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Voters urged to register … Stone Festival needs you … Reading volunteers required …. ‘Learn, laugh and live’ with Stone & District U3A … Quilt and Craft Show returns to Eccleshall … Doris is Oulton’s local hero … Memorial Flight tour is part of Chebsey heritage project … Hilderstone WI’s 85th Birthday … Community comes together to feed the hungry … From the canalside to the riverbank … Local handbell teams are seeking new recruits...

In Pictures

Confidence, initiative and compassion- 50 years in nursing, with Jean Parker … Let it glow – Stone prepares for the big switch-on … Siblings Mary & Kensum up their long lives together … Stone in Bloom – service with a smile all year round … Scene setting at Crown Wharf … Stone Festival disbursements … Young Stone actor inspires the next generation … Christmas in Eccleshall … Eccleshall Library opens a new chapter … Rising local music stars entertain at Adbaston….


“Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction ... ” make no apologies. I believe, from those readers that get in touch, that they too are in advancing years and can remember when one of the highlights of Christmas chocolate selection boxes was the “puzzle” on the box invariably snakes and ladders. So for any readers who can’t bring these to mind, all I can say is that these were naive times - aimed at adding “value” to stocking fillers and in no way comparable to the myriad “add ons” for youngsters today, who have games, apps and routes togenuinely all-encompassing challenges and wormholes that weren't even conceivable just 20 years ago. As far as Halloween was concerned, children in the 1960’ & 70’s had to make do with hollowed out swedes with a candle (if they were lucky) and huddle together in the inevitable rain, with the outside chance that some sympathetic soul may have a bowl of boiled sweets from which they could pick one! These were not the “good old days” - this is how it was - and we knew no better. Yet daily, I see the front of the nationals with a new take on snakes and ladders whereas a week in politics was a long time for 60’s PM Harold Wilson, a day now seems an eternity. Elections, once on a predictable timeline, now being called for on a daily basis, Chinese Chequers now a game of economic


sanctions, and Turkish Delight transforming from a seasonal treat into a Tweet for US Middle East diplomacy. I am of an age when change is inevitable - I accept that. But I do have a number of friends (honestly) who, like me, are having some difficulty keeping up with the pace. And we are not alone. Even BBC News is finding the helter skelter confounding. The in’s and out’s of Brexit changes daily to the point where I truly believe that if another general election is called - be it the 9th or 12th of December - is called, the electorate will walk away in droves. This has all become like a Punch & Judy show with ALL candidates becoming carttoon characterisations of how they originally presented themselves. What other countries must be thinking of the UK beggars belief ... to get from the biggest commercial empire of the 19th century to where we are now is almost beyond imagination. The last three years have seen our credibility at an all time low. And yes, I was an “extinction rebel” in 1968 ... I joined the Ecology Party (a forerunner on the Greens) - “Ah, you don't believe we're on the eve of destruction”, according to Barry McGuire in that year ... so how much has changed in 51 years? Paul - October 26th 2019

Heritage The changing faces of Drake Hall by Senior Museums Officer, Chris Copp at Staffordshire Past Track … To catch a thief The history of the Stone Association for the Prosecution of Felons - Within Living Memory with Philip Leason MBE of Stone’s Historical Society

The next Gazette will be distributed from December 5th Editorial Deadline - November 22nd Advertisement Copy Deadline - November 25th


The Stone & Eccleshall Gazette is wholly independent and is published at 5 Globe Court, Stone, Staffordshire ST15 8JG


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Gazette NEWS IN BRIEF Voters urged to register Residents in Stafford Borough are being reminded to get their electoral registration forms back in if they want to be able to vote in future polls. Reminders have been sent out this week to 6,400 properties across the borough urging people to register. Around 89 per cent of the ‘Household Enquiry Forms’ have already been returned – and failing to do so can lead to a fine. Eligible residents must register each year and people can do so by responding to the ‘Household Enquiry Form’. Advice is available from or email elections@staffordbc. or call 01785 619424. The borough has a good reputation for voter turnout with the area exceeding the national average at previous general and local elections. Borough Council Chief Executive, Tim Clegg, who is the Electoral Registration Officer, said local residents were among the best in the country at registering to vote. He said: “I would also encourage people to check with family members and friends to ensure they register too so they do not miss out at future elections. It is easy to register and you can do it very quickly, especially online, which many of our residents now do.” There are currently more than 100,000 people who are eligible to vote in Stafford Borough.

Prostate cancer screening The Stone House Hotel was a hive of activity on Tuesday, September 24, as numerous gentlemen from across the district attended the fifth annual Stone Lions (CIO) Prostate Cancer Screening event. A total of 387 blood tests were taken and all attendees have now received their results. Stone Lions would like to thank all who helped make the evening such a success: the nurses who gave up their time to take the samples; the Stone House Hotel who provided the room and supplied sandwiches for the hard-working nurses; and all those who attended and made donations on the night to help cover the cost of processing the samples. Particular thanks must go to those organisations and individuals who sponsored the event this year: Stone Town Council, Stone Rural Parish Council, Barlaston Parish Council, Hilderstone Parish Council, Capula, Iron Mountain, Optik Leisure, Dave Fox Cars, Canal Cruising, Stone Tyres, Lymestone Brewery, Mel Christie, J Kelly and the family of the late Ailean Williams. Lion President Ros Smith was delighted with the success of the evening. She said: “Everything ran like clockwork. It was extremely satisfying to see the members of Stone Lions Club working together as a team and the positive comments received on the night made it an extremely worthwhile event. We hope to see you all next year.”

• Lion John and local school children announce the number of spectacles collected to be sent to third world countries.

Stone Lions take a Walk for Sight Members of Stone Lions Club were joined by Stone Town Mayor, Councillor Mark Green, representatives from Guide Dogs for the Blind and children from St Michael’s First School, Christ Church First School and Christ Church Academy for their annual Walk for Sight in Stone High Street on Tuesday, October 8. The event was organised by Lion John Sanders who is the Sight Officer for Stone Lions Club. For many years Lion John has coordinated the collection of used spectacles, which are recycled and sent to third world countries, from local opticians and was hoping to announce, during the this year’s event, that a total of 20,000 pairs had been collected from the people of Stone. John was delighted to report that this number has been exceeded. He said: “I can confirm that local

• Past Lions President Paul Martin and George the lion lead Stone Mayor Mark Green on a blindfold walk around the town centre. opticians have now collected a total of 20,308 pairs of used spectacles which are making an enormous difference to the lives of people around the world. On behalf of the

club I would like to thank Peter Bowers and Scrivens (formerly Nusyte) who have been helping us for many years and welcome on board Specsavers who are now also supporting us.”

Stone & Eccleshall Guide Christmas Fayre Stone & Eccleshall Guide Division is holding a Christmas Fayre on Saturday 7th December at the Guide Headquarters on Westbridge Park. Starting at 11 am and on until 1 pm there will be Christmas stalls, raffle and refreshments. Come along for a Christmas bargain. All proceeds will be going to Stone & Eccleshall Guide Division.

Oulton Abbey Playgroup The children at Oulton Abbey Playgroup have had another busy month. They have hosted a coffee morning for Macmillan, raising £240, then a pyjama week for Crackerjacks, raising £25. Now they are gearing up for Christmas and will be taking part in the Stone Festival Santa Bed Race on December 8. Then they will be opening their advent window at AEDdonate at 11am on December 14, followed by their Christmas fayre. Come and see them in action. For more info please visit or call 01785 814192 (option 1).

Coffee Morning in Oulton On Monday 18 November from 9.30 until 11.30 am there will be the monthly coffee morning in Oulton Village Hall, Kibblestone Road with an opportunity to buy Fair Trade Goods plus produce from local traders. Refreshments available for a small donation. Everyone welcome.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

• Stone Labour Party quiz winners with their certificates.

Stone Labour autumn social raises £700 A quiz, auction of goods and services and a huge spread of delicious home-cooked food was on offer for the Stone Constituency Labour Party autumn social. More than 60 members and friends attended what was a very enjoyable evening raising more than £700 for funds. The local group meets on the first Wednesday of the month at St Dominic’s Social Club in Stone and all members are very welcome. Please see the Facebook page for more information.


Confidence, initiative and compassion After 50 years in nursing, Jean Parker from Walton isn’t ready to hang up her uniform quite yet ’ve retired twice from the NHS, but here I am still working! I’m a registered Nurse Practitioner and travel two to three times a week to cover walk-in Family Planning Clinics in Cannock and Tamworth. Per session I’ll see five to 15 patients presenting with concerns around contraception, pregnancy and sexual health. My qualifications are fully up to date. In 2016 the Nursing Midwifery Council introduced a three-yearly revalidation requirement to prove you’re updating your knowledge and maintaining your skills. I had to submit a log of working hours and the workplace training I’d undertaken. I first did this in 2016, and wasn’t going to renew this year, but colleagues and friends persuaded me otherwise. It was a bit like teaching your granny to suck eggs – and paying for the privilege! Nursing is all I’ve ever done. I grew up in Eccleshall, where District Nurse Bourne was a highlyrespected figure. Encouraged by my grandmother, aged 17, I became a Cadet Nurse at Standon Orthopedic Hospital. I lived in the main house and shared a room with another new recruit, Denise. We’ve remained friends to this day. Standon took patients of both sexes who were in with fractured femurs and even back pain – something they wouldn’t be hospitalised for today. A hip replacement was the first surgery I saw, in fact I nursed my own grandmother after her hip replacement there. After an op, patients would be kept in for three weeks. That meant a lot of basic nursing and heavy lifting, not just turning patients to prevent bedsores but four of us lifting a patient aloft while two others turned the mattress! These days hip replacement patients are discharged after three days and it’s not unheard of for patients to even walk into theatre. But back then, longer hospital stays allowed you to get to know your patients and build relationships with them. I had to work Christmas, and on Boxing Day patients were temporarily moved to the old veranda wards built for the TB patients the hospital used to care for so they could see the Standon Hunt ride by!


Even though we were cadet nurses, we carried out all aspects of patient care and were even on occasion left in charge of the ward. Obviously that would never happen today, but I feel this gave me a very good grounding and the confidence to remain in the job for 50 years. After a year I left Standon and started my nurse training proper at the City General in Stoke. But I couldn’t settle in, finding the hospital very large and impersonal and hard to reach from home. So I broke off my training and went to work as a Nursing Auxiliary at Groundslow Hospital in Tittensor. Remembered as a maternity hospital, Groundslow had four 24bedded Nightingale wards, giving the duty nurse a view of everything. Because patients spent longer stays here as well, you got to know everything about them – their next of kin, their social situation and their problems, so you could answer consultants’ questions with an air of confidence. At Groundslow they persuaded me to resume my training, which I did at the old Stafford General Infirmary at Greyfriars, qualifying as a State Enrolled Nurse in 1973. I spent 11 years at Groundslow, living at home and travelling in on the Stafford hospital bus. That’s when I met my future husband Raymond, who owned the ‘Sabre’ TV repair shop in Pirehill Lane, Walton. We moved to Walton in the late 1980s. In 1984 Groundslow closed and we all moved to the brand new Stafford District General Hospital. It was so exciting with its state-of-theart facilities, electrically adjustable beds, built-in suction machines and piped oxygen, so no more heavy cylinders to lug around! While at Stafford, I worked as an Enrolled Nurse then did a conversion course to attain a State Registered qualification and became a Registered General Nurse. I was working nights in orthopaedics, dealing with a lot of trauma patients coming in after road accidents. Our first major incident was the Colwich train crash in 1986 when one driver was killed and 75 people were injured. I was sent to A&E, which was very daunting but you just go with the

• Back in the day: the orthopaedic ward at Standon Hospital, 1952. Photo courtesy of


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

• Ready for work: Nurse Practitioner Jean Parker today flow and use your initiative. Having nursed for so long and After developing a chronic back being older than everyone else, I’m injury, probably due to many years more relaxed about things now. of nursing, I was transferred When colleagues get stressed, I tell to the gynaecological department. them: “Don’t worry too much, your Though gynaecology was an area of shift will always come to an end.” nursing I hadn’t particularly enjoyed But in my opinion, our hands-on during my training, it’s been the training on the ward back in the area I’ve ended up working in for 1970s prepared us better for over 20 years. hospital work than the academic Counselling patients about the training all nurses have to do now. menopause and HRT, hysterectomy, Technology is wonderful, but back or pregnancy termination for then, with few instruments available, foetal abnormality is an emotional we had to develop our patient aspect of nursing which requires observation skills instead. Just by compassion. A course I attended looking closely at someone, I can tell on baby loss and bereavement whether their oxygen levels are low enabled me to initiate sensitive – without needing to clip anything discussions with grieving parents on their finger! about options for burying or But today’s patients are different cremating their deceased baby. too. They’ve all consulted Dr Google, By 2005 I was working long hours, which makes some inclined to when Ray suffered a heart attack exaggerate their symptoms. But I’m and underwent heart surgery in just as guilty when it comes to my Stoke Hospital. Ray now had to be dog. If he’s unwell, I’ll google his my priority number one, so I took symptoms and get more worried early retirement and scaled back my than I probably need to. hours to two days a week. I worked Looking after my dog, travelling first on a ward, then in an early with the friends I have made in pregnancy assessment unit where I my nursing career and spending was trained to operate the time with my family of three ultrasound scanner. stepchildren, nine grandchildren But the turn of the noughties and six great-grandchildren is what brought a cluster of bereavements. I’ll do more of when I turn 70 in 2022 My mother died in 2009 of and hang up my uniform for good. dementia, having needed a lot of Editor’s Note: We haven’t been care in her final years. Ray sadly died able to find a photograph of in 2010 and my brother a year after Groundslow Hospital, so if you have that. Through all that my colleagues any, or any memories of being a were a tremendous support. Going patient or of working there, or if you to work gave me structure and pur- live on the site today, please get in pose. It saved my sanity, I feel. touch and let us know.

Let it glow – Stone prepares for the big switch-on

• Fingers on the button: former Town Mayor Kristan Green and Santa Claus prepare to light up the town at last year’s switch-on event. ovember 21 will again see Stone Town Council organising and staging the annual switch-on of the town’s Christmas lights. The focus this year will again be on local young people, who will provide most of the entertainment and help to turn on the lights. The event opens at 5pm, with a magical appearance by the Snow Queen at 5.30pm. A festive feel will be brought to the event at 6pm, when Stone’s Combined Schools Choir performs a collection of Christmas favourites. At 6.30pm, the stage will be handed over to young local musician, Samantha Lloyd, who will also be acting as compere for the evening, to take the evening up to the main event – the turning on of the lights at 7pm. This year the lights will be switched on by the Town Mayor, Councillor Mark Green, and of course,


• Spinning around: the ever popular teacup ride.

Father Christmas. They will be joined by the winners of the Mayor’s Christmas Card competition. If you’ve been before, you’ll know what to expect, a packed High Street from top to bottom. It’s the biggest event to take place in Stone High Street, so make sure you get into town early to claim a good spot. The ever popular Warwick’s Funfair will be set up in the Market Square and down the High Street, and there will be food stalls, trade stalls, and charity stalls with all manner of things to buy and win. Councillor Jill Hood, Chairman of the Council’s Tourism and Town Promotion Sub-Committee, said: “I love this time of year when the town is lit up with Christmas trees and lights. Our Christmas light switch-on event is hugely popular and once again we will be putting on a fantastic show with Father

Christmas turning up for the children plus we have the fairground rides and our talented combined schools choir performing. “There's something for every age group to enjoy and the Christmas season will be well and truly welcomed by our town.” A limited number of stalls will be available. For businesses, a charge of £25.00 will be made, though registered charities who benefit Stone will not be charged. Each pitch will be 2.25 metre x 3 metre in size, covered and illuminated. Tables will be available to hire at an additional cost of £5.00 each. Please contact the Town Council by 5th November if you would like to be considered for a stall. Stone Town Council can be contacted on 01785 619740 or by email to clerk@stonetown for further information.


