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A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 20 | November 2019

Inside this issue




The Fens | November 2019

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ED’S letter It’s the November issue so I can finally start talking about Christmas and getting excited! With lots of weeks still ahead of us, we haven’t gone too festive in this issue but we do have a useful round-up of some fabulous Christmas fayres in and around Fenland which we hope you will enjoy reading about. November itself is an important month for Remembrance Day. This month our feature writer, Molly Day-Coombes has researched the history of this significant day and highlights why it is still a very important date in our calendars. You can find out more about her article on page 28. We’ve had a busy couple of weeks, visiting Fenland-born print artist, Sam Marshall as well as enjoying several performances at the New Theatre in Peterborough. You can find out more about both of these in this issue. You might even spot a review by my (chip-off-the-oldblock) son, Dylan... We have a fantastic competition coming up in the next issue, as well as some gift ideas and plenty of Christmas sparkle. Until then, we wish you a happy month.


THIS month 12 The best local festive fayres in Fenland and beyond

Remembrance Day and how it all began

17 Your garden in November

30 Wisbech’s forgotten hero

18 Digging up the past

32 Celebrating the wonderful fungi

20 Football in the Fens 24 At home with Sam Marshall

38 Reviewing the New Theatre in Peterborough

28 A look back at

40 Recipe of the month




A magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens


Issue 20 | November 2019

Inside this issue



44 Amy’s walk of the month 48 Events in your area 50 WIN tickets to Vivacity’s panto: Beauty & The Beast

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 Caroline Fitton |Gareth Monger | Garry Monger | John McGinn | Steve Barclay MP | Richard Groom | Lauren Bremner DISTRIBUTION

Printed monthly to the villages Emneth, Gorefield, Leverington, Murrow, Newton, Parson Drove, Tydd St. Giles, Wisbech St. Mary, Outwell plus Wisbech centre @thefensmag thefensmag

ISSUE 20 | NOVEMBER 2019 Hopping Hares by Sam Marshall

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 | November 2019



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NEW WEBSITE FOR ANVIL COTTAGE CRAFTS After months of planning, the team at Anvil Cottage Crafts have unveiled their new website. Not only are the company’s artisan pieces available to buy on the site, for the first time there is the option to hire a selection of items for weddings, parties and events. All pieces are handcrafted from new and used horseshoes in the forge on the banks of the river Great Ouse, close to Ely in Cambridgeshire, combining modern day engineering techniques with ancient craft. A must for horse lovers and equestrian enthusiasts, while also appealing to those looking to add some country cottage style to their home or event. The new website features stylish hire items, attractive upcycled gifts and home accessories, and practical items that last for years. Speaking about the new website, Carol Palmer, Partner, Anvil Cottage Crafts, said: “The new site not only beautifully showcases our artisan items but also makes it easier for people to find what they need and love. With the launch of our website and the introduction of our wedding and event hire service, it is such an exciting time for Anvil Cottage Crafts. Whether people buy or hire, we hope they enjoy our handcrafted pieces as much as we enjoy making them.” Practical and stylish items for the home include a heart candle holder, doormat, bootjack and wine rack. A lot of the items are made from horseshoes from the stables at nearby Newmarket. There is even the option for horse owners to have a stable name sign created.

Birthdays, anniversaries or weddings, whatever the celebration, pieces from Anvil Cottage Crafts make great gifts. The elegant horse silhouette decoration is a beautiful likeness of this majestic animal, a perfect gift for lovers of all things equestrian, or anyone looking for a striking artwork. The company’s vintage style pieces are well suited to country weddings and celebrations. Available to hire or buy, items for weddings include the gorgeous heart chair decoration, which looks divine with flowers intertwined and the horseshoe candlestick. Practical items such as the Mr & Mrs, camping, parking and toilet signs, are ideal for festival weddings and outdoor events. Memorial items are also available to purchase. There is such a precious bond between a horse and its owner, when the time comes to say goodbye, it is heart breaking. The linked hearts could be the ideal way to remember a treasured horse. Handcrafted in the forge from the horse’s shoes, they are cleaned sympathetically ensuring the history remains. Make memories last forever with the linked hearts keepsake. With the festive season a matter of months away, it will soon be time to start planning decorations for the home. On the company’s website, you can choose from 3, 4 or 5 tier horseshoe Christmas trees. A unique tree for any horse enthusiast or those who like something stylishly different. What’s more, unlike traditional cut trees, they last. The trees can be used all-year-round, some people use them as fireplace covers or as garden art.

Whether people buy or hire items from Anvil Cottage Crafts, they will get high quality individual pieces that will enhance any living space or venue. To visit the new website, go to

FOURTH YEAR IN A ROW: PRICE FREEZE FOR GARDEN WASTE SERVICE WITH £36 EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT The subscription fee for Fenland District Council’s garden waste collection service has been frozen for another year after a successful third year of the service. With over 21,200 subscriptions this year, the service has continued to be self-funding and allows the Council to be able to freeze the price again for 2020/21. The £40 annual subscription fee, first introduced in 2017/18, will stay the same for the fourth year running – ensuring it remains amongst the lowest priced authority garden waste services in the East. All new and existing customers paying for the fortnightly service by

annual direct debit will benefit from a continued discounted direct debit cost of £36. Existing annual direct debit customers will have their subscriptions automatically renewed in February at £36, ready for the garden waste service to start in April 2020. New customers and existing customers who pay cash who want to sign up by direct debit and receive the £4 discount can do so online from December 2019. Customers wanting to pay for subscriptions online by card, at a cost of £40 per subscription, can do so from January 2020. Councillor Peter Murphy, Fenland District Council’s Portfolio Holder for

the Environment, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to keep the subscription price the same for the fourth year running as it enables us to keep the service as affordable as we can for our residents. I would like to thank the households who have made this possible by signing up to our service in order to recycle their garden waste.” For more information on our current garden waste service, please visit Information about the 2020/21 service will be available to view from December 2019. You can also get information from our Customer Service Centres and Community Hubs. The Fens | November 2019


PIG DYKE MOLLY DANCERS WORDS Tim Jenkins Many of you will have seen the Pig Dyke Molly Dancers roaming around the streets in a bewildered fashion and dancing in spots around the Cambridgeshire towns dressed in their colourful black and white attire. Molly dancing is a division of Morris dancing, but far more sophisticated and subtle. They do not need the stIcks, bells or hankies as props for dancing, it’s just the sheer elegance of their art form that delights and entertains the public. Over the Christmas and New Year season we have various activities that are always well supported around the area. Starting in mid December we can be found Carol singing along Oakdale Avenue in Peterborough. (Yes real traditional carol singing with voices and not amplified recordings!) This is followed on New Year’s Eve where we can be found dancing around in every pub, alehouse, party or hostelry that will accept them in the Whittlesey area. All the money that they collect from these two events is donated to Macmillan Cancer Care. Each year we raise in excess of £1,000 and estimate that over the years they have donated about £18,000 to this charity. We would, at this point, like to thank everyone who has helped fill the buckets to make this possible. Pig Dyke Molly consists of a very broad variety of characters with very differing professions and


The Fens | November 2019

backgrounds. There is an age range between 8 and 80 and mixed sexes. We have a striking visual appearance and vibrant dancing style coupled with good unique music. Bucking the trends of the folk world, we have doubled the number of dancers in the past two years. This motley crew come together for their sheer love of dancing, entertainment and sociability. The odd pint of beer has to be consumed for medicinal purposes occasionally, in order to keep the body and joints supple. Morris and Molly dancing is believed to have originated when the plough boys and farm labourers were out of work and money during the winter. In order to survive they would go and dance or sing to the local squire and gentry who would have been able to store food. It is rumoured that the begging was quite aggressive, with acts such as carrying the plough onto the fine lawns and manicured gardens. (Hence ‘Plough Monday’ the first Monday after the twelfth night) If they did not receive any gratuity, they would drag the plough

across the lawn. In order not to be recognised they would create disguises such as animal heads, face paint etc. Pig Dyke Molly continue this tradition of being a bunch of unruly beggars. However, over Christmas and New Year we are begging for money to aid their Macmillan Care cancer care fund. The team has enjoyed success for many years and spread the gospel of Molly dancing across the globe. We have danced on several Saint Patrick’s days across in Ireland, Bourges and Nimes in France, Greece and America. The Americans are funny people, could not really make us out, but appreciated the eccentricity. Explaining that a Dyke was a drainage ditch was another matter! When in New York we took the opportunity of dancing on Broadway unfortunately not in a theatre, but out in the street where we belong. We have had another great year and danced at numerous festivals across the country and are looking forward to this coming Whittlesey Straw Bear festival in mid-January 2020. We look forward to meeting some of you again this winter as we do our annual New Year’s Eve pub crawl around Whittlesey, Carol singing in Oakdale Avenue, and Whittlesey Straw Bear. We shall try not to exceed our quota of fun. Thank you all to all those who have supported us in the past, and hopefully those who will support us in the future.

