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Issue Number Sixty - September & October 2021


News in this edition... • Dunston Wool Festival returns • Rare coin sells for a stately sum • Hopton seat up for grabs • Visit a long-lost pyramid & Norman Age Church in the same day! • Nature reserve earmarked for heart of Stafford • Stafford Film Theatre is back • Freedom honour for British Legion • Great Bridgeford Village Hall opening

Returning to normality, after what feels like an eternity Welcome to the September and October edition of My Village Voice. I hope you’ve all had chance to take a break over the Summer holidays? I managed to get a week in Cornwall with my son, which despite the weather, was splendid. Ironically, the week before we went, they had given out extreme weather warnings for Wales and Cornwall, for the heat! The week we were there was mostly cloudy, with some sunny spells along with heavy showers. We got two days on the beach and one at a music festival in the dry, so not too bad all in all. But what has happened to the British Summer? Is it just me, or does this seem to have been the cloudiest and coldest July and August on record? Those who know me well know I’m a sun worshipper, over the years I’ve become accustomed to living in a grey, wet country, but surely we’re allowed a little bit of sunshine in summer? I feel for all those, like me, that had to staycation this year, and

the one week we get off work was spent in the drizzle. I’m saving up already to go somewhere hot and dry next year... There’s been plenty going on locally since our last edition, Great Bridgeford Village Hall has re-opened, Stafford British Legion were given the honour of Freedom of the Borough, and Stafford Film Theatre is back. There’s also lots of events coming up, see inside for more... There’s been a chance to catch up all round, as one by one, organisations and community groups are able to meet in person again, and events are now allowed to take place. It’s great to see everything returning to normality, after what feels like an eternity. Please support your local clubs and organisations where you can, by attending their events. They rely almost entirely on these charity events to raise much needed funds, while at the same time they offer their members the chance to meet up socially, which can be priceless. Dan Mitchell 27/08/21

GETTING IN TOUCH In pictures... • Lots going on at St. Leonard's Dunston • Time to sail off into your future? • All gone to pot - meet the creator of a very special garden • How to create a great first impression • Great Haywood Open Gardens success Once you’ve read your copy of My Village Voice recycle it by giving it to a friend!

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Olympic Dreams for St John’s

Children at St John’s Catholic Primary School in Great Haywood have enjoyed their PE sessions this year with a special teacher who has also given them a real enthusiasm for this summer’s Olympics. Keri Lees, a former Olympian herself, has taught at the school for the past six years, delivering twice-weekly sessions for children from Reception age to Year 6 who are about to start high school. Keri started her sports career at just nine years of age, training and competing in sprint events for Stafford Athletics Club. She enjoyed some local successes and then from the age of about 12 years she was successful at a national level in the 200m, coming 2nd at the English Schools Championships. She soon changed to the sprint hurdles after “falling in love with the event” after filling in for a fellow club member who dropped out. She then started competing for Great Britain at the age of 15 and won Silver and Gold medals in the World and European Junior Championships respectively. As a senior athlete Keri specialised in both the 100m and 400m hurdles and took part in European and World Championships, World Student Games and the Commonwealth Games. In 2000 she was selected for the Olympic Games (a childhood dream) and competed in the 400 hurdles in Sydney. Since retiring from Athletics in 2001, Keri has taught in schools and now works for Stafford Sports and Performance Academy, teaching PE and delivering after school clubs in primary schools in the Stafford area. “The children really love their sessions with Keri, she has a real bond with many of them, especially our

• Baton pass - Leo Williams, a year 6 leaver about to start his high school journey at Blessed William Howard, passing the baton to Misha Lillford-Hunt who will move up to year 6 at St John's. Year 6 leavers who have known football, netball, tag rugby and Keri since they started school in rounders. ‘ Reception. When she brings her William, age 10 medals in they feel like she is a real celebrity. 'We love being able to work with an Their enthusiasm for sport and Olympian as we learn about sport athletics events is so great, we are but also how to be part of a team.' sure we are watching some of our Zach, age 10 future Olympians!” commented Mrs Lucy Barber, Head of School at 'I love St John's and being able to St John’s. do PE with Mrs Lees inspires me to be in the Olympics'. 'I love being active in PE, we enjoy Nia, age 9 lots of different sports such as

• Keri Lees and pupils practicing the Javelin.

St John's Catholic Primary School and Nursery, Great Haywood, Stafford ST18 0SL Tel:01889 343106 4

Bradley news from Judith Manners After many months of not being able to meet up in the Village, the weekly coffee morning, or rather afternoon now, has started again. The Red Lion is opening its doors for everyone who would like to get together, and we are very grateful to Tom for organising this. If anyone would like to join in, it is on Thursdays at 2pm.

• A welcome return to coffee mornings/afternoons! On September 11th there will be an event in Bradley with an Arts and Crafts Exhibition in the Church, with Stalls and refreshments in the Village Hall. There will be some interesting displays in the church, and many crafts to observe being made and on show. One of the most important stalls will be selling jams, chutneys etc..

We are extremely grateful to Littywood Fruit Farms for the donation of a large amount of strawberries and a band of jam makers have been busy stirring, potting and providing delicious jams! Bradley has been so lucky to have many newcomers to the village in the last two or three years. A very jolly Welcome Evening in The Red Lion pub was arranged for everyone to meet up with new and old residents and everyone enjoyed a happy time. It is likely that this will become a regular event. Everyone is welcome so watch out for news of future meetings. As we were not able to hold our Christmas Tree Festival in the Church in Bradley last year, we are being brave and going ahead this year. Saturday 11th December and Sunday 12th December will be the time to come and see all the decorated trees in the Church, with stalls and crafts in the Village Hall. Put the date in your diary and if anyone is interested in joining in and decorating a tree, please let us know.


Dunston Wool Festival returns Wool@J13, the Midlands’ No. 1 wool show, has booked its place for a live, lovely and much anticipated 2021 show which takes place on the weekend of November 13th & 14th in a change to its normal schedule of May. And it’s raring to go with a full list of woolly exhibitors on board waiting to have a conversation with colour directly with their patient woolly audience. “We are so looking forward to welcoming wool lovers everywhere back to a live experience in what we hope will be a safer world. The wait has been a frustrating time for us all,” said Ingrid Wagner, co-organiser and Creative Director of Wool@J13. Winter Wool@J13 will be held inside the impressively revamped Play Barn, at its usual venue of Lower Drayton Farm, near Penkridge. Totally transformed inside and with a fully functioning large car park outside, the Play Barn opened in August 2020 with a team led by Val James, Ingrid’s fellow Wool@J13 organiser, who have become very experienced in implementing Coronavirus public events. Exhibitors confirmed for the November show include the returning and ever popular Rosie’s Moments, Beaker Button and Snuggly Stars Yarns with Hedgehog Equipment making their way over from Wales and For the Love of Yarn down from Scotland. Winter Wool@J13 will also be welcoming new exhibitors in Ruth Sprague’s beautiful Illuminating Weaves and the fibre processing business, Lilipop Mill, both from Staffordshire, along with the 3D printed tools for crafters from Moon On A Stick. If you are an exhibitor whose business is wool and you would like to apply, the show has a few spaces available. The closing date for applications is the end of July. Head to the website for more information. In with the vendors in the warmth of the Play Barn will be the Peckish Pony food traders plus live music to lend what Winter Wool@J13 hopes to retain – the renowned festival atmosphere of the show. The popular Stash Swap will also be back and workshops will be housed in the comfortable surroundings of the Farmhouse at Lower Drayton. Visitors can also look forward to being greeted and looked after by the Wool@J13 Team of Volunteers, led by Fiona Beech.

