January 2022 Forum Focus

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Forum Focus The free monthly news magazine for the Blandford area

January 2022 Issue No.118 Est: 2012

The team at Forum Focus wish all our readers and advertisers a very Happy New Year

Covid casts a new year shadow A COVID cloud once again hung over Christmas when the government announced on December 12 the mandatory reintroduction of the wearing of masks in shops, following reports that the new Omicron variant was much more transmissible than others. The news that a third booster vaccination was imperative and that the booster programme was to be stepped up to protect the public and the NHS, prompted urgent meetings for the Blandford Group Practice, which only a fortnight earlier had announced that its Saturday booster vaccination clinics would cease after December 18. Practice manager Natalie McPherson said: "There was no consultation period between Primary Care Networks and the government prior to the announcements. The practice heard the news at the same time as the general public." A partners' meeting was held the following evening after a webinar with NHS England in the afternoon, and within 36 hours of the government announcement, the practice announced on its Facebook page that it would be suspending routine appointments until the end of the month and offering booster vaccination delivery from December 14. They said: "All of our team are working hard to get patients booked in for their vaccinations and emailing out booking links to patients to help with call volume. "Please bear with us whilst we navigate our way through deliver-


ing these clinics." According to government data, at the beginning of December an increase by over 50 per cent in the number of active Covid-19 cases in Blandford meant the town had the most cases of any area in Dorset Council, and being among the areas with the highest number of cases in the south-west. The news prompted some to revise their plans for preChristmas gatherings, and concerns that masks were not being worn at some events. Although case numbers dropped, on December 12 only 43.2 per cent of the population in Blandford had received their booster and nearly 20 per cent had still not received their second dose. The numbers were even lower in the outer Blandford area.

Fiona Hansford from Weldmar Hospicecare and Tamzin Hyde from Trinity St. Christmas Trees, launching the Treecycle initiative. Story: Page 2.

Pressure on surgery staff AT the time of the Blandford Group Practice announcement that the Saturday booster clinics would cease after the final clinic on December 18, the practice said: "Since early October 2021 the programme has been delivered from the Whitecliff Surgery site and staffed using the practice workforce. "We have also been heavily supported by the local Rotary Club and a handful of external vaccinators. "It has become apparent that it is unsustainable for us to continue providing this weekend service as we need to give our staff a break and have the opportunity to carry out desperately needed maintenance work on the premises." The clinics scheduled up to the closure date were fully booked and they strongly encouraged


patients needing their booster to access the National Booking Service and book at an alternative site, saying they were working with Dorset Healthcare and NHS Dorset to find an alternative location for the booster programme to be delivered locally, but it could not be guaranteed. Despite concerns from those without transport to attend other vaccination sites, there were many messages of thanks and appreciation for the 11,288 first jabs, 10,968 second jabs and 4,477 boosters delivered since January 2021 by the team of medical staff with the help of community volunteers. Even before the government announced the stepping-up of the booster programme, Dr Andy • To Page 2



January 2022



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Surgery trialling same-day appointment system

CURRENTLY confirmed and expected pickup points following the reopening of village pubs and venues are: Blandford and Blandford St Mary: Tesco and Homebase, Blandford St Mary; Lidl and Bartletts, Shaftesbury Lane; Morrisons, Greyhound Yard; M&S, Langton Road; Spoons of Dorset, Nightingale Court; The Gorge Café, East Street; The Spar Shop and Corn Exchange, Market Place; Information Centre, West Street; Chaffers and Iceland, Salisbury Street; James Newsagents, The Plocks; The Post Office, The Tabernacle; The 3Cs, Damory Street; The Co-op, Damory Garage and One Stop, Salisbury Road; Central Shop, Heddington Drive; Blandford Leisure Centre, Milldown Road. Sturminster Newton: The Exchange, Emporium, Candy's and Root & Vine In the villages: Bryanston Club and phone box; Charlton Marshall pub; Child Okeford Cross Stores; Durweston hall and Enford Farm, Fiddleford Inn, Iwerne Minster Post Office; Langton Long Abbots Nursery; Pimperne phone box, church, and Anvil; Shillingstone Garage and Coop; Spetisbury Village Hall and Clapcotts Farm; Shroton Cricketers and bus shelter; Stourpaine shop; Tarrants Langton Arms, Butchery Farm, True Lovers Knot St Richard's Close bus stop, Launceston and Gunville Farm Shops; Winterborne Whitechurch, Milton Arms.

THE Blandford Group Practice has been trialling a new system for on-the-day urgent appointments, which launched on November 22, and plans to make improvements to the routine appointment system once it is bedded in. Anyone seeking an on-the-day urgent appointment is asked a series of questions, curated by the GP team, by their Patient Services Team, who have received full training on how best to signpost patients to the most appropriate clinician on the day. Those assessed as suitable for an on-the-day urgent appointment will be booked with the most appropriate clinician available, which could be a GP, nurse practitioner, paramedic, or first contact physio, and will be given the opportunity to choose a telephone consultation or face-toface appointment at Eagle House Surgery. Those requesting a face-to-face appointment and assessed as 'hot', with potential covid symptoms, will be asked to wait in the car park and call the Patient Services Team using the telephone number provided at the time of making your appointment. Those assessed as 'cold' patients, with no covid symptoms, can check in at the Eagle House reception desk and wait in the waiting room. The practice says the new system means they can offer over 80 additional appointments daily. Once they are gone, patients will

be assessed by the duty GP, and some may be asked to call back the following day. Urging that people be kind to the Patient Services Team members informing them, and assuring that all clinical decisions will be made by a clinician, they said:

"We are aware, as with any new system, there will be tweaks needed along the way and ask for your patience, understanding and constructive feedback while the new system is trialled to hopefully improve access for all patients."

Pressure on the staff • From Page 1 Rutland, Dorset GP and clinical lead for the Dorset Covid-19 vaccination programme, said: "It's a significant undertaking to once more step up our roll-out to the levels we saw at the start of the vaccination programme. One of our biggest challenges is recruiting the right staff. "We know that some people have struggled to get an appointment locally and we now need to pull out all the stops to expand the service." Anyone who has experience of vaccinating can apply to be part of the biggest vaccination programme in history at: https://joinourdorset.nhs.uk/vaccinators/.

Treecycle for charity WELDMAR Hospicecare will once again be collecting and recycling real Christmas trees from across Dorset in early January. In return for a minimum suggested donation of £10, trees can be collected from home and business addresses, between Saturday January 8 and Monday January 10. A team from Trinity St. Christmas Trees will be making the Treecycle collections from Blandford and the rest of North Dorset. Bookings can be made for a January collection of Christmas trees at weld-hospice.org.uk, or by calling the Weldmar Hospicecare fundraising team on 01305 261800. Anyone making a booking should visit the website for more details. Fiona Hansford, who co-ordinates the project for Weldmar, said: "Every tree collected means money raised for the end-of-life care we provide. It's been a challenging time for fundraising over the last 18 months so this scheme is needed now more than ever."

January 2022

Council may borrow to fund the revamp of the Corn Exchange A LOAN could be taken out by Blandford Town Council to progress the restoration and remodelling of the town's premier Grade I listed Corn Exchange in the Market Place. Details of the full project have not yet been confirmed with consultants Ingham Pinnock Associates (IPA) and are based on sketches drawn up alongside consultation with councillors, users and the community. It is expected to start with the remodelling of the Shambles, Town Hall, Council Chamber and stairs at the front of the building, together with alterations to the stage area and necessary repairs. The decision to proceed with a loan via the Public Works Loan Board, which gives local authorities funding for capital projects, was taken in private so that commercially sensitive figures could be discussed, and the amount of the loan has not been made public. But town clerk Linda Scott-Giles reported to the open full council meeting that councillors had been inclined to proceed with the complete project, with support of a loan and external funding wherever possible.

This would allow them to start and complete the project sooner, reduce costs and continue with the same level of funding (£50,000 a year) that the leisure centre received to avoid any increase in precept for residents. A report to the finance and staffing committee in December shows that the council's general reserves, built up over many years, include over half a million pounds in the main reserve for the Corn Exchange, together with developer contributions totalling over £186,000, and funds for other purposes totalling over £240,000. IPA say that considerable work needs to be undertaken before planning permission and listed building consent can be secured, perhaps in the middle of this year. The sketches need to be developed into formal plans with the hope that Historic England and Dorset Council will be minded to give consent before the application is submitted. Consultant Kate Pinnock said: "It's worth taking time and getting it right. It's a much easier ride if you have professionals working on it. Her fellow consultant Ross

Ingham said: "A conservation plan saying which parts of the building are more significant and those that are not, for example the 20th century toilets, would make our lives a lot easier. "Subject to how long Dorset Council take to determine the application a contractor could be on site early in 2023 for a build programme over the best part of 12 to 18 months. There would then be a need to relocate to temporary premises somewhere in the town centre. He asked the town council to allow up to £181,000 to cover the costs of a full design team which was agreed. Councillor Roger Carter said: "It is a huge sum of money, but we want to keep the momentum going."


