The Stone and Eccleshall Gazette - Jan/Feb 2022

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CONTENTS Good News • Community Cinema returns • Is there a writer in you? • Stone’s Will makes Finale Podium • Amerton Railway receive The Queen’s Award • Welcome, Reverend John! • Shakespeare Returns • Cubs plant hedges on Common Plot • Best Kept Village Winners announced

In Pictures • Remembrance Sunday in Stone • Stone Light Switch-On • Megan rows to Stanford University • Sunday Market - a great success • Lion’s Bridge spans the Decades • ‘Snow’ Stopping Cuteness at Monkey Forest

New Year resolutions? Quit the fags, quit the booze, eat less junk, do more exercise.... Happy New Year to you all.... I hope you had a splendid Christmas, or at least as splendid as it could be, given the circumstances still. Has it really been a whole year since the lockdown of last Christmas? Even though there were only limited restrictions in place this year, it still felt all a bit restricted, and not so festive. I didn’t even bother with New Years Eve, opting to stay in and cook a nice meal instead, (I must be getting old), though I smugly feel as fresh as a daisy this morning, while many out there will be nursing the hangover from hell. Maybe a hair of the dog would help with that? I learnt recently that the saying originated in the belief that a cure for hydrophobia (rabies) or any disease contracted from a dog bite for that matter, consisted of taking a hair of the dog that bit you, and placing it in the wound. I’m not sure I’d like to try pulling a hair from a dog that had already just bitten me? Perhaps you’ve woke up full of New Year resolutions? Quit the fags, quit the booze, eat less junk, do more exercise? I do applaud you, but perhaps try doing them one at a time, not all together, then please don’t keep telling us about it, we are all trying our best you know! If you’re already a week into Dry January you may be interested to know it isn’t just a British thing, it’s practised both in Europe and the United States too. The dawning of a new year should evoke feelings of new hopes and

ambitions, dreams and plans, though the old cynic in me reckons it will be ‘much of the same’ for the indefinite future, it’s almost two years since Covid hit the UK, and we’re still not out of the woods yet. At the time of writing this, the official figures state there were 189,846 new people with a confirmed positive test result for coronavirus on 31 December 2021, and 1,051,807 people in the last 7 days. It shows an increase of 344,501 compared to the previous 7 days. These figures show how highly transmissible the omicron variant is, though early indications show that the variant may lead to less severe disease than the delta variant. When will it ever end? I was half expecting to wake up to the news of more national lockdowns. I was convinced that once NYE was out of the way, much tougher restrictions would ensue. So far they haven’t, but by the time you are reading this, maybe? This year, Her Majesty The Queen will become the first British Monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, seventy years of service, having acceded to the throne on 6th February 1952. Though I’m not that much of a royalist the extended bank holiday, from Thursday 2nd to Sunday 5th June, will be a welcome break for us all. Stone and Eccleshall are both planning big celebrations and events, we’ll bring you all the details once we have them. I hope 2022 turns out to be a better year for everyone, let’s face it, it can’t get much worse, can it? Dan Mitchell 01/01/22

Heritage • The Quest For St Bertelin • The King Is Dead - Long Live The Queen • Stafford & Stone’s boot and shoe making industry

The March / April edition is out on March 3rd Editorial Deadline - February 19th Advertisement Copy Deadline - February 22nd



EDITORIAL Christine Conlin - Eccleshall News -

ACCOUNTS Angela Downing -

TELEPHONE 07514 967890 Photography in association with Martin Robinson The views expressed in this publication are those of our contributors and are not necessarily those of the publishers, nor indeed their responsibility. All Rights Reserved © The Stone Gazette Ltd Once you’ve finished with your Gazette, recycle it by giving it to a friend.


More Than A Kitchen Company If you’re looking for a luxury kitchen, then contact the friendly team at Staffordshire Kitchens, the specialists in British and German kitchen furniture. They understand that the foundations of any successful kitchen design is first building a good relationship with their clients, so that they truly understand their individual needs, as well as what they want to achieve for their new kitchen. The process is relaxed and informal, but it is through in getting to know their clients, so that they can fully tailor a design, giving expert advice and recommend suitable products. For example, they can advise on the best appliances to suit different cooking styles, but equally they can recommend appliances that suit the look you want to achieve, which also suit your budget too.

Rainbows reduce, re-use and recycle 1st Walton Rainbows enjoyed making their Christmas decorations ready to adorn their Christmas tree in St Michael’s Christmas Tree Festival. They joined other Stone Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Rangers in creating decorations using the theme, reduce,

More than a kitchen company, they are experts in Interior Design too, so bring your project to them and they will consider the complete aesthetics of your intended space, before producing a beautiful and truly personalised design, that exceeds your expectations in every way. At their Stafford showroom, the team can design, supply & fit the kitchen of your dreams, delivering the whole package from concept, to design, to build, and all with minimal hassle to you. They offer an exceptional level of service, and whether it’s a small kitchen to maximise storage, or if you’re thinking of a large open plan extension with a family area, they can certainly help. Offering honest, expert advice, plus their variety of manufacturing partners, means they have something to offer everyone, no matter your taste, style, or budget. Staffordshire Kitchens are the ONLY Staffordshire kitchen supplier of Contemporary & Traditional quality German Kitchens, renowned for their style & durability. German kitchen manufacturers have a worldwide reputation for design, function, and quality, and they have carefully chosen to partner with a German brand that steadfastly upholds these values. Their German partnership enables them to offer a truly diverse product range for clients, including popular styles such as modern, contemporary, true handleless, shaker, gloss, matt, as well as many luxury wood, ceramic, and glass kitchen doors. More than this, they can offer clients the very latest in modern kitchen technology, with innovative design features such as glass roller doors, Tipmatic Softclose doors, slight lift cabinets, motorised drawers and much, much more. The dedicated team are also experts in the design and supply of quality British Kitchens, including from Charles Yorke, specialists in fully handcrafted kitchen furniture. Their British kitchen collections include a variety of contemporary finishes, as well as traditional lay-on kitchen doors and in-frame kitchen doors. With a variety of shaker doors, cornices and handles we can make your kitchen very traditional looking. Alternatively, any style can be adapted to suit your personal tastes with the finishing details, accessories and even lighting creating a more contemporary aesthetic. The team look forward to welcoming you, greeting you with a good cup of tea or coffee as you sit down to discuss ideas for your new kitchen project. Showroom visits are by appointment only so they can guarantee time for you to discuss your project in full, and also to ensure you will have the showroom to yourself. give them a call today.

Staffordshire Kitchens First Floor Showroom, 200 North Walls, Stafford, ST16 3AD

01785 229306 www.staffordshire 4

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re-use and recycle. The girls were incredibly inventive and decorations were made out of wooden pegs, plastic medicine tops,the bottoms of plastic bottles and paper chains made out of newspaper.

Oulton First School in The Community The choir at Oulton First School created some community festive cheer in early December. They were invited to sing to members of the Alzheimer's Society at the Christchurch Centre, Stone, along with

the C-K Community Choir, and kindly received a donation to school. The choir opened their Advent Window on Stone high Street, on 3rd December and they sang “The Holly and the Ivy.”



Wedding Fayre comes to The Crown Hotel Practically Perfect Events will be a Wedding Faye on 13th March 2022, at The Crown Hotel in Stone, between 10am and 4pm. Get yourselves along and view the hotel dressed to impress! Many suppliers will be there on the day, and a photo shoot will also be taking place. Why not take advantage of the many packages on offer on the day?

Eccleshall NEWS IN BRIEF Chairman’s Visits Peter Jones, the chairman of the Eccleshall Parish Council, represented the council at two Stone events during December. On Saturday December 4 he and his wife Joy were at the Stone Mayor’s “Below Decks” Trafalgar evening at the Lymestone Brewery and on Sunday December 12 they took part in the Stone Town Council’s Carol Service.

Community Cinema The Eccleshall Community Cinema programme for the new year includes The Courier film on January 22, on February 17 the group will be celebrating its 7th birthday with a film to be advised, March 17 The Phantom of the opera, and to mark the start of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations a showing of the film The Queen. The films are shown in the upstairs room of the Royal Oak in the High Street on Thursday evenings as dates above. The group is actively seeking new members to join the team. If you are interested please contact either Ann or Keith at or keithwinstanley5@gmail. com. Visit the website at www.eccleshallcommunity

Winter Walking - Good for your soul (if not your soles) Get along to Eccleshall on Saturday Janouary 15th to join in the Winter Walking campaign. Spearheaded by the Eccleshall Health and Wellbeing team from the Crown Surgery, this event is aimed at anyone who feels they need encouragement and confidence-building to get out there in winter. If you think walking is dull, learn about Geocaching. If you think it’s lonely, talk to the Ramblers. If you don’t know where to walk and if it’s right for you, there will be lots of info from the council on local walks around Eccleshall. A major part of the day will be an "Intro to Geocaching" event - friendly experts will help explain, and show you what it is, with trails and hidden geocaches to find all over town and beyond. National and regional organisations are going along to make all this a nice, easy, and fun day out for you.

Meet on Saturday January 15, 11am4pm, at the Methodist Hall, 7 Stone Road, Eccleshall, ST21 6DL Organisations involved include • The Crown Surgery PPG • Stone Ramblers • Geocaching Association of Great Britain (GAGB) • West Midlands ‘Mega Event’ Team • Local Council info available on local walks, including leaflets. Several local councillors are likely to be present, too. Hot drinks will be available, in aid of the West Midlands Mega, and a raffle will be held too. Practical events include a 'fake' geocache trail nearby (demonstrating hides both clever and disguised) as well as an opportunity to guide newbies (or be guided) around some of the nearby cache types. We'll also have a few indoor games to help keep kids of all ages engaged.

Trinity Men’s Fellowship The group will be holding its annual general meeting on Friday January 28th starting at 7pm in the Holy Trinity parish room, the evening will include a guest speaker to be advised.

Historical Society The Eccleshall Historical Society has moved venue location and now meet at the Holy Trinity parish room, on the second Monday of each month, starting at 7.30pm. Peter Chamberlain is the guest speaker on January 10 on the subject of Viruses, vaccines and brilliant ladies, on February 14th the guest speaker is a return visit of Shaun Farrelly on the subject of James Brindley, and on March 14th the guest speaker is Steve Booth on Staffordshire to Australia and the Somme.

Welcome Packs The Ecclian Society provided a welcome to Eccleshall pack to all new residents of the parish and would be happy to supply readers who have moved into the parish recently. Contact Wendy Baskerville on 01785 850764 for details.

Eccleshall W.I. The new year programme for the Institute begins on Thursday January 13th with a talk on ‘Cyber security’ from guest speaker Tom Court, of I Tech, Eccleshall. On February 10th Dr Peter Thomas is the guest speaker on the subject of ‘Fire in the forest’. The evenings start at 7.30pm in the Holy Trinity parish room.


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Holy Trinity Christmas Tree Festival Returning after the gap of lockdown the Holy Trinity Christmas Tree Festival returned with forty-one trees decorated by businesses and organisations from the area to decorate the church. The festival was open to the public from Thursday November 25 until Sunday November 28. The church’s Christmas Fair was on

Saturday November 27 when visitors to the fair had the opportunity to enjoy the many and varied trees. There were 41 trees in all, the undecorated trees were kindly supplied by Russell and Liz Stanhope of Bishops Offley Christmas Trees.

Stone WI Celebrate with Christmas Fun The first Wednesday of the month of December was a celebration of our Christmas festivities. After singing Jerusalem in a social distancing array & through our masks, there were several items on our WI business list mainly to do with our participation in some of the activities we hoped to support in our town. Afterwards we participated in a Christmas quiz which had 40 questions & anagrams. We sat at tables of 3 or 4 people, so solving the questions was a team effort. It was meant to be a bit of fun & I suggested that it was a good idea to make a guess rather than leave a blank in the answer space. For instance, if the anagram clue contained a 'v', it could probably be part of the word "ivy" or "virgin". Did you know that the total number of gifts given in "The 12 days of Christmas” was 364? or that "eggnog" is reported to have originated in medieval England? Another fact is that William the Conqueror was crowned king of England on Christmas Day in 1066. I also included some Christmas song anagrams, e.g. 'Jill begs Len' gives us 'Jingle Bells' & 'tinsel two' gave us 'Let it snow'. Now here's one for you to try:- 'to wishy washy rare crummies'. I enjoyed preparing the quiz & it was tackled with enthusiasm & laughter by our members whilst enjoying a cuppa & some Christmas food, sausage rolls, crisps, mince pies etc. It was a success & gave us a chance to natter & discuss ideas. Meetings take place on the first Wednesday of the month at 2p.m. in Christ Church annex. Come & join us You'll be assured of a very warm welcome. Here's to a happy & healthy New Year! By Pam Farnsworth


Eccleshall NEWS IN BRIEF Public Meeting A public meeting was held at the community centre on Thursday October 14 to talk about the plans for how Eccleshall could celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. People from local organisations and businesses attended along with members of the parish council’s events committee which hopes to coordinate the events. Councillor Ros Taylor, the chairman of the committee, led the meeting. The committee will eventually take over the reins for organising the Eccleshall Festival in 2024. The 2022 Festival will be the first for three years due to the Covid restrictions.

Civic Service The Eccleshall Parish Council’s annual civic service was well attended with eight members of the Parish Council, members of the congregation, invited guests from local organisations including Fire Station Officer Liam Hickey, Deputy Mayor of Stone Councillor Mrs Kerry Dawson and Member of Parliament, Sir Bill Cash. The service was led by Rev. Stephen Habgood and refreshments were served after the meeting allowing the guests to socialise a little.

Eccleshall Speedwatch Where there are significant community concerns over speeding and road safety, one of the options is to deploy community speed watch. As part of an ongoing drive to make our communities more resilient, they are seeking enthusiastic volunteers to join Eccleshall’s existing Community Speed Watch team to complement the work of neighbourhood policing teams across Staffordshire by deploying roadside monitoring equipment at identified hot spots. If you think that speeding traffic has a dangerous impact in Eccleshall and you would like to take an active role in speed monitoring and educating offending drivers, then this is the volunteering opportunity for you. Necessary training and safety equipment will be provided to fulfil this role. If you have a few hours to spare each week, please send an email to with your name on.

Events Committee The Eccleshall parish council’s events committee met at the community centre to discuss plans in particular for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations for this June and the response to the recent public meeting. The enthusiasm for the events coming from the attendees was well received by the committee members. The next stage is the arrangement of the numerous suggested events and activities considered. Everything from an Over 70 cream tea, welly wanging, beacon lighting, sports activities, dance, street parties etc. A very wide-ranging list of activities including something for every part of the community. The chairman of the committee Councillor Ros Taylor would be pleased to receive more ideas from residents at her email: ros.taylor@eccleshallparish The events committee wants to coordinate events across the parish to avoid clashes. If your organsiation is planning something or your street hopes to stage a street party do please let Ros know, even if your plans are at an early stage.

• We have a winner! It’s always a joy to see the human Fruit machine in action!

