hint of chanson, a smokey, Gallic flavour that is as deep as it is delicious. Whistman's Wood, taken from a forthcoming EP, has a hint of Willow's Song from The Wicker Man to it. It is stuffed with images from the natural world and is as warm, comforting and familiar as a moss-y blanket. She is a singer of siren songs with a voice likely to lure the unsuspecting onto the rocks.

On a January night, when it's easy to get lost in the darkness, Detta Kenzie and Kitty Macfarlane were able to remind us that we will see the sunshine again soon.

Words: Gavin McNamara

Photos: Barry Savell

23 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169

Driving your car into the future

THE engines, motors and fuels of the future are being developed and tested at a new research centre at the Bristol & Bath Science Park. The Voice found out what's happening at IAAPS.

FROM the outside there's not much to see.

Aside from the sign spelling out its name, IAAPS is an anonymous-looking building, all grey panels and glass.

But what's going on inside could change the way the car you drive in ten years' time is powered, along with future generations of lorries, tractors, ships and even aircraft.

Engineers at the research and innovation centre in Emersons Green work with private companies and university researchers to turn new ideas and concepts into tested, working systems that can be made production-ready by a manufacturer.

On the day the Voice visited the £70 million facility, a new tractor engine was being put through its paces.

The hybrid diesel engine powertrain was sitting on a rig connected to a dynamometer, a piece of highly sensitive equipment that can record and analyse up to 5,000 channels of data from components, measuring variables including power, energy, torque, speed and temperature. It also replicates the voltage and current of a battery going into the powertrain.

Wires linked to controls and gauges that would be found on the dashboard of a working vehicle are spread across the testing cell, like a real-life exploded diagram.

Engineering director Professor Rob Oliver said the system on test started as a concept about three years ago, and is another three to four years from being ready to go into production in a vehicle.

Projects for the aerospace sector could be ten or more years from production.

Rob said: "We're an incubator, where one or two people with a good idea can get help to prove it is useful and can be put into


"The real core of what we do is measuring an awful lot of data very completely and repeatedly in controlled conditions."

Robot drivers can be placed at the controls and replicate different driving styles, from aggressive to laid-back, while engineers measure how they affect performance.

Emissions testing devices sample exhaust gases before they are safely removed using a system which also captures heat – up to 90% of power used in the building is recovered and used again.

In another of the centre's 18 testing 'cells' was a hydrogen-fuelled internal combustion engine big enough to power a truck; a third contained a smaller electric motor driven by hydrogen fuel cells.

All the hydrogen is made on site: 10kg per hour is produced by electrolysis, using electricity to separate water into hydrogen and oxygen.

As well as being used in testing, the hydrogen powers two of the centre's three heating boilers.

The oxygen is currently vented, as there is no economically viable way to recover it.

The centre has a 400KW solar panel array producing electricity to offset the "green mains supply" used to carry out electrolysis, as the panels can't provide a consistent current in all weathers.

IAAPS projects can benefit today's vehicles: when the Voice visited, a three-yearold Transit van was ready to test a new type of engine oil aimed at improving efficiency, fuel consumption and emissions in current diesel engines.

The ability to work across different alternative forms of propulsion – described by Rob as being "tech-agnostic" - means the centre embraces battery systems, fuel cells and alternative fuels such as methanol, as long as they bring transport closer to the goal of producing 'net zero' carbon dioxide emissions.

IAAPS, which held its official opening ceremony last September, is a wholly-owned

subsidiary company of Bath University.

As well as the testing cells it has workshops and machining rooms, meeting rooms and a large 'collaboration space' where people from its "partner organisations", from think tanks and start-ups to large corporate clients, can plug in laptops and work or discuss ideas.

IAAPS stands for Institute of Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems, but the centre no longer spells out the acronym, as its focus is now "beyond automotive".

Executive director Professor Chris Brace said: "The strength of this place is its open, collaborative nature.

"We can be the interface between a large and a small company to integrate new technology into vehicles and give them access to state-of-the-art facilities and people that can make it work.

"You can go from an idea to being on the verge of manufacturing, all under one roof."

At the moment around

40 people work at IAAPS but this is expected to reach 120 permanent employees within five years, with up to 120 more university researchers and partner companies on site at any time.

Off-site work on projects developed at IAAPS is expected to make the eventual number of jobs supported around 1,900.

Electric cars are increasingly common on our roads but current limitations on power and range mean that hydrogen is seen as more practical in areas such as road haulage.

Chris and Rob say it's difficult to predict where the crossover between the two will be and whether battery or hydrogen-engined cars will eventually dominate but, with IAAPS working in both areas, Chris says: "Either way, we're happy."

Rob says that, after 80 to 90 years of mainly focusing on making petrol and diesel engines more efficient, propulsion research and development has now opened to technologies that weren't around five years ago.

He says: "It's a really exciting time to be working in this field."

24 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377 NEWS
Professor Rob Oliver in a testing cell at IAAPS A car connected to a dynamometer in an IAAPS testing cell

School's drama of love across race divide

ACTORS at Downend School brought popular young adult novel Noughts & Crosses to the stage.

Malorie Blackman's tale of love across a racial divide featured students from Year 9 to Year 13 both acting and working behind the scenes for the production over tow nights in February.

Year 10 pupil Eloise Green shared the leading role of Sephy, a government minister's daughter in an alternative Britain and a cross who falls in love with a nought, as society tries to keep them apart.

Eloise said: "We have been rehearsing since October, and have put so much effort into making the show come alive.

"There was a whole team feeling, even across the age range, it was almost as if we became a family.

"The cross costumes were very brightly coloured, and they contrasted to the noughts’ costumes, which were very drab and monochrome. This was to show the differences between the rich crosses and the poor noughts.

"We learnt stage fighting and used freeze frames in some of the scenes. We also had an opportunity to learn some of the tech theatre, such as lights and sound.

"The two show nights were spectacular and there was some great feedback from the public."

Before the performances some of the Downend actors had a workshop with a professional theatre company called Frantic Assembly, after watching them on stage at the Bristol Old Vic.

Eloise said: "The workshop was very physical and we were all exhausted afterwards! However it was great to learn some of the techniques that they used on stage.

"It was very exciting to learn my part,

although challenging as there were a lot of lines to learn and there were some scenes that at the start I wasn't very comfortable performing.

"This experience has given me more confidence and has given me new friendships that I will treasure for life. Being in the play has made me fall in love with theatre all over again, after the musical theatre group that I was part of stopped in lockdown."

Robot programmers put skills to test

DOWNEND School's Lego Robotics Club put their programming skills to the test in a competition for South Gloucestershire schools.

Students in the club build and code robots to perform different tasks to complete challenges and entered two teams into the annual event, following months of preparation.

Chris Worden, the computing and IT Teacher who runs the Lego Robotics Club, said: "The day trip to the University of the West of England was enjoyed by all and was a great opportunity for

our students to learn new and alternative strategies that could be potentially used for our robots next year.

"The competition involves teams from various schools competing against one another to be crowned champions and move on to the national competition.

"Downend’s teams built and coded their robots to complete as many tasks on the game board within the time limit as possible.

"Both teams performed excellently against tough opposition and showed off great teamwork and determination."

25 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169 BOOK ONLINE OR CALL 0117 910 9079 • Local Audiologist • Hearing support • Ear Wax removal • Hearing tests • Free wax checks LOCATIONS ACROSS SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE NEWS
Downend School pupils' curtain call at the end of their production of Noughts & Crosses Members of one of the Downend School teams send a Lego robot into action

Easter egg trail

FAMILIES are being encouraged to scour Downend's shops over the school holidays to complete an Easter egg trail.

Children from Christ Church C of E Infant School are decorating eggs which will be displayed in shop windows around Downend's high street and Cleeve Wood from March 28 to April 15.

Last year around 30 different Downend businesses took part.

Frenchay & Downend ward councillor Liz Brennan, who is helping to organise the event, said: “The Easter egg hunt in Downend is always great fun for the whole family and something enjoyable to do with the kids during the school holidays, so get your hunting hats on and see what you can find.”

Maps and trail information will be available in Downend library and local shops, and there's a chance to win prizes.

Jay Grocott, of Kip McGrath education centre, which is taking part, said: "It’s a fun and free way to entertain the kids in the school holidays and the feedback from local traders last year was very positive. It encourages people to use their local shops, restaurants and cafes."

A Passion for life

WHAT is Easter all about? Is it more than just a bank holiday weekend and Easter eggs?

I wouldn’t be writing this if it wasn’t.

Many people know it as a time for exchanging Easter eggs, a tradition that some say harks back to pagan spring festivals, where these symbols of rebirth and fertility were given. It marked the start of spring and the end of harsh winter.

However, for Christians, Easter commemorates the crucifixion and then resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

It is often re-enacted with a ‘Passion Play’, one of the most famous of which is held every ten years in Oberammergau in Bavaria.

It has been performed there since 1634, when the villagers made a vow to stage it in gratitude for being spared from the bubonic plague.

The significance of Easter lies in its central message of redemption, hope and new life.

Redemption is the Christian belief that we can have a close relationship with God because Jesus Christ sacrificed his life, taking the burden of all the sins of mankind on his shoulders.

Hope is the belief that through God, we will understand the purpose and meaning of our lives, and live a life that follows the teachings of Jesus.

New life is the belief that, although our physical bodies will die, we will be resurrected and have eternal life because Jesus’ resurrection on Easter Sunday signified victory over death.

Christ Church Downend will stage a journey through Easter in words and music, with a choir, Bible readings and poetry, at a free twohour Easter concert on Easter Saturday, March 30.

The doors open at 7pm and there will be refreshments at the interval. We’d love to see you there.

Palm Sunday

24th March, 10.30 am

Maundy Thursday

28th March, 7 pm Communion service

Good Friday

29th March, 10 am Meditation service

Easter Sunday

31st March, 10.30 am Communion service

Bring a flower to decorate the cross


26 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377 NEWS CHURCH NEWS
Also pop in
Serving Fairtrade tea and coffee in aid of charities or church funds. We invite you to join us as we journey through Holy Week to Easter. Celebrating 150 years in Staple Hill 131 High Street, Staple Hill, Bristol, BS16 5HQ Image by Freepik
Every Saturday 10 am
12 pm

Salvation Army's birthday bash celebrates revamp

STAPLE Hill Salvation Army celebrated its 140th anniversary with a weekend of activities, which included the formal reopening of the refurbished Broad Street building.

The event over the weekend of February 10-11 included exhibitions, guided tours of the new flexible layout, activities, café and live music.

Major Colin Hylton-Jones, who with his wife Nicola runs the church and community centre, said: "It was important that we spent time with the local community and allowed them to come and see what was available right on their doorstep."

The refurbishment was made

possible by a generous donation from the Harry Crook Foundation, although the church congregation itself continues to raise funds towards the overall cost.

The work has made the building much more flexible, and the capacity of the main worship

hall has been increased with the addition of a 60-seater balcony.