In the short term, councillors have also agreed as a matter of urgency to progress a proposal to install a roof hatch in the Council Chamber, and to spend up to £5,000 on a survey of the flagpole on the roof to establish whether it is safely holding the crown above it - work which was postponed last year. The roof hatch will ensure easier access for staff to the roof space and roof, which is currently accessed via unsafe and unsightly exterior scaffolding, and members felt the benefits outweighed any argument the conservation officer might have against it. Of the flagpole survey, operations manager Jon Goodenough said: "It's a very complicated job. If you don't have the crown, there is no point in having the flagpole. It may be another flagpole is needed."

Crash witness plea POLICE appealed for witnesses after a single-vehicle collision on the A354 between Thornicombe and Winterborne Whitechurch in the early hours of Friday, December 10. They received a report at 1.10am of the collision involving a silver Peugeot 206, whose driver, a man in his 20s from Ringwood, was taken to hospital with injuries not believed to be life-threatening or life-changing. PC Kier Dagnall said: "I am appealing to any motorists who witnessed the collision to please

contact the police. I would also like to hear from anyone who saw the manner of driving of the vehicle leading up to the incident or has anything of relevance to my investigation captured on dashcam footage." They can contact Dorset Police at dorset.police.uk/do-it-online, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk, by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55210198065 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously online at Crimestoppers-uk.org (Freephone 0800 555 111).

Fundraising in fashion SUPPORTERS and volunteers at the Blandford Fashion Museum were pleased to be able to gather in the tearoom for the annual draw, which is a key part of their fundraising activity. Councillor Hugo Mieville, pictured left with some of the prize winners, deputised for the Mayor Lee Hitchings, who was unable to attend to pull out over 50 winning tickets. Museum administrator Kathryn Reed said: "The raffle raised £707, which is a fantastic achievement given the circumstances."


ARTSREACH has teamed up once more with Bristol-based Sharp Teeth Theatre to bring their unique show, Sherlock in Homes: Murder at the Games, to audiences in Dorset at 2.30pm and 8pm on Thursday January 6. Packed with dramatic twists and turns that unfold online, the fun theatrical experience plays out on Zoom, and invites the audience to help solve the case in Rome's Olympic village by turning detective, while pitting their wits against some of the UK's most talented improvisers. Book for an afternoon or evening online entertainment at artsreach.co.uk.

January 2022

Council sorry for boundary slip-up TOWN councillors who drew up a proposal for the town to merge with neighbouring parishes have apologised for their failure to consult with the other councils, explaining some of the difficulties in agreeing what to suggest as part of the Community Governance Review (CGR) invited by Dorset Council. The response of Dorset Council is still awaited to the initial suggestion from Blandford that its boundary be extended to include Blandford St Mary, Bryanston, Blandford Camp and parts of Langton Long and Pimperne. Blandford town clerk Linda ScottGiles reported to the planning committee meeting in December that three of the affected parish councils - Blandford St Mary, Bryanston and Pimperne - had declined an invitation from the Chairman of Council, Cllr Lee Hitchings, to meet and discuss

the town council's proposals. But Councillor Steve Hitchings reported that he and other town councillors had attended a Blandford St Mary Parish Council meeting at the beginning of December at which their apology and explanation for the failure to consult with them had been accepted. The parish meeting minutes record that: "The Chairman confirmed that the Parish Council felt the offer of a meeting was too little too late and have agreed to wait for Dorset Council's decision in the new year before any further discussions take place. "The Chairman thanked Cllr Steve Hitchings for the apology on behalf of the Mayor and Blandford Forum Town Council. It was appreciated." Pimperne and Bryanston parish councils were not due to meet until the New Year.

Woman’s body found in river after major search THE body of an elderly woman was found in the river Stour at Blandford following a full-scale search of the area by police with helicopters and the fire service. Although formal identification had not been made by the time Forum Focus went to press, the body was thought to be that of 80-year-old Venetia Smith. She had been reported missing from her home in the town at around 11am on Tuesday, December 7. The body was found near Langton Meadows around 3pm that afternoon. Her

rollator was found near the blue Mortain bridge over the river. Chief Inspector Matt Baxter of Dorset Police, who appealed for anyone who had seen Venetia or a woman matching her description to get in touch, said: "Our thoughts remain with Venetia's family and friends. "We would like to thank everyone who shared our appeals, as well as the partner agencies who assisted us with our searches." The death was not being treated as suspicious and was reported to the Coroner.


January 2022

Steam fair to return with new attractions THE Great Dorset Steam Fair directors have announced plans to stage the event this year for the first time in three years. And, for the first time in its history, they will be introducing a modern classic motorcycle section, in addition to the modern classic car section which was planned but shelved when the show was cancelled in 2020 and 2021. Managing director, Martin Oliver, said: "We are always looking to evolve and we now feel the time is right to open up the show to 'younger' exhibits. With the GDSF now entering its 52nd year, visitors who grew up in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s tell us that they would love to revisit their youth and see modern classics at the show. It is a natural progression for us as a heritage show as the decades go by." Full details of the new sections for vehicles from 1970 to 1995 and how to contact their section leaders Norman Macbeth and Paul Maycock are available on the website at gdsf.co.uk. Mr Oliver said he was very pleased, on behalf of the GDSF directors, to confirm that the show would go ahead after a very long and difficult 18 months for all as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. "We are extremely grateful to those members of the public who have held over their tickets (and

camping) from the 2020 show and I am thrilled that we will be able to run the show again this year. "Judging by the huge amount of interest we have received over the past few months, I am confident that it will be a great success. We have all missed the GDSF massively these past two years and it will be wonderful to see everyone back at our Tarrant Hinton showground next August Bank Holiday weekend." The show dates will be on Thursday August 25 to Bank Holiday Monday August 29 inclusive. New tickets and camping went on sale in November. Early booking has been advised, particularly for specialist camping areas for electric and disabled, which already have spaces reserved from people who have carried over their bookings from 2020. Regular exhibitors are being contacted by their respective section leaders, and anyone wishing to be considered as a new exhibitor for 2022 was asked to use the exhibitor enquiry form on their website. Enquiries from those who have applied as exhibitors and for trade, autojumble, catering, craft and food hall stands over the last 18 months have also been kept and reapplication is not necessary.

Pubs launch drive to call time on spiking PUBS in Blandford have signed up to a campaign launched by the Kings Arms Alehouse and Paddocks Bar to help stamp out drink spiking in the town. James Clark at the Kings Arms announced: "We can now confirm that almost all venues in Blandford town centre have joined the #keepblandfordsafe campaign to help stamp out spiking in our town." He said the campaign, launched in November, allowed all participating venues to receive a supply of foil stops and bottle stoppers free of charge together with staff training and customer literature. "It's a massive achievement to bring awareness of spiking not only in our own town but

throughout the country." He thanked his co-funders at the Paddocks Bar who said: "We have a duty of care to our customers which we take seriously, and there are now widening issues to be aware of now we have some freedom back." Sixth-formers at The Blandford School were warned as long ago as January 2018 by a member of Victim Support Dorset of the dangers of drink-spiking when they left Blandford for pastures new at college and university. But StopTopps, who provide the anti-spiking products, say that recent news reports highlight a wave of drink-spiking incidents across the country and the need to defend against a massive increase in the crime.

Name the location DOES anyone recognise this property, believed to be somewhere in the Blandford area, where the late father of a man now living in Australia may have been billeted during his 1944 wartime service? Michael Gibney, in Sale, Victoria, says his father Leo left photos from his service days, including one which is clearly recognisable as the Blandford road bridge, pictured from the Bryanston side. A second, pictured here, is also believed to be in Blandford. Anyone who can identify the property and/or supply further information is invited to contact Mr Gibney by email to mgibney1@bigpond.com. A TREE preservation order has been sought by Dorset Council for an ash tree on the boundary at the entrance to Larks Leas Nursing Home in Milldown Road after a felling application was made on the grounds that it had uprooted and damaged the public footpath. The refusal of permission highlights the prominence of the tree in the street scene and the opinion of Dorset Highways that its loss would be premature since other remedial works are possible.


