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A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 1 | April 2018


Deene Park



Inside Photography Calendar comp The Fens | April 2018



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The Fens | April 2018

ED’S letter

Hello and welcome to your first issue of The Fens Wisbech. We can’t wait to hear what you think of your new, local monthly publication which is free to pick up and enjoy. We hope in the coming months to reach more villages around Wisbech, as well as continuing to be available in the town centre. For those of you who haven’t heard of The Fens before, let me introduce us and our publication. We began publishing our first magazine in May 2016, and quickly grew to cover more homes and businesses. Centered around Greater Peterborough, the content is similar to this publication but differs slightly with local news and specialised columns. We found our readers loved their area and wanted to find more local places to visit and explore. Our success has enabled us to launch this sister magazine, in which we hope to do the same. This month we visited Deene Park and Peckover House, we also interviewed BBC Gardeners’ World’s Adam Frost, and are delighted to launch our brand new photographic calendar competition. This issue is bursting with articles and local businesses, so please do enjoy the magazine and support your local companies. If you feel you can add to this publication, or want us to include your event, free of charge, email me at


THIS month 9 Find out what’s happening at the new literary festival 11 Visiting Peckover House 16 Fenland’s five museums 21 Feeding lambs at Sacrewell 25 Get into running 27 A look behind the scenes with RSPB


28 A walk with Leanne 30 Digging up the past 32 Exploring Deene Park 36 Rhubarb and ginger crumble 38 An interview with Adam Frost 44 Launching The Fens calendar 46 Columnist Steve Barclay MP 48 What’s on guide - some of the great events happening in the next few months



A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 1 | April 2018


Deene Park



Inside Photography Calendar comp The Fens | April 2018



50 Independent of the month Hair of the Dog

THE TEAM PUBLISHER / EDITOR Natasha Shiels EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Amy Corney SUB EDITOR Theresa Shiels DESIGN TEAM Natasha Shiels Charlotte Whittaker Vinny Clarke PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Brudenell ADVERTISING SALES Cassie Ward 07734 952626 ACCOUNTS 07511 662566 SUBSCRIPTIONS To subscribe for just £12 for 6 issues, contact us at CONTRIBUTORS Leanne Hyland | David White | Steve Barclay | Gareth Monger | Garry Monger | John McGinn | Steve Barclay MP DISTRIBUTION 8,000 copies printed monthly @thefensmag thefensmag

ISSUE 1 | APRIL 2018 Sacrewell Lamb by Chris Brudenell

THE FENS is published by Barley Media. Care is taken to ensure that the content and information is correct, however we cannot take any responsibility for loss, damage or omission caused by any errors. Permission must be granted to reproduce, copy or scan anything from this publication. For a copy of our contributors’ guidelines please email Barley Media accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties.

The Fens | April 2018


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A brand new literary festival will be held in March this year, running from 3rd April to 22nd April and offering a host of activities to suit all ages 3rd Book Cover Trail starts. A fun competition for all the family. Find the missing words from the book covers displayed in local shops and cafés in March town centre. Sheets available from March Library for just £1, winners will be announced at St George’s Fayre on 22nd April. 12th Bedtime Stories. Both well-known and especially written stories will be read each evening by a member of our local community. Tune in at 6.30pm each evening of the festival to watch or listen. www.cppmarketplace. 12th ‘Marcam Hall’, a short talk by Kevin Rogers. Take a trip down memory lane, share your own stories and lose yourself in some sounds of the 60s. Part of the ‘Talkin’ ‘Bout My Generation’ project. March Library, starts at 7pm. Free Admission 13th ‘Re-designing Book Covers’. A great family activity. Working with professional artists you can create your own cover design for your favourite book. March Library, drop in between 10.30am – 3.30pm. Free Admission 13th ‘Pipedream to Publication’. Find out what it takes to be a published author and what makes a book attractive to a publisher. An evening in conversation with local authors Darren O’Sullivan and Eva Jordan, and publisher Teika Bellamy (Mother’s Milk Books). Hosted by Jane Levicki of Bird’s Nest Books. March Town Hall, 7pm – 9pm. Tickets £10 on the door or £7.50 in advance from Suitable for 16+ 14th ‘Write Now’. A creative writing workshop with author Sue Welfare. Suitable for people at all stages of their writing career. March Town Hall, 10am – 4pm. Limited places so advanced booking is advisable, tickets £10 from 14th Poet Laureate Celebration Event. A celebration of poetry featuring local and visiting poets. March Town Hall, 7.30pm – 10pm. Tickets £5 inc. a drink and nibbles. Tickets available from or on the door.

15th Lyric Writing Workshop. Working with industry musician and rapper, Xidus Pain, create your own songs and music. You may have the opportunity to perform and release your own recorded EP. March Town Hall, 11am – 4pm. Free of charge, however booking is essential. Contact Holly on 01354 652769. (Follow up session on 6th May) 15th Songwriters’ evening. The first of a series of events for local songwriters to perform their own original music. March Town Hall, 7pm – 9.30pm. Suitable for 12+ . Free Admission 18th Name that Tune. A fun evening of music, hosted by Gary Tustin and starring local musician Bondy. Can you ‘name that tune’ in just 15 seconds? Songs from the 60s, 70s and 80s. Bring a team and have a laugh! March Town Hall, evening starts at 7.30pm. £1 per team member, 5 per team maximum. 20th Fenland Smart Phone Film Festival Premiere. The final shortlisted films will be shown, with talks and Q&A sessions with scriptwriter Jon Lawrence and filmmaker and scriptwriter David Johnson. March Town Hall, 7.30pm – 10pm. Free Admission 22nd St George’s Fayre. The Market Place will be full of activities, offering a programme of music themed to the 60s, 70s & 80s. Visit our Poet in a Panic and have a poem written just for you or a loved one. Watch performances of contemporary poetry performed at our Poetry Jukebox marquee. Have a go at Art Journaling. Listen to some of your old favourites in one of our listening booths. See what outfits Sue Ryder Retro have on offer, then get your hair and make up done and take a selfie!

If you would like to find out more please visit the Market Place website at Word Up! is funded by Market Place, which is part of the Creative People and Places programme, initiated and funded by Arts Council England. Market Place is about more people taking the lead in choosing, creating and taking part in art experiences in Fenland and Forest Heath.

The Fens | April 2018



RECYCLING? FENLAND IS GETTING IT SORTED! A new project to encourage more recycling in Fenland has been officially launched Fenland District Council has launched the Getting It Sorted Volunteers to improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste which ends up in landfill. Based on the authority’s hugely successful Street Pride initiative, which sees hundreds of volunteers help keep Fenland clean, green and tidy, Getting It Sorted hopes to raise awareness of the benefits of recycling with support from local community groups and schools and a band of dedicated recycling champions. More than 30 people have already signed up to the project, which was officially launched during an assembly at Cromwell Community College in Chatteris. Further school visits are planned, and a district-wide schools competition has also been launched to help promote recycling among young people. Project leader Amy Robinson, the Council’s Environmental Projects Officer, said: “We throw things away every day, but where we put our rubbish and where it ultimately ends up makes a big difference to our environment. Whether it’s a plastic bottle, a tin can or a newspaper, by putting the right stuff in the right bin we can all play a part in recycling more.” “In Fenland, residents are recycling around 30 per cent of their waste in their blue bins, but sadly up to £80,000 worth of readily recyclable material is still thrown away in the green bins every year – money that’s going straight to landfill rather than back into helping provide local services.” The Council is now appealing for people to join in, through volunteering, pledging to recycle, and helping others to recycle and waste less. Community Sorted Volunteers can get involved with a number of different community activities including taking part in local recycling events, talking to local groups about recycling and distributing Getting It Sorted flyers and posters. All Fenland community groups can get involved too. Recycling Volunteers can spread the recycling message to friends and neighbours, helping to improve the quality of recycling along their street. They hand out ‘thank you’ leaflets to those who are recycling well and offer recycling advice to those needing more support.


The Fens | April 2018

ROSE QUEEN AND PRIDE OF THE PARADE This year Wisbech will have a Rose Queen and Pride of the Parade, as Wisbech Round Table and Wisbech Ladies Circle join forces at the Rose Fair Parade 2018. The newly created Pride of the Parade will be organised by the Round Table, whilst the Rose Queen will be organised by the ladies of the Circle. To celebrate, Wisbech Ladies Circle are calling for all previous Rose Queens to come together and join them on a float this July. If you’ve previously been one, you can get in touch with them at The Rose Fair Parade will be held on July 7th.

BAG A BARGAIN WHILST HELPING A LOCAL CAUSE No experience is required, just an interest in the environment and helping your local community, and you can give as much or as little time as you like. All Getting It Sorted Volunteers will get lots of help and support from the Council’s Environmental Projects team, including training, regular newsletters, volunteer meetings and socials and lots of recycling information to share. Anyone who doesn’t have the time to volunteer can still get involved by taking a Recycling Pledge. More than 30 people have already pledged to recycle more themselves or help someone else to recycle more. People who take a recycling pledge will receive an information pack about recycling, and regular hints and tips via email to support their recycling efforts. The school competition, called Justin’s Recycling Adventure, encourages pupils to complete a recycling storyboard or make up their own. The competition runs until the end of June, with the best entry winning an art set for themselves and a free one-year recycling service for their school, worth £660. Storyboards are being delivered to schools, but they can also be downloaded at: volunteers For more information visit: www.fenland. or contact Amy Robinson, the Council’s Environmental Projects Officer, on gettingitsorted@ or 01354 654321.

