Forum Focus The free monthly news magazine for the Blandford area
January 2021 Issue No.106 Est: 2012
The team at Forum Focus wish all our readers and advertisers a very Happy New Year
Sylvia celebrates a life well lived FAMILY members from across the world 'zoomed in' on the 100th birthday celebrations of Whitecliffe House resident Sylvia Spooner, who worked for military intelligence during the Second World War and married into a prominent Blandford family. Sylvia, nĂŠe Blest, was born in Streatham, London, in November 1920. In her late teens she was staying with an English lady and her husband, a German General, in Bavaria when she attended a Hitler rally in Munich and had a chilling foretaste of looming trouble in store for the world. She was later taken to visit Austria after its annexation from Germany. Back in London and training as a secretary with German language skills, she was taken on by the MI5 section responsible for handling intelligence on threats to rail transport and her first posting was at Wormwood Scrubs prison. Her son Edward said: "She always used to say how she and the other secretaries had to be very careful not to let the doors of their offices close because, of course, they were cells and couldn't be opened from the inside." Near the start of the London Blitz which began on September 7, 1940, and continued for 57 days and nights, Sylvia and her col-
leagues were moved to Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill. In their spare time they received art history lectures by Anthony Blunt, the MI5 employee later exposed as a Soviet spy, and skated on Capability Brown's lake. Her office was in one of the cold wooden huts built in the Great Court so she was one of the original 'Blenheim Girls' who lived in Keble College, Oxford. Sylvia transferred to Ghana in west Africa where she met and married Arthur Spooner, a colonial officer from Dorset. Arthur was one of the sixth generation of the family with strong Blandford connections. He was the son of Dr William Caswell Spooner, who lived at Coupar House, where Arthur was born, in the early part of the 20th century, and was District Medical Officer, Public Health Vaccinator and Certifying Factory Surgeon for Blandford, initiating the Blandford detachment of the Red Cross. He died in 1922 aged 46. Arthur's brother, Dr William Henry Casswell Spooner, born in 1909, followed in his father's footsteps practising in Blandford, latterly from the Old Bank House, and died in 1958 in a boating accident. â€˘ To Page 2
Wartime MI5 worker cracks the secret of reaching 100
Blandford enjoys a different kind of Christmas: Pages 10-11
Sylvia Spooner celebrates her 100th birthday at Colten Care's Whitecliffe House care home in Blandford.
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Where to Sylvia celebrates a Woman hurt find Forum very special birthday in mugging attempt Focus FOR the duration of the Covid19 emergency the number of Forum Focus pick-up points has reduced due to the closure of many premises. However we hope it will again be in re-opened village pubs and venues, in addition to publishing on our website and distribution through social media and email. Currently confirmed pickup points are: Blandford and Blandford St Mary: Tesco and Homebase, Blandford St Mary; Lidl and Bartletts in Shaftesbury Lane; Morrisons, Greyhound Yard; M&S, Langton Road; the Spar Shop in the Market Place; Chaffers and Iceland in Salisbury Street; James Newsagents in The Plocks; The Post Office in the Tabernacle; The 3Cs in Damory Street; The Co-op, Damory Garage and One Stop in Salisbury Road; Blandford Hospital in Milldown Road; Central Shop in Heddington Drive. Sturminster Newton: The Emporium and shops in Market Square, The Exchange. In the villages: Bryanston Bryanston Club; Child Okeford The Cross Stores; Iwerne Minster - the Post Office; Langfton Long Abbots Nursery; Pimperne phone box and church; Shillingstone - Garage and Coop; Spetisbury - Village Hall and Clapcotts Farm; Stourpaine - The White Horse Inn; Tarrant Keyneston - St Richard Close bus stop; Tarrant Launceston and Gunville Farm Shops.
• From Page 1 Sylvia and Arthur had two sons, Charles and Edward, who was born in Blandford Hospital. But Arthur continued working in Ghana, with further assignments in The Gambia and Nigeria, until the family came to live in Tarrant Gunville from the early 1960s. Prior to her move to Whitecliffe House, Sylvia lived in Ryan Court, Blandford. Asked for Sylvia's secret of longevity, son Edward said: "The most important aspect is that she has always been connected with people, helping everyone and anyone. "Aside from that, plenty of exercise, including going up and down the village on her old bike
and keeping her mind active by reading." Having arranged the centenary Zoom call, team members at Whitecliffe House helped Sylvia open her cards, presented her with a homemade cake and invited all callers to sing Happy Birthday. They helped her welcome 26 Zoom groups for chats and good wishes during her special day from family members and friends in the UK, Canada, Australia, The Gambia and the United States. "It worked really well even though people were in different time zones around the world," said Debbie Easter, the home's companionship team leader. "In Vancouver and Seattle it was 3am for example. "Sylvia acknowledged all the greetings and the cards people sent, including her card from the Queen. Sylvia is a very bright lady and we were delighted to help her celebrate her 100th birthday with a party that involved her Sylvia, on the left in the cart, on a farm in Kent aged nine whole family and many friends." in 1929.
A WOMAN in her 40s was hit in the face during an attempted robbery as she walked in the alleyway between Salisbury Road and Barnes Close, Blandford, on Thursday November 26. A man, described as around five feet six inches tall and in his early 20s, wearing a black hooded top, demanded money from her before hitting her and causing several minor cuts to her face. He then ran off into Barnes Close, having stolen no money. Police have launched an appeal for information, and Detective Constable Sean Garrett said enquiries had included CCTV and house-tohouse visits, but asked anyone in the area at around 7pm that day who saw or heard anything to contact him. "I would also like residents and local motorists to check footage from their home CCTV systems and dashcams and to call Dorset Police if they find anything that may be relevant to my investigation." Anyone with information can contact Dorset Police at dorset.police.uk, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55200178420.
NEIGHBOURS in Oak Mews, Blandford, celebrated an early Christmas present when they became winners of £1,000 each in the Postcode Lottery draw on December 4. The draw that week was promoted by African Parks, managers and restorers of national parks in Africa, which has received over £4.3 million in funding from the players of Lottery.
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Publican’s food aid THE landlord of The Anchor at Shapwick, Rich Magrath, has been spending his new-found spare time during lockdown supporting the Wimborne Food Facility. It is a project run out of the Allendale Centre to distribute food donations to those in need, and the Friendly Food Club providing hot meals or ingredients, knowledge and confidence to make their own to the vulnerable and disadvantaged. He said that during the first lockdown he was kept busy with building works and improvements at the pub, but when the second lockdown hit, he took his excess stock and collected fresh food from other cafés and restaurants around Wimborne for the project. He said: "I didn't realise the severity of the problem in Wimborne. It's not something that you imagine would affect this town." He worked with Sally of the Friendly Food Club, who uses his pub as her local, by opening up part of his pub kitchen and cooking and delivering meals to the Allendale Café in Wimborne.
Solar farm’s £40m deal to deliver power to the City SOLAR energy generated by a solar farm in Spetisbury is set to power the City of London as part of a 'pioneering' £40 million green energy deal which could provide a blueprint for local authorities seeking to reduce carbon emissions and cut costs. The City of London Corporation - the governing body of the Square Mile - has signed a power purchase agreement with Voltalia to buy all the electricity produced for 15 years by the 95,000-panel development at South Farm granted planning permission by Dorset Council in February. The deal, the first of its kind in the UK to be signed directly between a renewables producer and governing authority, will enable Voltalia to leverage cash to build the facility, while saving the City Corporation around £3 million in energy costs. The Corporation says the arrangement will allow cost certainty, avoid the risks involved with local authority-owned energy firms, and provide over half the authority's electricity, powering buildings including its historic Guildhall headquarters, three wholesale markets and the Barbican arts centre. Its Climate Action Strategy, launched earlier this year, commits it to making the Square Mile net zero for carbon emissions by 2040 - 10 years earlier than Government goals. Jamie Ingham Clark, Chair of the City of London Corporation's Corporate Asset SubCommittee, said: "This is a pio-
neering scheme which we hope will lead the way for local authorities across the UK. It means they can play their part in reducing emissions without the risks of owning their own energy firms or infrastructure and without the need for Government funding. "Like many organisations, we face an uncertain economic landscape in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19. However, we can't allow that to prevent us tackling climate change, which is now recognised as a global issue requiring immediate action and investment." Voltalia CEO Sebastien Clerc said: "We are very proud to support the City of London Corporation in its 2040 net carbon zero target by providing clean electricity. It confirms our leadership in corporate PPA solutions and highlights our capacity to respond to organisations' challenges when it comes to energy transition. "Our model, know-how and strong track-record across the value chain of renewable infrastructure enable us to offer competitive and de-risked energy." The City Corporation has been sourcing 100 per cent renewable electricity through existing infrastructure since 2018 but says the deal with Voltalia will enable the creation of new green infrastructure, reduce the need for fossil fuels and help meet green energy goals.