Stone Lions - Back in the High Street! After many long months of lockdown and isolation, members of Stone Lions Club (CIO) were very pleased to be given the opportunity to be part of the Stone Town Traders Christmas Market on Sunday 21st November. After much discussion on what to do on the day, members decided that it was time to dust off the Spectacular Lions Human Fruit Machine to provide even more fun and entertainment for those attending the event. The Lions were kept busy all day, with adults and children alike participating in the fun and trying to align the three items of fruit needed to win a lollipop. I don’t know how they managed it, but everyone who took part won a prize!

Stone Lions had agreed at the start of the event that they would not charge for taking part, it was more important to them to be out in force to support the traders and shopkeepers who are the backbone of our local our local High Street. They were amazed that, when opening the collection bucket provided for donations, a fantastic sum of £333.71 had been raised. As a spokesperson from Stone Lions told the Gazette “It is wonderful that, simply by having fun, this amount of money has been raised by a local organisation, from local residents to be spent in the local community. Thank you to Stone Traders for arranging the event and to everyone who joined in the fun on the day.”

Outdoor Equipment Members of the Eccleshall parish council conducted site visits on a number of suggested sites for the outdoor exercise equipment being considered by the council for installation. The suggested sites included, the Jubilee Field Hartlands Road, Elford Heath and the grounds of the community centre.

Electric Points The Eccleshall Parish Council continues to lobby the Staffordshire County Council for support for car charging points. A shortage of car parking facilities in the parish should not hold them back from installing the equipment which would allow residents and visitors to the town to ‘get charged’. If you have any views on charging points, please get in touch with Councillor Libby Dale on 01785 850124 or email her at libby.dale@


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New Worshipful Master for St. Michaels Lodge, Stone In a recent ceremony, St Michaels Lodge of Freemasons have installed Barry Smith as their Worshipful Master for the coming year. Freemasonry was established as a fraternal society in the 1700s and there has been a lodge in Stone for 128 years. Every year the brethren of the lodge elect one of the members to take the office of Worshipful Master.

The photograph shows Worshipful Brother Barry, surrounded by the other officers of the lodge, in the room where their monthly meetings take place. If you would like more information about freemasonry, please contact the lodge secretary, Mark Roberts, or 07896 952014.


• Photo by Paul Milgate-Scarrott

Royal British Legion receive Freedom scroll The Royal British Legion (RBL) in Stafford were presented with a scroll from the Mayor to mark the granting of the Freedom of the Borough to the organisation. Stafford Borough Council granted ‘Freedom’ to the Legion in recognition of its services to past and present members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families. At the council meeting on Tuesday (23 November) the Mayor, Councillor Tony Nixon, presented the ‘Freedom’ scroll to George Wright, the Honorary Chairman of the Stafford Branch of the RBL, to commemorate the award. The Stafford branch is celebrating its centenary year having been established in July 1921 and is one of the oldest in the county. It provides financial, social, and emotional care and support to all members of the British Armed Forces, past and present, and their families. The council has the power to confer honorary ‘Freedom’ to people or organisations that have given eminent services to the borough. The proposal to honour the Legion was unanimously agreed by councillors earlier this year – with council leader, Patrick Farrington, describing it as a “fitting honour.” The leather-backed scroll is inscribed with the citation describing the award and features the borough Coat of Arms and the organisation’s membership badge. An entry was also made in the Freedom ‘roll of honour’ book. The Reverend John Davies, on behalf of the Stafford branch, said: “It is a great honour you have bestowed upon us, and we accept it with great pride." Other notable recipients of the award include the 22 Signal Regiment of the British Army and Tactical Supply Wing of the RAF which are based in Stafford. The last person to receive the honour from the borough council was Stone’s Olympic gold-medal canoeist, Joe Clarke in 2016.


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• A room of their own: Written in Stone creative writing class with Bel Crawford (l)

Is there a writer in you? Founded in September 2021, Stone U3A’s new Creative Writing Group is producing interesting work, reports leader and keen amateur writer Bel Crawford. It’s an informal supportive group for all who enjoy writing at any level, on any subject and in any style, she explains. Here’s what members say: Tony: “I joined ‘Written in Stone’ to see if I could write, and, more importantly, if anyone would want to read it. I found a group of people with the same desire but different styles, views and objectives. One was researching a family history that could easily be turned into a historical potboiler. Another bathed us in sunlight with memoirs of life in the Mediterranean. A third observes life and writes about it poetically We don’t get homework, but people offer suggestions to for us investigate for next time in the form of a few notes, an essay or even a short story.” Malcolm: “Imagine you’ve just won the lottery and are writing down what you plan to spend the money on. Imagination is the foundation of creative writing; it’s better than going to see a shrink and far more satisfying. Kill off a few people that annoy you and bury their bodies, but not too deep otherwise you’d have no story. Indulge your fantasies, it’s great fun.” Barbara: “I enjoy the relaxed yet productive format “Written in Stone” offers. Personally I feel encouraged to explore my own writing skills and techniques. Comments from other members, whether praise or constructive criticism, I very much

welcome.” Merope: “Facilitated in a relaxed and kind atmosphere, the course includes budding authors, some already published, gifted ancestry researchers, and others hoping to develop poetry and verse into song lyrics. My own wish is merelyto put down words of biography about people important to me for posterity. The format is informal and inspiring. We’ve had science fiction, thrillers, historical narrative and pure fiction. It’s good fun and gets the grey matter stirring.” Helen: “The course has motivated me to start the book I’ve been putting off. But it’s given much more; it’s demonstrated the pleasure (and amusement) words can give. We’ve explored dreams in the context of fiction, and enjoyed others’ poems and jingles. We continue to learn across a variety of subjects. Given ‘A string of pearls and a key’, the variation was brilliant, even including the name of a boat! I’d encourage others to join, meet with us, then take matters at your own pace with whatever type of writing you feel comfortable with – it’s fun.” Written in Stone meets on the first and third Tuesdays of the month in Christchurch Community Centre from 10am – 12. The first ‘taster’ session is free, but thereafter U3A membership is required for insurance purposes, etc. Group leaders, venues, and all participants are required to follow government Covid safety guidelines. Contact Bel Crawford 01785 817712.

Stone Stroke Club Christmas tree Festival Every year, members of Stone and District Stroke Club look forward to making decorations for their Christmas tree which forms part of the Christmas Tree Festival at St Michael and St Wulfad’s Church. Last year, of course, this was not possible but with the Club resuming weekly meetings in September the members were very keen to take part again this year, the 10th anniversary year. The Festival plays an important part in the Stroke Club’s annual Christmas celebrations as, in addition to preparing decorations for the tree, the members and volunteers are also able to visit the church as a group to see all of the trees during the festival.

The volunteers at Stroke Club would like to thank the church members who are there at the church on the day and for the volunteer drivers of the Community Bus who provide the transport. If you are interested in finding out more about Stone and District Stroke Club, either as a new member or an equally welcome new volunteer, please call either Di on 07852 233160, Maureen on 01785 81553 or Chris on 01785 812027.

• The Stroke Club Christmas tree in the church, with decorations made by members and volunteers.


Stone will always Remember Them Stone has always produced an impressive turn out on Remembrance Sunday, and this year was no exception. The service was cancelled/cut back last year due to covid restrictions being in place, so many residents wanted to attend this year to pay their respects. There was a smaller scale gathering on the 11th, where traffic through the town came to a standstill, and a two minute silence was observed by all. Remembrance Sunday fell on 14th November, the procession made their way up the High Street to the cenotaph of the fallen soldier in Granville Square, where Revd Ian Cardinal led the service of Remembrance. Photos by Martin Robinson

• Stone Town Mayor, Councillor Jonathan Powell, addressed the crowd in the Market Square


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• Revd Ian Cardinal led the service of Remembrance

• Advertisers announcement

Haberdashers’ Adams Grammar School Haberdashers’ Adams Grammar School is looking forward to welcoming parents of current Year 5 and Year 11 pupils to open events in the New Year.

for boys (this part is not free but much more affordable than the independent school sector). The school’s reputation for high academic results proceeds it as too does its strong House system and House competitions. There is a huge focus on providing pupils with as many opportunities as possible to try new things, with over 50 extra-curricular activities including a thriving Combined Cadet Force (CCF) and an active Duke of Edinburgh award scheme alongside clubs covering sport, art, astronomy, debating and creative writing to name just a few. There really is something for everyone! Life is exciting, busy and fast-paced at Adams, which now has some fantastic facilities too including a dedicated Sixth Form Centre with its own lecture theatre, seminar rooms and bistro, a modern music and performing arts centre, a brand-new teaching block for art and maths, and some superb sports facilities including a swimming pool and over 100 acres of playing fields; many changes over recent years. The school is delighted to be able to offer more places too, with 135-day places for boys plus 15 boarding places for Year 7 entry, and 80 additional places for both boys and girls wishing to join Adams in its co-educational Sixth Form, with a boy’s Sixth Form boarding option too.

Open Days

Adams is one of the few state grammar schools in the country, although it is often mistaken for being a private fee-paying school due to its’ very grand frontage and the fact that it offers both day and boarding places, which is certainly unusual for a state school. However, Adams has been a free grammar school ever since it was founded over 350 years and offers an exceptional education for boys aged 11-18 and girls aged 16-18, with the added bonus of boarding

With Open Days having to be cancelled last year, the school is looking forward very much to welcoming prospective pupils and parents to its forthcoming Year 7 and Sixth Form open events. Parents of current Year 5 boys will be able to choose to attend either a morning or afternoon open event on Tuesday 1st February 2022. The school will also be holding three Sixth Form Open Afternoons on 20thand 27th January and 3rd February 2022. Pre-registration is required for all of the events so please visit the school’s website for more details on timings and how to book: The school’s virtual tour also includes lots of helpful information including some Year 7 and Year 8 pupils talking about their experience of sitting the Year 7 Entrance Test and A-level subject presentations by the school’s Heads of Departments


By the will of the people - the switch-on was for real First it was off, then it was on again: the fate of Stone’s switch-on 2021 had been like a flickering lightbulb. In September, the Town Council regretfully voted to keep the event virtual again this year. But in response to residents’ dismay and their adverse feedback, in October, the Council did a U-turn, vowing instead to hold a safe and welcoming in-person switch-on on November 25th. So was it a slimmed-down affair? On the one hand, yes, with just three childrens’ choirs from Christchurch Academy, St Michael’s First School and Walton Priory Middle School joining the Campbell-Kelly singers in the carol concert. There was only one act , Amy (Wish Upon a Princess) to support unflappable MC and singer Samantha Lloyd and no celebrities to perform the switch-on itself. But on the other hand, if the size of the crowd and the warmth of their enthusiasm on a clear and chilly evening was anything to judge by, the switch-on was very much its old self again. Great to see familiar faces directing the carols - Mary Gale, former Head of St Michael’s First School liaising on stage between Ian Campbell-Kelly on keyboards and Sue Campbell-Kelly conducting the choirs a considerable distance away. Sue got the choirs and the crowd doing the actions to go with the songs and when the chimney soot made Santa’s nose tickly, we had to sneeze into our elbows! For the switch-on, Mayoral Couple Jonathan and Nancy Powell were joined onstage by the winners of the Town Council Christmas Card competition: Eva Batten, Fintan Stapleton, Felix Wildman and Zak Jenkinson – plus Father Christmas, of course. The fun-fair was back in force, there was a lone craft stall, and several businesses stayed open – notably Plants the jewellers, the Stone Baked café, with High Street newcomer Chocbox enjoying high footfall. Heartfelt thanks go to everyone who campaigned for a return to an in-person switch-on and to Stone Town Council and local charities for making their wish come true. Happy New Year 2022!

• Let there be light: the switch-on moment with Mayoral Couple Jonathan and Nancy Powell, Town Council Christmas Card winners and Father Christmas

• Christmas spirit: Santa with (from l.)

Ralphie Hughes, Sophie Gillibrand, 6 and Emily Gillibrand, 9

• This is me: MC Samantha Lloyd mixed popular numbers and Christmas hits in the switch-on runup

• Let it shine: Sue Campbell-Kelly conducting the Combined Schools Choir and the Campbell-Kelly Singers in the carol concert 14

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• Childrens’ feast: Richard and Jenny Sennwald holding their 1-year old twins Theo (l) and Penny (r) with son Elijah, 8.

Switch-On 2021 in pictures by Martin Robinson


Toys are more than just child’s play - as prices achieved in collectors’ sale prove…

Stone’s Will Jenkins Ends Ginetta Junior Journey With Finale Podium • Cuttlestones’ toy expert Kevin Lockley with some of the lots from the sale Toys can be serious business for collectors – as the results of Cuttlestones’ Auction Rooms recent Specialist Toy, Comic & Entertainment Memorabilia Sale showed. Fielding a catalogue of over 500 lots covering everything from comic art to toy vehicles, dolls and teddies the 19th November auction attracted bids from niche collectors far and wide. Among the lots consigned was a huge collection of Dr Who memorabilia and collectables. Out of this collection, the undoubted star lots were Lot48 – over 100 Dr Who novels & books which sold for £1,300 and Lot 243 – approx. 150 Dr Who DVDs covering most of the first seven doctors, which fetched £260. Small model vehicles proved as popular as ever, with Lot 173 – a collection of 41 boxed Matchbox vehicles seeing the hammer fall at £500 and Lot 168 – a large box of playworn Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox etc vehicles which sold for £200. Nostalgia likely played a part in the generous sums paid for Lot 473 – a boxed Subbuteo Continental Club edition table socker, which sold for £160; Lot 485 – two large boxes of Meccano parts that went for £650 and Lot 497 – a vintage Barbie and Sindy doll, along with accessories and a few other dolls, which achieved £110. It wasn’t just ‘traditional’ toys which sold well - Lot 448 – a box of Playstation 4 games including Resident Evil and Call of Duty which fetched £350 while Lot 456, a collection of Nintendo Switch games including Monopoly, Donkey Kong, Mario Tennis achieved £110. Cuttlestones is now welcoming consignments for future specialist auctions. For a free valuation with no obligation email or send photos via WhatsApp to 07949 603872.


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Will Jenkins has brought his time in the Michelin Ginetta Junior Championship to an end with a brilliant podium finish in the season finale at Brands Hatch on 23/24 October, a result that confirmed him a top five championship finish. A regular presence at the front of the field throughout his second season in the series this year, the racer scored a third place finish in race two at the weekend to ensure he ends the campaign with a great tally of eight podium finishes including one victory. Getting reacquainted with the high speed bends and unique undulations of the world-famous Brands Hatch Grand Prix circuit during free practice on Friday, Jenkins converted that pace into a great qualifying performance and second row starts for the opening two races. They both followed on Saturday afternoon and proved to be frustrating encounters, with safety car spells and red flag stoppages blighting both. Jenkins was shuffled back to ninth at one stage in the opener, but fought back well in the limited racing laps to finish sixth. The second race was less eventful for the Hopkins Motorsport, Asset Alliance Group, Corroconsult and Digraph backed racer though, running third from start to finish. That result earned him the same position on the grid for the final race of the season the next day. The 16 year old from Stone moved up a place to second on the opening lap, however next time around a questionable move from another driver sent him

off circuit. Fortunate to survive a trip through a gravel trap, he recovered to tenth position. That provided him with a final chance to highlight his brilliant overtaking abilities in his Elite Motorsport car. Getting back into the top six within two laps, he completed his brilliant comeback in fourth place, with just a safety car period preventing him from pushing for the podium. Will told the Gazette: “It’s been a fantastic year, and I’m really pleased to have been able to end it with a podium finish in the final rounds. It was certainly a rollercoaster weekend of action, which is exactly what you’d expect in the Ginetta Juniors. “Considering red flags in qualifying meant we only got two flying laps, I’m pleased that I was able to make them count and get strong starting positions. It was then frustrating we didn’t get more racing laps on Saturday around such an awesome circuit. “Despite that, I’ll definitely take the podium finish in race two and I certainly think I had the pace for another in the final race were it not for the contact. It was good fun fighting back through to fourth though and securing a top five championship finish. “Overall, I’m proud of our achievements this season. I’ve been unlucky at points and lost out on some good results, but that’s the nature of the game and we’ve had some great moments with the win and the podiums. Now it’s onto the next challenge, whatever that may be.”