On 2nd April, Easter Monday, the top floor of the Horsefair Car Park will become a treasure trove of bargains. All for a good cause! The shopping centre will be holding a carboot sale, raising proceeds for local armed forces charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The car boot will be from 9am until 1pm, with setting up from 8am. A pitch costs £5 for a car, and £10 with a trailer. All proceeds will go to the local charity which helps the families of men and women who lost their lives whilst serving in the armed forces. Kevin Smith, manager of the Horsefair Shopping Centre, said: “Carboot sales at the Horsefair are always very popular and raise fantastic amounts of money for local charities. We’re pleased to be supporting Scotty’s Little Soldiers with this event and are looking forward to seeing everyone bright and early on Easter Monday!” The car boot sale is free to enter for shoppers and there will be unrestricted parking available on the ground floor of the car park.

GRAB A GRADE WEEK DESIGNED TO CHALLENGE AND INSPIRE STUDENTS A week-long focus to give extra support to Year 11s as they prepare for their exams has given younger students at Thomas Clarkson Academy the opportunity to take part in a whole host of challenging and thought-provoking activities. Grab a Grade Week provided dedicated time for Year 11 to focus on core subjects, plus time to spend on other subjects where they might benefit from extra help in the final months before their exams. At the same time, students from other year groups participated in a week-long programme of activities to develop new skills and to encourage them to think about their next steps and future careers. Year 7 and 8 took on an enterprise challenge delivered by The Skills Service in which they set up their own business producing and selling ducks. Each team had to appoint a managing director, a buyer, a sales executive, an accountant and production workers. There were fines for health and safety breaches and bonuses when good business sense was demonstrated, such as negotiation and selling skills. A group of Year 8s enjoyed a trip to Kidzania in London, a careers theme park which gives young people the chance to take part in various ‘jobs’. There were more than 60 entertaining

activities to choose from, including an aviation academy, engineering centre, hospital A&E department and a radio station. For Year 9s, they had the chance to demonstrate their entrepreneurial skills with a ‘Build the Business’ challenge. Students were given an item and challenged to build a business around it by developing a marketing strategy, investigating the production costs and detailing how it will be delivered. They then presented their ideas to local employers in a ‘Dragons’ Den’style format. While all this was going on in school, Year 10 were busy gaining an insight into the world of work by taking part in week-long work placements. A number of students sourced their own placements at organisations including an accountancy firm and a veterinary practice. Feedback from employers shows that firms have been impressed with students’ attitude, with a number saying they would happily


offer them a paid position. Year 11’s Raising Standards Leader, Lisa Tarsitano, said: “The idea behind Grab a Grade Week was to make a concerted effort to support our Year 11 students in core subjects at this crucial time. It allowed staff to provide a week-long focus on certain subjects and students were given additional time to go through aspects of their studies where they might need extra support. “We want every student at TCA to be the best they possibly can and achieve the very best, so this was one way of dedicating time to our Year 11s. Their GCSE results can determine what options are available to them in the future so these next few months are crucial. “We had great feedback from Year 11 and at the end of the week, they took part in relaxation and mental well-being sessions, including yoga, to help them develop techniques for coping with pressure.”



On 1st April 1918 the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps were merged to form the RAF and this 100th anniversary will form part of the celebrations for Armed Forces Day in Wisbech Market Place on Sunday 24th June 2018 between 10am and 2.30pm. The free to all event will be a tribute to service veterans, current serving members and their families along with service cadets who will hopefully progress to the adult services. It will start at 10am with an AFD flag raising ceremony. During the day the market place will be filled with stalls, demonstrations and attractions by local ex-service associations, service charities, local uniformed cadet organisations and other interested parties. The fire service, both old and new, will be represented and there will be fairground rides and a climbing wall. Music will be provided throughout the day by local choirs and groups. The attractions will include a full sized replica Spitfire, a fully serviceable Bristol Scout (a WW1 bi-plane which will represent the other notable centenary – the end of the Great War) and a modern glider. There will be a march past by local uniformed cadet groups at 2pm with salute being taken by the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Cambridgeshire. The event will close with a short thanksgiving service and sunset ceremony.

This event is supported by the MOD and Wisbech Town Council. Please contact Jan and Ray Hutchinson on 01945 584595 for further information.

The Fens | April 2018


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You don’t have to travel far to see beautiful architecture and stunning gardens. And this month, editor Natasha Shiels spent the day at one of Wisbech’s most famous buildings - Peckover House

WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL Nestled amongst the Georgian town houses on the edge of the river, sits Peckover House in Wisbech. From the outside the building looks impressive; its three storeys hint at grandeur and the carefully maintained foliage sets the scene for an oasis of plants, lawns and trees in the back garden.

opened the first official bank in the town. Known for their philanthropy, the Peckovers purchased the house that is now named after them, in the 1790s. In 1943, Alexandrina Peckover handed it over, along with the estate of 48 acres, to the National Trust.

The Peckovers’ donation means that today visitors can explore the house and grounds and reflect on Georgian life. The house itself is as elegant as you might expect; rare paintings hang on the wall and fireplaces dominate rooms.


Unsurprisingly, this elegant Georgian town house belongs to the National Trust, having previously been occupied by the Peckover family. Jonathan Peckover moved to Wisbech in 1777 and established a small grocer’s business. Respected for his honesty, he soon began holding his customers’ money for safe-keeping. After a while, he entered into partnership with the well-established Quaker bankers, and The Fens | April 2018


Once you’ve taken in the atmosphere of the rooms, visitors can step outside and be transported away. In an instant you forget that you’ve just left a busy town, such is the beauty of the established grounds.


The garden, as it is seen today, has a decidedly Victorian character and is celebrated as one of the most important town gardens surviving from this period. Its two acres have hidden corners, paths and occasional touch of the exotic. There are places to sit and watch the birds, an orangery and an abundance of roses. On any day it’s an impressive sight, but when the sun is shining, I can’t believe there’s a better place to be.

12 The Fens | April 2018

After your stroll through the grounds, there’s a pretty tearoom with an indoor and outdoor seating area to enjoy a cup of tea or cake, or both. Hours could pass, as the hum of nature fills your ears. I discovered that couples could get married at Peckover House, and standing at the bottom of the stone steps, with the house standing proud behind me, I could see how you could fall in love with that idea, after all, you’d be hard pushed to find a prettier English garden.

Peckover House would appeal to all sorts of visitors; from keen garden enthusiasts, to those who enjoy a spot of history. Watch out for special events taking place at Peckover House, including an Easter Egg hunt and nature trail over the holidays.

THE DETAILS Peckover House can be found at North Brink, Wisbech PE13 1JR. There’s a wealth of information on the National Trust website about the estate, including details about what you can find or ways to get more involved. There’s also a free car park (just follow the signs as you approach). Please visit the website for updated opening times and days (as the house, garden and tearoom do open at different times/days). Entrance: Adult £8.20; child £4.10; family £20.50. You can purchase a garden only entrance for a reduced fee). Website:

The Fens | April 2018



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Jane Gillatt Skincare My passion is skincare and my purpose is to help as many people as possible achieve great skin. My approach is very different as I am a skincare only centre. There is no treatment menu because all my treatments are custom created for your skin. There is no rushing and no back to back clients. Why? Because I know that the time that you give to yourself is precious. I work alone so that I can create this special experience for you. I prepare your steam towels with essential oils to uplift and soothe your senses. I keep you snug with a duvet and electric blanket. I turn down the lights, light candles and play soft music. I dont wake you, tap you or rush you away, I let you rest to be with yourself a while. At Jane Gillatt skincare a facial is not just a facial - it’s a bespoke skin treatment. When you arrive, I conduct a thorough skin consultation (affectionately called a skin chat) and take a look at your skin through the facial skin scanner. This allows me to see what is going on beneath the surface of your skin. The purpose of this is to help me understand your specific needs and concerns arould your skin, and to design a treatment which is tailor made to you. It’s not a one size fits all approach here - it’s bespoke, custom made and results orientated. I also offer advanced skin treatments which include steam, microdermabrasion, Galvanic, high frequency and skin peels. Courses of treatments are also available. The products I choose to work with, which I personally use on myself and use in my skincare business, is Dermalogica. I have been using Dermalogica since 2003 and in 2005 was awarded a postgraduate diploma in skincare. In 2013, I achieved Dermalogica skin expert status. This expert knowledge allows me a greater understanding of the most challenging skin conditions such as pigmentation, premature ageing, sensitivity, rosacea and both adult and teen acne. I’m proud to be able to offer something very unique, so if you would like a different approach, why not come and have a complimentary skin chat and find out what i can do for you and your skin. I can be contacted through my Facebook page: janegillattskincare or on 07702 601546 My skin centre is located in Walpole Highway and I also run monthly educational skincare workshops.