Sound of music at museum A mixed voice choir that rehearses in a grand room on Wisbech’s South Brink is helping to marry together the names of the town’s most famous son and daughter

The 40-strong performing group, the Clarkson Singers, which takes its name from the Wisbech-born anti-slavery campaigner, Thomas Clarkson, holds its weekly practice in the Long Room of Octavia Hill’s Birthplace House, the first home of the celebrated social reformer and co-founder of the National Trust. Passers by approaching the museum at 7 South Brink on Tuesday evenings are likely to catch strains of the latest additions to the choir’s repertoire wafting from the Georgian windows. They may be treated to a mix of sacred and secular music – and anything from madrigals to songs from the shows. The choir’s press officer, Lynda Robinson, who shares a birthday with Octavia Hill and all her values, said: “I just think it’s an appropriate coupling and Octavia would have thoroughly approved and joined in. The legend that is Octavia Hill should really be celebrated at every opportunity. She did so much to improve people’s lives.” The story of the Clarkson Singers began in the early 90s when Bruce Wegg, organist at the parish church of St Peter and St Paul, informally incorporated the remaining members of the Wisbech Male Voice Choir, on its closure, into the Wisbech Choral Society, of which he was the director of music. Rehearsals were first held at the Clarkson Infants School and then at other venues, including the United Reformed Church and the Salvation Army Citadel, before the choir took

up the offer of using the Long Room at the Birthplace House. In 2012 Loc-Mai Yuen-Brooker, who studied French and music at Westminster College, in Oxford, and later qualified as a Licentiate of the Royal Academy of Music, was appointed musical director – and it was in homage to the choir’s first practice space that the name, the Clarkson Singers, was coined. A boudoir grand piano takes pride of place in the museum’s Long Room and it was owing to Loc-Mai’s expertise and organizational flair that the instrument was restored. A fund-raising playathon, two all-day charity concerts and a piano recital by Loc-Mai and two of her advanced students were staged to swell the piano fund, providing enough cash to repair the cracked soundboard, restring the piano, fit new dampers, re-level the keys and generally regulate the instrument. The choir, ably supported by accompanist and voice coach Angela Bishop, travels far across the Fens and surrounding areas, performing at church weddings and funerals and playing a part in services. One recent highlight was a wedding at Ely Cathedral and then came an invitation to appear at a care home in Cambridge. Members have also been involved in film appearances and topical forums. Each year the choir provides music for the Octavia Hill commemoration day service at St Peter’s Church, which this year is on Sunday, December 1 at

2pm, and the singers enjoy an annual dinner. Mr Peter Clayton, chairman of the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum Trust, said: “When we reunified the Birthplace House in 2008 and recreated the Long Room, which for 150 years had been three separate rooms, the building seemed to come alive again when the Clarkson Singers began to rehearse there. This has been one of the key community activities since then.” New members of the choir are always welcome and sight reading ability is unnecessary. Anyone interested should contact Loc-Mai by emailing enquiries@clarksonsingers. or by telephoning 07976 140 398. Rehearsals start at 7pm sharp and run to 9.15pm. The Fens | November 2019



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9th - 10th November (10am - 5pm) Wimpole Christmas Craft Fair Prepare for Christmas, celebrate family time and get away from it all at a Wimpole Christmas. Wimpole’s Annual Christmas Craft Fair is set in heated marquees in the grounds. The market is filled with lots of irresistible gifts from jewellery, ceramics, leather goods, textiles and food. Admission: £4 Children under 14: Free. Tickets are available on the day. n Wimpole Estate, Arrington, Royston, Cambridgeshire SG8 0BW 14th - 16th November Ely Cathedral Gift & Food Fair Now in its eighth year, this popular event is widely acknowledged as one of East Anglia’s exceptional Christmas

12 The Fens | November 2019

shopping experiences. Over 120 bespoke trade stalls are located in the Cathedral’s magnificent nave, its famous Lady Chapel and a heated marquee in the beautiful Cathedral grounds. This high profile event, inside one of Cambridgeshire’s most iconic venues, makes Ely Cathedral Christmas Gift & Food Fair a perfect day out. The Stained Glass Museum will be open as usual during the Christmas Fair. Advance booking essential. Please call 01353 660359 for further information.

15th - 16th November Peterborough Cathedral Craft and Gift Market Timed to coincide with the city’s Christmas Lights Switch On, on Friday 15th November, this year’s Christmas market will be bigger and better than ever! Open Friday 15th November 6.30pm to 9.00pm and Saturday 16th November 9.30am to 4.30pm. A donation of £2 per adult is invited on entry and the proceeds will go towards the running of Peterborough Cathedral.

16th November to 28th December (except Christmas Day and Boxing Day) Peterborough City Christmas Market The Cathedral is participating in the City’s Christmas Market this year, with traditional market stalls on Cathedral Green joining those in the city centre. There will be gift ideas, alpine chalets and Yuletide food and drink outlets, so come along and experience Christmas in a beautiful setting. 17th November (11am - 3pm) Ramsey Rural Museum Christmas Craft & Food Fair

Don’t miss the opportunity to purchase Christmas gifts and cards, plus browse the chocolate, cakes and preserves stalls. There will also be beers, cheeses and much more to tempt you. Entry is just £1 and the tearoom will be open for refreshments. n Ramsey Rural Museum, Wood Lane, Ramsey PE26 2XD

23rd - 24th November (10am - 4pm) Harvest Barn Christmas Craft Fayre Harvest Barn is thrilled to be hosting their first ever Christmas Craft Fayre, showcasing all the amazing local talent the Fens has to offer! There’ll be carols, chestnuts and a wide array of indoor and outdoor stalls to browse through and find the perfect gift for a loved one! There will also be plenty of supplier stalls, showcasing the amazing produce Harvest Barn sell in

their farmshop. n Harvest Barn Farmshop, Whitehall Farm, Ramsey Road, Farcet PE7 3DR 1st December (10am 3pm) March Christmas Market March celebrates its 7th Annual Christmas Market! There will be over 100 stalls from which to buy that perfect present, live entertainment to enjoy and tasty festive food to savour. Visit the Town Hall and discover Winter Wonderland and even meet the big man himself on the Market Place. 6th December - 9th December Burghley Christmas Fair and Fine Food Market Food markets with a difference! Come and meet over 30 local suppliers at our biggest ever 4 day festive celebration of local produce. With handmade cheeses, artisan breads, organic vegetables, luxury sweet treats and rare breed meats.

n The Courtyard. Open 9:30am to 4pm (3pm on Sunday). Free entry. There will be a parking charge of £5 per car. 7th December (3:30pm - 7pm) Whittlesey Extravaganza This year’s Extravaganza will include plenty for the whole family. There will be a small entrance fee for Santa’s Grotto and children’s wristbands are £5 - the wristband entities children to unlimited goes on certain rides. 8th December Wisbech Christmas Fayre Visitors to the Fayre can look forward to indulging their senses in all things festive from roasted chestnuts to hot chocolate Baileys liquor, to live music. There are a wide range of stalls offering gifts and plenty of seasonal food. So why not come to the Market Place and Horsefair Shopping Centre between 10am and 3pm - you might even spot Santa and his reindeers.

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Home & garden

YOUR GARDEN IN November The garden begins to wind down in November as deciduous plants enter dormancy. Leaves are falling rapidly and wind and rain are on the increase. Whilst most of nature is hibernating in the colder months, winter is the ideal time to get new trees into the ground. Trees are best planted in the late autumn when the soil is still warm but not too dry giving roots time to acclimatise before the harsher temperatures of winter arrive. Whatever you plan to do outside in November, take time to enjoy the garden as it fades leaving structural plants and evergreens to take centre stage.


Preparing your garden tools for storage As you’re putting your garden power tools away for the winter, it’s worth taking some time to ensure they’ll be good to go next year.

can prevent rust from damaging your machine when they’re in storage by rubbing the area with sandpaper.

Use these five tips to prepare your garden tools for storage – and keep them in top condition for spring:

4. REPLACE OR SHARPEN BLADES AND CHAINS Unsharpened lawnmower and chainsaw blades can make the tools run ineffectively. However, you can prevent this (and save time in the spring) by replacing or sharpening the blades and chains before they go into storage.

1. MAKE SURE ALL TOOLS ARE CLEAN AND DRY Mud, dirt and old bits of garden plants can cause your tools to work ineffectively. If you’re anticipating that your machines aren’t going to be used for a while, give them a thorough clean – and make sure they’re dry before going into storage. 2. DRAIN EXCESS OIL AND FUEL Old oil and fuel can affect the performance of your gardening tools once they make a reappearance after long periods in storage. You can prevent this by draining excess oil and fuel beforehand. 3. GET RID OF RUST Rust happens when metal objects are exposed to chemicals in the air. You

5. GET YOUR TOOLS SERVICED AND REPAIRED PROFESSIONALLY There are some gardening activities that can be done by a novice DIYer… Servicing and repairing garden tools isn’t one of them. Call Fenland Spirit Services on 0775 383 6499 for help with repairs and servicing. With years of experience working with all types of gardening tools (from lawnmowers to hedge trimmers), we can take the hassle off your hands.