Siblings sum up their long lives together Christine Conlin meets a sister and brother who’ve been there for each other through thick and thin Perhaps it’s thanks to their World War Two military training that Mary Leese and her younger brother Ken Poole, both well into their nineties, are still living independently in their Oulton home. “Mary folds her clothes and makes her bed the way she was trained in the army,” Ken reveals. “I keep him on spud bashing duties!” Mary jokes. Ahead of Mary’s big birthday next month, a kind neighbour suggested they share their life stories with the Gazette. Born into a Longton family of ten, Mary was a wage clerk at Enoch Wedgwoods in Tunstall when she enlisted for the forces in 1941. For female applicants, the rule was that they had to join the same branch as any family member already serving. Mary had an older brother in the Army, so she joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the ATS. But someone who stayed closer to her throughout the war was Mary’s friend Dorothy Freakley, a civil servant from Fenton, who joined the ATS as well. Their uniforms, a khaki jacket and skirt, were tailored to fit them from a stock of standard sizes. “We were allowed to wear our own stockings so we wore Kayser Bond in a fine lisle, more obtainable than silk.” Mary and Dorothy were posted to Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire, where they were billeted in the Brine Baths Hotel. Steering clear of kitchen and office work, they trained as plotters instead. To visualise this role, cast your mind back to control room scenes in WWII films showing a giant map-covered table dotted with magnetic counters. Around the table female privates, wielding rods like croupiers, are constantly repositioning the counters which represent aircraft formations. Each plotter was responsible for aircraft movements in a particular sector, changing the plots continuously on the basis of information relayed from radar stations and the Royal Observer Corps so that the whole picture of a raid could be monitored by controllers stationed in a gallery above. This early form of air traffic monitoring played a vital role during the Battle of Britain, the Blitz and the

• All’s well that ends well: Ken and Mary with Mary’s wartime record books. bombing of British cities that followed. Mary well remembers the devastation of Coventry after its bombing in November 1940. “It was an appalling sight, with holes in the street where buildings had been and the cathedral in ruins.” Dorothy was friendly with a Coventry family who had been bombed out of their home and were living in the village of Berkswell. “She got in touch with them, and on one of our days out, they invited us to their temporary home for tea!” In 1944 Mary and Dorothy left Droitwich and were sent to Manorbier in South Wales to train on kinetheodolites. These were optical surveying devices, equipped with a camera or movie camera, giving them the ability to photograph and obtain trajectory data on an object in flight. Once trained, Mary and Dorothy were posted to RAF Honiley, a practice firing camp near Coventry. “Our job was to get information for the commanding officer of a battery to fire guns at enemy places. Our instruments were height finders and predictors. The planes, mainly Beauforts, would take off towing a banner and practise firing at a target while we ‘kine’ operators recorded their true height,” Mary explained. She found this work more satisfying, because she saw how the kines’ feedback helped aircrews improve

• Overcoming tragedy together: Mary and Ken enjoying a celebration.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

• Victory in their sights: Mary (left) and Dorothy Freakley operating a kinetheodolite in 1944. their performance. The ATS were quartered 25 to a hut, whose lights, for security reasons, went off when the door was opened. Mary and Dorothy survived their first freezing winter by putting all their clothes on before going to bed. On the upside, they enjoyed the more ample RAF rations, though had little contact with the RAF otherwise. “Life in the Army gave me discipline, broadened my horizons and taught me new skills. I missed it afterwards,” admitted Mary who returned to Wedgwoods in 1946. With her good head for figures, she used the slide rule and log books she’d been trained to use in the ATS in her cost accounting job. But something, or rather somebody else she returned to in that office was Reginald Leese, an auditor she’d had business dealings with before the war. Evacuated from Le Havre, and a veteran of the North African and Italian campaigns, Reg was newly demobbed himself. For the couple, the horrendous winter of 1946-7 proved a turning point. Fuel shortages led to a month-long factory closure with the workers having to survive on benefits. But the freeze gave Mary and Reg an unexpected break and time off to get to know each other better. Come April and the eventual thaw, love had blossomed, and Mary and Reg married in 1948. They set up home in Blurton, where their elder

son Stephen was born in 1956. In 1957, after Reg qualified and was progressing in his career, they moved to Rock Crescent, Oulton. Their second son Simon was born in 1959. At this point we take up Ken’s story, which begins in 1944 when he was conscripted into the Army aged 18. After initial training at Donnington near Telford, he was deployed to guard captured Italian then later German troops at PoW camps in Wem and Hawkstone Park (now a golf course) in Shropshire. He worked in the food stores, where German PoWs assisted him with stocktaking.“The Germans were good, disciplined workers and we got on well together,” Ken remembers. He also did night shifts as a relief telephone operator – though nights had previously proved a problem. “At the Donnington depot, we discovered that people were bussed in daily from Stoke to work there. I worked out I could nip on to the night bus and get a lift back to Stoke to see my family,” Ken confesses. But that meant persuading, or bribing a mate to shout out his name at bedtime rollcall and on morning parade, Ken explains. “This worked well for a time but the authorities found out eventually,” he says ruefully. “My punishment was being confined to camp for 14 days and put on spud bashing. Mary still keeps me on the same job now!” Back on Civvy Street, Ken worked as

• Happy family: Mary (right, at back) with husband Reg (holding baby Stephen) and Reg’s mother. a clerical assistant at potters merchants C J Baines in Stoke. 12 months later his sister Joyce, who was a secretary at the Stone building firm of Banks and Bennett, helped him get a job there. Their office was Cambridge House, opposite the Talbot Pub near Stone Station. But finding that a deskbound job didn’t suit him, Ken joined the Oxford-based market research company Nielsens, working from home and using company cars to drive to and from his research jobs round the country. Sports cars became a passion. “My favourite was an MGA, but I lost count of how many I had!” Let’s take stock of the lives in 1959: Ken is an eligible bachelor with a well paid job and a company car. Mary is the contented wife of a prospering husband with a toddler Stephen and a newborn baby, Simon. Then occurred the tragedy that would bind Ken and Mary’s fates for the rest of their lives. When baby Simon was only 10 days old, Reg was killed in a car crash in Hanley. “It was a rough time,” Mary bitterly remembers. All she and the boys had to live on was her £5 weekly mother’s allowance. To supplement this, she got a job as a cashier at the Stoke accountancy firm where Reg had worked. Later, to improve her prospects, she also did a comptometer course. At home, Mary’s budgeting skills stood her in good stead.“I’ve always had to manage money,” she commented. “Sums have been the story of my life!” But Ken stepped into the breach. “He was a marvellous uncle and became the man in my sons’ lives,” Mary relates proudly. (Ken never married.) “Each Saturday he’d take them swimming then on to play football.” Before his Army days, Ken had been a footballing junior for Stoke City and in 1944, Bob McGrory signed him as an amateur. He never made it as a professional though. Ken also used to take the boys for a spin in his sports cars – but they were two-seaters, so they had to take turns! In the 1980s Ken, Mary and Joyce went on the

• They can’t get on without us! Mary in ATS uniform. holiday of a lifetime to Australia. But during that holiday, Joyce sadly and unexpectedly died. Nevertheless, Mary and Ken went ahead with the plan all three of them had originally had of moving into a house in Kibblestone Road, Oulton. It’s the home Mary and Ken have now shared for 35 years. But ask Ken what he’s most proud of, and he comes out with a surprising answer. “Becoming a King’s Scout with the 72nd Stoke Scouts in 1944!” he insists. To achieve the award, scouts had to spend a night away from home, using their own initiative to find somewhere to sleep. “Me and a lad from Trentham went out on a long hike together. When it was getting dark, we found our way to a farm where we asked the farmer’s permission to sleep in his barn. It was a real adventure!” As for Mary, she’ll be proudly counting the many achievements of her long life when she celebrates her 100th birthday on December 15th.

• WWAF plotters at work in the Operations Room at No. 11 Group HQ at Uxbridge, 1942. Source: Wikimedia Commons.


Gazette NEWS IN BRIEF Oulton WI meeting The speaker at the next Oulton WI meeting will be Susan Ord talking about Handwriting Secrets. The meeting will be held on Monday 11 November in Oulton Village Hall, Kibblestone Road and will start at 7.30 pm; tea and cake will be served during the evening. At this meeting members are invited to bring items for a local women’s refuge which has been supported by Oulton WI for a number of years. Visitors always welcome at meetings and there is plenty of parking at the Village Hall.

S-o-T Male Voice Choir Concert Stoke-on-Trent Male Voice Choir will be performing a concert at Oulton Village Hall, on Saturday 30th November, 7.00 pm. for 7.30 pm. There is a bar organised for all drinks, and tickets are just £5.00 (advance sales only) Available from Mary Aynsley, 1 Vanity Lane, Oulton. Stone. Tel. 07712 631483

Folk Music at its best This month Stafford Folk Club continues its autumn events with a concert by Iona Fyfe on 28th of November. Aberdeenshire folksinger Iona, who’s music is rooted deeply in the singing traditions of the North East of Scotland, has become one of their finest young ballad singers. She was winner of Scots Singer of the Year at the Scots Trad Music Awards 2018 and has a number of high-profile appearances under her belt, Iona, a mere 21 years of age, has toured throughout the UK, Europe, Canada and Australia. Her music has been described as both magical and charismatic. A good night is to be expected. The club, which meets at The Bird in Hand, Victoria Square, Stafford on the 4th Thursday of the month, aims to bringto Stafford the very best in traditional Folk from both established performers and up and coming new talent. Following Iona Fyfe in December will be the Melrose Quartet. See the club website for further information. Tickets for all shows are available by following the link on

The Daleian Singers are coming to Christ Church

Stone Festival needs you An appeal by the Festival Committee As we end the 50th anniversary year of Stone Festival, we hope that if you have attended the events we put on, you know the immense fun and enjoyment we try and bring, whether it be a dog show, a soapbox race, a music concert, a walking treasure hunt or indeed the annual carnival. We, however, are just a small bunch of volunteers, all of whom have one common goal – putting on the right events that raise monies for many local charities and good causes while you have the best possible time participating or watching. Having enough volunteers is crucial in us being able to continue to make it the best experience possible. The other issue we face is money. Some of the big events like Soapbox Derby – despite the kind generosity of people like Bassetts Transport, Stone Scaffolding and Stone Radio to name but three who offer their services for nothing – do lose a considerable amount of money to the purchase of safety related items and the fact

that the event is free for the viewing public. Although it is probably the best fun-filled free event people attend each year, and to see the High Street brimming full of smiling, laughing people is a lovely feeling for the Committee, this all comes at a price. There are three options open to us, two good and one less so. We can start a Just Giving page for such events or we can hopefully find a single, large sponsor. If neither of those is possible, there is a huge question mark as to whether such an event can be continued and for us, and I’m sure you too, this third option is unimaginable after four truly great years. If you would like to get engaged with the festival, we would love to hear from you. There is lots you can do, both in June and in the run-up to the events, so why not give me a call on 01785 508931 or email me on to see what we can collectively do in keeping Stone Festival at its pinnacle for the next 50 years.

Together with pupils from Christ Church Academy, The Award Winning Male Voice Choir, The Daleian Singers proudly present Endeavour 2. A concert of popular music Featuring Oliver Pritchard-Jones (Alto Sax) & Soloists. With musical director Glynn Edwards, and accompanist Susan Talbot. It takes place at Christ Church, Stone,on Saturday 9th November from 7.00pm. Admission, which includes refreshments is £10 (Proceeds in aid of Christ Church Academy) Tickets are available from David Dobson, 07505 821855, Home & Colour, 65 High St. Stone, 01785 817307, Christ Church Centre, 01785 819900 or you can pay on the door. For more information contact Gus Harper (Choir) 01782 206140 or 07817 649706 For more information about The Daleian Singers visit

Stone Charity Fashion Show Just Carla, the ladies clothes shop in Stone’s Granville Square, held a Charity Fashion Show on Tuesday 15th October, the event was held just a stone’s throw away at Little Seeds restaurant, on Radford Street. Proceeds from the well attended evening were going to the Kidneys For Life Charity (www. Carla Hill, the shops proprietor and event organiser, told the Gazette “My husband had a double transplant in February at Manchester Royal Hospital, his kidney and pancreas, previous to this he was on dyalysis at home, but very unwell, he was very lucky to receive the transplant, as unfortunately thousands don’t. We raised £700 on the night which will go directly to the non funded charity, based within the hospital. We plan to do further events in the future to help the charity


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

• The reunion girls, pictured above at The Upper House on 5/10/19

Reunion of St Dominic's Priory School, Stone, class of 1958 - 1964 Gazette reader Martha Jones (née - Holubowycz) called into our offices with the above photo taken at the latest reunion, she told us “Most of us entered the school at the age of 11 years, and we still meet up for meals twice a year, in April and October, at the Upper House in Barlaston. Our numbers vary from 9 to 14, but the bond gets stronger each time. We always reminisce about all of the teachers, and Sister Mary Mark (head) who certainty kept the school in order!

How to beat Inheritance Tax in five easy moves! If you want your family to keep more of your estate when you die, then there are some simple ways to reduce the taxman’s take. Despite the fact that more estates are paying Inheritance Tax (IHT), relatively few people understand the rules, and even those who do often forget or ignore ways to prevent their families paying over the odds. So, here’s a reminder of some IHT-reducing strategies to think about as we approach the end of the tax year.

1. Give to family members One of the easiest, and potentially rewarding, ways to reduce a future IHT bill is to give some of your wealth away during your lifetime. You can give away up to £3,000 each tax year and not have to pay IHT on it. You can also make use of any unused gifting allowance from the previous tax year. So, a couple could potentially remove £12,000 from their joint estate before 5 April. Remember that last year’s allowance will be lost after that date. The gifted money could be invested on behalf of a child or grandchild. For instance, you could contribute towards a child's Junior ISA, which could give them a head start and get them into the savings habit. The most they can save is subject to a £4,368 limit this tax year – an allowance that will be lost after 5 April.

by your personal resources and the amount of spare income available to give away. Keeping a record of who you made the gifts to, their value and the date they were made, should speed up the process of any checks made by HMRC. You could also consider establishing a standing order (e.g. to provide funds to pay for grandchildren’s school fees) as it supports the intent to make the gifts on a regular basis. If you can satisfy the conditions for the exemption, the gifts escape IHT as soon as they are made.

3. Place assets into trust Assets that are placed into trust will be outside of your estate, provided you survive for seven years. So the use of trusts can potentially reduce an IHT bill. You can set up a trust right now or write one into your Will.The rules are complicated, and there are anti-avoidance rules that must be navigated, so you should take advice from an expert.

4. Save more into your own pension Saving into your own pension will avoid IHT at 40% which could be incurred were the same funds held elsewhere in your estate. This is because anything left in your pension can be paid as a lump sum or income to any beneficiary with absolutely no tax to pay if you die before the age of 75. If you are 75 or over when you die – and that is likely to be the case for most individuals –your heirs do pay Income Tax, but only when they take the money out. Even then, the tax is paid at their own marginal rate. So, maximising this year’s annual pension saving allowance should be on your list of potentially worthwhile estate planning options.

You could also think about using the money to boost a child's retirement prospects. You can pay £2,880 a year into a child’s pension this tax year, and this will be grossed up to £3,600 by basic rate tax relief. Non-taxpayers cannot carry forward unused allowances, so this year’s opportunity will also be lost unless action is taken before the 5 April deadline.

5. Review your Will

2. Make gifts out of income

This means couples often leave everything to each other. However, you could make provisions to ensure that your nil-rate band legacy is left to your children, via a trust for example, with the rest of your estate going to your spouse or civil partner. This could ensure assets are passed to children and other loved ones without attracting IHT.

Those with sufficient surplus income may want to take account of the ‘normal expenditure out of income’ rule – if you make regular gifts out of income and in doing so don’t affect your standard of living, they are exempt from IHT. This exemption is only limited

Who you leave money to in your Will might affect whether or not IHT is payable. For example, money or property left to a spouse or registered civil partner does not attract IHT. But if your estate passes to a child, then IHT at 40% will normally have to be paid on anything over the £325,000 nil-rate band.

To receive a complimentary guide covering wealth management, retirement planning or Inheritance Tax planning, contact Paul Duffill on 01785 255833 / 07966 534908 or email


Stone in Bloom – service with a smile all year round

• Stone Mayor Councillor Mark Green and Stone in Bloom’s Jill Hood present an award for environmental excellence to Little Stars Nursery. In 2012 Stone in Bloom was beaten by one point to second place, winning silver gilt in the national finals of the Royal Horticultural Society in Bloom competition. It seems such a long time ago yet the sheer excitement of the events ceremony and the bitter disappointment not to have come first is still fresh in the minds of those who were there to hear the result. There are no longer any original members from when the group was first formed and they now enjoy a very close relationship with Streetscene, which didn’t happen in those old days. They help Stone in Bloom to make the town so appealing throughout the year and the group is hugely thankful to all their staff. Last year Stone in Bloom took the decision not to enter the town into the competition as they were such a small group. In January they will vote to say whether they will enter; it is not clear which way the vote will go. It has been an enjoyable year for Stone in Bloom with involvement with the schools and it was a very happy day when volunteers joined the Mayor and Mayoress in presenting the Stone in Bloom award for environmental excellence to Little Stars nursery in Stone High Street.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

This year Stone in Bloom has grown in number and is a strong, fun-loving, hard-working group of volunteers plus three Duke of Edinburgh pupils from Alleyne’s – they all seem to be up for anything, as can be seen from the amount of work they have done in so many areas in all weathers. Bulbs and trees have been planted, wild flowers sown and street furniture has been painted. The group has also worked with the Canal and Riverside volunteers who have built raised beds along the canalside; Stone in Bloom volunteers have planted them. In April the group put up the bunting in the town to hail the beginning of the festival season and in October it was taken down to be washed ready for 2020. On Sunday, October 13, a cold and wet day, Stone in Bloom planted bulbs in the anchor bed after weeding and cutting back the edible plants and herbs. While they worked, a lady passing by asked if they were all volunteers; she was surprised and said how much she appreciated all their work. Stone in Bloom are heartened when they get thanks and it gives them a real boost.