We have all suffered with neck pain at one time or another with varying degrees of intensity and careful diagnosis is key to the correct treatment. There is a wide range of causes including joint wear and tear in the bones of the neck (the cervical spine), imbalance in the neck muscles and slightly less obvious problems in the shoulders, arms, upper back and even the pelvis. The nerves that send information to and from our arms and hands exit the spinal chord through the small spaces between the bones of the cervical spine. From here, they pass via a tunnel of neck muscles before weaving their way around the bones and muscles of the shoulder and arm to the hands. If we were faced with this journey on Google Maps, we might all decide to stay at home! It is no wonder then, that there are several places along this hazardous journey where the nerves can be compressed giving rise to pins and needles, numbness and in severe cases, loss of power to one or more muscles. BUT WHY WOULD THE NERVES BECOME COMPRESSED? Lets start with trauma to the cervical spine itself from a head or neck injury or simply degenerative changes. Next, the triangular ‘tunnel’ of muscles on each side of the neck - the ‘scalenes’. Do you read or use your computer with your head tilted for long periods of time? What about the muscles in your forearm? This is a common area of ‘overuse’ compression for hairdressers (holding scissors), chefs (if you have stirred anything for some time, then you know what I mean), electricians (using a screwdriver) etc. And of course.. the wrist and hands. With a large number of structures passing through the limited space in the wrist, additional occupational wrist pressure may lead to ‘carpal tunnel syndrome’. Regular cyclists occasionally also experience compression symptoms in their hands when weight bearing onto the handle bars. So if you are suffering with any of these conditions, why not call Fenland Osteopaths and see how we can help you - Ian Plested, Principal Osteopath. Contact us today on 01945 405007 or visit The Fens | April 2018


Fenland’s Five Museums Fenland is an area rich in history, with impressive buildings and interesting individuals who have helped to shape the landscape and its towns and villages. This issue we take a look at the five museums which showcase Fenland’s history


CHATTERIS MUSEUM Chatteris’ museum displays the ancient market town from earliest prehistoric settlement to recent times. Exhibits illustrate traditional aspects of Fenland life on an island, the waterways and drainage, the railway boom and the wealth of a prosperous 19th century market town. There are interactive audio visual units and pottery and stained glass puzzles to view. The Museum’s touch screen kiosk archive contains over 9,000 photographs and documents, copies of which can be made on request.

Find us: 14 Church Lane, Chatteris, Cambridgeshire PE16 6JA Contact: 01354 696319 | www. 16 The Fens | April 2018

Opening times: Tuesdays and Thursdays 2 - 4.30pm. Saturdays 10am - 1pm

MARCH & DISTRICT MUSEUM March Museum is housed in a former school built in 1851 from West Norfolk Carstone. The Museum has wide ranging collections reflecting former life in the area, especially during the last hundred years. A series of room reconstructions depict a turn of the century kitchen, parlour and nursery. Local craft and agricultural tools are on display, as are interesting collections of historic cameras and early radios. A working blacksmith’s forge has been reconstructed in the courtyard, alongside a rebuilt Fenland cottage. Other displays relate to the history of the railways in March. Find us: High Street, March, Cambridgeshire PE15 9JJ Contact: 01354 655300 | www. Opening times: Wednesday and Saturday 10:30am - 3:30pm Saturdays 10am - 1pm WHITTLESEY MUSEUM Whittlesey Museum tells the story of the Cambridgeshire fenland around Whittlesey, Eastrea, Coates, Turves and Pondersbridge. The museum is housed in the Old Town Hall, Whittlesey. Eight rooms and two outdoor spaces cover topics such as archive photographs, costume, domestic life and local celebrities such as Sir Harry Smith. Whittlesey Museum also runs a rolling programme of temporary exhibitions. Find us: The Old Town Hall, Market Street, Whittlesey PE7 1BD Contact: 07706 132437 | www.

Exploring the FENS

Opening times: Saturday 10am-12 noon, Friday & Sunday 2.30-4.30pm. £1 for adults and 50p for children. OCTAVIA HILL’S BIRTHPLACE Built in about 1740, this Grade II* listed building was the birthplace of Octavia Hill (1838 - 1912) and where she was first exposed to social reform events that would influence her lifework. Discover and celebrate Hill’s pioneering work, legacy and significance on today’s society, in what promises to be a thoughtprovoking journey through the narrative of her remarkable life. Find us: 7 South Brink, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire PE13 1JB Contact: 01945 476358 | www. Opening times: (15th March - 31st October) Mon, Tue, Wed, Sat & Sun (including Bank Holidays) 1 - 4.30pm. £4.50, NT members & concessions £3.50, accompanied under 17s FREE

and ancient. Find us: Museum Square, Wisbech, Cambridgeshire PE13 1ES Contact: 01945 583817 | www. wisbechmuseum. Opening times: Tuesday to Saturday - 10.00am to 4.00pm Next month we take a closer look at Octavia Hill’s Birthplace.

WISBECH & FENLAND MUSEUM The Wisbech & Fenland Museum is one of the oldest museums in the UK and holds an eclectic mix of collections from around the world. The 19th century Library, containing Charles Dickens’ original manuscript of “Great Expectations”, is open to the public on the first Saturday of each month. The essence of the Museum remains virtually unchanged, so you can discover a treasure house of rare and unusual artefacts, illuminating history, both local and worldwide, recent

vTo discover more about enjoying the Cambridgeshire Fens and ideas for great days out, please visit Find us on Twitter: @CambridgeshireF The Fens | April 2018


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Peckover House and Garden, Wisbech Discover a fresh perspective. Transitions in Time is a new contemporary art installation as part of the Trust New Art programme, bringing a different vision to amazing stories. Call 01945 583463 for details #nationaltrust

When you visit, donate, volunteer or join the National Trust, your support helps us to look after special places [in the region] [such as property X, property Y and property Z] for ever, for everyone.

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The Fens | April 2018


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SACREWELL’S lambing Experience Have you wondered what really goes on at an agricultural farm? Would you like the chance to experience animals hands on? Sacrewell are holding lambing experiences throughout the month to give adults and children exactly that WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENLL “Would you like to feed the lambs?” It’s not often I get phone calls like that, but they’re amongst my favourites. I just happen to have a real soft spot for lambs, not only do they seem to symbolise the start of Spring, but I have a stuffed teddy called Baa Lamb, which I’ve owned since I was about two. Naturally we threw on our wellies and made our way to Sacrewell in Peterborough. Livestock Manager Jess, who has been at Sacrewell for less than a year, had the task of showing a few keen journalists around. Although relatively new, Jess has been extremely busy since arriving on the working farm.

Sacrewell has long been a favourite destination of ours, with its animals, play areas and cafe, it’s the ideal place for families and offers a bit of everything. Jess’ role is to ensure the continuation of just that, but also to tend to the agricultural side of the farm, ensuring it thrives alongside the various different animals on site. LAMBING EXPERIENCE

Sacrewell’s lambing experience offers you the opportunity to gain practical experience in all things lambing. Guided by Jess, you can help to care for the lambs in their very first hours and days, by taking part in tasks like feeding them, health checking and mucking out. You may even have the opportunity to witness the birth of a lamb! The sessions last around three hours and throughout Jess shares The Fens | April 2018


knowledge of farming, informing the group about best practice, welfare and the life cycle of the animals on the farm. On our visit we were treated to one-day-old lambs to feisty bottlefed lambs which greedily drank their milk from the bottles we fed them. We also met a brood of piglets and spotted two gorgeous pregnant goats (which have hopefully, by now, had their kids). I didn’t have preconceptions of what the experience was going to be like but as we held the lambs, I had an overwhelming sense of gratitude that I had been invited to take part in something I had only ever seen from the sideline before. It’s one thing watching from a fence, but quite another to be looking into the eyes of an animal you’re bottle feeding. We all found the experience enlightening and enjoyable and I was excited to hear about the future plans for the farm. Sacrewell’s new ‘rare breed’ Suffolk Punch horses, with less than 300 breeding females left, are just the start of lots of exciting things


Anyone can join in as long as children are over five and under 18s are accompanied by an adult. The lambing experience is intimate and therefore has a six person limit per session. Unfortunately it isn’t suitable for pregnant women. Tickets cost £35 per person, which includes admission to Sacrewell for the day. Teas and coffees will be provided. Morning sessions run from 9:30am to 1pm on the 3rd, 5th, 10th and 12th of April. Afternoon sessions run from 5pm to 9pm on the 4th, 7th, 8th, 11th, 17th and 24th of April. You can reserve your place booking at

to come. There’s much more to Sacrewell than first meets the eye. Pictured on this page: Harriet and Jess from Sacrewell, below editor Natasha and assistant Amy enjoying the lambing experinece.

22 The Fens | April 2018

• Sacrewell is a charity run by the William Scott Abbott Trust since 1964, whose mission is to develop a connection between visitors and food, farming and the countryside. Sacrewell’s mission is to teach the public the importance of good agricultural practice and provide better education for children as well as adults, through experiences including Farmer for a Day, Lambing Experience and Farm Camp. There’s more info about this at www.