PROTECT TENDER PLANTS The weather is turning so it’s time to get those plants protected – frosts can do serious damage to tender plants. Frost tender plants in pots should be moved to the greenhouse, conservatory or porch. Exotic plants such as palms or tree ferns should be wrapped up for the winter with frost protection material. LIFT AND STORE CORMS AND TUBERS Lift and store plants such as dahlias and tuberous bedding begonias that have been hit by bad weather. Store in a dry, frost-free dark place ideally in a layer of sawdust. Check occasionally over winter to ensure they are dry and rot free. Remove any that look suspicious to prevent the risk of further infection. TIE IN TALL PLANTS AND SECURE STRUCTURES An important winter job is to stake tall plants, climbers and young trees to protect against strong winds. Check that existing ties are not cutting into stems of plants that have grown over the summer. Structures such as arches, pergolas and fences should also be checked and ideally treated with a preservative. If repaired now there is less potential for damage in high winds. The Fens | November 2019 17



WISBECH MILITIA, VOLUNTEERS AND RESERVES WORDS GARRY MONGER There has been a military presence at various times in Wisbech since the 11th century. The Norman castle saw visits by kings and besiegers. During the English Civil War a troop of horse was raised. The castle defences were made good and guns brought from Ely and located to control the river at The Horseshoe. Locally-based troops took part in the Siege of Crowland in 1642. The town dominated the route from Lincolnshire to Norfolk particularly during the Siege of King’s Lynn in 1643, as it prevented reinforcements reaching the Royalists holding the Norfolk port. Later the castle was demolished perhaps to prevent its being used as a Royalist stronghold. In 1797, a Wisbech corps of volunteer infantry was formed. A light infantry company was added in 1807. Major William Watson was promoted Lieutenant-Colonelcommandant of the Third Cambridgeshire Regiment (or Wisbech United Battalion of Volunteer Infantry). Later the unit was disbanded. In 1859 the Rev Henry Jackson and others met to initiate the formation of a volunteer unit - the Wisbech Volunteer Rifle Corps (which became the Cambridgeshire Rifle Volunteer Corps in 1880). By May 1860 the Wisbech unit was training with other fenland units. Soon their dress would include the shako as headwear. The Militia was made up of men between the ages of 18-45 and were chosen for three years of service by a drawing of lots or they could pay £10 to find a substitute. The unit came under the control of the Lord Lieutenant the Earl of Hardwicke. A rifle range was built near Horseshoe Corner and firing positions located at 100 yards intervals out to 900 yards. The range is reproduced on maps of the period and the shooting-competition results were printed in the local newspapers. In April 1875 the 2nd Cambridgeshire Rifle Corps, based at the Wisbech Corn Exchange, 18 The Fens | November 2019

paraded on Mondays, the band on Tuesdays and recruits on Wednesdays and Fridays. Weapon inspections also took place at the Sessions House on the South Brink, although the council was less than happy to discover powder was stored there as well as weapons! The Wisbech sergeants passed exams under the new regulations in 1871, thereby entitling the funds of the corps to a government grant of £2 10 s and themselves to a star worn the sleeve of their uniform. As well as 2nd Cambridgeshire Rifle Corps (forerunners of the Cambridgeshire Regiment) based in Wisbech, there was a detachment of D Squadron, King’s Own Norfolk Imperial Yeomanry, which paraded at Cornhill, Wisbech on Fridays 6:30pm. In 1887 it was renamed the 3rd (Cambridgeshire) volunteer Bn, The Suffolk Regiment. In 1908 under the Haldane Reforms the territorial soldiers trained one evening a week and attended 14 days consecutive training, they could be called out for full-time service by Royal Proclamation. The Cambridgeshire Regiment battalions serving on the Western Front in the Great War were awarded twenty-seven Battle Honours and over three hundred gallantry awards, losing over 800 men. The Wisbech War Memorial was unveiled in 1921 with the Epitaph: To the undying memory of all Wisbech men who gave their lives for us in the Great War 1914 – 1918 their name liveth forever. Only too soon 1939 – 1945 and the names of those who fell in World War Two were added. The Cambridgeshire Regiment serving in the Far East in the Second World War were awarded 4 battle honours. Wisbech was part of the 2nd Bn and initially occupied coastal defences, trops then moved to Scotland before eventually reinforcing those in Singapore. Many were prisoners of war after the fall of Singapore and not repatriated until after VJ Day.

On 17th February 1946 a ‘Cambridgeshire’ weekend was held, the 1st Bn in Cambridge and the 2nd Bn in Wisbech at the Corn Exchange. On the Sunday both Battalions, Old Comrades and families went by train to Ely for a service at the Cathedral. In 1947 Wisbech became part of the 629th Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment, Royal Artillery (The Cambridgeshire Regiment) and in 1956 returned to the traditional role as a detachment of 1st Bn, The Cambridgeshire Regiment. In 1961 the ‘Cambridgeshires’ were merged with 4th Bn, The Suffolk Regiment to form the Suffolk and Cambridgeshire (TA), which was disbanded in 1967. The Cambridgeshire Regiment was a forerunner of what now is the Royal Anglian Regiment. The last military presence in Wisbech was the detachment of ‘D’ company, 6 (V) R ANG at the TA Centre Sandyland. When ‘D’ company was disbanded many of the platoon transferred to the RAF Regiment at Marham. The TA Centre was largely demolished, while part of the indoor range was incorporated in Yori’s Tyre Centre and a cadet centre was built. The Wisbech Branch of the Royal Anglian Association meet at the De Havilland Club, Lynn Rd. 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.

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FOOTBALL IN THE FENS WORDS Heidi Lemmon Football is the number one sport, not only in the country, but in the world, to both watch and play. The game as we know it originates in England and dates back to the 1100s, but its origins can be traced back much further to places all over the world.

lifestyle later on in life. The main difference to standard football is the walking element; if a player runs they concede a free kick to the opposing team. The game is low impact and minimal contact with slide tackles and forceful shoulder barges not allowed, the ball must be also kept below hip height. Walking football is played both inside and out, the game was originally played without goalkeepers but they are now used in some versions. Walking Football is growing in popularity by giving so many more people the chance to play and rekindle their love of football.

Kickabout sessions are a great way to keep playing or start playing football recreationally with no ties to teams and leagues. Just turn up and play when you can. No ability or fitness levels required. So if you haven’t played since you were a child, have never played or are moving away from competitive match leagues kickabout could be the session to keep you in the game. They are indoors 5 a side style sessions for those 18+ , informal, social and fun. Sessions are held Sunday 7-8pm at Wisbech St Mary Sunset Rooms FREE. Walking sports are a great way to keep playing the sport you love when the traditional games pace becomes too fast. Walking Football has proven to be very popular throughout Fenland and 20 The Fens | November 2019

Sessions are held Tuesday 9:30-11am and Friday 8-9pm at the Hudson Leisure Centre Wisbech £2, the game was originally devised by Chesterfield FC in 2011 with the aim to keep people actively involved with football, who due to lack of fitness, mobility or other reasons cannot take part in the traditional game. Walking football isn’t solely aimed at older people, but can be a good way to socialise while maintaining a healthy

So does Football sound like a perfect fit for you? Just pop down to any of our sessions all equipment is provided. If you would like more information visit our website www.activefenland. org Facebook @Active Fenland call 01354 602116 or email activefenlandbookings@fenland.

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The Fens | November 2019 23

At home with

Sam Marshall (and Miss Marple)


The Beatrix Potter of the Fens, Sam Marshall couldn’t be happier in the countryside, reminiscing on her time living in Fenland. We had the pleasure of her company to find out how its landscapes still influence her work

24 The Fens | November 2019

On a cool October morning we arrived at the studio of Sam Marshall. Greeted by a warm smile and the surprisingly loud barks of Miss Marple, Sam’s adorable brown mini dachshund, we found ourselves in an artist’s studio full of surprises. Like many artists we have met, Sam’s journey has been as interesting and colourful as her art. Having grown up in Lincolnshire, her father a farmer, the young budding artist wanted to escape the limited opportunities of her childhood and home town. Sam was offered a place at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art in London. What followed was a love-affair with her London life and work which lasted over two decades. During that time Sam worked in the film industry, as a nutritionist and completed the Drawing year at the Royal Drawing School, where she now teaches. It was here that she discovered her love of etching and print-making. “But it was turning 40 that was really life-changing for me,” Sam explained. “I’d had enough of London life, it wasn’t good for my mental or physical health anymore so I just started looking and that’s when I found this place.” This place, is a rural cottage in Northamptonshire, just a short drive from Stamford. Sam moved in and built her home studio, tweaking its design to ensure she could get the best views of the fields and woods that surround her. Returning to nature reminded Sam of the influence landscape plays in her work. “My dad was a farmer,” she added, “and I grew up with the flat landscape and great expanse of sky. I realise now that the time I spent as a child in the Fens is so important to my work. I’ve always been fascinated by sparseness and it seems to trigger the great imagination I had as a child and still do.” This love of nature and natural habitat can be seen in Sam’s striking and thought-provoking print work. Her designs are full of different landscapes, often depicting animals with real personality.

“I so often hear students telling me they don’t have a creative bone in their body, and that’s just not true. Part of what I love so much is unleashing the creativity in people who think they can’t” Sam has a wonderful balance of work and life. Her mornings, when she isn’t commuting to teach at The Royal Drawing School, is spent running in the woods with Miss Marple by her side. In fact, the dachshund is hardly ever out of her sight. Like so many great artists before Sam, this mini dachshund is a loyal companion who provides plenty of inspiration. Her latest series of work features Miss Marple and her beloved campervan. In each scene there are hidden messages and a sense of energy. “I’m fortunate in that my teaching in London pays my mortgage, so my prints only have to please me. If I put something on my website and somebody loves it, then that’s a real bonus. If I made my work commercially driven, it would completely change the experience for me.” Sam combines her atmospheric landscapes and animal portraits with a vibrant use of colour. It’s this addition which is really interesting and creates a unique print. But for this artist, drawing is still at the heart of her practice. Before any carving commenses, Sam always begins with a detailed sketch.