• Bringing the washing in: the festival bunting comes down to be cleaned ready for 2020. Their next mission is putting up the flags for Remembrance week and making sure the plane tree area is spick and span for the huge gathering who will pay their respects to the fallen heroes who gave their lives for us. If you are feeling energetic, why not join the work party in Stone High Street at 10am on Sunday, November 17, when the happy band of volunteers will be wrapping the Christmas trees with lights and putting them up on business premises throughout the town centre.

Reading volunteers required Volunteers are needed to help boost reading enjoyment and confidence for primary school children in Stone and Eccleshall A national reading charity is urgently calling on volunteers to help bring the magic of books to primary school children in Stone, Eccleshall and the surrounding areas. Once trained and placed in a school by Coram Beanstalk, reading helpers (volunteers) will support children aged 5-13 through weekly sessions and over one academic year to read well - not just through recognising the words but through the enjoyment of sharing books together, chatting about them and developing deeper understanding of the story. Ginny Lunn of Coram Beanstalk says: “Coram Beanstalk volunteers help encourage, motivate and support children in a way that helps them feel positive about their reading and sets them up for success. Our reading helpers work with children who, for a variety of reasons, don’t feel confident around books and would benefit from weekly sessions outside of the classroom with someone who can help ‘open the door’ to reading. Our vision is to ensure that all children have the opportunity to become confident and able readers and we know that the first step to achieving this is through encouraging a love of books at an early age. If you feel you could help inspire children to

discover a lifelong love of books in the local community, please apply at www.coram or call 020 7729 4087.” Previous experience is not required as full training is provided by the charity. Coram Beanstalk just needs volunteers to have a passion for passing on a love of reading to children. Jordan, 18 from Stoke-on-Trent, is one of the charity’s youngest volunteers and has been volunteering with Coram Beanstalk for over six months. He knows first-hand the difference a little extra help can make after experiencing trouble of his own when learning to read. “I struggled with quite a lot of my reading as a child. I did get a lot of one-to-one support from teaching assistants. Coram Beanstalk is there to show that reading can be fun and that reading shouldn’t be seen as a chore.” Coram Beanstalk works with schools across the Midlands to deliver a range of evidence-based programmes that have been developed to ensure children who most need help get that encouragement and support in the best way possible. For more information about the programmes available to schools, or to apply as a volunteer in a school or early years setting, please visit the website at or call Coram Beanstalk on 020 7729 4087.

Scribblers shortlisted for awards Lisa Culligan of Stone Scribblers is pleased to announce that three of the group’s members have been shortlisted for the Potteries Prize for Flash Fiction this year. The prize, organised as a joint venture between Stoke-on-Trent Libraries and The Writers Kiln, based in Stoke-on-Trent, is in its third year and goes from strength to strength with a record number of entrants for this year’s prize. A prize-giving event will be held in

Hanley Library on Saturday, November 16, at 11am where shortlisted entrants will have the opportunity to read out their work and the overall winner will be announced. June Palmer, David Thompson and Lisa Culligan, all Stone Scribblers, will have their entries on display in Stone Library, where The Scribblers are based, for the next few weeks and also on Stoke-on-Trent City Central Library website.

• Members of Stone Scribblers pictured in Stone Library


Scene setting at Crown Wharf Christine Conlin joined a site tour oule’s Brewery’s tours of their Crown Wharf building site were a sell-out attraction at last month’s Food and Drink Festival. Joule’s Managing Director Steve Nuttall led visitors inside the five-metre high, 15-metre wide steel frame enclosing their flagship pub and beer hall which will be linked via a theatre bar to an octagonal multi-purpose event space. The new buildings’ red brick and slate-roofed exteriors will echo the gables, roof lines and distinctive metal finials of the former Joule’s brewery stores nearby, Steve explained. Along the canal frontage will run a 4.5 metre wide west-facing terrace. To minimise neighbour disturbance, no music will be allowed there, Steve confirmed, though live music could be played in the access courtyard behind. The pub and beer hall will have a 33-metre long bar, by far Joule’s longest, he continued. In this area, the exposed metal framework, the timber-clad ceiling and glazed brick walls will give the space a warehouse feel. Following the original Joule’s tradition of stamping their brand on their buildings, the small Joule’s crosses inside the angle of the beams and uprights are integral to the structure. The other focus here will be the four-metre high wooden fireplace and overmantle bearing the Shropshire coat of arms, which has been rescued from a Shrewsbury salvage yard. Further homely features will be a row of intimate snugs, a Farmer’s Bar with its own servery and two quieter ante-rooms displaying the paintings, curiosities and archive materials which Joule’s are collecting. A double-width stairway will lead to a first floor double-width gallery, giving access to toilets and a function room overlooking the canal. This room will also double as the Boardroom for Joule’s Brewery, who intend to move their registered office address from their current Market Drayton HQ to Stone. In the multi-purpose event space,


• Generous gesture: Joule’s MD Steve Nuttall points out features of the theatre structure. Harri Capernaros from Stone Revellers took over the tour, explaining that the flat auditorium and a two-row gallery would seat a maximum of 160. Shows and events would use the end-on stage to begin with, but flexible raked seating systems would allow for different stage configurations in future. Fittings would include a retractable cinema screen, added Harri, who stressed that Joule’s were only constructing the building’s shell, leaving the Crown Wharf Theatre Trust and the local community to fundraise its utilities, decoration, fixtures and equipment. The two derelict cottages at the far end of the site are being rebuilt and/or repaired to house dressing rooms and a kitchen. A separate cottage has been built as a prop store and a workshop. “We are creating flexible yet affordable cultural facilities of a professional standard for the community, but we can only achieve this with the community’s support,” Harri said. Resuming the tour, Steve responded to puzzlement over the

• Roaring trade? This fireplace overmantle from Shropshire will be a focal point of the beer hall. (Above) An aluminium replica of a trademark brewery finial. cottage built besides the stores and painted with the words ‘Bass Coopers Tavern’. The building is a replica of the original Bass Coopers Tavern in Burton-on-Trent, which Joule’s was able to buy as a brewing trophy when Bass was sold to the multinational brewery Interbrew in 2004, he explained. “Bass and Joule’s

• Going up in the world: (left) the tour party in the beer hall area, (centre) the octagonal event space, (right) the replica Bass Coopers Tavern of Burton.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

were arch rivals in Staffordshire for 200 years, until Bass bought out Joule’s and closed it down in 1974. “Whenever we open a new Joule’s pub, we’ve started the tradition that our other pubs gift it something of their own, like a picture or ornament,” he explained. “The Bass Coopers Tavern gift to Stone is a replica of itself!” The replica pub will not sell beer and Joule’s have yet to designate a purpose for it. One tour member asked questions about implications for increased traffic flow in the town and on-site parking provision. Steve responded that parking had not been a condition of the planning application, but that the complex will have 35 spaces. Otherwise, the general reactions to the tour were overwhelmingly positive. Said Phil Yates, who moved to Stone from Birmingham some years ago: ”It’s really impressive to see the passion, energy and thought that Joule’s is putting into this project being matched by the commitment and support of people locally.” For additional information on the Crown Wharf development, visit the Joule’s Brewery website To find out about theatre fundraising, go to

• Probus President Jim Flower, right, presenting a cheque to Professor Ray Johnson MBE.

A tale of ‘Banking in the Ballroom’ Stone & District Probus Club held its monthly meeting at Stone Golf Club on October 7 with 34 members in attendance. The speaker was Professor Ray Johnson MBE who founded Staffordshire Film Archive more than 30 years ago and is responsible for making Stoke-on-Trent one of the best documented cities in the country. He gave a most interesting talk, together with a film, on the role of Trentham Garden Ballroom’s use as London’s Clearing Bank during World War Two, with more than 1,000 staff moved from London overnight in the cover of darkness to Trentham Ballroom. The film Ray presented can be viewed on YouTube under the title of ‘Banking in the Ballroom’. It was coincidental that in last month’s Gazette, page 56, there was an article referring to the Trentham story. If you would like more information on the activities of Stone & District Probus Club, please contact the Secretary, Neil Hammersley at


Gazette ECCLESHALL NEWS IN BRIEF Marquetry introduction Quentin Smith was the guest speaker at the Broughton WI meeting held on October 10 in the parish room at Broughton, introducing the members to the joys and intricacies of marquetry. The marquetry group meets every Wednesday evening in the Methodist church room, Stone Road, Eccleshall, starting at 8pm. If you are interested contact Quentin on 01785 850614 or email or visit their website at

Community Speed Watch Police across Staffordshire and the West Midlands are stepping up their monitoring of excessive traffic speeds on many major roads in the area. Eccleshall’s speed watch group has continued monitoring the traffic along all the major roads in and out of the town and they have recorded some startling speeds within the 30mph zones, the highest being 54mph. Many motorists and local residents have been expressing their concerns for some time about speeding traffic through the town at certain times of the day, amid fears for the safety of children. Police statistics show that it costs the taxpayer nearly £2million every time someone is fatally injured in a road traffic accident caused by excessive speed. That includes NHS fees, police, fire brigade, local authorities and the cost of repairs to vehicles and the infrastructure. The objective of the speed watch groups is not to punish drivers but to educate them to drive more responsively within built-up areas and adhere to the national speed limits. If anyone has an hour to spare and would like to assist the local group in their endeavours, then please contact Staffordshire Safer Roads Partnership on 01785 232702 or email community.speedwatch@ for further information.

• A recent still life session of the Photography Group.

‘Learn, laugh and live’ with Stone & District U3A The U3A motto underlines the fact that the organisation is all about positive ageing and living life to the full. What better way than by partaking in some of the 60+ activities available in Stone and the surrounding villages? This can, and does, make a massive contribution to the well-being of the individual, to family and friends and through this network out into our local community and society in general. The ‘Learning not Lonely’ report produced by the Third Age Trust demonstrates that being a member of the U3A helps in making friends and in feeling supported, thus avoiding isolation. Importantly, the benefits of U3A membership align to the factors considered necessary for good brain health by the Global Council on Brain Health. The GCBH has concluded that people who did more physical activity experienced less brain shrinkage and less scarring of white matter:“Perhaps best of all is a combination of physical activity,

Ecclian Society update The Eccleshall street planting has been excellent and is still providing some colour. The watering has worked very well again this year. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end and it is planned to take down all the hanging baskets and mangers on Sunday, November 3. The autumn Ecclian Society newsletter was circulated by email to all members in the second half of October. The Christmas bauble project, led by Richard Egan, is progressing in conjunction with Lonsdale School PTFA. The schoolchildren will decorate a bauble each and these will be used to decorate the Christmas tree at the crossroads and on the brackets of the Christmas trees along the street.

Silent bell ringing Do readers know why they can’t hear the beginners practising bell ringing in Eccleshall’s Holy Trinity Church tower? Science and technology. The clapper on the bells is stopped from swinging and then they ring the bells normally. Sensors fitted to the bell frame and the wheel of each bell relays an electronic signal to a computer in the ringing room which allows the ringers to hear a simulated sound, just as though the bell was actually ringing. With no sound to disturb the population, beginners can make as much ‘noise’ as they like on Friday evenings at practice.

• Petanque players in action; kurling and golf are other sports available in winter.

mental stimulation and sociability. Mixing exercise and exploring new ways of doing things and sharing ideas (and helping others).” This target clearly matches up with the range of groups available to U3A members who can lead and take part in physical activities, language learning, arts, music, crafts, gardening, philosophy, games and others. A quick check of the website reveals that all these subject areas – and more – are available locally in a social setting, and at very low cost. Thus, being a member of the U3A can contribute significantly to reducing loneliness, and to maintaining physical and mental health. Importantly, participants are active and purposeful, doing things for themselves, rather than having things done for them. The U3A is run by the members, for the members, who pursue what they want to pursue and make good use of community spaces in the process. Speaker Meeting Last month’s quarterly Speaker Meeting saw a good attendance at the Christ Church Centre for the visit of Kate Spohrer, a published author, bereavement counsellor and a funeral celebrant of many years’ experience. Her talk was entitled ‘The Gift of Loss’ and outlined her life story which illuminated the subject of how to deal with death. A lively Q & A session followed. Library Drop-in The U3A is holding a series of drop-in sessions at Stone Library for anyone who wishes to find out more about what is on offer. The next date booked is Friday, November 29, from 10am to midday. There will be U3A committee members on hand with whom you can chat, details of all the groups and activities, enrolment forms, plus tea/coffee and biscuits will also be freely available. Anyone who is thinking about becoming a member should not miss the opportunity to come along. Meanwhile, further information about the organisation can be obtained from Gareth Jones on 01782 372349.

Biking birder Gary Prescott, the biking birder, is the guest speaker at the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust evening on Friday, November 8, at the Eccleshall Parish Room starting at 7.30pm. His theme will be ‘British Wildlife from a Bike’. Non-members always welcome.

Council newsletter The Eccleshall Parish Council newsletter winter edition will be available at the end of November. It will be delivered to many homes and is also available from the library and various other outlets or online at • The Guitar group; ukelele and singing are also on offer.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

Rail changes: for better or worse? Rail users at Stone will have noticed numerous changes since the introduction of new timetables last May and North Staffs Rail Promotion Group is keen to hear about how the new timetable is affecting them, writes NSRPG Chair Jon Heal. The big change is that the trains stopping at Stone no longer go directly to London through Lichfield and Tamworth, Jon explained. The new service goes via Birmingham and then continues to London by a slower route than before. So it is easier to have a day trip to Birmingham, but travel to London takes longer and so has discouraged people from making day trips to the capital. “The new timetable was an ambitious one and includes a number of new, long distance routes. In May we were promised that the new operator, West Midlands Trains, had done their planning and it would work. Sadly, we have been disappointed. We have had numerous cancellations and the company seems to have issues with staff shortages as well. It seems the timetable is very tight, so if anything goes wrong almost anywhere between Crewe and London, our service is disrupted for the rest of the day. We think this is unacceptable and we have asked WMT how they will resolve the problems they have created. “The other promise was that if people wanted a quicker journey to London, they would have the option of changing trains at Stafford, to get on to the faster service to Euston. Sadly Stone rail users have been let down here as well because the connection is not very good for the first few trains in the morning, which is obviously when most people wish to leave.” Another recent change has been the appearance of a new bicycle shelter. A few years ago London Midland put in a shelter with several Sheffield stands, which is the sort that cyclists generally want. That was unexpectedly demolished and a strange two-tier stand of wheelbender racks has replaced it. “At least the old stands have been kept and put out on the platform, but we would like to know which sort cyclists prefer. There is supposed to be some consultation with station users on changes like this, but this just happened out of the blue!" says Jon. NSRPG have also heard rumours about car parking spaces being measured out in the Station Drive, but nobody has explained how to charge rail users for parking while allowing access to the station for events in the building. The company clearly needs to negotiate with Stone Town Council who hire out the rooms there. Having studied the next timetable change in December, NSRPG advise there is one improvement. On weekdays there will be one more train in the morning, southbound from Stone at 7.30am to Birmingham. However, on Sundays, when many people are returning from London and currently need to change trains at Stafford, the connection time will be worse. Jon Heal says: “We had persuaded WMT to keep the Stafford connection on Sunday afternoon to mostly under 20 minutes, but they have juggled things around so from December it may involve a wait at Stafford of over 45 minutes. We have made a protest but it is probably too late to get things changed again. The timetable is a mess at the moment. “If any rail users have comments on the service since the May changes, please get in touch with us so that we can make the point to WMT that getting things right is important for rail passengers in Stone. It helps us to be able to quote real examples of what people face.” NSRPG can be emailed at

• The new bike rack at Stone Station: where you do stand on this?