World Champion Megan rows her way to Stanford University! World Champion Trentham rower Meg Knight has earned a place at a top US university. Her success at the British and World Championships earlier this year together with impressive results in the British Rowing trials system, has helped to achieve the 4 year all expenses paid athletic scholarship at Stanford University in California. This will see her combine degree level academic studies with training and competition as a member of the Stanford University Women’s Rowing Team. The 17-year-old won Gold at the World Rowing Virtual Indoor Championships in the 2000m Under 19 race, back in February, at just 16 years old. It has involved a lot of dedication and commitment to training, at least 20 hours per week – a similar amount to what she will be expected to do in California, but she has still found time to focus on her A-levels in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Biology and PE, together with her British Rowing Diploma in Sports Excellence (DiSE) work. Megan has been a rower at Trentham Boat Club for the past 6 years, under the amazing coaching expertise of Darren Barton & Tom Wedgwood. During this time she has seen many successes with her crewmates and junior team members at both regional and national level. She has future ambitions to become a member of the GB rowing team and would love to compete in the Olympics one day! Trentham Boat Club are currently looking to recruit new members, Year 7 and above. They have a learn to row program with taster sessions starting in January. For more information, please contact Sarah at

• Top - Putting in the work, Meg in action at Liverpool Victoria Boat Club ‘Head of the Float’ race in 2019, where they won!

• Right - Sign on the dotted line, Meg signing the paperwork for Stanford University scholarship

• Below - Smiles all round at Henley Royal Regatta earlier this year. (The first time the club has ever qualified for this prestigious race)


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What is it like to work in homecare? What is it like to work in homecare? That question has so many different answers depending on who you talk to. For us, we do things our own way. Home Instead in Stone has been supporting clients and giving their loved ones peace of mind for more than a decade. Staying in the familiar comfort of home is what everyone wishes for. Why is Home Instead different? We’re a values based recruiter, so we look for compassion and empathy not experience - you can learn how to care for someone, but the desire to help others is something that can’t be taught. To us, you’re a name, not a number and part of a valued team of CAREGivers. There’s no uniform, so the care feels more personal. What you wear is a part of who you are. Is it like nursing? Our care is non-medical and a mix of companionship and home help, with around a third of our clients needing some personal care too. All of our clients have personalised care calls, tailored to their individual requirements. What does personalised mean? We personality match our clients and CAREGivers together, have longer visits, and focus much more on building lasting relationships. So it’s not all 15 minute calls? We have never provided 15 minute calls and never will. To us that’s not care; it’s ticking boxes and moving on. Our typical call time is one hour. Will I be stuck driving for hours just to get to one person? Not at all, our scheduling keeps your visits close to where you live. Less time spent driving, more time sharing memories and making a difference to the clients’ lives.

Am I the right age for this? There is no right or wrong age to be a CAREGiver, we have CAREGivers aged from 18 to 68! I have no care experience, is this job for me? Absolutely! We have award winning, fully paid training and the office support team are here to help you every step of the way. We’re just a phone call away and always here to help. And a quote from a CAREGiver “Being part of the Home Instead team is amazing in so many ways! We’re one big family; you instantly form special bonds with both clients and colleagues. Having the time to ask how a client is and asking about photographs you see on their fireplace, lead to such special conversations that I’ll cherish forever.” What happens next? Call us (01785 817339), or you can apply through our website (, or drop us an email (Stone@ Pay starts at £10.68, all the way up to £21.36 on bank holidays. All of our roles are permanent, with variable and guaranteed hours contracts.

Call 01785 817339 or visit


Wedgewood designer visits Stone W.I. Being the first Wednesday of the month Stone W.I. meeting was held, as usual, in Christ Church annex at 2 p.m. A table with items of pottery for a competition gave a lot of interest and a clue to the subject of our speaker, Mr George Holden who was a Wedgewood designer and also tutors/gave tuition for "throwing". Not being raised in the Potteries, I didn't know a great deal about this world, known to most folk in the area. Most people know someone or have a relative who knew about pottery, designs, bottle ovens & sheer hard work that is/was needed for an industry to thrive. Mr Holden took us on a trip down his memory lane, from school onwards & how he was infleunced by framed watercolours in railway carriages when he travelled in from Preston to Lancaster to complete a National Diploma in Design. He needed to know every stage involved from clay to pot production, incorporating all necessary to make fine bone China for hotels, restaurants, even airlines where weight & shape had to be considered. He took ideas for shapes & patterns from wood graining, driftwood & items found on the seashore & the sea itself. The shapes & designs from Mother Nature provided him with a wealth of inspirations. He also brought along some guitars which he had designed & decorated. They were not for playing, but displayed his artistic talent to show 'dancing trees" & 'the bank's of the Seine'. He brought several albums & other pots

with him for us to see. He has a rare talent from geometric shapes to designs in nature. Apparently some edging designs may be taken from a photograph to produce a sketch and then transferred onto drawing paper to alter the size, depending on what & where it was required. It was a thoroughly interesting afternoon where I, for one, learnt quite a lot about an industry which helped shape our area & 'put us on the map', globally. By Pam Farnsworth

Aston-By-Syone W.I. - Into The Shadows Did you ever pay 6/- (or 8/- for the posh seats) to see Cliff Richard and the Shadows back in the days when they were starting out? No? Well, the speaker at our November meeting, Chris Stratman, did, and it started a life-long interest. He brought his Fender Stratocaster to the meeting, and played ten of the Shadows’ greatest hits, entertaining us between melodies with stories of the group’s history. At first, the backing group was not treated quite as well as the star: Youth Hostels, or sleeping in the van, instead of the posh hotel to which Cliff was whisked away each night, and a very small share (£40 between the four of them!) in the proceeds of the concerts. No wonder they decided to go it alone: “Apache”, their first hit, sold a million copies, and set them firmly on the road to fame and fortune. When Chris played to us, it was difficult to believe that he had never had a guitar lesson in his life, or that he couldn’t read music. Never mind read it, he made music, and took many of us right back to our youth in the 60s. He reminded us that an album (LP) cost £1/14/6, so pricey that it was mostly old people who bought them. Who could have predicted the changes which have been made in the way we listen to music now? The Shadows had a string of hits, and we heard several of them. Do you remember “Sleepwalk”, “South of the Border” or “Cavatina”? The group moved on to LPs after a string of hits. They disbanded, but re-formed in the


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60s – in fact, they made several “farewell” tours, and kept on having hits for many years. We had a thoroughly enjoyable evening. A nice cup of tea and a slice of cake rounded matters off, while we watched the clever members who had made – and modelled – hats based on a song title. The winner evoked Oklahoma, with “A surrey with a fringe round the top”. Our next meeting will be on January 12th. If you are interested, ladies, please come along: we meet at 7.30 at Aston-byStone village hall. Phone 01785 615662 if you are interested.

Christmas Sunday Market was a great success

Stone Town Traders held a Christmas Market on Sunday 21st November. The event was well attended all day, I’ve never seen so many people in town on a Sunday! There was something on offer for everyone, with craft stalls selling unique gifts, and food stalls a plenty, plus a Santa’s Grotto. Stone Lions were in attendance, showcasing their ever popular “Human Fruit Machine” hilarious business! Photos by Martin Robinson


Eccleshall NEWS IN BRIEF Ecclian Society The annual general meeting, the first for two years, of the Ecclian Society was held in the community centre on Tuesday November 16 chaired by Brian Freeman. A well-attended meeting elected the officers for the forthcoming year. Chairman Brian freeman was re-elected along with Gill Bertram as vice chairman, Richard Egan was elected as Bloom chairman, Helen Holden as membership secretary, Christine Heelis as secretary, David Heelis as treasurer, Luke and Anne Sargent, Open Gardens organisers, Myf Freeman, sponsorship. Each officer gave a presentation of their year and the chairman gave thanks to the outgoing officers for their work.

Phone Box The Eccleshall Parish Council agreed to the purchase and installation of a public access defibrillator in the phone box at Fair Oak. They also agreed to adopt the phone box on the wash pits, Church Street as a possible information centre.

Council Vacancy There remains a vacant seat on the Eccleshall parish council and interested parties should contact the parish clerk for details on 01785 282296 or email at Candidates will be interviewed and the successful candidate co-opted onto the council.

Wednesday Service Holy Trinity Church, Eccleshall are pleased to announce that the 11am Wednesday Holy Communion Service has started again initially on the first Wednesday of the month. The service will last approximately 30 minutes.

Eccleshall Guide The 24th edition of the Eccleshall Guide has gone to the printers and it will be delivered door-to-door in the Eccleshall town by the 1st Eccleshall Scouts in January. Our thanks to the local businesses for their advertising support and of course the 1stEccleshall Scouts for the delivery of it. Additional copies will be available at the High Street library, local shops and the Coop check out desks. The online Guider is at

Lights On The town’s Christmas tree lights were turned-on on Sunday November 28th when Father Christmas in his Rotary Club sleigh was at the Lych Gate of the Holy Trinity Church at 5pm. The two large trees at either end of the High Street and the almost 70 smaller trees on premises in the town centre were purchased by the Parish Council and the smaller trees installed and the lights fitted by the Ecclian Society members and friends on the same day.

Hospice Coffee Morning Thank you to everyone who came to the Katharine House Eccleshall Support Group Christmas coffee morning on Saturday November 20. The team raised an amazing £736 for the hospice! Special thanks also go to Santa and Ken Warrillow for yet again supporting our events playing some wonderful music, also Kath Bell for making Christmas decorations for them to sell and Jane Hassler for providing all the prizes for the tombola, Shout out to all the Katharine house support group who give their time, make cakes, donations and work so hard to make the events so enjoyable to all, Helen Deane, Mary Stringer, Joan Davies, Jane Hawkins, Pam Smith, Alison Kenny, Marjorie Hilton, Gina Brady, Wendy Fidgett and Vivian Beasley

• From Lto R, Pete Mason with the Certificate signed by the Queen, Peter Bell with the Crystal Award, Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson CBE KStJ and current Chairman Pete Gully.

Amerton Railway presented with The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service On Saturday 6th November, volunteers from Amerton Railway were presented with the Queens Award for Voluntary Service. The award is the highest available for volunteer organisations in the UK and is equivalent to an MBE. The Lord Lieutenant for Staffordshire Ian Dudson CBE KStJ visited the railway to see the facilities and take a trip around the line, following this the Lord Lieutenant presented the crystal award and a certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen to the volunteers at a ceremony at Weston Village Hall. Amerton Railway is a narrow-gauge railway situated between Stafford and Uttoxeter. Run entirely by volunteers, it operates locomotives and rolling stock that were mostly built or worked in Staffordshire. The railway originates from the restoration of Isabel, a locomotive built in 1897 by Bagnalls of Stafford and displayed on a plinth in Victoria Park following the end of her working life. The railway has come a long way from its early days restoring Isabel to now having a mile long railway, facilities to operate and maintain locomotives and rolling stock and owning the land it operates on. This now means they have a secure future and are planning on more upgrades including a footpath through

the fields that has interpretation boards explaining history of some of the exhibits. Amerton Railway is one of 241 charities, social enterprises and voluntary groups to receive the prestigious award this year. The number of nominations remains high year on year, showing that the voluntary sector is thriving and full of innovative ideas to make life better for those around them. The Lord Lieutenant presented the Crystal award to Peter Bell, Chairman and Chief Engineer during the construction of the railway and facilities, and the Certificate to Peter Mason, Chief Engineer for the railway for many years and who led the purchase of the land that the railway runs around. Pete Gully, Chairman, said “It has been a pleasure to show the Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire around our facilities and explain some of the history of both the railway and the items we have on site. The Lord Lieutenant was impressed by what has been achieved by the volunteers over the last 35 years or so and enjoyed meeting with and talking to them. It has been a wonderful afternoon enjoyed by all. Receiving the Queens Award for Voluntary Service is a real honour and something we are all very proud of.”

Voluntary Car Scheme The Eccleshall Voluntary Car Scheme restarted again in November 2021 following a break caused by the Covid lockdown. The scheme hopes to provide transport to medical appointments, hospital, doctors, dentists etc and of course jabs of all sorts. To avail yourself of the scheme you need to register with them so visit the website at The scheme largely covers the Eccleshall parish but does occasionally cross borders. The scheme relies on voluntary drivers using their own vehicles and they always need additional drivers, if you think you might be able to help please contact Peter Jones on 01785 851381 or email him at for more details.


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• Lord Lieutenant of Staffordshire Ian Dudson CBE KStJ with locomotive Isabel at Amerton Railway.

Funeral home in Stone holds weekly ‘Grief Surgery’ Ahead of National Grief Awareness Week, colleagues from Co-op Funeralcare in Stone help members of the local community deal with the loss of their loved one through the home’s weekly ‘Grief Surgery’. A quintessential aspect of the aftercare provided by Co-op Funeralcare to the families in their care, staff at the Stone funeral home have been hosting weekly sessions for the past three years with the help of a local counsellor specialised in grief management. The ‘Grief Surgery’ operates by appointment, with private one-to-one sessions being provided to those in need within a week of their initial outreach. Sessions are free to attend and are open to anyone looking for the chance to talk openly about their feelings in a safe and relaxed environment. The service also provides the support of a local celebrant, who may guide those dealing with loss outside counselling sessions. Paul Evans, Funeral Arranger at the Co-op Funeralcare in Stone said: “Throughout the pandemic, many people around the world have been dealing with grief, which is impacting their overall wellbeing and mental health. We felt compelled to organise something for those mourning the loss of a loved one in our area. Christmas can be a really hard time of year for those who have lost someone and we’re keen to provide an open forum where people to come and seek support in a friendly environment. “During National Grief Awareness Week we’re looking to connect people in our community with the expertise of our counsellor, who can help them work through their grief. We hope to make a positive impact on the lives of many who might be struggling with bereavement, particularly over the festive period.”


Welcome, Reverend John!