Sam’s talent and infectious personality have meant that she has a stream of eager students wanting to sign up to her monthly workshops. There’s a variety of workshops that Sam runs from her home studio, from beginner linocutting to more advanced lessons in adding colour to prints. “The workshops are addictive and almost meditative,” Sam told us, “and many of my students go away having made lifelong friendships. We always have fun and there’s lots of handmade cake on offer! I so often hear students telling me they don’t have a creative bone in their body, and that’s just not true. Part of what I love

so much is unleashing the creativity in people who think they can’t.” If you fancy trying out linocutting, Sam’s monthly workshops (based at her studio in Laxton) are just the thing, see below for details. You can also pick up a print (or Christmas card) at Sam’s Open Studio Weekend on Saturday 30th November/ Sunday 1st December, 10am-4pm. Joining with three other artists in the same village, the open studios is a great chance to meet the artists and discover their work. Introduction to Linocut - Saturday 18th January, Saturday 15th February, Saturday 14th March Colour Linocut Workshop - Sunday 26th January, Sunday 16th February Introduction to Drawing Workshop Saturday 22nd February Booking Making Workshop - Sunday 15th March

Full details about the worshops are on the ‘news’ page on the website. Workshops are £50 for the day (10am-4pm), all materials included. Contact Sam to book. You can buy Sam’s work via her website at You can also follow her on Instagram @Sammarshallart The Fens | November 2019 25

WISBECH CHRISTMAS LIGHTS AND WISBECH CHRISTMAS FAYRE Wow treats are in store! Wisbech is readying itself for the arrival of Christmas with a fantastic array of festive goings-on planned to take place throughout the town centre on Sunday 8th December. Visitors will find plenty of festive spirit in the air in the form of free attractions including a Ferris wheel (new this year), snow globe, steam train and reindeer to name a few. All made possible owing to kind sponsorship from The Horsefair Shopping Centre, Vodafone and Wisbech Town Council. We are very excited to offer a packed line up of entertainment onto the Market Place too! Performances will take place from 10am – 3pm kicking off with an official opening by the Mayor of Wisbech. This year we welcome young talent from St Peters School and Murrow Primary School for the first time. Shoppers will find everything they 26 The Fens | November 2019

need for the big day including; fresh produce, confectionery, handmade crafts and unique gifts from stallholders and local businesses throughout the Horsefair, Market Place, High Street, York Row, Market Street, through to Museum Square and Wisbech Castle. The Library has a real treat instore for families too, offering craft activities and refreshments as well as acclaimed children’s storyteller Marion Leeper who will be creating a magical enchanted tent for the under 5s. Don’t forget to pop into the “Museum at Christmas” where you can make your very own Victorian Christmas card and experience some Dickensian storytelling too inside Wisbech and Fenland Museum. No Christmas Fayre would be complete without a visit from Father Christmas. You will find him accompanied by Mrs Christmas in the Horsefair Shopping Centre next to Boots. Meet his real life reindeer

nearby on Hill Street - until they are needed for more pressing matters on Christmas Eve! This event is not to be missed! We expect around 5000 visitors. Parking will be provided free of charge at Somers Road, St Peters, Chapel Road and the Horsefair. For regular updates leading up to the event follow us on Facebook @fenlandevents and @WisbechChristmasFayre or to book a stall at the Christmas Fayre please email marketsandevents@fenland. before the 8th November. And for those who really love the festive season, two weeks before the Christmas Fayre, on Sunday 24 November, the town’s Christmas lights will also be switched-on. The switch-on event which is hosted by Wisbech Town Council will take place on Wisbech Market Place between 3.00 pm and 6.00 pm. There will be a full programme of quality entertainment, a visit by Santa, fairground and a wealth of other activities for all to enjoy.

Sunday 8th December 9am to 3pm

Ferris Wheel Snow Globe Live Entertainment Miniature Steam Train Santa and his Reindeer Storytelling in the Museum Speciality Foods and Shopping Crafts and Enchantment in the Library Free parking available in all car parks including the Horsefair The Fens | November 2019 27


REMEMBRANCE DAY 100 years after the very first two minute silence to commemorate the end of the Great War, Molly looks at its history and discusses why it’s still as important in the 21st century WORDS Molly Day-Coombes IMAGES Chris Brudenell On Tuesday 11th November 1919 at 11 o’clock the country fell silent for two minutes to commemorate the first anniversary of the end of the Great War. Four days previously, King George V asked the public to observe the silence, with the intention that ‘“the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”’. The event was a solemn occasion, focusing on commemoration rather than triumph. The two minutes silence became the centrepiece for future Remembrance Day proceedings and remains the focal point in the twentyfirst century. The Great War ended on the 11th of November 1918 at 11 o’clock, after the loss of 750,000 UK military personnel. Celebrations marked the end of the war and this joyous atmosphere continued in the following June when the European powers signed the Treaty of Versailles which officially marked the end of the war. To commemorate this event, the first Peace Day was held on 19th July 28 The Fens | November 2019

1919. A victory parade was held in London, where around 15,000 British Empire servicemen participated, and thousands of civilians attended. The parade route directed the troops down Whitehall and past the recently unveiled Cenotaph. The Cenotaph, meaning simply ‘empty tomb’ in Greek, was designed by architect Sir Edwin Leutyene on request of Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The structure was initially made from wood and plaster and was only intended to stand for a week following the Peace Day. However, thousands of civilians wished to pay their respects, and wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph’s base. The unexpected popularity of the memorial resulted in Leutyene being commissioned to build a permanent version which was unveiled on Remembrance Day 1920. Pathé news footage of Remembrance Day 1919 shows the Cenotaph as a focal point of commemorations as thousands

of people gathered around the monument during the two minutes silence. As the memorial is dedicated to ‘The Glorious Dead’, rather than listing individual names, meaning it became a tangible place of mourning for those whose relations died without a known grave. Many people chose to gather in public places during the silence, and this communal nature of remembrance was later translated into the erection of local war memorials. Local war memorials functioned as individual and communal sites of mourning for the 100,000 soldiers who fought in WW1 who had no marked grave. Wisbech’s war memorial is central to the historic area of the town, situated on the Crescent, adjacent to the Castle, and facing the Thomas Clarkson memorial, and was unveiled on 24th July 1921. 450 names now adorn the base of the Celtic cross memorial, 281 names of missing and killed residents from the First World War, and 169 names for those lost in the Second World War.

Local war memorials functioned as individual and communal sites of mourning for the 100,000 soldiers who fought in WW1 who had no marked grave Similarly, Whittlesey’s war memorial has a central location, located on a traffic island in the intersection of the market place. The monument was unveiled on 25th February 1923 and was funded by public subscription. The memorial consists of a figure of St George standing over a slain dragon atop a plinth where 193 names are inscribed to commemorate the residents lost in WW1, and 54 more names were added after WW2. Annual ceremonies at local war memorials consisted of reading out the names of the dead, as a public acknowledgement and memorialisation of their contributions to the conflict. The epitaphs of the memorials exemplify the town’s intentions in erecting the memorials; Wisbech’s reads ‘To the undying memory of all Wisbech men who gave their lives for us in the Great War’, and Whittlesey’s simply states ‘Lest we forget’. Local war memorials remain the focal point for Remembrance Day proceedings. The poppy forms another tradition of Remembrance Day, the origins of which are in the appearance of these flowers following the destruction of Flanders in Belgium during WW1, where the churned-up mud allowed poppy seeds to rise to the surface and germinate. The use of the poppy to commemorate war dead is believed to have origins in the Napoleonic Wars, however only after WW1 did the poppy became an international symbol of remembrance.