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Get into.... RUNNING Spring is officially here and with lighter evenings and warmer days coming I want to talk to you about running, and what you can do if you’d like to get started. Running has some fantastic health benefits, not to mention it’s free and you can do it anywhere, making it ideal to squeeze into an already busy schedule. There are great beginner’s sessions in Wisbech held on a Tuesday 9:30am-10:30am in Wisbech Park, meeting outside the toilet blocks (next to the playground); Wednesday 6:00pm-7:00pm next to the Boat House Wisbech (Behind the police station); and Monday 7-8pm next to the Boat House (this session is mixed ability but beginners are welcome). These sessions are completely free and aimed at getting you running, whether that’s 5K or your own personal target. The group welcomes new people all the time; you don’t need to book just turn up. But if you can’t make our sessions, here are our top tips for the newbie runner 1. THE RIGHT GEAR Running needs very little equipment, but a good, well-fitting pair of trainers will increase comfort and reduce injury. There are all sorts of trainers on the market, so get advice from a specialist who will help find the right shoe for you. You don’t need to

spend the earth. Ladies, do not underestimate the need for a sports bra; normal bras will just not cut it when it comes to running. A well-fitting sports bra will help with comfort, exercising without one can cause pain. You should be able to pick one up reasonably inexpensively, but make sure you try before you buy to check it’s giving you enough support. Stay safe and be seen! Running in the winter shouldn’t be dangerous but if you are running on roads, please wear bright, reflective clothing or invest in a high-vis vest to wear over your outfit. 2. WARM UP Don’t skip a warm up. You only need to spend around five minutes warming up and this can be anything from a brisk walk, jogging on the spot, knee lifts, side steps, skipping or a combo of a few. Getting your body warm and ready to workout will reduce chance of injury and bring your heart rate up slowly, making you more likely to get the most from your run. 3. BUILD UP Start with running and walking in intervals, each time you go try to make your running interval longer and keep building. Go for distance not time, use markers on your run like lampposts and signs, it might not

seem much but you will soon see the distance building. Try to keep going out regularly - twice a week is a good place to start, or once if that suits you; you don’t need to run seven days a week. 4. COOL DOWN Just like warming up, cooling down is also important. Try walking for around five minutes at the end of your run and doing a few stretches, this will help reduce muscle soreness. 5. STAY MOTIVATED Set yourself a goal and make it realistic; you can always set new targets. Find a running buddy, encourage someone else to start with you, maybe your partner or a friend. Keep a diary or use an app to track your progress. Try out a couch to 5k podcast; the NHS have one of these you can download for free. Change your routes or listen to music to keep yourself interested. Finally, join a club when you feel ready, meet new people who you can run with. You will be surprised how many clubs have people starting out, just like you. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Lauren Bremner is an Active Fenland Coordinator. You can get in touch at or find out more at Plus you can follow Active Fenland on Facebook and Twitter. The Fens | April 2018




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A look behind

THE SCENES WORDS David White, RSPB IMAGE Andy Hay ( I am very fortunate to work on a nature reserve (RSPB Lakenheath Fen), as I get to see what happens behind the scenes, which can be fascinating at times. Normally, our reserve visitors don’t get a chance to do this. However, we are organising several events on our reserves in the Fens this spring to provide people with this opportunity. At RSPB Ouse Fen, near Needingworth, we are organising four Reedbed Safaris. These will offer a few lucky people the chance to join one of the Ouse Fen Wardens for an exclusive behind the scenes tour of the Hanson-RSPB Wetland project. Come and see for yourselves how Hanson and the RSPB are working together to create a nature reserve from a working quarry. This is conservation on a landscape scale. You will see how the reserve progresses from a hole in the ground to a well-established reedbed with marsh harriers, bitterns and bearded tits. The dates for these safaris are as follows: Saturday 21 April 8am – 10am Friday 11 May 6pm – 8pm Sunday 20 May 7:30am – 9:30am Friday 22 June 6:30pm – 8:30pm

The cost is as follows: £30 (nonmembers of the RSPB, £24 (RSPB members). Booking is essential and places are limited. To book, please ring 01954 233263 or e-mail: hannah. As well as the Reedbed Safaris at Ouse Fen, similar events are being planned at RSPB Nene Washes, near Whittlesey. This large area of wet grassland is a wonderful place to see ground nesting wading birds such as black tailed godwits, lapwings and common snipe. If you are lucky, you may also encounter some of the majestic cranes that call the reserve home. It is not all about birds, though. At RSPB Ouse Washes near Manea, the reserve team are hoping to run some badger watching events from their reserve visitor centre. There is an active sett near the visitor centre so hopefully attendees will be treated to close views of these shy and reclusive animals. At RSPB Lakenheath Fen on the Suffolk/ Norfolk border, we are offering visitors the opportunity to

come out bird surveying with us. On Tuesdays from mid-May until the end of June, visitors can come and join us as we take part in bittern and marsh harrier surveys on the reserve. This will provide a special insight into how we survey these rare reedbed dwelling birds. Although strictly speaking not behind the scenes events, RSPB Fen Drayton Lakes near Swavesey will be running their popular willow weaving workshops again this year. You will use willow that has been cut on the reserve to weave ornaments and gifts with a local expert. Four of these events are being planned this year so watch this space. If you would like to find out more about any of these events, your best bet is to keep an eye on our social media channels. These are the “RSPB Cambridgeshire” Facebook page and the “RSPB Fens” Twitter page. If you are not on social media, please ring me on 01842 863403 or e-mail me on:; for more information. We hope to see you on our reserves soon! David White Communications Officer RSPB Cambridgeshire & the Fens The Fens | April 2018


Walk of the month

A Mindful Walk through Little Paxton It’s been a chilly start to Spring, but don’t let that stop you from exploring the beautiful Fenland countryside WORDS AND IMAGES LEANNE HYLAND In the midst of this Arctic cold snap, I seem to have found a little pocket of warmth. No, I haven’t jetted off abroad, my feet are still firmly planted in the Fens, Little Paxton to be precise, where I’ve come to explore the local nature reserve. If there’s one thing I’ve learned recently, it’s that not all walks have to be daring adventures or multi-day treks, sometimes it’s nice just to slow down and really take in your surroundings. Famous for its wide variety of insects, mammals, flora and birds, especially cormorants and nightingales, Paxton Nature Reserve spans 77 hectares of meadow, woodland and lakes. Silent and still, it’s the perfect place to come for a little mindful walking – a trend that’s really taken off in the last few months. The idea is to reconnect with nature by focusing on each of your senses in turn. What can you see, hear and smell? This active form of meditation has been shown to significantly reduce stress levels and promote wellbeing, with many people finding it easier than simply sitting still - so today I’m giving it a try. I follow the Heron Trail, a short two-mile hard surfaced track that weaves in and out of beautiful forest, skirts scenic lakes and tumbles over boardwalks dotted with lookouts and hides. Bring your binoculars and look out for Kestrels, Kingfishers and Great Crested Grebes even otters have been sighted frolicking on these shores. I find a quiet spot in a hide perched on the tail end of a long pier overlooking the lake. The sun breaks through the glass and the window is slightly ajar allowing the sound of chattering ducks to fill the hut. I stop my wandering mind, breathe deeply and focus all of my attention on the calming sound of the water that 28 The Fens | April 2018

surrounds me – it makes me realise just how little I stop and focus on the present moment. In the often-chaotic whirlwind of life it can be tempting to fill all of our time with work, social events and internal chatter, but as humans we’re designed to spend time outdoors, giving our minds space and a safe place to rest and refresh. Although at first my thoughts drift back to the responsibilities of everyday life, by repeatedly redirecting my attention to the present moment, I start to relax. There’s plenty of opportunities like this to stop and admire the diverse mix of landscapes and wildlife alike here at Paxton and plans to expand in the coming years will see the reserve more than triple in size, encompassing a new 24 hectare reedbed, wildflower rich meadows, further lakes and islands and areas of scrub to encourage breeding Nightingales. For visitors this will mean almost 30km of new footpaths, and those preferring to take in the scenery on two wheels won’t be forgotten with the installation of a cycleway also expected. A little further along the trail, I sit by the lakeside and watch closely as a long-tailed tit flits between the sullen branches of an ash tree, hopping from one foot to the next, surefooted

in its movement and focused. I close my eyes and run my hand along the bark – it’s smooth yet cold and there’s still a few drops of dew hanging over from this morning’s frost. It seems that spring has been somewhat delayed this year, but in the meantime why not enjoy a little mindful walking, boost your mood and wellbeing and add a little extra awareness to your next outdoor adventure.