• Family man: John and Laura with their children Own (l) and Matilda Revd. John Beswick Pallister, the new Rector of the Swynnerton, Standon, Tittensor and Cotes Heath Benefice personifies England’s historic relationship with our oldest ally, Portugal. John (39) was born in Portugal to Anglo-Portuguese parents and brought up in their ecumenical Baptist faith. “Belonging to a small minority in a predominantly Catholic country gives you a stronger sense of your own faith because you have to justify it all the time,” he reflects. After studying Philosophy at Coimbra University, John spent nine years working for a Portuguese Christian Student Charity. ”BGU focuses on enabling community and training future leaders to think widely about their life and their impact in society,” he explains. It was at BGU that he met his British wife-to-be, Laura. The couple moved to the UK in 2013 and have two young children, Matilda (3) and Owen (2). In the UK, at first it seemed that John would pursue a secular career, as he embarked on a Management Training Scheme with Royal Mail. On his third day, when the executive he was shadowing went off sick, John suddenly found himself managing a team of 14! “Privatisation was squeezing the business at all levels,” John recalls. “It was interesting to learn about workplace pressures and experience the tensions between traditionalists and modernisers.” Nevertheless, Royal Mail remained a community-focussed business John was proud to be part of. He admires posties’ dedication to getting the mail through and the unions’ strong tradition of defending their members, especially the lower-paid. But what John most enjoyed about his 13 months with Royal Mail was the personal aspect, supporting people who were off sick, depressed or bereaved. “The realisation showed me my vocation was in a pastoral role, not a managerial one.” Meanwhile, John had been attending Laura’s CofE church, whose the Vicar suggested he consider a CofE Ministry himself. John agreed and was confirmed into the CofE, finding its broad spectrum appealing. “It’s an institution which allows you to be high up or low down, closer to the Free Churches. It gives me space to be myself.” His first placement was as a family outreach worker in the village of Kingsnorth, Kent. “I’ve always been attracted to rural life because there’s a stronger sense of community with the church at the centre.” Sadly, he says, posts in rural parishes in the North and Midlands are difficult to fill. Then followed his three-year theology degree at Cambridge where he combined his academic studies with a placement in Papworth, Cambridgeshire, learning how to preach and lead services, engage in safeguarding and pastoral work and get to grips with church finances. In 2018, John came to North Staffordshire as the curate of Madelely and Betley and was ordained in Stoke Minster in 2019. “We loved it in Madeley and Betley, it’s such a friendly part of the country,” John fondly remembers. From early 2020, the pandemic gave the CofE, like many other institutions, the push to trial new ways of reaching out to people. “In Madeley, we had people in their nineties logging in to the online services which the parish continues to offer, ” John reports. During Covid, Madeley Parish also introduced innovative ways of holding live services such as a Harvest Festival on a cricket pitch, John recounts. Last Christmas, they held a farmyard Nativity Play with real


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animals and an angel ascending in a cherry picker! These hands-on services appealed especially to children and young people, a group John fears the CofE is in danger of losing contact with. “Our outreach to children and young people is fragile was decimated by the pandemic,” he points out. This explains his insistence on giving very young children a key role in his November 21st Induction Service at St Mary’s Swynnerton – a formal occasion presided over by Bishop of Stafford, Matthew Parker and attended by the Archdeacon of Stoke-on-Trent, Megan Smith, numerous CofE clergy and with members of John’s former Madeley and Betley parish joining the Swynnerton congregation. “Children are church members in their own right,” John insists.

• All in white shall stand around: (from l.) Nicky Beasley, Alex Baines, Matthew Parker Bishop of Stafford, Revd. John Beswick Pallister, Archdeacon of Stoke-on-Trent Megan Smith and June Steed at Revd. John’s induction Near the end of the service, the youngsters, who had been busy in the children’s corner at the back of St Mary’s, were invited up onto the chancel to show the pictures they had been making and say a word about themselves in front of the assembly. “God knows,” they were prompted, “that your favourite food/colour/game is…” While this was happening, John reports, his two-year old son Owen got hold of the ceremonial key to St James’ Cotes Heath and went and sat with it in the Rector’s Chair! “My sense of calling,” John sums up, “lies at the intersection of management skills and pastoral care. People in churches and charities often lack management skills, but management should be more person-centred, never about just the bottom line.”

Norbury Park Book A book has been published about an award-winning estate near Eccleshall. “Norbury Park – an estate tackling climate change” by owner Prof. Jo Bradwell was published in conjunction with the “Trees for the Future” conference at Birmingham University in November 2020. The superbly illustrated and impressively researched 160-page book describes 11 years of planting trees and reverting to traditional farming methods on this Staffordshire country estate. 180 hectares (450 acres) of arable land have been transformed with nearly half a million trees of over 100 different species from around the world. In addition, 160 hectares of arable land have been planted with complex herbal leys (23 species) and grazing cattle have been introduced rather than kept in sheds. Chapters cover a brief history of the estate, the increased productivity of tree mixtures and herbal leys, Birmingham University’s involvement in a huge and world-leading carbon enrichment experiment (FACE facility) at Norbury and discussions on government policy on forestry. Accessibly written and primarily aimed at the general reader, the book’s graphs and extensive reference section also cater to a specialist readership. Said Professor Sir Ian L Boyd FRS, former director general and Chief Scientific Adviser at Defra: ‘This is a delightful, interesting book which reflects an early stage in a long journey to create a sustainable landscape. Anybody who reads it will be inspired by the vision it expresses, and the systematic, adaptive and disciplined approach taken to pursue that vision.’ Author Jo Bradwell is owner and director of Norbury Park. He has been instrumental in setting up BIFoR, (Birmingham Institute of Forestry Research) increasing woodland cover and transforming farmland from crops to mob grazing with cattle. He is the winner of the 2018 Royal Forestry Society’s Sylva trophy and the Woodland Heritage Peter Saville award. Priced £20 plus £5.57 for postage and packing, the book is available to order in hardback. Email office@ or phone 0121 428 2593.

Check your bin days still Residents in Stone and Eccleshall are being reminded to check when their recycling and waste will be collected over the Christmas period. There were revised collection dates for green, blue and brown bins, and blue bag, in the borough from Saturday 18 December until 15 January. The borough council is encouraging people to check the rescheduled dates on their collection day calendars or at Bins should be out by 7am on the revised collection days. If you do not have access to the internet and require a copy of your calendar, contact 01785 619402 to arrange for one to be sent to you. Calendars are no longer sent automatically through the post. Homes across the borough currently recycle more than 50 percent of all the waste collected from the doorsteps. Tips for recycling over the festive period – such as places to compost Christmas Trees – can be found from the website The cost for having your brown bin garden waste collected has been frozen at £36 for 2022 and to continue using the service go to the website at or contact the council at 01785 619402.


Lion’s bridge spans the decades Members of Stone Lions Club (CIO) have always been committed to supporting the local environment so that it can be enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. The Downs Bank Nature Reserve, owned and managed by the National Trust, is a valuable resource which has been especially appreciated by many members of the community throughout the long periods of lockdown experienced by everyone during the last 2 years. When members of the Club heard that the footbridge that crosses the stream was no longer fit for purpose, they were especially interested as they had worked closely with the National Trust at the time of its original construction. We need to rewind to 1986 for the start of the story. In those days, the only way to cross the stream that meanders through the reserve without getting wet feet was via a large fallen tree trunk. This method of crossing was very unsafe and it was necessary to find a solution as soon as possible. Stone Lions stepped in to help with a donation of £200 which provided the materials for the construction of a bridge designed by Aiden Watt, son of Lion John Watt (a Charter member of the Club) with the work being undertaken by a group of youngsters under a National Trust – Manpower Services Commission scheme. By working together, a community project to be proud of was delivered, and the Lion’s Bridge provided many years of service to grateful walkers. Fast forward to 2003 when the bridge was found to be in urgent need of repair. Stone Lions again stepped in with funding, this time providing £500 to help restore the bridge to its former glory, with members of the Club working together to help shore up the banks of the stream. Fast forward again to 2021 when it became apparent that the condition of the bridge had deteriorated during many years of regular use to a state where it was sadly past repair. Once again, Stone Lions came to the rescue by donating £400, the cost of the materials needed to build a completely new bridge, with the work being completed by Rangers and National Trust volunteers. The new Lions Bridge is extremely substantial and should hopefully continue to offer walkers a safe way to cross the stream for many years to come.

•These 3 photos show members of Stone Lions Club and the 2021 works on building the new bridge. May it last for many, many years!


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• December 1986 - Mr. George Woollams, right, seen here handing over the bridge to Mr. David Gaskin.

• July 2003 - Mike Potter, Stone Lions Press Officer with Ben Knipe from the National Trust and Lions John Watt, Mike Ward, John Halcrow.


Shakespeare Returns To Stafford Castle In 2022 For 30th Anniversary Stafford’s annual Shakespeare production is to return this summer with a stunning new production of Romeo and Juliet. The run will mark the 30th anniversary of the open air shows at Stafford Castle, after being delayed by Covid since 2019. Performances will take place between June 24 and July 9, with tickets starting from £20 for matinees on weekends. Schools are also being invited to make group bookings for the show, which features heavily on English Literature curricula. Thousands of people are expected to flock to the grounds of the castle for what is being described as ‘the cultural highlight of the year’. Councillor Carolyn Trowbridge, the Leisure Portfolio holder on Stafford Borough Council, said: ‘This is a huge event on the calendar and always attracts visitors from across the county and beyond. The production quality is incredibly high and Romeo and Juliet is probably the Bard’s most popular play – perfect for a picnic and a romantic night out.’ The show is being produced by the Gatehouse Theatre and Freedom Leisure on behalf of the borough council and a

number of improvements have been made for 2022. New seating arrangements offering better sightlines and improved facilities have been lined up for the two-week long run. Gatehouse manager Tim Ford said: ‘We are absolutely delighted to be back at the Castle after so long away due to Covid. ‘We’re making a number of changes to give customers a really memorable experience and a great night out. ‘Romeo and Juliet is always incredibly popular and we’re already in talks with some high profile actors to be part of an incredible cast. It would be great to see young people in the audience because it’s a story that resonates through the ages and is all about two teenagers in love.’ An earlier production of the play was postponed in each of the past two years due to Covid and ticket holders from these shows are urged to contact the Gatehouse Box Office on 01785 619080 to transfer their tickets. A number of sponsorship opportunities also exist and any firms interested in partnering with the Gatehouse are urged to contact Marketing Manager Keith Harrison on 01785 619080.

Hope House Day a great success On Saturday 20th November, Market Drayton Rugby Club's Senior and Junior Teams took part in Hope House's Final Moments Matter campaign. Alongside raffles, a tombola and other stalls, the Junior Teams took part in running a marathon of obstacle course races. The campaign was extremely successful, smashing their £500k target, to reach a total of £570,178! So far the rugby club has contributed a staggering £24,411, from the events and


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stalls on the day, as well as donations from over 165 people! Incredible news, as our initial target was £2000. Rugby Club Chairman, Andrew Richards, and Press Secretary and Coach, Caroline Wellon, cannot thank everyone enough for their generosity, they are so proud to be part of such a wonderful community minded club. Also, a massive well done goes to Steve Freeman, MDRFC Mini & Junior Chair, for all his efforts.

Stone Lions Christmas Party

On Friday 3rd December, Stone Lions held their annual Christmas Dinner at Stone Golf Club which was attended by the majority of their members plus a few friends.

1st Eccleshall Scouts Christmas Post

• Scout leader Tony Eveleigh and Jan Brassington outside the library dressed for the cold. Returning after a Covid break, the members and friends of the 1st Eccleshall Post returned to delivering Christmas cards within the 30mph boundary of Eccleshall.


Happy New Year! - From Stone in Bloom

• The Stone in Bloom team at work, putting up all the smaller trees that you see above the shops throughout the festive period. Stone in Bloom’s volunteers wish you a very healthy and happy 2022. We also give a special mention to members Di and Kev. They joined our group bringing lots of laughs and hard work, they worked so hard for the town. Sadly, in 2021 Kev passed away and we will miss him. Other members have supported us who are unable to physically join us, to them we all send our best wishes and enormous thanks. 2021 was a difficult year for the group due to restrictions and with no fund-raising opportunities but we still managed to make our mark making a difference throughout the town. The plane tree was decorated with poppies by group members in readiness for Remembrance Day. It’s incredible to see the number of veterans lining the High Street on the day wearing their medals, a reminder to us all of the bravery of the armed services men and women who served and some who are still serving. The Christmas tree picture shows Stone in Bloom members joined by many who so kindly volunteered their valuable time (for a variety of reasons) after reading the last Gazette piece, asking for help for such an important work party, benefitting the town. Two of the volunteers said they wanted to give back to their town, they all worked hard and once the flags had been taken down and put into trollies loaned to us by B&M (more thanks) to be replaced with Christmas trees then the Christmas spirit was definitely in the air. Mick Plant, the Town Council maintenance manager goes far beyond his duty and is one of our volunteers, he fetched the trees for us and when we took them down, he took them to be used for pheasants to nest in. We receive many requests from residents to carry out work such as getting rid of weed filled gutters, litter picking, and path clearing. The picture showing the white tank lying by the brook which runs down the side of the old Bass Depot (now Datel) is an example of how fed up and irritated people get when they’re continually seeing an eyesore like the dumped tank as they walk by each day. It was a job too big for our In Bloom group, so Community Pay Back rallied and helped us get it out, a great job done. We have worked hard for the town and will continue to do so, but as earlier mentioned have been unable to fund raise for weed killer, wild flower seed, tools, plants and maintenance equipment. This year the Town Council has funded the Christmas Trees and we are very grateful. We have been fortunate to receive a number of donations and are always thrilled when new volunteers come forward to join us. If you would like to give a few hours then call Jill on 07736 413097 or Tracey on 07545 780935.


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• Mick Plant seen here cutting back the overgrowth along the footpaths of Stone

• Pulling together to remove a long standing eyesore - a dumped tank, unsightly and potentially dangerous, now removed thanks to help from Community Pay Back.

‘Snow’ stopping cuteness at Trentham Monkey Forest There’s nothing better than looking outside and seeing snow at Christmas time? Well it came early on November 28th, in the wake of Storm Arwen, and for a few hours transformed Stone and Eccleshall into a Winter Wonderland. Some pictures here sent in from Trentham Monkey Forest, showing the monkeys enjoying some fun in the snow.


• The display in Eccleshall Library

Eccleshall Poetry Group Despite not being able to meet in person over the last 18 • Helen wearing red Trefoil uniform and Sheila to her right, with distinguished guests months or so, members of the Eccleshall Poetry Group still selected a poem for each of the planned sessions, and these were collated and circulated by email which helped them to remain in touch as well as keeping their love of poetry alive. The group is now meeting in person again, at present in Eccleshall Methodist Church at 2pm on the first and third Thursdays of the month. New At a recent awards ceremony held at Sheila also guided through the project members are always welcome. Sandon Hall, Helen Whetnall from Stone to get a new Guide headquarters built and Sheila Slaney from Eccleshall both for Stone Guiding at Westbridge Park; received The Staffordshire Girlguiding ensuring that future generations of girls Award for Good Service. will benefit from the facilities of the Helen has guided for almost 50 years in headquarters. Stone and has held various roles at And receiving her long service award District and Division level and at the at the same ceremony was Veronica same time ran a very successful Brownie Gurman of 4th Stone Brownies who has unit. Helen is now chair person for the completed 30 years service with the very active Stone Trefoil. same Brownie unit; a magnificent Sheila was a former Division achievement! Commissioner for Stone and Eccleshall. For further details on how to volunteer Sheila successfully helped run various with girlguiding here in Stone and units including Rainbows and Brownies Eccleshall; even if it’s only once a month at Woodseaves and helped run Eccleshall please log on to : www.girlguiding Guides too. registeryourinterest

Awards for Stone and Eccleshall Girlguiding members

Hampers galore for Stone Hub • Poppies on the railings in front of The Little George

Eccleshall Remembers Thanks to the support of local businesses Eccleshall town centre was adorned with the large poppies symbolising remembrance. They were seen in ones, twos or many on the businesses.