“Stitch a Brick” will also be a part of Wool@J13’s aim to promote mental health awareness with the public being invited to knit, crochet, felt or weave their own brick to become part of a wall reflecting their own negative emotions & positive outcomes. Full details including patterns are available on the Wool@J13 website & social media pages. “We had already planned this for 2020,” says Ingrid, “and we feel it will be even more important in a year when many people will have dealt with a whole sea of different & difficult situations both in their public & private lives. We want to give them a chance to express this.” Wool@J13 will also be offering half price tickets to all NHS workers (in whatever capacity) who would like to attend the show. Purchase of these will be by a code and photo ID presented with the ticket at the show itself. Advance tickets are available online now, priced at £6.50 for Day Tickets (on gate £7.50) and £11 for Weekend tickets (on gate £12.00). To book tickets, including those for NHS workers, and to discover more about the 2021 show, which will take place on Saturday 13th & Sunday 14th November at Lower Drayton Farm near Penkridge in Staffordshire – handily just 1 mile from J13 of the M6 – head to N.B. Tickets already purchased by the public for the cancelled 2020 show will be honored for 2021.

Stafford based TikTok star receives over 3.4 million likes on self-taught make-up videos At 14 years old and in less than one year, Nya has grown an incredible audience of over 250,00 followers on social media due to her significant talent with makeup. Nya is self-taught and her intricate looks have received over 3.4 million likes on TikTok. When the global pandemic resulted in schools closing and teaching becoming virtual, Nya found she suddenly


had a lot more time on her hands. Nya channeled this creatively, learning new makeup skills and documenting this online. Unsurprisingly, Nya’s natural talents gained immediate attention and her channels have been growing ever since with Nya’s creations constantly increasing in difficulty and originality.


Exciting times at St. Leonard's Dunston Lots of exciting activities took place at St. Leonard's First School & Nursery in Dunston for the final term of the academic year. Children had a fantastic day celebrating the official opening of their new woodland themed school library, which after consultation with children and parents has been named ‘The Reading Tree’. The project was started by the schools PTFA who approached Bovis Homes, based at Dunston Hall, and asked them to help with their fundraising. After many months of hard work by lots of people including staff, Bovis, PTFA and SUAT there was much excitement as the opening day was filmed by a film crew organised by Bovis Homes.

Mrs Parton, the Headteacher, cut the ribbon supported by the schools youngest and eldest children. Take a look on the school Facebook page, if you get chance, to watch the superb film. Forest School lessons are a weekly occurrence in school. The school are very fortunate to have a Forest School leader as part of their team. They are all thrilled with the new shelter, that has been handcrafted by Martin from Churnet Woodland Crafts. Martin's workmanship is outstanding! The Early Years outdoor area has had a fabulous makeover and the children have had lots of opportunities to play on it in the lovely summer sunshine in July. Sports Day was held, and although sadly parents were not allowed to attend, it didn't dampen the children's spirits as they cheered each other on - well done to our winners team Beech!


Colwich Abbey to hold a clearance sale

St Mary’s Abbey, Colwich, are holding a clearance sale to sell off the contents of the abbey. They were a community of benedictine nuns, sadly they had to close last November. They have been based in Colwich since 1836 but were originally founded in 1651 in Paris (take a look at their website - The sale is cash only and takes place on Thursday 7th October & Friday 8th October, from 10am - 3pm. It will include small furniture of tables & chairs, small bookcases, bric a brac, crockery, religious items and homemade jams. All money raised will go to the health & well being of the sisters.


Great Haywood Open Gardens success Beautiful gardens! Delicious cakes! And a superb result for Katharine House Hospice! Despite the difficulties of ensuring safety during a pandemic, Great Haywood opened our gardens to the public on 15th August, in aid of the Hospice. It was a wonderful opportunity for people to get out and about again. Even the rain held off until late in the afternoon – a miracle for that week if you recall! Although there were fewer than the usual number of gardens open, the quality and variety was as stunning as ever, from quiet oases to an eye-catching folly, to a miniature train filled with flowers to the Cliff Road community orchard, which now has over 30 varieties of fruit trees. Great Haywood Memorial Hall provided a venue for refreshments in a covid-safe environment and the team made sure there was a constant supply of drinks, meals and cakes. The world famous (well, across-the-Haywoods famous) “Great Haywood Hall Bacon Butties” were consumed at a great rate and a huge variety of cakes were on sale. (Some people had a bacon butty before setting off round the gardens and came back for cakes later - topping and tailing a perfect day.) More than £1800 was raised for Katharine House, (ED. a fantastic amount, well done all!) thanks to both the hard work put in to make the day an interesting and fun experience and to the generosity of local shops and individuals. From Liz Harris Chair, Great Haywood Memorial Hall Committee



Time to sail off into your future? Stafford Coastal Cruising Club, established in 1981, is this year celebrating forty years of history! The club was first established by former students of the Royal Yachting Association’s Day Skipper theory course. Students of the course so enjoyed their studies that they resolved to continue meeting regularly to ‘talk sailing’ and to organise yachting trips for club members. The rest, as they say, is history! Nowadays the club serves the wider Staffordshire area and meets twice monthly in Stafford during the winter months, as during the summer many members are away sailing the high seas! At the regular club meetings there is usually a presentation, related to sailing and the coast, and there is an opportunity for members to socialise. With covid statistics showing decreasing numbers of people affected, the club plans to resume its normal meeting programme in September, starting with a BBQ meeting on 14 September. To celebrate the 40th anniversary the new 2021-22 programme is especially strong with a number of guest speakers and VIP's booked. This includes a presentation by local man Keith Winstanley, who is a crew member aboard one of the current 'Clipper Round The World Race' yachts. The Club is open to both sailors and non-sailors, all that is needed is an interest in boats (sail or power) and more generally in 'things maritime'. While sailing is often viewed as an expensive pursuit, taking part in the club's summer charters is a very cost effective way to participate and gain experience. Recent cruises for club members have included a week sailing off Corfu and a week sailing Britain’s South Coast. Among the membership are people that have built their own boats while the option to pick up a 'bargain' and refurbish appeals to some of the more practical members – see the attached pictures for a 'before and after' to see what can be achieved on a low budget. If sailing and possibly boat ownership appeals, cost does not need to be a barrier. In addition to regular meetings the club is also an RYA approved training centre and regularly runs RYA theory courses covering various aspects of sailing and the skills required. The club’s RYA Day Skipper theory course is currently taught by Stone’s round GB yachtsman and yachting author, Mike Goodwin, and will be delivered at the Christchurch Annexe in Stone on Saturday mornings 09.30 -12.30 over 16 weeks, starting 30 October. Anyone who would like to study on the course should enrol via the club website at training/ or alternatively contact Mike directly on 07817 122491. Anyone interested in finding out more about Stafford Coastal Cruising Club, or who would like to attend a meeting, should contact the club Commodore, Phil Osman (commodore@ or visit the club web site or Facebook page.