Major Nicola Hylton-Jones said: "What we have done is futureproof our building, so that it is available and ready to serve the community of Staple Hill well into the future."

The Celebration weekend ended with the Staple Hill Salvation Army Band heading a march, which included many members of the congregation, from Page Park to the hall in Broad Street.

CHURCH NEWS 27 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169
The congregation at the Salvation Army 140th anniversary celebration

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March 2024 17 kingswoodvoice Got News? Contact us via email:

‘Keep In View’

THINKING about World

Thinking Day this year, I began to think back and think ahead. Many people in leadership or management positions, research institutes, religious organisations, and political parties are conversant with the abbreviation KIV. It is not an abbreviation for another version of the Bible. It simply stands for ‘Keep In View.’ But what does

‘Keep In View’ mean in real life?

At the turn of the year many people buy journals to keep track of their life and activities in the new year. They don’t want to miss out on any days connected to significant people, places, or events in their lives such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduation, first house, first foreign trip, and more.

Following the Julian calendar, we are in the second month of the year 2024. A calendar enables us to keep in view landmark events in our lives, in the lives of significant

people to us (friends, relatives, associates, neighbours, teachers, church and community leaders), in the life of our community and nation. A calendar helps individuals and organisations to strategise on what must be done, when it must be done, and by whom. The logic of such planning is that the availability of input resources and proper strategies will lead to optimal results. At the beginning of 2024, individuals, communities, and organisations resolved in family meetings, Annual General Meetings, board meetings, and review meetings on what they wanted to achieve in 2024. They make sure their goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic within the twelve months of the year 2024. By the end of December, evaluation meetings will be held to assess the level of achievement of stated goals. It may be difficult but not impossible to find individuals, communities, and

organisations that attain 100 per cent preferred achievement standard. What will not be achieved, as expedient as it is to the life of the individuals, communities, and organisations, will be subsumed under the rubric “KIV” which may become priorities for the next year.

Every day we hear about people and organisations celebrating their achievements –in sports, music, entertainment, arts, science, business, politics, travel, etc. These achievements didn’t happen overnight; most of them took a considerable long time of planning and investment to come to fruition. Last weekend we were thrilled with the music from the band of The Salvation Army celebrating 140 years of The Salvation Army in Staple Hill. This year, Staple Hill Methodist Church is celebrating 150 years of its presence in Staple Hill. It is a celebration of its intergenerational connections and impacts. It is also a way of expressing gratitude to the community that has been part of the journey of this place

as a community hub hosting different people and different activities, all for the good of humanity. Celebrations are the outcome of discipline, service, sacrifice, commitment. Lent has been viewed as a period of intentionally and voluntarily giving things up. This Lent, Christians are being encouraged to add on and celebrate more acts of kindness, especially at a time when wars are raging around the world, the cost of living is rising, and there is so much brokenness in the world. Just imagine if our goals for 2024 were to be kind to everyone and if we celebrated more acts of kindness every day. What a lovely place the world would be!

What would you say was your achievement in 2023?

What was the reason for that achievement? Some people may with hand on heart attribute the success to sticking to their stated goals. It could be. It could as well be far from it. Others did and flopped. There may be many intervening factors on the way to success or underachievement. What are your goals for 2024?

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Innovation is in our region’s DNA

AS your Metro Mayor, and as a West of England resident, I am incredibly proud of our great region’s history of science and innovation.

It is a history centuries in the making, to which Europe’s largest supercomputer, focused on AI, is yet another worldbeating recent addition.

There’s Brunel himself, that genius of engineering who ‘built the world’; Bathonian Caroline Herschel, the first woman to receive a salary as a scientist; Concorde, which was built and maintained in Filton; even the world’s first hollow chocolate Easter egg.

The West of England has always been, and continues to be, home to vital industries, iconic inventions and awesome achievements.

In short, innovation is in our region’s DNA. And it’s absolutely key in today’s world - to our physical health, to our region’s economic prospects, and to our

place nationally and globally.

I’ve always said the West of England has the potential to be an innovation engine.

The Mayoral Combined Authority I lead has the ambition to make that a reality.

That’s why, since I was elected Mayor, a key focus of my Mayoral Combined Authority has been building the West’s innovation credentials, and further putting our incredible region on the map as the place to innovate – to create the highquality jobs locals deserve.

I am proud of all we have achieved so far.

The West of England region is an innovation leader.

Our people and firms excel at innovation, while big investments are being made towards solving regional and global challenges alike.

We’ve become the nation’s 5G logistics test bed, seen via the incredible links between Avonmouth Docks and the

Gravity smart campus in Somerset - soon to be home to the biggest gigafactory in the whole country!

Or how about the fact we’ve built England’s largest wind turbine, that we’ve launched Space West - the second biggest space cluster in the UK - and we’re working hard to harness the power of the Severn Estuary to kickstart the age of tidal, right here in the West.

But with the world now in the foothills of the fourth industrial revolution, I want us to go even further.

Because I fully recognise there are some pretty big challenges we need to overcome to become the innovation engine I know we can be.

Some of the most beautiful places to live in our rural towns and villages are let down by poor access to the online world.

And right now, not everyone in our part of the world has

access to the digital skills they need which is vital for success today.

That’s why, through things like my soon-to-be-launched Innovation Prospectus, and other measures, the needs of West of England residents are at the heart of my innovation plans.

Our region is a powerhouse of scientific talent - and it’s time we realised our true potential.

My Mayoral Combined Authority will continue to provide the purpose, power, resources and leadership necessary to do just that.


TEL 07854 177308

Group - St Augustines Church Hall, Boscombe Crescent, Bristol, BS16 6QR


Group times - Tuesday 9:30 am and 11;00am

TEL 07854 177308

Group - The Salvation Army 21, Broad Street, Staple Hill Bristol. BS16 5LN

Group Times- Friday 7:30am, 9:00 am and 10:30 am

Lesley TEL 07503 524459

Group - Lyde Green Community Centre. Thistle Close, Lyde Green, Bristol. BS16 7GW

Group Times- Wednesday 6pm & 7:30pm. And Thursday 9:30am

Claire TEL 07886 443709

Group - ST Augustines Church Hall, Boscombe Crescent, Bristol, BS16 6QR

Group Times - Tuesday 5:30pm and 7:00pm

32 30 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377
Contact your local Slimming World Consultant and join a friendly and super-supportive group today! Contact your local Slimming World Consultant and join a friendly and super-supportive group today! Meet with one of our qualified estate planning consultants to discuss your needs. Protect your family's inheritance Single & joint Wills from £99.00 *Including VAT Call us today on 0117 952 0698 or email Home visits or online appointments are available. NEWS FROM THE METRO MAYOR

Award recognises our work behind the scenes

A FEW weeks ago I received an email from South Gloucestershire Council to say that Downend and Bromley Heath in Bloom had been nominated and selected to receive an award for the volunteering work we do for In Bloom.

Myself and three other In Bloom members went along to the Wise Campus in Filton to collect our award.

We were treated to a very nice buffet, and we then moved into the theatre where the awards were to be presented.

As well as the award ceremony, the college had laid on entertainment of two dance routines and two songs performed by students at the College.

The four teenagers were very accomplished in their craft, and we were very impressed by both the singing and the dancing.

A very enjoyable evening, and many thanks to South Glos for recognising the hard work that goes in to keep In Bloom functioning.

The other good news this month is that we now have a plan for our new bee garden.

We now know where the paths, trees, plants and the pond are going.

The first task undertaken was for Denis, one of our volunteers, and Pete who has a lot of knowledge of bees.

Pete is in the Friends of Leap Valley Group with Denis, and volunteered to advise us on bee-friendly planting – a big thank you to Pete.

Together they went to the nursery to look for the fruit trees to buy.

One of the trees we wanted was a Victoria Plum, but they were advised that there is a problem with these trees nationally, so were offered a suitable alternative.

They came back with eight trees – two eating apples, a Bramley apple, two plums, a pear and two cherries.

A couple of comments when I sent the plans out to the group were "Wow" and "Gosh, that looks busy".

Yes, I think they were right, it does look full of plants and trees for our pollinators, which is the aim of our garden. It does also mean, however, that we have a lot of digging and planting to do - a lot of work ahead!

The group has now set about digging holes large enough for them. In one of the holes they came across a stone as big as the Titanic (I think they were probably exaggerating a bit but it certainly is large so they are going to try to break it up to remove it)!

Find us on Facebook at downendandbromleyheathinbloom.

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n Downend in Bloom members pick up the group's South Gloucestershire Council community award

Getting to the bottom of bridge problems

I RECENTLY paid a visit to the bridge which connects Cuckoo Lane in Winterbourne Down with Emersons Green and Bromley Heath.

Sean and his team from Highways England outlined that they are working to a planned 2-3 year timescale – half the time to that of many comparable projects.

They have assured me that they are in constant communication with local authorities, businesses and local residents to try to minimise disruption.

I am working with my colleagues on South Gloucestershire Council in calling on the coalition to reconsider their recent plans and continue to provide car parking free of charge.

Our petition can be found at www.

Last month I visited the Willow surgery in Downend.

We discussed issues many have had, and they promised to follow up and respond to me on them. There have been teething troubles with a new system of booking appointments, which many patients in Downend have experienced difficulty to with. I made representations to the senior staff at the NHS Downend Health Group on behalf of patients and I was assured their views were taken onboard.

I attended the Bristol North Veterans’ monthly Breakfast Club at the Toby Carvery in Bradley Stoke. I was delighted to visit Cribbs FC with Pitching In. Grassroots football clubs like Cribbs rely on volunteers to put on match days – if you are interested in volunteering, I encourage you to check the Trident Leagues Volunteer Hub at

I am always extremely keen to promote job creation and apprenticeship opportunities locally.

Promoting apprenticeships in aerospace and defence manufacturing to expand

opportunities for young people; protecting jobs working with national government support for these vital industries; and continuing to press the government to increase defence spending are some of my priorities. To that end, I asked the Prime Minister about upscaling our industrial defence manufacturing capacity, putting it on a war footing so that we may continue assisting our friends in Ukraine and replenish our own stocks.

The Prime Minister responded: “Excellent point. In a word – Yes!”

Following a recent visit to Ukraine, I renewed my determination to strengthen ties between the United Kingdom and Ukraine.

There is huge scope for increased collaboration between our two countries in all sectors, especially defence manufacturing, as we continue to increase support to the Ukrainians in their efforts to eject the Russians from their land, rebuild and strengthen their defences as part of their future deterrent.

As always, should you need my help with anything, my office is open from Monday to Friday form 9am-6pm, no appointment necessary.

If you would like an appointment, please telephone 01454 617783 or email jack.lopresti.

n Jack Lopresti is shown one of the cracks on the Badminton Road bridge over the M4

Friends of Lincombe

Barn Park & Woods

NO doubt King Charles would be delighted with the planting of a great white cherry tree overlooking the wildflower meadow in Lincombe Barn Park, to commemorate his Coronation.