Presentation of Stone Festival disbursements The Stone Festival committee held its AGM on October 22, at The Mill restaurant and Hotel. It was an opportunity to meet many of the local charities who were there to receive their disbursements from the funds raised from the 50th Anniversary Festival. During the meeting, Chairman Grahame Neagus spoke of how it had been a tough year, with the poor weather over festival week and weekend having an effect on crowd numbers that turned out. This can make a massive difference to the monies raised, that said there was still £3450.00 to share amongst local charities, a fantastic amount. Over Festival week there were 30 events, from dog shows to the ever popular soap box derby, these events were run and organised by the 18 volunteers that make up the commitee. If you would like to be a volunteer in 2020, please contact Grahame at everyone is welcome to help out in any way they can. After the short talk, Grahame along with members of the Festival committee were delighted to be able to distribute the monies out to a number of worthy local causes. In addition to those pictured here, disbursements were also presented to Stone Radio, Age Concern, Stone Lions, Stone in Bloom, Crown Wharf Theatre, AEDdonate, Friends of Norton Bridge, Stone Scout and Guide Band, Stafford and Stone Canoe Club, 5th Stone Scouts and Oulton 1st Scouts. • Stone Air Cadets – Jane and Sgt Ness – presented by Jill Piggott

• Christ Church Academy – Maxine Colough PTA Chair, Debbie Stangroom Welfare Officer, Angie Pepper Team Leader – presented by Lynn Bufton • Tim Joyce presents a cheque to Meg, representing Stone Police PCSOs

• Grahame Neagus with Lynn Davis, representing St John Ambulance

• Dave from Stone Community First Responders receives a cheque from Alex Godon


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

• Young Parkinson’s of Stafford – Lynn Lennox and Hilda Sharp – presented by Steve Hickman

• Oulton Abbey Playgroup – Rob Flello – presented by Jose from The Mill

• Emma, Stone Community Hub – presented by Sophie Rogerson

• One of the stunning quilts that will be raffled at Eccleshall’s Quilt Show

Quilt and Craft Show returns to Eccleshall The Corner Patch quilting shop will once more host Eccleshall’s Quilt Show at Holy Trinity Church on Saturday, November 16, and Sunday, November 17. For two days the beautiful church will be adorned with hundreds of fabulous quilts created by local quilters. Visit to see the wonderful talents on show, as well as buying unique gifts from some of the local craft stalls that will also be in the church. Delicious cakes and soup will be served throughout the weekend in the Parish Rooms. There will also be a quilt raffle, with the chance to win one of two stunning quilts donated by local quilting expert and teacher Chris Franses. Funds raised by the tombola and raffle will be shared between Holy Trinity Church and The Autistic Society. Tickets are available from The Corner Patch prior to the show as well as being available over the weekend. Jane Alcock said: “I’m delighted to be able to put on the Quilt Show again and hope it will be as well supported as two years ago, when we raised over £3,500 for charity. I couldn’t do it without all the fabulous support of The Corner Patch customers, the amazing people of Eccleshall and my wonderful mum, Kate Fenton, whose organisational skills are awesome!’’


Amer shortlisted for prestigious management award

o, it’s November. What?? Already?? This year feels like I’ve been going at 100mph and haven’t stopped. It feels as though January arrived, I blinked and suddenly it’s November! For me this year seems to have flown by like no other– although I seem to say that every year. I’m sure I can’t be the only one. Sixth form has kept me very busy but don’t get me wrong, I am loving the new found freedom sixth form has given me. I feel much more mature compared to the last school year. I think it’s the uniform which is very businesswoman meets airhostess fashion if you will. I am also loving my subjects so far; History, Politics and English Literature. Don’t worry, I’ll understand if your reaction was one of horror and disgust. That’s most people’s reaction when they realise I willingly chose those subjects. I don’t see the problem with them …. yet! They’re my 3 favourite subjects and I have to admit, I am definitely that weirdo who loves to write a good essay. I found it quite easy to choose my A-level options. Maths was an obvious ‘no’ , I am no lover of science and taking German would’ve been a laughable decision. I’ve always loved History; I find it so fascinating. I like to picture myself at crucial times in History to see what really happened. English literature was always going to be a good option – I love books and I’m currently reading “The bloody chamber’ and ‘A streetcar named Desire’ for my course. So far, I’m loving both books, they’re both real pageturners – I don’t want to put the books down! Politics was my final choice. At first I was a bit hesitant as I find it difficult to understand current politics and the incredible mess we’re in! To date I’m finding it really interesting. I had no idea there are so many steps to make or change a law – you learn something new every day I guess! Sixth form has made me feel like I’m on the right path, if that path involves lots of reading/essays, leading to stress followed by major exams. I’ve always found it difficult to know if I’m on the right path, it can be a tricky thing to judge – someone should really write a handbook on it! You hope to be heading down the yellow brick road to glory and not taking a cul-de-sac to nowhereville. I have a tendency to compare myself to others and this can be problematic. Aim too high and you can feel like a failure by comparison with your target, aim too low and you will incorrectly see yourself as some kind of highflyer. Worse, you now find yourself in competition with someone who has no idea about it-pointless!! I think it’s best to just focus on yourself. So, as I mentioned before, it’s November - surprise! This month has a special meaning for me - it has been one year since I started writing my Youth Matters articles. This got me thinking. Why do I write? Writing for me is a form of escape, it allows me to express my views and engage with people. I would like to be a writer/journalist one day and my monthly articles allow me to gain valuable experience. Even at this early stage I am already well acquainted with writers block. Fortunately, writing is a well-known stress reliever. I find that if my schoolwork is getting on top of me, I can spend a little time thinking/writing my next article. This works well for me and it can help some people work through their thoughts and emotions. Writing allows me to put all the stresses of life in a box and leave them to the side for a little while.


Eva Smith Have you got a topic for Youth Matters? If you do please email me at, Just remember, Youth Matters and your opinion counts.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

A team manager at Drake Hall Prison near Eccleshall has been shortlisted by the United Kingdom Contact Centre Forum (UKCCF) for its prestigious 2019 Manager of the Year award. Amer Crawford is employed by Census Data Group at Drake Hall, where the company’s contact centre has a team of up to 25 women. One of Amer’s key responsibilities is to train team members and provide a positive environment where the women are doing meaningful work that equips them with skills they can use effectively on release. This involves teaching team members to be independent, manage their own time, and improve their communication skills and confidence, as well as giving them the IT skills and product

• Amer Crawford has been shortlisted for a Manager of the Year award.

knowledge to prepare them for work upon their release from prison. The next step of the judging process took place at the end of September, when Amer and the other three nominees gave a presentation. The winner was due to be announced at a Gala Dinner in Milton Keynes on October 25. The news of Amer’s shortlisting is the latest in a long line of awards and nominations that Census Group has received over the past two years as recognition for its unique business model continues to grow. Amer said: “I am really honoured to be even put forward for this nomination, and to be in the final four is just amazing. I think all the managers at Census Group work very hard in challenging environments and we all do a great job. “I offer support and guidance to my team daily, not just with regards to the job they do but also some other matters they may be struggling with. This is key, the team work better in a positive environment with lots of encouragement. I am very lucky to have a good team.” Kelly Carrell, C.O.O. of Census Group, said:” “The UKCCF Awards are widely recognised as the industry gold-standard and for Amer to be shortlisted in the Manager of the Year category is truly special. “Amer’s dedication and commitment to her role goes way above and beyond what anyone would normally expect. She works in an incredibly challenging and unpredictable environment and really excels at bringing out the best in people. She has bags of enthusiasm and an unwavering desire to help people strive to become the very best they can be. “We are extremely proud to call Amer our colleague and grateful to the UKCCF for acknowledging her work.”

• A warm welcome awaits at Oulton Watercolour Society’s 50th anniversary exhibition.

Doris is Oulton’s local hero Oulton Watercolour Society is celebrating the achievements of its art teacher Doris Brown SWA ahead of the society’s 50th Anniversary Art & Craft Exhibition on Saturday, November 16. In September Doris was shortlisted, along with many other well deserved locals, in The Sentinel’s Our Heroes 2019 Awards for her many devoted years in promoting and teaching art, which she continues to do despite sight problems. Doris was awarded a Highly Commended certificate in the Education Star of the Year category. The Watercolour Society’s 50th anniversary exhibition will be held in Oulton Village Hall and alongside paintings by the group’s artists – both framed and loose and all reasonably

priced – it will also feature genuine and unique crafts made by local people, and handmade cards. The exhibition will be open from 9.30am until 4.30pm, entrance is free and good parking is available. Refreshments and a hamper raffle will be on offer, both modestly priced. Oulton Watercolour Society is always keen to attract new members of whatever level or aptitude. New members will be given help and advice from Doris Brown and members will also be on hand to offer help and advise. Painting classes are held in Oulton Village Hall on Thursday evenings. If you would like to have a look around without committing yourself, just drop in and have a cuppa.

• Jack Scott receiving his first place trophy

Jack’s back to take first place! Stone runner, and former Alleyne’s Academy pupil Jack Scott recently competed in the King Offas Dyke Run, a 188 mile coast to coast run. Starting from Chepstow at 8pm on Friday 13th September, and finally ending on Sunday 15th in Prestatyn, not only did Jack win it, he’s also smashed the course record, an amazing achievement as Jack, aged 24,only took up running in 2017. Jack’s father, Robin Scott, was able to track Jack via a tracker as he was running the whole route. Robin told the Gazette: “Jack was in second place, then took the lead and never looked back. He ploughed on through the final stages and finished in first place on Sunday night. “Myself, his mum, girlfriend and sister were all there at the finish line as he won, beating the course record by over three hours! He was sure he would win and paced himself accordingly. It’s a truly fantastic effort and result, we are all very proud of him.” Jack’s next race is The Spine Run in January, covering 268 miles, starting at Edale to Kirk Yetholm, taking in the Pennine Way, the Peak District, Cheviots, Yorkshire Dales and Northumberland National Park. We wish Jack the best of luck in his next race, what an inspiration he is to us all.

• The 188 mile route, shown here on Robins phone as he tracked Jacks progress.


• Taking a stand on climate change: Swynnerton WI Chair Linda Mottram

• Handing it to them: Kay Jackson receives the WI Press Report Shield on behalf of Aston-byStone WI from the Gazette’s Christine Conlin.

Local Women’s Institutes shine at Federation AGM Local Women’s Institute branches distinguished themselves at the October 15th AGM of the Staffordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes at the County Showground. Aston-by-Stone WI won the Press Report Shield Competition for their report on their October 2018 meeting with guest speaker Martin Peet, aka Mr Simms from the Old-Fashioned Sweet Shop. The trophy was presented by Gazette Assistant Editor Christine Conlin who had judged the competition. Susan Maiden from Broughton WI won

the Garden Festival Trophy for her garden-themed cake. Swynnerton WI Chair Linda Mottram has been appointed Staffordshire WI Federation’s Climate Change Ambassador. She was chosen for the appointment as her daughter is a climate change scientist who monitors the Greenland ice cap from her base in Denmark. “We are hoping each WI will appoint their own Climate Change Ambassador,” said Linda. Training for this new role will be coming on stream shortly. • Speaking up for the Gazette: Assistant Editor Christine Conlin introducing herself to the Staffs WI Federation AGM

The new century begins

• SFWI Chairman, Helen Newman, presenting the trophy for the ‘People’s Choice’ craft item at the County Show, to Broughton WI member, Yvonne French .


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

Can you imagine 700 ladies singing Jerusalem? Truly uplifting. This was how the 101st Annual Council meeting of the Staffordshire Federation of Women’s Institutes began and it set the scene for an inspiring day. The morning speaker was Professor Maggie Andrews of Worcester University, who gave an insight into the social history of women during the 20th century. She shared fascinating facts, particularly about local women who battled for equality, not just in respect of the fight for women’s votes but also regarding pay and working conditions. Kate Humble was the speaker for the afternoon and she kept the ladies spellbound as she explained how she became involved in television and her journey to become one of the nation’s much loved presenters of live broadcasts such as Springwatch and Lambing Live. Her easy style of delivery was illustrated with footage of some of her most difficult challenges to capture extraordinary wildlife in their natural surroundings. The day also enabled Members to buy items from the Country Market stalls as well as those from invited suppliers. Competition entries and information boards on courses at the WI’s Denman College, campaigns such as Climate Change and visits and events planned for 2020 were also on display. Broughton WI’s Choir rounded off the enjoyable

day by singing ‘The Smallest Seed’ – an anthem specially written to celebrate the Centenary. The Women’s Institute is an organisation open to women of all ages and provides fellowship and friendship as well as campaigning on issues that matter to women both locally and nationally. Visit the Staffordshire Federation’s Facebook page – SFWI:Staffordshire – for more information and how to find your nearest Institute.

• Helen Newman, presenting the Art trophy to Ros Langford, Broughton WI and SFWI Vice Chairman

Eye Catching Event for NSPCC incher Lockett & Co. Opticians, Market Drayton, are no ordinary opticians. Not only are they multi award-winning, friendly and family run boutique practice, but they also offer expert style advice with some of the most beautiful and exclusive eyewear in the U.K. Recently crowned Fashion Practice of the Year at the Optical Industry Awards, they provide expert style advice and free one-to-one consultations to determine which eyewear is best for you. They specialise in exclusive, niche eyewear sourced from the fashion capitals of the world, such as Paris and Milan, so you’ll find glasses which are not only unique but also make you look and feel great. Optometrist & owner of Mincher Lockett & Co Opticians Market Drayton, Eva Davé, is a fully trained Eyewear Styling Expert, Image Consultant, Public Speaker, Optical Award Judge and owner of the Eyewear Styling Academy. Eva regularly gives talks on topics such as personality style, fashion and eyewear trends, and this December will be giving an exclusive talk on ‘eyewear, colour and sparkle’ in aid of the NSPCC. Taking place just over the Staffs border at the luxurious Goldstone Hall Hotel, guests can enjoy an evening reception from 7pm including fizz and canapés; a 45 minute illustrated talk, viewing of exclusive eyewear collections and followed by a raffle draw with top prizes such as beautiful, hand crafted glasses to the value of £750.00, and all in aid of the NSPCC. “Eva’s presentation on colour and eyewear was very engaging. She certainly knows how to open up a conversation about eyewear! The whole evening was fantastic and contributed to a memorable finale of seeing the transformative affect of the eyewear collections on everyone present.” Sue M Mincher Lockett & Co. Client “What a fun, informal evening, learning all about what colours suit your colouring and personality! Mincher Lockett should come with a health warning. When you enter their magical world of eyewear, there is no escaping the spell!” Anthony S “Eva is a very good presenter who clearly knows what she is talking about and has a great sense of humour and pace. I felt so inspired following her presentation that I booked myself in for an appointment for new eyewear!” Marie S Mincher Lockett & Co. Client


“The eyewear and colour presentation was very well done. Eva is a natural presenter! It was so interesting to learn about colour and coordination- I ordered more glasses following the presentation so it must have been good!” Elizabeth B “After watching Eva’s presentation on colour I felt really upbeat about colour generally and the entire presentation was entertaining and presented good food for thought!” Janet M Tickets are £15.00 per person and include a goody bag to take home. Places are limited so book early! Please contact Mincher Lockett & Co. Opticians to book via 01630 652945 or email For more information about the award winning opticians, please visit


Gazette ECCLESHALL NEWS IN BRIEF Family Fireworks Put the date in your diary when the 1st Eccleshall Scouts and Eccleshall Cricket Club get together to provide a Family Firework Fest at Eccleshall Cricket Club, Chester Road, on Friday, November 6, gates open at 6pm for a 7pm display. For safety – no sparklers please.

Chebsey thank-you Chebsey resident Rita Williams has been collecting for Katharine House Hospice and with the generous support of other residents has raised £148.13.

Subsidised travel From Monday, October 14, a subsidised student Network Weekly ticket for Eccleshall residents will be available to buy on the 8am Monday to Friday journey on service 14 from Eccleshall to Stafford. The cost will be £9 and the ticket is available to passengers as they get on in Eccleshall, on production of a valid student ID. That is less than the price of four journeys, for a whole week’s travel. Eccleshall Parish Council is subsidising this route and this ticket helps to retain an important service and ensure that students have a cost effective way to get to school or college. In order to maintain this service, the council needs support from the residents to increase passenger numbers.

Public appeal There was a meeting of the Stafford Borough Public Appeals Committee at the Civic Centre on Friday, October 18, following a tour of two sites involving tree preservation orders. One of the appeals involves a site in Shaw’s Lane where the Borough Council Tree Preservation officer has recommended orders be imposed. The owner of the land has appealed against the orders and it was decided at the committee meeting on October 18 to confirm the Tree Preservation Order and leave the trees protected. It was a public meeting and around 40 Eccleshall residents attended.

Trinity Magazine The distributors of Eccleshall’s Holy Trinity Church magazine are looking for a volunteer to deliver a small number of magazines in the Stone Road area on a monthly basis. Tina Price has stepped down from the role and anyone interested should contact Charles Taylor on 01782 658832 or 07484 890439 for details.

Children’s Society The final total for the collection for the Children’s Society in the Eccleshall parish amounted to £753.69. Lindsey Knowles thanks all who supported the collection.