Rich Magrath in his kitchen at The Anchor in Shapwick.
Success with a sparkle LANGHAM Wine Estate at Crawthorne have been declared the international sparkling wine maker of the year in the International Wine & Spirit Wine Producer of the Year 2020 competition, one of the largest competitions of its kind. Their Blanc de Blancs 2015 was awarded a Gold Medal, and the rest of the range were all awarded Silver Medals, earning them the title among over 700 entries, including many of the major champagne houses as the producer demonstrating highest quality and consistency across their range.
New board recalls rail stationâ€™s history A NEW information board has been installed in Station Court at the entrance to the North Dorset Trailway, detailing the history of the site which from 1863 to 1970 was home to Blandford railway station. The board shows a layout of the station describing its role as the main conduit for over 100 years for freight including mail, coal, military equipment, household goods, brewery and agricultural equipment and products. There are pictures of the goods yard in operation, with photographs of railway workers in the 1940s, Winston Churchill's visit with the King during World War I, the goods shed, and the view down onto the platform from the Alexandra Street iron bridge. The board has been commissioned by the Blandford Stour
Rotary Club in association with Blandford Railway Club as one in a series of boards along the route of the former railway. It is part of the 30th anniversary project launched by the Rotarians who from 2013 onwards established a fund to celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2018 by contributing to a worthwhile project. One of the projects chosen was to provide enhancements to the North Dorset Trailway to better present its past on the route of the Somerset & Dorset Railway. Last year another information board was sited at the Milldown, site of the World War I prisoner-ofwar camp, and the buffers at the end of the Trailway, originally put in place as a reminder of the 'end of the line' after the closure of the railway, were restored with the help of the Railway Club, Dorset Rangers and contractors Mark Farwell.
Alan Cross of Blandford Railway Club with David Rose, centre, and Graham Colls of Blandford Stour Rotary at the information board in Station Court.
Six monthsâ€™ jail for death crash driver A MAN who repeatedly tailgated other cars has been sentenced to six months in prison, nearly two years after causing a crash at Kingston Lacy which resulted in the death of a passenger in another car. Harvey Amey, 21, of Victoria Gardens, Trowbridge, appeared before Bournemouth Crown Court to admit causing death by careless driving when he was 19. His Vauxhall Corsa was involved in the accident on the B3082 Badbury Rings road between Blandford and Wimborne on the early afternoon of Bank Holiday Monday, May 28, 2018. Witnesses told police how he had repeatedly accelerated up close behind before attempting to overtake or overtaking, and
when traffic in front of him stopped for a car to make a right turn, he was not paying attention and ran into the car in front, which in turn span into the path of an oncoming Renault Clio. The Clio was being driven by Andrew Pike of Blandford, whose father Raymond - known to friends and family as Cliff was in the front passenger seat, with his wife Cynthia, daughter Susan Downs and grand-daughter Emily Downs on the back seat. Mr Pike senior, who was 84, suffered serious chest injuries, and spent a confusing and painful time in various hospitals, with his family regularly at his bedside, until his death four-and-a-half months later.
Planners give the green light for homes and demolition of Nordon DETAILED plans for 40 affordable homes on the site of the former North Dorset District Council headquarters Nordon, which will follow the demolition of the Edwardian villa built for brewery chief George Woodhouse at the turn of the 20th century, have finally been given the go-ahead by Dorset Council. The application by Aster Housing was approved in accordance with the recommendation of case officer Robert Lennis at Dorset Council's northern planning committee meeting on December 15. It had been revised only slightly after being submitted in June last year following finalisation in April of the outline approval given in February 2019 by North Dorset District Council. Committee chairman Sherry Jespersen stressed that they could not revisit that outline approval, despite concerns that only 12 of the units were legally required to be affordable, saying the council was as confident as it could be that Aster would stick to their agreement to provide 40. Mr Lennis said the redesign had adequately addressed concerns and there would be no harm to the Conservation Area in addition to that which would result from the already approved demolition of Nordon. Ward member Councillor Byron Quayle said he would refrain from talking about the petition
signed by 2,000 people against the development and the "shameful" way North Dorset came to its decision but urged councillors to reject what was overdevelopment with adverse impact on the townscape. "We are not Nimbies but this is the wrong development here," he said. Retired architect John Turnbull feared the 40 affordable homes promised were unlikely to materialise. He said: "Within a very short space of time Aster will be submitting an application to remove the affordability of the remaining 28 units on the basis that the scheme is not economically viable, and these 28 units will become open market houses." He also queried the affordability of shared equity provision in the light of the Covid pandemic which had made it impossible for many people to raise a deposit, obtain a mortgage and pay rent on part of a shared ownership dwelling. There were objections from Blandford Town Council, which reaffirmed its earlier objection to the detailed application, saying that the reduction in the enforceable affordable housing from 100 per cent to 40 per cent significantly reduced the reason and justification for damaging the Conservation Area. They also called for the highest modern and energy efficient specifications, and said the
design should better reflect the character of other buildings, the Victorian almshouses opposite at Barnes Homes and the predominantly Victorian/Edwardian homes on the eastern side of Salisbury Road. A statement from Blandford & District Civic Society, which launched the petition against the demolition and redevelopment, was circulated to councillors. It said that changes to the design, described by the conservation officer as 'tokenistic', had persuaded him to withdraw his objection, but were not an adequate response to the loss of "a significant part of the Blandford Conservation Area with overdevelopment in pursuit of 'so-called 'affordable' homes which may not, in the final analysis, be affordable at all." After much discussion, Councillor Belinda Ridout proposed approval, seconded by Council Brian Heatley, which was accepted by five votes to three. Councillor Val Pothecary said: "This was always going to be a difficult one given the background. I have heard 'acceptable' a number of times during this debate - it's not wonderful, it's not great, it's acceptable. I am disappointed that there are not more elements of significance and character, but you have good design with an affordable legacy."
Cash backing boosts rock festival hopes
The easing of lockdown meant local charities were able to resume some of the fundraising they had been unable to carry out for much of the year. Pictured in The Shambles doing the tombola and Christmas stall for the Blandford Opportunity Group on December 12 are Niki Roper, Carly Ricketts and Jane Farnhill.
BLANDFORD festival Teddy Rocks, which raises funds for children's cancer charity Teddy 20 and was forced to cancel its 2020 event, has secured a new sponsorship deal which will hopefully ensure that it can go ahead from Friday April 30 to Sunday May 2, 2021, at Charisworth Farm, Thornicombe. Dorset-based online marketplace OnBuy has sponsored the festival since 2018, and the new deal offering further sponsorship will mean that it will in total have donated ÂŁ120,000. Cas Paton, founder and CEO of OnBuy, said: "Knowing the impact cancer has on a family, I feel a strong affinity with the incredible work of the Teddy20 charity. "The pandemic has had an immense impact on not-for-profit organisations and charities, meaning many are unable to continue providing the services and care they have done for so many years. "I wanted to ensure that Teddy Rocks Festival had the funds to operate for the next couple of
years to continue the great work it does with children affected by cancer for many years to come." The annual festival was launched by Tom Newton in 2012 as a way of raising money for the charity set up and run by his parents, Owen and Kim Newton, after their younger son Ted was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer and died at the age of ten. Tom said: "2020 has been incredibly hard for us. Having to postpone the festival was devastating but we are buoyed up and raring to go for 2021. OnBuy's donation has set us in good stead for it to be an epic weekend. "Cas and the OnBuy team always go above and beyond to help the festival. That has ranged from helping with design and sourcing event supplies, to standing in the crowd and singing along to the bands. Without the support of sponsors, financial or otherwise, we simply couldn't put the festival on." To find out more about the event or book tickets, see teddyrocks.co.uk.
Fencing erected to safeguard the otters EXTRA fencing has been erected at the banks of the River Stour in a bid to protect the wild otters nesting there. Disturbing the animals, which are a protected species, is an offence and police have attended a number of otter disturbances involving members of the public and wildlife photographers in recent weeks. PC Claire Dinsdale, deputy lead for wildlife crime at Dorset Police, said: "These included alleged reports of people entering fenced-off areas and in some cases entering the water itself to get closer to the otters. If anyone does witness any disturbance we would urge the public to report this to the police." Officers from Dorset Police's rural crime team were joined by Dorset Council rangers and staff from
the UK Wild Otter Trust (UKWOT) to put up the fencing and signage at the site near Blandford. Some fencing was already in place, following reports of photographers putting large lenses down the natal holts, the riverside dwellings where female otters give birth and raise cubs for their first three months. Now further fencing has been put up along the Stour to prohibit access to a wider area of the riverbank. But onlookers are still able to observe and photograph the otters. Dave Webb, founder of UKWOT said: "The further fencing will not prevent anyone from taking photographs or enjoying the wildlife at the site but it will remove the risk of disturbance at a sensitive site."