The poem ‘In Flanders Fields’, by Canadian Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, popularised the link between WW1 and poppies, ‘In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row’, and inspired American academic Moina Michael to personally adopt the poppy in memory of the war dead. She campaigned for the poppy to be adopted as the official American symbol of remembrance and worked closely with others trying to do the same in the UK. One such person was Anna Guérin who met Field Marshal Douglas Haig, chairman of the Royal British Legion in 1921, and persuaded him to adopt the poppy as their emblem. The first annual poppy day was held on 11th November 1921 where all of the 9 million poppies made were sold and £106,000 was raised to support ex-servicemen. These men discovered that post-war Britain was not a ‘land fit for heroes’ as they received little to no support after their demobilisation. After 1921, ex-servicemen began to demonstrate against Remembrance Day proceedings and disrupted the services at the Cenotaph to highlight the extravagance of the commemorations, when ex-soldiers were homeless and unemployed. Despite the continuity in some aspects of Remembrance Day, the atmosphere of the day and its commemorations have drastically changed over the last 100 years. Remembrance Days which followed the end of WW1 were treated by the

younger generation as days which should be celebrated as they marked their survival of the difficult war years. However, during the late 1920s, Remembrance Day became a more sombre event as celebrating survival was deemed inappropriate. During WW2 commemorations declined as the focus was on the current war, and it was in 1939 that the decision was made to hold the general memorial events on a proximate Sunday, as a specified ‘day of dedication’. After 1945, both World Wars were remembered on the Sunday closest to the 11th November, thereby officially replacing Remembrance Day with Remembrance Sunday. The services which were held often took place in churches, which meant they were notably separate from everyday life, unlike the two minutes silence. The marginalisation of commemoration sparked the declining interest in remembrance services as the years passed and time created distance from the conflicts. The nation’s relationship with war changed around the middle of the century, caused by the increase in television sales from the 1950s. The increased ownership of televisions brought Remembrance Day events directly into homes, meaning that watching the services at home became a significant part of the population’s Remembrance Day traditions. The end of the twentiethcentury brought a resurgence of interest in WW1 and in turn an interest in commemorating Remembrance Day on wider scale. In 1996, after a campaign by the Royal British Legion the previous year, the two minutes silence on the 11th November was reinstated, meaning that remembrance became part of everyday life once more.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Molly Day-Coombes BA (Hons) is a History graduate from the University of Lincoln. Author of https://allthingshistory108. The Fens | November 2019 29

WISBECH’S FORGOTTEN HERO William Ellis A remarkable man, William Ellis was a traveller who published several important books. Following the publication of her book, Jane explains why this man should be remembered... WORDS Jane Holloway William Ellis, was born in London in 1794 to working class parents, moving to Wisbech when he was four, he is now mostly unknown. In Victorian times, he was spoken of in the same light as Livingstone, Sangster and other great travellers. A remarkable man, He was not just a Missionary, but also a writer, photographer, naturalist and linguist. Despite only receiving a primary education, he published several books on Polynesia and Madagascar, illustrating them with the then new science of photography and his own drawings. Having taught himself both printing and bookbinding, he translated the Scriptures and religious texts into the native language for the benefit of the congregation. At 21, he was ordained and six months later set sail for the South Sea Islands, accompanied by Mary Mercy Moor, his new wife. They returned to England after five years, William told the story of their travels in the South Seas his book “Polynesian Researches”, which made him famous and helped launch his lecture tours, extolling the virtues of the London Missionary Society. For five years, he regaled audiences with stories of his adventures and experiences endeavouring to raise funds to enable he and his wife to return to the South Sea Islands. Whilst lecturing and assisting in training of young men wishing to become Missionaries, William was promoted to Acting-Chief Foreign Secretary to the London Missionary Society. This was confirmed at the Society’s AGM in May 1833. Mary’s health which had broken down in the Sandwich Islands 30 The Fens | November 2019

was deteriorating fast and their return had to be postponed indefinitely. As soon as Ellis took up his position as Foreign Secretary, the LMS asked him to write a history of Madagascar and its people. They had long been interested in this small island and there had been a large Mission there since 1818, helped by the benevolence of the King, Radama the 1st, a friend to the Mission. He died in 1828 and a bitter struggle for power ensued, which was only resolved by the accession of his wife, Queen Ranavalona the 1st. She pursued a protectionist policy and was antiChristian, resulting in a bloody civil war where many atrocities were committed and tens of thousands of lives lost. Two hundred of these would later be hailed as Christian Martyrs. Her policies included outlawing the Christian religion, British Missionaries and other British nationals were excluded, ports were closed to commerce and correspondence with the outside world negligible. In 1852, news reached Britain that the Madagascan heir apparent was having more influence on policy. His liberal attitudes gave hope that the ban might be eased. LMS swiftly seized the opportunity and appealed for funding for the venture. Friends swiftly responded and once the required amount was raised, William at 59, began preparations for the venture as enthusiastic as when at 21

he set off on his first expedition. What he lacked in strength, he made up in experience. Arriving in 1853, he found the queen had refused to allow him to go on to the Capital, forcing him to return to Mauritius. In 1854, he wrote to her, to no avail. Stopping at Cape Town on his way home, he received permission and immediately sailed back. He delivered gifts and goodwill messages from Queen Victoria and the Government and set up a structure for the LMS to activate when conditions were right. Near the end of the month, Elllis was diplomatically informed his visit couldn’t be extended, so he returned to England. After the Queen’s death in 1861, succeeded by her son who cancelled the repression, foreigners and Christian teachers were requested to return. William immediately prepared, but was forced to remain on Mauritius as fever was rife. He spent his time corresponding with Madagascan Christians and planning, eventually arriving on May 2nd 1862. His time there was gruelling, teaching English and reading the Scriptures and reestablishing missionary posts. The first group of which, arrived on August 30th. He returned to England for the final time in 1865 and spent his time writing, lecturing and looking after his beloved garden. After a short illness, he died, on June 9th 1872 at his home. Wisbech’s Forgotten Hero by Jane Holloway is available to purchase at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.


Remember, Remember…

FIREWORKS SAFETY AND THE LAW WORDS Neil John, Partner Civil Litigation

In early November many people will injured and are required to ensure the be going to watch a fireworks display, premises are reasonably safe for the either at a public event in their local lawful visitors’ use under the Occupiers town or at the house of a friend or Liability Act, 1957. If you are injured family member. at an event like this, you may have There are many traditions associated grounds to make a claim because with this season such as bonfires the organisers have a responsibility to and toffee apples. There is also a keep spectators safe. They are also prevalence of safety campaigns likely to have public liability insurance. Are you Buying,Injuries Selling or likely Remortgaging warning of the dangers of mishandling are more at private fireworks. However, despite these parties as they are unregulated. campaigns, thousandswe of people Fireworks At Fraser Dawbarns work toinsimplify and are usually set off by people the UK are injured byyour fireworks everytransaction. who haven’t had safety training and remove stress from property year. who may have limited experience you are a firework, of handling fireworks. Other factors WeIf keep you injured updatedby with all major the developments as consequences can be life-changing that make injuries more likely include they occur and our fixed fee service helps you keep and of you may want to know whether the consumption of alcohol and track your costs. you can receive compensation insufficient space to keep at a safe for your injuries. mayon bea wide range distance Our lawyers can Damages provide advice of from the fireworks. The host awarded formatters the injuries and symptoms could potentially be held responsible conveyancing including: or scarring that follow as well as to for any injuries received at an event lostPurchases income, medical costs and like this. •cover House and Sales other expenses incurred due to the What should you do if you are • New Build Purchases injury. injured by someone illegally throwing a • Remortgaging and Releasing Equity Public events, such as your local firework in the street? This is a criminal • Buying a Retirement Home town’s annual firework display should matter and should always be reported •follow Buying Shared Ownership Home HSEasafety guidance such as to the police. You may also be entitled •having Transferring Ownership a Home safety barriers andof trained to compensation from the Criminal •fireworks Buying operators a House as Landlordthe toaminimise Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) •chances Movingof into a Rented Home a spectator getting who handles cases like these.

If you are injured by a defective or faulty firework, it may be possible to make a claim against the seller, manufacturer or importer of the firework. In this case, the onus will be on you to prove that the firework was faulty. It is therefore strongly your Home? recommended that you keep the remains of the firework, the packaging that the firework came in as well as instructions and the purchase receipt. We understand that making a claim can be expensive and time consuming, so where there is a reasonable chance of success, Fraser Dawbarns offers a no win no fee arrangement and are happy to discuss any personal injury matters if you are unsure whether you have a claim. Firework parties can be a lot of fun and Fraser Dawbarns wishes everyone an enjoyable evening, regardless of which event you are attending. We would like to remind everyone to be vigilant, stay safe and make sure that any vulnerable people are protected.

total peace of mind,solicitors, contact Fraser Dawbarns today For highly For experienced property contact Fraser Dawbarns today Wisbech

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01353 383483 The Fens | November 2019 31


Fabulous fungi

Where can you find a wrinkled peach and a yellow brain . . . ?

WORDS Caroline Fitton, The Wildlife Trust IMAGE Brian Eversham A foray into any wooded area to discover the world of fungi can prove an absorbing pursuit in autumn and winter. One of the most important groups of organisms on the planet, fungi are easy to overlook, given their largely hidden, unseen actions and growth. Together with bacteria, fungi are responsible for most of the recycling which returns dead material to the soil in a form in which it can be reused. Without fungi, these recycling activities would be seriously reduced - we would effectively be lost under piles many metres deep of dead plant and animal remains. So without these strange and fascinating life forms, neither we, nor the inhabitants of our native forests, would survive for long. The Wildlife Trust in Cambridgeshire looks after several ancient woodlands in the county where fungi is just waiting to be discovered. Wintry wet dank weather helps to bring on the ‘fruits’ of the fungi - the mushrooms, toadstools, brackets, puffballs and many other amazing shapes that these ‘creatures’ produce (recent genetic investigations have shown that they are nearer to animals than they are to plants), as they start to emerge from the ground, leaves or decaying wood. Dead wood is an exceptionally valuable resource, made use of by a wealth of wildlife, especially insects and fungi, and so is a key component of many woodland nature reserves.