January 2022

Lasers and lanterns, carols and choirs . . H

UNDREDS of children and parents were led by Father Christmas down East Street and around the town centre for the opening of the Yuletide Festival on December 3. The rain held off as they carried not just candles and the familiar globes of Archbishop Wake Primary, but also illuminated Christmas trees from the Blandford Scouts as well as other festive lights. The weather forecast may have deterred some visitors, but when the rain finally arrived, community carol singing and entertainment from the church lawn by the Decibelles choir from Winterborne Kingston, accompanied by the Stour Valley Band, continued while Father Christmas greeted children in his Corn Exchange grotto. There were market stalls and fairground rides in the Market Place,

West Street and Salisbury Street, festive entertainment and latenight opening in a number of shops and premises, with a repeated laser light show replacing the fireworks of previous years. There were some complaints at the scarcity of stallholders, which meant that there were no stalls in East Street or at the top of Salisbury Street, with traffic still able to enter East Street and divert up Sheep Market Hill. But at the town council meeting the following Monday, there were congratulations to the Yuletide team for successfully staging the festival in difficult circumstances. The town council's decorated shop window competition was judged at the end of November because of the earlier festival date, and some were not fully completed. But the judging panel were spoilt

for choice with the variety of creations and agreed to award a joint first prize to the exquisite snow scene at Papyrus in Salisbury Street and the gingerbread Christmas party at Cotton Moon in East Street, where customers has been invited to take part in a competition to make the 'Best Dressed Gingerbread Person'. There was also a joint third prize and a large number of commendations (see page 20).

By the end of the first week of December, more shops and businesses had filled their windows and sometimes covered their buildings - with festive decorations and lights, and the 'Blandford illuminations' were enhanced by the lighting of the Woodhouse Gardens in the early evenings. The Lions' Christmas Fair, usually held on the Saturday after the • To Page 7

The display of laser lights shining over the town was visible from the bypass. Picture: Pat Patrick.

Blandford Catholics ensured that Love was All Around the Christmas tree on the Bella Carousel!

More Christmas pictures: Pages 8 & 9


January 2022

Trees circled with light as part of the 'Blandford Illuminations' in the Woodhouse Gardens every evening. Picture: Pat Patrick.

The Decibelles, who led the community carol singing accompanied by the Stour Valley Band.

. . . a happy mix to herald Christmas • From Page 6 tree lighting at the beginning of December, went ahead on December 11, but the increasing number of covid cases locally prompted the cancellation of the civic carol service on December 15.

A council spokesperson said: "The Mayor, Cllr Lee Hitchings, has reluctantly decided to cancel the civic carol concert due to concern over attendees' health and wellbeing with regard to the high number of recorded cases in the area. Although it is disap-

pointing not to go ahead with such an enjoyable event, we want everyone to be well for the festive period." The Mayor's quiz night in the Corn Exchange on Saturday December 18 supported his charity for the year, the Blandford Forum Gymnastic Club. And the Blandford Christmas Tree Trail with the theme of 'Comfort and Joy' ran until Christmas Eve, both physically

and, for the first time this year, on video on social media, so that more people could vote for their favourites. More than two dozen trees decorated by local groups and placed in shop windows, and by six primary schools in the Old Bath House, demonstrated the theme in a variety of ways. The winning school and organisation were due to be announced, with the Mayor's Choice, on Christmas Eve.


January 2022

Market Place crowds watch the laser display alongside the Corn Exchange, resplendent in green for Yuletide. Picture: Pat Patrick.

Two of the school Christmas trees decorated by Archbishop Wake and Pimperne Primary schools on display in the Old Bath House in Church Walk. The illuminated trees, archway and pavilion of the Woodhouse Gardens. Picture: Pat Patrick.

Another fun window display from Vapes in Salisbury Street earned them a commendation after being joint runner-up last year.

January 2022

The prettily lit entrance to the Woodhouse Gardens frames the Jubilee tree. Picture: Pat Patrick.

Crowds gather in the Market Place for the community carol singing which followed the lantern parade and arrival of Father Christmas.

The scene inside the Corn Exchange, where stall holders welcomed visitors particularly when the rain started falling - and children queued up for a visit to Father Christmas in his grotto. Picture: Pat Patrick.


The singing group Jubilate at the Blandford Museum where mulled wine and other refreshments were on offer.

War on Waste/Cleanup Blandford did a grand job collecting up the litter during the evening, ensuring that at least some of the litter bins were not overflowing.


January 2022

January 2022

Another firm joins the broadband battle ANOTHER full-fibre broadband provider has announced plans to target Blandford and other North Dorset towns with its service during 2022. ISPreview reported on December 7 that alternative network ISP Gigaclear has announced that they're investing £13m to begin an expansion of their gigabitcapable Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network into rural parts of Dorset and expect to reach over 18,000 premises (mostly homes and some businesses) across the region. The report stated: "Gigaclear's network already claims to cover over 240,000 premises in APPLICATION has been made for a licence to sell alcohol from a new gin business to be launched in January at The Old Glass House, Ash Farm Courtyard, Stourpaine. Anyone wishing to make representation to Dorset Council had until November 24. Applicant Wilfrid Shon said there would be no alcohol consumed on the premises, but the licence would allow him to sell both online and open a shop on Fridays and Saturday mornings.

England, and they're aiming to reach 500,000 UK properties by the end of 2023. The operator, which is being backed by Infracapital, last year secured some £525m worth of debt financing to support its expansion plans. "Until now, the provider has generally tended to operate a bit further north than Dorset, although they do have some deployments across the neighbouring Devon and Somerset counties. "The first locations to benefit from this expansion will include Stalbridge, Sherborne, Blandford Forum, Colehill, Sturminster Marshall and Lytchett Matravers. "Gigaclear won't be alone in targeting rural parts of Dorset with a gigabit-capable network. Openreach (BT) have Blandford on their FTTP rollout plan and so does Wessex Internet. "Blandford is fairly small and home to just 11,000 people, so it becomes increasingly difficult to see how such locations may be able to sustain three rival networks of this class, and fortune may favour the fastest build."


AFTER once again knitting poppies to display behind the Shillingstone war memorial during Remembrance Week, members of Shillingstone WI joined the national two weeks of campaigning to 'Stop Violence against Women'. A white ribbon for each WI member was hung on the tree planted on the outskirts of the village to commemorate the Millennium. Pictured are acting chair Mary Crab with members Vicky Thomas, Di Howlett and Laurel Hewson.


Five recorded hedgehog deaths along a short stretch of the Blandford bypass.

Hedgehog road death toll DOZENS of 'ghost' hedgehogs appeared across Dorset in November after the Dorset Mammal Group asked all hedgehog friendly towns and villages to mark where a hog death has occurred this year. The Blandford group alone had 46 reported deaths from May to November in Blandford and Blandford St Mary, and there were more along the A350 in Spetisbury and Charlton Marshall and many more on the A354 in Pimperne. A map of the Blandford deaths shows where the creatures met their end on local roads, including many on the Blandford bypass, on Salisbury Road and other main routes, together with more residential streets. Denise Montague, of the Blandford group, said: "We planned to leave them up for about two weeks to raise awareness, and politely asked for them not to be interfered with or removed." PLANS to convert and extend the former JR's in East Street to create four residential apartments at the rear of the retail outlet, previously occupied by Prezzo, are being resisted by Blandford Town Council. They say it is important to retain hospitality space of that scale in the town centre, and conflicts with the Blandford + Neighbourhood Plan which seeks to retain ground-floor retail floorspace. In their objection to the application on behalf of Steve Thorne, which is being considered by Dorset Council, the town council say they also believe conversion is premature at a time when businesses are recovering from the effects of the national pandemic.

January 2022

Arwen’s road havoc STORM Arwen brought disruptions to the Blandford area at the end of November, when a fallen tree and power cables closed the A357 in both directions from Durweston to Bere Marsh. The A31 was also closed in both directions due to a fallen tree and power cables from the Roundhouse roundabout at Sturminster Marshall to the Corfe Mullen junction. Around 9,000 people in the Blandford area suffered power cuts for about three hours early in the morning because of cables down on the A35, and numerous other trees were brought down, on the Blandford to Wimborne

road, near the Ashley Wood golf course, and on the road into Winterborne Stickland. A large horse chestnut at Park Road recreation ground suffered substantial damage, but disease and decay had already prompted an application from Blandford Town Council's Operations Manager for its removal. An application for removal after storm damage has now been approved. Storm Barra in December had slightly less impact locally but was severely felt on the coast and in Dorchester, where damage was reported to the former Dorset Council building, South Walks House.