• Sunset over Yarmouth during this year’s club cruise on Britain’s south coast

• Aboard the club’s charter yacht off Corfu

• A scene from the recent club cruise off Corfu


Parking permits go paperless on council car parks

News from Colwich Parish in Bloom I used to think, coming from Birmingham, that Great Haywood was in the country, but after 25 years+ living here, sadly this is not the case, because the size of Great Haywood and surrounding villages has increased tremendously. We still see green fields, river banks, canal towpaths and narrow lanes, (turned into narrow roads), but our population has increased dramatically. Fortunately we still have our local Haywards Flower and Vegetable Show: the Great Haywood W. I.: The Haywood Society, very good local Church Schools, good local pubs, hairdressers and two Post Offices, but country life as in the past has vanished, although we still do have a farm, with farm animals, and horse riding on our roads, which makes the car drivers rather impatient! Colwich Parish in Bloom has a great team of helpers, as Great Haywood, Little Haywood with Colwich, have both been awarded Gold Medals, and we are entering Great Haywood again this year in the Large Village section and also several “It's Your Neighbourhood” groups into The Royal Horticultural Society's annual competitions. The Haywoods Flower and Vegetable Show is on Sunday 19th September, at Colwich and Little Haywood Village Hall. Unfortunately we get a great deal of litter, and the In Bloom team, have got together with the Sustainability in Colwich and Haywoods group, where we join together on set dates to have a joint Litter Pick, as well as we go out individually to litter pick. We are having our very popular quiz on Friday 8th October in Colwich and Little Haywood Village Hall. I think I ought to tell you about the R. H. S. Hedgerow petition which is currently on their email information. Since 1945 we have lost half of our hedgerows, which are vital for the well-being of insects, flowers, birds. If possible I would urge you to sign this petition to the government to put a stop to more hedgerows being ripped up. For more information about our groups, Alan Doehren is Chairman of Colwich Parish in Bloom ( and Jim Sarjant is Chairman of the Haywoods Flower and Vegetable Show. (jimsarjant@

by Anne Clendon B. E. M. President of Colwich Parish in Bloom


Paperless season tickets are being rolled out for motorists on surface car parks run by Stafford Borough Council. Drivers will now be able to get permits instantly and at any time on four car parks in Stafford and Stone – a move that will reduce paper use and costs for the local authority. Pay by phone is already used on most council-run car parks in Stafford and has become increasingly popular with customers. This is now being extended to purchasing season tickets on a number of surface car parks too. The four sites are Doxey Long Stay, Gaol Road, and North Walls in Stafford, and Christchurch Way in Stone. And a new QR code at the sites will take motorists directly to ‘Pay by Phone.’ Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Planning, Councillor Frances Beatty, said there were so many positive elements to the initiative - including saving council money at a time when authorities were recovering from the financial impact of the pandemic. She said: “As well as reducing costs, there is the environmental impact of using less paper; being able to buy a permit round the clock and not just in office hours, and the permit is issued instantly – you don’t have to come and collect it or wait for it to arrive in the post. And there is now the option to receive a text reminder to renew your season ticket when it expires." The permits can be for one, three, six or 12 months and can be purchased through ‘Pay by Phone’ via the app, website, phone or text - For more information go to Councillor Beatty added: “We will be contacting the existing permit holders to let them know this is being done as well as putting information on the website and across social media.”

Hopton seat up for grabs at Parish Council An election has been earmarked for October for a seat on a parish council in Stafford Borough. The poll for the Hopton and Coton Parish Council will take place on Thursday 7 October. Polling stations will be at Hopton Village Hall and St John’s Church, Bedford Avenue, Stafford. There are seven seats on the council. A notice of the by-election will be published early next month, along with more details, on Stafford Borough Council’s website - with nominations for the position closing on Friday 10 September. The borough council run the election on behalf of the parish. Further information about the parish council can be found at Parish Councils make decisions that affect the lives of people in their area. They are consulted on local planning matters and are involved in issues such as crime and roads.


Seighford Parish Council celebrate after Lottery funding provides additional facilities Children’s Playing Field Seighford Parish Council realised that the facilities at the Great Bridgeford Playing Field, which was opened more than 30 years ago, could be improved to create a more welcoming space for the local community. It has been awarded more than £21,000 in funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK. With the new funding, the facilities available at the playing field have been improved and include a basket swing, a multi play unit and a zip wire making it a more accessible space for families within Seighford Parish.

David Price, Chairman of Seighford Parish Council told My Village Voice: “Thanks to National Lottery players, we have excellent facilities at the Great Bridgeford Playing Field for children, parents and carers to enjoy. The improvements were an important step for us, especially since the lockdown meant that more local families wanted to take advantage of local green spaces. The support from the National Lottery Community Fund is integral to us, it’s important that this local playing field is now more accessible and the funding has meant that we could make the necessary changes to do exactly that “


• Above:- From left - David Price, Chairman of Seighford Parish Council, Reverend Doug Heming, Vicar of Seighford and County Councillor Jeremy Pert.

Fourth time lucky for Musical Theatre Stafford After postponing their show, Made in Dagenham, the musical, three times due to the pandemic, Musical Theatre Stafford are all set to take the stage again this October. Originally scheduled for April 2020, Made in Dagenham was just weeks from opening when the pandemic hit and everything shut. "Initially the show was pushed back to October of 2020" says Roger Foxcroft chair of the society. Not only have Musical Theatre Stafford had to postpone the show three times, but they have also had to recast several key roles as some of their members are no longer available to perform. Fortunately the production team of Director/Choreographer Rachel Millar and Musical Director Liz Talbot remain the same and are working the cast hard to get the show back to its pre-Covid readiness. Based on the true story of the 1968 Ford sewing machinists strike who downed tools demanding equal pay and sexual equality in the workplace after their work and pay was downgraded to 'unskilled' compared to that of their male counterparts. Their strike action brought car manufacturing to a standstill and caught the attention of the Prime Minister Harold Wilson and Secretary of State Barbara Castle, who intervened. It was a landmark moment for female equality and the actions of the Ford sewing machinists led to the passing of the Equal Pay Act of 1970. The musical was adapted from the 2010 BAFTA-nominated film of the same name, which starred Sally Hawkins, Bob Hoskins, Miranda Richardson, Rosamund Pike, Richard Schiff and Geralfine James, and opened in the West End in 2014 with Gemma Arterton in the lead role. It tells the story of Rita O'Grady, a typical busy woman, mother of two, housewife and sewing machinist, who unexpectedly finds herself taking on the might of the Ford top brass, the unions, her male colleagues and even Westminster in a fight for equal rights in the workplace.

A working class story, Made in Dagenham takes a look at how ordinary people can do extraordinary things when they stand together and is just as relevant today as it was fifty years ago. Made in Dagenham plays at the Stafford Gatehouse Theatre from Wednesday the 20th to Saturday the 23rd of October. Evening performances are at 7.30pm with a 2.30pm Saturday matinee. Tickets start at £15. Booking fees apply. To book tickets visit the Gatehouse Theatre Box Office, call 01785 619080 or go to www.staffordgatehouse For more information about Musical Theatre Stafford go to or follow them on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.


Visit a long-lost Pyramid and the Norman Age All Saints Church Open to the public for two days only For more than a hundred years a mound beside the Trent and Mersey Canal, near Sandon, was overgrown and lost to view. Its purpose remained a mystery, even to local villagers. After being cleared and studied by archaeologists, the structure was revealed to be an eighteenth-century kiln. Its imposing frontage is like part of an ancient pyramid, but this side of the monument is still invisible from the canal, just yards away. The kiln is of exceptional interest. It was built in the 1790s, and was used to burn lime and to prepare flint for use in the pottery industry. In 2011 the kiln was listed as a building of historic and architectural importance. The decision was based partly on • Sandon limekiln is to open to the public as part of this year's Heritage Open Days. the unusual pyramid design, Visitors will be able to explore the ancient tombs; and partly on the technological significance. It is a very rare type of building, and the fact that it is view the 1782 Gallery pew installed to seat Baron largely intact is a real bonus. It has impressed and Harrowby and his family; marvel at ancient wall paintings, the Royal Coat of Arms and Hatchments to the intrigued almost everyone who has seen it. The kiln comes as a surprise even to local people who Harrowby family; admire the beautiful stained-glass have only known the overgrown mound that was visible windows, including one in the Pugin style; and climb the ancient bell tower to chime a bell! from the towpath. The fine collection of church silver will be on display. Sandon limekiln is to open to the public as part of this Children’s craft activities will also be available. year's Heritage Open Days. It will be open free of charge between 12.30 and 4.30pm on Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th September 2021. The volunteers who will be showing the kiln to the public are members of Staffordshire Historic Buildings Trust. The Trust is grateful to the Sandon Estate for permission to open the kiln to the public for these two days. The kiln is in a rural location, beside the Trent and Mersey canal, close to Sandon lock, and reached only from the canal towpath. Sandon lock is about 500 metres from the Dog and Doublet Inn (in the direction of Stafford). The event is free of charge. Further details are available on the Heritage Open Days website: visiting/event/sandon-limekilnl Also...Heritage Open Days take place at All Saints Church, Church Lane, Sandon ST18 0DB The Grade 1 listed church building will be open on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th September from 10am until 4.30pm. A unique behind the scenes tour, (self-guided or supported by volunteer guides), will take you back to the origins of this pre-1130 Norman church through centuries of additions, changes, and reconfigurations. The church, which is situated on the Sandon Estate, overlooks the magnificent Trent Valley. It will be beautifully decorated with floral displays.