Happy New Year! ‘Happy Near Year to all Gazette readers” from Deputy Mayor and Mayoress Peter and Joy Jones.


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• Jo Yendole from Stone Community Hub with Simon Lewis and James Hughes from Futures2gether For the second year running service users again this Christmas. at futures2gether have collected items The fabulous hampers and gifts will go a and packed up festive hampers for The long way to helping local families who may Hub to deliver out to local families in find it financially difficult to purchase a need. little bit of luxury and treats for themselves They were helped with a very kind and their families. With increases to donation from St John’s church which household bills, fuel and the reduction in enabled them to buy items to fill up the some benefit payments, people may be hampers with. worrying about how to cope with the cost Jo Yendole , client liaison officer at Stone of Christmas and support from local Community Hub on behalf of the Hub, organisations such as Futures2gether helps commented ,”We just wanted to say a us to help make lives better at Christmas. A massive thank you to everyone at massive thank you from us all at Stone Futurestogether for their amazing support Community Hub.”

Cubs go planting new hedges on Stone Common Plot Aston and Little Stoke Cubs, pictured here, have been busy hedge planting on Stone Common Plot . The Cubs and their Parents worked in three consecutive hourly shifts planting mixed hedging along the top woodland path. The trees, canes and guards were donated by The Woodland Trust as part of their Community and Schools programme. This activity was an element of the Cubs' Environmental Conservation Activity Badge and The Naturalist Badge. In spite of the bitterly cold wind everyone enjoyed a purposeful and rewarding morning doing ‘their bit’ for the Plot Charity. Photos by Martin Robinson


Stone Lions Helps Out

• Welfare Lion Chair Paul Martin, Senior Lion Mike Ward, Mum Susan with Ella and the “Chair” Earlier this year Stone Lions Club were contacted to help with the purchase of a bespoke chair for Ella 4 and a half years old, who lives in Stone, to assist with her comfort and wellbeing. Ella’s condition is called CSTB gene defect which only 7 people in the world have been diagnosed with so far. This leaves her with complex needs and multiple issues that all stem from the neurological condition. Stone Lions Club were able to help out with a substantial donation to enable the chair to be manufactured by a specialist company which can be adjusted as Ella grows for many years to come. Ella was clearly delighted with her new Chair, as a result of the funding, and Mum and Dad thanked Stone Lions warmly for their help in this very deserving case.

Garden waste charge frozen as 2022 sign up gets underway The cost of emptying garden waste from homes across Stafford Borough has been frozen for 2022. Stafford Borough Council say there will be no increase to the annual charge for those households who want their brown bin emptied from January this year – and are introducing an improved online sign-up service to make the process easier. And residents who want to have their garden waste collected in 2022 can sign up now. The cost will stay at £36 for the year and you can get more information, and how to sign-up, from Collecting garden waste is not a statutory council service and around 65% of local authorities across the country charge their residents to have grass cuttings removed. Around 35,000 properties signed up to continue using the fortnightly service this year – a total of nearly 40,200 bins – which is approximately 60 percent of households. The garden waste is taken by the council’s recycling and waste contractor, Veolia, to a composting facility where it is used to produce soil improver. Councillor Jonathan Price, Cabinet Member for Environment, said: “It is great to see so many households chose to continue having their brown bin garden waste collected and I’m very pleased to announce that we have frozen the cost of the service for the coming year. “By asking for an annual contribution for this non-statutory service we can ensure those who use the brown bin service can continue to receive it.” Residents wanting to find out more about the service can see answers to some frequently asked questions at


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Gazette Motoring Any use of handheld mobile phone while driving to become illegal It is already illegal to text or make a phone call (other than in an emergency) using a hand-held device while driving. This year, laws will go further to ban drivers from using their phone to take photos or videos, scroll through playlists, or play games. This will mean anyone caught using their hand-held device while driving will face a £200 fixed penalty notice and six points on their licence. Drivers will still be able to continue using devices ‘hands-free’ while driving, such as a sat-nav, if it’s secured in a cradle. They must, however, always take responsibility for their driving and can be charged with an offence if the police find them not to be in proper control of their vehicle. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Too many deaths and injuries occur whilst mobile phones are being held. “By making it easier to prosecute people illegally using their phone at the wheel, we are ensuring the law is brought into the 21st Century while further protecting all road users. “While our roads remain among the safest in the world, we will continue working tirelessly to make them safer, including through our award-winning THINK! campaign, which challenges social norms among high-risk drivers.” This follows a public consultation which found 81 per cent of respondents supported proposals to strengthen the law and make it easier for culprits to be prosecuted. Following the public consultation, the Government will revise The Highway Code to explain the new measures. It will also be more precise about the fact that being stationary in traffic counts as driving, making it clear that hand-held mobile phone use at traffic lights or in motorway jams is illegal except in very limited circumstances. There will be an exemption to the new law for drivers making a contactless payment using their mobile phone while stationary to ensure the law keeps pace with technology. This exemption will cover, for example, places like a drive-through restaurant or a road toll, and will only apply when payment is being made with a card reader. It will not allow motorists to make general online payments while driving. Mary Williams OBE, Chief Executive of Brake – the road safety charity, said: “Driver distraction can be deadly and using a hand-held phone at the wheel is never worth the risk. This important road safety decision by Government, coinciding with Road Safety Week, is very welcomed. "This news is particularly welcomed by families suffering bereavement and catastrophic injury due to drivers being distracted by phones. The theme for Road Safety Week is road safety heroes – we can all be road safety heroes by giving driving our full attention.” The Department for Transport has also today published a study by Ipsos Mori about drivers who use mobile phones while driving. Among other findings, the research reveals younger motorists are more likely to have used a handheld device at the wheel, supporting the focus of the Government’s awardwinning THINK! campaign which works to boost road safety by targeting higher-risk, younger motorists and road-users.


Volunteers invited to join new panel reviewing police powers Are you interested in volunteering to review certain police powers to ensure they are being used correctly? If so, the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Office (SCO) wants to hear from you. Following on from the success of the previous Safer Neighbourhood Panels, the SCO is now looking for volunteers for its new Commissioner’s Independent Scrutiny Panels (CISP), and is aiming to broaden their reach by recruiting members from under-represented communities. CISP volunteers will play an important role in developing Staffordshire Police’s response to a number of themes relating to police powers, and will be fundamental in delivering the Commissioner’s Transparency agenda. There are four panels, each working as a small team with the SCO to focus on different thematic areas of police powers, including: Stop & Search, Use of Force, Custody, and Areas of national interest. As part of the role, CISP panel members will have the opportunity to view Body Worn Video and information on topics they would not have access to as a general member of the public, and as such will receive full training and be subject to police vetting. Panel members will meet both formally and informally at least eight times a year, split between virtual meetings and face-to-face meetings at police stations. Travel expenses will be paid for face-to-face meetings. Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams said: ‘Openness and transparency in the police is a key priority for me. I want the Commissioner’s Independent Scrutiny Panels to represent the people of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, and give them a voice in how the service is delivered. ‘Being part of these panels will give people the opportunity and skills to contribute, on behalf of their community, as a critical friend in examining the use of police powers.’ If you are interested in applying for the Commissioner’s Independent Scrutiny Panels, please email:

Community invited to share memories for online covid memorial in Stafford A memorial book has been launched to remember the lives lost and the impact on communities in Stafford Borough as a result of Covid-19. The online ‘Book of Memories’ allows residents to share their memories and tributes for inclusion on the council’s website. A postcard is also being made available for residents who do not have access to the internet to record their memories so they can be added to the book. The idea was one of the suggestions from a cross-party working group of Stafford Borough Councillors which was set up to put forward proposals to commemorate the lives that have been affected by the pandemic. The ‘book’ and information on how to leave messages can be found at The postcards will be given to parish councils and to borough councillors and will also be available soon from community buildings. The cross-party working group was put forward by council leader, Patrick Farrington, who said: “The Covid19 pandemic has had, and continues to have, a huge impact on the lives of residents living in the borough. The scale and effects of covid are different, the knock-on effects are vast, especially for people who have lost loved ones and for those who are living with long covid. “I hope that residents across the communities find sharing their memories and experiences in this online book will help or bring some comfort to them and others, as well as being a lasting tribute to a loved one.” Other initiatives will include areas of dedication and reflection - which could see benches installed in Stafford Market Square and Stone High Street as well as in Local Nature Reserves. And memorial woodlands created, for example, at Westbridge Park in Stone and the newly designated Local Nature Reserve at Fairway in Stafford.


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• Ancient woodlands, Whitmore Wood

HS2: Staffordshire Wildlife Trust calls for rethink of Birmingham to Crewe route Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (SWT) is calling for rethink of HS2’s phase 2 route as it’s emerged that the eastern leg will no longer be built. Ever since HS2 plans were proposed for the line to cut through Staffordshire, the Trust has actively opposed them and campaigned to highlight the threats to important wildlife along its route. The news that the eastern leg of the route will no longer be built is welcomed. This section of the line would have impacted on Kettlebrook Local Nature Reserve and Local Wildlife Site in Tamworth. However, this section of the route had minimal impact on the county in comparison to the Phase 1 and Phase 2a routes, running through Lichfield, Stafford and Newcastle boroughs. The line cuts right through the heart of Staffordshire, causing irreparable damage to a number of the county’s precious wild places and habitats that support threatened wildlife. Kate Dewey, SWT Senior Planning Officer, said: “While it’s great news for nature that the eastern leg has been scrapped, the Phase 2a route will still wreak havoc on our county’s precious wildlife. “In Staffordshire over 10,000 acres of land,

woodland near Newcastle-under-Lyme. HS2 would cut through the woodland. If this destruction goes ahead on the site, it would currently be the single biggest loss of woodland on the entire HS2 scheme with the loss of over 13 acres (around half of the wood). The wood could be saved via tunnelling, but this option has so far been dismissed on the grounds of cost. • Just north of Bishton (near Wolseley and Rugeley) an area covering approximately 3km of species-rich hedges will be destroyed to allow a temporary access route to be created to the lines construction site. • Further ancient species-rich hedgerows at Finner's Hill, Colton and Stockwell Heath, will also be lost by temporary road widening and HS2 cutting directly through them. In 2019 The Wildlife Trusts, along with the Woodland Trust, RSPB and Chilterns Society, published an evidenced report, ‘What’s the damage? Why HS2 will cost nature too much’. It was the first, and only, comprehensive, whole-route review of HS2’s impact to be published. It highlighted the lack of detailed assessment at the time, and showed

• The hedgerows at Bishton Lane

including irreplaceable habitats, will be destroyed by Phase 1 and 2 HS2 routes. It will obliterate veteran trees, ancient hedges and water-meadows. Some of these losses will even be for temporary works such as construction access. “Wildlife such as barn owl, lapwing and snipe are at risk. With 40 local wildlife sites affected in Staffordshire, including very rare inland saltmarsh and 20 ancient woodlands, we cannot under estimate the devastation that HS2 will cause here.” Key habitat loss in Staffordshire includes: • Whitmore Wood, a Local Wildlife Site (county importance) and ancient

HS2 Ltd’s proposed mitigation and compensation for nature was wholly inadequate. The Wildlife Trusts continue to call on HS2 Ltd to publish clear and detailed plans on how the scheme will meet HS2 Ltd’s obligations to achieve ‘no net loss’ of biodiversity along the whole route, and further, a net gain for wildlife and nature. They also continue to ask HS2 Ltd and the Government to address delivery of remaining works in order to ensure further catastrophic failings can be avoided. You can visit their website at

• Katie Shaw riding Fools Business and Emily Morris on Bean Cruising 1.10m Champions

Katie Shaw wins Dodson & Horrell 1.10 National Amateur Championships The 2021 Dodson & Horrell National Amateur and Veteran Championships returned to its very best post Covid restrictions at Aintree International Equestrian Centre. Two on-form riders already with a win apiece proved their success was no fluke with not a hair’s breadth between them as Katie Shaw and Emily Morris shared the honours in the Dodson & Horrell 1.10m National Amateur Championship in an exciting jump-off. Forty-three competitors originally chased glory with fourteen qualifying for the jump-off. Katie from Gayton, was the first to break the thirty second barrier with incredibly tight, almost impossible turns as she

skimmed the wings on the home-bred 20-year-old ‘Fools Business’. Five horses later, Emily from Whitchurch, Shropshire made a supreme effort on her accumulator winner ‘Bean Cruising’, and although they had some luck at a midway vertical, they cleared the final oxer with a huge leap to stop the clock in exactly the same time and some six seconds quicker than their nearest rivals in third place. Katie, also winner of the 1.15m Challenge final, told the Gazette “Joe (aka Fools Business) was amazing, he’s jumped well all week and I didn’t expect him to deliver today – he’s definitely younger than his years”.

Futures2gether helping others The service users at Futures2gether are always thinking of ways to help other people, and their fundraising efforts for Children in Need this year was no exception. A raffle, quiz and refreshments were on offer at their community cafe, on a Wednesday morning in November and visitors were encouraged to dress up. A magnificent £160 was made on the day! Thank you to everyone who supported the event. Even Bert the dog got in on the act with his Pudsey ears! Futures2gether are an individualised, bespoke service providing person centred support and opportunities to adults with learning difficulties and autism. They operate from the The Crossing Centre in Stone, a vibrate community centre north of the town centre.To find out more visit their website at


• Answering the call to put their best foot forward and raise cash for charity are Stafford Grammar and Prep teachers (from left) Gavin Lamplough (music), Tom Thorley (Y3), Jemma Wedgwood (psychology), Jane Stace (history), Spencer Gunnell (PE), Declan Martin (Y6), Sam Sheehy (English).