The wonderfully named wrinkled peach, Rhodotus palmatus, is often found on fallen decaying trees and varies from delicate pinkishapricot to deep salmon in colour, with wrinkled convex caps which flatten with age. Yellow brain, Tremella mesenterica, is disc shaped and develops brain-like lobes and folds of soft shiny flesh that wobble like jelly when knocked. Its tough, gelatinous flesh, a bright golden yellow, makes it easy to spot in wet weather, growing on dead twigs and branches of broadleaved trees. Recently at Gamlingay Wood Brian Eversham, CEO of WT BCN found three rarer species: earpick fungus, Auriscalpium vulgare; rosy bonnet, Mycena (pura) rosea, and small stag’s-horn, Calocera cornea – it’s easy to see how the earpick fungus (above right) got its name. Fungi have reproductive spores which are dispersed through the air. Under the cap of a mushroom are the spore-producing gills, while a puffball is a sack of spores, just waiting to be prodded or for an animal or bird to tread on it, resulting in a puff of spores, like dust escaping from a split hoover bag. The colour of the spores can be important in identifying the species of fungus - this can be given away by ‘bracket-forming’ species

Earpick Fungus, Auriscalpium Vulgare

which grow from the side of a tree trunk, depositing a coating of spores on the bark beneath. A lovely film made at the Trust’s Overhall Grove nature reserve by PhD student Ellie Bladon clearly explains fungi’s amazing underground connections invisible to our eyes: view here watch?v=RQ5bXQDFET4


Lady’s Wood nature-reserves/ladys-wood Raveley Wood nature-reserves/raveley-wood Holme Fen, Great Fen www. great-fen West Cambs Hundreds; four more ancient woods www.wildlifebcn. org/westcambshundreds

PETERBOROUGH POP UP SHOP! The Trust’s Peterborough Pop Up Shop is opening again on Friday 15 November staying open up to Christmas eve. Run by staff and volunteers the shop will be stocked with wildlife-themed merchandise - whole ranges of wildlife related goodies from stocking fillers to classy Wrendale designed products and optics such as binoculars and monoculars. For the first time last year the Trust took over a retail unit in in Westgate Arcade – part of Peterborough’s Queensgate shopping centre – and will be back in the same place. 32 The Fens | November 2019


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In my role as Brexit Secretary I have been involved in detailed negotiations across a range of European capitals from, Copenhagen and Helsinki to Madrid and Warsaw, as we try to secure a deal. Most people locally tell me they want Parliament to get on with it, as many MPs promised. I agree and will do everything possible to get Brexit done so that we can focus on our NHS, extra police officers, and levelling up investment in the Fens.

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I’m sure, writes Trina Nunn, that many readers of this magazine will be aware of this and will also have been surprised to learn that the doctor they’ve seen for years has suddenly retired early to pursue a career change. I am aware of one who became a wildlife photographer and another who set up a donkey sanctuary in the south west!

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An end may be in sight for early retirement, pressure of work and frustration because senior NHS doctors, nurses and GPs are being consulted on proposals to give them greater access to more flexible pensions and allow them to dedicate more time to patients. We’ve been in business across this region for over 90 years and among our portfolio of clients are many from the health sector. They are turning to us now for help and advice on what can be a tricky area. There are three key areas which require careful consideration. These are personalising pension growth level; fine-tuning and topping up; phasing pension contribution levels. The Department of Health and Social Care believes that a third of consultants and GPs may be turning down extra shifts because of how the NHS Pension Scheme interacts with the wider pension tax rules.

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The new proposals mean GPs and other senior clinicians have freedom to individually control how much their pension pot grows, allowing them to maximise the amount they can save without facing significant pension tax bills having breached limits on tax relief. The department wants to work with employers and staff representatives to develop a new tool to help clinicians tailor the new flexibilities to support their individual preferences. This will help them to identify the best pensions approach to maximise their clinical work without facing large tax bills. Subject to the response, the government hopes to introduce the new proposals in time for the start of the new tax year in April 2020. If you need help or advice, don’t hesitate to contact the pension specialist at our Wisbech office. Bury St. Edmunds | Ely | King’s Lynn | March | Mildenhall | Peterborough | Ramsey | St. Ives | | St.November Neots | Wisbech The Fens 2019 37


New Theatre Peterborough

WORDS RICHARD GROOM In today’s digital world, nothing quite matches the experience of a live theatre or musical experience, and now our region has even more to offer

The Odeon cinema had a long and glorious history on Peterborough’s Broadway. Opening in 1937, it was a luxurious place to see the latest films (along with near neighbour the ABC from 1953 to 1989). I remember queuing round the block for ‘Star Wars’ in 1977, and watching numerous James Bond films there in the 1980s. Sadly, the Odeon closed in 1991 and stood empty until local businessman Peter Boizot MBE bought it and converted the building to a theatre, reopening as the Broadway in 2001. A highlight for me was seeing country legend Glen Campbell put on a storming show in 2006. But the Broadway had its ups and downs. Following a devastating fire in 2009 it remained closed for several years. Even after opening again, more than once locals wondered 38 The Fens | November 2019

whether the building could survive as a profitable theatre. Thankfully, it hasn’t been converted to become another Wetherspoon’s. Instead, the future looks bright as new owners, Selladoor Venues, have taken on the Broadway, invested in refurbishment, and rebranded it as the New Theatre to join a growing portfolio of venues. This follows two years during which the Dawe Charitable Trust worked tirelessly to save the venue, as acknowledged by Selladoor’s Director of Venues, Stuart Shanks: “Everyone at Selladoor would like to pass on our heartfelt thanks to The Dawe Charitable Trust for keeping this wonderful venue alive and for all of their support.” As well as managing theatres, Selladoor is also a production

company, putting on shows that tour the UK and further afield. This relationship will provide a steady stream of first class shows for the New Theatre, complemented by a wide variety of shows from other companies and promoters. These include Bill Kenwright, who has previously brought two successful pop-up seasons to the venue. A WEST END EXPERIENCE Selladoor’s own produced show ‘Avenue Q’ came to the New Theatre in September, a few days after the reopening. I was lucky enough to be in the audience with a few friends and we had a great time. ‘Avenue Q’ is funny, full of catchy tunes, and very adult at times! Imagine Sesame Street after the watershed and you get the picture. Set on a New York Street, its characters go through life’s ups and

Avenue Q was funny, catchy and at times moving

Image courtesy of Emma Bothamley for ESP Magazine

Image courtesy of Emma Bothamley for ESP Magazine

experience, but without West End prices, or the hassle of catching the late train back from Kings Cross. If ever anyone tells me again that there’s nothing to do in Peterborough, I’ll point then to the New Theatre – and of course the city’s Key Theatre and Cresset – as evidence to the contrary.

downs, trying to make sense of it all. The fact that most of the characters are puppets adds to the fun, but also seems to make the emotion even more human and touching. Despite being one of the first performances at the New Theatre, everything looked and sounded superb, with no teething problems to worry about. The sound and lighting crew did a superb job. The cast was also excellent, especially Cecily Redman - a bundle of energy with a wonderful voice in the lead role as Kate Monster. It really was a West End

SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE A fantastic programme is scheduled for the New Theatre. A highlight is the world’s longest running theatre show ‘The Mousetrap’ from 4 to 9 November, followed by children’s favourite ‘Mr Men and Little Miss’ on 12 and 13 November. There’s a huge taste of the 80s with ‘Fame The Musical’ running from 25 to 30 November. The venue is also hosting live music. Peterborough Jazz Club presents live shows on 10 November and 1 December, there’s a night of Christmas classics with singing trio Blake on 2 December, and an afternoon Christmas cabaret on 4 December. Looking ahead to 2020, British rock and roll legend Joe Brown pays a visit on 17 January, comics Ed Byrne and Stewart Lee hit the stage on 29 January and 14 February respectively, and Irish country star Nathan Carter brings his live show to Peterborough on 7 February. These are just a few highlights from a packed programme, so please visit for the complete listing or call the box office on 01733 852 992.

Fame is coming to the New Theatre from 25 November

A FAMILY THEATRE The New Theatre is already setting its stall out as a family destination. One of its first shows was ‘Madagascar the Musical’, telling the tale of Alex the lion and his friends after leaving the comfortable surroundings of Central Park Zoo. Here’s a review from two kids who clearly had a great time!