They are offering tours of the graveyard, pointing out ancient memorials. Drinks and cakes will be available for a small charge. On Sunday 12th September there will be a warm welcome to visitors to attend a special heritage themed service at 10am. For more information look them up on the Heritage Open Day website; or e-mail Churchwardens@ or telephone Elizabeth on 07534 915068.


Stafford Film Theatre is back Have you missed watching films on the big screen? Stafford Film Theatre, a fixture in the town for over 70 years, is back! After an absence of 18 months during the lockdowns, ‘SFT’ welcomes filmgoers back to The Gatehouse on Tuesday nights, from 14th September 2021. They will again present a varied programme of celebrated English- and foreign-language films. The Autumn season kicks off with multi-award winning Nomadland, an uplifting feature film with Frances McDormand in the leading role, giving a powerful and thought-provoking performance as a middle-aged woman who, after losing everything, travels through the American West, living in her van as one of the modern-day nomads. Set in spectacularly beautiful landscapes, watching this memorable drama on a big screen will remind you why some films are best seen in cinema-surroundings. Some of the other films in the Autumn programme are The Father for which Anthony Hopkins received his 2021 Oscar; Another Round, a Danish film with Mads Mikkelsen, recent winner of Oscar and BAFTA equivalent for Best International Film; Sound of Metal, with Riz Ahmed as a rock drummer who loses his hearing (Oscar winner for Best Sound); and Russian Dear Comrades, a staggering depiction of the hushed-up 1970s massacre of Novocherkassk workers, with superb acting and emotional involvement. For more information about those and the full Autumn season programme, please go to the Stafford Film Theatre website All the movies are shown in The Gatehouse theatre, which has undergone a major refurbishment during lockdown and provides a spacious, Covid-safe environment for enjoying films. The showings are open to anyone, whether on a one-off basis or if choosing to become a (12-film) season member to benefit from discounted rates. Tickets may be bought on the evening or in advance from The Gatehouse by phone (01785 619080) or online at Individual tickets: Full price £8.50* Concession £7.50* Memberships (12 films): Full member £78.00* (price per film £6.50) Concessions £66.00* (price per film £5.50) * prices include The Gatehouse Theatre’s booking fee of £2.00 per ticket.


Largest nature reserve earmarked for heart of Stafford Senior councillors are being asked to give the green light to creating a new nature reserve in the heart of Stafford. The land next to the town’s Fairway would become the largest borough council Local Nature Reserve (LNR) if the go-ahead is given by members of the authority’s cabinet. New trees and flowers would be planted on the huge 42-acre site which is seen as a key initiative in Stafford Borough Council’s climate change and green recovery plan. And declaring it a Local Nature Reserve can help protect the site from future “inappropriate” development, the cabinet will be told. There are already seven LNRs across Stafford Borough. The Borough Council has made tackling Climate Change one of its top priorities and cabinet members will be discussing the proposal for this new site at a meeting on Thursday evening. The borough council owns the large area of floodplain meadow between the River Sow and River Penk to the east of Fairway. A report to the cabinet says the main area has been grazed by a local farmer and has great potential to be enhanced for biodiversity “creating an asset that is rich in wildlife” for the local community to enjoy. The plan will be to restore the floodplain meadows by re-seeding a mix of flowers and planting of Black Poplar trees – once characteristic along rivers, but in serious decline over the last century. Councillor Jonathan Price, Cabinet Member for Environment, said this was a very important step forward in their work to help tackle climate change. He said: “To introduce our largest Local Nature Reserve in the heart of the county town is such a positive step forward and is further demonstration of the commitment to the plans we have set out in our climate change and green recovery strategy. “We have a wonderful opportunity to add to this important green space, restoring habitats and benefitting wildlife, which in turn becomes a special place for people to enjoy and appreciate. “Local Nature Reserves provide a resource for recreation, relaxation and education. They support habitats and species that are important at a local, and often national, level. And by proposing to designate this area an LNR, we are protecting it from inappropriate uses or development.” The cabinet report can be found at Cabinet | Stafford Borough Council (

The Chanteuse Chamber Choir return with a concert Chanteuse Chamber Choir are back and looking forward to ‘bringing some sunshine’ to supporters old and new, as we return to the stage for the first time since lockdown. Research has shown that singing can be good for you on many levels. It can help lower stress, boost immunity and lung function, enhance memory, improve mental health, and help you cope with physical and emotional pain. As a choir, we have faced both challenges and special times together, (births, deaths, marriages, moving home, graduations, new jobs, furlough) to name but a few, yet we have come out the other side much stronger, together. A big thank you has to go to our Musica Director, Sue Brereton-Banks who has worked tirelessly throughout this time and kept us on our toes, our spirits high and our chatter to a minimum (it’s amazing what the ‘mute all’ button can achieve!). She has been the one to ‘make a difference’ to our lockdown experience. We are absolutely thrilled to be singing live to an audience as life returns to some normality after being put on hold for so long. We expect the evening will be both emotional and rewarding for each and every one of us and we are very much looking forward to welcoming back our talented accompanist Les Smith. Our concert ‘This Is Why We Sing’ will take place on Saturday, September 18th at 7.30 pm at St Thomas & St Andrew Church in Doxey. Save the date! Tickets and full details of our concert can be found through our website www.chanteusechamberchoir We are so excited to be sharing our love for music and each other with you, and look forward to seeing some of you there.


COVID vaccination lead nominated for national award for outstanding team effort A key figure in Staffordshires hugely successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign has been shortlisted for a coveted national award. Dr Paddy Hannigan is Clinical Lead for the campaign. He also held that position for the flu vaccination campaign that preceded it. He has been shortlisted in the Clinical Leader of the Year category in the annual awards of specialist healthcare magazine HSJ (Health Service Journal). Dr Hannigan has been a GP in Stafford for 32 years. He has been Chair of Stafford and Surrounds Clinical Commissioning Group since 2013. He said: “I’m very humbled at being nominated, but I need to make it really clear that this recognition is for a team effort. “Delivering two doses of the COVID vaccine and a flu campaign has involved leadership by literally hundreds of people, but I don’t think there was room for all of them on the nomination form. “Every single one has played a huge part in saving lives, and all need to be thanked. We also need to thank everyone on the front line, many who were volunteers or brought themselves out of retirement.” The nomination reads: “Paddy’s personal energy and enthusiasm have driven forward the vaccination programme locally, achieving impressive collaboration from primary care and clinical communities. This has led to Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent achieving some of the highest COVID-19 vaccination rates in the country, and is regularly among the top (sometimes the top) performing systems for vaccination delivery.” Paddy has also become the voice of the campaign, having a weekly radio slot on BBC Radio Stoke where he has answered questions submitted directly from listeners. “What we need to remember is that this is a work in progress,” said Paddy. “We are still committed to get first and second COVID doses to every single person who is eligible. We are also well advanced in planning our campaign to deliver this autumn’s flu campaign and COVID booster jabs – we’ll be talking more about this soon.” Prem Singh, Chair Designate of Together We’re Better – the Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent health and care partnership, said: “The leadership of the vaccination programme has been a truly collaborative effort and Paddy has shown great clinical leadership in leading from the front, engaging with his fellow clinicians, keeping the media, stakeholders and public informed, whilst also delivering vaccines himself.