Councillors resign Eccleshall Parish Councillors Pete Edwards and Chris Marshall have resigned from the council. For details of how to become a parish councillor, readers should contact Parish Clerk Mrs Stacey Worden on 01785 282296 or email

Book group Eccleshall Library Book Group meets in the upstairs room at the library on the second Wednesday of every month at 10am. Everyone is welcome. For more information call Ros Taylor on 01785 859068 or email at oldoakrr@

Slindon cakes A annual occurrence in Eccleshall High Street is the sale of homemade cakes by the Slindon Church ladies to raise funds for St Chad’s Church. They were based outside the Crown Surgery on Saturday, October 12, and reported the best day’s trading so far, selling out without an hour or so.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

Young Stone actor inspires the next generation of deaf talent A deaf actor from Stone showed off his talents at a showcase event in Birmingham on Sunday, September 29, organised by the National Deaf Children’s Society. Ryan Herbert, 12, along with talented deaf dancer Lucie Heathcote, 9, from Stoke, was selected from dozens of hopefuls by the charity to take part in Raising the Bar, an intensive weekend of workshops in music, dance and drama, culminating in a showcase performance. Ryan, Lucie and 18 other talented youngsters, spent the weekend at the Ruddock Performance Arts Centre being mentored by professional deaf musicians, dancers and actors before demonstrating their extraordinary talents on stage in front of dozens of parents, family and friends. The Raising the Bar event was designed to inspire deaf young people and show that there is nothing in the arts that deaf children can’t achieve with the right support. Mentoring the deaf young performers were the leading deaf performance companies Music and the Deaf, Deaf Men Dancing and Deafinitely Theatre. The 20 deaf young people, ranging in age from 8 to 16, were selected after an application process that saw them submit videos of their talents in music, dance and drama, demonstrating the • Deaf actress Millicent Simmonds, who has carved skills they had acquired, their personal out a successful career in Hollywood, expressed her journeys and the barriers they had support of the Raising the Bar event in which a overcome. young Stone actor took part. Damian Ball of the National Deaf Children’s Society said: “It filled me with the attention of Hollywood. Deaf pride to watch Lucie and Ryan and the Hollywood actress Millicent Simmonds, other deaf youngsters display their star of A Quiet Place and who is currently incredible talents – what a wonderful filming the sequel, had a message for each evening filled with truly memorable of the participants. Millicent said: “I’m honoured to support performances! “It was great to see so many deaf young the Raising the Bar event. When I was people showing their families, friends and growing up I never saw deaf actors in each other exactly what can be achieved in movies or on TV. I never thought it was a life with a bit of belief, drive and dedication. possibility for me. “I feel it’s important for kids to feel “So often I hear people think deaf people can’t achieve in life – but this couldn’t be represented and see people like them on further from the truth. This weekend screen. If deaf kids can see me on screen demonstrated so clearly that with the right and feel like they can do it, that makes me support, deaf young people can aim for the happy, but that goes for any career. Not just acting. Focus on your path. Don’t make stars and prove the doubters wrong.” This year the Raising the Bar project, and comparisons because progress looks the work it is doing to inspire deaf young different for everyone and enjoy in others’ people to have careers in the arts, caught success as well as your own.”

£1.5 million of National Lottery funding awarded to local community projects Almost £1.5 million of National Lottery funding has been awarded to more than 50 community projects across Staffordshire, including a number of projects in the Stone and Eccleshall area Green Lea First School has been awarded £10,000 to create a Community Early Years Centre, a space for community events and activities. The project aims to bring people together. Teenage Cancer Trust receives £10,000 for its ‘Find Your Sense of Tumour - Over 18s’ project. The funding will be used to organise a conference event for young people living with the effects of cancer. The project aims to support the community inclusion of people battling a long-term illness. Ashley Memorial Hall’s kitchen refurbishment project will benefit from a

£10,000 grant to improve the facilities available to the local community, while Oulton (C of E) First School will use £9,940 of funding to install new playground equipment to improve the outdoor facilities for children. Regain – The Trust for Sports Tetraplegics – will use its £9,931 funding to organise open day events for people affected by a life-limiting condition, and their carers. The project aims to create a support network for people living with the neurological illness. The National Lottery Community Fund is responsible for giving out money raised by National Lottery players for good causes and is the largest funder of community activity in the UK. Since 2017, it has awarded more than £170 million to projects that support young people. To find out more visit

The Royal Oak The Royal Oak Eccleshall is a quintessential coaching inn originating from the late 1400s offering a selection of Cask Ales, Craft Beer and Homemade comfort food (available each day 12-3 & 5.30-9pm) made with locally sourced ingredients (where possible). Scrumptious Sunday Roasts available 12-4pm. With traditional log fires and a friendly welcoming atmosphere you can enjoy Live Music: a variety of

different acts perform in the bar window every Friday from 9pm (Free entry). Also Acoustic Night: First Thursday last Tuesday of the month; Book Club: last Tuesday; Themed Quiz: First Sunday of the Month. Don’t miss lots of Christmas events coming up- including a Carols in the Coach House Event (collaboration with Eccleshall Parish) mulled wine & cider, mince pies and liqueur hot chocolates etc... Details of the upcoming events at and on our facebook and Instagram pages.


ITech Eccleshall is a multi-faceted I.T. business that helps its customers to take full advantage of the technology available to them. You talk; we listen - We're not here to push the latest gadgets and gizmos. We're here to advise you on how to best use the technology you currently own...options that might improve your user experience...and to repair anything that's damaged, broken or simply not co-operating! With many years of experience behind us and a large customer base that's growing rapidly - we've seen it all! If you have any queries regarding the devices you own, or how technology could help you in the future, then give us a call and we will happily provide you with some impartial advice.

The Corner Patch The Corner Patch is a welcoming patchwork & quilting shop in Eccleshall, it is one of many independent shops within the town. We offer a fabulous range of 100% cotton fabric, wadding, threads, haberdashery and notions for all your patchwork, quilting and sewing needs. We also stock a limited range of cotton/linen blends and some dressmaking fabrics. You will receive a warm welcome in our shop and we are happy to spend time with you discussing your fabric needs, help you with your project or show you how to get started. Our aim is to encourage and inspire you with all your sewing projects and we offer a full range of workshops and classes for all ages and abilities; from hand piecing to machine quilting, dressmaking and more - there is something for everyone. Our workroom is available for Sit and Sew groups whenever it is not being used for a workshop. Currently we have three sessions on a Wednesday (10 - 1pm, 2 - 5pm and 5.30 - 8.30), and two sessions on Friday (10 - 1pm and 2 - 5pm) See website for more details.

Spencer The Jeweller David Spencer trained and gained experience in jewellery design and manufacture in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter where he practised for over 17 years. His successful relocation 15 years ago has put Spencer The Jeweller on the map, as the place to go in Staffordshire for quality bespoke jewellery. The expanding jewellery business is set in the heart of Eccleshall, Staffordshire. A quaint Grade II Listed building is home to the jewellery shop and two workshops. It is within these walls that customers are welcomed with a personal and friendly service. People travel to Spencer the Jeweller for the experience of having beautiful jewellery handmade especially for them. Designs are created by David Spencer for jewellery lovers who want an individual commission. As a customer you are given the opportunity to select from collections of precious stones and fine metals. You will discuss ideas for your design with the highly skilled craftsman who will make your desired piece of jewellery. Repairs of your existing jewellery, refurbishments of sentimental heirlooms and transformations of once forgotten jewellery are all undertaken at Spencer The Jeweller, with the utmost care and attention to every detail. Other quality names available at Spencer The Jeweller include Rotary, Citizen and Bulova Time Pieces, Hot Diamonds silver jewellery and Woodwick candles.

Buttercups & Daisies with love Buttercup & Daisies With Love, based on Stafford Street, Eccleshall, is an affordable luxury florist selling flowers, chocolates, cards, gifts, homeware and much more with local delivery available. We specialise in creating floral arrangements for all occasions – from everyday and special occasion bouquets to bespoke wedding flowers and funeral tribute, to floral designs for corporate events. All our creations can be delivered at a small cost or picked up on a date best for you. We will be holding a Christmas Open Evening at the shop on Tuesday, December 3rd, where guests can browse our Christmas collection of homewares and gifts and also shop our Christmas floral collection. Gifts, plants and homeware will all be available to buy and the event will also provide an opportunity to place your orders for delivery this Christmas on floral gifts. The event is free to attend and runs from 4pm till 7.30pm. Drinks and nibbles will be on offer.

Malcolm Gray & Associates Eye Care

Malcolm Gray & Associates is an Independent Optical Practice in Eccleshall. Their qualified staff of optometrists and dispensing opticians are dedicated to providing high quality eye care and products. Generations of Gazette readers will know the practice, which was established in Eccleshall in 1973 by Mr Malcolm Gray. Initially at the bottom of the High Street, in what is now Spencer the Jewellers, they moved to the current location after a few years. The practice has since expanded and now includes two consulting rooms and a large pre-screening area. Malcolm established a practice with a reputation for clinical excellence and superb eyewear. In 2013 he was joined by directors Sarah Edge and Jan Goodwin before retiring from the business in 2015. The practice has always prided itself on providing top-level eye care and this continues today under the current ownership. The new interior is a classical design of white and grey, with subtle lighting and client friendly stations, which gives a calm and restful atmosphere. In addition to both NHS funded and private eye examinations, Malcolm Gray & Associates can offer: 3D retinal scans and photography, visual field assessment, screening for glaucoma, dry eye assessments, Minor Eye Conditions Service (MECS), assessment of specific reading difficulties and visual stress, contact lens fitting and aftercare. When it comes to dispensing your eyewear, Malcolm Gray & Associates understand that your spectacles have to be functional as well as fitting your image. Qualified staff are on hand to discuss in detail what you expect from your eyewear and how best to achieve this, whether this be from a single pair of spectacles, or more than one pair for different purposes or looks. They will listen to what you tell them about your lifestyle, and your expectations, and aim to advise and offer you a range of solutions to suit your budget. Before you take any contact lenses away the practice specialists will take the time to ensure that you are able to apply and remove the lenses competently. Advice is given on how to care for your lenses and your eyes, also what to do if any difficulties occur. For as long as you wear the contact lenses their knowledgeable staff will continue to ensure that you have the best lenses for your eyes and your budget. Malcolm Gray & Associates are happy to advise anyone, from the very young to those of advancing years, and look forward to seeing you soon.

The Old Smithy Pub and Restaurant The Old Smithy is a traditional restaurant and freehouse pub with a modern contemporary styling and a friendly atmosphere. Located in the centre of Eccleshall, they are open seven days a week and serve food lunchtimes and evenings. Hosts Martin and Charlotte serve good quality food with an extensive choice of menus catering for all tastes. The Christmas menu is now available and The Old Smithy is a great place to enjoy a ‘get-together’ with friends or family over the festive period. Look out for Italian, Fizz and Port & Cheese nights over the next few months. A relaxing place to unwind with a coffee or an unhurried pint during the day. The bar is dog friendly. The Old Smithy also caters for various functions, i.e. society/club dinners, formal/informal buffets, business lunches, weddings and baby shower parties. Telephone on 01785 850564 to discuss your requirements.

New Image Nail & Beauty Studio The newly opened New Image Nail & Beauty Studio is already proving to be a hit with the ladies of Eccleshall. It offers a wide range of nail enhancements, deluxe pedicures, eye treatments including lash and brow, as well as massage and body treatments (waxing etc). Body treatments are available in the privacy of the newly appointed and relaxing treatment room. New Image also provides deluxe facials, as well as hair and makeup packages. These are all included in their vast and varied menu. Fully qualified beauty therapists Izzy and Rachel both are proving to be valuable members of the New Image team. Ladies are invited to see the new studio, (adjacent to New Image Hair Salon) pick up a treatment menu and discuss your requirements.

Earth Selection Earth Selection, Eccleshall, stocks skilfully curated clothing for women who want something a little different. Natural fabrics such as cotton, linen, viscose, hemp and silk are at the core of our collections, sourced from international companies with ethical credentials. Our suppliers are based in Denmark, France, Italy, Germany, Australia and the USA providing us with a truly cosmopolitan range of clothing. Our look is essentially smart casual clothing that can be dressed up and down, taking you from day to night at home or abroad. Quality clothing that is wearable, washable and affordable, taking you from season to season in style. Our sizes range from 8-20. Fabulous scarves are always available in addition to artisan and fair trade jewellery, plus leather handbags. Kate and Sue always provide a warm, friendly welcome and a comfortable, helpful environment, and they look forward to seeing you soon.

Life is too short to wear boring clothes!

HC GROUP Hairdressers A trip to HC Group Hair Design Salon will tell you how very creative, professional and affordable they are. Hidden away from the high street means you can be pampered in privacy. The Schwarzkopf appointed salon specialises in colouring, hair extensions as well as cut & blow-dry. The salon is also offering a micro-blading service for ladies wanting to redefine their eyebrow shape. The procedure is bookable to ensure complete privacy and confidentiality. Ask for details.

Piper Hulse Accountancy and Business Advisory Based locally on Eccleshall High Street, Piper Hulse Accountancy and Business Advisory isn’t your usual, stuffy accountants: we pride ourselves on our friendly, honest, professional advice combined with a range of transparent, fixed fee packages to help simplify your business needs. Our clients include private individuals, sole traders and consultants as well as larger limited companies: whatever your requirements, we’re sure we can help. What sets Piper Hulse apart? First and foremost, we’re highly qualified, senior accountants with both ‘Big 4’ and industry experience: your records will always be in safe, professional hands giving you peace of mind and leaving you free to concentrate on your empire. Our range of fixed fee packages are designed to clearly explain what you’ll receive, allowing you to budget appropriately: no nasty surprises, ever. And, if you require something bespoke, our flexible approach can help tailor these further. We’re always happy to help.

R. Mathews Bespoke Interiors R. Matthews Bespoke Interiors are small independent family run kitchen studio on the High street in Eccleshall. Their showroom display ranges of beautifully handmade and bespoke kitchens. Although their showroom opened twelve months ago, they have over 15 years’ experience in the kitchen industry. As well as kitchens they also specialise in other home interior aspects such as bedrooms, home studies and boot rooms. At R. Matthews they have a strong passion for what they do best, offering free design and project management. Just from a simple idea they work closely with the client to achieve exactly what they want. They have a first class team of trades behind them to help in the installation process as well as having formed great relationships with leading suppliers and manufactures to deliver only the best quality products at competitive prices.

Will & Jo’s It’s been a busy first year at Will & Jo’s – we’ve learnt a lot, made a few mistakes along the way but we’re now excited for the New Autumn/Winter Season with lots of stock filling our shelves. Extending our brand offerings for both Men & Women has meant we now have something for all (including all you guys & gals who think you have difficult feet). Our range of beautiful jewellery , bags & accessories make great gifts and as the festive period will soon be with us we can be your one stop shop. With lots of gorgeous shoes & boots to tempt starting from just £39.99 – why don’t you pop along and let us give you a shopping experience to remember, we don’t think you will be disappointed.

• The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, which is on the calendar as part of the ‘Chebsey Parish in WWI and Beyond’ programme.

Memorial Flight tour is part of Chebsey heritage project A trip to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Tour at RAF Coningsby is one of a series of events being organised by Chebsey Parish Local History Society as part of the 2019 Heritage Lottery programme. National Lottery support of £9,200 was granted to Friends of Norton Bridge in 2018, for Chebsey Parish Local History Society’s project ‘Chebsey Parish in WWI and Beyond’, to mark the centenary of the ending of the First World War. Awarded through the Heritage Lottery Fund’s ‘First World War then and now’ programme, the project will run until 2020. Through a series of visits, talks and events at venues across the parish, the society hopes to provide the opportunity for people to learn about their local heritage and gain an understanding of this period in our history. The focus of the project is on the impact of war in a rural area, especially the important local reserved occupations of farming and railways and also the role of women. The 2018 programme of talks was well attended, and the exhibition staged at All Saints’ Church Chebsey was attended by more than 1,200 people over a two week period. The organisers hope that the 2019 programme will be similarly enjoyed and express their thanks to Friends of Norton Bridge and also to Shallowford House and the Parochial Church Council who provide support in staging the events. The guided tour to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight hangar at RAF Coningsby in

Lincoln will take place on Thursday, November 7. The trip will include a stop-off for lunch at The Abbey Lodge Inn at Woodall Spa. The Memorial Flight tour includes priceless artefacts of our national heritage in airworthy condition, commemorating those who have fallen in the service of our country. Flown by regular serving RAF aircrew, the flight operates six Spitfires, two Hurricane MK2Cs, a Lancaster as well as a Dakota and two Chipmunk aircraft. The cost per person is £20, to include return coach travel, lunch and entry to the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Tour. Places will be offered on a first come, first served basis. Payment will be required at the time of booking and booking fees are nonrefundable. Should you require a wheelchair for the visit, please say when booking as only a limited number is allowed in the hangar for health and safety reasons. For further details please contact Marg on 01785 760844 or Judith on 01785 760245. Other forthcoming events in the ‘Chebsey Parish in WWI and Beyond’ programme include: a talk by Matthew Blake on ‘Life on the Staffordshire Home Front’ at Chebsey Parish Rooms on Saturday, November 2; a talk on ‘The effect of the war years and rationing on fashions’ by Kate Wain at Shallowford House on Wednesday, November 6; and the official opening of ‘Tommy’s Trail’, a new footpath from Norton Bridge/Shallowford to Chebsey on Saturday, November 9.