I really enjoyed Madagascar. My favourite song was ‘I Like To Move It’. It really got the audience moving it, moving it. The popcorn was amazing. The show was amazing too. I can’t wait to see what is coming to the theatre next. Review by Dylan and Martha, age 6 and 4. The Fens | November 2019 39

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Crunchy golden leaves underfoot, glistening dew dropped spiderwebs and our warm breaths leaving trails in the air, Autumn is most definitely here. The most colourful time of the year has arrived, and nature’s dramatic display is in full swing. With plenty of Autumn trails in the area to explore we ventured to Barnwell Country Park in Oundle to celebrate the very best of the harvest season. Barnwell holds a dear place in my heart as it is where we used to visit when I was a child, the picturesque park is very good for families thanks to its children’s play areas and sculpture trail and I have lovely memories of exploring the area and trying to find the wooden animals dotted throughout the park. Taking Twiggy, our furry friend with us to explore we attempted to dodge the endless October rain showers and headed to the park. The park is nestled in the heart of the Nene Valley and covers 37 acres of lakes, riverbanks and meadows. The park originally started life in the late 1950s as ‘Oundle Pits’ but was 44 The Fens | November 2019

abandoned in the late 1960s. The sand and gravel site is located on the flood plain of the River Nene and once left became an ideal location

for fishing, dog walking and bird watching. Taken over by the council, the area was turned into a country park and officially opened to the

public in July 1971. The area has evolved over time and is now home to a plethora of fauna and flora. The park has several different walks to choose from in varying length, we chose the riverside walk which is marked on the map in black and is around a mile long. The park has been designed to be wonderfully accessible, with the shorter routes being formed from fully hard surfaces and we even spotted mobility scooters available to use in the information centre. The riverside walk is wonderfully atmospheric with golden autumnal trees banking the lake edges, their burnt orange glow reflecting in the water. We spotted swans and ducks enjoying the seasonal feasts along the riverbanks. There are lots of hides and seating areas around the lakes so plenty of places to sit back, relax and enjoy the view. I imagine it could be very peaceful if you didn’t own a cockapoo suffering an identity crisis and trying to live her best life as a seal! Avoiding the fisherman, enjoying their early Saturday morning we continued the route taking in the beauty of the changing season. Hedgerows were laden with berries and teasel seeds made tempting snacks for a flock of cheeky sparrows. Interesting fungi sprouted from the damp log piles and we spotted acorns strewn like jewels across the woodland floors, a delectable snack for the squirrels! Otters, Water Voles, Kingfishers and Woodpeckers are just some of the creatures that call the park home and may be spotted if you have the patience to sit quietly! With a very soggy dog in tow we headed to The Kingfisher Café who did not bat an eyelid at the sight of our wet pal and even allow dogs inside the café! We sat outside, which has a lovely view of one of the lakes and enjoyed a delicious lunch. Perhaps less commercial than other country parks (there isn’t a gift shop!) Barnwell really is a fantastic place to visit. There are lots of nature trails or orienteering maps to follow as well as seasonal events to see and on the last Friday of the month they host ‘Dementia walks for health’ followed by a chat and refreshments in the café. Perfect for families and all ages, it was fantastic to see a country park strive to be so accessible to all. Distance: 1mile/ 1.6KM Terrain: Paths, grass, woodland, boardwalks Time: 45mins/1hr Information: www. Cost: Free entrance, parking charges apply The Fens | November 2019 45

THIS MONTH’S BOOK REVIEW Closer Than You Think by Darren O’Sullivan Published by HQ Digital “It was the darker things in life that drew humanity in...” Closer Than You Think is the third psychological thriller written by bestselling local author, Darren O’Sullivan, and the first of his books I’ve read. Recommended by a good friend, my expectations were high. I’m pleased to say it didn’t disappoint. The story begins with a prologue narrated in close third person via the voice of the unknown antagonist of the story, in this case a serial killer. He explains to the reader how he believes people become who they are based on their environment and experiences, and how he also believes that the possibility of changing who we are, is, essentially impossible. However, he also believes people can evolve: “He [himself] had experienced several evolutions which had altered the direction of his thoughts and actions. But these didn’t change who he was. He would always be someone who killed.” Make no mistake; he is not a nice individual. The main protagonist of the story is a woman called Claire Moore. Narrated in first person, she is a physically and emotionally damaged character who ten years prior survived the brutal attack of a serial killer. However, although she escaped the clutches of the man the media dubbed The BlackOut Killer, Claire’s husband didn’t, which is something that has haunted her ever since. To the general public Claire represents hope and survival, but behind closed doors life is a struggle, despite the fact her attacker was actually apprehended and imprisoned. However, fast forward ten years and Claire is slowly feeling stronger again. She is tired of living in fear. So with the continued support of close friends and family, she begins to fight back the demons that have, for all intents and purposes, kept her a prisoner in her own home. Until that is, Claire hears the news about a recent murder; one where the killer has used the same modus operandi adopted by her perpetrator. But how is that possible? Is it a copycat killer? Or… is he closer than Claire thinks! Our verdict… Closer Than You Think is a taut whodunit. A domestic thriller that is both well written and easy to read. The characters are well drawn and the writing atmospheric, with just enough twists and turns to keep you turning the page. However, I can also safely say, the ending was very unexpected. 46 The Fens | November 2019

A Q&A With Bestselling Author Darren O’Sullivan Local author and mother of two EVA JORDAN shares her musings Back in September I was lucky enough to do a joint ‘Ask The Author’ event at Peterborough City Library with bestselling author, Darren O’Sullivan. It was a great success, including plenty of audience participation. I was fascinated to learn about Darren’s journey to publication compared to mine, and I was surprised to hear that his love of books, unlike mine, came later in his childhood. Therefore, for those of you that missed our event but are keen to know more, read on... 1. Hi Darren, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself? Hi, I’m Darren O’Sullivan, Author of Psychological thrillers, Our Little Secret, Close Your Eyes, Closer Than You Think, and Dark Corners. 2. How long have you been writing? Did you always want to be a writer? I have been writing for about 18 years. I started my career as an actor (although it was hardly a career) so my writing journey began with my dabbling with stage plays. However, despite writing shows, I didn’t want to be a writer, I hoped that by writing I would find a way in to be a more successful actor. Even the idea for my first book came from a play called Pact. I wrote it, had actors in to workshop it, and at the end of the first session we all knew the play was terrible. But, the characters were good, and I couldn’t shake them. It was then I contemplated writing a book, not knowing if I could. When I started, I was hooked, and from that moment on I knew I wanted to be a writer. 3. And finally, what advice would you offer anyone thinking of becoming a writer? The only advice that means anything is very simple; to write, you have to write. A marathon runner cannot complete 26.2 miles, if they just decided, on the day of the race to do it. You have to run, a lot, for months and months before entering. Don’t get me wrong; I am not a marathon runner, not even close. But I do the same with words. I wasn’t a good writer when I began; in fact, I was terrible. But I did it, every day; I put down words and finished pieces that would never be read. I ran. And I’m still running now. Get enough miles under the belt, and you will finish the race. You can find out more about Eva by visiting www.EvaJordanWriter. com or find her on Twitter and Facebook: @evajordanwriter EvaJordanWriter/

FARM TO ….. A family run farm for over 100 years. Ten minutes from St Ives & Huntingdon. Visit a variety of traditional and some more unusual animals from cows, pigs, deer to parrots and crocodiles.

50ft fresh meat counter offering one of the largest selections of home produced meats in the country. With our own deli celebrating a wide range of home produced products and fifty British cheeses.

Visit our tearoom and enjoy homemade cakes, scones, sandwiches, afternoon teas and our traditional breakfasts. Try our new steakhouse and jiggers bar for a home produced steak.


Bar open for drinks all day Butchers & Farm Shop Tuesday – Friday: 9am - 6pm Saturday: 9am - 4pm Sunday: 10.30am - 4pm Monday: Closed

Food served Tuesday – Friday: 12pm - 2.30pm & 5.30pm - 9pm Saturday: 12pm - 9pm Sunday Carvery: 12pm - 4pm Monday: Closed

Church Farm, Church Street, Old Hurst, Huntingdon, PE28 3AF Tel: 01487 824658 Email: Email for steakhouse bookings: Visit our facebook page: johnsonsofoldhurst & johnsonssteakhouse Web:

Tea Room

Tuesday – Friday: 9.30am - 4.30pm Saturday: 9am - 4.30pm Sunday: 10.30am - 4pm Monday: Closed


The Fens | November 2019 47

WHAT’S ON Include your event for free by emailing THE VICTORIANS - SONGS, STORIES AND MORE FROM HARP AND A MONKEY AT WISBECH MUSEUM Saturday 2nd November 8pm - 9:30pm

A heart warming performance of foot tapping tunes, great conversation and laughter. This award-winning modern folk music outfit rework songs of the Victorian era with Martin Purdy the band’s singer and an acclaimed historian and author sharing the stories behind the tunes. Refreshments available. Tickets £7 or £4/£5 concessions from Wisbech Library or by visiting uk/arts Suitable for all ages

HALLOWEEN FAMILY DISCO, EMNETH CENTRAL HALL Saturday 2nd November, 7.30pmmidnight Games, activity table for children Tickets 18+ £10, 16-17 £5, under 16’s free but need a ticket. Tickets available from Ace Games, Gaultree Inn, Facebook page.

WISBECH ART CLUB WINTER EXHIBITION 2019 Friday 6th December 2019 – Saturday 14th December 2019

10.00am – 4.00pm daily (closed Monday 9th December) Wisbech & Fenland Museum, Museum Square, Wisbech PE13 1ES Admission Free. Paintings available for sale.

FESTIVAL OF REMEMBRANCE Friday 8th November, 7:30pm

Featuring Peterborough Male Voice Choir, Peterborough Voices and Peterborough Youth Choir and held at The Cresset, Peterborough. Tickets are £13.50 and available from the Cresset Box Office by phone on 01733 265705 or at www.peterboroughsings.