• Dr Paddy Hannigan, GP and Chair of the CCG Governing Body and Membership Boards Image from “It has been a remarkable achievement by all partners to get every single one of our GP-led Primary Care Networks mobilised by early January 2021, alongside three community vaccination centres and hospital and pharmacy sites, with every citizen in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent being within 10 miles of a site. My sincere and massive thanks to Paddy and everyone involved”

Musical director required for The Healing Voices Choir A passionate and enthusiastic choir leader is needed for this choir for people affected by cancer. Rehearsals are held weekly on a Thursday evening in the Baptist church on Sandon road, Stafford, from 7pm till 9 pm, where we sing a variety of songs of different genres, including pop, show, old classics, gospel and carols at Christmas. Our choir was set up to provide an opportunity for all people affected by cancer to sing together and have fun; to support one another and share experiences; to reduce anxiety, social isolation and promote mental well-being; whilst enjoying the health benefits that can be gained from singing together in a choir. Members don't have to be able to read music or have a great singing voice, and there are no auditions to join as we welcome all new corners-the more the merrier. The post comes with a negotiable fee dependent on experience. For further details and to apply, please contact our secretary: Martin Pugh on 07936 633904 or email:



Council looking for heroes from the villages People are being asked to nominate unsung heroes from across Stafford Borough for a popular annual award. The Stafford Borough Council ‘Community Awards’ are now in their fifth year and recognise the efforts of local people, businesses, schools and other groups that help to support and improve the community. The council is expected to be inundated with nominations because of the number of great deeds being carried out throughout the last 12 months during some of the most challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic. The categories are Local Hero, Community Action, Environmental Improvement and Social Wellbeing. There is also a category to recognise sporting achievements in the borough which was introduced as part of the awards last year. Nominations are open to all people, groups and organisations operating within the borough with projects that have been running during the last 12 months. To find out more about the criteria for each category, and to nominate, go to communityawards The closing date for nominations is 20 September. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Rising Brook Church, Stafford, in November. The awards ceremony last year was held virtually and winners included Fulford Parish Community Action Group who supported more than 400 people with shopping, prescriptions, hospital appointments or making welfare calls. Councillor Jeremy Pert, Cabinet Member for Communities and Health, said: “This is such a great opportunity to recognise those people within our borough who put others before themselves and help make our area a great place to live, work and visit. “In the face of another challenging 12 months we have seen great things from many individuals, volunteers, groups and businesses. “I expect the heroics from our community will see us with lots of nominations – and the most difficult task will be determining a winner, because they are all deserving of our heartfelt thanks, recognition and respect.” He added: “Like many events over the previous year our awards ceremony had to be run virtually in 2020 – and it was still amazing to see so many inspirational people and hear about all the selfless work they were doing for the benefit of others. “Their work often goes unnoticed, so these awards give us the opportunity to pay tribute to them and demonstrate that we value all that they do.” More information and a full list of 2020 winners from


• The hammer-struck gold coin shows the unmistakable profile of Queen Elizabeth I.

Rare Queen Elizabeth I coin sells for a stately sum A gold coin dating to the reign of Queen Elizabeth I was among precious lots that went under the hammer at Cuttlestones’ recent Specialist Gold & Jewellery Sale. When several items of gold came into Staffordshire’s Cuttlestones Auctioneers recently for valuation, gold & jewellery specialist Dave Eglington found himself coming face-to-face with one of the most fascinating women in history. Amid a selection of interesting coins, one particular example stood out – bearing the unmistakable profile of Queen Elizabeth I. The hammer-struck gold coin would not have been in everyday circulation, but used for high value transactions, diplomatic gifts and wealth transfer, its image of Elizabeth in her full splendour as a great Protestant monarch - the equal to any of her Catholic rivals - a political statement. Dating back to 1594-96, the gold pound drew interest from bidders online from around the world - going on to sell for an impressive £8,500. Dave says: “We knew when this coin came in that it was something special – and this was reaffirmed by our coin specialist Adrian Simmons, who uncovered more of the lot’s history. It just goes to show how important it is to get gold and jewellery items professionally valued rather than rely on ‘cash for gold weight’ services – the value of this coin in terms of its weight would have been just £480!” Lots performed exceptionally well across the catalogue, with other highlights including a George VI 1937 gold sovereign which went for £2,400; a diamond and seed pearl antique necklace which fetched £3,000; a hallmarked 9ct gold limited edition Wintston Churchill chalice, which achieved £2,500 and an 18ct gold graduated diamond bangle, which saw the hammer fall at £2,600. Cuttlestones is now taking consignments for its next Specialist Gold & Jewellery auction – to arrange a free, no obligation appointment, call 01785 714 905 or email Full sale results can be found at

Become a magistrate Staffordshire and West Mercia Advisory Committee is seeking applications from those interested in becoming a magistrate on the Staffordshire Bench. New magistrates are needed in the adult criminal court to sit in the Cannock Magistrates Court and at the North Staffordshire Justice Centre in Newcastle under Lyme. These are voluntary positions; you do not need legal training or formal qualifications to become a magistrate and we are looking for applications from across the county and from all sections of the community. Magistrates are not paid (although some allowances, including travelling expenses, can be claimed), and those who are successful in being appointed must be able to attend training and sit in court for at least 13 days a year – this is a minimum requirement. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 65 may apply. Applications are particularly welcome from members of Black and Minority Ethnic communities, people under the age of 50, people in paid employment, and people with a disability who are able, either unassisted or with the benefit of reasonable adjustments, to carry out the full range of a magistrate’s duties. If you are interested in being considered for appointment and want to find out more about the work of a magistrate and how to apply, see: become-magistrate. You may also contact the Chairman of the Staffordshire Bench, Adrian Robinson via email at Applications for adult criminal magistrates open on 1st August 2021 and closes on 10th September 2021 with interviews being held later in the year. Interviews will be held within Staffordshire or if any COVID restrictions continue to apply, virtually. Prior to submitting an application, at least 2 observation visits must be made to a magistrate’s court where magistrates are sitting; each visit should be for a minimum of half a day. Magistrates will tell you what a worthwhile and rewarding position this is – as well as doing something vital within the community, friendships are formed, and magistrates enjoy each other’s company.


All gone to pot Christine Conlin meets the creator of a very special garden Margaret Thomas has no lawn and no flowerbeds to speak of but her garden is all more the wonderful for that. The paved tiers and raised beds behind her bungalow are the “theatre” for her planted pots, statues and a splashy fountain. “The garden is a stage and I set-dress it, then take a seat in the front row under the canopy outside my kitchen door,” says Margaret, pouring me a coffee. The garden is clearly a work of art, so it’s no surprise to learn that Margaret, aged 84 is indeed an artist. Born in Newcastle-on-Tyne, she studied at Hartlepool College of Art, where fellow student Ridley Scott was to become the renowned director of films such as ‘Thelma and Louise’,‘Black Hawk Down’ and ‘Bladerunner.’ Margaret has kept the sketch she made of him for a ‘quick draw’ class exercise. Margaret progressed to Goldsmith’s College London to train as an art teacher, then returned to Hartlepool College of Art as Principal Lecturer in Fine Arts. On marriage, she gave up her job to accompany her husband, an agricultural company representative, on postings in Cheshire and Staffordshire. “I used to draw and paint a lot of farmhouses!” she jokes. When her children were older, Margaret found an outlet illustrating magazines and posters for the Newcastle-under-Lyme Countryside Project. Nearly 10 years ago, she moved to Walton to be close to her son James. “My artistic temperament has come out in my back garden,” she laughs “I don’t know much about flowers – my husband used to do all the gardening,” says Margaret self-deprecatingly. Which is encouraging news for anybody wanting to follow her example.