Café’s award triumph BLANDFORD'S Yellow Bicycle Café was a runner-up in the Love Local Trust Local awards hosted at the Langton Arms in Tarrant Monkton. More than 120 local food producers, farmers, fishermen and entrepreneurs attended the only Dorset food & drink awards taking place as a real event last year. Their success came in the recognition award for showcasing local produce, and Steve Bell thanked the organisers and judges, saying the winner, 'Les Enfants Terrible' seafood restaurant in Weymouth, was on his list of places to go. Other winners on the evening were Lizzie the Baking Bird,

Winfrith Bakery, Mrs J's Stuff, Stephen Toop, Cerne Abbas Brewery, Portland Shellfish Ltd, Dorset Goat Meat Company, The Book & Bucket Cheese Company, Madjeston Milk Station, Bee Nice Blooms, Open Air Dairy, Gullivers Farm Shop & Kitchen and Weymouth 51. Sponsored by Dorset's small businesses to support and strengthen the work of British farmers, fishermen and food producers, it was the second annual awards ceremony for the Love Local Trust Local movement created in 2018 and founded by fifth generation farming family, the Cossins, in the Tarrant Valley. For more information see lovelocaltrustlocalawards.co.uk.

Police seek Samaritan POLICE have urged a Good Samaritan who stepped in to help when a female officer was assaulted to come forward. A 36-year-old man from Ireland was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an emergency worker and resisting arrest after allegedly strangling the officer in a marked police car. He has been released on police bail while enquiries continue. He had earlier been involved when police responded to reports of a fight between two men at a party near Blandford on Sunday November 28, and was being taken back to his accommodation. Police reported that at 4.30am as he was being driven in a marked police car on the A31 at West Almer approaching the Roundhouse roundabout, he "removed his seatbelt, leaned forward and strangled a female

police officer in the car". The car was stopped so that he could be held back and a member of the public came to their aid. PC Neil Gauden, of Dorset Police, said: "I would like to thank this male Good Samaritan who stopped and helped both police officers during this incident. I am appealing to him to get in touch with us as he may have information that could assist my investigation." Anyone with information can contact the Police at dorset.police.uk/do-it-online, by email to 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk, by calling 101 quoting occurrence number 55210191517 or, to remain anonymous, by contacting the independent charity Crimestoppers online at crimestoppers-uk.org (freephone 0800 555 111).

January 2022

Positive change comes from small beginnings


It's the time of year for making New Year Resolutions. What are yours? We asked local student Emma de Saram, who last November attended both the G20 Summit in Rome and COP26 in Glasgow as both a climate justice activist and official delegate representing her university, for her thoughts. This is what she said:


Emma de Saram PLANS for an outdoor pergola covering the patio to create a covered seating area and barbecue kitchen at the Anvil Hotel in Pimperne are being considered by Dorset Council. Pimperne Parish Council originally objected to the siting, height and roof materials of the pergola, but withdrew their objection following the submission of revised plans.

y journey into activism started with litter picks with Blandford War on Waste, so going to the United Nations Climate Change Conference was a big leap. For the first half of my trip, I was mostly working with the group 'Green New Deal Rising', which is putting pressure on MPs and policymakers to pass legislation to reduce carbon emissions, protect biodiversity, and ensure just transitions for people whose lives are, and will be, affected by climate change. I attended several workshops led by climate scientists as well as indigenous people who travelled to Glasgow from all over the world to share their stories. I spoke at a panel event focused on the necessity of lifestyle changes in an age of climate change. I find this conversation slightly misleading, as although we can make small changes to our diets, by buying local and reducing our carbon footprints, the idea that living a perfectly sustainable lifestyle will save the planet distracts from the role that big polluting industries and companies play. I also spoke at an event on equal gender representation in politics. I have gained a lot of knowledge and increased my

understanding of the severity of climate change, but also know that we must look at climate change among many preventable injustices that need to be tackled simultaneously. Economic inequality, lack of social housing, continuing cuts and of course Covid, are all preventable and demonstrate that the government are failing to protect the most vulnerable. However, I have hope that our communities can act together. The New Year provides new opportunities to get involved with local projects. Over Covid, the power of community was clear. Personally, my neighbours set up a WhatsApp group where we can pop messages in if we need a hand with something, and I have been involved in more litter picks and reviving the Repair Café. We don't have to act alone but can use any unique skills when we have time to get involved in local groups. I have been all the way to Glasgow to a Climate Change Conference, but I have returned knowing that positive change has to start small. So, my New Year's Resolution will be to continue to run the Repair Café, litter picking, and making small changes. Emma de Saram


Readers’ letters

January 2022 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: editor@forumfocus.co.uk. Alternatively, you can call 01258 459346 or deliver your letter to: Forum Focus, c/o Colin's

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.

Closure decision brings flood of thanks THANK you and your team for the last 10 years of news, comment and adverts. Hopefully somebody will fill your place with a publication? Fingers crossed somebody takes the publication on. News is now so scattered all over the internet but a publication like yours put stories related to Blandford and the surrounding area in one place. Thank you again and happy retirement. Annette & Michael Newman SO sorry to see the magazine stopping. I for one have always thought that it was a flash of brilliance. Such quality and balance with great Blandford news - it is outstanding. Take care, and be very, very proud on what you have achieved. Sheer brilliance. The FF will be sadly missed.

Our email inboxes have been overflowing since our announcement last month of the closure of Forum Focus in March. We would like to thank everyone for their very generous responses and best wishes to the team. Here is just a selection. Very best seasonal greetings. Bill Hussey JUST writing to say how sorry I am that the decision has been made to close Forum Focus. It filled a vacuum and now the vacuum will return. Every best wish, John Tanner I WAS very shocked to read that Forum Focus is closing down in March. The second shock was that it was ten years ago that we sat at the bar and I asked, as the Western Gazette had ceased publishing in this area, if you would be interest-

ed in starting a local paper, as you had all the experience and contacts necessary. I remember I sat on the first committees and was so impressed with the fantastic team you got together that I paid towards the first production. You all produced a great local paper that any town would be proud of. Thank you all for the hours spent to give us all local news and enjoyment over the last ten years. Colin Young I AM so sorry to hear this. You have been such a good friend of our school and the magazine is so well loved. Many thanks for all

you have done for us and very, very best wishes for the future. We will miss you. Nicola Brooke, Headteacher Durweston CE VA Primary School THIS is such bad news - I'm really sorry to hear it. You and your team have made Forum Focus such an important part of community life in the town. It's really sad that print media is becoming less and less feasible. I do hope that, as you suggest, others are able to take forward the concept of a publication for Blandford - and that this amounts to much more than a Facebook page. I do hope a solution can be found. Meanwhile, my congratulations and thanks for all you've done over the past ten years - Forum Focus has been a great success! Pat Pryor

Support group for survivors BLANDFORD Breast Cancer Support Group is a long-established group of about 20 ladies, some of whom are recently diagnosed and still undergoing treatment. Others are 25 years down the line. The group meets every first Tuesday of the month at Pimperne village hall at 2.30pm. We have speakers, lunches out, lots of laughter, chat and competitions - and tea and cake. If you are a survivor, do come along, bring a friend if you want - you will be most welcome. Our next meeting will be on Tuesday February 1 at 2.30 with a talk by a local Rotary Club member about their activities, and the speaker on March 1 will be Gail del Pinto from the Blandford Food Bank. To find out more speak to Shirley (01258 860706) or Lizzie (01258 453853). Lizzie New

Performing for a good cause ARE you a singer? Dance act? Comedian? We are looking for entertainers who would donate their time to perform for a fundraising event which will be held at The Exchange in Sturminster Newton. All funds raised will be donated to our local NHS budget (Blackmore Vale). We are supported by a charity organisation for the Westminster Memorial Hospital in Shaftesbury. Please would you reply to our chairman Julian Prichard at friendsofwmh@mail.com or Lawrencerbulman@gmail.com if you are interested. Lawrence Bulman