Pictured here are Elizabeth and Bronwyn, two active volunteers with the Friends of Lincombe Barn Park & Woods.

The Friends group have been encouraging children, youth and the young at heart to enjoy, engage with and enhance the wonder of the natural environment since 2007.

All are welcome to a free fun guided walk down to the river Frome as we enjoy the dawn chorus together on April 27 – meet at 5am by the play area.

If you like to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in, please join us between 10am and noon on Saturday March 23 for our Spring clean litter picking and woodland management session. Equipment and refreshments are provided, including Elizabeth’s legendary home-made cake!

For more information about free community events throughout the year, see the noticeboard at the entrance of the park, visit our website at or email us at

Kingswood Rotary Club

KINGSWOOD Rotarians have regularly supported Children’s Hospice South West at Christmas time with a collection at the Tesco Superstore in Brislington. Tesco customers have always been very generous and this time £500 was donated in just one day.

When Heidi Roberts, Area Fundraiser for CHSW, was presented with the cheque at Kingswood Rotary Club’s January meeting, she explained that £500 could pay for a forest school session for five bereaved families, which would give them time to remember loved ones and to support each other.

Kingswood Rotary Club, which includes members from Downend, Frenchay, Longwell Green, Cadbury Heath, Hanham and Almondsbury, is pleased to help such a worthwhile provision serving our area and the South West.

Kingswood Rotarians have also been pleased to support a project abroad with a focus on young people. Over the past five years the club has funded the rebuilding of two rural schools using a bequest from Roy Stone MBE.

The second of these schools was completed late last year, and the Rotary Club was happy to receive a letter of appreciation from the school.

Rotary Clubs work to serve the community and make a difference.

To find out more about how you could be part of what we do, contact Harvey Henson at

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Kingswood Rotary’s president presents a £500 cheque to Heidi Roberts, of Children’s Hospice South West.

Exciting opportunityBecome a

Community Caretaker

Join Emersons Green Town Council as a Community Caretaker, driving Streetcare projects, and helping to transform our Open Spaces.

Competitive salary scale: £26,873 to £28,770 p/a (pro-rata – 22hrs), plus Local Government Pension Scheme, and Free Parking.

Key Responsibilities:

Patrol public spaces, identify areas in need of maintenance, cleaning, or improvement. Resolve issues related to cleanliness, safety, and functionality. Perform routine maintenance and cleaning tasks to improve the appearance of community spaces.


Full training will be provided. However, relevant experience, DIY Skills, and a track record of commitment to the community will be an advantage.


Equality of Opportunity commitment.

Flexible working hours available.

Time off in lieu for evening meetings and weekend events.

Formal interviews: 28th March 2024.

Anticipated start date: 22nd April 2024.

Apply now! Call Mr Reg Williams on 07494 760535 for an informal discussion and to access the Recruitment Pack and application form.

Closing date for applications: 12 Noon, Tuesday 19th March 2024.

Join us in shaping a greener future for Emersons Green!

Hub's helping hand from Freemasons

STAPLE Hill Community Hub has received two donations from Gloucestershire Freemasons to support its work.

A donation of £250 from the Staple Hill Chapter Rose Croix is helping to provide emergency food parcels to local families who are struggling to afford basic items.

A second donation of £2,000, from the Gloucestershire Masonic Charity Action, will help the charity continue to offer its wide range of support for the local community.

The community organisation has seen a substantial increase in the demand for emergency food parcels over the last year.

The hub's services often fill a gap when there is an unexpected financial crisis, such as an unexpected bill.

Mason Sean Sullivan said: "Gloucestershire Freemasons are delighted to support the Staple Hill Community Hub, as it is such a fantastic resource for the area.

"They offer a welcome to everyone in the community, providing warmth, company, activities or when it’s needed support for life’s challenges."

Andrea Reid, from the Hub, said: “We support people who are in most need, specifically people with learning difficulties, mental health problems, the isolated elderly, the unemployed and anyone else who needs us.

"We offer a safe environment where people can meet, join in activities, make new friends, learn new skills and achieve a sense of belonging. We are very grateful to our local Freemasons for enabling us to carry on doing that.”

Food is normally provided through donations from local supermarkets, church groups, residents and grant applications.

The masons' donations will also help provide free use of the Hub’s kitchen for families and

individuals to prepare their meals.

The kitchen is fully equipped and available for people to reduce their own energy costs and develop new skills.

It is only one of the almost endless ways the Hub supports our local community.

Others include a lunch club, support for those seeking work including skills training and career support, a ‘Welcome Space’ for people in the community to come together, a music club, children's Christmas parties, exercise together sessions, coffee mornings, advice bureau, confidence-building and a gardening and nature club for children.

DOWNEND Folk & Roots have revealed the first in a new series of events which are designed to be family-friendly. The Carrivick Sisters will be the guests at the first Live at Lunchtime concert on Saturday 2 March.

These events are familyfriendly and under-18s go free (accompanied by a paying adult). There will be a very relaxed atmosphere, and if children make some noise, that's fine! There will be activity/colouring sheets for younger children and a break-out room at the back for anyone that needs it, where there will be toys and a bit of space, with the audio of the gig piped into the room.

The Carrivick Sisters are one of the UK's top bluegrass and folk acts. Twins Laura and Charlotte perform their original songs

and instrumentals along with a few carefully chosen covers on guitar, mandolin, fiddle, dobro, and clawhammer banjo. They are building a reputation for engaging live performances with tight vocal harmonies and multi-instrumental virtuosity. Having grown up in Devon, much of their original material is inspired by their local surroundings and history.

The concert itself is not specifically aimed at children, although is very family-friendly. These events are aimed at people who perhaps cannot make the usual Friday evening events, as

well as our regular audience. And season ticket holders for Spring/ Summer 2024 get this one for free!

The concert will be shorter than normal (just over  an hour with a short break halfway though) and there is no support. Doors open at midday and the music starts at 12.30pm. It will finish at around 1.45pm. The event takes place

Christ Church Downend, tickets are £10 per adult (plus booking fees) and are available from, or, as usual, from Melanie’s Kitchen in Downend (cash only).

Tea, coffee and soft drinks and cakes are available to purchase, with free squash for children. No alcoholic drinks.

35 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169
Live at Lunchtime- a new series of family-friendly concerts announced by Downend Folk & Roots COMMUNITY NEWS
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Bellamy Car pets •Home selection carpet and vinyl’s •Huge selection of carpets and vinyl chosen in the comfort of your own home •Free quotations without obligation to purchase •No pressure selling •Professional service established for over 30 years •All inclusive prices, no hidden extras, the price quoted is the price you pay Tel: 07860 441776 or 0117 2565994 LOW OVERHEADS = LOWER PRICES We will better any like all inclusive Steve Bellamy Car pets •Home selection carpet and vinyl’s •Huge selection of carpets and vinyl chosen in the comfort of your own home •Free quotations without obligation to purchase •No pressure selling •Professional service established for over 30 years •All inclusive prices, no hidden extras, the price quoted is the price you pay Tel: 07860 441776 or 0117 2565994 LOW OVERHEADS = LOWER PRICES We will better any like for like all inclusive quote
Nick Ellwood and Matthew Pick n Sean Sullivan hands over a cheque to Andrea Reid from the Hub

Signs of new life around the village

WE are entering into spring time: looking around the village you will see all the bulbs and plants coming to life.

At the memorial park, the Dame School and on Mangotsfield Common opposite the Lamb, where we planted 1,300 or so bulbs, there are signs of new life.

Our village does look lovely when in bloom, not forgetting our planters - if any one has any spare plants and would like to help, please let us know or indeed add to the planters yourselves.

Help us to keep our village as bright and colourful as possible - it does help raise people's spirits.

A big thank-you to our volunteers, who help to achieve this. We are looking for more people to join us.

As mentioned last month, we have plans in progress for this year - perhaps some more work at the Dame School and other things to

improve our area.

We are always open to suggestions, and at the moment we do have funding available to us.

Once our plans are in place, we will let you know the details here and via the Mangotsfield Matters Facebook page.

We had to change the date of February's ever-popular coffee and

cake morning at the Red Lion, but as from March it will revert back to being the first Wednesday of the month from 10am: always a lovely couple of hours with great people, and all are welcome.

Mangotsfield Scout Group is looking to recruit more leaders and helpers; the group now has vacancies for young people aged

from six to 18 to join.

For more information, please contact leader Simon Budd at

He would love to hear from you.

Quite recently several of our members and local councillors enjoyed a tour of the National Composites Centre at Emersons Green and found it very interesting: thank you to Michael Bell for organising this.

I conclude with a reminder to make sure all your property, including garages, sheds and cars, is locked and secure when not in use, as we have again suffered a few incidents.

Please be aware and keep an eye on other people's property, especially those who may be vulnerable.

Watch this space, as they say, for our future plans to improve our village, and have a good and safe Easter time.

If you want to get in touch with us, please email MangotsfieldRA@, use the Mangotsfield Matters Facebook page, or call either our secretary Chris Amos on 07918 701881 or me 07507 168700.

God bless.

n Councillors and members of the Mangotsfield Residents Association were given a guided tour of the National Composites Centre. Picture: Michael Bell


Gosh - I cannot believe where 2024 is going!

We are almost in spring and, if you are anything like me, will love to see the daffodils coming to life to show us the beauty of nature.

At our February meeting, one of our lovely members, Carol, was due to give us a sneaky peek into what goes on behind the scenes for makeup for the stage and screen, sharing some of her “tricks of the trade” used during her career working in the industry.

During 2024 we have nine more meetings already planned but as always, when things are beyond our control some of the items on the programme may be subject to change.

The next ones coming up are on self-care and the benefits of holistic therapy, with Tasha from Chakra Bella, on March 28, and a talk by ex-model and one of our founder committee members, Clare Barrington Chappell, on April 30.

We are also very pleased to hear local feedback on how we are cheering up the community with our toppers.

I hope you have seen the latest one, for Valentine's Day?

It is absolutely wonderful, and an amazing team effort from our members - thank you, ladies! Watch out for the next one coming in a couple of months – you won’t be disappointed.

We meet at Christ Church Hall in North Street, Downend, on the last Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm. Guests are welcome for £4, which includes tea or coffee.

It's a chance to meet new people and experience new things, so if you would like to know more about joining us, please contact us at

Shelley, President


BROMLEY Heath WI has now been in action for over 10 years, and this is the first time we have had a panto dame as a speaker – oh, yes, it is! (Let’s get that joke out of the way ASAP.)

By chance I arrived a little early to find at the front of the hall an ordinary-looking man in a black T-shirt and trousers, setting up a table arrayed with multi-coloured wigs, boots, make-up and other panto dame essentials!

Behind were hanging a selection of boldly-patterned dresses - very much panto couture.

Our speaker Tim Mayo opened with an overview of pantomime and the special place it enjoys in

British hearts and minds.

As Tim spoke, he praised, provoked and responded to different ladies simultaneously, in much the same way as he would on stage.