THE STATS Distance: Difficulty: Facilities: Terrain:

The Heron Trail is a short two mile trek, with plenty of options to extend Easy and accessible The Visitors’ Centre and toilets are open daily from 10am – 4.30pm Hard surfaced tracks, boardwalks and forest trails

The Fens | April 2018



DIGGING UP THE PAST - THE CASTLE WORDS GARRY MONGER ILLUSTRATION GARETH MONGER Tourists in Wisbech sometimes drive around the Crescent craning out of the car windows looking for the battlements of Wisbech Castle. The eagle eyed will spot ‘The Castle’ sign on their first circuit, others find themselves repeating the circuit until they spot the sign or abandon their search altogether... Why does this happen? The castle of their imagination is no more. The only image we have that might show us what Wisbech Castle looked like is on the governor’s seal of Sir John Colvile c1410. Little of the early castles remain and it is likely the Norman fortification was of timber and turves. By the end of King William’s reign a stone structure would have been dominating the town skyline and controlling the transport using the waterways. It was a coastal location and the castle and town were susceptible to storm surges and flooding and in 1236 it is recorded that both were utterly destroyed by a violent inundation of the sea. Castles are built and then modified or enhanced and Wisbech Castle also evolved until it was dismantled. Bishop Morton commenced a new brick castle and this was extended and completed by Bishop Alcock in the 15th century. It is the remains of these buildings that constitute part of the vaults and underground walls. During the English Civil War the castle drawbridge and town’s defences were strengthened and a ditch dating to this period was uncovered in a recent archaeological dig. The town was an outpost of the Parliamentarian Eastern Counties supplying a troop and horses. During the Commonwealth the castle estate was sold and came into the ownership of John Thurloe. He built a mansion on the site and rose to become Principal Secretary of State. If tunnels were maintained or created at this time then he may well have had uses for them as amongst his roles was that of Spymaster General. The bishops regained the site at the Restoration of the monarchy. The building was destroyed in 1815 and the new owner, Joseph Medworth built the regency building that perplexes our tourists today. After various changes of ownership the Fendick family bought the site in 1957 and later it was donated to the local 30 The Fens | April 2018

education authority. The building has been used as an educational and cultural venue, staging theatrical productions. In 2009 Oxford Archaeology East (OAE) organised a community archaeological dig in search of the Bishop’s Palace and other castle buildings. The response to the request for volunteers was immense and hundreds of local people participated or took part in tours of the site. Subsequently the ‘castle dig’ was nominated for an award. As a result of the experience and interest a group of the local volunteers led by Andy Ketley met at the castle and formed a community archaeology group that is now known as Fenarch (Fenland Archaeological Society). OAE, in their turn, used the evidence from the dig to submit a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund to create a community archaeology support organisation for Cambridgeshire ‘JIGSAW, which supported existing groups such as Fenarch and helped create new groups by organising training and the loan of geophysics equipment and other resources. FenArch continues to organise its own digs and take archaeology into schools and work with other bodies including the Wisbech and Fenland museum, Wisbech Society and Wisbech High Street Project. The next ‘Big Dig’ is to take place in the grounds of Wisbech and Fenland Museum in May 2018 and a junior

‘Thurlow’s Mansion’ Copyright © 2018 Gareth Monger archaeology group is planned to meet in the museum on Saturdays. FenArch meets at 7:30 in Mendi’s, Old Market, Wisbech on the last Wednesday of the month. For further details please visit the Wisbech Museum, Wisbech High Street and Wisbech Society websites and Facebook pages. The Castle has now been leased by Wisbech Town Council and will be used as a community resource. A management committee supported by a working party are to restore the building as a venue. ABOUT THE AUTHOR Garry Monger BSc PGCE is a former local councillor, teacher and army reservist. He is a member of Fenarch and other local groups working to promote community archaeology in the Fens. For more info about Gareth Monger’s art, see: gaffamondo

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Like a scene out of Jane Eyre, I made my way towards the entrance of Deene Park, a medieval manor incorprating a sixteenth-century house. We had arrived on an unseasonably frozen spring day, but a little bit of snow wasn’t going to put us off... WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL Home to the Brudenell family for over 500 years, Deene House is an important historical building near Corby. So how did the family acquire the impressive estate, and what plans do the current Brudenell family have? Originally the Manor of Deene, belonging to the Abbey of Westminster (it even appears in the Doomesday Book of 1215), the estate was first let to Sir Ivo de Deene for an annual rent of £18, with an obligation to provide hospitality once a year for the Abbot and his household. Remarkably, this rent continued for the next 750 years. 32 The Fens | April 2018

In 1514 Sir Robert Brudenell acquired the property and it remained in the same family, passing down the male line through to the current occupiers, Robert and Charlotte Brudenell and their son, William. Over the six centuries various family members have altered the house, and it has grown from a substantial quadrangular-plan medieval manor into a Tudor and Georgian mansion, whose main front now faces south across the park and lake. Despite its many changes, there’s still plenty of glimpses of its medieval past, from bathrooms in turrets to stonework.

And despite opening its doors to the public, Deene Park remains a residential home to the Brudenells. The Billiard Room and Great Hall look as though they haven’t changed in centuries, but inside the Bow Room, which is beautifully decorated and full of fresh flowers and listed books, there’s the glimpse of ordinary life, a book left open and wear and tear on sofas and floors which emphasise that this isn’t a museum, but a home, as it has always been. The house has been open to visitors since the late Mr and Mrs Brudenell invested heavily in the building’s

restoration. A necessary but very expensive aspect of owning such an important building, and something which the current Brudenells know only too well. In fact, it was only last year that Deene Park was hidden by scaffolding as the roof was completely restored. The work took 10 months. On public open days, a minimum of 10 rooms are on view with volunteer guides on hand to provide historical information. There is, of course, an exceptionally beautiful garden to enjoy after the house tour, which includes woodland walks (of which they are renowned for snowdrops during early spring) and a lovely tearoom. As well as the visitor opening days, Deene Park have an exciting calendar of events from Easter Egg hunts, to open air theatre productions, music concerts and car The Fens | April 2018


rallies. Lucky brides and bridegroomsto-be can even get married in the beautiful manor and have the stunning lakes as backdrop to their wedding. There is a wealth of historical significance tied to Deene Park, not least because it was the seat of the Earls of Cardigan, including the notable 7th Earl who led the Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaklava in 1854. History aside, it is also a beautiful place to visit and guaranteed to leave a lasting impression. Deene Park’s house, gardens and tearoom are open Easter Sunday and Monday, and then Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays from April 29th until September 2nd. They are also open Wednesdays in September. The gardens and tearoom open 12pm 5pm, the house opens at 2pm with the last admission at 4pm. The garden and tearoom also open weekdays between May 15th to September 14th, Tuesday to Friday, 12-4pm. 34 The Fens | April 2018

EVENTS For further information and a full listing of events at Deene Park, please visit their website and click the ‘What’s on’ link. National Garden Scheme Sunday 29th April, 12pm-5pm Admission to the house and gardens at Deene Park is £12 for adults (concession £10) or £6 for children between 5-16 years. You can visit the garden only for £6 (adults) or £3 (children). Deene Park is located just 5 miles from Corby. There’s plenty of free parking on site. You can find out more by visiting www. or call 01780 450278.

MG Car Rally Sunday 10th June, 11am-5pm Pocket Orchestra Saturday 16th June, 7:30pm Garden Tour with Supper Thursday 21st June, 6:30pm

WIN A FREE FAMILY TICKET We’re teaming up with Deene Park to offer one lucky family free entry to the house and gardens. To enter, simply email your contact details to win@ by April 15th. One winner will be selected at random.

Come and join us at the Barn Restaurant where we serve traditional British dishes with seasonal specials and our Sunday carvery

WISBECH Sunday lunch | afternoon Tea locally sourced seasonal menu The Barn Restaurant, School Road, Terrington St John, Wisbech, PE14 7SE Call us on 01945 592595 Mon & Tue - Closed (Private Functions Available) | Wed - 11:30 - 23:00 | Thurs - 17:00 - 23:00 | Fri - 11:00 - 23:00 | Sat - 12:00 - 23:30 | Sun 12:00 - 21:30 (All day carvery from 12:00-18:00)

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The Fens | April 2018



Rhubarb and ginger crumble with custard PREPARATION TIME - LESS THAN 30 MINS COOKING TIME - 30 MINS SERVES 4 INGREDIENTS FOR THE RHUBARB • 4-5 stalks of forced rhubarb • 100ml orange juice • Zest of 1 orange • 1cm of root ginger (grated) • 50g sugar • Large freezer bag FOR THE CRUMBLE • 110g plain flour • 200g rolled oats • 100g cold butter (diced) • 100g demerara sugar FOR THE CUSTARD • 300ml milk • 1 vanilla pod • 2-3 egg yolks • 2-3 tbls caster sugar This dish is now available on Dog in a Doublet’s spring menu. 36 The Fens | April 2018

THE METHOD 1. Bring a medium pan of water to the boil. Clean and cut the rhubarb into 10cm lengths and place in the freezer bag. Heat the rest of the ingredients together and strain into the bag with the rhubarb. Take the water off the boil, tie a knot in the bag and place in the water (off the heat) for 15 mins. 2. Put the flour, oats and butter into a mixing bowl and rub together to create a breadcrumb consistency. Stir in the sugar with a fork. Place on a baking tray and bake at 170oC for 20mins, or until golden brown. Allow to cool. 3. Scrape the vanilla from the pod

into the milk in a pan. Heat until it starts steaming, being careful not to boil, and allow to cool. In a separate bowl beat the egg yolks together with the sugar until pale in colour, then slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly. Clean the milk pan and add the mixture back in. Stir over a medium-low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (do not over heat or you will have scrambled eggs!). 4. Place the rhubarb on a tray and top with crumble, then place into a warm oven for a couple of minutes if needed. Arrange on a plate and top with custard.