Bridge only needs a good clean RE the letter (Forum Focus November) suggesting a lick of paint for the blue bridge: Being a regular user I looked at its condition, covered in algae and dirt - nothing that the local council couldn't do with a jet washer to achieve a spruce-up. Admittedly access from the river side would need more thought but perhaps an angled jet hose would suffice. It wouldn't take weeks or thousands of pounds. Dirty yes; repaint required, no. Readers, check it out and see what you think. Keep up the good work, Forum focus team! Janet Turner


January 2022

Award for new beer ONE of Hall & Woodhouse's bottled beers has won a Gold Medal in the prestigious International Brewing Awards (IBA). Its innovative Milk Made Stout, a 5.2% ABV bottled milk stout with layers of chocolate, vanilla and coconut, won Gold in the Speciality Beer class, recognising beers with special features. Launched in 2020, Milk Made is one of several new, contemporary beers created under Hall & Woodhouse's NPD programme to complement the core Badger Beers brand which have included Fropical Ferret, a fruity IPA, and Twice Tangled, a double-hopped IPA. Drinks marketing manager Matt

Woodhouse said: "Milk Made is the first dark beer we've brewed in Blandford for some years and it's great to have our belief that it's delicious confirmed by the expert IBA judges." A New England IPA, launched in autumn 2021, is the first beer in a new small batch series of limited edition bottled beers from Hall & Woodhouse. Matt said: "The New England IPA is an outstanding beer to launch it with and sets the bar high for subsequent additions." He said it was equally gratifying for the IBA to recognise the quality and craft of their cask range with a Gold for Badger Red Roaster and a Silver for Badger Fursty Ferret.

New agency launch A NEW addition to the estate agency landscape is offering something a little different on the traditional estate agency model with the launch of Open House Salisbury and North Dorset, run by husband-and-wife team Andy and Rebekah Bufton. Open House is one of the largest national hybrid estate agencies in the UK, offering the same benefits of a high street agent, with the added benefit of lower business overheads, meaning cost savings without diluting the quality of service offered. Andy and Rebekah decided there was a gap in the local market for this type of estate agency service, and so Open House Salisbury &

North Dorset was born. Andy said: "The way people buy a house now has changed and that means the way an estate agency needs to be run is different too. Just being open nine to five and offering viewings during those times is not enough, so at Open House we have a 24/7 commitment to our customers, always ready to help wherever needed in the home sales process." Customers can contact Andy or Rebekah anytime to discuss anything about their home sale process, ask questions about sourcing a new home and whatever is needed, and can do this through WhatsApp, phone call, email, live chat, on social media.

NEW plans for the demolition of Larksmead House in Salisbury Road and replacement with just seven new homes instead of the nine previously proposed and refused have again encountered objections from neighbours to the loss of trees, privacy and local heritage. Representations closed in November on the application to Dorset Council by Lawsh One Ltd, and included Blandford Town Council's response which was to raise no objection since the number of properties had reduced, and more trees would be retained on site. But some members opposed the scheme saying the reasons for refusal of the earlier application still applied.

A POWERFUL, intense and gripping production will be brought to Blandford Corn Exchange on Sunday January 30 in 'Hefted', a play told by Multi Story Theatre through nine stories. It is presented by four actors who conjure a score of characters between them, interspersed with song and a spectacular soundscape. Full information when booking at artsreach.co.uk.

Pheasant boy sought A POLICE investigation was launched after a boy was seen aiming a catapult at a pheasant from a car in the Tarrant Rawston area at around 3pm on Friday November 19. A boy aged between 12 and 14 was reported to have taken aim while leaning out of the window of a silver Daihatsu Charade, with three people inside and the registration V452 FCR. The vehicle is understood to have travelled to the Wiltshire area following the incident. Inspector Simon Perry, of Dorset

Police's Rural Crime Team, said: "We are carrying out enquiries into this matter and I am appealing for anyone with information to please contact us." Anyone with information can contact Dorset Police quoting occurrence number 55210186917 at dorset.police.uk/do-it-online, via email 101@dorset.pnn.police.uk, by calling 101, or contact the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously online at Crimestoppers-uk.org (Freephone 0800 555 111).


January 2022


January 2022

Trailway upgrade work makes good progress THE work of the North Dorset Trailway Network in campaigning to provide a safe, accessible, multi-user traffic-free route along the course of the old Somerset & Dorset rail line has been highlighted to all town and parish councils along the route, and to leading Dorset councillors, in the light of an update to the Department for Transport publication 'Gear Change'. A paper and maps setting out the vision for the local trailway highlights the reference in the publication to the possibility of more historic railway structures being used for walking or cycle routes, or other transport purposes. At Shillingstone, work continues along the route of the temporary trailway diversion on the western side of the embankment by the North Dorset Railway Trust to eventually be the track bed and open up the route of the track bed. Tree felling had been completed south of the bridge by the end of November, with smaller vegetation cleared first and larger trees when they were no longer in leaf. The felled trees will be replaced with suitable native species on other parts of the site, in line with their planning approval. The awkward change in levels required a

smaller digger to get in and work on part of the embankment where it is thought there may have originally been a head shunt at the lower level. The level at the centre of the embankment was probably raised by dumping of spoil when the goods yard was converted to the present-day industrial estate. While preparations were underway for the Project 62 open day at the end of October, work continued on the western side of the embankment between the station and Lamb House Bridge, clearing the route of the temporary trailway diversion. From the undergrowth the team extracted a signal pulley which is now safely back at the station. Having been delayed by the pandemic, a project to enhance the Trailway entrance at Sturminster Newton led by the Railway Heritage Group is now beginning to come to fruition. The design has been agreed by all interested parties, and a small donation to the design costs has been made by the Trailway Network to add to the grants from Sturminster Newton Town Council, the Cheese Festival and Sturminster Newton's two Community Chest charity shops, for the project as a whole.

Plaques get artistic touch of colour LOCAL artist Annabelle Valentine has been warmly thanked by Blandford & District Civic Society for volunteering her time to add the final detail to the plaques installed on the restored Damory

Annabelle Valentine with one of the plaques on the Damory Street arch.

Street archway, which were originally erected as part of a memorial to those from the Blandford Secondary School who died in World War One. Society secretary Nicci Brown said: "When we commissioned the replica plaques which were modelled from the originals now displayed at The Blandford School, the finish was monochrome, and we felt they would benefit by the addition of the colours of the former school's crest, as well as highlighting the individual letters. "Annabelle, who at the time of the restoration of the Blandford Parish Church tower and cupola, painted the swirls on each corner of the cupola, very kindly offered to carry out the work for us, and has spent many hours over the last couple of years when the weather permitted applying the several coats of paint." Annabelle, who specialises in commissioned portrait painting at her gallery in Salisbury Street, said: "It was an honour to have the opportunity to do it, and wonderful that it is finished at long last."

The signal pulley discovered in the undergrowth.

Works in progress on the levelled embankment forming part of the extension of the North Dorset Railway at Shillingstone.


January 2022


January 2022

Musical era ends with retirement of school director WARM tributes were paid in December to Richard Hall, the man who had led Blandford's unique Dorset Rural Music School for the last 17 years, prior to his retirement at the end of the term. An informal concert in Blandford Parish Church on December 4 saw staff and pupils present a varied programme which they had rehearsed with him, as well as some unscheduled and surprise items. They included a moving rendition of 'So Long, Farewell' from the Sound of Music by the choir, and Julie Newall singing 'Can't Help Loving That Man' from Porgy and Bess and 'When You're Good to Mama' from Cabaret. Mrs Newall said: "Richard taught me to sing and got me through grade 8 classical - I am now learning musical theatre." Dave Harding, who played Schubert's 'Impromptu in A flat', said he had joined DRMS as a student when he returned to the piano after passing grade 7 in 1986. "Richard was the man to get me to grade 8," he said, after receiving from Mr Hall his certificate which had arrived that day. DRMS celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, after being founded as part of a nationwide initiative to bring cultural revival after the dark years of the war, particularly in rural counties. Its aim was to make lessons in all branches of music available at reasonable cost to people unable to travel to teaching centres.