Blandford Citizens Advice is now open every Tuesday from 10am to 2pm but because of Covid-19 restrictions is operating a triage service, with appointments via telephone or email. Messages can be left for callbacks on 01747 835016. Advice is available outside of these hours by the free adviceline service on 0800 144 88 48 or by email to email@example.com.
Battlelines drawn as homes estate plans go to inquiry THE importance of a group of protected lime trees and impact on open downland sandwiched between two areas of outstanding natural beauty were the main issues in a public inquiry into Bellway Homes' proposal for 350 homes opposite Tesco in Blandford St Mary. The seven-day inquiry was heard virtually for the Planning Inspectorate by inspector Paul Griffiths, who took evidence for the appellants Bellway Homes, represented by counsel Satnam Choongh, from their urban design and planning manager David Nash, and their landscape consultant Andrew Cook. Defending Dorset Council's lack of decision on Bellway's detailed application following outline approval for up to 350 homes on the site, 89 of which already have detailed approval, were counsel Peter Wadsley, Richard Burden for the Cranborne Chase AONB, and the council's urban design consultant John Hewitt. Mr Burden said the AONB had consistently opposed the development because of its impact on the relationship between the Cranborne and Dorset AONBs, and its impact on the International Dark Skies status of the Cranborne Chase AONB. The inquiry was told by Mr Hewitt that Dorset Council had confirmed that they would have refused planning permission, and that the proposal would result in a harmful impact on the character and appearance of the site, in particular the group of protected lime trees which were a feature of the downland landscape. He said the built form, including the height and design of houses on the upper slope, was also unacceptable in response to the visually sensitive nature of the site within the setting of the two AONBs. He said when outline permission was granted for up to 350 homes, it was recognised that the developer would need to prove the capacity of the site and argued that the site could not accommodate that number.
To achieve satisfactory mitigation measures, the capacity needed to be reduced to around 300 units, he said, putting forward an alternative proposal allowing more landscaping. Mr Nash said Bellway had bought the site on the understanding that 350 homes could be built and if fewer were allowed it would affect how many of more than 100 affordable units proposed could be provided. He agreed that the upper slope was part of the downland landscape as opposed to the lower slope in the valley which is already being built out, and said the lime trees would remain a key feature in the scheme, but while pleasant, did not have the importance attributed to them by the council. He said the alternative approach, suggested by Mr Hewitt, of creating bunds and plateaus would mean a wholesale change to the hillside involving thousands of lorry loads removing soil and costing ÂŁ2.6 million, and that the Bellway proposal, working with the grain of the hillside, included 42 landmark buildings which was not the standardisation being suggested by Mr Hewitt. Mr Cook said the proposal was a natural extension of the highquality and award-winning Bryanston Hills development on the opposite side of the A350 which was also in keeping with other settlements along the A350 at Charlton Marshall and Spetisbury. He described Mr Hewitt's proposal as a shallow cut-and-coast quarry which would result in slopes, gradients and reduced water tables, as well as considerable soil removal and associated traffic movements. Evidence was also given by Bellway's planning consultant Steve Clark, and Dorset Council's landscape consultant Peter Radmall and planning consultant Mark Wood. The inspector's decision on the planning application and parties' applications for costs is expected later in the year.
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Nickyâ€™s busy year IT'S been quite a year for Nicky Warren, who after years working at Blandford Post Office in The Tabernacle bought the business in November 2019 from Eddie Herbert, its owner since its remodelling and refurbishment in 2013. Although she's been able to remain open throughout the lockdowns as an essential business, it has not exactly been business as usual, with opening hours varying considerably. But she has been able to establish a small stationery and gift shop, which has helped to increase footfall, and after celebrating her first anniversary as owner during the second lockdown, was open in December for eight-and-a-half hours on weekdays, five-and-a-half on Saturdays, and for four hours on two Sundays for the Christmas postal rush. She said: "I'm really grateful for all the support I have received from my staff and from the community."
Two more crashes add to village â€˜blackspotâ€™ fears VILLAGERS living alongside the A354 at Pimperne were shocked to witness two accidents in the space of two days on the stretch of road between the bridge over the brook and the turning into Church Road. The bridge was hit and damaged for the third time in nine months at around 6am on December 4. "Surely Dorset Council must now agree that this is an accident blackspot," said witness John Tanner, who lives close to the bridge and called 999 to report the accident. He said the police arrived very quickly and efficiently and the only occupant of the car was OK. But the following morning, a car went out of control at the junction with Church Road, crashing into a wall of The Willows opposite the entrance to the Archway PreSchool. A passenger suffered serious injuries and the driver was arrested. Police attended, together with two fire appliances and the air
ambulance. Police appealed for witnesses to the collision, which happened at 9.45am when a black Citroen being driven towards Blandford crossed to the offside of the road and struck the wall. A Police spokesman said: "The driver, a local man aged in his 20s, sustained slight injuries and was taken to the Dorset County Hospital for treatment. His passenger, a local woman in her 20s, sustained serious injuries and was flown by air ambulance to Southampton General Hospital. Her condition was described as serious, but stable." The driver was arrested on suspicion of driving offences and has been released under investigation while enquiries continue. Sergeant Lee Savage, of the traffic unit, said: "I am appealing to anyone who was travelling along the A354 either at the time or before the collision to please contact Dorset Police. "I am particularly keen to hear
The crashed car and demolished wall on December 5. from any motorists who may have captured the Citroen car travelling before the incident on dashcam to please get in touch." Anyone with information is asked
to contact Dorset Police on 101, quoting occurrence number 55200182977, or the free and anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111.
Food bank answers the cry for help over the festive season A TOY appeal, a donation of over £1,600 of fresh meat vouchers and the support of a local care home helped Blandford Food Bank provide for those in desperate need over the Christmas period. Following the success of the last two years' meat voucher appeal, the Lions Club and Stour Rotary kicked off the 2020 appeal with donations of £300 each. A further £1,000 was raised on Facebook and Mato's butchers added vouchers for £50. Blandford Food Bank manager Gail Del Pinto said: "This is an amazing gift to the food bank and we will ensure that all our vulnerable families will receive a meat voucher alongside their food parcel at Christmas. "Toys have also been donated to the food bank from our recent toy appeal and from local benefactors and schools. Any family in need of toys had to be referred to the food bank." Colten Care, with a number of homes in Dorset including Whitecliffe House in Blandford, almost next door to the food bank,
invited donors to drop off food in collection boxes at the sites or its head office in Ringwood, and donations in Blandford were taken round on days the food bank was open. Mark Aitchison, Colten Care's chief executive, said: "People could simply come with food items and put them in a collection box near our reception or front door to be taken to the local food bank for inclusion in the food parcels they provide to their clients." As well as providing collection boxes, Colten Care donated food directly and invited its regular suppliers to do the same. Mrs del Pinto said: "We have seen an upsurge of people needing help with food parcels. The community has been hugely supportive of the work we are doing with our local vulnerable families and have responded incredibly with donations. "We focused all our energies to ensure that those referred to the food bank would get a food parcel, a goodies bag containing Christmas treats and a meat voucher.
Fuel poverty hits hardest in winter THE Dorset Community Foundation is marking the tenth anniversary of its Surviving Winter Appeal by asking more people than ever to help hundreds of elderly and vulnerable people stay warm this winter. The appeal has so far raised more than £250,000 and helped hundreds of people by inviting people to donate their £200 winter fuel payment, if they don't need it. Donations can be made at dorsetcommunityfoundation.org/appeals/ surviving-winter or by cheques made payable to Dorset Community Foundation sent to The Spire, High Street, Poole, BH15 1DF. The money is then 'recycled' to some of the estimated 19,000 people in the county who cannot afford to keep their homes warm during the coldest months. The charity fears the pandemic will force even more people into
fuel poverty, keep more older people indoors and will have hit the finances of community groups who might otherwise have been able to support them. Figures from the Office of National Statistics reveal that hundreds in Dorset die of cold-related illness, the majority over 65, and that 75 per cent of these deaths are due to the impact the cold has on respiratory and circulatory conditions. Dorset Community Foundation chief executive Grant Robson said: "In a year when Covid-19 has made life more difficult and uncertain for everyone, the need for this appeal is greater than ever. Vulnerable people are staying indoors for longer because they are unable to visit family or friends and the clubs that would have given them some respite won't be running." Grants are given to recipients via Citizens Advice.