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The Fens | April 2018


An interview with

ADAM FROST WORDS NATASHA SHIELS IMAGES CHRIS BRUDENELL Living in Lincolnshire with his family, dog and a rather splendid garden, we discovered the real Adam Frost behind the BBC Gardeners’ World presenter, his journey into horticulture and plans for the future It’s not often that we’re a bit starstruck, but waiting to meet Adam Frost, best known for his appearances on the BBCs Gardeners’ World, I was a tad nervous. Adam is an RHS Ambassador, author and television presenter. He travels the world designing gardens and speaking on a wide variety of horticultural topics, whilst managing his own design business. Adam has also won seven gold medals at RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Last year he set up The Adam Frost Garden School at his home in Lincolnshire. It was here that we met Adam over a nice cup of tea. HOW DID YOU START YOUR CAREER IN HORTICULTURE? It’s not an obvious story. I was moved from just outside North London to North Devon when I was just 15 - and that didn’t go down well. My last years in school weren’t the best and I left home at 16 and got a job on a parks department. It all started off by limited options but I loved the countryside in Devon. I was one of those kids that they said: ‘Join the army or you could be chef.’ I was interviewed on a parks department and the two chaps felt sorry for me and took me on. The two foremen put an arm around me and gave me this amazing apprenticeship. We learnt how to build a stonewall, grow 200,000 bedding plants to digging a grave! At that time, I wanted to get away 38 The Fens | April 2018

from Devon so I moved back to London and trained as a landscape designer. YOU STARTED WORKING AT GEOFF HAMILTON’S GARDEN IN BARNSDALE WHEN YOU WERE 21, HOW DID THAT EXPERIENCE INSPIRE YOU? At that period there was a recession hitting and families in London weren’t spending money on their gardens. I started to look for a job and had an interview with Geoff. I think I was quite lucky that Gardeners’ World was on at night and I was 21, so I didn’t really watch it, because if I had really known what I was walking into and who I was meeting, I’d have been a nervous wreck!

I was blown away by not only this man’s garden, but the more I understood about him, it was his passion for gardening and a passion to get a nation to garden From there, I thought I knew a little bit about plants, but in reality I knew what the council grew. I was blown away by not only this man’s garden, but the more I understood about him, it was his passion for gardening and a passion to get a nation to garden. Five million people watched Gardeners’ World then, and he had this ability to communicate to them. The ladies liked his twinkle and the men felt he was alright because you could have a pint with him and

chat about gardening - it gives me goosebumps just talking about him. It was Geoff who set me off in design, he was the first person I really put up on a pedestal and the first man who I really admired. The whole experience was humbling, but at 21, you don’t really appreciate it at the time. But I worked hard for him and he rewarded me in lots of different ways. SO HE WAS CRUCIAL TO YOUR CAREER? Oh yes! You look today and what’s becoming mainstream, such as organics, and Geoff was doing all that stuff 21 years ago. He was a man completely ahead of his time, but I don’t think he was aware of it, he was just getting on with it. IN 2013 YOU HELPED SET UP THE HOMEBASE GARDEN ACADEMY WHICH ENABLES HOMEBASE’S YOUNG EMPLOYEES TO TAKE THE RHS LEVEL 1 AWARD, WHY DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THIS PROJECT? It was actually born out of me moaning. I was at Chelsea the year before and I did a garden for them, and I was being asked to do another garden the following year. I was in a shed and it was pouring with rain, and I said that if I was to do another one, it would have to be different. I was talking about the lack of young people getting into horticulture and out of an hour conversation this academy was born. The idea was to give kids an opportunity. We started

The Fens | April 2018


with 12 and they had a 12 month experience and a job in horticulture. Over three years it grew to 80, but changes in Homebase have meant the academy is being restructured with a new sponsor. Out of everything I’ve done, I feel most proud about the academy. The pride comes from the opportunities it has given young people, some of whom work for me here still. One of the girls from the academy, who also worked here, helped design the Radio 2 garden at Chelsea. Watching her there, it felt bigger than me being there. She’s on her own journey, and to have played a small part in that makes me feel incredibly proud. IT’S LIKE YOU’RE GIVING SOMETHING BACK? I think exactly that, not in a “holier than thou”, but I’m in a position now where I can, so why not? SINCE 2014 YOU HAVE BEEN AN RHS AMBASSADOR, HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN THIS? They approached me, which is a miracle considering what I sound like! Again it was to do with the young people - I had the academy, and they asked if I could come and talk to secondary schools. The problem is that for some young people, it’s not cool to be a gardener. It was looking at ways to tell kids that it is a great industry - a great career. From my personal story, a 15-year-old who sat there, who didn’t care about academics, it shows that there is hope for something else. Our industry is massive, horticulture is a huge thing, especially for places like the Fens, and what it brings to the country in terms of revenue, it’s so important. YOU HAVE WON SEVEN GOLD MEDALS AT RHS CHELSEA FLOWER SHOW, WITH YOUR LAST BEING IN 2015. DO YOU HAVE PLANS TO ENTER ANY MORE? I promised my wife that I wouldn’t! I don’t know, maybe I will at some point. There’s a drawer full of ideas that’s behind my desk, but whether one of those turns into a Chelsea garden, I don’t know. But it’s nice going to Chelsea and not actually designing a garden, but stand in front of the camera and then go home! WHAT’S THE BUILD UP TO CHELSEA LIKE? It takes months and it hurts! The big gardens take 19 days to build, but in total it’s around 100 working days out of the year to plan and organise. I’ve traveled the world and done gardens all over, but the standard at Chelsea is incredible. THIS YEAR YOU OPENED YOUR GARDEN SCHOOL AT YOUR HOME IN LINCOLNSHIRE, WHAT PROMPTED YOU TO DO THIS? A dream, I suppose, and my wife 40 The Fens | April 2018

convincing me to move here, which scared me a little. There appears to be a real fear factor when it comes to gardening and that stops people from engaging properly. The way that we teach is in a way that engages, but it’s also about design and a different way of looking at your garden. I don’t think it has to be complicated, you can break design down and make it far easier to understand. WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION FROM WHEN YOU ARE DESIGNING LANDSCAPES? All around. It’s about looking and engaging, it could be a wider landscape, a piece of architecture or a person. It’s about looking and finding inspiration all around. But gardens really are about people. So when you’re designing a garden, you are designing something for them, and how you draw the information from them to create a space they

want to be. Each of my designs is unique and different, and they are about the people who live in them. Gardens, after all, are an extension of our homes. YOU HAVE DESIGNED NUMEROUS GARDENS BOTH IN THE UK AND ABROAD, DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR FAVOURITE? That’s a bit like asking if I have a favourite child! Actually I do have a favourite child, but it changes depending on which one is behaving! I’m totally in love with this place though, and how I’m going to change it. All my gardens carry a memory. But my favourite Chelsea garden was 2014 because it was really personal one. YOU ARE A DESIGNER, WRITER, TV PRESENTER, TEACHER AND A GARDENER, WHICH DO YOU ENJOY THE MOST? My biggest problem is all of it [he chuckles] - I’m at that stage when

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Adam Frost’s winning design at Chelsea in 2014 I have to make some decisions as to which ones I can continue. I love doing it all, even presenting, which I’ve come to enjoy. What I do love about presenting is going off and having some fun with the crew. The reaction of people is great. It’s an exciting year ahead for the school, which last year went better than we could have hoped for. DO YOU GET NOTICED A LOT NOW? Yes, the time I could nip out for a quiet beer has gone! But it’s a privilege, you get to be in people’s houses on a Friday night and the BBC want me to do more this year, so I’m very lucky. ARE THERE ANY EMERGING TRENDS FOR GARDEN DESIGN FOR 2018? More than anything, especially with the amount of uncertainty, people need to engage more with their gardens. When we get difficult times, people go back to their homes where they feel safe. As for trends, everything comes in and out, for example dahlias and lupins are cool again! WHICH GARDEN SHOW ARE YOU MOST LOOKING FORWARD TO IN 2018, AND IF YOU COULD RECOMMEND JUST ONE, WHICH SHOULD WE VISIT AND WHY? For me, it’s Chelsea, but I love it because I know everyone and it’s an annual get-together. As far as going to shows, the one I really enjoyed last year was Gardeners’ World Live at Birmingham. The marquees were really good, and now food has been added to the show, it’s great for families. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A NOVICE GARDENER OR SOMEONE CONSIDERING A CAREER IN HORTICULTURE? For the novice gardener I would say to just not worry about it, gardening is not as complicated as it’s sometimes 42 The Fens | April 2018

made out. You could start by growing a few bits around the house in pots, or try growing potatoes in a container or sowing seeds that are simple to grow. Start to think about your garden as a social space rather than a list of jobs. Spending half an hour or an hour gardening is also a great way to get fit! For someone wanting to get into horticulture, I’d say if you have an interest, just go for it. Go and get some experience working in a garden or garden centre, the industry is crying out for people. IF YOU’RE GARDENING ON A BUDGET WHAT WOULD BE YOUR TOP 3 TIPS? 1. Spend your money on bits you are going to see everyday. 2. Invest your money on plants that are going to come back each year, perennial planting or nice shrubs. Think about your garden over a long period of time rather than buying pretty plants that won’t last. 3. Sowing seeds is a great way to stretch your money. WHAT GARDEN IN THE UK WOULD YOU ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO VISIT? One of my favourite places is a National Trust property called Packwood House. I also love Barnsdale because of Geoff. But any garden that’s open will give you ideas. Some of the best ideas are the gardens grown by amateurs that have got hooked into gardening. IF YOU HAD A SMALL GARDEN BUT WANTED TO GROW VEGETABLES WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE? Grow vegetables in containers outside your back door. Either do something simple to grow with your children, such as potatoes, or start to grow high value vegetables, such as asparagus that come back each year. WHO IS YOUR GARDENING HERO? Geoff, of course. But if I had to pick

©National Trust Images/ Chris Lacey

©National Trust Images/Oskar Proctor one more I’d pick Roy Lancaster who has a scary knowledge of plants. He’s also been really supportive of me when I first started in television. He was a man I was in complete awe of. FINALLY, WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT THE AREA? I’ve always been in the area, since I moved to Barnsdale when I was 21. I think it’s got everything you could want - Stamford is beautiful and it’s really easy to get to London on the train. But I think we should just not tell anyone, and keep our beautiful area our little secret... The Adam Frost Garden School is now taking places for 2018 courses. There’s a variety of different courses to suit all levels, including single and two-day courses with Adam. His first masterclass begins in March, so book early if you want to avoid disappointment. Find out more by visiting With thanks to Adam Frost and the National Trust. To find out more about visiting their gardens, including Packwood House, please visit

Wisbech Known as the ‘Capital of the Fens’, Wisbech is a small, but busy, market town and regional, commercial centre. Whatever the time of year, Wisbech has a wealth of resources for all to enjoy, with its four free car parks and the central bus station, it is also very accessible.