Spencer’s rallying call for teachers to unite in town run

Remembrance at Oulton First School

Pupils in Class 2 made some poppy wreaths and wrote some prayers as part of their Remembrance topic this term. They then visited the war memorial at St. John's Church, A teacher is sending a rallying call to fellow Oulton to lay their wreaths and say the prayers.

professionals to don their trainers and join him on a 13.1 mile run in a celebration of their dedication during lockdown. Spencer Gunnell, who is head of PE at Stafford Grammar, has contacted more than two dozen local schools in a quest to encourage staff to gather for a combined effort to raise money for charity. The 31-year-old’s dream target is to sign up at least one runner from each school in Stafford and Stone or to have every academic subject represented at the town’s half marathon. “After lockdown I think it’s important for teachers to celebrate the hard work shown through such a turbulent time. As a district I want us to unite and show our strength on the other side of the pandemic through community fundraising. “It would be amazing for lots of teachers, teaching assistants and support staff to unite as one and showcase the importance of togetherness and that we are all capable of more than we think,” said Spencer. Two years ago he set an example to his pupils by embarking on the annual Stafford half marathon carrying a 25 kilogram backpack, but with appendix surgery ruling him out of September’s event the SGS teacher is eager to focus on the next race. Spencer will use the occasion to raise money for Katherine House Hospice - a charity close to his heart. “They reached a critical point through the pandemic when fundraising and events were cancelled. I knew I had to do something. I’ve seen the dedication and commitment of the hospice in looking after my grandad before his passing in June. I also know that the hospice is such a pivotal place for people.” He is offering to put together a fitness programme for willing volunteers, but also plans to set up Sunday running groups and an occasional midweek training session. Alongside colleagues from Stafford Grammar and Prep, staff at six neighbouring schools have already agreed to take part, and while some are keen runners, others are complete beginners. “It would be amazing to have 30 people in education all running together for a common cause. For me the challenge is to get as many people involved as possible to support a local cause that means so much to so many. Helping others get round the course and achieve something they didn't think possible, is all the incentive I need,” he added. Spencer hopes more will step forward as he sends further emails to schools over the next few weeks. Any professionals in education in Stafford Borough who want to take part can contact him at


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Opportunities to join the team at award-winning waterside eatery… Hot on the heels of being awarded a coveted Good Food Award Gold Seal for 2022, Stone’s Aston Marina is looking to recruit new members to its extensive team. A variety of roles are available across the marina’s No.26 Bar & Dining and The Boat House exclusive hire wedding and events venues, both front of house and in the kitchen. As a multi award-winning venue, it’s little wonder Aston Marina is becoming renowned as one of the best hospitality employers in the region; offering excellent career progression and personal development opportunities alongside flexible working schedules to suit different working needs. Alongside competitive remuneration, candidates Permanent, casual and seasonal positions are currently available with both full and part-time hours on offer for roles including front of house team members on evenings and weekends both in the restaurant and the events venue and a range of positions in the kitchen as part of the marina’s award-winning brigade. Full training is provided and there are also fully funded apprenticeships available for suitable candidates can also earn significant tips

during peak hours. Commercial manager, Neil Nicholls, says: “We’re on the lookout to expand our fantastic team to support ongoing growth and want people with a friendly, professional outlook who are dedicated to providing great service to join our front of house team. There are also opportunities for kitchen team members with a passion for creating great food to join our brigade; delivering menus that are tailored around great quality, seasonal and locally-sourced ingredients. “If this sounds like you, we’d love to hear from you – no previous experience is necessary and full training can be given. We’re equally keen to hear from youngsters fresh out of school and those who want to work part-time or seasonally around studies or family life as well as those looking for a career change or experienced professionals who want to continue climbing the ladder in their chosen career. If you think you’d be a good fit for our team and want to work in a dynamic, exciting environment with great rewards then please get in touch.” If you’re interested in being a part of the Aston Marina team, please email your CV to

Space Programme deemed ‘simply invaluable’ Over 6,000 young people, aged between 8 and 17, enjoyed over 1,600 activities as part of the Staffordshire Commissioner’s Space programme this summer. There were over 17,600 attendances at events, equating to over 35,333 hours. The summer programme brought together public, voluntary and private sector organisations to provide support for potentially vulnerable young people to help increase their skills, improve their health and wellbeing and create opportunities, while also aiming to reduce levels of anti-social behaviour (ASB). Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the programme was unable to offer the same variety or volume of activities as previous years. However, the reduced activities for smaller numbers of participants was commissioned using local organisations with an excellent track record of supporting Space in previous years, all of which followed Government health and safety protocols to ensure the safety of all participants. Staffordshire Commissioner for Police, Fire & Rescue and Crime, Ben Adams said: ‘Space 2021 was a great opportunity to give something back to the young people of Staffordshire who gave up so much during the pandemic. I am pleased that Space was able to take place and deliver so much to so many, despite the challenges faced. It was pleasing to see that over 6,000 local young people benefited from the programme. ‘These activities are all about providing an opportunity for Staffordshire Police and partners to engage with young people who may be going through a difficult time to help nurture, support and develop them.’ The programme received positive feedback from young people, their parents, guardians or carers and activity providers, who praised the scheme for helping turn young people’s lives around. Anonymous feedback from activity providers demonstrates how the scheme does this: ‘Space gave our son, who is autistic and suffers from social anxiety, the opportunity to explore his limits in a safe environment with peers of similar ability, away from the normal family environment. He grew in confidence and achieved goals that we never dreamed of, as well as having fun. This, entwined with education relating to potential dangers in the community, was simply invaluable.’ ‘This person came to our attention when they were moved out of their home city by the police for their own safety after being involved in gang-related crime. They attended the Space programme to occupy their time through the summer holiday. The Space programme provided them with a welcome distraction from current issues and gave them the incentive to help other young people who have also found themselves involved in a gang lifestyle. They have since stated that when they leave college, mentoring is what they would like to do as a possible career.’ ‘The Space programme gives not only a diversion away from crime and ASB but an excellent platform to mentor young people and have positive conversations about their future. It also allows staff to mentor young people and to point out positive behaviours and tactfully challenge negative views and behaviours.’ ‘We spoke with staff from the care home about the Space programme and they encouraged this person to attend sessions. The relationship with their youth offending officer began to develop and it was clear to see they were beginning to have trust in the system. Their confidence grew and they struck positive relations with staff and other young people while discussing their next transition into college and adult life.’


Eccleshall NEWS IN BRIEF Parish Council Forum Eccleshall will be represented at the next meeting of the Stone Area Parish Liaison Group via zoom on Wednesday 26th January starting at 3pm. The group allows parish councils to share common problems, solutions and ideas.

Councillor’s Surgery Borough Councillor Peter Jones has his next monthly surgery on Saturday January 16th in the High Street library from 10am to 12 noon. If he can help, please pop in and speak to him. Make sure that he knows your opinion on local matters.

Line Dancing Modern line dancing for absolute beginners takes place at the Eccleshall community centre in Shaw’s Lane every Wednesday from 6.15pm to 7.45pm. £5 per person. Dancing to all types of music. No partner required; sensible footwear is required with a qualified IDTA instructor. For further information contact Joyce Plaskett on 07951 833251 or 01630 654069 or email her at

Santa drops in on Eccleshall The sleigh of the Eccleshall Mercia Rotary Club seen here touring the Eccleshall area during the festive season. The ‘reindeers’ were created by Rotarian Steve Groom, from the club, and gave much pleasure to the local children and

many parents and grandparents. The club has provided a sleigh for Santa for many years raising funds for Rotary charities. No door to door collection was possible this year.

Cotes Heath Baby & Toddler Group Come and join then for a friendly chat and a coffee (or two) juice and toast for the toddlers. They meet on Wednesdays’ 9.30am to 11.30am (term time only) at Cotes Heath and Standon village hall. Lots of ride on toys and playhouse. For more information contact Jan Barker 0n 01782 791196.

Parish Council The next meeting of the Eccleshall Parish Council takes place in the community centre on Wednesday January 19th starting at 7.30pm and followed by a meeting of the planning committee. Members of the public are invited to speak in the public participation section at the beginning of the meeting and to observe the remainder of the meeting.

First Responders “I am sure many of you will have seen the news and the stories of the extremely high demand both the Ambulance Service and the wider NHS is currently under, and how response times are being affected. We would like to reassure you all that during these times, our First Responders are booking on and covering the Eccleshall area, providing an immediate response to any call on our "patch". We have already responded to three Category 1 (the highest category, meaning immediately life-threatening) calls this week alone. It has been without a doubt a challenging couple of years, but our volunteers remain committed to serving our community, no matter how difficult the situation. Remember, in a life-threatening situation, please call 999. We can only respond when activated by the Ambulance Service. Also, please ensure you only call 999 in an emergency”. From Martin Watson

45th Birthday Meal The Stafforshire Women’s Aid group celebrated their 45th anniversary at the London House restaurant in Eccleshall on Sunday November 21,

Wildlife Trust Guest Speakers The North West Group of the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, have a guest speaker from the Staffordshire Badger Conservation Group, the talk is on Friday February 4th starting at 7.30pm. On Friday March 4th the guest speaker will be Nick Martin, with talks on the subject of ‘Discovering Scotland’s Western Isles’.

The group meets, and the talks take place at Eccleshall Parish Room, ST21 6BY.


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New year, exciting new classes at Rooftop Studios! Leading Staffordshire performing arts school is starting 2022 in style, with the addition of no less than six great new classes to its already packed timetable The new additions offer something for a broad range of ages and further enhance the diversity on offer at the studio. They include ‘Rock School’ which, on Friday evenings, will see kids aged 5 & up learn guitar, keyboard, drums and vocals as well as write songs and jam it out with friends. Led by multiinstrumentalist, songwriter, record producer, mixer and engineer Matt Ball the class will see band members build confidence and become accomplished performers along the way. For the grown-ups, Adult Broadway Dance Fitness (Thursdays 8-9pm) offers a fun way to stay fit as you dance long to your favourite show tunes. Little ones are also in for a treat with two new classes – Tots’ Street Dance (Wednesdays 4.15 – 4.45pm) which will see 3-5 year olds learn basic street dance moves to improve rhythm & co-ordination with plenty of fun and games; and Tots’ Acro for ages 46 (Tuesdays 4pm-4.45pm) which will offer a sound introduction gymnastic towers & tumbles while honing balance, flexibility & co-ordination. Also available are private guitar & drum lessons on Thursday & Friday evenings

with Matt – who has worked with countless stars throughout his career, including Tony Kirkham from The Stereophonics & Chad Smith from The Red Hot Chilli Peppers; and Private Piano lessons with young virtuoso Dominic Baddeley – an accomplished performer in his own right who studies Popular Music and Recording at the University of Salford alongside teaching. Studio Director, Laura Keeling, told the Gazette: “We’re always keen to keep the timetable fresh and add new classes so there’s literally something for everyone to enjoy at the studio. The latest raft of additions are great and we’ve got some very talented teachers leading the sessions, hand-inhand with our ethos that all of our team members are industry professionals in their own right.” The new classes will start from the first week in January and will appear on the timetable alongside the studio’s established disciplines - which include RAD ballet, ISTD tap, modern and jazz, LAMDA Drama, Street Dance and many more in addition to the studio’s popular Saturday Stage Academy – visit to discover more. To sign up for a free trial of any of the classes at the studio, email

Armistice Day 11.11.11

A much smaller crowd gathered in Stone for Armistice day. The last post was played and marked the end of a 2 minute silence, Revd Ian Cardinal led the service of Remembrance. Photos by Martin Robinson


The Quest For St Bertelin - By Peter Jones

• The tomb of St Bertelin - We cannot be sure when he died, but he was buried in the Holy Cross Church at Ilam. Part of my role over recent years has been providing an interesting, and sometime amusing, presentation relating to the over 400 years of the Mayoralty in Stafford, and the beginnings of Stafford itself. Not being a historian or archaeologist, I obtained my information from the many and varied books and leaflets on the subject. Like any information about our history, one must rely on whoever wrote the information originally, and like football matches, the different stories which come out from the different people who attended the game often differs in the detail. Since the first indication of civilisation, where pieces of broken pottery and axe heads etc were found in the Stafford area, over 5000 years ago, who wrote the details? We are told that since literacy was mostly for the clergy and they would have written how they saw history, and in Latin, we must base our comments on those notes. Science and technology allow us now to date most things, we can place an item pretty precisely in a timeline. If one is present at an event then you can write about the event how you saw it, since the events in history are buried in time along with the people who witnessed it, how do we actually know what the truth is? In or around 700AD, in the time of the King of Mercia, there was a man called Prince Bertelin, the heir to the throne who married a Princess from Ireland. During a trip we are told, she was heavily pregnant and died in tragic circumstances. He was terribly upset, and decided to become a hermit and live a life of solitude deep in daily prayer. His father, the king, was angry at the loss of his heir to the throne, and when he was asked by the prince to give him a piece of land which he could set up a hermitage, he was given what the king decided was the worst piece of land in the kingdom! It was a place in what we now know as Stafford, a small island called the Isle of Bethany, surrounded on three sides by a then raging River Sow and on the other by dense forest, as much of the country was at that time. The island became known as Staeth Ford, from the Anglo Saxon for landing place and ford, where people were able to cross the fast flowing River Sow. To cross the river to reach the Islet was dangerous, which deterred people from even trying to reach it. At this time Britain was suffering from attack by Vikings, people from Scandinavia, some even settling. The prince lived in solitude for some time but a few lucky folks found their way across the river and onto the relative safety of the Islet. When people learnt of the safety of the isle, and the fact that there was a religious man on it, they began arriving in larger number, destroying his solitude. He acted as their priest and eventually became known for his good works and was made a saint by the people. The island is first recorded in 913AD. Saint Bertelin finally tired of the crowds and his hermitage was ruined by the islands over population he moved to a place on the Derbyshire / Staffordshire border called ILAM where he set up another hermitage and spent his days in meditation and prayer. We cannot be sure when he died but he was buried in the Holy Cross Church at Ilam and his tomb is located there.


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• Holy Cross Church, Ilam Park So, the story goes that people would seek out his tomb, and place prayers for help on the top of it, hoping that even in death he could help them. When I first heard the story I thought he was buried in Eyam in the Peak District, so during the lockdown my wife Joy and I went on a quest to see if we could find him. A pleasant enough journey took us to Eyam and a visit to the museum, which informed us that Eyam was the plague town of 1665 and 1666, when the villagers were persuaded by the Rector to stay put and endure the plague rather than flee and infect the surrounding area. Around 276 people died including the Rector’s wife. The village is visited by tourists from all over every year. However, this is not where Bertelin is buried! During our visit to Eyam we were informed by the church wardens that Ilam was his burial place, so days later off we set. On Tuesday 10th August we travelled the Peak District to find Ilam, nestling in a valley in the most picturesque area of our countryside. Ilam Park is a National Trust site and very popular with tourists, on the site is the church of Holy Cross in which is the tomb of St Bertelin, sometime referred to as St Bertram. The Stafford Borough Council produce a pin with the Borough shield and St Bertelin depicted on the top. I gave one to the National Trust site manager who was delighted. This is what I have been able to ‘dig up’ on the subject unless of course you know different and have evidence to substantiate it. Either way it is an interesting story about the man who became the patron saint of Stafford and a replica of his hermitage is shown on the lawn in front of the St Mary’s Church in the centre of Stafford.