Lion James Mayo, food bank manager Gail Del Pinto, Grahame Cole of Stour Rotary, and Heidi Roberts, food bank deputy manager at the presentation of vouchers for fresh meat valued at £1,650. "But we have seen an increase in the number of people seeking help from our community money advice scheme. Appointments are available with our debt advisors, it's all free and confidential and importantly there is no waiting list. All you have to do is to give the food bank a ring and we will get a debt advisor to ring back." The Trussell Trust, another of the food bank networks being supported by Colten Care, has forecast a 61 per cent increase in
demand this winter. It recently released a report about the impact of Coronavirus on the use of food banks nationally which showed that families with children had been hardest hit by food poverty since the start of the pandemic. Items most requested by food banks typically include tinned fruit, tinned meat, cereal, soup, pasta, washing-up liquid, shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes and pet food. Donations must be in-date and non-perishable.
A different kind of Christmas
Cotton Moon in East Street was judged the overall winner.
The crashed sleigh in the window of Twenty Two Vapes.
FESTIVE decorations and shop windows in Blandford this year took a new form when many shops and businesses hosted trees decorated by over two dozen local schools and community groups which in the past have been displayed in the Parish Church. Several of the school trees were placed in the Old Bath House in Church Walk behind the church, but the rest could be found in and around the town, sometimes forming just part of a display by the hosting shop, and sometimes individually. The church window overlooking the Market Place displayed the illuminated theme 'Comfort and Joy', together with a banner in the churchyard. Mayor Lynn Lindsay had the task of choosing her favourite, the BFPC All Sorts Craft Club's spectacular contribution in the doorway of Dorset Lettings, with a tree made out of toilet rolls surrounded by five layers of dozens of smaller purple and blue trees and silver ornaments. The winner in the public vote was due to be announced on Christmas Eve on the Blandford Parish Church Facebook page. After taking part in a 'virtual treelighting ceremony' with Mr Bear from Teddy Rocks, which coincided beautifully with the bells of the church carillon, the Mayor was also part of the judging panel for the shop windows on Saturday December 5. Cotton Moon in East Street, with its hand-made creation of a fabric and knitted street scene across the four windows with Santa's sleigh, nativity and townsfolk, was judged the overall winner. The judges were unable to separate their three runners-up and agreed that the total ÂŁ150 in
prize money should be shared equally between The Sapling in East Street for a beautifully designed traditional display around a tree, Twenty Two Vapes in Salisbury Street for '2020 - What Else Could Possibly Go Wrong?' featuring a crashed sleigh, buried Santa and shocked reindeer on a rooftop, and the Kings Arms pub for its decoration of the whole building with lights, Christmas trees and greenery. The winner of the charity shop award was Age UK at 38 East Street, with commendations for Weldmar in the Market Place and the Friends of Blandford Community Hospital in Barnack Walk. Blandford Town Council has thanked on their Facebook page a number of businesses which have contributed to the cost of providing the small Christmas trees which were hung above the shops in the main streets.
The BFPC All Sorts Craft Club tree at Dorset Lettings was the Mayor's choice in the tree festival.
Age UK's prizewinning charity shop window.
The window of The Sapling, one of the runners-up.
Above: Blandford Guides’ and Brownies’ tree on display at Hays Travel’s premises. Left: A dazzling array of lights earned the Kings Arms pub in Whitecliff Mill Street a share of the runners-up prize.
A couple of hardworking Santas at Lilly's in Tabernacle Walk.
A rare species of tree at Spoons of Dorset in Nightingale Court.
I fear weâ€™ll pay a price for the break WITH respect to Tiers (1,2,3 or otherwise): I think there is a misunderstanding here. Test and trace works, but we don't and have not ever had a proper system. Wearing masks works but people refuse to do that. Keeping social distance, avoiding groups indoors, it all works, but we don't seem to want to do that either. No-one says lockdowns are an effective means of stopping the virus. Lockdowns are only ever a last-ditch effort used to keep hospitalisations and deaths down, period. They are an effort to keep the NHS functioning, for all care (not just Covid), when all else has either failed or not been done properly. This virus will go from person to person whenever we make that possible. It has evolved to do specifically that. This is a biological reality that makes no room for concern about human needs and wants, whether for a family gathering or financial imperative. If it is low in one area today, give it enough time and contact between people and it will shoot up. The question is not whether to lockdown - it is whether our government will support those businesses and individuals who are falling through the cracks during this crisis. I am afraid our Christmas 'break' will be used by the virus to make January truly terrible. We now have vaccinations rolling out, but it will take a long time before it can have an effect on
January 2021 Please write to Forum Focus if there is something you'd like to comment on or share with other readers. Email your letter, which should be as brief as possible, to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can call 01258 459346 or deliver your letter to: Forum Focus, c/o Colin's
our overall safety. It is especially concerning that vulnerable, atrisk young people are NOT being protected in the first wave of vaccinations, but come in under the fourth or fifth priority. Children and young people living in care homes should have the same rights as the elderly. There is a petition circulating to call on the government to include ALL care homes equally, which can be accessed at change.org: "All residents in care homes should be priority for vaccine." Please consider signing. Dr Sylvia Hixson Andrews Blandford
Community Club, 49 Damory Street, Blandford DT11 7HD. Please mark your letter 'for publication' and remember to include your address, which will not be used in full. Forum Focus reserves the right to shorten or edit letters in the interests of clarity, brevity and style.
had below the stairs was not large enough to allow a small freezer to get into it. Terry carefully cut away a portion of the wall to allow the entrance to be wide enough. So now he has supplied me with and installed a beautiful muchneeded and long-wanted extra little freezer to cope with my needs for more capacity. And it was all achieved in a few hours on the day I first contacted him. Thank you so much, Terry, for the wonderful service that you and your family have given to Blandford for so many years. Barbara Bateman
Fashionable Slow service lessons
Terry comes to the rescue at surgery BLANDFORD people are so fortunate to have amongst us the longstanding Service Appliances shop at 20 Market Place. I am 90 years old and unable to shop for myself. I therefore rely on my fridge freezer to stock up with food for the week. I bought my appliance years ago from Service Appliances and was crestfallen to find one day that my food had all defrosted. I contacted our local Service Appliances shop to enquire about purchasing a replacement. I cannot thank Terry, the proprietor, enough for his kind and prompt action. The suspect fridge freezer was now beginning to freeze the water in the ice cube trays and is now functioning again. Terry explained that ice could have built up on the fan and had now melted allowing it to work again. I had for some time realised I needed more freezing space but the entrance to the only cavity I
and the effects will be felt by this country for many years, but the long-term concern is the rise of the Anti-Establishment Society; no vaccines will cure this, only, sad to say, a daily dose of Putin medicine. I venture to say that some of these protesters aren't just anti hunt, they consider hunting to be elitist. I dread to think who will be running this country in the nottoo-distant future. Luvvies, antis and do-gooders? Cyril Allen, Shillingstone
ON November 19 my partner needed to contact the surgery to arrange to speak to a doctor. He tried three times late afternoon and was in a queue of six, seven and nine people. He got cut off twice and hung up on the third occasion. The fourth time he managed to get a reply and was told to call back on Monday at 8am, surely an even busier time! In total he was on the phone for three-quarters of an hour just waiting for someone to pick up. This cannot be acceptable surely; if you ring the surgery surely it's because you have a problem with your health. Is it not possible to have another line or two installed as more and more people must be relying on the 111 service and soon they will be overwhelmed with calls as well. Name & address supplied
Sad end to a long tradition I WAS saddened to read that the Portman Hunt would no longer be meeting in the Crown Meadows on Boxing Day. Why should a legal longstanding event enjoyed by many be stopped because of disruption caused by anti-hunt supporters? The police apparently are not prepared to provide protection for law-abiding citizens. Isn't that what the police are supposed to do? Covid-19 has been devastating
I WOULD like to say a very big 'thank you' and let you know how much I enjoyed the two extremely interesting mornings I spent at the Blandford Fashion Museum last month. And thank you for the coffee and cake too! I have learned a lot from the visits on several different levels, from when dress lengths changed in the early 1800s to how to mark a box to ensure it is one of the first removed from the building in the (horrendous) event of a fire. Stella passes on so much of her knowledge, which is very generous of her, and I can begin to appreciate how much time, effort and love for the museum all of the volunteers give and have. Thank you once again. Janet Jones
Simon says? I WOULD like to know why my MP for North Dorset, Simon Hoare, voted for the Government's tier system when other MPs from the New Forest, South Dorset, West Dorset, Yeovil and across the region all voted against it, understanding the economic harm it will continue to do to the region? Nicholas Smith
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A chance to shape Dorsetâ€™s future for the next 15 years A CONSULTATION starts this month on the draft Dorset Council Local Plan, which places Blandford not in the North Dorset 'functional area', but instead lists it as one of the larger settlements in South East Dorset after the conurbations of Poole and Bournemouth. The plan will replace the sometimes outdated Local Plans of the former districts in the county, including the North Dorset Local Plan, of which Blandford was part. It outlines the strategy for growth in the right places and of the right character and quality, with the correct level of community services, schools, retail, leisure and other facilities. Once adopted, it will guide decisions on planning applications in the county for the next 15 years. The draft will be available on the council's website at dorsetcouncil.gov.uk/dorset-local-plan. During the consultation, there will be displays in libraries where copies can be borrowed, and a dedicated phone line will be available for enquiries from Monday to Friday. The council will also be holding virtual webinars on key themes within the Local Plan for residents to discover and ask questions about proposals. There are few specific proposals for the Blandford area, other than
the possible extension to the residential travellers' site at Thornicombe. Cllr David Walsh, Dorset Council portfolio holder for planning, said: "We are planning for Dorset's future, for the future of our residents. It is so important that we understand everyone's view on the draft Local Plan as much as we can." The Campaign for the Protection of Rural England has accused the council of being premature in bringing forward its consultation during Covid restrictions and at a time when consultation with town and parish councils is poor, following the birth of the new unitary authority, and before the government's much-criticised Planning White Paper, which could bring dramatic changes to the planning system and housing targets, has been agreed. Peter Bowyer, chairman of Dorset CPRE trustees, said: "Because of the creation of the new unitary authority and the uncertainty over the impact of controversial planning reforms, Dorset deserves much better than what is being proposed by Dorset Council for its consultation on the emerging Dorset Local Plan. "We urge residents to fully engage in the consultation and share your concerns too. Let your council know what you want for your family and Dorset."