Wisbech is one of only a handful of towns in the region to reach ten consecutive gold awards in the history of the annual Anglia In Bloom contest, achieving Gold from 2008 to 2017. WISBECH TOWN COUNCIL is the first tier of local government for Wisbech (equivalent of a Parish Council) and has 18 councillors. Elections are usually held every four years for councillors

covering seven wards. Which ward are you in? You can find ward maps on the Town Council website. There are many events that take place every year in Wisbech run by Wisbech Town Council, local groups and organisations. For details, keep an eye on the What’s On Calendar on the Wisbech Town Council website as well as the council Facebook and Twitter accounts.

Wisbech n







St George’s Day - Saturday 21 April – Wisbech Market Place (Wisbech Town Council) Brinks Festival Colour Run (May) (check website for other events) Wis-beach Day - Sunday 3 June – Wisbech Market Place (Wisbech Town Council) Town Walks (8 weekly walks commencing Wednesday 6 June organised by Octavia Hill Birthplace House – see their website or call into OHBH for details) The Secret Garden Fair Saturday 23 June - Secret Garden Touring Park, Wisbech St Mary Armed Forces Day - Sunday 24 June – Wisbech Market Place – celebrating 100 years of the Royal Air Force and the end of WW1 Wisbech Rose Fair - 4 - 7 July - During Rose Fair churches are filled with stunning flower festivals and the whole town takes on a festive atmosphere. There is a float parade on the Saturday organised by the Wisbech Round Table.

Events for 2018 n









Wisbech / Arles Festival Sunday 15 July – Wisbech Market Place (Wisbech/Arles Twinning Club) Wisbech Rock Festival (First Sunday in August) – Sunday 5 August – (Wisbech Town Council) Wisbech & District Historic Vehicle Club Annual Road Run (Second Sunday in August – Sunday 12 August ( Heritage Open Days (National event) Elgood’s Beer Festival 20 – 22 September ( Wisbech Statute Fair – 19-22 September - The Showmen occupy the whole of Chapel Road Car Park and part of Somers Road Car Park, with rides and stalls sited in Chapel Road Car Park. Halloween Spooktacular – Saturday 27 October – Wisbech town centre Christmas Lights Switch On Sunday 25 November (Wisbech Town Council) Wisbech Christmas Fayre - Sunday 9 December 2018 (Fenland District Council)

If at any time people who live, earn, or learn in Wisbech have any proposals to make to the Town Council they should contact the office at 1 North Brink, Wisbech. PE13 1JR Tel: 01945 461333 or email

Host to many community activities and surrounded by a variety of retail outlets, Wisbech Market Place is also home to WISBECH MARKET. With a long trading history and lots of current bargains, Wisbech Market has a variety of stalls on site every day of the week. With a range of goods and local produce; you can buy your fresh fish, meat, fruit and vegetables, treat your pets, get your watch mended, as well as have a cuppa and chat with friends. Thursdays and Sundays also see a regular car boot. Wisbech Town Council is always looking to develop its market offer and welcomes enquiries from established or new traders with goods and services to enhance or improve the service to customers. Wisbech Town Council Located in the Council Chamber (above the old Corn Exchange on North Brink), the Town Council has also recently taken on the management of another historic, Georgian, Wisbech building, Wisbech Castle. Once refurbishment has been completed the aim is to make the building a public amenity, as well as preserving this historic building in good order for current and future generations. If you think you have something to offer or can help – please get in touch. Allotments Wisbech Town Council maintains several allotment sites in and around Wisbech. Plots of varying sizes are available according to requirements, with varying rents (usually about £15 to £60). If the return of Spring has enthused you to grow-your-own, see if we can accommodate you. The Fens | April 2018


With guest judge, BBC Gardeners’ World’s Adam Frost

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Calendar 2019 The Fens magazine are launching their first ever photographic calendar competition. Find out how you can enter below and be in with the chance of winning a £100 Queensgate Shopping Centre voucher

Are you a budding photographer, have a keen eye for what makes a beautiful image or just somebody who enjoys the countryside and taking photos? Then we would love to hear from you. This year we will be selling our first ever calendar, celebrating the beauty of Fenland. A panel of judges will choose their favourites, of which twelve will make the official calendar. The winning image for the cover will be chosen by BBC Gardeners’ World Adam Frost, and that winning photographer will bag themselves a £100 voucher, courtesy of Queensgate Shopping Centre. All twelve winning photograghers will have their name included alongside their image in the calendar.

HOW TO ENTER Entering our photographic calendar competition is easy. Simply email us your image, along with a short description of where it was taken. Please also include your full contact details, including your postal address and contact telephone number.

44 The Fens | April 2018

THE RULES Images need to be sent as JPEG files and over 300DPI. Please ensure your photo is landscape. Sending in your image gives The Fens magazine permission to use your images in the calendar or elsewhere in the magazine. You may enter more than one image. The judges’ decision is final. The photographic calendar competition will close on July 20th, so please ensure your entry has been submitted by then by emailing your image/s to please mark the subject heading: ‘Calendar competition’. Good luck.

IMAGES Chris Brudenell

The calendar will be available to purchase later in the year for £9.50. There will be a limited edition of prints and so we will be taking pre-orders closer to the time.

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| WHAT’S ON | The Fens | March PLACES TO 2018 VISIT 1

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At the end of last year, Fenland and East Cambridgeshire was selected as one of just twelve areas in the country to be designated as an “Opportunity Area” bringing the area an extra £6 million of funding. Additionally, our schools have been granted priority access to other Department of Education funding, which is a game changing opportunity for education in our area and will accelerate the progress of children and young people in Fenland and East Cambridgeshire. The Department for Education’s Opportunity Area Programme Board recently announced that they aim to ensure that the percentage of children eligible for free school meals and achieving at least the expected standard in reading and speaking Early Years Foundation will exceed the national average by 2021. They also aim to halve the attainment 46 The Fens | April 2018

gap between disadvantaged pupils and all pupils at KS2 and for the attainment of all KS2 pupils in reading to be in the top half of all local authority districts in England. To reach these ambitious and necessary goals the Department for Education will receive applications from all primary schools to apply for up to £25,000 to deliver small-scale improvements targeted at raising the attainment of pupils. Teachers will be able to access free training in phonics and reading and early years professionals will also have access to training in early speech, language and reading. Moreover, to help improve concentration in schools, at least five new breakfast clubs will be opening this September. This is good news which will ensure that all of our local children will have access to quality education which will unlock their boundless potential.

Earlier this month, I met with a number of local headteachers to discuss how we make the most of the Opportunity Area Programme and to hear more about how I can support local teachers. To find out more about my work in Parliament and my campaigns locally, or to let me know your views, please visit my website: Alternatively, you can follow me on twitter: @stevebarclaymp facebook: /stevebarclaymp instagram: @stevebarclaymp

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Crowdfunding Explained ‘Crowdfunding’ is an accepted term in our everyday language and examples are not difficult to find. A least one British team in the Winter Olympics was crowdfunded and there are those who have funded specialist medical treatment in this way plus the start-up businesses who have failed to get bank support.

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But what is crowdfunding and how does it work. Keith Day, Wisbech-based Whiting & Partners Associate, examines this way of raising funds for businesses which is being used widely across Fenland.

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The traditional way of financing a business, a project or a venture has been by seeking financial support from a few people with large sums of money. Crowdfunding effectively turns that conventional approach on its head by asking a big number of people for a small amount of money each. Using the internet to talk to thousands, if not millions, of potential funders, those seeking funds will set up a profile of their project on a website and then use social media, alongside traditional networks of friends, family and work acquaintances, to raise money.