• Moment of bliss: Margaret relaxes at the top end of her garden

• Quirky features: the miniature village with artificial mini-conifers against the midnight-blue fence


Here are Margarets gardening tips: Her geraniums are mostly cuttings of plants she bought seven years ago. Before the end of October, cut the tops down and bring the plants back inside. Put them on a windowsill or in a conservatory (they prefer cool conditions). If you water them, they’ll flower again, maybe in time for Christmas. In the spring, take cuttings and plant them in small pots, re-potting them once or twice as they grow. After mid-May put them out in the garden again. When the begonias have finished flowering in the autumn, Margaret cuts off the foliage and leaves the corms out to dry. Once they’re fully dry, she wraps each corm in paper and keeps them in a box in her utility room. In mid-March, she pots them up in high-quality compost, leaving the tops of the corms exposed and watering the soil round the edge. Other bedding plants such as fuchsias and petunias she raises from trays of tiny plug plants donating the surplus to friends and neighbours. But Margaret’s secret to keeping her pots looking splendid throughout the season is moving them around regularly. On hot days or if it looks like heavy rain, she brings them back down and puts them under the canopy, where they won’t get frazzled or splashed. She puts the dead heads in the pots in her miniature garden. Another tip – her midnight blue painted fence panels are a dramatic backdrop for her artificial miniature conifers and a golden-leaved hosta. “They say ‘blue and green should never be seen’ but what is more beautiful than a tree in leaf against a bright blue sky?” Margaret muses. Lanterns and spotlights provide visual enjoyment after dark. “It’s my holiday spot,” says Margaret, as she settles down to sketch the water feature. “With the urns, statue and the fountain, it’s my little Italian garden.”

• Portrait of the artist as a young man: Margaret’s brooding study of fellow art school student Ridley Scott.

• Pretty as a picture: Margaret sketching from her ‘front row’ seat


Freedom honour for British Legion in Stafford The Royal British Legion in Stafford has been granted “Freedom of the Borough” by councillors in the town. Stafford Borough Councillors unanimously voted in favour of the proposal by council leader, Patrick Farrington. A report to council said the Freedom of the Borough was in recognition of its services to past and present members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families. Councillor Farrington told the meeting at Rising Brook Community Church in July that the granting of the Freedom was a “fitting honour” for an organisation who had been a great support to many of the serving and former servicemen and women who had made Stafford their home. The Stafford Branch of the Legion (RBL), which is celebrating its centenary year, will be presented with the leather-backed Freedom scroll commemorating the award. The branch was established in July 1921 and is one of the oldest in Staffordshire. It provides financial, social and emotional care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces, past and present, and their families. President of the Stafford Branch RBL, Chas Dale, said: “On behalf of the Stafford Branch, Royal British Legion it is my privilege as president to publicly thank the Borough of Stafford for the truly great honour they have accorded the Branch by conferring the Honorary Freedom of Stafford Borough upon them. “This is a significant year in our Branch history as we were formed on the 8th July 1921 and this award is acknowledgement of the dedication and devotion shown by all of the selfless volunteers who have diligently supported the Stafford Branch over 100 extremely productive years. “Many Armed Forces Veterans and their families living in Stafford have benefitted from the support given to them by these amazing Branch Members and we are all truly grateful for the honour bestowed upon us. On behalf of the Branch and its members I thank the Worshipful the Mayor of Stafford Borough and the Borough Council Members for such a fine tribute that will make our 100th Anniversary year, even more memorable.” The council has the power to confer honorary ‘Freedom’ to people or organisations that have given eminent services to the borough and requires two-thirds of the councillors to agree to it. The last person to receive the honour from the borough council was Olympic gold-medal canoeist, Joe Clarke in 2016.


Bednall plant sale The weather was just kind enough for us to hold the plant sale outside on july 11th, and £452.60 was raised. It was lovely for people to finally meet up, be socially distanced, and to enjoy the newly gained ‘freedom’. The trouble is, it appears that we have become victims of our success! Requests have been made to hold another plant sale next year. This can only happen if you are able to take cuttings, collect seeds etc. in readiness for such an event. Needless to say, the morning would not have been complete without the obligatory tea, coffee and cake! Many thanks to everyone who donated fauna, cakes and their time to help make this such a successful event.

Bednall foodbank Many thanks once again for all your generous donations to the Foodbank. In July, we were able to deliver 785 tins and jars and 80 packets of sweets. Since January you have provided 2,094.85kgs of food. The transporting crew were Debbie, Judith, Liz and Stuart. It is hoped that we can do another run later in September. The red donation box is in the church porch. Thank you once again for your generosity.

Comedian Andy Parsons is coming to Stafford Andy Parsons is back on tour, and HEALING THE NATION reaches the Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford on Thursday, 9th September. Andy is confident that playing to a whole host of theatres across the UK will undoubtedly mend the myriad divisions this country faces. If current media tropes are to be believed, everybody exists in their own social media bubble and are up in arms about everything - be it Brexit/climate change/ transgenders/badgers. So come and celebrate what it means to be British in 2021 - freedom of speech, tolerance, toler-ance of freedom of speech, freedom of intolerant speech, less freedom with more intolerant speech, but still some tolerance. As seen on Mock the Week, Live at the Apollo, Q.I. etc. – and repeated on Dave. As also seen on BBCs Question Time, The Daily Politics, This Week and Newsnight. Since being a writer on the legendary Spitting Image, Andy won the Time Out Comedy Award in 2002 and has performed stand-up all over the world. To date he has done five sell-out national tours and released the DVDs Britains Got Idiots, Gruntled, Slacktivist and Live & Unleashed – But Naturally Cautious. He was also responsible for the Slacktivist Action Group podcast, which played host to a wide range of MPs, journalists and comedians. “A consistently strong exposer of bullshit and a plain-speaking truth-teller through his entire career” – THE GUARDIAN “Potent live performer… can nail a nonsense with beautiful economy of words” – THE TIMES For tickets visit