BLANDFORD & District U3A will be holding a 'virtual' open meeting on January 29 at 2.30pm, when Rosemary Legrand will be giving a presentation on the gardens in the Bay of Naples. There is no charge to attend, and further information to secure an invitation to the meeting on Zoom is available by calling 01258 455081.
Message from on high It was good to see a new use being put to the railway arches on Langton Meadows now that access is provided to the top. This banner wishing users of the meadows a Happy Christmas was a welcome and imaginative sight. Those who saw it much appreciated the thought from Blandford Town Council, who reproduced the image created by the Blandford Opportunity Group and chosen as the council's 2020 Christmas e-card.
Objections galore over 600-home estate scheme A SECOND major development on the outskirts of Blandford has been opposed by Blandford Town Council, but only after the casting vote of council chairman Lynn Lindsay. Plans for development north and east of the Blandford bypass submitted by Wyatt Homes form a key part of the area's Neighbourhood Plan, which awaits approval by referendum. But the application submitted by Wyatt Homes in outline for 600 homes, together with detailed plans for the first phase of 167, has received over 70 objections and public comments. They include those from the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England on grounds of impact on the Cranborne Chase AONB and their challenge to the government's assessment of housing need locally, Pimperne Parish Council on grounds of it using land within their parish, the Blandford Allotment Society who face relocation from Lamperd's Field to a site next to the intended waste recycling centre to the west, the Blandford Environmental Trust on grounds of environmental impact and highway safety, and Tarrant Hinton Parish Council on grounds of serious traffic disruption. Town councillors have added their concerns that highway safety will be compromised by pedestrian crossings of the A354 and A350, and that the application makes no attempt to address the climate emergency.
The Blandford + Neighbourhood Plan Group has worked for several years to draw up proposals for a development which will provide a site for a new primary school, and town council members of the group argued that the application should be supported, despite the reservations expressed by themselves and others. But they were outvoted, with the support of Councillor Lindsay, on the grounds of avoidable environmental impact and highway safety. Councillor Pat Osborne, chairman of the town council's climate change group, said: "It doesn't mean I don't support the Neighbourhood Plan, I do, but I can't support the impact on the carbon footprint. It would be a shame not to get a school but clearly it will be more of a shame to create one in what will be a ruined environment." He said Wyatt Homes had seemed to be totally unwilling to do anything more than government guidelines in relation to climate change, and had dismissed concerns out of hand. "But legislation will catch up and a short delay may be all that is required." Councillor Byron Quayle said: "We are opposing this application, in which there is a lot to be desired, not the Neighbourhood Plan." The Blandford + Neighbourhood Plan for the parishes of Blandford, Blandford St Mary and Bryanston, which has until now been supported by the Blandford community and includes part of the site as the preferred area for development to meet government housing targets and support the provision of a new primary school, is awaiting final acceptance by Dorset Council and approval by public referendum following a legal challenge.
Boxing day YOU'VE probably never wondered what happens to all the boxes in which Forum Focus is delivered to us by our printers. Here (above) are about half of last month's 70 boxes which are broken down, flattened and taken by a volunteer to the Worldwide Veterinary Service in Cranborne, which uses them to send muchneeded medical supplies to help animals in need of veterinary care in countries all over the world. They also train and send vets to work in veterinary clinics abroad where thousands of animals are treated. See wvs.org.uk.
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SCREWFIX, who opened their premises on Glenmore Business Park in February 2018, have now applied for a change of hours at the unit next door to enlarge their operation and allow the extension to be open on Sundays and earlier and later during the week, with overnight delivery. Town councillors have agreed unanimously to support their application to regularise the opening hours which would provide more local employment and make use of a currently vacant unit.
Town Mayor Lynn Lindsay with, standing behind, artist Tim Ward, and his contractors.
Detail from the artwork on the backs of the benches highlighting the Blandford races, the livestock market and the Saxon and Roman eras.
Artwork evokes town’s colourful history FINAL touches were being made last month to the canopied and sculptured seats forming a public art installation at Badbury Heights in Blandford. The canopied benches have been designed and created by Tim Ward of Circling the Square following his research among local people into the history of Blandford and the site on which the estate has been constructed, with references in the artwork not only to the rebuilding of the town after the fire of 1731, but also to the Pimperne maze and use of the area by Sir Alan Cobham. The installation has been made possible through a developer contribution of £52,000 from house builders Persimmon, which needed to be spent by the end of 2020 or returned to the developers. The contribution to public art on the estate was a condition of planning approval for the development when it was given many years ago.
Together with five benches provided on the estate, the installation has cost £51,000, and the balance of the S106 contribution has been allocated by Blandford Town Council towards any future public art improvement and maintenance works at Badbury Heights. Work originally scheduled for earlier this year was delayed by pandemic restrictions but should by now be complete. Initial proposals for it to be sited on a grassed area in the middle of the estate were resisted by residents, and the location changed to between Shaftesbury Lane and Warrington Walk, where it can also be seen by the wider public. The Town Council adopted a public art plan in September 2018 to define the town's relationship with public art, which already includes the mosaic in the Woodhouse Gardens marking the 400th anniversary of the town's charter, steel sculptures in the Woodhouse Gardens and cemetery extension, three mili-
tary-style benches, a railwaythemed bench and matching cycle parking, heritage lighting columns and traditional fingerposts, together with a collection of town silver only occasionally on public display. The plan envisages additions to the collection in consultation with local groups and organisations,
and the Badbury Heights installation has been the first, carried out by newsletters to residents, first on the estate, with art students at The Blandford School and then throughout the town, together with a consultation in the Corn Exchange and promotion through the council's Facebook page.
The View from the Hill by George Hosford More from George on viewfromthehill.org.uk
HE Chief Veterinary Officers for England, Scotland and Wales have agreed to bring in new measures to help protect poultry and captive birds, following a number of cases of avian influenza in both wild and captive birds in the UK. The new housing measures, which came into force on December 14, mean that it has become a legal requirement for all bird keepers to keep their birds indoors and to follow strict biosecurity measures in order to limit the spread of and eradicate the disease. Public health advice is that the
January 2021 risk to human health from the virus is very low and food standards bodies advise that avian influenzas pose a very low food safety risk for UK consumers. It does not affect consumption of poultry products, including eggs. Government Chief Veterinary Officers encouraged bird keepers to prepare beforehand for new housing measures, including taking steps to safeguard animal welfare, consult their vet and where necessary put up additional housing. In our own case, we have prepared a larger house for our hens and moved them after they roosted one evening. They would much prefer to wander the farmyard as usual, picking up grubs, spilt grain and pecking at grass and weeds, which all helps them produce lovely deep yellow yolks. We don't know how long they will need to be kept indoors, but in the new house our 17 hens have plenty of room. It is the largescale free-range poultry keepers and their hens that I feel sorry for, where the whole point of the business is that the hens are outside every day, and the houses may well not be suited to fulltime occupancy. The hens and cockerel in the pic-
The Ditch Witch which bores underground to lay cables.