With his subtle ‘warm-up’ completed we were onto the 'fun stuff' – advice on how to act, dress, make-up and misbehave as a traditional pantomime dame.

It has been suggested that men cannot multi-task but Tim’s performance and transformation into his outlandish female persona clearly demonstrated that he can. Many of our ladies were howling with laughter - I’m thinking of referring them to 'rent an audience'!

We had a terrific time and are hoping our committee will consider a Christmas trip to the Bristol Hippodrome to enjoy Goldilocks and the Three Bears this year.

Our next meeting on March14 will be an Easter-themed craft evening.

Email us at bromleyheathwi@ for more information about the benefits of becoming a WI member.


OUR New Year started with a talk by Phil Nicholls, an ex-police officer, who recalled many stories, often humorous, from his long career as a Bristol bobby.

He was involved in numerous historical local crimes that many of us could recall.

Our February talk, by Jo Richardson, was On Board the International Space Station. The following talk is called Driving Safer for Longer.

We have a full calendar, with a variety of speakers.

If you would like to join us as a guest you are more than welcome.

We have a thriving walking group who meet up once a month for a local walk, usually ending with coffee and cake!

We also have a book club meeting up over Zoom, which is really popular.

We meet the third Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm at Christ Church Parish Hall, North Street, Downend. There is plenty of parking available.

For more information visit our website at

If you fancy a night out to listen to many interesting talks, accompanied by tea and cake, why not give us a try?


RODWAY Rubies WI members are

always willing to get involved with fundraising and supporting the local community.

Our crafters make hats for the Seafarers Mission, blankets and premature baby outfits for Southmead Hospital, as well as twiddle muffs for Southmead dementia care.

We regularly collect and give to the local food bank - all ongoing efforts.

Last year we also chose to fundraise for the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity. We had various activities, including a coffee morning in August inside the URC hall in Cossham Street, which was very successful.

By November we had raised £1,290 for the charity. We ended the year at our Christmas meeting with an American supper, auction and a raffle, with items kindly donated by local businesses.

Our two auctioneers made it a fun and entertaining evening and the generosity of members and their families helped raise a magnificent £1,355.

At our January meeting we proudly presented a cheque for £2,650 to Jenny Benson from the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.

In January we also had an excellent lunch at Saltford Golf Club, with a raffle and a couple of light-hearted quizzes to keep us amused.

February's events included a speaker coming to talk about the Bristol Hippodrome and its history, and a day trip to Colesbourne Gardens to see their snowdrops, with a stop in Cirencester for lunch or shopping.

As our membership has grown significantly over the last year or so, in April we will be moving from the United Reformed Church. We very much appreciate the warmth and support the church has given us over the last four years.

We are looking forward in 2024

and beyond to the continued development of our WI, with more space to explore the fun and friendship we have established since our inaugural meeting in 2020.


FEBRUARY is a very busy month for us.

Our speaker at our meeting was Jackie, who gave us a talk and presentation on helping us to make our skin and bodies beautiful.

She can help with the colour of our skin, enhancing how we look and feel and many other treatments that are available. The presentation was very interactive, with individual and group conversations to discuss options.

When she got home she sent a lovely message saying how she enjoyed the evening.

As usual we will be meeting at the Lamb in Mangotsfield for our pub lunch and also have a curry night at the Cinnamon Tree in Burley Grove.

We have organised a 50s evening of rock'n'roll, jump jive and swing with Cadillac Xpress. Their band leader, Jeremy Huggett, is also president of Bristol Jazz Society.

The event will be held in our meeting place on June 8: doors open at 7pm, music starts at 7.30pm, finishing at 10.30pm. Tickets cost £16.

There is plenty of room for dancing and it is a BYO evening with a raffle.

For more information contact

We are also supporting Bristol Jazz Society’s boat trip on July 30. The society supports young musicians and local jazz clubs.

37 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169
n Rodway Rubies WI members hand over their donation to the Great Western Air Ambulance Charity.

March 1

n WORLD DAY OF PRAYER SERVICE AT FRENCHAY PARISH CHURCH, 10am, written by the Christian women of Palestine. For more details email Rev Judith Lee on or telephone 01454 772381.

March 2


Connect and celebrate with women and communities across Bristol, Saturday 2 March 2024, Bristol City Hall, 10am –5pm. Over 50 workshops, all welcome, free transport, creche, interpreting and accessibility support available. For more information go to:www. or email info@bristolwomensvoice.

March 7

n SPEAKER/COFFEE MORNING AT LINCOMBE BARN, Overndale Road, Downend. Talk from Grow Wilder, Avon Wildlife Trust's Frenchay site. Doors open 10.15am for coffee or tea and biscuits, talk 10.45-11.45am. £3 entry.

March 9

n AVON HARMONY A CAPPELLA one-day workshop for women: learn a song in a day. Glenfrome Primary School, 10am to 4pm. Cost £15 for the day. More details and booking information at www.

March 16

n THE DOWNEND AND KINGSWOOD BRANCH OF THE RNLI are holding a coffee morning on Saturday 16th March at Staple Hill methodist Church. Cakes, Bric a brac and souvenirs. Everyone welcome.

March 16

n BRISTOL CHORAL SOCIETY performs Verdi’s Requiem with large choir and orchestra, Bristol

Beacon, 7.30pm. Tickets from Under25s £5, over-25s £15-£25

March 18

n DOWNEND SENIOR FILM CLUB at 2pm - Greenfingers (15) A prison inmate discovers he has a horticultural talent and goes onto compete in a national gardening competition. Starring Helen Mirren and Clive Owen. Tickets: £4.00 including refreshments. Carers welcome, easy access. For more information please call 0117 435 0063/4. Christ Church Hall, 57 North Street, Downend BS16 5SG

March 23

n FRIENDS OF LINCOMBE BARN WOODS litter pick and spring work day. Arrive any time between 10am and noon. Refreshments provided for all volunteers. Meet in the car park off Rockland Road.

March 24

n FRENCHAY CRICKET CLUB TASTER SESSION for Under-9 girls' team, Downend Sports Centre (indoors) at Downend School, 2.30-3.30pm. For further details or to book a place email

March 29

n MESSY EASTER - event for primary school-aged children and their families, Christ Church Downend, 10-11.30am. Activities, messy crafts, games, refreshments and exploring what Easter is all about. Free event (donations welcome).

March 30


CONCERT, Christ Church Downend, 7pm. A journey through Easter in words and music. Free concert with refreshments in the interval.

April 27

n FRIENDS OF LINCOMBE BARN WOODS dawn chorus guided walk down to the river Frome, with wildlife talk. Meet in the car park off Rockland Rd at 5am.


n BRISTOL U3A: Have you reached a point in your life where you have fewer responsibilities and more time for yourself? Would you like to take part in activities where you can share skills, abilities or hobbies whilst having fun and making new friends? Go to www. for details.


n MEDITATION SESSIONS IN FRENCHAY Just come along to the sessions that run from 3rd Monday each month at 7pm Frenchay Unitarian Chapel BS16 1ND from 20Sept for the Personcentred Group Meditation and 1st Wednesday at 7pm from 6th Oct for the Kundalini movement meditation. Contact Andrea on 07791119658

n SINGALONG 4 ALL - Mondays 10.30/11.30, Grace court, Dial Lane, Downend BS16 5UP. £4 ...£1 tea n bikkies Tel: Barbara 07816839141.

n SOCIAL BADMINTON every Monday at Kingswood Leisure Centre from 2-4pm. Intermediate level, all welcome.

n STAPLE HILL JOB SEEKER SUPPORT GROUP, Staple Hill Community Hub, Berkeley House, Berkeley Road, every Monday, 2-4pm. Laptops and Wi-Fi available for job searches, free tea and coffee, welcoming environment. Call Julie 01454 868374 to say you are coming.

n PUCKLECHURCH SHORT MAT BOWLS CLUB are looking for new players. We meet every Monday evenings and Sunday & Wednesday afternoons at Pucklechurch Community Centre. Refreshments available. For more information contact John 0117 9372873.

n SILK PAINTING at Downend Baptist Church. Come along to an enjoyable afternoon, every alternate Monday 2pm-4pm. Make cards, tuition given, tea and biscuits provided, cost includes all materials. One large card £2 or 3 for £5, small cards £1 each. Please contact 0117 9608935 for more details.

n COFFEE MORNING at Percy Walker Court, Lincombe Road, Downend, every Monday, 10.30am12.20pm. All welcome.

n LUNCH CLUB AT STAPLE HILL COMMUNITY HUB, Berkeley House, Berkeley Road, every Monday, 12.15pm. More details from the hub on 01454 868374.


n DOWNEND GARDENING IN RETIREMENT CLUB Third Tuesday of every month at 10.15am Varied Topics Non Members welcome at £3 including Tea / Coffee. Assembly Hall, Salisbury Road. Downend. Easily reached by any bus into


n BOARD GAMES NIGHT every Tuesday from 7pm. All Welcome

The Wooden Walls Micropub, 30 Broad Street, Staple Hill, BS16 5NU


CLUB meets every second, fourth and fifth Tuesday of the month at Lincombe Barn, Overndale Road. New members always welcome. For information see website at www. or email


GARDENING CLUB Meets at Christ Church Centre, Quakers Road, every third Tuesday of the month at 2.30pm. Talks, day trips and short holidays - everyone welcome. Call May on 0117 957 3695 for details.


DANCING CLUB Pucklechurch Community Hall.Abson Road every other Tuesday from 7.30 to 10.15p.m All welcome either with a partner or solo. Enjoy an evening with us. Call Sue on 07742114566 or Linda on 07843240414.

n MESSY SPACE, Badminton Road Methodist Church Downend. Term-time group for toddlers and their carers, 10-11.45am. Toys, books, play dough, paint & craft, singing and refreshments. First visit free, then £3 per child or £5 per family. More information at www. or 0117 956 1106.

n FRIENDSHIP & EXERCISE GROUP, Salvation Army, Broad Street, Staple Hill, every Tuesday 10-11.30am.

n MOVE-IT CLUB for children aged 7-11, Staple Hill Community Hub, Berkeley House, Berkeley Road, every Tuesday 3.30pm. More details from hub on 01454 868374.

n TEA AND TOAST after school drop-in for primary aged children and families, Christ Church Parish Hall, North Street, Downend, term-time Tuesdays, 3.15-4.30pm. All welcome for tea, squash, toast, board games, colouring and play in a friendly atmosphere.

n DOWNEND WI meets at Christ Church Hall, North Street, Downend on the last Tuesday of each month at 7.30pm. For details email


Tuesdays 7.30-8.30pm, Downend Folk House, £7 - please contact Georgina Green on 07845 748568

n RIDGEWAY BADMINTON CLUB meets every Tuesday evening from 8-10pm at Downend Sports Centre

WHAT'S ON LOCALLY 38 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377

for informal badminton doubles/ singles matches between adults of all ages. First visit free. For more information contact Graham on 07968 050 320



ARRANGING CLUB We are a friendly group, we meet at 7.30pm on 1st & 3rd Wednesday each month from September to June at Lincombe Barn, Overndale Road, BS16 2RW. Ring Genise on 0777 2451217 for more information.

n DOWNEND BRIDGE CLUBNEW MEMBERS ARE WANTED Come and join us and play duplicate Bridge at Lincombe Barn Downend on Wednesday afternoons 2pm. All levels welcome. Please contact eveforbes77@gmail. com or 0117 9836886 or Yvonne Scoulding rscoulding@googlemail. com or 0117 9568944

n CLEEVESINGERS OF DOWNEND Enjoy singing, then come and join this four part choir who meet on Wednesday evenings at Lincombe Barn, Overndale Road 7.30 p.m. from September until July. For more information contact the Secretary on 0117 9561881.

n DOWNEND SENIOR CITIZENS CLUB Musical entertainment from 2-4pm every 2nd and 4th Wednesday of the month at North Street Church Hall. All are welcome.