Cleaning up the neighbourhood Pupils from Year 2 at Christ Church First School took part in BBC Radio Stoke’s Clean Start on Friday, September 27. The children spent the afternoon learning about litter and the harmful effects it has on the environment and wildlife. They managed to avoid the rain to pick up several bags of litter, using equipment provided by Stafford Borough Council, from the areas outside the school. The children were keen to remove things that could be harmful to wildlife and they collected a large number of discarded cans and plastic bags. As a follow-on activity, the children created posters to be displayed around school.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

Hilderstone WI’s 85th Birthday The WI first came to the UK in 1915, when a WI was formed in North Wales at Llanfair. Nineteen years later, Hilderstone WI was formed. On October 11th, 1934, forty-three members met at Hilderstone Hall and President Lady Bourne took the first meeting. Subsequent meetings were held ‘at the schools’, then in later years at the Village Hall. Eighty-five years later, 21 of our members enjoyed a lovely celebration at Hilderstone Village Hall. Revd. Marion joined us and we began by singing Jerusalem. We enjoyed a very tasty meal; our caterers did us proud. Senior member Peggy Shelley cut the beautiful cake made by member Louise and we chatted, and chatted! We were beautifully entertained by Stafford-based group ‘Acoustic Rainbow’. Our archives were on display, and lots of photos were taken, which will be added to them! Member Gill provided us with ‘favours’, in the corporate colours of WI, which contained tasty chocolates, Our next meeting is on Tuesday 12th November at the Village Hall, commencing 7.30pm. Kath Reynolds will be our speaker, her subject,’Tis the Season to be jolly’. Do join us... we very much welcome visitors. Here’s to the next eighty-five years!

Stone centenarian honoured On October 8th, three days before his 100th birthday last month, Stone resident Gordon Hewitt was honoured by the North Staffordshire branch of the Arts Society (formerly NADFAS) which he helped to found. National Chairman of the Arts Society Julie Goldsmith presented Gordon with a Gold Award for Volunteering at a special meeting at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Gordon spent most of his working life with Spode Pottery, whose fortunes his father Ted Hewitt had helped transform and where his aptitude for foreign languages and customer rapport made him an ideal Export Director. When Spode’s overseas agents visited the UK, they preferred Gordon and his late wife Sybil’s hospitality in Stone to staying in local hotels! Gordon has retained strong links with Spode through the Spode Society, of which he is President. He was Chair of the Pottery and Glass Trades’ Benevolent Fund during its bicentenary year. Speaking in tribute, Gordon’s son James recounted that it had not taken much to persuade Gordon to help found the North Staffordshire branch of NADFAS, whose lectures he and Sybil enjoyed. He also helped establish that branch’s Church Recording work and actively participated in this until very recently. Another of Gordon’s sons, Mark Hewitt, is a distinguished craftsman potter in North Carolina, USA. Last Easter, Gordon attended the 100th firing of his wood-fired salt-glaze kiln in person - an indefatigable, greatly respected and widely loved family man.



Yarlet pupils meet a true ‘old boy’


Why not register your daughter on the Girlguiding UK website or for more information contact Sheila Slaney Eccleshall District Commissioner on 01785 851663.

Lunchtime concert Eccleshall’s Holy Trinity lunchtime concert programme kicks off on Thursday, November 7, in the parish room. Diane Talbott and Peter Wilshaw will entertain the diners with their own brand of music and song, starting at 12.30pm. A simple lunch of soup, sandwiches and a hot drink will be served. Admission £5 on the door. Beat the winter blues.

• Centenarian Gordon Hewitt with Yarley School pupils Freddie, Sophie, Annabel and Monty.

Traffic update Traffic will be prohibited from driving a length of Cash Lane in Garmelow from a point 440 metres south east of its junction with Well Lane and continuing approximately 1,300 metres in a south-easterly direction from Tuesday, November 11, at 8am. An alternative route will be signposted and it is anticipated that the work will be completed on November 13 at 6pm.

Have your say The Eccleshall Parish Council is anxious that every resident should have their say and complete the survey now available from the library and The Artisan. What do you want the parish council to be putting its efforts into for the community? Let them know. The survey is also available online at the Parish Council’s website www. Completed forms can be returned by post to Mrs Stacey Worden, 16 Newport Road, Great Bridgeford, ST18 9PR, or into the boxes at the library and The Artisan. You can also hand them to any of the parish councillors.

Defibrillator support At the meeting of the Eccleshall Parish Council on Wednesday, October 16, the meeting agreed to become a sponsor of one of the town’s public access defibrillators at a cost of £50 per year. This will help to pay for the replacement battery and pads when needed. The Community First Responders maintain eight of the town’s defibrillators and a number are now similarly sponsored by local businesses.

Enhancements Committee A meeting of the Eccleshall Parish Committee was held on Wednesday, October 2, and chaired by Councillor Libby Dale. The full agenda included a discussion on the remedial work on Elford Heath and quotations for the work to be done were considered. The need for specialist help with repairs to the BT box at Croxton, possibly using a blacksmith, was discussed and suggestions that wildflowers be planted on verges in the parish were received. The quotations for Christmas trees were received and a proposal will be made to the full council. The faulty Millennium Clock face was noted, and the clerk was able to report that the repair work was in hand with the manufacturers. The next meeting of the committee will take place on Wednesday, December 4, at 7pm. Members of the public are invited to attend the meeting and observe.

• An old school photo shows Gordon (middle row, second right) with his football team. His brother is next to him, far right.

Bhangra beats live in Chebsey Chebsey Parish Hall welcomes back Live and Local and this time the committee brings something completely new to the hall, so get ready to party – Punjabi style! From humble beginnings, as the music and dance of poor farmers celebrating the annual harvest, Bhangra has taken on its own British identity. RSVP, wholly routed in an authentic living tradition yet unafraid to innovate, are spearheading the renaissance of live Bhangra in the UK, opening doors for other artists and introducing Bhangra to mainstream audiences for the first time. RSVP’s unique blend of traditional Punjabi songs and drumming with electric guitar, energising dance beats and mainstream pop has created a new and irresistible sound that audiences everywhere love and keep on coming back for. Whether on massive stages at

Glastonbury (over 10 years) or Womad (four years), on concert venues across the UK and Europe, or in more intimate small room adaptations, the combined effect of Dildar Singh’s honey drenched vocals, Jeevan’s insistent dhol drumbeats, Chris’s guitar and mandolin rhythmic underscore and Judge’s engaging interactive involvement with the audience, results in something which immediately involves the audience, bringing them to their feet regardless of age or ability. This is the ultimate celebratory Indian music. RSVP will perform at Chebsey Parish Hall on Friday, November 22, at 8pm. Tickets are available at £12.50 each, either from Derek Morris on 07776 295010, Becky Dobson on 01785 761896 or Rod Goldthorpe on 01785 761201. A bar and light refreshments will be provided.

Highways meeting Members of the County Highways team met with members of the Eccleshall Parish Council at the community centre on Tuesday, October 15, to discuss the various highway issues and possible solutions. Paula Lees, the Community Engagement Officer, Tim Buxton and Tom Underwood Community Support Officer, Libby Dale chaired the meeting which was also attended by Philip Stenning and Peter Jones, parish councillors. The meeting was informed that the 0300 111 8000 number to report highways problems is no longer available. Complaints should be registered online


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

Four current Yarlet pupils had the privilege of meeting an Old Yarletian when Head Boy and Girl, Sophie and Freddie, were accompanied by Monty and Annabel from Form 2 on a special visit to see Mr Gordon Hewitt at his home in Stone. Gordon was a pupil at Yarlet and left in 1932 aged 13. He is pictured here alongside his brother in a football team photo which still hangs in the hall at the school. Mr Hewitt celebrated his 100th birthday on Friday, October 11, and the children took him gifts and a card signed by all the current pupils at the school. They were astounded by the number of cards that he had already received but, at the time of their visit, he was yet to receive one from the Queen! The children were very interested to hear about Mr Hewitt’s experience during World War Two and were saddened to hear that he lost both his brother and his best friend, both Old Yarletians, in the same war. On returning to school the children took the opportunity to visit the school chapel and found the names of Mr Hewitt’s brother and friend, R Stubbs, on the remembrance plaque. Both men, along with other Old Yarletians who lost their lives in the Great War and World War Two, are remembered each year in the Yarlet remembrance service and a wreath is laid in their memory by the Head Boy and Head Girl. This year’s service will be especially poignant for Freddie and Sophie having met Mr Hewitt.

• RSVP will perform at Chebsey Village Hall on November 22.

• Stone footballer Josh Williams (right) in action with Crystal Palace u23s against Watford u23s.

The Eagle has landed! Stone footballer signs pro-deal Stone soccer star Josh Williams has signed a professional deal with English premiership club, Crystal Palace. The 20 year old left-back agreed terms following a six-week trial with the London-based outfit and has already turned out on four occasions for the club’s under-23s. Josh impressed for the Eagles during a pre-season representative game against Bromley FC, but picked up an injury and missed out on a deal in August. He worked on his fitness and went back to play for local side Newcastle Town. The former Stafford Grammar School • Josh Williams has signed a pupil seized the opportunity professional contract with when he was invited to Premiership football club, Selhurst Park a second time, Crystal Palace. earning a contract after six weeks. His father Ben said: “I’m really proud of Josh, particularly his mentality. He went down to play tier six football but was still determined to impress. He made his own break and really deserves it. His short-term goal is to try to secure a long-term contract with Crystal Palace or another professional club and play first team football.” As a youngster, the former SGS defender was snapped up by Aston Villa’s academy where he progressed through the ranks, leaving school after his GCSE examinations to join Villa’s youth team. Having earned his first Wales cap at under-15 level, Josh was on international duty again last year for Wales under-19s. He was offered a pro-contract by Villa when he was 18 but was released soon afterwards and last season joined League Two side, Morecambe, to compete in their development squad before moving to Newcastle Town to gain experience in adult football. Josh lined up recently for Crystal Palace under-23s against Leeds United, Bolton and QPR, and competed in a tight match for the Eagles which ended in a 2-0 defeat to league leaders Watford. Stafford Grammar’s head of sports studies and Josh’s former PE teacher, Lee Harwood, said: “As a schoolboy Josh was a very talented all-round sportsman. On a football pitch he was very composed on the ball and displayed an excellent skill set. His quiet nature, together with his hard working attitude, made him an excellent team player. We’re delighted to see him sign for Crystal Palace and wish him all the best in his professional career.”


Eccleshall Library opens a new chapter Christine Conlin hears the first words from some of its new volunteers ccleshall Library has been volunteer-run since August but its opening hours are unchanged. Likewise its services, charges, fines and meeting facilities. “The only new thing users will notice are the new faces behind the counter,” John Ball of Eccleshall Rotary told the Gazette. It’s Eccleshall Rotary who, having consulted the town’s community groups, have undertaken to keep the library running under volunteer management. Of Staffordshire’s 43 libraries, only 16 are now operated by the County Council – a symptom of the state’s austerity-driven retreat from public services. But the alternative was unthinkable. “The library is a mainstay of the High Street,” John stressed. “The community did not want to see it closed and we have done a remarkable job of pulling it all together.” Gill Macham and Jane Rothwell belong to the 50-strong volunteer team which Eccleshall Rotary recruited and rostered ahead of the transition. Normally, two volunteers are on duty together, but having three allows one person to work in the stockroom. During their two-hour shifts, volunteers use the computer to register book loans, returns and fines, assist with photocopying, put books back on the shelves, maintain tea and coffee supplies for users and keep the library clean. They deal with the daily arrival of the Library Service van which brings back books returned to other area libraries, delivers Eccleshall books requested by other area libraries and supplies new stock. All have been trained for these roles, and also on health and safety aspects such as operating the security alarm, resetting the fire alarm, using fire extinguishers, testing the temperature of hot water from the taps and securing the building. Training and initial support is currently provided by County Council’s Library Community Support Officer who also assists six other community-led libraries in our area. Community Support Officers are still choosing the new library stock, believe volunteers, who have yet to discover Eccleshall Library’s average ratio of new stock to old. The County Council undertakes and pays for building maintenance and repairs, when these are notified by the volunteer team, John explained. Repairs and moss removal have been recently carried out on the roof and on the day of our interview, a fault with the entrance doors was being put right. The County Council is responsible for insuring the building and keeping it safe,” John continues. “We manage its day-to-day running and pay the public and volunteers’ liability insurance which is charged out of library income.” Weekly income from fines and room hire totals around £40 a week, and this, apart from the £400 start-up money they obtained through the good offices of Eccleshall County Councillor Jeremy Pert, is all they have to put in the library’s till. Actually, in this arrangement, Eccleshall Rotary is not the partner as such. “When we first approached the County Council, the first thing they told us was we needed to form a legal entity they could deal with,” Rotary member


• Queuing up to take over: Eccleshall Library volunteers and users at its High Street entrance Hilary Ball explained. However, despite having dealt with many other library transitions before Eccleshall, the County Council gave them no recommendation as to what sort of legal entity they should opt for, Hilary continued. “We were extremely fortunate that local accountant Tim Hulse stepped in and advised us to steer clear of entities which could potentially have left volunteers individually liable. That would have scuppered the project entirely.” Instead, three Eccleshall Rotary members formed a Community Interest Company, which has signed the lease to run the library initially for five years with options to renew for five years, then for five years again after that. That’s rota planning for the long term! Hilary commented “Our Community Support Officer is very helpful, but we still frequently don’t know how much authority the county officials we’re dealing with actually have and who reports to whom.” County Council ownership will tie the new management’s hands in other ways as well. “Many people walk straight past without realising we’re a library so we asked about putting a sign up over the door,” said Peter. “We were told this would require both permission from the libraries’ marketing department and planning approval.” Another permission-requiring move would be to vary the opening hours to reflect footfall. Volunteers are still gathering data on the library’s peak times, though currently Tuesday mornings, Saturdays and any day in school holidays seem busiest. On average, 600 people use the library per month, the team believes. But so far the feedback from all sides is positive. Volunteers are not just learning new skills but enjoying getting to know each other both

Ecclian Calendar The first batch of Eccleshall Calendars are now on sale at £4.50 each at the Eccleshall Pharmacy and Buttercup & Daisies. The calendar is produced by the Ecclian Society and all profits go toward projects that are aimed at enhancing and promoting the town. • Derek Aldred


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

during and outside of their shifts. Users are just grateful the library has stayed open at all. “I come in regularly to read the papers,” said Eccleshall pensioner Daphne Young. “I also borrow two large-print books per week. The volunteers are very helpful about finding the books I want. I am a satisfied customer.” In the upstairs meeting room, I spoke to someone using one of the library’s seven computers to complete an online job application form. “The library is my lifeline, as I don’t have internet access otherwise,” he said. Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said: “We’ve worked hard with communities in recent years to keep their libraries very much at the heart of local life. “We now have 27 community managed libraries up and running across the county, which are working very well. We really do believe that this approach is a win-win for libraries and communities alike. It not only gives groups the chance to run and expand on the core library service but they have the chance to offer whatever people want – whether it’s a well-being drop-in centre, hairdressing or baby massage classes. “The volunteers in Eccleshall are great and since the library transferred to community management at the beginning of August, they have actively promoted the Summer Reading Challenge and have lots of plans to develop the library offer in consultation with the local community.” Eccleshall Library opening hours are: Tuesday 9am – 7pm, Wednesday 9am – 1pm, Thursday 9am – 5pm, Friday 9am – 5pm, Saturday 9am – 4pm. Membership is free.

Farewell to Derek Eccleshall’s Holy Trinity Church saw one of its largest congregations when the service for Derek Aldred took place on Wednesday, October 16. Individuals who knew him, representatives from Walton School, Trinity Men’s Fellowship, Katharine House Support Group were all gathered to pay their respects, some with bright socks others with even brighter ties. Long-time musical friends Peter Wilshaw and Di Talbott sang one of his favourite songs ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. The family’s words were read by Reverend Graham Fowell and told of his life, of his music and his family. Members of the congregation were nodding in agreement when a mention was made of the part that Derek had played in their lives.