Our neighbour Emma caught this great picture of some of our hens, before they were hit with their own lockdown. The avian flu outbreak which has broken out in various places in the UK, has led the government to take some pretty stringent measures. ture above were among several lockdown projects back in the spring, bought as eggs through the post; 11 out of the 18 purchased eggs hatched, four being cockerels. These hens have yet to begin laying but will hopefully start in January as the days begin to lengthen. Three of the cockerels have already found their way into the cooking pot and very tasty they were. Always good at putting off the less enjoyable jobs, the list of excuses finally expired, and the combine header got its annual wash, and painting of the shiny bits, last week. No matter how much effort is put into blowing off the combine at the end of every day during harvest, the dust accumulates and sticks on. It is quite satisfying to rediscover the lovely JD green underneath, although care must be taken not to blow off the safety decals and greasing diagrams. Wessex Internet have been busy in the fields around Durweston, where they have been burying fibre so that they can supply every household in the village with superfast broadband, up to 100 megabits per second. This is a welcome progression for otherwise connectivity-impover-
ished rural communities. The government has a generous scheme to subsidise this and fortunately we have a wonderful local business who have the wherewithal to provide. If any Durweston readers fancy souping up their internet, get in touch with Wessex. Luckily most of the work was done during a dryish period in November, and hopefully what mess there is will grow away pretty quickly. Initially they are supplying the schools, but along the way they have left strategic coils buried to enable individual household connections to be made. The ditch witch is a drilling machine that can bore under the ground up to 150m distance, enabling the company to cross rivers or other hazards, and to cross gardens without making a mess. The drill bit is so accurate it can be aimed to come up under the boot scraper by your front door. Wessex Internet have laid over 1,600km in the last six years, mainly in Dorset, and continue to expand their network, which is based in Shroton, and bring reliable and very fast internet right to the rural home, not just to the cabinet in the street, which is as far as most other suppliers will go.
Good first year for carer support team CARER Support Dorset marked their first anniversary of opening in November with new video content on the website carersupportdorset.co.uk, a virtual celebration and by announcing the winner of a cake competition. Since launch, Carer Support Dorset has helped over 2,000 of Dorset's unpaid carers by providing support via the telephone, email, the website and virtual services. They have signposted carers to organisations that may be able to give them financial, emotional or practical support, referred them for a Carers Assessment via Dorset Council, posted out Dorset Carers Cards (giving carers discounts across the county), offered training opportunities and sent out regular postal and digital communications to carers. Carer Support Dorset manager, Anna Elston, said: "A particular highlight this year has been the establishment of Virtual Cuppa sessions, giving carers a chance to chat informally with each other and the Carer Support Dorset team on a regular basis.
"Our 'Here to Talk' befriending service, where we match up carers with volunteers for regular telephone calls, and the establishment of free training opportunities for carers on subjects such as mental health and dementia have been well received." Judy Walker, chief executive of Carer Support Dorset, added: "This past year has been a fantastic opportunity for us to raise awareness of unpaid carers across the county. "We have been working alongside other leading organisations to improve the lives of carers, for whom it has been an extremely challenging time with the impact of Covid-19 and the increased isolation that some are feeling. "Our aim is to be part of a society which understands and supports unpaid carers and we will continue to strive to achieve this over the coming years." If you think that you are a carer, call Carer Support Dorset on 0800 368 8349 or visit carersupportdorset.co.uk to find out more.
Potato Day cancelled BLANDFORD Museum Victorian Garden has held Potato Days at Pimperne Village Hall in conjunction with Pennard Plants for the last ten years, but there will be no Potato Days in 2021. However, Pennards will run an online Potato Period until March 31 through their website pennardplants.com with 15% discount on items that were available at Potato Days. Potato Day has always been a major fundraising event for the Victorian Garden behind the Museum in Bere's Yard, Blandford, and by using the discount code pimperne22a the garden will benefit if sales are sufficient. It is hoped that 2022 will see the return of Potato Day. Further details: blandfordtownmuseum.org.uk.
Members of the Carer Support Dorset team. From left: Carer Adviser Trevor Davies, Lead Carer Adviser Poppy Connell and Manager Anna Elston.
Successful surgery MILTON Abbas Surgery, which was judged the best in the country in the General Practice Awards 2019, was last year (2020) rated the best in Dorset. This was according to a national survey which invited patients all over the country to rate their overall experience of their GP on a scale from very good to very poor. Across the region, the average score was slightly above the national average for overall experience at their GP practice. On average, 88 per cent of patients across all Dorset surgeries described their overall experience as good or better, compared to the national average of 82 per cent. At Milton Abbas 94 per cent of 49 respondents rating the GP as very good and 100 per cent of correspondents rated it good at least.
County Cadet RSM Toby Hitchcock. Picture by Courtenay Hitchcock.
Adam keeps up Blandfordâ€™s honour as top county Cadet FOR the second time in two years, the Cadet RSM for the county of Dorset last year came from the Blandford detachment of the Army Cadets. In 2019 Cadet Adam Ryall was presented with a pace stick in recognition of his appointment at the Blandford Detachment headquarters in Kingston Close, the first Cadet RSM from Blandford in many years. And on November 5 Dorset Army Cadets' Commandant Colonel Richard Taylor promoted Cadet CSM Toby Hitchcock to the role, following his success in achieving his Master Cadet qualification. All was set for him to be promoted in front of his detachment at Blandford by Col Taylor, but the second Covid lockdown put paid to that plan. Col Taylor and Major Stockford, OC of Normandy Company, put together Plan B with RSM Hitchcock's parents, Laura and Courtenay, to promote him at Fiddleford Manor, complying with
current Covid restrictions. Although usual activities have been unable to happen this year, RSM Hitchcock has been able to engage with the cadets via Dorset ACF social media feeds and hopefully face to face after a return to training. Maj Stockford said it was clear that RSM Hitchcock had the leadership qualities to undertake the appointment and the support of his parents for him to carry out his appointment to the best of his abilities. RSM Hitchcock joined Cadets almost five years ago, and paid credit to the Cadet organisation
and Dorset Army Cadet Force for his transformation into the person he had become, thanking his previous Detachment Commander, SMI Kevin Luckham, for the faith and effort he had put into his personal development. He added: "I can do nothing but say how fantastic the organisation has been in giving me experiences I shan't forget in a lifetime. Thanks to Cadets I've had fantastic opportunities, changed myself as a person and made friends for life. There is no better organisation for a teenager to grow up in." For more information see armycadets.com/county/dorset/acf/ or call 01305 263954.
Town councillors have agreed that sport clubs using the Park Road recreation ground should be offered a 50 per cent reduction on their rents during October and December, and a 100 per cent reduction during November when they were unable to play. A suggestion from Councillor Haydn White that no rents be collected until next March when things might be back to normal was countered by Councillor Steve Hitchings, who said the clubs were playing when allowed, and they had to consider the wider public to whom it made a difference if rents were not collected.
Cycling reindeer deliver the festive fun A FESTIVE family fun Yule Ride in which 'reindeer' led cyclists through Blandford on December 12 was a first for the town, designed as a Covid-secure event to plug the gaps left by usual pre-Christmas festivities, but could become an annual event. Groups of cyclists were led by guides 'disguised' as reindeer from the Milldown car park and ridden down the Trailway to Station Court, then onto Damory Court Street and Wimborne Road before heading along East
Street to the Market Place. From there the route took them along West Street into Morrisons car park and over the Mortain Bridge to Stour Meadows, along Rotary Way beside the riverbank to the Preetz bridge and into Langton Road car park before returning along East Street to the finish at the Market Place. The reindeer guides ensured the participants were aware of all potential hazards, particularly when crossing roads, negotiating traffic
Three of the 'reindeer' with a cycling Santa, whose other job, unsurprisingly, was to hand out goody bags to young cyclists at the halfway stage and finish in the Market Place.