WOMEN'S SECTION meets once a month on the first Wednesday from 1pm to 3pm. New members welcome - come and spend an afternoon with us before you join. We meet at the Youth Building by the long stay car park and Page Hall. Telephone 0117 956 0805.

n DOWNEND TANG SOO DO meets at Christchurch Parish Hall, North Street on Wednesday evenings from 7.30-9pm. Suitable for beginners and ages 10+. First class free. More details from Ian on 07817 744689 or at the Downend Tang Soo Do Facebook page.

n FRENCHAY PROBUS CLUB We meet at Frenchay Village Hall on the first Wednesday of each month between 10.00 and 12.00 hrs. For further details contact:

n WARMLEY JAZZ CLUB, Every Wednesday except first one of the month, 7.30pm, Cadbury Heath Social Club, £7 on the door. More details at

n BRISTOL SCRABBLE CLUB meets every Wednesday evening at 7pm until 10pm at Filton Community Centre, Elm Park, Filton BS34 7PS. New members welcomefirst visit free so come along and give us a try. Information: Tania by email at

n CROSS STITCH Like to learn this absorbing relaxing hobby and have fun at the same time? Why not join the Club at Lincombe Barn. Beginners and those with all abilities welcome. New term commences beginning of September on Wednesday mornings 10.00 am until noon. Contact Lincombe Barn 9562367.


DANCE CLUB meet fortnightly at Frenchay Village Hall from 7:45 until 10:15pm. All standards of dancer are welcome to enjoy live Bands and experienced Callers. Visit or call 0117 3021543 for more information.

n FRIENDLY VOICES dementiafriendly singing group, Mangotsfield & Castle Green URC, Cossham Street, second and fourth Wednesdays of each month, 10.30am to noon. No charge, carers welcome. Sessions led by music therapist. More details from June Watts on 0117 956 6625.

n WEDNESDAY CAFE FOR SENIORS, at Badminton Road Methodist Church (BS16 6NU) every Wednesday 10am to 12 noon. All Welcome – just come along – make new friends over a cuppa and cake. Information: 0117 239 5984


ARRANGING CLUB We are a friendly group, we meet at 7.30pm on 1st & 3rd Wednesday each month from September to June at Lincolne Barn, Overndale Road, BS16 2RW. Ring Genise on 0777 2451217 for more information.


CHURCH Fellowship group 3rd Wednesday of the month, 2.153.45pm Coffee/tea, homemade cake and a chat!


every 1st and 3rd Wednesday afternoon at the Assembly Hall, Salisbury Road, Downend, 2.30pm4pm. If you would like to belong to a warm, friendly group we would love to see you. Contact Ruth on 07733413823 for more details


Friendly and free coffee afternoon on the 2nd Wednesday of the month, 2-3.30pm at The Grapevine Brasserie, St James Place, Mangotsfield, BS16 9JB. For more details call 0117 435 0063

n MOTHERS UNION - worship, friendship, supporting charities, refreshments: First Wednesday of the month, 2.15pm at Christ Church Parish Hall, North Street. Non-members welcome. More details from 0117 908 9867.

n FRENCHAY & HAMBROOK HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY meets at Friends Meeting House, Frenchay, 7.30pm first Wednesday of the month from September to

March. Talks on garden-related topics, meet other gardeners, trips in April & May. Phone 0117 967 2390 for more information.

n COFFEE MORNING, Staple Hill Community Hub, Berkeley House, Berkeley Road, every Wednesday 10.30am. More details from the hub on 01454 868374.

n KEEP FIT, God's House International Centre, The Sanctuary, 55 High Street, Staple Hill, every Wednesday 10-11am, followed by cup of tea and a chat. For adults 50+. More information from Lin on 0770 707 6281 or email


n BARN BELLS handbell ringers meet at Lincombe Barn, Downend, from 2-4pm weekly. Anyone who can read music is welcome to join.

n IGNITE YOUTH GROUP. Thursdays, term time only, at the Youth Hub & Parish Hall , 57 North Street, Downend. Year 6-8, 6.307.45pm. Year 9-11s, 8-9.15pm. A place to relax and have fun with friends. Free entry. Tuck available. Visit to sign up and see the full programme.

n DEWDROP INN CAFE, Resound church, Blackhorse

Road, Mangotsfield. Every fourth Thursday of the month, 2-4pm. A place for the community to relax and unwind with old & new friends. Tea, coffee, cakes and biscuits £2.

n MANGOTSFIELD AND CASTLE GREEN UNITED REFORMED CHURCH regular coffee mornings, held on the first Thursday of the month, 10.30am-noon

n SCRABBLE Downend Folk House Thursdays 10-12noon Info: 0117 9562367 Maureen Walker.

n WARM SPACE CAFE at Christ Church, Downend, free every Thursday 11-2pm. Soup and roll lunch from noon. Live music, including Music Train on 2nd and 4th Thursdays. Dementia-friendly cafe on 3rd Thursday of the month, 11am-1.30pm.


CLUB meets on the 1st and 3rd Thursday of each month, 10am-noon at Whiteshill Chapel, Hambrook, with a speaker at each meeting. Friendly group, new members welcome. For details call the secretary on 01454 778250.

n SOCIAL WALKING GROUP meets on the 2nd and 4th Thursday of the month, Badminton Road Downend. For more details contact Janet Pearce on 0799 058 4008.

39 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169 WHAT'S ON LOCALLY Parkway automobile engineering Parnall Road • Fishponds • Bristol • BS16 3JQ 0117 965 6164 Mercedes-Benz specialist with over 35 years experience • Full diagnostic equipment • Factory trained technicians • Collection/delivery service • Courtesy car on request • MOT’s • Servicing • Gearbox repairs • Electrical faults


GROUP, Staple Hill Methodist Church, High Street, Staple Hill, every Thursday - first session 9.30am, second session 11am.


n TAI CHI FOR PARKINSON’S. Weekly beginners Tai Chi & Qi Gong class for people with Parkinson’s disease, their families and carers.

Lincombe Barn, Downend. BS16 2RW. Fridays (term times) 10.15 – 12.15 including tea / coffee break. Contact: Claire - Claire@ (07769 857672) or Sarah - buqiworks@ (07815 662844)

n PAGE PARK UKULELE CLUB, Bean Tree café, Fridays at 1pm. All abilities welcomed. Places £4 each. For further details call or text 'Ukulele' to Ben on 07910 668258.

n JIGSAW TODDLER GROUP, Fridays in term time at Christ Church Parish Hall, North Street, from 9.45-11.15am.

n LATER LIVE MUSIC, Resound church, Blackhorse Road, Mangotsfield. Every second Friday monthly, except August & December, 8-10pm, £2.50.

n ARTWINGS, Resound church, Blackhorse Road, Mangotsfield. Every fourth Friday, except August

& December, 7.30pm. Explore new ways of creating and making, natter over refreshments. £5, includes materials.


AND TODDLER GROUP meets at Emersons Green Village Hall every Friday morning in term time, from 10-11.30am. For more info email

n IN-THE-PINK We are a group of mature ladies who meet for sensible exercise to music every Friday 9am - 10am followed by chat & coffee time. Pay sessionby-session basis. Get yourself fit & make new friends at Hillfields Park Baptist Church, Thicket Avenue. For details call Julie 07903123793.

n TUTTIFLUTTI, an inclusive ensemble welcoming flautists of all ages from Grade 3 up, rehearses at Lincombe Barn on Fridays in term time, from 6.30-7.30pm. New members always welcome. Details from Fiona on 07817 629 691.

n LUNCH CLUB, Staple Hill Community Hub, Berkeley House, Berkeley Road, every Friday from 12.15pm. For details 01454 868374.



GUILD We are a small friendly group who meet every third Saturday of the month 2pm to

4pm at St Andrews Hall, Elm Park, Filton. If you would like to make sugar flowers and models we hold workshops with instruction. Beginners very welcome. call Jean Kington on 01454 314178.


CHURCH Coffee mornings in our beautiful building every Saturday 10.00-12.00 in aid of church funds or charities. Enjoy Fairtrade coffee, tea and cake, and stalls.


n EMERSONS GREEN BAPTIST CHURCH services are held every Sunday morning from 10.30am11.30am at Emersons Green Village Hall, Emersons Way. We also hold regular craft services - please check our Facebook page for dates contact Simon on 07765 201435, e-mail or visit

n BADMINTON ROAD METHODIST CHURCH BS16 6NU. All are welcome to worship each Sunday, 10.30am. First Sunday of the month is usually a service of Holy Communion. Information: 0117 239 5984

n MANGOTSFIELD AND CASTLE GREEN UNITED REFORMED CHURCH hold regular weekly Sunday morning worship at Cossham Street. Services start at 10.30

a.m.with different speakers each week. New members welcome. For details contact Peter Redding (Ch. Sec.) on 0117 9657075.

n SPROUTS GARDENING CLUB for children aged 7-11, Staple Hill Community Hub, Berkeley House, Berkeley Road, every Sunday from 2-4pm. More details from the hub on 01454 868374.


CHURCH, High Street BS16 5HQ

Sunday services 10.30am + Sunday Club for ages 5-17. Holy Communion 2nd Sunday of the month – all invited. Taizé worship 6.00pm 3rd Sunday of the month. Contact Rev Dr Aboseh Ngwana 07482 550888, Philippa Church Liaison at staplehillmethodist@ or www.

n CHRIST CHURCH DOWNEND: 9.15 am Traditional morning worship (Holy Communion on 2nd & 4th Sundays) at Church Centre, Quakers Road BS16 6NH. 10.30 Morning worship with youth and children's groups at Christ Church Downend, Downend Rd BS16 5UF


WORKING PARTY, Percy Walker Court, Lincombe Road, Downend, every Sunday 10am-noon. All welcome.