How to create a great first impression Did you know that the author of “To be or not to be?” also introduced 1,700 words and phrases into the English language, many still in use today? Whenever we talk about “laying it on with a trowel”, “breaking the ice” or use the words “lonely, “frugal” and “dwindle” we’re actually quoting Shakespeare! But how did the Bard’s immortal words survive the rough and tumble world of the Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre and come down to us today? In his garage, printing expert and woodworking genius Alan May has spent 18 months painstakingly recreating the story’s missing link. In the late 1500s and early 1600s, creating new plays was like writing for a modern-day sitcom or soap opera. New scripts were constantly being churned out and the acting company would only keep them if they thought could revive them later. That’s probably why none of Shakespeare’s original manuscripts survive. Alternatively, the script might be sold for a quick profit to a publisher (copyright did not exist back then). Of the 37 plays Shakespeare wrote, 17 were printed individually in his lifetime and one after his death in 1616. Seven years later, two of his fellow actors and friends, John Heminge and Henry Condell, collected and edited the handwritten sources such as early drafts, actors’ copies and prompt books of 18 further plays, collating them with the 17 published plays to produce the first collected and authoritative edition of Shakespeare’s work in print. It’s called the ‘First Folio’ because it was printed on folio-size sheets, roughly A3. Without the First Folio, previously unpublished plays • Holy of holies: the Reading Room of the Folger Shakespeare such as ‘Twelfth Night’, ‘Macbeth’, ‘Julius Caesar’ and Library, Capitol Hill Washington with a First Folio on display. ‘The Tempest’ might have never survived. The title page Photo by Julie Ainsworth. source: https://commons. bears Shakespeare’s portrait – one of only two with any claim to authenticity. Of a probable print run of 750, 235 copies survive today. One of the most valuable printed books in the world, a First Folio recently sold for $10 million. There are seven copies in England, but the largest collection (82 copies) is held by the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, USA. In 2019, four years ahead of the 400th anniversary of the First Folio’s printing in 2023, the Folger approached Alan to recreate a working model of the press it would have been printed on. The press is to be displayed in the expanded exhibition space the library is creating to mark the anniversary. Alan, a retired typography lecturer from Reading University, is one of the very few people in the world with the knowledge and skills to research, design and build replicas of historic printing presses. He already has eight to his credit, including the type of 18th century common press reputedly used • Alas poor Yorick! The first two pages of ‘Hamlet’ in a First Folio by Benjamin Franklin, a founding Source: Wikimedia commons images Folger Shakespeare Library Digital Image father of the USA. Collection For the 2008 BBC TV programme “The Machine that Made Us” presented Germany to print the Bible. As no models or accurate by Stephen Fry, Alan recreated the first printing press, drawings of the Gutenberg press survive, Alan had to invented in the 1450s by Johannes Gutenberg in deduce its design from the pages it had printed.


But for the First Folio press, he had some instructions to go by. Alan takes up the story:“In 1683, 40 years after the First Folio was printed, an Englishman called Joseph Moxon published a book titled ‘Mechanick Exercises on the whole Art of Printing’. This is the first full description of printing and is commendably detailed. It contains descriptions and some drawings of all the printing equipment used at this time including a description of the press.” “Moxon also gives two drawings, one showing the so-called ‘old-fashioned press’ alongside a ‘new-fashioned press’ being used in Amsterdam. But going by the dates, I knew the First Folio press had to be an ‘old-fashioned’ one.” Using his newly-acquired skills in Computer Aided Design, Alan produced working drawings to construct a quarter-scale model. But when he assembled it, an error emerged. It turned out that Moxon’s drawing of the ‘old-fashioned’ press was an inadequate basis for producing a design. “Moxon had an agenda,“ Alan explained. ”He was trying to promote the ’new fashioned’ Dutch press which replaced some of the wooden components of the traditional English Box Hose press with metal components. Moxon refers disparagingly to the traditional English press as the ‘old fashioned press’ but apart from the changes he proposed, the two are almost identical and his modifications were not widely used by later press builders in England.” Going back to the drawing-board, or rather, the CAD screen, Alan took the measurements of the ‘new -fashioned’ press as the basis for building fresh scale models, intuitively adding a component not shown in either drawing but which he knew had to be there. As Stephen Fry said of his Gutenberg press re-creation, “If something feels right, it is right.” In summer of 2019, satisfied that his models were correct, Alan started making the full-scale press, using French oak supplied by local timber merchant Venables. From stock sizes of wood, Alan painstakingly cut, planed, turned and polished the 100 or so components, before assembling them into the vertical frame and its two-pull bed. “The press is quite decorative,” says Alan, pointing out the knobs on the hindposts and the carving round the cap. Some metal components such as the pull bar, press thread and nut were made by Steve Boden Engineering of Uttoxeter, but Alan crafted the hooks and hinges himself plus the metal housing of the box hose (seen behind the pull bar in the photo). The assembly was completed in January this year. What a creative way to spend a lockdown! To satisfy himself that the press was functional, Alan commissioned a Liverpool company to produce a zinc line block based on high-resolution digital images supplied by the Folger Librarian of two First Folio pages. Once the lineblock was delivered, Alan fixed it into the print bed, inked it, put a folio sheet of paper in place, then swung the handle to lower the heavy platen which impresses the paper onto the type beneath. When he lifted the paper off the press, the first two pages of ‘The TRAGEDIE OF HAMLET, Prince of Denmark’ were clearly legible! To ship the press across the pond, Alan will dismantle it, numbering all the components and write detailed instructions for re-assembling it in the Folger. “I’d love to go over myself,” he says, “but if my health prevents me from travelling, my son Martin, who taught me how to use CAD, will do the job instead.” Built on Washington’s Capitol Hill, the Folger Shakespeare Library has the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare’s printed works. It was established in 1932 by Standard Oil Magnate Henry Clay Folger in association with his wife

• Perfect copies: Alan prints a trial copy of two First Folio pages ‘Hamlet’ using his replica printing press

Emily Jordan Folger, who chaired the foundation after her husband’s early death. The building also houses a theatre and its the interior of its reading room is modelled on an Elizabethan country house. The library offers both advanced scholarly programmes and national outreach to schoolteachers on Shakespeare education. It also has an early-music consort. Alan expects the press to be used for experimentally printing individual First Folio pages. This will use the earlier print process of moveable metal type, where individual lead-cast letters were placed in a forme to make up a page of text. “Using moveable type meant that printed sheets could be proofed and corrected while the book was still being printed,” Alan explains. For example, a letter might have been printed upside down and would need to be turned round so it would print correctly after that. But the First Folio printers still used the sheets with errors on them. They were probably working to a budget!” “As as result, there are differences from one copy of the First Folio to another,” Alan continues. “That’s why Shakespeare scholars are debating to this day whether this or that wording in a First Folio is correct.” But one thing’s for sure, when it takes its place in the Folger Shakespeare Library, Alan’s replica of the First Folio printing press will make one helluva good impression!


Leading the way – Community leaders set out for charity fundraiser Three community leaders will be walking the length of Staffordshire over eight days this summer to raise money for local charities. Jeremy Lefroy, the previous Member of Parliament for Stafford, Stafford Borough Council Leader Patrick Farrington and the Cabinet Member for Communities and Heath, Jeremy Pert are aiming to raise £5,000 walking the Staffordshire Way - from Mow Cop in the north to Kinver Edge in the South over eight days between August and October. The fundraising effort follows a difficult eighteen months in which a significant amount of charity fund raising was not possible. As well as the drop off in charity receipts the three leaders want to highlight the expected increase in demand in specific areas, such as mental health support, as the country continues to recover from the pandemic. The route planned takes in some of Staffordshire’s most scenic countryside and covers a total of 92 miles and it is hoped the walk will raise £5,000 for local charities - with the money being administered by the Community Foundation for Staffordshire as part of the Stafford Together fund that was launched in 2018. People can donate by going to fundraising/staffordshireway21 The walk was the brainchild of Jeremy Lefroy who told My Village Voice “I have often wanted to walk The Staffordshire Way since it was opened in 1983 and follow in the footsteps of many other people who have walked the path but never had the time before, so it seemed an ideal opportunity to tie the two elements of fund raising and walking together when I took over as chair of local charity, Stafford Together. The fact that I am being joined along the way will make it all the more special.” Stafford Borough Council Leader, Councillor Patrick Farrington said: “When Jeremy mentioned that he was going to walk The Staffordshire Way, encompassing many of the hidden gems that Staffordshire has to offer, whilst supporting the response to the pandemic, it seemed the obvious thing to do, although daunting nonetheless.” Cabinet Member for Communities and Health on Stafford Borough Council, Councillor Jeremy Pert said: “Within the Borough Council we have been trying to encourage walking as a route to better health and wellbeing, whether it is a circular route of a mile – or nearly one hundred – the important point is to take that first step, so this seemed like a natural thing to take part in, whether I feel the same way throughout is a different story. However we are encouraging people and groups who might want to walk a mile or the whole day with us to get in contact via the Community Foundation or for those that might want to help us achieve our fund raising target of £5,000, then please visit the Just Giving webpage. I hope people will feel able to support this initiative either on the days as we navigate through Staffordshire in person or through any donations that they may be able to make. It will be great to see anyone along The Way.” For more details for individuals or walking groups wanting to join the walk along the way, please contact Councillor Jeremy Pert on 07740 924659 or