Festive themed race will put Stone Festival 2019 to bed The last event of the Stone Festival 50th year anniversary celebrations will be on Sunday, December 8, when the first ever Fancy Dress Santa Bed Race takes place in the High Street. This is hoped to be a huge crowd pleaser as teams go off at minute intervals and start and finish in the Market Square, going down and then up the High Street, changing the bed passenger outside The Lounge and doing one more lap before finishing. The race starts at 11.30am but pre-race entertainment commences at 10.30am with commentary provided by Stone Radio. Organiser Grahame Neagus said: “This is a lot less competitive than the Soapbox Race, but a whole lot of fun for all the family, whether they are participating or watching, and there will be prizes for everyone competing.” Fancy dress is mandatory so whether it’s a Father Christmas suit, a turkey, Christmas pudding or whatever you fancy, it’s going to be one great spectacle. There are still spaces available if you fancy having a go and there are a whole host of categories to take part in at only £10 per team. There is a Festival Bed being built so if you have not got time to build one, why not turn up in your fancy dress and use this one? For more information, please contact Grahame on 01785 509381 or via email at grahame.neagus@renault-trucks. com. Entry forms are available to download on the festivals website at


Rising local music stars will entertain at Adbaston Adbaston Community Concert Society is pleased to welcome two young rising stars from North Staffordshire and Shropshire for its next classical concert on Sunday, November 3: flautist Ruby Howells and singer Daisy Mitchell. There will be a programme of vocal and woodwind music, including works by Mozart, Schubert, Debussy, Bartok and Vaughan Williams. Daisy Mitchell is a 19 year old soprano from Biddulph, who earned a place at Chetham’s School of Music (Manchester) for sixth form, then was awarded a scholarship for the Royal Academy of Music in London, where she is currently in her second year of Vocal Studies. As well as concerts in Stone, Manchester and London, Daisy has worked with the ‘Commonwealth Resounds’ charity in Uganda, and in 2018 in Ischia, Italy, for a series of concerts associated with the William Walton Foundation. Daisy is accompanied by Reuben Goldmark who also trained at Chetham’s, before beginning his Music Jazz degree at the Royal Academy of Music. He was a finalist in this year’s BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition and had compositions premiered on BBC4 and BBC

• Daisy Mitchell


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

• Ruby Howells Radio 3. 17 year old Ruby Howells from Market Drayton studies flute under the Hungarian flautist Noémi Gyori at the Junior Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. She is a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and has performed in venues in the UK and abroad, including Birmingham Symphony Hall, the Barbican, Southbank Centre and the Royal Albert Hall with NYO, and at the Liszt Academy of Music, Budapest, as a soloist. Awards and achievements include the British Flute Society’s Young Performer of the Year 2018 and woodwind winner of the National Eisteddfod of Wales 2019. Ruby is accompanied by local pianist and organist Harry Hitchen, the former Director of Music for Stoke-on-Trent. The first set by Daisy and Reuben will feature concert arias by Mozart, songs by Schubert and Debussy, and will conclude with three English countryside songs by Michael Head. The second half will feature Ruby playing solo or accompanied flute pieces by Debussy, Fauré, Bach, Enescu and Bartok, concluding with Vaughan Williams’ celebrated ‘The Lark Ascending’. The concert will be at 5.30pm on Sunday, November 3, at St Michael and all Angels Church, Adbaston. Entrance is just £10, free parking nearby; light refreshments will also be offered. Tickets at the door or in advance via 01785 850967 or email

Community comes together to feed the hungry Barlaston School, St John’s Church and the wider community came together on Saturday, October 19, to further develop their mission to support children in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya. In January of this year, a team of teachers from the school, along with Canon Stewart Jones and his wife, went out to Kenya to teach in three deprived schools in the slum. During their visit Reverend Stewart also preached in their amazing church. The visit to Kenya was organised in conjunction with a charity called ‘Feed the Hungry’ who send dried food out to many countries around the world, including Kenya, and the three schools the group visited. The food is served to the children at lunchtime each day and for many this is their only meal of the day. Feed the Hungry joined the community at Barlaston School on October 19 and as a community they packed more than 10,000 meals in under three hours, which will be sent to the children. Mrs Clarey, Headteacher at the school, said: “ What a brilliant morning, everyone was working together for the good of the children in Kenya, so lovely to see.” More than 130 people, including families from the school, children, and adults from the church community, packed the food over the three hours. One child from the reception class said: “I had a good time, I enjoyed helping to pack the food for hungry children.” Canon Stewart Jones said:“It was a wonderful morning, brilliantly organised by the Feed the Hungry charity and such a great effort by the church, the school and the wider community of Barlaston. Working so well together we have all seen the power of compassion in action. As we prayed together as each load of boxes were taken to the van, we saw the true mission of God in changing lives both in Barlaston and in Kibera, Kenya.”

• Children and adults from St John’s Church, Barlaston School, and the village community, pack food to be sent to Kenya.


New book explores the changing face of a local town

• The former Golden Ball public house, Bridge Street, which dates back to c. 1600

• This house on Merrial Street, part of which dates back to 1769, was occupied by the Newcastle Conservative Club from 1874.

A new book about the market town of Newcastle-under-Lyme has been released by local historian Mervyn Edwards. In ‘Newcastle-under-Lyme in 50 Buildings’ he highlights the town’s treasured buildings and structures that reveal its history, character and changing face across the centuries. The town developed around a 12th-century castle and was granted a charter by Henry II in 1173. Its growth between the 12th and 18th centuries was driven by industries including the hatmaking trade and silk and cotton mills. Later industries included brick manufacturing, engineering, iron casting and coal mining. No book on Newcastle-underLyme’s architecture would be complete without a critical analysis of the borough’s approach to building preservation and the gradual erosion of the town’s visual appeal. The town still offers some architectural glories, such as the art deco Lancaster Buildings, the elegant Unitarian Meeting House and the majestic tower of St Paul’s Church. Mervyn Edwards is the author of many published books on North Staffordshire history and is a weekly columnist for the Sentinel’s ‘The Way We Were’ nostalgia magazine. He has appeared on BBC TV’s ‘The One Show’ and ‘Twenty Four Hours in the Past’, and is a familiar voice on Radio Stoke. He was a local history tutor for the Workers’ Educational Association for eight years and helped to develop the education department at the now-defunct Chatterley Whitfield Mining Museum, where he often acted in period drama for school groups. All photographs copyright of Amberley Publishing.

• Mervyn Edwards’ new book explores the architectural heritage of Newcastle-under-Lyme

• Guildhall, High Street, built c. 1713

Christmas music with a twist A festive evening of beautiful Christmas songs, classical crossovers, musical theatre favourites, opera arias, and power ballads will take place at Eccleshall Community Centre on Sunday, December 8. ‘Christmas with Bel Canto’ is a heart-warming show of exquisite vocals, provided by the classical crossover group Bel Canto. Described in The Stage as “an incredible talent”, the stunning voices of sopranos Carrie Audit, Angie Diggens and Gemma Turner will bring the joy of the festive season to life, as they perform a beautiful selection of songs from various genres, all performed with a special classical twist. Songs will include ‘How Great Thou Art’ and ‘O Holy Night’, alongside hits from the musical ‘Phantom of the Opera’ and not forgetting the beautiful, popular ballads by artists such as Michael Bublé. Tickets are available from • The ladies of Barlaston Afternoon WI celebrate 90 years.

90 years of monthly meetings The village of Barlaston has held a Women’s Institute meeting every month for 90 years. To celebrate, the Barlaston Afternoon WI held a wonderful lunch cooked by Andrew Black with a team of helpers playing waitress for the afternoon. Entertainment was provided by the Trentham and Barlaston Ladies Choir which originated from Barlaston WI – Jersualem was sung beautifully.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

The next event for the WI will be an attic sale on Saturday, November 2, in the village hall from 2pm to 4pm. Barlaston Afternoon WI meets monthly at Barlaston Village Hall from 1pm to 3pm. The speaker on November 20 will be Keith Alldritt with a talk entitled ‘Watch Out for Scams’. Look for Barlaston Afternoon WI on • Bel Canto will perform at Eccleshall Community Centre in Facebook for more photos and information. December.

• Left to right: Executive Chef Andy Pickstock, Sebastien Brichet, James Jefferies, Zoe-Ann Horwell. Front: Carl Lavery.

From canalside to riverbank Tuesday, November 5, will see the award-winning kitchen team from Aston Marina’s No.26 bar and restaurant swap their usual canalside view for a riverside setting in Stafford. Led by Executive Chef Andy Pickstock, members of both the kitchen and front of house team will take over Stafford College’s renowned Riverbank Restaurant for one night only, working alongside students to create a delicious five-course taster menu. Andy says: “We’re really excited to be taking over the Riverbank kitchen in November – Stafford College has an exceptional reputation for turning out talent, both in the kitchen and front of

house. As a former student myself, I’m proud to return to the college and work with the next generation. When it comes to the menu, guests can expect autumnal classics crafted from great local ingredients.” The No.26/Riverbank Restaurant takeover will take place on the evening of Tuesday, November 5, and is strictly ticket only for the five-course tasting menu plus arrival drink. To make a reservation, contact or call 01785 275481. To find out more about Aston Marina’s No.26 eatery, head to or call 01785 819702 to make a reservation.

• Could you be a ‘Forever Home’ for Shadow (left) or Blackie (right)?

Misunderstood monochrome moggies need your support Cats Protection’s Stafford and District Branch is championing black and black-and-white cats this autumn as figures reveal they spend longer in care waiting for their forever homes. According to the charity, the misunderstood monochrome moggies took 13% longer on average in 2018 to find their new home than other coloured cats, spending one whole week longer in care. The charity held its annual National Black Cat Day on 27th October. Ahead of the day dedicated to championing black and black-and-white cats, the charity was encouraging cat owners from #TeamBlackCat or #TeamBlackAndWhiteCat to share their photos, videos, stories and selfies while using their team hashtag and #BlackCatDay. A spokesperson for Cats Protection said: “We believe the main reason for monochrome moggies being overlooked is that they are more common than cats of other colours such as ginger or tabby.” When it comes to choosing a cat, volunteers and staff at the Stafford and District Branch are hoping to show that black and black-andwhite cats have just as much love to give.

Black/Black-and-white cats currently in need of a home include Blackie, an 18 month old female. When we first met Blackie she was a frightened timid untrusting young cat who would hide all the time. She ate little to begin with and didn't make any sound. In the 2 months she has been staying with us she has found her voice (lets us know when she is hungry). She will purr loudly a lot of the time especially when she's been stroked and rolls over to have belly tickled. She is still a timid cat but we have noticed a big improvement in her general demeanour. She is a gentle, non aggressive and dainty young cat and will make a loving pet and companion. There is also Shadow, a 2 year old female. She loves a fuss and cuddle and is looking for a forever home where she can have lots of love and cuddles. They are just two of the monochrome cats and kittens in our care. Have a look at adopt-a-cat and our Facebook Page ?q=cats%20protection%20stafford%20%26%2 0district%20branch&epa=SERP_TAB


• Correspondence - Readers’ Writes death in 1964. The video concludes with a little film of one of the Meaford locomotives saved for preservation and now located at the Foxfield Railway Stoke on Trent. The conclusion is a few days after the last generation when staff and families were invited for a special train etc to commemorate B Station from 1955-90. Meaford No 4 (AB 486 of 1964) and Whiston (HE3694/1950) pulling the train. Both locos remain at Foxfield as at October 2019 with Whiston in full working order and Meaford No 4 in working order but needs attention to its tyres. Regards Steve Turner P.S. - There are also vidoes showing the cooling tower demolition on 07/09/91 at and at Also the chimney demolition which took place on 09/06/96 at /watch?v=gAEeEds5dw8 • Eccleshall Home Guard pictured here circa 1940 -1944. Image courtesy of Staffs Past Track.

Who remembers Home Guard in Eccleshall? Hi Dan, Well, the Chebsey History Society is certainly gaining momentum, at "The Impact of WW1 on Chebsey Parish" event, Justine Pick who gave the talk also asked attendees for information on WW2. The event was well attended but the findings by Justine were at times very sobering yet extremely informative of day to day life between 1914/19. There will be further talks as information is gained not only on WW1 but events leading up to WW2 and the impact that period had on this community. Justine wanted to know more about the Home Guard in Eccleshall, and was wondering if you could ask your readers if they could contact me with any of the following. 1. The name or number it went under 2. Any of the people who served in the said Division in Eccleshall. We would be most grateful for any information. My contact info is 01785 814331 or email me at Thank you for your continued support Mike Skerratt

Love for thy neighbours Dear Gazette readers, There was a serious incident on the evening of 7th October this year when a car ploughed into flats on The Burgage in Eccleshall taking out a small tree and severely damaging at least two flats. I have to say that I am so proud of my friend Tony who without hesitation offered two neighbours, who had been rendered homeless as a result of the crash , immediate and comforting support and accommodation for a few days in his own home - even giving up his own bed! I remember Tony Carter’s exact words: “Any problem or inconvenience that I may have is nothing compared to the problems that my neighbours face.” It will be months apparently before these flats are repaired and made habitable again. From what Tony tells me, praise is due to Stafford and Rural Homes who have been wonderful in their care and response. Tony’s friend Carol Cullen Stone

Sue raises awareness for fund • Some of the power station team share a smile on that final day. Screenshot taken from the video.

Video surfaces of Meaford Power Station last day of generation 28/09/90 Dear Gazette, Some of your readers may be interested in a bit of video I took on the 28th September 1990, regarding the last hours of generation at Meaford B Power Station just north of Stone. The video has only recently come to light in my household after years of being in a cupboard! You can view it here My father Colin Turner who passed away in February 2003 worked at Meaford B from 1956 to 1989 and was an Operations Supervisor. In earlier years he had been at Bents Brewery on Mount Road as a long distance drayman. My grandfather was at Meaford A as a Charge Engineer until his

Dear readers, My father and his two brothers all flew with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War; one in Coastal Command, one in Bomber Command and one in Fighter Command. I imagine it was quite unusual that the three brothers flew in the three separate branches of the RAF and even more unusual, that come the end of the war all had survived. I am very proud to be backing the RAF Benevolent Fund’s centenary campaign to reach out to RAF veterans and let them know the help and support they deserve is out there. The Fund, which celebrates its centenary this month, is here to help the whole RAF Family through the toughest times. They estimate that there are up to 100,000 veterans and their partners who urgently need help. Often National Service veterans and their partners, who answered their country’s call more than 60 years ago don’t even realise they can turn to the RAF Benevolent Fund for help. Time is running out, we only have a few years to help these veterans before it is too late. So I urge you to speak to your relatives, neighbours and friends and if they once served for the RAF and are in need of support encourage them to contact the Fund. It is our duty to ensure these veterans spend their twilight years in comfort and dignity, with the help of the RAF Benevolent Fund. If you know someone who needs support, call 0300 102 1919. Sue Holderness RAF Benevolent Fund Ambassador

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Gazette ECCLESHALL NEWS IN BRIEF Chebsey Parish Local History Society Chebsey Parish Local History Society’s autumn programme of events began with a very successful coffee morning in memory of Judy Common who was a founder member of the society. A total of £506.67 was raised with the proceeds going to Macmillan Cancer Care. The group is grateful to all who contributed.

Councillor’s Surgery Borough Councillor Peter Jones will be in Eccleshall Library on Saturday, November 23, between 10am and 12 noon to talk with residents. Do pop in for a chat and collect your Parish Council survey.

Eccleshall Singers Eccleshall Singers will be performing in concert at the Community Centre, Shaw’s Lane, on Saturday, November 30, starting at 7.30pm. Admission is £6, and the musical programme will be as varied as usual. Bring your own food and drink and turn it into a party atmosphere. The Singers rehearse once a week on Tuesdays at the Stone Road Methodist Church in Eccleshall starting at 7.30pm. Interested singers should contact secretary Peter Jones on 01785 851381 or email peterwjones@ for more details or visit the website at

Garden Guild AGM The Croxton and Broughton Garden Guild will hold its annual general meeting on Wednesday, November 27, at the Broughton parish room in Wetwood (ST21 6NW) starting at 8pm.

Eccleshall WI Members of the Eccleshall Women’s Institute will be gathering at the Holy Trinity parish room on Thursday, November 14, at 7.30pm for a Christmas Craft Evening and the competition will be for any craft item.

Christmas Tree Festival Holy Trinity Church looks to repeat the success of last year’s Christmas Tree Festival when dozens of local people, businesses and clubs decorated a tree for display in the church. The trees will be available to view from Thursday, November 28, until Sunday, December 1.

Standon Parish Council The next meeting of Standon Parish Council takes place on Monday, November 11, starting at 7.30pm at the Cotes Heath and Standon community centre. This is a public meeting and all are invited to attend.

Coffee Morning The Eccleshall Trust has arranged a Coffee Morning at the Kings Arms, Eccleshall, on Saturday, November 2, between 10am and 11.30am.


Everyday epiphanies A stunning painting of Stone’s Granville Square led Christine Conlin to track down its creator was hurrying down the stairs of Eccleshall’s Gallery 12 when this painting of Stone’s plane tree made me stop and stare. Never before had I seen Granville Square and the High Street beyond in such a dazzling, almost hyperreal light. Who was the artist who had had this vision? Since taking up oil painting only 12 years ago, Craig Sumner M. Des RCA, a retired ceramic designer now living in Oulton, has won multiple awards and exhibits widely in the Midlands and in London. His first exhibition was at Newcastle’s New Vic Theatre in 2009. Craig’s intensely realistic renderings of landscapes, cityscapes, figures and portraits are almost all derived from photos taken on his mobile phone. “I capture scenes in very particular light conditions which give rise to a ‘wow’ moment,” he explains. “The light is constantly changing, so I don’t paint outdoors. “I paint what I see around me, no gimmicks, no slick tricks, no quick fixes, no interest in fashion,” is Craig’s credo. “I rely solely on observation and draughtsmanship.”