40 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377 WHAT'S ON LOCALLY CALL JOE FOR A FREE QUOTE Tel: 0117 959 2143 Mob: 07891 253 122 LANDSCAPING Established family firm with 25 years experience H Senior Citizens Special H Garden Clearance — Regular or one-off H Patios H Fencing H Tree Work H Turfing H Hedgecutting H Planting (Shrubs etc) H Organic manure delivered — Also applied H Professional and guarnteed work H Brick & Blocklaying 25% OFF WITHADVERTTHIS Alpine


WHEN you start your working day, or keep up with local developments like the new AI supercomputer being built at the Bristol & Bath Science Park, do you ever wonder what work would have been like in days gone by?

There are clues all around us.

The first jobs in Downend and Emersons Green were on farms, in quarries and mines. Some old farms are still standing, including Lincombe Barn, which was probably built in around 1750, and Baugh and Vinney Green Farmhouses, both from the late 1800s.

The bowl-shaped dip in the landscape from Westerleigh Road into Stockwell Drive and Springfield Avenue is the scar of a limestone quarry used from the mid-17th century.

Limestone was made into lime in lime kilns and used as a soil conditioner, reducing acidity.

Lime was used for building, including in lots of the walls around Downend, and to make cement and aggregate.

It was also used in glass making, iron foundries, paper, animal feed, and even to help reduce explosions in coal mines, as the powder suppresses methane.

A history of hard work

Coal was recorded locally as early as 1228, and mining went on from the 1500s to the late 1800s. You can still see the mine engine house in Collier’s Break, and spot place names containing the name of one wealthy local mine owner, William Player.

In the 1700s and 1800s people travelled by horse and carriage at about 5mph, stopping to eat and rest at local inns like The Horseshoe


Electric bike and scooter parking

OUR list of recommended locations for electric scooter parking in Bromley Heath was presented to a parish council meeting before going to the supplying company and the WECA mayor.

We received confirmation that the parish council agreed with our list and so we presented it to the WECA mayor.

In his reply, Metro Mayor Dan Norris said that WECA had taken on our suggestions to review as part of the ongoing decision-making process about where e-scooter parking bays are best located around the region.

He said the suggestions would be "assessed in line with key criteria and further discussed with South Gloucestershire Council".

Locations which can be implemented will be confirmed in due course, with parking spots likely starting as ‘virtual’ parking bays rather than outlined with paint, so that they can be used on trial before being officially approved.

It was great to get a reasonably swift response - not so that no indication was given as to the timescales of the decision-making process, nor the key criteria mentioned.

Also noted is the upcoming discussion with South Gloucestershire Council.

We'll be following all this up and let you know how we do!

in Downend.

Trades such as blacksmiths, wheelwrights, ironworkers and timber yards set up nearby.

By the 1900s life must have been very noisy, smelly and grimy, as all sorts of other items were being made here: boots and shoes, nails, buttons, combs, bricks, lace, wire, candles and soap.

Much work was done at home, and was called ‘piece work’ because people were paid by how many pieces of work they produced.

There were also factories where children worked alongside adults, which were dangerous places.

There were hundreds of small workshops and factories, including hat makers at Buckingham Place in Downend.

In fact, felt hat making went on in our area from the 1500s until the 20th century.

The work was extremely hard, and hatters had a reputation for heavy drinking.

The fibres in the air caused asthma and other bronchial complaints, whilst chemicals including toxic mercury led to

brain diseases (leading to the expression ‘as mad as a hatter’) and early death.

But hatters didn’t just put up with this. They were amongst the first groups of workers to form trade unions, and went on strike as early as 1768.

There was also a pin-making factory close to the Green Dragon. The metal grinding process created dust, which was made worse by the damp conditions and the toxicity of the materials used.

Incidentally, the expression ‘pin money’ comes from a 14th century law which decreed that pins could only be sold in an open shop on two days in January each year.

This was because pins were expensive and in very short supply at that time.

Ladies flocked to buy them using their ‘pin money’ – an allowance from their husbands or families. When pins became more plentiful and cheaper, women branched out and spent their pin money on clothing, fans, books, scented soaps and other luxuries.

41 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169
n The engine house in Colliers Break. Picture: Helen Rana.
NEED A NEW BOILER ? 10 YEAR GUARANTEE CALL JULIAN ON 07831 718509 Over 30 years experience JK Morgan plumbing & heating Accredited Installer Check us out on Email: JK MORGAN Plumbing, Heating & Gas Engineer

Dessign a Christmas COMPETITION

Emersons Green Town Council are inviting primary school age children (4-11 years) in the Emersons Green Town Council Ward area to design a Christmas streetlight, for entry into our competition.

The winning design will be turned into a real Christmas streetlight that will be displayed in either Emersons Green or Lyde Green, along with our other streetlights.

The closing date for entries is: Sunday 14 April 2024.

For full details of the competition, and an entry form, please see the information on our website (, or on our Facebook page.

Entries can be dropped off to Emersons Green Village Hall or Lyde Green Community Centre, or alternatively can be sent in by post


Analogue photography

WHY on earth would anyone, in 2024, still want to take pictures on film?

And is it just crusty old folks who can’t adapt to modern tech and shout at the kids to get off their lawn? Thankfully, it is not!

Not only is film somewhat fashionable again, with celebrities as diverse as Kendall Jenner and Jeff Bridges shooting it, but it is also going through something of a more general resurgence.

Kodak has restarted production of various of its film types in recent years, and late last year UK-based Harman – most famous for their Ilford line of black and white films –released their first ever colour film.

Nor are we stuck with decadesold technology to use this film with – Alfie and Intrepid companies (both in the UK) manufacture cameras which will expose images as small as 24x18mm on 35mm

film, all the way up to 10 x 8 inches, shot on individual sheets.

But all this is telling you how, not why.

Personally, I still shoot on film because I enjoy the process – I develop my own film at home, then take it in to my temporary darkroom, in the bathroom, for a bit of peace and quiet to print the pictures.

It is a slower, gentler and, for

DOWNEND MEN IN SHEDS Rain puts off outdoor jobs

IF it ever stops raining we may be able to get outside and tackle some of the outside jobs that are waiting for us to do.

Since the new year I think we have only been able to complete one job. It was the refurbishment of the notice board at the entrance to St John’s Church on Frenchay Common, which had lost doors and glass. We

me, more mindful way of taking photographs than when I use my phone for snapshots, or my digital camera.

I mostly chose to use manual focus, manual exposure cameras, with limited or no electronics in them – it’s a way for me to escape from the screen and do something practical.

Having a print at the end of that process gives me something tangible I can hold in my hands, put up on my wall and enjoy for years and decades to come.

With two young daughters, it is also something I can give to grandparents, which they find easier to appreciate than a

WhatsApp message or Facebook post.

At the other end of the scale, there are also some “experimental” film stocks which can produce some truly funky results!

I am by no means the only analogue shooter or darkroom printer in the Downend Camera Club (let alone wider Bristol), so if this is something which catches your interest, come along and say hi.

The club holds weekly meetings on Tuesdays at 7.30pm at the Assembly Hall in Salisbury Road. We hope to see you there.

needed to replace the glass with laminated glass to avoid any future problems.

For those of you that know Bromley Park, you may soon notice another structure that has been purchased, as a joint venture between Downend Men in Sheds and Downend & Bromley Heath Parish Council, to further our needs of expansion.

Looking forward to better weather soon

We can be contacted on, should you require any of our products or need any help with a problem that we are capable of fixing.

43 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169
n St Peter’s Church at Dyrham Park taken on Lomo Turquoise film. n Clifton Suspension Bridge, taken on Kodak Ektar film. n Manly Peak, Death Valley, taken on Fomapan Classic 100 film. All pictures taken and developed by Alex Morrison

Refurbishment underway at Cleeve Hill

CLEEVE Hill Tennis Club recently installed a third tennis court, after buying a small piece of land at the side of the club.

We now have two AstroTurf courts and a hard court for club use, so if any you think you might like to learn tennis, why not come along and see what is available?

At the same time, we also carried out planting of grassed areas, a new flower bed and, with In Bloom, planted daffodil bulbs along the drive and the newlygrassed area (thank you to the Saturday morning juniors and parents that were involved).

For the next stage of our development plan, we are starting on a refurbishment of the clubhouse. Our present clubhouse was extended around 30 or more years ago, when it changed from being a very small clubhouse to the larger version we have today but, as with everything, our needs have changed and the fixtures and fittings do need renewal.

The redesign includes removing a pillar, which will make a much larger open space: the hope is that when this is finished it will make a really inviting space, which can be used for hire to groups for activities such as yoga, meetings and parties.

We are hoping some of the work can be carried out by volunteers from tennis club members so we can keep our costs to a minimum and, with this in mind a demolition working party was organised. That does sound grand, and we did have some fun wielding the sledgehammer – mind you, there were some sore arms the next day!

Whats On at Downend, Emersons Green and Staple Hill libraries : March 2024

Saturday 2nd March : Lego Club at Staple Hill Library, free fun dropin activity suitable for 4-10 year olds, starts at 10.30am.

Tuesday 5th March : A special World Book Day story time at Staple Hill Library where children’s book character Hugless Douglas will be appearing at 4pm. Hugless loves a story and having his photograph taken, so why not pop along and see him ?

Thursday 7th March : Its World Book Day! www.worldbookday.

There was a mix of people and ages on the day ranging from teenage to pension age – a good cross section. When all the fixtures and fittings had been dismantled, we loaded the Downend Kitchen transit van to the brim and everything was taken off to be disposed of.

An excellent afternoons work and, as they say, "many hands make light work".

Thanks to all the volunteers and now onto the rebuild.

For more information visit www.cleevehilltennis. com.

com. We will be celebrating WBD with Rhyme Times at 9.30am, at Staple Hill and Emersons Green libraries. No booking required all pre-school children welcome. Hugless Douglas will then be appearing at a special WBD Storytime at Emersons Green Library at 4pm. If you would like your photo taken with him please come along.

Saturday 9th March : Lego Club at Downend Library, free fun drop-in activity starts at 10.30am. We know that reading can be whatever you need it to be –relaxing, escapism, challenging, stress relief, fun! Our library catalogue ( uk or use the Libraries West App) gives the choice of 2.5 million items

to reserve and borrow for FREE from any South Gloucestershire Library.

Friday 29th March to Monday 1st April– no staffed hours over Easter weekend but Open Access available throughout the weekend 8am – 7.30pm.

A LOCAL author has set up a u3a group to inspire and encourage people to write up their family stories, recipes or gather and name their photos for their community, living family or descendants. Called Writing Family History, it meets monthly – contact Helen ParkerDrabble at h_parker_drabble@ for more details.

Have you been researching your family? For many, exploring family history is a journey of self-discovery and connection.

It links us to the broader human experience and provides a context for our challenges and triumphs.

Understanding our family allows us to appreciate the resilience, experiences, and cultural heritage that have shaped our existence and can help us find peace with our own story.

It's like sitting down with a photo album and realising every picture, every memory, contributes to the person you've become.

But why stop there? Leaving a legacy can enable us to contribute meaningfully to our community, or family narrative, creating a bridge between past and future generations.