Proms in the playground get kids finger snapping

• Pictured from left - Seventeen-year-old James Deane made an entrance at Stafford Prep with a sousaphone. He is pictured with reception class pupils Sebastian Farmer, Henrietta Bradford, Tawana Matawa, Rosalie Simmons, Emily Calvert, Hayley Strzelczyk, Louis Rogers. A blend of Dixieland and 1940s swing got children finger snapping and toe-tapping when teenage musicians dropped in at four schools to share their passion for jazz. As Stafford Grammar School’s Big Band performed proms in the playground, they steered young pupils on a musical journey which began in the style of pioneering early 20th century New Orleans Dixieland, through to traditional jazz, swing, 1960s gospel and funk music. The 15 music makers visited Stafford Prep, Yarlet and Stone’s Christ Church Academy before heading out to Newport-based Castle House as part of their whistle stop roadshow. They demonstrated saxophones, trumpets, trombones,

a double bass, piano and drum kit. But the wow factor came in the shape of a sousaphone, played by SGS sixth former James Deane. Gavin Lamplough, Stafford Grammar’s director of music, said: “The sousaphone is like a wrap-around tuba. It’s fun, light hearted and is quite a spectacle! Our Big Band members also belong to a Dixieland group and they played a piece at each venue as we wanted to give youngsters a history of that American popular style. “The aim was to inspire them to take up an instrument, if they don’t play one already, and to show them a style of music they might not ordinarily come across.”

Sport and theatre projects approach finish line Sports-loving pupils will celebrate the launch of a state-ofthe-art artificial turf surface as they return to school. A project to build a 40m² multi use games area (MUGA) at Stafford Grammar is on track for completion this month, creating new opportunities for coaching hockey, football, netball and tennis skills. Performing artists are also eagerly awaiting the unveiling of a multi-thousand pound theatre renovation, thanks to the generosity of a donor who wishes to remain anonymous. Youngsters will tread the boards in a freshly decorated, bigger space with a new front stage. SGS pitched in for its first artificial surface to complement the existing 16 acres of sports fields within its 38-acre grounds. The MUGA is being constructed on a spare piece of land used by pupils for recreation at lunchtime. Head teacher, Lee Thomas said: “While I’m proud of our school’s continued academic success, I believe that young people thrive when they’re involved in a wide-range of activities beyond the classroom. The developments taking place will enrich our pupils’ experience even further. “The school has some very sporty students and we wanted to create a space with a cutting-edge surface for them to use for training. However, regardless of sporting ability, we want all students to get involved in sport and to take part as it’s great for their all-round development.


• Head teacher Lee Thomas celebrates the creation of Stafford Grammar’s first artificial grass sports surface. “To enhance our performing arts provision, students will be able to showcase the quality of their theatrical work in a dedicated space, with much better views for the audience. Along with our new dance studio beneath the stage, this will create a performing arts area right at the centre of the school.”

Great Bridgeford Village Hall opening

• Peter declares the hall open - Deputy Mayor and Mayoress Peter and Joy Jones with Village Hall Chairman Andy Wright The Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayoress Councillor Peter and Mrs Joy Jones officially opened Great Bridgeford Village Hall following renovations after the lockdown on Saturday July 24. A fete took place in the hall following the opening which was well attended by the local community. During the lockdown the hall was refurbished and now the many groups who use the facilities are re-starting sessions. For more details of the facilities and bookings contact Leslie Longstaff on 01785 282582.

Ant and Dec are looking for the brave! A brand new ITV Saturday night game show, called Fortune Favours the Brave, is set to be hosted by a very well-known pair! They’re looking for enthusiastic, daring and confident pairs of people to apply for the show from the Stafford areas. The show is being produced by Ant & Dec's production company, Mitre Studios, and people can apply with a parent, sibling, partner, housemate, neighbour, colleague or even your bestie. There are massive, life-changing amounts of money to play for - and it's a fun, fast-paced entertainment quiz-based show - with a huge twist! For more information and people can apply at the following link:



Why Cannock ‘Chase’? by Church Eaton’s Nick Lakin

• This unused postcard view is looking eastwards on Broadhurst Green Road on Cannock Chase, close to the crossroads with Chase Road, Broadhurst Green and Penkridge Bank Road. Taken 1910 - 1920 (c.) The house on the left is now (September 2021) Fallow Forest Cafe and Farm Shop. Please contact us if you can identify the man standing by the gate Photo courtesy of I had been planning to write a piece on ‘The Chase’ which has to be our most important natural amenity. Well, those plans encountered something of a hiccup when I opened the July/August edition of MVV only to find an excellent piece which articulated some of the reasons why the Chase is so important and eminently worthy of everyone’s efforts to preserve it for posterity ( over the last two hundred years or so, over 80% of the UK’s heathland has been lost). Just how important the Chase is can be seen in the statistic that over 1.5 million people visit every year. As well as two types of deer and adders, the Chase teems with wildlife from butterflies and moths to lizards and squirrels. It covers an area of up to 80 square kilometres with a wealth of pathways although not all of it is open to the public and is the country’s smallest Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The land is managed by Staffordshire County Council and contains up to 2 million trees although there was a reduction of those numbers not too long ago in order to edge the Chase back to being heathland. Now it is an area of grasses, heather and gorse with scattered silver birch all of which thrive on acidic poor soil conditions. However, there are some tales which throw a rather different light on the delights of our natural amenity and not always as pleasant. For example, back in 1988, there were reports of UFO sightings by credible people which, it transpired, had received discussion at Government level. Documents released in 2012 contained reports that lights in the sky had been seen over the Chase by ‘perfectly sane people’ and this had been discussed at the MoD. One of the people who saw the lights reported there having been two lights of triangular shape which were visible for around four minutes after which they climbed vertically into the night sky. The incident was dismissed as having been airline traffic from Birmingham


airport but the person who reported the incident said that the lights were very close to ground level which would have argued against them having been commercial aircraft. …and then, of course, there are the rumours of ghostly goings-on. For a number of years there have been reports of ghostly activity and some of these alleged sightings have been made during the hours of daylight. In addition, we have reports of a phantom cyclist who rides an old-fashioned bicycle on the A513 between Little Haywood and Rugeley and always during the day. In fact, the Chase has been mentioned as being amongst the ten most haunted places in the country. However, the tale of an alien pushing a car uphill at Brocton in the Sixties should be taken with a large pinch of sodium chloride……unless it was a Trabant, of course, in which case it would have been more likely to have been a former East German female shot putter! So, not necessarily the place in which to go astray on a winter’s day as nightfall and snow approach – which is precisely what my great friend John from Leicester did a few years back. We were walking back to the car when John got a call from his son who was abroad somewhere and who had lost his wallet. John, who has an uncanny ability to concentrate on a single issue to the exclusion of all else, wandered off to get a better signal. I carried on to the car but there was no sign of him and the snow was coming thick and fast by then. It was virtually a totally black early evening by the time he reappeared to my great relief, and his the more so! Oh, I nearly forgot, so why Cannock ‘Chase’? Towards the end of the 13th century it was known as The Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield’s ‘Chase’. Not surprisingly, the name originated from the French for ‘hunt’, that is, Chasser. Thanks to the Shropshire Star and Staffordshire Past Track



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My Village Voice - September & October 2021  

My Village Voice - September & October 2021  


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