It was the eighth to be established nationwide in September 1947, and the coming of age of the movement in 1950 was celebrated in the Royal Albert Hall, when a Dorset plumber represented RMS students on the radio programme 'In Town Tonight' after the choir's performance of 'Sheep Shearing' to the nation. But the Blandford school, which originally operated from a single room in Whitecliff Mill Street under the leadership of Nancy Williams, is now the only full-time school of its kind still in existence. Most of the others, said Richard, have now fallen by the wayside largely as a result of the introduction of music into the school curriculum and the development of county schools' music services in the early 1960s. He has been involved with the school, man and boy, since studying for his A-levels at that time and becoming a pupil for a couple of years. His musical career as a pianist, timpanist, harpsichordist, teacher and conductor saw further training at Dartington Hall in Devon, and then at the University of Durham, before returning to Blandford in 1976 when, with a BA Hons and PhD for postgraduate studies, he worked as a piano teacher with Nigel Carver, who had only recently begun what was to become a 30-year stint as the DRMS director. In 1989 he became a lecturer in music at Weymouth College, but he had always hoped he might

Retiring Dorset Rural Music School Director Richard Hall at the piano with, standing to his left, his successor Ellen Marsden, far left DRMS administrator Lucy Martin, and school staff and students who took part in the farewell concert. one day become the head of DRMS, and the opportunity arose when Mr Carver stepped down in 2005. "We differ from the county music service not only in catering for adults as well as students, but in teaching whatever people want to be taught, and having the flexibility to work outside the curriculum." The school, whose future was secured many years ago when an anonymous benefactor enabled the purchase of the stable block next to the Old House in The Close, also has a massive music library. It is used by local groups

who can access a wider range at cheaper prices than the county library service. There is also a music shop and musical instrument hire for students ranging from six to over 60. Mr Hall's place as director will be taken this month by Ellen Marsden, who after a varied career as a professional musician and oboist in this country and abroad spanning over 30 years, has most recently been Director of Music at Sherborne Preparatory School and a freelance creative project manager and producer and music teacher.


January 2022


January 2022

Fancy dress brings a sparkle to the classroom STAFF and pupils at St Nicholas Primary School in Child Okeford focused on thinking of others in the near and wider community in November. To help celebrate harvest festival, the children brought in food and hygiene items that they donated to the local food bank, and as part of their learning about Remembrance Day, the children made poppy wreaths which were laid at the memorial in Child Okeford during the Remembrance Service on November 11. The school councillors and Acers class took part in the service with representatives from the school council laying their wreaths, as well as one representing the

young people of Child Okeford, Manston and Hammoon. On November 15, it was Odd Socks Day, part of Anti-Bullying Week, when, to celebrate that everyone is unique and should be free from bullying, they all wore odd socks. On November 19 they helped raise funds for children less fortunate than themselves as part of BBC Children in Need which partnered with the TV show Strictly Come Dancing. They added a bit of glitz and glamour to the school day with some Strictly Sparkle, the children coming to school in sparkling fancy dress and Pudsey outfits and raising a total of £121.10.

A Strictly Sparkly day ended a period of thinking about others at St Nicholas Primary School in Child Okeford.


The View from the Hill by George Hosford More from George on viewfromthehill.org.uk


UR cows have been slowly making their way towards their winter housing. They were doing a walk-through of some of our fields of cover crop, a few days in each field, having a nibble as they go, but leaving some greenery to keep the soil covered and some root activity underground. On Wednesday I had a chat with old 2244 (our second oldest cow, at 13). She was hanging around by the gate and happy for me to scratch her ears. She seemed to be enjoying the diet, although she did tell me that they didn't much fancy the beans in the mixture, which I had already surmised, as beans still stand all across the field, where much else has been consumed. She couldn't explain what it was about beans, they just don't like them. Around many of our arable fields, the fencing is not particularly cow-proof, so we have to augment some stretches with a strand of electric - which brings to mind the latest thing in cow grazing management; it is called Nofence. It is a whizzy bit of technology requiring every cow to wear a collar, which is solar-powered and GPS-linked, and uses a digital boundary. The collar is controlled by a phone app. Simply define an area on your phone screen and build a virtual fence. The fence can easily be

January 2022 adjusted or moved, giving the animals access to fresh pastures whenever you decide. If an animal wanders close to the boundary, it will hear a warning sound from the collar. No-fence trains the animals to back off when they hear the sound. If they ignore the sound, a weak but effective electric pulse can be given as a last resort. Personally I can't quite see how this would work with frisky calves who hit the line at a gallop. I hear that the Knepp estate in Sussex (famous for its rewilding project) uses these collars to effectively mob graze their pastures. On Thursday, the cows were examined by the long arm of the vet, who discovered that all but three are in calf, not a bad result. This year's calves have now been weaned and the cows are indoors, munching on stemmy silage we made from our new strips of insect habitat. Their wayward offspring escaped from their field overnight and returned to Websley in search of their mothers, prompting an escape from the yard, a break-in to a garden, the breaking of two gates and generally causing mayhem. The calves themselves are now confined to a yard until they have calmed down and forgotten about mummy. Our agronomist Greg, on November 10, found some of the little devils called aphids, which can often be easily found on crops in the autumn, though once we've had a few frosts their numbers diminish. They are important to cereal growers because sometimes they carry a disease called barley yellow dwarf virus, which can cause stunting and serious yield reduction in cereal crops. It affects barley worst. Traditionally we have controlled them with insecticide but this will eventually lead to resistance in the aphids and will kill potential predators, so we have given up that route and now grow more

insect habitat hoping we can encourage the predators. We sow our autumn crops a little later than we used to, to reduce pressure from the aphids as the weather cools. The biology of aphids bears a little scrutiny. Here is an interesting account from a scientist, which I found a while ago sadly I lost track of their name: During favourable conditions, when food is plentiful, aphids undergo asexual Here's our second oldest cow 2244 come for a chat: she is a reproduclovely solid cow, still in really good shape, and is pregnant tion. Not again with what could be her 11th calf for us. requiring 'two to Russian doll for the first time. tango', means a solitary aphid Undertaking this squeamish act can produce a large, sap-sucking allowed me to appreciate how colony within days. At university they can multiply incredibly quickwe investigated aphids under ly. binocular microscopes and were Not only this, but when food is told to squeeze them and plentiful, the young aphids will be observe as many as a dozen born wingless, and will only unborn aphids shoot out from a single specimen. Then, with the spread relatively slowly from their microscope's magnification place of birth, forming noticeable ramped up, asked to do the same foci of infection. However, if food to the unborn aphids. Incredibly gets short, the aphids can start to the same thing occurs, unborn produce winged babies again, aphids that are themselves pregwhich can depart to pastures nant! It was like opening a new.

January 2022



It’s change at the top as Bryanston head departs A CHANGE of leadership at Blandford's top independent school Bryanston was announced a few weeks before the end of term. The board of governors confirmed that the school's Second Master Richard Jones has now assumed interim responsibility for all day-to-day management of the school as acting head, following the departure of Mark Mortimer, head since September 2019. The appointment of the experienced teacher of economics and business, who also has a master's degree in educational leadership, follows what was described as "a period of reflection by the school's headmaster, Mark Mortimer, on the experiences of the past two years, as a result of which he has made the decision to move on from Bryanston". In their statement, the governors said the change was being announced so that pupils could be informed clearly and calmly

Richard Jones, acting head at Bryanston School. before the end of term and their Christmas holiday, to avoid any speculation or unnecessary anxiety. The search is now underway for a new head of Bryanston to lead the school through the next stage of its development and to help consolidate its reputation as a creative, collaborative and inno-

vative environment for education and personal development. Julian Greenhill, the school's chair of governors, said: "Richard has demonstrated insight, engagement and affinity with the core values and unique ethos of Bryanston since joining us. "Working closely with the senior management team as well as the governors and staff in all areas of the school, Richard will now be taking the lead in helping us meet our academic, pastoral and strategic objectives in advance of the appointment of a new head. "We are grateful to Mark Mortimer and his wife, Anna, for their energy, commitment and service during such a challenging period in the world of education, and we wish them and their children every success in the future." Questions and answers in the news feed on the school's website reassured pupils and parents that there would be no change in the operation of the school, which recently merged with Knighton House in Durweston, or in its involvement with the local community. It also gave assurance that Mr Mortimer's sudden departure was not the result of any disciplinary matter.

Fairs aid for Sudan FOR 25 years, churches in the Tarrant Valley and beyond have been holding a Christmas fair to raise money for medical supplies and training for South Sudan, sending the funds through the Salisbury diocesan charity the Salisbury-Sudan Medical Link. This year the fair was split into two: a shopping fair and a lunch fair, to try to avoid crowds which might lead to a rise in covid cases. Despite the difficult situation, over £2,000 was raised for this very worthwhile cause, supporting some of the poorest people in the world. The organisers have thanked all who attended, giving special thanks to Dr Robin Sadler, who came on both occasions to talk to people about the work done by the Medical Link.