Your legacy could be a printed photo album, including family stories, recipes, mini biographies of your ancestors, a collection of your memories, or a quilt made up of your late parents' clothes.

Bristol u3a (you in your third age) is a local charitable organisation dedicated to life-long learning and is open to anyone with some time to spare.

Writing Family History is just one of the 150-plus diverse interest groups running across Bristol. Annual membership is just £20, with no additional costs for joining multiple groups.

Find out more by contacting

45 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169
Please be advised that a planning application relating to 3 Hurstwood Road, Bristol, BS16 5EG has been submitted. The application includes access to the rear via the shared driveway to the north of 3 Hurstwood Road. The planning application reference number is: P23/01833/F
Jackie Baker
Inside the clubhouse at Cleeve Hill Tennis Club

Photographing food and drink

THE world is full of photographs of food and drink: on menus, in recipe books, in newspaper articles or in adverts.

You may well have seen pictures on social media, taken by friends with their smartphones to show you what they ate at a restaurant.

These photographs are common and functional, giving a clear and accurate depiction of a particular dish.

Taking photographs for magazines or recipe books is a specialised art in itself, often involving a lot of fakery to keep food which has been standing under hot studio lighting looking good.

So when food and/or drink was set as the subject for the most recent competition, the problem for club members was how to produce something different from those familiar photographs.

What was required was not something that would sell an appetising meal but a photograph that said: “Look at that!”

It was a test that members rose to. I have chosen three very different ways of thinking.

Jackie Worlock, with Christmas very much in

mind, chose a still life with her entry, 'Festive Treat', which was highly commended.

This isn’t a meal put forward simply to say “look what I ate”, but a formal artistic composition, an exercise that would be understood by many artists.

Vincent Reeves has concentrated on making food with his 'Bread Maker', which was awarded second place.

Here we see the manufacture of flat breads in a clear social and societal context, all shown in a beautifully clear and composed shot.

Look around and there is meaning everywhere: the clothes indicating the society; the dough being formed; the fire and cooking implement; the pile of completed flat breads. Good photographs, as here, are meant to be read and not just looked at.

Owen Richards has taken yet another route. Look at his entry and you see no food or drinks, just their remains - and a pigeon that has obviously dropped in to see what he can find among the crumbs.

A fine example of an accidental opportunity, a photograph to provoke laughter, capped with a nicely humorous title, 'Tea for Coo'.

Are you interested in photography and want to find out more?

Why not join us for the coming year? We have a full programme of activities: competitions, presentations from guest speakers and learning exercises for members.


The Dramway

OUR February talk at Lincombe Barn was about the history of the Dramway path.

I was looking forward to this talk, as people who had heard it before said it was very good.

Richard Lunn, who presented it, arrived early at the barn to meet everyone and set up a PowerPoint presentation on his laptop.

As I had not been well recently,

my friend Merle was hosting the event and I sat in the audience. I had no idea how many people would come, as unfortunately the attendance figures since Covid had dropped considerably, despite Bruce doing such lovely posters advertising the talks.

The regulars were there and as time ticked by, to my surprise several new people came into the coffee lounge.

As I went into the hall to find a seat it was nearly full and by the time Richard was about to start, every available seat had been taken!

Visitors, guests and new members are always made welcome (£3 if you just want to try us out).

If you’re interested and would like to be part of a small but flourishing club, take a look at our website at or contact us at

Keep snapping - and enjoy your food!

I will not describe every detail of his talk as I am sure you will want to hear it yourself. Richard presented it exceedingly well and had us in stitches with his humour. His photography is also well worth a mention.

I really enjoyed it and hope you will have the opportunity to hear it, too.

It is with great sadness that I have to tell you my dear Yorkshire terrier Pepe passed away in February.

The house feels very empty without him, but I have decided not to have any more pets.

Thank you to my friends, for all the kind words I have received.

Sid Stace n Tea For Coo by Owen Richards n Bread Maker by Vincent Reeves
PHOTOGRAPHY WITH LINCOMBE BARN CAMERA CLUB 46 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377
n Festive Treat by Jackie Worlock

Boys’ deaths were shocking and senseless

I AM deeply saddened by the recent shocking and senseless deaths of two boys, aged only 15 and 16, at the end of January in South Bristol.

The grief being felt by the families of those boys and the impact it will have on their loved ones, as well as the wider community, is unimaginable.

Preventing knife crime and stopping young people from coming to harm must be at the forefront of all our minds.

This is an area of focus for our Violence Reduction Partnership, which provides education, mentoring, and employs a community-based approach to prevent these tragic crimes.

Additionally, to encourage people to safely discard any knives and weapons they are carrying, Avon & Somerset Police have installed weapon surrender bins across the area.

Lifesaving bleed control kits designed to provide emergency help for someone who suffers a

traumatic injury are also being installed alongside defibrillators.

I also want to focus on the process of police misconduct hearings, as this is something many people are rightly asking about this month.

I am proud to have lobbied for significant changes aimed at increasing the chief constable’s power to act on police officers who have been found guilty of misconduct.

One of the outcomes of this, which comes into effect from May, is that chief constables will be able to terminate the employment of officers found guilty of gross misconduct.

This move marks a pivotal step towards upholding the highest standards of integrity and professionalism within law enforcement.

One of the most notable adjustments is the composition of the panels responsible for adjudicating cases of misconduct.

Formerly, only one

independent panel member (IPM) was mandated to sit alongside a chief constable in a hearing.

The revamped structure now necessitates the inclusion of two IPMs, bolstering the impartiality of the decision-making process.

Consequently, my office is actively recruiting new IPMs to partake in this crucial aspect of police oversight.

The imperative for these reforms is underscored by the instances of police misconduct showcased in the Channel 4 documentary ‘To Catch A Copper’, which shines a spotlight on the need to addressing such issues decisively and transparently.

If this is an issue you are passionate about, I urge you to put yourself forward. These roles offer an invaluable opportunity to contribute to the integrity of our law enforcement system.

I am also pleased to lend my support to the government’s forthcoming ‘Stop! Think Fraud’ campaign.

As the National Association of Police and Crime Commissioners economic and cybercrime lead, I recognise the critical importance of equipping individuals with the knowledge and tools to safeguard themselves against fraudulent activities.

By fostering awareness and vigilance, we can collectively mitigate the impact of fraud and protect our communities from financial harm.

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Coach Penny up for national award

A DOWNEND badminton coach has been nominated for a national award in recognition of more than 35 years of service to the sport.

Penny Shears is a finalist in the Volunteer of the Year category of the Community Sport and Recreation Awards.

Penny first started coaching in 1987 when her children played at a club at Downend School.

The club later moved to Yate, and is known as Yate Racketeers Junior Badminton Club, and Penny has been nominated for her role in running the club.

She also volunteers with the Henleaze-based Beaufort Badminton Club's junior section and works part-time as a paid coach for adults and children.

Penny said: "I'm honoured to have been shortlisted for this national award and look forward to attending the awards ceremony in March.

"I became involved in coaching badminton in 1987 when my two children got involved and decided to get myself qualified as a badminton coach.

"We moved sessions from Downend School to King Edmund School in 1996 and never looked back.

Learn bowls

PAGE Park Bowls Club is holding its popular course to train new bowlers to basic level from April.

The course is open to anyone aged 12 and over, and will be held at the club for seven consecutive Saturdays from April 20, from 10am to noon.

Five qualified Bowls England coaches will lead the course, with all equipment provided except for flat-soled shoes, which people need to bring.

There will be an initial registration fee of £5 and a charge of £5 per session to cover costs.

To register your interest, please contact Don Willcox on 07718 306623 or email

People who take part do not have to join the club, but all members need to have completed the course.

Applicants will be accepted on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more details visit

"I've recently enjoyed seeing former players bringing their own children to the club some 35 years later, and being surprised to see me coaching and still running the club."

Yate Racketeers Junior Badminton Club runs weekly sessions on Saturday mornings at Yate Academy from September to April, for children aged 7 to 18.

The club has produced several county and senior league players, including Jess Hopton, who joined aged eight and went on to represent England in internationals and was an Olympic torch bearer in Bristol in 2012.

The awards, organised by national sporting organisation the Sport and Recreation Alliance, will be presented at a ceremony on March 8 at Headingley Stadium in Leeds, the home of Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

The awards have been running for more than 25 years, and are an annual celebration of grassroots clubs, organisations and individuals who help enable and support sporting activity in communities. Previous winners include table tennis and boxing clubs, golf clubs and the

Mixed fortunes on short mat

DOWNEND Short Mat Bowls Club continues to thrive and now has a team - Downend Colts - in the Bristol and District Short Mat Bowls league.

The team really hit the ground running, winning their first four matches, but came a cropper against the two Winterbourne teams before picking up more points with a narrow win at Whitchurch.

A visit to Midsomer Norton saw another defeat, to leave the Colts with five wins and four losses resulting in a current midtable position.

The club has also entered teams in various Avon competitions held at Bristol

Middlesbrough FC Foundation.

Alliance website, www., or its Instagram and LinkedIn pages.

Bowls Centre, including the Avon

Whitchurch in the first round.

The club meets on Monday and Thursday afternoons in Christ Church Parish Hall and

is open to new or experienced bowlers, those who want competitive bowling or those who just enjoy social bowling.

Anyone interested in joining the club should call 0779 136 6894 or find us on Facebook.

48 Downend Voice March 2024 News? Call Ken 0n 07715 770 377
For more information, visit the Sport and Recreation
Challenge Cup where the Club narrowly beat n The Downend Short Mat Bowls Club team - Gordon Tanner, Ivor Coster, John Smallcombe, Sue Chard, Pete Chard, Terry Harrison and Mike Parsons - in their new kit at Whitchurch.

Mangos' away form raises play-off hopes

AFTER spending much of the season in mid-table obscurity, Mangotsfield United’s recent away form has hoisted them up towards the play-offs for the first time.

Although matches are beginning to run out in a season that finishes in March, and some teams around them games in hand, the Mangos' improved form offered hope that the club can have a real go at a grandstand finish to the season.

A 3-0 away defeat to Westfields in mid-January seemed to sum up the team's mid-table form but was followed by six wins on the bounce, including three successive away league wins.

The first was a 4-3 home win over Lydney Town at Cossham Street, perhaps the most thrilling match of the entire season so far, even more so because the Mangos were 3-1 down at one stage, and 3-2 down by half time.

A superb fight-back in the second half saw the Mangos not

only draw level, but also clinch the win.

Jaydn Crosbie and Will Ashton scored in the first-half, with Crosbie scoring again just after the break and Kyrese Hasani Morrison hitting the winner on 72 minutes.

But the game was watched by just 41 paying spectators, perhaps the lowest crowd at a Mangotsfield league match for many years.

Poor weather on the night, plus Bristol City v West Ham being shown live on national TV, certainly had a lot to do with that.