• Jon entertaining with some popular George Formby songs

Stone Probus Club Ladies luncheon The annual Probus event was held this year at Trentham Park Golf Club. A high percentage of Members attended together with wives, partners and friends, everyone enjoyed an afternoon of good food and fellowship. The after-dinner entertainment was provided by Mr Jon Baddeley who spoke of the “George Formby Story”. Jon sang some popular George Formby songs and played several Ukuleles including one which used to belong to George himself. Stone Probus is a retired businessmen’s group, they meet for lunch the first Monday of each month at The Upper House, Barlaston. New Members are always welcome, please contact the secretary Jon Goodson for details you can email Photos by Martin Robinson


South Staffs sweeps the board as Best Kept Village Winners 2021 are announced

2021 Forest School training wraps-up Throughout the year Staffordshire Wildlife Trust (SWT), based at Wolseley Bridge, has delivered Forest School Level 3 training to over 40 educators. With so many more schools now recognising the benefits of outdoor learning, more and more teachers, teaching assistants and outdoor instructors are training to become recognised Forest School leaders. When facilitating a Forest School programme, the Forest School leader will ensure the programme is learner led and adapted to their children's own interests, as well as working with the natural environment and weather. Forest School is focused on the holistic development of the child taking into account physical, social, cognitive, linguistic, emotional, social and spiritual aspects of the learner. The Trust is accredited to deliver Forest School Level 3 courses through Open College Network West Midlands. Each year the Trust runs four level 3 courses for educators. Once qualified this enables them to deliver Forest School programmes as professionally recognised Forest School leaders within their own school or educational settings. The level 3 course combines both theoretical and practical aspects including; the principles of Forest School, best practice, practical tool use, programme planning, risk management, learning theory, child development, woodland management and much more. In addition, a two day outdoor first aid course is included. During the latest three-day practical assessment at The Wolseley Centre, the level 3 cohort took part in various practical hands on activities under the watchful eye of Duncan Coleman, specialist training officer for SWT. The learners were trained and assessed on their ability to safely facilitate various activities, including camp fire management, outdoor cooking, safe tool use, using natural materials to create a range of craft items, knot tying and shelter building. Duncan said: “Forest School is an inspirational learning experience that can offer children, young people and adults the chance to develop confidence through hands-on learning in a woodland environment, or other outdoor setting. “We use natural resources for inspiration, to enable ideas and to encourage motivation. After the limitations of last year, thankfully this year we’ve been able to get back to training dozens of educators, so that more children across Staffordshire and beyond can benefit from Forest School.” Trainee Forest School leader Alex Smith, from Au-Sums, run by Midlands Psychology, added: “I work with autistic children aged seven to 17 and being outdoors works so well for these young people. It really promotes independence, they learn lots of new skills and it actually gives them some freedom to explore and be themselves.“I just absolutely love Forest School, it is amazing!” Anyone interested in training to become a Forest School leader in 2022 can contact Gemma Shelley on 01889 880106 or by emailing getwild@ The cost of the course is £999 per participant. The course takes place over ten taught days and involves the delivery of an Introduction to Forest School programme within an educational setting and the production of a course portfolio over a 10-month period. The course also includes a two-day Forest School first aid course.


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Communities across Staffordshire have been hard at work participating in the Richard Winterton Best Kept Village Community Competition (BKVC) this year. The competition, which is managed by The Community Foundation, was held virtually for the first time since it began in 1956 this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Despite the circumstances, many communities across the county were keen to get involved and share their stories. Traditionally the competition has involved several rounds of judging where volunteers travel to the various communities across Staffordshire to judge their efforts in the competition. However, as this was not possible this year, the decision was made to amend the competition into a virtual event where participating communities could create their own ‘portfolio’ of events and • Winner of the CPRE Staffordshire Award for activities happening where they Community Spirit - Brewood live. These were then submitted electronically to The Community Foundation for judging. The calibre of entries for 2021 was high and we would like to congratulate all who participated this year and a huge well done on all you have achieved in your local community, you should feel tremendously proud. We are delighted to announce the Virtual BKVC 2021 results as follows: • Winner of the Richard Winterton Award for Community Spirit - Hill Ridware • Winner of the CPRE Staffordshire Award for Community Spirit - Brewood • Winner of The Community Foundation Award for Community Spirit – Wombourne Richard Winterton, sponsor of the competition, told the Gazette “This year’s BKVC has highlighted the many thriving, diverse communities in our wonderful county and we look forward to the 2022 competition taking shape in the coming months.” Jo Cooper, who manages the competition had this to say, “Many of the entries received this year as part of the virtual BKVC focused more on the community and really captured how well communities came together, particularly through the pandemic, to support one another. This is something that will undoubtedly be included in entries that are received for the competition next year, when we return to a full, traditional competition. I would like to thank all communities who showcased their community this year and say a huge well done to you all.” People who are interested in learning more about BKVC, or taking part next year, should call 01785 339540, email or visit their website at

• Winner of The Community Foundation Award for Community Spirit – Wombourne

Rural communities urged to get connected to ultrafast broadband Residents and businesses in more remote parts of rural Staffordshire without superfast broadband are being urged to find out more about a Government scheme which has been boosted by additional county council investment and now extended. As part of Project Gigabit, the UK Gigabit Voucher Scheme was relaunched in April 2021 with a £210m boost. It provides funding of up to £1,500 to eligible rural residential properties and £3,500 to eligible rural small and medium sized business properties to enable them to get connected directly to ultrafast broadband. Thanks to an additional £1m investment by the county council, people can apply for an additional £2,000 through the Staffordshire Top-up, meaning residents can apply for up to £3,500 and businesses £5,500. More information and how to apply for vouchers can be found at: Gigabit-capable broadband (also known as ultrafast broadband) provides speeds of up to 1000Mbps or 1Gbps. It means residents and businesses will be getting the latest technology, delivered straight to their homes. They will then be able to choose an internet package from a provider to suit their needs and budget. To qualify for the scheme, residents and businesses must live in a rural area, be unable to get broadband speeds of 100Mbps or more, not be in an existing plan for a broadband upgrade and apply as a group of two or more premises. Whilst the original Superfast Staffordshire programme, combined with commercial roll-out, has enabled 96 per cent of county properties to connect to superfast broadband, four per cent currently miss out. Now these communities are being urged to find out more about the Gigabit Broadband Voucher Scheme and Staffordshire Top-up. Connection will take place in a 12-month period after funding has been agreed. It will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Sue Tyson, who led her Community Fibre Partnership in Dunston Heath, South Staffordshire, said: “With a download speed of up to 2Mbps on a good day the broadband at my own property was effectively useless. But thanks to funding from the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme our community project comprising 70 plus homes and small businesses now has the best FFTP network available in the UK. It's incredibly fast and very reliable. It's a bit like swapping your push bike for a Ferrari! Gone are the days of downloading programs overnight or only being able to connect a single device at a time. We recently had Wi-fi security cameras installed which we were unable to have previously. The reality is that without the funding from the Rural Gigabit Voucher Scheme and the support from the team at Superfast Staffordshire who guided us through the process and the Openreach teams who designed and built the new network it would never have happened. It has made such a difference to our daily lives and we now have a network for the future. We’d like to thank the team for improving the quality of life for our community."


Eccleshall Butterfly observations 2021 Gazette reader, Thomas W. W. Knowles, and his wife Lindsey, have been collating extensive observations of Butterflies in Eccleshall every year since 2005, you can read Thomas’s findings for last year below.

• Parish Clerk, Sue Stokes

New Clerk at Chebsey Parish Council The Chebsey Parish Council welcomed a new parish clerk at the end of last year. Sue Stokes took on the role. She can be contacted at Telephone 01785 241962 or email

Spot Buddy’s Elf Buddy Bag Foundation Ambassador Sylvia Keris was challenged for a second year to dress as an elf 24 hours a day every day in December up to Christmas – to help bring smiles to people faces. BBF had their Christmas campaign based on the ‘Elf on a Shelf’ theme to fund their increased need for Buddy bags, given to the vulnerable children taken to safety over Christmas.

Allotment Presentation At the AGM, of the Eccleshall Allotment Association the chairman, Ron Milne, presented the trophy for best kept allotment to Gordon Leigh. The variety of vegetables, fruit and flowers on his plot clearly impressed the independent judge - Gordon earned a very well deserved first place.


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“2021 was an untypical year for butterflies in Eccleshall and this may well have been on account of the unusual and varying weather patterns. Readers may well remember the very wet December (2020) and January which gave way to a very cold first half of February. The second half of that month was fairly dry and milder such that in the last few days of the month a few butterflies, mainly Small Tortoiseshells, emerged from hibernation. March and April were both very dry and at the end of March it became warm, enabling me to see a large number of Small Tortoiseshells whilst Brimstone, Peacock and Comma were also observed. No day in April reached the late March level of warmth and indeed on 10th we had snow to be followed three days later by the first sighting of an Orange Tip! Holly Blues were on the wing in April in better numbers than usual. Green Veined Whites also appeared in small numbers, but overall 2021 proved to be disappointing for this species. • An Orange Tip A wet May and the first 20 days of June, as usual, were very quiet for butterflies, but then the second brood of Small Tortoiseshells appeared in good numbers. These continued through July to be joined by Large and Small Whites and an improved number of Meadow Browns and Ringlets as the month progressed. We had the hottest day of the year on 22nd July but the few days either side of that gave greater observations thus suggesting that it was too hot for the butterflies and I guess some Small Tortoiseshells retreated to Holy Trinity’s Church Tower in a state of aestivation – they were certainly there on 3rd August when a count was made. The first Painted Lady was seen in late July but as this butterfly is an immigrant, numbers vary greatly year on year depending on wind directions and weather conditions as they fly up from North Africa. Some years I have seen none at all, whilst in 2019 they were prolific. This year the most recorded on any one day was just five. August was a cool and miserable month but without too much rain. On the fine days that we did have, large numbers of butterfly were on the wing including a quantity of Peacocks early in the month, so it was really a month of what might have been. However, the variety was limited and on 23rd of the month I recorded the second highest total of butterflies seen since we came to Eccleshall in 2005. Of the 326 seen that day, 206 were Small Tortoiseshells. The next day I saw a • The impressive Humming Bird Hawk Moth Humming Bird Hawk Moth. September was a better month than usual for butterflies and the generally good weather helped with three days on which the maximum temperature exceeded that on the warmest day in August! There was a good showing of Small Whites through September as well as Small Tortoiseshells, but encouraging numbers of Red Admiral and Large White were also to be seen. However I must express concern at the small numbers of Speckled Wood, Gatekeeper and Common Blue seen through the summer. The small number of Small Skippers and Small Coppers was not unusual so I am not so concerned about these species. This year we had an open Autumn which meant we saw small numbers of butterfly most days until the weather collapsed and the sun disappeared for the last week of the month. The 7th October was significant in that I recorded 17 butterflies of five species, the highest total for an October day since the bumper year of 2013. After the miserable end of October I was not expecting to see any butterflies in November but eventually I had three sightings that month, the last being a Red Admiral in the field east of Sancerre Grange housing estate on the 19th, just before the very cold weather kicked in. All in all an interesting year in which eighteen butterfly species were recorded, the same as in 2020.” By Thomas W. W. Knowles, 9th December 2021

Local Charities share nearly £8k in Council Grants

Charities and voluntary groups have received a share of nearly £8,000 from Stafford Borough Council as part of a grants scheme. Nine organisations had a share of the fund from the council’s ‘Small Grants’ initiative which offers up to £1,000 to help continue work that benefits residents across the borough. Many of the organisations braved the wintry elements on Saturday (27 November) to receive their cheques from Mayor of the Borough, Councillor Tony Nixon, on the bandstand at Victoria Park. The fund is administered by the Community Foundation for Staffordshire - an independent charity whose aim is to strengthen local communities across the county. It is open to groups and volunteers in the area who aim to make life better for residents with potential grants of between £100 and £1,000 that can be used to pay for a range of costs such as new equipment, training, or go towards the running of an event. You can find out more about the application process and criteria from Stafford Borough Council Small Grants – The Community Foundation for Staffordshire. Among the groups that can apply are community and voluntary groups, registered charities, and social enterprises. Recipients of this year’s awards included Stafford Welcomes Refugees, the Women’s Wellbeing Club, the Stone Scout and Guide Band and Chebsey Parish Hall Limited. Councillor Jeremy Pert, cabinet member for communities and health at the borough council, said it was very important for the local authority to support the great work of local groups and organisations from right across Stafford Borough. He said: “These projects benefit our residents, can bring about a lasting benefit to the wider community or help ensure an organisation can remain sustainable. They are run by selfless volunteers, often funded by generous donations from our residents and businesses, and it is only right that the council also supports them in whatever way we can. “It was a privilege, and very humbling, to meet them all and to hear about the great work they are doing, and it is important that they know they are very much appreciated by our community, and I thank them all for the great things they are achieving.”

Storm damage doesn’t stop Christmas! At the end of November, the old Walton bridge which spans the River Trent on Stafford Street, came under threat when a tree which had fallen into the river had floated and lodged itself under the bridge and became firmly stuck. The environment agency had to wait for the river level to go down before they were able to safely go into the river to dislodge the tree. They managed to drag the tree under the new bridge and to the side of Crown Meadow, where they attached ropes and pulled it to the side and out. No damage was done to either bridge, although there was quite a mess left behind on the river side such was the size of the tree. The agency is confident that the grass will soon grow back and the bank will look as good as it did before the river flooded. Walton Christmas lights are slowly improving! During the very high winds caused by storm Arwen in November, Stone town council were contacted by the Christmas lights company to say that so much damage done to Christmas lights displays throughout their area, that due to the volume of repairs and extra work there would be a delay in getting Walton Lights up to the standard that was promised, many residents complained. • It was well and truly wedged! It was a huge relief to the Walton councillor, Jill Hood, to see the display finally in place which were a great improvement on previous years. Councillor Hood told the Gazette “The small Christmas trees in the High Street are a no go on top of the balconies of the shops as it was feared that the weight would break through the frames. I’m really hoping that next year we get it right first time and they are switched on the same time as the High Street and we don’t • The environment agency had to wait for the river level have to wait for our lights “. to go down before they were able to safely go into the river to dislodge the tree.