HARVEST BARN CHRISTMAS CRAFT FAYRE Saturday 23rd – Sunday 24th November 10-4

Harvest Barn will be hosting their first Craft Fayre, showcasing the wonderful talent from across Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire. There will be plenty of indoor and outdoor stalls to browse as well as the launch of our new festive food and drink and of course carol singers! Entry is free. For information on stalls email Ashley at

ADVENT MARKET AND CELEBRATION Saturday 30th November, 2.30pm 4:30pm

Free entry and parking.Enjoy the market stalls, scrumptious food, and help us light the Christmas tree at 4pm. St Peter’s Church, Church Road, Walpole St Peter. PE14 7NS


Santa is coming to Harvest Barn and would like to join you for breakfast! Spend the morning in our brand new cabin with Santa and enjoy a delicious hot and cold buffet breakfast – everything will be available from sausages, bacon and eggs to croissants and toast! Tickets are £8.99 per child, which includes a craft table, buffet breakfast and gift from Santa. Grown ups are free to sit with their children or you can pay £6.99 to get in on the buffet breakfast action! To book your tickets email Ashley at, drop us a Facebook message or pop in store!

CRIMBLE AT THE CRUMB Friday 6th - Sunday 8th December

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. Fenland Music Centre Association Orchestras, Bands and Ensembles. Open to all ages and abilities. Meets every Friday evening during Term time 6pm - 9pm, March Community Centre. Just come along or visit our website on http://www. Fenland Archaeological Society (FenArch) meet at 7:30pm in Mendi’s, Old Market, Wisbech on 4th Wednesday of the month. Young archaeologists The 8-16 Fenland Archaeology group meet 10am - 12pm at the museum, Museum Square, Wisbech on the 4th 48 The Fens | November 2019

Saturday of each month. Wisbech Model Railway Club The group meet every Monday from 6:30pm to 9pm in Room 1 of The Institute, Hill Street, Wisbech. New members most welcome. Unfortunately there’s no wheelchair access. Further details from 07707 885718. Walking Netball – Thursday 9:30am Hudson Wisbech £2 Walking Football – Tuesday 9:30am and Friday 8pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Back to Netball – Tuesday 7pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Ladies Badminton – Wednesday 7pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Adults Badminton – Monday 7pm Hudson Wisbech £2 Forever Fit – Tuesday 11:30am £2 (Short mat bowls, New Age Kurling and Table Tennis) Adults Table Tennis – Friday 1:30pm

Wisbech Table Tennis Club £1 Beginners Running – Tuesday 9:30am Wisbech Park Free Yoga Oasis Centre – Tuesday 1:30pm Oasis Centre Free For more info on any of the above email or call 01354602116 Play Bridge? Wisbech Mixed Bridge Club meet every Thursday 6.45pm at WWMCC, 29 Hill Street, Wisbech. No partner necessary. Call 01945 464608 for more details. Silver Surfers We meet at Parson Drove Sports Pavilion behind the village hall. Thursday mornings, 10am to 12noon. Everyone is welcome to meet others and to overcome problems with computers iPhone or ipads. NEW Ukulele Group at Parson Drove

Don’t miss the proudly independent Crumb Studio’s glittering Christmas pop-up. Once more offering modern rarities, ceramics, sculpture, prints, jewellery and more. The Crumb Studio is at 60 Cross Drove, Coates, Whittlesey PE7 2HJ. Fri: 6pm-9pm; Sat: 10am-5pm; Sun: 10am-4pm

TYDD ST GILES CHRISTMAS FAYRES Saturday 7th December 2019 One village,Two venues to buy those unique,extra special gifts St Giles Church (Church Lane) 10am to 3pm. Plus refreshments and cakes Golf and Country Club (Kirkgate ) 11am to 3pm. FREE entry to both venues


The popular City of Peterborough Concert Band are performing an afternoon concert of festive music to celebrate the Christmas season. Please come and join us at St Andrews Church, Ledbury Road, Netherton, Peterborough, PE3 9RF. Tickets are £6, free for accompanied under 16s, and available from Hilary Lewis 01733 265877 or

"Decorative tiles in Georgian and Victorian domestic architecture" BY HANS VAN LEMMEN A FREE talk followed by refreshments and a tile handling session with Robert Higgins Saturday 30th November 2019 1pm to 3.30pm Wisbech & Fenland Museum To book a place email Taleyna Fletcher or call O1354 62221O For further information visit

CHRISTMAS WREATH MAKING WORKSHOP Tuesday 10th December 7pm-9pm

£45 per person. Make your own real Christmas Wreaths at Harvest Barn. Tickets available on www.popupblooms. com

A new Ukulele playing and singing club meets each Wednesday at The Butchers Arms, Parson Drove 7pm to 9pm. Beginners and learners or those who have never played are welcome. The choice of music will be yours as we will have a democratic approach to what we play. Martin Hammond 01945 700 676 Marshland Hall activities Mondays: 9:30-10:30 Yoga; 10-1 Soft Play; 2-3:30 Line Dancing; Tuesdays: 10-1 Soft Play Wednesdays: 10-12 Indoor Bowls; 1-2 Sweaty Mamas; 6-7 Karate; 6-7 Marshland Saints Football; 7-8 Tai Chi; 8-9 Clubbercise Thursdays: 6-7 Marshland Saints Football; 7-8 Yoga; 7-8 Marshland Saints Football Fridays: 10-12 Soft Play; 2-4 Tea Dance; 6-7 Karate Saturdays: 10-12 Archery All events held at Marshland Hall, Smeeth Road, Marshland St James, PE14 8JB. More info can be found on facebook or by calling 01945 430414. Junior Science Club Meets every second Saturday of the month at 1am to 1om at the Wisbech and Fenland Museum.

The Fens | November 2019 49

LAUGHS AND SONGS AT BEAUTY & THE BEAST Vivacity’s annual pantomime at the Key Theatre is the longest running pantomime in the city and has earned a reputation for being the go-to place for the best authentic traditional family panto and music experience at Christmas. This year, the story is Beauty & the Beast and, as with the last 4 years, the show is directed by Simon Egerton, who has also created a brand new script along with original and parody songs that will instantly have you singing along. Beauty & the Beast is a classic french fairy tale made popular by Disney, which recently returned to big screens with Harry Potter’s Emma Watson in the title role. Simon Egerton’s version puts a hilarious, local twist on this traditional tale, setting the action in the provincial town of ‘Pierreborough’, (home of the ‘Macrongate Shopping Centre’) with set, costumes and actors showing off lederhosen, alpenhorns and plenty of yodelling. Against this backdrop of alpine silliness, we meet the quirky, kooky character of Belle (who doesn’t really like dressing like ‘the other girls’) and are swept up in an adventure with her to undo the curse of the wicked Wolf Queen and her Wolf Pack. Along the way, Belle teams up with friends and family rescue The Beast, (a

formerly charming ‘chevalier’) from his terrifying transformation. The panto at the Key is always unique in that all the music is performed on stage by the actors themselves - from drums to dulcimers - and this year’s cast features the return of some firm Peterborough favourites as well as some talented new faces. Returning cast members include Fran Frenech as the evil Wolf Queen, who in last year’s Peter Pan played the operatic pirate diva Dolores Smee. Rob Hazle, who will be known to Peterborough audiences as John in Peter Pan (2018), Potty the Chamberlain in Sleeping Beauty (2017) and Uncle Billy in Dick Whittington (2016) returns in the role of Chef Jean-Paul. Key Theatre stalwart Robin Johnson, who played Barnacle Bill in Peter Pan (2018), King Rat in Dick Whittington (2016) and Abanazar in Aladdin (2015) this year plays the (much friendlier) role of Belle’s father – Monsieur deDumdeDumdeDum. In the starring role of Belle, Vivacity are also delighted to welcome back Rebecca Levy who will be wowing audiences for the third year running, having previously played the title role in Peter Pan (2018) and Aurora in Sleeping Beauty (2017). Rebecca is also a singer and songwriter in her own right,

having been a Featured Artist on BBC Music Introducing, whose new album ‘How To Keep Your Girlfriend 101’ is released on 21 October 2019. Every panto needs a dame and joining the cast this year is TJ Holmes as Madame Obnobs. TJ is an experienced actor-musician and musical theatre performer who is joining the company ‘hot foot’ from touring in the hilarious hit show One Man, Two Guv’nors. We are also joined by 3 teams of 10 children from Peterborough and the surrounding area who will play the Wolf Queen’s evil Wolf Pack. Writer, director and composer Simon Egerton said: “I am thrilled to be back working with the creative team at the Key Theatre again and with such a fantastic cast and crew. Our shows combine the best traditional family panto and musical experience you can find, not just in Peterborough. We aim to provide all the glitz, glamour, fun and “he’s behind you”s that you might expect but always find room to make things a little different. How have we managed that this year? Well, you’ll have to come and find out!” Beauty & the Beast runs from 5 Dec 2019 - 5 Jan 2020 and tickets start from just £10. You can book online at or call the Key Theatre box office on 01733 207239


We’re thrilled to be teaming up with Vivacity to once again be giving away a family ticket to this year’s Beauty & The Beast. All you have to do to be in with a chance is to email your contact details to marking your entry ‘Panto’ by November 10th. One winner will be chosen at random. Good luck! 50 The Fens | November 2019

BUILDING TRULY BESPOKE TIMBER FRAMED HOMES SINCE 1929 Award-winning self-build specialists Insulation options from 0.10–0.18 W/m2K Nationwide architectural partners Oak framing options/oak hybrid systems Part or full project management optional FAST CONSTRUCTION





Email us your plans now for a free quotation and appraisal: or call 01945 427985 The Fens | November 2019 51

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The Fens Wisbech November 2019  

The Fens Wisbech November 2019