January 2022

Apprentice schemes launched by internet firm THREE new apprenticeship programmes have been launched by local internet service provider Wessex Internet as it looks to create the next generation of skilled telecoms professionals in Dorset. Six apprentices are being recruited this year, with plans to recruit additional cohorts on an ongoing basis, in three potential career paths - as network cable installer, service delivery scheduler or sales/customer service advisor. The company, which already employs more than 120 people from its base near Blandford, has worked with local training providers The Colleges' Partnership and Skills & Learning to provide a mix of both on-the-job and off-the-job training, full support and assessment so that apprentices can gain qualifications while developing new skilled careers in telecommunications. Full details can be found at wessexinternet.com/careers or potential candidates can email careers@wessexinternet.com for more information. Hector Gibson Fleming, CEO at Wessex Internet, said: "As a local and independent business, we're passionate about creating exciting and rewarding career opportunities here in Dorset. "Our new apprenticeship programmes provide a pathway into the fast-growing telecommunications sector and the many hitech career paths available within it. Our goal is to create firstclass telecommunications training and careers in the southwest." Dean Green, business development manager at The Colleges' Partnership, a local training provider with over 15 years' experience delivering apprenticeships, said: "The network cable installer apprenticeship will stretch and challenge the apprentices but also cement required skills for the future to the local workforce to support the local community." Julia Markus, business and outreach officer, at the local Skills & Learning Adult Community Education, said: "This very successful, fast-growing company is bringing great jobs with training and excellent career prospects."

January 2022

Anthony Penny: a staunch supporter of the fashion museum THE Blandford Fashion Museum wishes to celebrate the life and sadly acknowledge the recent death of Anthony Frank Lewis Penny. As one of Betty Penny MBE's three sons, he supported his mother and her legacy by chairing the Blandford Fashion Museum Board of Trustees from October 1997 to September 2019. Such was his loyalty and determination for the Museum to succeed and prosper that he would fly from his home in Paphos, Cyprus, to attend trustee meetings at least three times a year. As David Strong, current chair of trustees, wrote in his letter of condolence to Anthony's granddaughter: "It was always a pleasure to host him. He was composed, direct and effective,


Obituary very good-humoured and held us all in check. He has left a huge hole in our governance. His decision to step down as chair was not one he made lightly. He will be remembered as a friend with enormous affection." Anthony held an executive position in NatWest Bank and travelled extensively as a troubleshooter. A widower and the last surviving of three brothers, he leaves three daughters, Samantha, Claire and Rachel. All are staunch supporters of the Museum in their turn. We wish to extend our sympathy and thanks to his family. Carole Fornachon

Death notices FOOT Alison: Passed away peacefully at her home in Spetisbury on November 12, aged 57 years. Much loved mum, step mum, wife, sister, niece and auntie. The funeral service held at Spetisbury Parish Church on Friday, December 3, followed by a burial. Donations if desired to Riding for the Disabled c/o Lesley Shand Funeral Service, 28 East Street. Blandford Forum DT11 7DR. Tel 01258 453425 or online funeraldirector.co.uk/alison-foot HAINES Ann: Born 11.2.1935 Passed away November 15 at Dorchester Hospital after a short illness. A devoted wife to the late Robert, mum, nan and great nan. Funeral held on 6th December at Poole Crematorium. Donations if desired for RSPCA, may be made online by visiting close-funeral.co.uk or cheques payable to the charity c/o Colin J Close Funeral Service, Peel Close, Salisbury Road, Blandford DT11 7JU. Tel: 01258 453133 PASHEN Binnie of Wareham peacefully passed away whilst in palliative care in Blandford hospital on November 18. Funeral took place on December 6 at Poole crematorium.

Anthony Penny with his daughter Claire and his mother Betty Penny when she received her MBE.


January 2022

School praised for uplifting vision A SUCCESSFUL SIAMs inspection from the Church of England has been welcomed with pride by Blandford's Archbishop Wake CE Primary School. Judged 'good' overall and in the effectiveness of the provision of RE and the impact of collective worship, the inspection report concludes: "The school's uplifting Christian vision runs like a golden thread through every aspect of school life. "As a result, parents trust school staff and greatly value the pastoral care and practical assistance on offer. Pupils experience school as a place of calmness, security and happiness, increasing their resilience and self-confidence." Headteacher Daniel Carter said: "I am especially proud of that statement and of the report, the hard work that has taken place, the amazing and dedicated staff and above all the wonderful pupils of Archbishop Wake. After all, a school is simply just a building without the people inside and it is the community of Archbishop Wake that makes it such a fantastic and special place to be." The detailed report of inspector

Rupert Kaye highlights the four curriculum drivers of aspiration, community, inclusion and language, which make learning more accessible for more pupils and allow vulnerable pupils and those with special educational needs to feel nurtured, supported and successful in their learning. "Pupils stress the importance of being tolerant of different viewpoints, turn-taking and a willingness to respect everyone for their ideas and insights." He also praised the range of books in the school library, with conspicuous themes of diversity, equality, acceptance and belonging, which he said was, for leaders, a spine of hope, aspiration and love, and for pupils a reminder that 'difference is a good thing'. All Church of England schools are regularly inspected through the Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools (SIAMs) and that for Archbishop Wake, which was last inspected in 2014 and has since become part of the Diocese of Salisbury Academy Trust (DSAT) with nearly 400 children on roll, took place in October.

Cladding plan opposed A PROPOSAL to apply Cedral weatherboard to the front elevation of a terraced property in Bryanston Street, Blandford, to resolve issues with damp has been withdrawn by the property owner. Town councillors backed neighbours of the property who maintained the damp has been caused by the property lying vacant for some time, and that cladding has not been found necessary on other properties in the historic and so far unaltered terrace built by Lord Portman for his workers. At a planning committee meeting, councillors were unanimous in resolving to object to the significant visual harm that would be caused to a row of established Georgian properties.

Shane Watson of sponsors The Dorset Funeral Plan presents Dave Abbott of Blandford with the trophy for Division II winners.

Trophy double for Blandford cricketers BLANDFORD's cricketers were the recipients of two awards in the Dorset Funeral Plan Cricket League at its end-of-season presentation afternoon held at The Leaze, home of Wimborne and Colehill Cricket Club. Blandford were the winners of Division 2, the most competitive of all the leagues with only 32 points separating third and tenth. Two teams had pulled away towards the end of the summer and it was Blandford who narrowly took the title ahead of Poole Town Seconds. Luke Carter for Blandford scored 603 runs and bowlers Rob Harding and Aaron Day did damage with the ball. Runners-up in division 5, won by

Bradford Abbas, were Blandford Seconds, who suffered only two reverses. Dorchester Cricket Club collected the trophy for winning the 2021 Dorset Cricket Board Premier Division after a nail-biting end to the season which saw them retain the trophy they won in 2019, pre-Covid. Nick Douch from Douch Family Funeral Directors, said: "There were seven highly competitive Saturday leagues and it was reassuring to see so many youngsters coming through and doing well. "Sponsoring the leagues for more than 15 years has given us a great profile and we've seen wonderful improvement in so many of the county's grounds."

Puzzling over the pieces at the Jigsaw Club. CHILDREN at Durweston School are lucky enough to be able to go dog walking once a week. On Fridays, Mrs Saint, the year 4/5 teacher, brings in Ozzie who enjoys a run across the fields as much as the children. On Mondays, there's chess club and litter picking club, on Tuesdays there's Kapla club, on Wednesdays there's jigsaw club and on Thursdays Lego club. "We try to make sure there's something for everybody to enjoy," said headteacher Nicola Brooke.


January 2022

Doddlers take the storms and floods in their stride AFTER a strange couple of years which saw many races cancelled throughout the country, the Dorset Doddlers were determined to stage the ever-popular Stickler. Even the terrible storms and flooding the day before could not stop the race and more than 400 hardy runners lined up at the start line to take on the 10.1-mile course. Starting in Shillingstone, the runners take on the 1,500ft of hills beginning with the infamous Stickle Path up to Okeford Beacon before climbing the ancient hill forts of Hod and Hambledon Hills - this year with the added obstacle of crossing a flooded river bridge. The winner was Jacek Cieluszecki of Bournemouth AC in a time of 1h04m46s, and first lady was Molly Rasch in 1h19m48s. Second and third males were Christopher Peck (1h06m42s) and Tristan Cooper (1h07m27s, and second and third ladies were Jenny Lee Marshall (1h22m47s) and Tracy Cook (1h25m23s).