A mass of successive away games began well with a 3-1 Marsh Challenge Cup win at Roman Glass St George, who had become a bit of a bogey side in

Mud is all around

ANYONE would be forgiven for thinking crooner Marti Pellow had been hanging out in Downend of late, as it has truly been a case of "Wet Wet Wet"!

Our three women's teams and 19 girls' teams have all suffered with postponements due to waterlogged and unplayable pitches.

We have all been doing what we can to play when the conditions allow and, like everyone else, we are hoping that a warmer and drier spring is just around the corner.

Our premier women's team have now completed two-thirds of their league campaign and currently sit mid-table.

Although not yet mathematically safe from the dreaded relegation, head Coach Dean Giles will be hoping to rack up the two wins needed from their last six games to then focus on climbing as high up the table as possible, with a third-place finish still in reach.

Meanwhile our reserves and development teams have been plagued with numerous lengthy injuries that have affected availability for both sides, but they will each look to end the season strongly as key players return, to rise as high as possible in their respective divisions.

Behind the scenes at the club we are busily preparing for our fourth annual girls' and women's tournament, to be held at the Johnson Road playing fields opposite Pomphrey Hill on the weekend of June 22-23.

We still have places in many of the age groups, so if you are interested, please contact for more information.

recent seasons.

The Mangos played well & led 2-0 at the break, thanks to Kyrese Hasani Morrison (13) and Lewis Hutchinson (41).

Laurent Wilson got one back for the hosts on 48 minutes but was later red-carded, and Jack Nunn wrapped up the win with 5 minutes to go.

Next up was Pershore Town, and the Mangos came back with a resounding 3-0 win.

Luke Bence (13), Jaydn Crosbie (32) & Jack Nunn (35) got the goals in the first half and the team stood firm after the break to clinch the win, despite a lot of niggly play and a number of yellow cards being dished out.

Three days later, the winning run continued with a 1-0 victory away at Longlevens in Gloucester, the only goal coming from Jaydn Crosbie after 16 minutes.

That was followed by yet another away win up in Gloucestershire, this time by 2-0 at Brimscombe & Thrupp,

in another niggly game that saw seven bookings.

It was goals that mattered, though, and they came from Henry Ikeije on 64 minutes and Jaydn Crosbie, on 88 minutes.

Heavy rain and a waterlogged pitch then caused the postponement of the next away game at Cinderford Town, but after such a hectic spell of matches recently, hopefully the night off won’t have done the team any harm in the long run.


February 27: Brimscombe & Thrupp (Home - Marsh Challenge Cup)

March 2: Slimbridge (Away)

March 9: Wantage Town (H)

March 12: Highworth Town (H)

March 16: Roman Glass St

George (H)

March 19: Worcester City (A)

TBA: Cinderford Town (A)

Let us know your news EMAIL US AT: 49 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169 SPORT

The importance of self-care in preventing pain

THROUGHOUT my years as a chiropractor, I've encountered numerous cases where people have ended up with neck and arm pain from seemingly small incidents, like awkward sleeping positions or even just picking up light objects.

Let me share a story about Liz, who lives locally.

Immersed in her desk-based job, she spent hours hunched over her computer.

She adored her work, but she didn’t anticipate the unwelcome arrival of some worrying neck and arm pain.

Liz had always been mindful of her posture, striving to sit upright all day. However, extended periods spent glued to her screen gradually took a toll on her physical well-being.

Initially, there was a slight neck soreness, an annoyance she dismissed as stress or the result of a restless night.

But as days turned to weeks, the discomfort spread, encroaching down her arm.

The pain escalated, affecting Liz's everyday life. Simple tasks,

like reaching for a cup of coffee or turning her head to chat with colleagues or family, became unbearable. The persistent throbbing in her neck and shooting pain down her arm made her worry and look for answers.

Feeling anxious and frustrated, Liz took up a friend’s suggestion to visit me.

She shared her concern about becoming short-tempered due to the pain, which I reassured her was a common reaction – pain can certainly fray one's patience.

I listened intently to her story, delving into her work habits, lifestyle and any past injuries.

Following a comprehensive examination, where I could replicate her symptoms by applying pressure to specific areas, I came to a familiar conclusion.

I explained to her that, while I could help alleviate pain, the crucial person in preventing its recurrence was Liz herself.

One of the most rewarding aspects of my job is empowering patients to take charge of their


I emphasise that we're all human, often forgetting to keep up with exercises, or falling into bad routine habits, like slouching on the sofa.

What's important is realising that a little effort can go a long way. Many, like Liz and perhaps yourself, tend to swing between extremes – either doing too much or nothing at all.

I encourage patients to incorporate small, frequent stretches into their day, associating them with routine activities like making tea or taking bathroom breaks.

Our patients have found great results with an exercise device called the OptiNeck Balance Wedge. By adopting some easy lifestyle changes and topping up with our assistance, you can bid farewell to those pesky aches and pains.

After incorporating more regular stretching breaks, aided by increased water intake, Liz returned to work with renewed vigour and a fresh appreciation for self-care.

Thanks to her commitment to adopting better habits, she reclaimed a pain-free life and understood the significance of self-care.

But Liz is human, like you and I, and slips off the wagon from time to time – I’m here to help her to reset those good habits.

If you're looking to establish a self-care routine, our fantastic team is here to chat, set goals and help you achieve them.

We look forward to welcoming you to the clinic when you need us most.

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one of the most used areas in the home, fitted kitchens need to be a flexible space while being up to daily wear and tear. A new fitted kitchen can be customised to suit any layout and lifestyle. Give your bathroom or wetroom the look it deserves with a beautiful range of traditional and modern styles. We take great pride in our work and we respect clients homes and belongings. All works are fully insured. To discuss your needs or to arrange a free, no obligation quotation, please do not hesitate to contact us Beautiful contemporary kitchens, bathrooms & wetrooms, also cloakrooms & understair toilets BATHROOMS & KITCHENS ACUPUNCTURE ACUPUNCTURE Gisela Norman, a highly experienced acupuncturist of 30 years Gisela treats a wide range of conditions from physical complaints, including infertility to emotional and stress related problems. Call her to discuss your health issue on: 07968 855 001 or make an appointment direct at the Willow Surgery, Hill House Road, Downend on: 0117 970 9505 A Member of British Acupuncture Council and Lecturer BUILDING SERVICES BATHROOMS & KITCHENS All work carried out by us One call is all you need Book now for your makeover OSBORNE & SONS All work guaranteed. Call Tony 0777 6188595 Find us on Facebook osborneandsons Bathroom & Kitchen Specialists CARPENTRY PHILIP PERKINS General Carpenter/Kitchen Fitter (Member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen) 0117 9373941 OR 07788 115945 CALL FOR A QUOTE - NO JOB TOO SMALL Carpentry • Kitchens supplied & fitted or supply only • Full kitchen or fronts only • Worktops • Fitted Wardrobes • Door Hanging • Skirting • Stairs & Balustrades • Laminate & Wood Flooring • All aspects of general carpentry work CLEANING SERVICES       Specialists in Vacuum Cleaners and Food Waste Disposal Units Panda Electric Services 0117 9575821 5 Buckingham Place, Downend, BS16 5TN


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**NO VAT**


**NO VAT**



WIGS LOCATED IN DOWNEND We have been supplying all types of wigs and hairpieces for fashion and medical purposes for 45 years. Wigs can be purchased off the peg or made to measure in hair or synthetic fibre. We stock many styles and makes. Please book an appointment on: 0117 956 0805 Wigs Bristol Wigs Bristol WASTE DISPOSAL WINDOW & DOOR SOLUTIONS TREE SURGEONS TREE SURGEONS J.A. Cole & Sons Tree Surgeons • Tree Surgery • Hedge & Shrub work • Precision Felling • Size Reduction • Fully insured • Domestic & Commercial . PROFESSIONAL EXPERT SERVICE - 40 YEARS EXPERIENCE OF TREE WORK Free Quotations & Advice 0117 9567298 07768 973291 RUBBISH CLEARED Registered upper tier waste carrier licence no CBDU225074 We load and clear rubbish/junk from houses Flats, Sheds, Attics, Gardens etc etc No job too small - we even clear single items Cheaper than a skip and we load no VAT Contact Stuart or Sue Freephone 0800 0234 995 Mobile 07770944727 anytime inc. weekends sales@t ellwindows Windows Doors Conservatories 07786730804 0117 279 9409 Call us today for a FREE no-obligation quotation Local business based in Downend • We replace & install Windows, Doors, Bi-Folding doors, Conservatories + much more • uPVC, Aluminium and Timber Windows & Doors • Service & repairs of all types of uPVC, misted double glazing, lock repairs & hinge replacements • Internorm UK specialist for the South West ROOFING LIMITED N. BROWN SLATING • TILING • REPAIRS GUTTERS • FASCIAS FREE NO OBLIGATION QUOTES Give Nigel a call he’s local and has a wealth of experience ✆ 07779 786072 ROOFING PROPERTY MAINTENANCE PROPERTY MAINTENANCE J AND J CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE SERVICES Providing general building, factory facilities work, gardening, pest control Tel 07779242184 55 Downend Voice March 2024 Sales? Call Gary on 07799 461 169 LOCAL SERVICES • Bathroom & Kitchen Installation • Plumbing • Wall & Floor Tiling • Interior & Exterior Painting & Decorating • Guttering & Fascias • Plastering • Patios, Paving & Timber Decking • Fencing & Walls • Total Refurbishments NO JOB TOO SMALL - CONTACT US FOR A FREE NO OBLIGATION ESTIMATE HOME & PROPERTY MAINTENANCE tel: 07974 222656 email: ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS E-Mail: From as little as Per month +VAT £20.00 ADVERTISE YOUR BUSINESS SHOWER REPAIRS Apricot Showers Approved Contractor FREE ESTIMATES 0117 956 3285 Mobile 07976 665448

We specialise in stunning made to measure curtains that will add a touch of class to your home.

Choose from a range of fabulous fabrics, tracks and poles that will enhance your interior design. We offer a free measuring service and can advise on the best window dressings to match your budget.


We supply and fit a wide range of top-quality blinds from leading manufacturers including Louvolite, Eclipse, Decora, Arena.

Available options include Roller, Venetian, Roman, Perfect Fit, Pleated, Blackout, Cellular and Vertical Blinds.

To arrange a free measuring appointment, please contact us. YOUR NEW LOCAL LUXAFLEX DEALER EXCLUSIVE STYLES FOR EVERY WINDOW AND DÉCOR

Shutters are the epitome of elegance. Webber and Spencer design, supply and fit beautiful shutters in Bristol that will add the wow factor to your home. Our plantation shutters are perfect for both contemporary and modern homes and are available in a range of colours and finishes.

To book a free appointment for a designer to measure up and provide an estimate, please contact us today.

WEBBER & SPENCER CURTAINS • BLINDS • SHUTTERS • CARPETS • FLOORING 21 Cleeve Wood Road, Downend BS16 2SF enquiries@webberand 01172 870285 CURTAINS
arrange an appointment please contact us. BAY
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