• Let there be light! - The lights went up on time at Walton

The successful applicants, and the amounts awarded, were: Stafford Cultural Events CIC - £1,000 Chebsey Parish Hall Limited - £1,000 Stafford Welcomes Refugees - £600 Stone Scout and Guide Band - £1000 Parkinson’s UK – Stafford Branch - £1000 Cerebral Palsy Mid Staffordshire - £1000 A Child of Mine - £750 Women’s Wellbeing Club CIC - £615.15 Choice Recovery - £750


• Within Living Memory with Philip Leason MBE

The King Is Dead - Long Live The Queen By Philip Leason MBE This year we celebrate the historic Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen, and so I thought that we would look at events in the town seventy years ago starting with the death of the King and the reaction to it in Stone. King George died peacefully at Sandringham on Wednesday 6th February, 1952. According to the “Stone Guardian” the “news came to Stone shortly after eleven o’clock one Wednesday morning. So sudden was it and so totally unexpected, when all thought that the King was regaining his strength, that at first it was hardly believed. Then came the broadcast of the official announcement from Sandringham. The word spread rapidly, among the shoppers in the High Street, to factory workers at their bench and lathe, to the children in schools. Small groups of people congregated everywhere to discuss the sudden tragedy which was personal to all – a moving manifestation of the loyalty and affection with which the British people regarded their monarch.” “In the High Street, as news of the King’s death was confirmed, flags on public buildings were half -masted, as were those on the churches and business premises. By order of the Lord Chamberlain, theatres and cinemas were closed for the day, and in Stone and district a number of functions due to take place over the weekend were cancelled immediately.” These included the annual dance of Stone Bowling Club due to take place at the Crown Hotel and a social evening arranged by Stone Branch of the Royal Air Force Association when the guest of honour was to have been the Branch President, the Earl of Shrewsbury. The Chairman of the Stone Urban District Council (Cllr. T. Bagley) sent the following telegram to the Lord Chamberlain. “Will you please convey to Her Majesty, on behalf of the members of Stone Urban District Council and the townspeople of Stone, their heartfelt sympathy with Her Majesty and the Royal Family in their bereavement, which is deeply shared by all Her Majesty’s loyal subjects.” As you can imagine both the national and local press where full of accounts of the King’s life and his achievements. One interesting snippet in the Stone Guardian records the King’s visit to the area. “It was in the darkest days of the war that the King, accompanied by the Queen, visited the Stone Rural District. During a tour of factories in the area on February 26th, 1942, they went to the Royal Ordnance Factory, Swynnerton, and although their visit was officially described as “secret,” news of their coming quickly circulated among workpeople and local residents, who congregated in their thousands to show loyalty and affection for the King and Queen.” On the Wednesday evening the Accession Council met in London to proclaim the accession of Princess Elizabeth as the new Sovereign. This was followed by a reading of the proclamation to the public in London on the Thursday. Then on the Friday it was read in all cities and towns throughout the country. In Stone the proclamation was read by the Chairman of Stone Urban District Council, Councillor Tom Bagley, before an assembled crowd in Granville Square at 11 o’clock. Workmen from the Urban Council had erected


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• Civic leaders in Granville Square for the reading of the proclamation declaring that Princess Elizabeth is the new monarch

a platform in a corner of the garden surrounding the plane tree. The crowd included school children, Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and Red Cross and St. John Ambulance cadets. As the shops had closed for the reading of the proclamation there were also large numbers of shop assistances. It is interesting to note that this was the third proclamation announcing the name of the new monarch which Mr. Bagley had read. He was Chairman of the council in 1935 to 1939 and accordingly read the Proclamations of King Edward VIII and King George VI both of which were in 1936. The Proclamation read “Whereas it hath pleased Almighty God to call to His mercy our late Sovereign Lord King George sixth of blessed and glorious memory, by whose decease the Crown is solely and rightfully come to the high and mighty Princess Elizabeth Alexandra Mary; we, therefore the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of this Realm, being here assisted with these his late Majesty ‘s Privy Council, with representatives of other members of the Commonwealth, with other principal Gentlemen of Quality, with the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and citizens of London, do now hereby with one voice and consent of tongue and heart, publish and proclaim that the high and mighty Princess Elizabeth, Alexandra, Mary, is now by the death of our late Sovereign of happy memory, become Queen of this Realm and of her other Realms and Territories, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith, to whom her lieges do acknowledge all faith and constant obedience with hearty and humble affection, beseeching God by Whom kings and queens do reign, to bless the Royal Princess Elizabeth with long and happy years to reign over us. God Save the Queen.” Following the reading of the proclamation the amended National Anthem was sung for the first time and it was reported that “most people seemed to remember the new

words easily enough, except that some difficulty was noticed with “Send HER victorious.” For the day of the proclamation, flags in the town which had been half-masted, were hoisted to full mast for six hours. It was noted that anyone over 52 years of age could now claim to have lived in the reign of six kings and queens: Queen Victoria, 1837 to 1901; King Edward VII, 1901 to 1910; King George V, 1910 to 1936; King Edward VIII, 1936; King George VI, 1936 to 1952 and Queen Elizabeth II. In the evening the bells of St. Michael’s Church were rung with the bells being half-muffled. There then followed a week of mourning and during the period memorial services were held in the various churches in the area. All social events continued to be cancelled and any meeting that was held started with a period of silence. For example members of Stone Rotary Club observed a minute’s silence in memory of the King before their luncheon meeting at the Crown. A reply from the Private Secretary to the Queen Mother was received by the Clerk to the Urban District Council following the Council’s message of sympathy which read “I am commanded to convey Her Majesty’s sincere appreciation of your message of sympathy.” The Kings funeral took place on 15th February, in St. Georges Chapel at Windsor. The start of the service was marked with a two minute silence. The Stone Guardian stated “Shoppers in the street, factory workers at their machines and farmers in the fields, paused in their labours at two o’clock last Friday to observe two minutes silence in memory of the late King George VI. Maroons were fired from the top of the Post Office building in Stone to signal the start of the two minutes.”

• Correspondence - Readers’ Writes

Do you want Alleyne’s Sports Centre to reopen?

• The conquer your depression men!

The newspaper went on to state that “In Stone, there was no vast concourse of people gathered in some central place to watch each other being silent. There was no organised rendezvous of robed officials. Here, it was very much a private memorial, each man to his own thoughts in his own way.” The “Guardian” goes on to report “Throughout the town, came reports of silence and stillness as the two minutes were observed. In the Crown Hotel, the funeral service was relayed to all the public rooms and as the radio faded, dinners in the dining room, left their meals and stood by the tables. In the Cauldon Tiles factory, (now Cauldon Way/Sawyer Way) the whole funeral service from Windsor was relayed throughout the works by means of loud speakers, while at Lotus (now ABB) , machines were switched –off at five minutes to two and in the intervening moments, the “Solemn Melody” of Walford Davies was played until two, operatives stood at their machines with bowed heads. As much machinery as possible was stopped in other factories in the town and all shops closed, either during the morning entirely, or extended their lunch-hour to cover the period of silence.” In the evening an ecumenical memorial service was held in St. Michael’s Church with the singing being led by the combined choirs of all the churches. The service was so well attended that extra chairs had to be taken in to accommodate the congregation. Before the start of the service the church bells were rung fully muffled. It was recorded that “the bell ringers were assisted by two old ringers – Mr C Templeton and Mr E Cope. Mr Cope was a member of the team which rang for the funeral of Queen Victoria and also for the funerals of King Edward VII and George V. Mr Hodson, Mr Buckley and Mr Rowley rang on the occasion of the funeral of King George V.” After the conclusion of the service the commemoration of the death of the King finished and life started to get back to normal and plans started to be made for the coronation of the new Queen. Finally Joules brewery were never slow to “respond the moment” with their advertising. They published an advert depicting three bottles of their beers which they named “a cheerful trio – Roy (Royal Ale), Spesh (Special Bitter) and Stoney (Stone Ale) – the conquer your depression men.” I hope that you have found this article of interest. Please help us to keep the heritage of Stone alive for generations to come. If you have any photographs relating to the anything mentioned here please contact Staffordshire Past Track. All photographs will be treated with the utmost care and returned safely to their owner after they have made digital copies.

Dear readers Alleyne’s wants to reopen Stone’s Sports Centre to the community. But with no Borough Council funding or support, we need to develop a new strategy and it will have to be self-funding. The Sports Centre currently has a large sports hall (four badminton courts, two cricket nets, netball, basketball and handball court), two glass backed squash courts, extensive grass football pitches, a sand-based floodlit astroturf pitch, an outdoor area enclosed for netball (three courts marked out) and a classroom/studio. There is enormous potential to develop these facilities to create a central sporting hub for the town and local area. But to develop the right plan for the future we need your help. We need to understand what you want. Do you have a group that would like to rent any of Alleyne’s facilities? Have you rented them in the past? Would your group be interested in using the Sport Centre if we could make improvements? What facilities would you like us to be able to offer? Please get in touch and let us know by emailing with details. It may take time but, together, we can begin to rebuild sport in Stone. Susan Crookshank Chair of Governors Alleyne’s Academy Stone

• Santa and Buddy's 24/7 Elf at Eccleshall library with children.

Santa and Elf Bring Festive Jollity to Eccleshall Baby Bounce & Rhyme Santa and a jolly Buddy's Elf made a surprise visit to Eccleshall Library's Baby Bounce and Rhyme Christmas Special session on Friday 17th December. The regular weekly Bounce and Rhyme session attracts babies and little tots with their mums or dads to have 30 minutes of fun and laughter singing or giggling along to nursery rhymes, and encourages little ones from an early age to look at children's books in the library, and read along with their parents. Eccleshall library is a community led library run by the Rotary club of Eccleshall Mercia and many happy volunteers, and would like to encourage more visitors to use the facilities for group activities, including the regular Friday morning Baby Bounce & Rhyme sessions run by Pam Davies from 10 to 10.30am - which will recommence again in the New Year from 7th January, subject to any Covid or Government guidelines at the time. Santa and Elf joined in singing and giggling and jingling along to the Nursery Rhymes, which were specially adapted for the festive season, declaring that 'Santa got stuck up the chimney' etc. And then handed out special presents of little story books to all the children, and festive chocolates were handed out to everyone, before Santa and Elf were on their way back to the workshop to continue making Christmas presents for children throughout the World. If you want to find out more about Library activities throughout Staffordshire and surrounding Counties, including the fun Baby Bounce & Rhyme sessions, please contact your local library for details.


• Stone & Eccleshall Heritage

Stafford & Stone’s boot and shoe making industry by Senior Museums Officer, Chris Copp at Staffordshire Past Track Staffordshire Museum Service has recently received a collection of photographs, catalogues, menus and advertising material relating to Stafford and Stone’s boot and shoe making industry, from the Stafford Shoes project group which was active in the 2010s. Amongst them are a set of photographs taken at Lotus Hall in Stone between 1951 and 1969. Lotus Hall was built in 1950 at the same time the new main Lotus shoe factory building was built facing Longton Road. The new buildings were built next to the ‘old’ Bostock’s shoe factory on Cross Street, dating from the 1850s and founded by Thomas Bostock. In 1871 Thomas died and his brother Edwin, who owned the Stafford factory, took on the Stone factory too. In 1919 the company was renamed Lotus Ltd. after its most popular brand. Shoe production at the Stone Lotus site ceased in 1975 and the whole factory was purchased by G.E.C. Meters in 1978. It is now the home of ABB Ltd. Lotus Hall consisted of a large canteen and assembly hall with up-to-date catering facilities and was a venue for many events and clubs in the town. Please do get in touch if you recognise anyone in these photographs. Over 45,000 other images are available on the Staffordshire Past Track website ( To find out what’s new on the site just click onto the ‘Latest Additions’ tab. You might also like to try out the GPS Location Explorer feature on the site: when using a mobile device with GPS enabled the page will show a list of resources nearest you. With 'automatic updates' switched on the results will automatically reload every few metres you walk. It works particularly well where there are a lot of resources – give it a go in Eccleshall and Stone and see what things looked like in the past on the spot you’re standing. If you have any images to lend, or any extra information, please contact the Past Track team: Staffordshire Past Track, Staffordshire Archives & Heritage, Unit G, Beacon Business Park, Weston Road, Stafford ST18 0WL. Telephone 01785 278379. email: . You can also keep up to date with what’s new on Past Track by ‘liking’ our facebook page.

• Dance at Lotus Hall, Lotus Ltd, Stone, 1960. View from behind servery of canteen staff serving buffet to guests at a dance (Staffordshire County Museum)

• Canteen Staff, Lotus Ltd, Stone, 1957. Canteen staff working at a dance at Lotus Hall, Lotus Ltd., Stone. Six women at servery with buffet. (Staffordshire County Museum)

• Staff in the Director's Dining Room at Lotus Ltd, Stone, 1951. Nurse Willcox (Welfare Officer) with Head of Catering Staff seated in Director's Dining Room at Lotus Ltd., Stone, before the Director's Lunch. (Staffordshire County Museum)

• Staff Canteen in Lotus Hall, Lotus Ltd, Stone, 1952 Employees at lunch in the canteen at Lotus Hall, Lotus Ltd., Stone. (Staffordshire County Museum)

• Canteen Staff, Lotus Ltd, Stone, 1951. Eight canteen staff at the serving hatches at Lotus Hall, Lotus Ltd., Stone. (Staffordshire County Museum)


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

• BBC at Lotus Hall, Lotus Ltd, Stone, 1954. A seated audience at Lotus Hall, Lotus Ltd., Stone, on the occasion on a visit of the 'Down Your Way' BBC radio programme. Photographer: Staffs Photo Service, High Street, Stone. (Staffordshire County Museum)

Away Day Joy For The Eagles Saturday 18th December After last week’s defeat at Brocton, manager Liam Kelly rang the changes and introduced three new signings for the match at Cheadle Heath Nomads. Both Calum Huxley and Samuel Marsh were in the starting line-up, with Kobe McWilliams on the bench. With Eccleshall still in the bottom three and the gap widening, they needed to find something from this game. Nomads had an early chance when Kyle Foley’s shot was deflected for a corner and from this, Daniel McLoughlin headed wide. More Nomads pressure led to Max Lewens shooting wide with Eagles keeper Eric Merner beaten. It was a shaky opening fifteen minutes for Eccleshall and Nomads took the lead six minutes later when Kieran O’Connell netted with a scrambled effort which sneaked under Merner into the corner. The goal stung Eagles into action and a great Luke Lewis run and lay-off left Louis Downs clear, but he failed to capitalise. Moments later, another Lewis cross led to Downs’ downward header being saved by Nomads’ keeper, Adam Rigby. Eccleshall were now pressing forward far more, and Rigby saved again from Downs. O’Connell was booked for a foul on Huxley who had been raiding down the left. On 37 minutes, Eagles equalised. Huxley worked his way to the by-line and his cross was powerfully headed home by Lewis. Soon later, Huxley himself cut inside but his shot was over the bar. With half time approaching, Foley let fly from 20 yards, but the shot was just wide of the post with Merner beaten.

HT: Cheadle Heath Nomads 1 Eccleshall 1 Eccleshall showed their intent and took the lead within a minute of the restart when a free kick by Huxley led to Liam Robinson’s header hitting the post and Harvey Collins fired home the rebound. Back came Nomads and Jordan Milne headed wide from a free kick. Huxley then set up Robinson, who fired wide. On 62 minutes, Nomads equalised when a shot was punched clear by Merner but it fell to Charlie Mulgrew who was lurking on the edge of the box and he volleyed home. The pace of the game increased, with both sides looking for another goal. Kelly brought Jack Dundas on for Downs, but it was Foley with another chance and forcing Merner into a decent save. Then McLaughlin fired over the bar. A deflected shot by Craig Coates brought another save from the Eagles’ keeper. However, it was Eccleshall who went back in front on 72 minutes when Dundas fired the ball past Rigby to find the far corner. Lewis Doughty came on for Robinson and Nomads were pressing forward in the remaining minutes for the equaliser but the Eagles stood firm to see out the game.

FT: Cheadle Heath Nomads 2 Eccleshall 3 After recent matches, this was a good solid performance by an Eccleshall side who showed good battling qualities and a determination not to be beaten. Newcomers Huxley and Marsh caught the eye, playing their part in what was a great and much needed result. With no game over the festive period, Liam Kelly and his squad will look to build on this when they resume league action against Alsager Town at Pershall Park on 8. January. Eagles: Merner, Draper, Dunn (Taylor), Benton, Collins, Marsh, Lewis, Feeney, Downs (Dundas), Huxley, Robinson (Doughty). Unused subs: McWilliams, Chesters. Referee: Mr Kavan Hurn Attendance: 67



Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read



Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

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