The Doddlers' winning female team consisted of Tracy Cook, Sharon Hutchings and Rachel Harrison, and the first male team was the Littledown Harriers (Mark Packer, Paolo De Luca and Paul Turle). The Dorset Doddlers and race directors thanked all the runners who braved the weather, all the marshals and everyone who help behind the scenes, including Telesoft, CC Moore and Honeybuns who made very generous donations to make the race a success. The Doddlers now offer a dedicated Couch to 5k (C25k) training program, a friendly structured course suitable for complete beginners. Their next course begins on Monday January 10 and is based on the NHS C25k 10-week program, run by qualified England Athletics Leaders in Running fitness coaches along with a number of volunteers. Due to limited numbers registration is required by emailing c25k@dorsetdoddlers.org. For more details on the Doddlers see dorsetdoddlers.co.uk.

Under the rainbow - some competitors in the Dorset Doddlers' Stickler were in fancy dress.

Crossing the flooded river.

Why not resolve to help conservation projects? THE Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is offering to help with people's New Year resolutions by offering a series of monthly Saturday volunteering days in addition to their weekly Wednesday volunteering days. The first will be on Saturday, January 8, and will be followed on the second

Saturday of each month during 2022. With some fantastic projects underway, they are looking for volunteers to help them with a variety of conservation tasks. See their volunteering pages on their website at cranbornechase.org.uk for more information, or email their Ranger, Roland Hughes at rolandhughes@cranbornechase.org.uk to find out what's on

offer. Also in the pipeline in February is Starfest 2022, with a number of events planned from February 18 to 28, including an online event for KS 1 and 2 children - 'In the Night Sky Live' on Wednesday, February 22 at 10am. Tickets and details are available from spacedetectives@yahoo.com.

28 Every Monday 2-4 and Thursday 10-1: Kurling, Winterborne Whitechurch Village hall, details 01258 881416 Every Monday and Friday: Lunchtime Bingo, Royal British Legion, Church Lane, Blandford, 12 noon Every first Tuesday: Blandford Breast Cancer Support Group, Pimperne village hall, 2.30pm, details 01258 860706 or 453853 Every third Monday: Blandford U3A Scrabble, Woodhouse Gardens Pavilion, 2 to 4.30pm (and every third Monday of the month): new members welcome Every third Tuesday: The Macular Degeneration Society, Royal British Legion, Church Lane,11.30am to 1pm Every Tuesday: Little Hands Mother and Toddler Group, Okeford Fitzpaine village hall, 9 to 11am, book in advance through Little Hands Facebook Group or call 01258 861511 Blandford Citizens Advice, 10am to 3pm at the Parish Centre in The Tabernacle. At other times call 01747 835016, the free Dorset Advice Line on 0800 144 88 48 or email advice-nd@centralca.org.uk Sing Together, 2.30 to 3.30pm, Blandford Connect Centre, Heddington Drive, Blandford Every Tuesday and Friday, Methodist Lunch Club, bookings 07799 516 735 Every Wednesday: Blandford Community Fridge, Blandford Youth & Community Centre, Milldown Road, open 9 to 11am Methodist Church coffee morning, 10am to noon Rokit community choir, Methodist Church, Blandford, 7.30pm Every Thursday: ‘Messy Mice’ Free Baby and Toddler group, 9.30 to 11am Okeford Fitzpaine CE Primary school Hall (term time only) Age Concern Blandford, Parish Centre, 10am to 12 noon, details 07305166418 or email ageconcernblandfordforum@mail.uk Square Dancing, Spetisbury

What’s on this month ARRANGEMENTS may change in the light of any further announcements relating to the pandemic. Please check with the organisers if in doubt. Please also let us know by email to editor @forumfocus.co.uk or phone to 01258 459346 of any events going ahead, either virtually or in person. Village Hall, 2 to 4pm, details 01202 731012 Every second Thursday: Folk Night, The Saxon Inn, Child Okeford, 8pm Every Friday: Durweston village coffee mornings, village hall, 10am to 12 noon Table tennis, Spetisbury village hall, 6.30pm, £2 per person Every first and third Friday: Bridge ( U3A) in the Woodhouse Gardens Pavilion, 2 - 5pm details 01258 450544 Every Saturday: Artori Academy, Blandford Corn Exchange, 1112:30pm (7-10yrs) and 1314:30pm (11-16yrs) Every third Saturday: Veterans Hub, Poppy Stables, Legion House, Church Lane, Blandford, 10am to 2pm Every Sunday: Blandford Methodist Church service 10.45am, book a place by phone on 07799 516 735 HAPPY NEW YEAR 2022 Wednesday January 5 (see also January 19): Introduction to volunteering at the Blandford Museum, Beres Yard, Market Place, 10.30 to 11.30am Thursday January 6: Online murder mystery with Sharp Teeth Theatre, Sherlock at Home -

Murder at the Games, 2.30 and 8pm, book via Artsreach at artsreach.co.uk Saturday January 8: Cranborne Chase AONB volunteering day, see cranbornechase.org.uk Tuesday January 11: Tarrant Gunville WI meet Tarrant Gunville village hall, 7.15pm, talk on British deer and deer managements. Visitors £4 to include supper, details 01258 456202 Bryanston Choral Society first rehearsal of Faure Requiem, Bryanston School, 7.30 to 9pm, see bryanstonchoralsociety.co.uk Monday January 17: Strictly Come Tea Dancing with the Soggy Biscuit Dance Band, Corn Exchange, Blandford, 2.30 to 4.30pm, £7.50 per person (£5 for non-dancers), details 07939 030875 Blandford Town Council planning committee meeting, Corn Exchange, 7pm or watch via Teams (see blandfordforumtc.gov.uk) Wednesday January 19: Introduction to volunteering at the Blandford Museum, Beres Yard, Market Place, 3.30 to 4.30pm, details 01258 458911 Thursday January 20: Election to fill vacancy on Blandford Town Council for Old

THE village panto season is due to start on January 20, 21 and 22 with the staging at the Iwerne Minster Village Club of their version of 'Sleeping Beauty', directed by Adrian Delso and described as 'Game of Thrones' meets 'The Goes Wrong Show', with a dash of 'Vicar of Dibley'. Tickets are on sale from the village shop. Early next month, the Tarrant Valley Players present 'George & the Dragon' at the Anne Biddlecombe Hall in Tarrant Keyneston, followed the next two Fridays and Saturdays on February 11, 12, 18 and 19 by SODS (Spetisbury Occasional Dramatic Society) with their presentation of 'Robinson Crusoe' in Spetisbury village hall. Cinderella is reported to be on her way to Milborne St Andrew village hall!

January 2022 Town Ward, polling station The Parish Rooms, The Tabernacle, 7am to 10pm Harbours and Coastal Communities in Mycenaean Greece, Blandford Museum talk by Max McDonald, Southampton University, The Parish Centre, The Tabernacle, 7.30pm Thursday to Saturday January 20 to 22: Pantomime at the Village club, Iwerne Minster Friday January 21: Bingo, Child Okeford Village Hall, doors open 7pm, eyes down 7.30pm, in aid of new roof, details 01258 861055 Saturday January 22: Teddy Laughs @ The Comedy Exchange, see b-c-p.co.uk Monday January 24: Blandford Town Council full council meeting, Corn Exchange, 7pm or watch via Teams (see blandfordforumtc.gov.uk) Friday January 28: Blandford & District u3a: 2pm at Durweston Village Hall: Christopher Legrand on ‘Salzburg: architecture and music’. Details 01258 628079 Sunday January 30: Multi Story Theatre presents 'Hefted', Corn Exchange, Blandford 7.30pm, details and tickets from artsreach.co.uk From February 1: Blandford Museum, Bere's Yard, open 10am to 4pm, Tuesdays, Thursday and Saturdays Tuesday February 1: Blandford Breast Cancer Support Group, Pimperne village hall, 2.30pm, speaker from Rotary, details 01258 860706 or 453853 Thursday to Saturday February 3 to 5: The Tarrant Valley Players present 'George & the Dragon', Anne Biddlecombe Hall, Tarrant Keyneston Fridays and Saturdays February 11, 12, 18 and 19: SODS (Spetisbury Occasional Dramatic Society) present 'Robinson Crusoe', Spetisbury village hall Saturday to February 12 to Monday February 28: Cranborne Chase AONB volunteer day (February 12) and StarFest (February 18 to 28): see cranbornechase.org.uk

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