Changes in church VIRTUAL worship has become a commonplace for churches all over the country and the lifting of restrictions for Christmas allowed services to resume but in a very different format. No singing by congregations was allowed, so parishioners could only listen and hum at carol services, and they had to reserve their seats for all services so that social distancing could be maintained. At Blandford Parish Church there was a carol service with Blessing of the Crib on December 20 and Holy Communion services on Christmas Eve and the morning of Christmas Day. At All Saint's Church, Langton Long, the carol service and Blessing of the Crib was on December 13, followed by Christmas Morning Worship. Special services at Blandford Methodist Church in The Close, led by the Rev Pauline Crispin, included a carol service with Holy Communion on Sunday December 20 and evening Christmas Eve and morning Christmas Day services. Regular Sunday services at 10.45am are also subject to
seats being reserved by message to their answer phone on 01258 577030 between noon on Friday and noon on Saturday. A Christingle at Home was streamed by Blandford Evangelical Church on Christmas Eve, and parishioners in Pimperne, Stourpaine and Durweston were able to enjoy a crib service on Zoom on Christmas Eve. In Iwerne Minster there was a booking system for two carol services on December 20, and traditional Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services. On Boxing Day there was the usual fireworks display with donations collected for charity, but some unusual spacing requirements both at the event on the parish field and on leaving. Numbers were limited for two candlelit services of readings and music led by villagers in Shroton on December 20, and villagers were invited to book places for only one of two Christmas Holy Communions, a traditional midnight service on Christmas Eve or an informal parish communion service on Christmas Day.
lights, riding along East Street and through the Market Place. Volunteers from the Dorset Cyclists Network and Blandford Town Team helped organiser Dilys Gartside of the DCN stage the event with guidance from Cycling UK, for which participants, in groups of up to five so that their reindeer guide could be included in the permitted group of six, had to book their place in advance so that timed departures ensured no meeting of groups along the way.
Two of the riders on the path at Stour Meadows. Tricycles and electric bikes also joined the fun.
Museum seeks grant for 1920s wedding costume BLANDFORD Fashion Museum is hoping that grant funding can be obtained to preserve and exhibit what is described as "a hugely important addition" to its collection. The museum prides itself on telling the story of the fashions it displays, and museum curator Stella Walker has done so in support of her grant application following a generous donation by a friend of the late Violet Sadler. The 'coffee-blush coloured silk chiffon wedding costume' was worn by the then Violet Blewden when she married Walter Sadler on July 2, 1928. The costume comprises a below-the-knee length, longsleeved dress with two layers: an integral plain weave sewn in silk foundation or 'underdress', with a shaped camisole strapped top, and a silk chiffon outer dress trimmed with looped ribbon at collar, cuffs and hem. The outer dress has a dropped waistline, covered by a band
and metal and diamante trimmed bow, below which are six rows of gathering stitches. The donor added a photograph of the bride on her wedding day, a cake decoration, card and box, a blue ribbon bow and colourful feathers believed to have been worn by a bridesmaid. At present the museum is unable to display this costume due to its delicate nature. Conservation is essential both to allow it to be briefly on show and for its preservation. It needs to be 'made safe' for temporary display on a suitably sized mannequin, when careful handling will remain essential as the fabrics will be extremely fragile. The museum has no other surviving example of this type of 1927 costume. Once a grant has been obtained and it is returned to the museum there will be a brief window of opportunity for the public to come and view another fascinating piece of social history complete with its social context.
Ribbons of support WHITE ribbons were hung on the WI tree beside the A357 through Shillingstone by members in support of Violence against Women Day. Pictured hanging the ribbons are Shillingstone WI President, Rowena Ellis, with Lady Caroline Salt, WI member. As countries implemented lockdown measures to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, violence against women, especially domestic violence, intensified and calls to helplines in some countries increased five-fold. The UN Secretary-General's UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, a multi-year effort aimed at preventing and eliminating violence against women and girls, focused on amplifying the call for global action to bridge funding gaps, ensure essential services for survivors of violence during the Covid-19 crisis, prevention, and collection of data that can improve life-saving services for women and girls. As in previous years, the International Day marked the launch of 16 days of activism concluding on December 10, International Human Rights Day.
Brewery boss sees bright future once the crisis is over CHRISTMAS arrived at the Crown Hotel in Blandford in the form of the Hall & Woodhaus Alpine bar, when guests were invited to visit the outdoor aprĂ¨s-ski pop-up in a marquee filled with evergreen trees and heaters. They were offered a festive menu including savoury authentic bratwurst rolls and sweet treat waffles, together with a speciality drinks menu. The alpine bar was the first of its kind for Hall & Woodhouse and as
H&W chairman Anthony Woodhouse. an outside venue under Tier 2 restrictions, groups of six from different households could safely meet at the themed destination. Matt Kearsey, managing director at Hall & Woodhouse, said: "We knew that this year would need to be different, so we have been planning for the alpine bar for a while. Our teams wanted to create a space where family and friends could meet to celebrate Christmas, while most importantly remaining safe."
The company over the summer raised more than ÂŁ9,000 through its charity dish initiative, giving 25p from each sale of honey-roast ham in managed houses and its Unlock'd lager campaign celebrating the reopening of pubs in aid of local charities across the south. A new seasonal charity dish launched in October - a spiced Indian bhaji burger generating 24p from each sale to charity - continued after the November lockdown. The company has also announced successful trading results in 2019. Chairman Anthony Woodhouse said: "The pandemic significantly impacted the hospitality industry and our pubs' business, but after the first lockdown, trading levels in our pubs were significantly better than predicted. "We are grateful for the support provided to the industry by the Government. "Borrowings are held at levels similar to last year, notwithstanding the pubs being closed throughout lockdown. However, we have to be realistic that this winter will be hard for us all, as the second lockdown illustrated. "The pandemic has accelerated a number of trends, such as home working, staycations, sense of community and demise of the high street, that had already heavily influenced our long-term thinking and our growth strategy. "We are well positioned to rebuild trade and grow rapidly when the crisis is over. The right pubs, providing the right offer in the right locations, will continue to be treasured by their communities."
Waitress Katy prepares to serve a table of customers in the Crown's Alpine bar.
News from the Surgeries Season's Greetings All the staff at the Blandford Group Practice hope that all their patients, from the youngest to the eldest, had a Happy Christmas and would like to wish them all a Hopeful New Year. It has been an extremely difficult year for all and everyone is hoping for a better 2021. In the meantime please look after yourselves and each other. Information about the Covid vaccines will be sent out as and when it becomes available and all eligible patients will be contacted when the date of availability is known for each particular group. Please do not telephone the surgery as you will be contacted in good time. We have many patients to vaccinate so we ask for your patience as we work through the vaccination programme which will last well into 2021. The Patient Participation Group (PPG) also hope all patients of the Blandford Group Practice had a Happy Christmas and wish them a Hopeful New Year. PAULA de Reucke, who has traded as Moonfleet in Salisbury Street, Blandford, for 15 years, has announced that on January 25 she will be moving her business online as 'Paula de Reucke Designs', and has been holding a closing down sale with plenty of bargains in the run-up to Christmas. Thanking all her customers for their support and friendship over the years, she said: "With the massive changes over the years to high street trading, the time has finally come to step down from the traditional high street shopkeeper role and take my creative business online. But I'm not going anywhere, I'll be a click away online."
Church seeks its hidden history BLANDFORD parish church is researching the 'hidden' stories of people associated with the church over the centuries. It is hoping to start by visiting the Dorset History Centre for pointers on how to do the research - and anyone who would like to help is invited to get in touch. The Big Church Project, launched in 2018, focuses on the future use and development of Blandford parish church, with a central aim of the project being to engage with diverse communities and record their contribution to the history of the church and its surrounding area. Local researcher Judith Ford has used parish registers and other records such as censuses and legal documents to begin the story of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in the Blandford district. Her article written for the Dorset History Centre and published by them online states: "Some of these records reflect the dehumanising brutality of the slave trade that saw an estimated 3.1 million slaves transported across the Atlantic by British merchants between 1640 and 1807. "For example, on February 25, 1701, the burial took place at Winterborne Stickland of 'an unbaptised negro slave (belonging to Mr Vine)'. In the parish register, only a reference to the affidavit of this individual's burial in woollen cloth (then required by law) reveals
her gender. Since she had no 'Christian' name, she was recorded anonymously. It is the identity of the man to whom she 'belonged' that is provided. "For BAME people who were baptised, the information provided in parish registers can also be brief and difficult to interpret. 'Hannah', who was baptised at Blandford Forum on June 5, 1770, is described in parish records as 'a Black Woman Servant of Mrs Holder'. "Was Hannah the name given to this woman at birth or at baptism? Unlike most other records of baptism, no reference is made to her parentage. Hannah's status remains unclear. Was she 'free', or was her baptism considered to be a step towards establishing her freedom? "The description 'Black' does not necessarily mean that she was of African heritage, since that term could be used to describe anyone of non-white ethnicity. The overriding question prompted by this record is: who was Hannah?" Mrs Ford says: "Most visual representations of BAME people in the 18th century are of individuals in European dress. A wax seal attached to a Blandford deed, dated 1733, provides a welcome and possibly rare exception. The seal image is of the head and shoulders of an (unidentified) African man in tribal attire. It is a portrait that appears to celebrate
African culture. "But was it the possession of someone of African heritage or an item that reflects the 18th century European fashion for 'Blackamoor' jewellery and artifacts? The owner of the seal is impossible to identify with certainty, but was probably either the signatory to the deed, Robert Weston, a barber of Blandford Forum, or one of the witnesses, Thomas Waters 'gentleman' and Charles Day. "The records so far found are, without exception, thought-provoking. They indicate the long history of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people in northern Dorset. The project continues, and will include similar research into other minority groups, including the traveller community." RAISED wildflower beds are to be created in Jubilee Way near Blandford Hospital where a tree was felled in 2019. A public consultation resulted in the project being added to a list of projects for grounds staff to carry out, but during the Covid-19 lockdown, a site meeting led to the conclusion that contractors should be asked to quote for the work. Councillors have now agreed unanimously to approve the ÂŁ1,600 cost of the provision of three raised beds with bulbs, wildflowers and a planting scheme.