Agriculture Construction Contractors Manufacturing Property Retail Road Haulage Technology

Crowdfunding comes in two ways for businesses. The provision of loans either secured on company or personal assets or through debt-factoring arrangements, the provision of funding via equity especially for new start-ups or established companies bringing new products or technologies to the market. Whiting & Partners has great experience in the whys and wherefores of crowdfunding even though it is relatively new. Our approach is basically four-fold. • Identify instances where Crowdfunding maybe the preferred option for funding. • Identify a suitable platform where chances for full funding are maximised. • Work with you in structuring your business, improving your credit rating and strengthening your balance sheet to achieve a listing on your chosen funding platform. • Create a business plan to appeal to the widest possible range of lenders and investors and help you with your pitch.

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Although the high-street banks may still be reluctant to lend to start-ups, this new online market brings lenders and borrowers closer together through the increased use of social media both by individuals and companies. Information on which this article is based is correct at the time of publishing. Any updates are available on our website Bury St. Edmunds | Ely | Huntingdon | King’s Lynn | March | Mildenhall | Peterborough | Ramsey | St. Ives | St. | Wisbech The Fens | Neots April 2018 47

WHAT’S ON Include your event for free by emailing CADBURY EASTER EGG HUNT AT PECKOVER HOUSE Good Friday Easter Monday

What will you discover this Easter at Peckover House in Wisbech? Nature trails run over the Easter weekend, 11am to 4pm, and entry is £2.50 plus the normal admission. Find out more at www.

EASTER FUN DAY Wednesday 4th April, 10am-2pm

Family fun day with free face painting, Punch and Judy show, fairground rides, balloon modelling, plus paint your own hard-boiled egg and enter a competition on the day to win a children’s Easter hamper. Finally don’t miss the great Easter egg hunt, plus many other stalls and attractions all at Horsegate Shopping Centre, Wisbech

JOB CAFE FREE JOB SEARCH SUPPORT Friday 6th April, 10am-12noon

Monthly help and advice with improving job searches, CV, applications and interview techniques. Opportunities to meet employers. Support with skills and employability. Free tea and coffee.1 to 1 support available at Queen Mary Centre, Queen’s Road, Wisbech Cambridgeshire, PE13 2P Find out more by calling 01945 581444 or visit their Facebook page.

AFTER HOURS LIVE Friday 6th April, 7pm for 7:30pm start

After Hours Live is a monthly live music event that takes place on the first Friday of every month at Octavia’s Cafe, Octavia View, Wisbech. It combines first-class entertainment with a twist of faith. Performers come from far and wide across the UK, as well as some great home-grown local talent. Free entry means that you can come and enjoy the comfortable

REGULARS FREE Glow in the Dark Table Tennis! New and exciting activity for ages 1019 years old Just drop in and play! Fridays 15.30-17.00, Rosmini Centre, Wisbech 48 The Fens | April 2018

cafe atmosphere and still be able to afford a cup of your favourite beverage and maybe even treat yourself to an indulgent slice of cake! Some performers may also bring CDs they have recorded or books they have written that will also be available on the night. Profits made in the café go to a local homeless charity, The Ferry Project. Further details can be found at

WISBECH CEMETERY SPRING WALK Saturday 8th April at 2pm

What better time is there to enjoy the early Spring flowers and birdsong? The Friends of Wisbech General Cemetery are leading a walk in the 180 year old Victorian Cemetry on Saturday 8th April. The public are invited to meet outside the back gate on the Peckover playing fields, easily accessible from the Chapel Road Car Park. There is a charge for adults of £2 and children £1. For further details please call Sue on 01945 584319

ST GEORGE’S DAY EVENT Saturday 21st April Come to Wisbech Market Place for Wisbech Town Council St George’s Day family fun

ST. GEORGE’S FAYRE Sunday 22nd April from 10am

March St. George’s Fayre will be held on Sunday 22nd April 2018. The town centre streets are pedestrianised creating space for a bustling street market and fun fair. Don’t miss the opening parade at 10am in celebration of St. George into the Market Place, followed by live music and dance performances throughout the day. There is a wide variety of entertainment free of charge from Punch and Judy shows to circus skill workshops, so why not come and join in celebrating England’s national day! FREE Kick About style sessions Waterlees Your Sport Youth Sessions Sports played are chosen by YOU. Just turn up and play. For more information call Heidi 01354 622499 Thursdays 4:30pm-5:30pm Lime Avenue Astro, Waterlees, Wisbech

Enjoy over 100 stalls, live music, craft fayre, fun fair, falconry, street food, and much more... If you are travelling by car to March, free parking is available in City Road and Darthill Road car parks. Please bear in mind that there will be no access via Broad Street or High Street as these roads will be closed for the Fayre and diversion routes will be in place from 5am - 7pm.


Presented by Fenland Family History Society at Wisbech Library, you can use all the facilities for FREE and DROP IN ANYTIME. Experienced researchers will be on hand to help with your research. No matter where your family originates. Use various websites using Microfiche and Microfilm Readers for local historic information. With help from experienced researchers, including some newspaper reports. Local maps and books will be available, including trade directories. With invited special expert guests offering: Military Records, Roll of Honour & Commonwealth War Graves. Date your old photographs and find out what surnames and place names mean. For further information on the Family History Day, call 01945 587723.

MESSY CHURCH Saturday 28th April 2018, 3:30pm5:30pm

Messy Church is a fun way of doing church for the whole family and is once a month where Mum and Dad don’t have to cook! Enjoy making crafts, hearing Bible stories, singing songs and exploring faith in a creative way together, finished off with a tasty home-cooked meal. Entry is free but donations are welcome. Children, please bring an adult with you. All ages are welcome at Queen Mary Centre, Wisbech. Find out more at Fenarch meet at 7:30 in Mendi’s, Old Market, Wisbech on the last Wednesday of the month. For further details visit the Wisbech Museum, Wisbech High Street and Wisbech Society websites and Facebook pages




MOT Centre Wisbech Dave Parrin Car Sales is a family run business that has been providing it customers with a complete car sales service for well over 15 years. We value all of our customers and excel in providing unrivalled services right from helping you buy your dream car to maintaining, servicing and keeping up to date with your MOT inspections.

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Local BUSINESS Hair of the Dog

Lloyd Cross is the local businessman behind Hair of the Dog, Canine Care services. After a lifetime working with dogs, Lloyd made the decision to follow his passion and open his business in Wisbech in January 2018. After a successful visit to Crufts we caught up with Lloyd to find out more about him, his dogs and his business


WHAT IS YOUR BACKGROUND? I have owned, bred, groomed and shown dogs since I was 17, some 40 years ago. I began judging at championship level from the age of 27. My career path was initially in agriculture, but I was always artistic and became a professional singer in my 30s. I worked in the cruise industry, but have returned to be with family. YOU’VE BEEN SHOWING DOGS FOR 40 YEARS, WHAT SPARKED IT? I have always had a love of dogs. I spent a summer working and learning at a training/pedigree kennels after leaving college and I was hooked. IN 1981 YOU WON BEST OF BREED AT CRUFTS, HOW WAS THAT? Winning Best of Breed at Crufts in 1981 was an incredible experience it was a huge achievement to compete against some of the best dogs in the country at that time and beat them all, I was on cloud nine. I then repeated the achievement two years later with a son of the dog that won in 1981, so had that wonderful experience all over again. WHAT SERVICES DO YOU PROVIDE? In addition to the comprehensive dog grooming service provided, I offer a free 30-minute consultation in the client’s home to talk through their specific requirements. I also offer one-to-one obedience training

and a dog walking service. I am also looking to build up a diddy doggy daycare service for people out at work for extended hours. Being a dog enthusiast and breeder of Kennel Club registered Dachshunds, I am very keen to get prospective new dog owners to contact me, so I can offer my knowledge to help them choose the right breed of dog to suit them. DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE PLANS? I would like to see the business develop into a busy and well respected, friendly service, that is known for its professional and caring attributes. WHAT TYPE OF DOG DO YOU BREED AND WHY? I have been breeding dogs since I was 18 and I specialise in Dachshunds. I also have a new breed I am introducing into the UK, the American Toy Fox Terrier. These originate from the USA and currently there are only about 12 dogs in the UK. I have a litter due in the spring, so am looking for enthusiastic new owners to get involved in this new venture. HOW DID CRUFTS 2018 GO? We won best Stand Longhaired Dachshund puppy and we also won the Reserve Championship, so it was a very successful show for us! HOW DID YOU BECOME A JUDGE? After showing and winning with many

dogs, I was invited by dog clubs to judge my specialist breed. I have judged regularly around the UK ever since and have become a well-respected judge of hounds as well as Dachshunds. This year I had three judging appointments, two in the UK and over the Easter weekend I will be judging all six varieties of Dachshund at the National Dachshund Speciality Show in Sydney, Australia. This show only occurs once every three years, so it is a great honour to be invited to judge. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PERSONAL CAREER HIGHLIGHT? As I have been involved in both entertainment and the dog scene, I have a few career highlights. The first would be achieving the role of singing Cruise Director on some very popular cruise ships and in the dog world it would be winning Best of Breed at Crufts. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT LIVING AND WORKING IN THE FENS? I like the fens for its natural beauty; the lovely wide-open spaces are great for dog walking, the people are friendly and as my family originate from the Fens, I feel a natural bond with the area. Hair of the Dog can be contacted on 07985 126 051 or you can find out more at or email dillisandsansa@ Hair of the Dog canine care services

50 The Fens | April 2018 LLOYD CROSS 07985 126 051


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