Bryanston a ‘rising star’ in education, says new report BRYANSTON School has been highlighted as one of the top 'rising stars' in a new report that assesses the role played by a school and its teachers in helping to determine future high achievement of pupils. Significantly, the report from Keystone Tutors, entitled 'Does alma still matter - the schools educating the nation's elite', looks beyond sanitised exam league tables and academic selectivity to present a new angle on the way state and independent schools across the UK add value to the personal development of their pupils. The findings have placed Bryanston as the country's second highest 'rising star'. The new report delivers a fascinating insight into the role played by UK schools in shaping young men and women who go on to make a significant national impact in all walks of life. The report's author, Harriet Blomefield, analysed historic and current references to schools featured in 'Who's Who' and 'Who was Who' - publications widely regarded as an indicator of an individual's eminence and achievement across all areas of the arts, science, business, sport and politics. Among the new findings, there was a significant increase in the number of female high achievers and, although boarding schools are still leading the way, there has been a notable increase in the level of representation of state schools spread across the country.
Bryanston's status as a rising star reflects the number and influence of high achiever alumni despite the school being noted as having pupils with a broad range of academic abilities. Ms Blomefield suggests the analysis "indicates that academic excellence is not the primary driver in achieving great things beyond school and university, and it could imply that a holistic, allround education and childhood is just as important in enabling future success." Bryanston headmaster Mark Mortimer said: "Bryanston has always sought to support the personal development of pupils by providing individual attention, support and encouragement as well as the opportunity to explore and develop their own ideas, talents and strengths. This report takes an interesting and enlightening approach to illustrate what really matters in a child's education, so I'm delighted that Bryanston features so prominently." The diverse careers of alumni are evidence of the school's focus on each pupil and an active and rounded education. Sir Terence, Jasper and Sebastian Conran, Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, Coco Fennell, Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, Sir Mark Elder, Emilia Fox, Charlie Ewels, Lucian Freud, Frederick Sanger, Sir Howard Hodgkin, Ben Fogle, Mark Wigglesworth and Sir John Eliot Gardiner, for example, have all gone on to achieve considerable success and acclaim in their respective professions.
Town’s new arts training academy Brian’s still going strong RETIRED local journalist Brian Moore (above), who gained national fame as the author of 'Mike Oliver, King of Steam', telling the life story of the founder of the Great Dorset Steam Fair, spent the last nine months of Covid restrictions working on a new book, 'Three Old Men Go Fishing'. The story of a four-day fishing trip undertaken by three 80year-olds (and a dog!) was due to be published in December by Lydden Vale. Brian, who lives in Hazelbury Bryan and gave up work 15 years ago, also published in 2011 'Ernie Amey, the Million Pound Man', the biography of a farm worker brought up in Farnham. He became the champion of agricultural workers and later lived in Castleman House, Blandford where he died in 2014. Brian said he was delighted to have recently been called out of retirement to write features for the relaunched Dorset Life magazine, which suspended publication earlier in the year due to the pandemic. Brian said: "It just goes to prove that there is life after 80 and as long as you can hold a pen there are opportunities out there."
A NEW arts performance and production training academy which has been set up in response to the Covid-19 lockdown of the arts held an open day in Blandford Corn Exchange on December 19. Husband and wife team Bertie and Kelly Hunter's business Stagecore Productions, before the lockdown, was responsible for the audio production for Glastonbury's South East Corner and working with artists including Liam Gallagher, Echo and the Bunnymen, Spandau Ballet and many more. They have now become one of nearly 2,000 recipients of a grant from the Culture Recovery Scheme, allowing them to set up the Artori Academy and keep their business afloat by diversifying and turning their skills from touring to teaching all aspects of the industry, from acting, singing and dance to scenic artistry, sound engineering and even puppetry. Kelly said: "We are passionate about educating the young people of the town we grew up in. With industry professionals coming to teach our young people, we are excited to use part of this grant in a way to benefit our local community and to keep passion for the arts alive." The open day featured bookable sessions for 11- to 16-year-olds, including a session with scenic artist Megan Harrison, who has worked on Hamilton, Les Misérables, Star Wars and Avenue Q, showing how to re-create moulds of students' hands for use later in the day in a theatre workshop. For more information see theartoriacademy.com.
Paving trial concerns cause options rethink
Museum administrator Kathryn Reed and Deputy Mayor Lee Hitchings with one of the top prizes, a Morrisons Christmas hamper.
Raffle rakes in funds DESPITE the restrictions of Coronavirus, Blandford Fashion Museum's annual Christmas raffle raised £700, a much-needed addition to their depleted funds to help their 25th anniversary celebrations in May and facilitate the conservation of precious costumes. The top prize was £100 in M&S vouchers, with second prize a case of 12 bottles of wine and, third, half a lamb, together with a Christmas hamper from Morrisons, a bottle of champagne and plenty of chocolates and other delights. Deputy Mayor, Lee Hitchings, drew the winning tickets in front of a much reduced, socially distanced, gathering of masked staff and supporters, and a number of prize winners were present. It was a boost, not just to the museum's finances but to everyone's morale to see the support and loyalty still strong. Mr Hitchings was given a guided tour of the Museum.
FOLLOWING comments received from the public on the test patch of paving in Sheep Market Hill, County Councillor Byron Quayle says he is now looking into other options. He said he had received nearly 350 comments about the test patch, 90 per cent of which were in support or positive. But the colour and template had raised concerns, firstly that it was too light, and secondly that people would prefer the material used to be standalone stabs. He said he and Councillor Nocturin Lacey-Clarke had met with highway officers and sourced another standalone tile which was also going to be trialled. "We must look to find a workable solution that addresses safety,
Climate view delay DORSET Council has extended the deadline for its consultation into its recently published draft climate and ecological strategy from December 9 to January 20. Councillor Ray Bryan, Dorset
What’s on this month To Sunday January 3: The Ridgeway singers and Band present A Dorset Christmas, online with artsreach.co.uk Tuesday January 5 (and every Tuesday): Blandford Citizens Advice open 10am to 2pm by appointment, to book call 01747 835016 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Thursday January 7 to Sunday January 10: Christmas tree collection by Weldmar, book at weld-hos-
OUR listings page has become sadly diminished as a result of the Covid pandemic, but hopefully will soon begin to resume 'normal service'. Please do let us know by email to email@example.com of any events able to go ahead, whether virtually or in person. pice.org.uk, or call 01305 261800 Monday January 11: Heritage Treasures Day - see local heritage groups #HeritageTreasures on social media, @HeritageFundUK on Twitter, and @heritagefunduk on Instagram From Monday January 11, Mondays and Tuesdays, Fresh Air
heritage and economy. It is true that a stock of the slabs used at the time of the Market Place enhancement 20 years ago was made available for 'replacement'. However, due to the nature of the soft stone slabs the 30m2 was used up many years ago, and due to the cost and the fact that the slabs polished very quickly after being put down, DCC decided to replace any broken slabs with tarmac." He said that although a large number of people, since he became a county councillor, had asked for the now 'end of life' slabs which constantly crack and break to be replaced with tarmac, he strongly disagreed with that, which was why he had campaigned for extra funding.
Fitness Activities on the Milldown, Blandford, booking essential. See Blandford Town Council Facebook page Friday January 29: Blandford U3A meeting by Zoom, 2pm, Rosemary Legrand presents the gardens in the Bay of Naples area, for details call 01258 455081
Council's portfolio holder for highways, travel and environment, said: "Our original plan was to provide paper copies and online access via our libraries but the lockdown prevented this from happening for a few weeks. As a result, it's only fair and logical that we extend the consultation period." People have been asked to let the council know what they think about the presentation of eight key areas for action to ensure that the council's services and estate become carbon neutral by 2040, and that the whole Dorset Council area is carbon neutral by 2050. Feedback from residents, organisations and partners will help them further develop their plans and initiatives.
The free monthly newspaper for Blandford Forum and surrounding villages