• Concentration: mirror image: “I was at a loose end for a subject so I painted myself in my front room looking into a mirror in a niche behind my easel. I’m looking serious because, when you’re painting, you can’t keep a smile up all day. The title reflects both my facial expression and the viewer’s realisation that I’ve merged my black top into the black background so all you can see of me are my head and hands. (By the way, this is a mirror image and I’m not left-handed!)”

These talents earned Middlewich-born Craig a place first at art schools in the Potteries, then at the London Royal College of Art where he trained as an industrial ceramic designer. In his 30 years as an independent ceramic designer, the patterns he created for companies such as Biltons, Tams and Johnson Brothers were reproduced on millions of tableware pieces – pieces which are turning up in antique shops even now, he jokes. Though his paintings are extremely sought after, hearing them often praised as “almost photographic” leaves Craig a little puzzled. A response like that overlooks their painterly and tactile qualities, he insists, encouraging me to examine one up close to see the brushwork and even touch the blobs and ridges on its surface. “A painting ought to work at any distance,” Craig insists. “It’s got to stand scrutiny at close range and look just as good when viewed from ten feet away.” To see more of Craig’s work, go to www.

• Caer Caradoc in winter: “We would drive past this dramatic Shropshire Hill a lot, on our way to and from a home we used to have in Herefordshire. I’ve painted it in all seasons, but this is an increasingly rare sight of it under snow. You can feel the biting damp of the weather in this harsh but beautiful winter scene.”

• Ilfracombe Harbour: “We visited Devon in late August and I finished this painting just a few weeks ago. It captures a moment of twilight serenity – on its right-hand edge, the lights have come on. But the contrast between the static vertical accents of the church tower and the masts and their rippling reflections in the water lend the painting drama as well.”


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• Above: Stone High Street from Granville Square: “Yes, I really did experience this unusually bright sunlight in Granville Square, if only for a moment. Leaving Wetherspoons after a coffee I was struck by the light and shade effects, though it wasn’t a blisteringly hot day. The plane tree’s dramatic shadows lead your eye in, first to focus on its dappled trunk, then to linger on the High Street beyond. The effect is immersive.” • Right: Lane to Hobbergate: “The inspiration was a winter walk round the lanes just a mile from our home. The light was sharp and crisp and I aimed to capture the filigree patterns of the skeletal trees. The rising lane leads you in, then out of the picture.”

• Three generations: “I captured this scene while photographing my wife, daughter-in-law and grandson playing on the seashore at Littlehampton near where my son and family live. It was late afternoon, with long shadows and a fading light giving the colours a bluish tinge.”


Gazette ECCLESHALL NEWS IN BRIEF Grand Singathon The Singathon which took place at the Eccleshall Community Centre on Saturday, October 5, was a huge success with many folks attending and enjoying the event. Choirs and artists from the area provided the talent to make the day go with a swing.

Trinity Men’s Fellowship The Trinity Men’s Fellowship is a fellowship group for men living in the parish of Eccleshall and meets on one Friday a month for a walk in the countryside and a meal at a local hostelry. On Wednesday, November 13, the group will ride and not walk for a visit to the JCB factory at Rocester. The club has several splinter groups which meet on the other Fridays of the month. On the first Friday of each month some members meet at the Royal Oak for games of crib, starting at 11am and usually finishing around 1pm. On the second Friday a mysterious group of members simply called SHED also meets at the Royal Oak for the consumption of alcoholic beverages at 12 noon. On the third Friday of the month the breakfast group of members meets at the Star Café at 12 noon, on the fourth Friday of the month the TMF main group meets at various locations and venues, and with the fifth Friday not occurring every month, the members arrange an alternative function. The subgroups are only open to members of the TMF. If you are a man living in the Eccleshall Parish perhaps this is a club you would enjoy being a member of. Contact secretary Rob Hughes for more details on 01785 851372.

Surgery training day Eccleshall’s Crown Surgery, including the dispensary, will be closed for one afternoon a month for training. There will be no routine clinics or surgery appointments on that afternoon. Please call the usual surgery number and you will be given an emergency number. This month the training will take place on Thursday, November 7, when the surgery will be closed from 1pm onwards.

Poetry group Lovers of poetry gather in the upstairs room of Eccleshall Library on the first and third Thursdays of the month. In November the group meets on November 7 when the theme will be “poems about poetry and pets”, and on November 21 the theme will be comedy. If you enjoy reading or listening to poetry, perhaps this is the group for you.

Historical Society Ned Williams is the guest speaker at the gathering of the Eccleshall Historical Society on Wednesday, November 13, in the Community Centre, Shaw’s Lane, starting at 7.30pm. He will speak on the theme of “Black Country Biographies – people who weren’t what they said they were”.

Acoustic Night Local acoustic musicians will gather in the upper room of the Royal Oak on Thursday, November 7, starting at 8pm, all are welcome to pop in and listen. The event has become a popular gathering site for local musicians and singers and those people who enjoy listening to acoustic music. There is no admission charge.

• The Inn Ringers

Local handbell teams are seeking new recruits Two local handbell teams are looking for new recruits to join their teams. Eccleshall Handbell Ringers and The Inn Ringers have a shared history; both teams began in the late 1970s and five members of the Eccleshall Ladies Handbell team were also members of the Inn Ringers when the team were formed in 1977. There were no long-term plans for the ladies from Eccleshall to be permanent members of the newly formed Inn Ringers. Both teams came together to help each other out during those early years, supporting each other to develop the art of handbell ringing. Back in the late 1970s neither of the teams seemed to have any problems recruiting new members; today it is a different story wih both teams struggling to gain new recruits. MD for the Inn Ringers Paul Mellor says: “We are finding it really difficult at the moment to get some new members to join our ranks. Over in Eccleshall they just about manage to get sufficient ringers turning up for their Monday night practice sessions, while we (the Inn Ringers) are having to rely on the good will of former ringers to enable us to fulfil our concert bookings for this year. “It is a really sad time – we have been going for 42 years and we hope we can keep the team going for many more years to come but we need some new recruits. We have at least one spare place every week at our practice nights and this does have an effect on what and how we play. As we are all getting a little bit older, it would be great if we could get some new ringers to take the team through the next few years.” Handbell ringing is a fascinating art – ringing tunes on a set of handbells is a unique sound. Neither of the teams ring from conventional music – both teams use the same notation which they developed when they first started, so you do not have to be able to read music. Both teams have a vast repertoire of music that includes classical pieces as well as popular tunes. All you need to be able to ring is a sense of rhythm and to be able to count to four! Over the years the teams have performed in many parts of the country but most of their concert bookings these days are much more local. Paul says: “It is the commitment that I

Live Music Entertainer Cole Jackson will provide the music at Eccleshall Community Centre on Saturday, November 9, as part of the programme of musical events arranged by the Eccleshall Community Centre Association entertainments committee. Admission is £6 on the door, starting at 8pm. Bring your own drinks and food.

Carers’ Café Carers and their loved ones are welcome to the Community Centre in Shaw’s Lane, Eccleshall, for the carers’ café between 10.30am and 12.30pm on the last Thursday of each month. Refreshments are available. Come along and socialise and gain valuable information about health and social care at the group.


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• Eccleshall Handbell Ringers

think puts some people off – practising every Monday night and then obviously honouring the concert bookings we get, which in some cases can be over a year in advance. I know people have busy lives with work and families taking up their time, but handbell ringing is the perfect way to destress for a couple of hours. Getting to perform your handbell music to an audience, that you have practised for weeks on end, is the icing on the cake.” A lot of what the teams do is linked to raising money for local charities – back in May this year the Inn Ringers’ annual charity concert raised £1,000 for the Donna Louise Trust. The Inn Ringers are now making the final preparations for their Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 15, at 3pm at the Meir Heath and Rough Close Village Hall. Secretary for the Inn Ringers, Rowena Dawson, says: “This is our favourite concert of the year – we put on a buffet supper, organise a charity stall and a raffle, not forgetting the mulled wine and mince pies. The ringing goes down a treat and audience and ringers have a wonderful time. “I always fancied having a go at handbell ringing but never really got the opportunity. I had seen the Inn Ringers in concert once and had been very impressed. I eventually got around to going along to one of their practice nights and was hooked almost straight away – that was ten years ago! “I enjoy the social aspects of being with the team, the laughs we have at every practice night but it is the thrill you get playing our music in public, we always get a good reaction from our audiences. The sound of the bells is really something very special.” The Inn Ringers practise every Monday evening at St Luke’s Church Hall in Tittensor. Eccleshall Handbell Ringers meet at Holy Trinity Parish Room, Eccleshall, also on Monday evenings. If you are interested in going along to see what handbell ringing is all about, contact Eccleshall Handbell Ringers Secretary David Sandham at or The Inn Ringers Secretary Rowena Dawson (to arrange a visit to a practice session or to book Christmas concert tickets £6) on 01782 392621 or email or visit

The ‘Rural Oscars’ are back The Countryside Alliance Awards, also known as the ‘Rural Oscars’, are returning for their 15th year and this is your chance to be a part of the highlight of the rural calendar. Thousands of nominations will be submitted; skills and produce, tradition, enterprise, and the people behind the businesses will be judged, and the champions crowned. More than 17,000 nominations were received in 2018 alone, for what is considered one of the most prestigious and hotly contested business awards in the country. The awards are the Countryside Alliance’s annual celebration of British food and farming, enterprise and heritage through our small, hard-working businesses. They are set apart from other award schemes because they are driven by public nomination, offering customers the chance to tell us why their favourite businesses are worthy of national acclaim. Judges will not just be looking for evidence of great produce, customer service and innovation, but stories of how businesses serve their communities and go beyond the call of duty. A previous nomination said: “This business will not just go the extra mile. They will pick you up and carry you the extra mile.”

The categories for nomination are: Local Food & Drink; Village Shop/Post Office; Butcher; Rural Enterprise; Pub. Nominations are now open and will close on December 8, 2019, with regional champions announced in May 2020. The final will then be held in June 2020 at the House of Lords. The last time a Staffordshire based business scooped up a top gong was in 2018, when Perrys of Eccleshall was crowned ‘Best Butcher’ in the hotly contested national awards. Countryside Alliance Awards Director Sarah Lee said: “These awards are a fantastic way to applaud our rural businesses here in North Wales and across our country, for all the hard work that they do to help keep our local communities alive. It is such an honour to be able to recognise the rural businesses that represent the best in Britain’s entrepreneurial spirit and who do a great job to promote our beautiful countryside. “I would urge everyone who wants to support their local businesses and communities to nominate them and give them the boost they so richly deserve.” Nominations can be made online at the Countryside Alliance website www.

• Perrys of Eccleshall were award-winners in the 2018 ‘Rural Oscars’.

Stone Choral Society to perform a requiem for the emotions Stone Choral Society will be performing in Christ Church, Stone, on November 16 at 7.30pm and their programme promises to entertain with a wide range of choral pieces from the church tradition. The music to be performed is some of the most moving pieces from composers across Europe. Brahms, Mendelssohn and Tchaikovsky have created wonderful harmonies that can transport the audience to centuries past. The renowned British composer John Rutter is featured for the main work of the evening in his Requiem. This is a modern work in English and Latin and has choir and soloists blending together to create an

emotional atmosphere of sadness, solemnity, joy and light. Stone Choral Society is always keen to foster young musicians and this performance is no exception as it will feature young soloists in the Rutter Requiem. Tickets for the concert can be obtained from choir members, or from Home & Colour or Plants the Jewellers, both on Stone High Street. Tickets are £10 with under 16s free. If you are interested in trying choral singing, the choir welcomes new members for either a taster session, free first term or for a workshop. See or contact the membership secretary Janet on info@ for further information.

• Stone Choral Society in performance at Christ Church, Stone.


World class yachtsman to visit sailing club Stafford Coastal Cruising Club (SCCC) has once again attracted one of the big names in yachting to present as part of the club programme. This year’s VIP guest at the fast-growing club will be world famous amateur adventurer The Reverend Bob Shepton, who will be based in Stone during his visit. Club Vice-Commodore Michael Goodwin, from Stone, explains:“Bob recently completed the unique feat of sailing his 33ft sloop through hostile conditions in the North West Passage in both directions in successive years. His most recent passage, west to east undertaken in 2013 at the age of 78, was in particularly bleak conditions and was managed by only three boats that year. In recognition of his achievement he won the Apollo/Yachting Journalists’ Association Yachtsman of the Year Award. “ Bob, an an ex-Royal Marine and adventure youth leader who was chaplain at two London schools, cruises extensively in the Arctic on his yacht ‘Dodo’s Delight’ and in the 1990s he took a crew of underprivileged schoolboys to the Antarctic and back across the Atlantic. He has also sailed to climb in high latitudes, having scaled previously unclimbed Arctic mountains. Bob is widely recognised as one of the most remarkable voyagers and explorers of our time – a modern day H W (Bill) Tillman. Over the past 25 years he has circumnavigated the world several times, sailing more than 130,000 miles in every latitude from the Arctic to the Antarctic.

• Yachtsman and adventurer Bob Shepton Stafford Coastal Cruising Club meets twice a month during September to April for talks and activities relating to the sea. Coastal sailing opportunities are available to members during the summer months. You do not have to own a boat in order to join the club, and many members join simply to enjoy the social programme. Individual membership costs £25, and family membership £30. The Reverend Bob Shepton will make his appearance at Stafford Coastal Cruising Club (hosted at Stafford Boat Club, ST17 4SG) at 8pm on November 26. Tickets are available to both members and non-members at £10 each from the club Commodore Phil Osman (email, call 07939 004111) or can be purchased online via the club website.

• Winning quiz team John and Jenny Hall, Michael and Hazel Wilshaw and Peter Wilshaw – ‘The Oatcake Corral’.

Fundraising quiz and chips A fundraising quiz was held on Friday, October 4, in aid of Katharine House Hospice. Friends and supporters of the Katharine House Hospice Support Group enjoyed fish and chips kindly provided by Jav and staff at Eccleshall Chippy and raised a fabulous £371.10 for the hospice. Eccleshall Chippy has just celebrated its 40th birthday, so congratulations to them. At the beginning of the evening a few words were said to remember a long-standing member of the group, Derek Aldred, who sadly passed away on September 26. The funds raised will be given to the hospice in his name. Thanks go to the Katharine House Shop in Eccleshall, Eccleshall Pharmacy and Alleati Hairdressing salon for selling tickets, and also to Peter and Joy Jones for being quizmaster and marker and Eccleshall Community Centre for providing the venue. The next event is a Christmas coffee morning, with mince pies, which will be held at Eccleshall Cricket Club on Saturday, November 30, from 10am to 12 noon. Christmas cards, gifts and cakes will be on sale.

• Bob Shepton’s yacht Dodo’s Delight photographed among the icebergs.

A Dutch tale provides food for thought at Stone WI meeting Lynne Bakker Collier was the October speaker for Stone WI with a talk entitled ‘My Dad’. The ladies had wondered what to expect after the formal business had been completed, but it turned out to be a fascinating insight into Lynne’s father’s life, having been born in a windmill and brought up in the north of Holland. The ladies learned about his life there and experiences in the Dutch Underground Movement during World War Two. His parents were farmers, not only growing produce but also rearing horses, dogs etc. Lynne’s grandparents had several boys and a small replica windmill was placed in the windmill garden with the birth of each. They were desperate for a girl, so much so that a pram was decorated in pink in readiness for the next new arrival. However, two days before Christmas, twin boys arrived and apple boxes were hastily fashioned into a carrier for the two boys. Mouth organs, music and singing were the family’s entertainment and they learnt to play ‘by ear’.


The family lived in constant fear and respect of the Germans and eventually the boys had work for them in factories producing war ammunition. One went to sea and remained in seafaring all his working life. Some of the atrocities her uncles endured were outlined briefly, but her father, together with a few others, moved to the coast over several nights, hiding and sleeping by day. Their stomachs must have ached but eventually 12 men rowed to England in one boat and found themselves in Wolverhampton with a very limited vocabulary of five or six words. Back in Holland they discovered that some of the women had been taken for experimentation and they had endured much pain in the quest for a superior nation to be produced. The talk was thought-provoking, and generated many questions with some members adding memories and anecdotes of their own. The next meeting is on Wednesday, November 6, in the Christ Church Centre, Stone, at 2pm. New members are welcome.

Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

The phonebox taking care of heart and mind A disused phonebox in Chebsey has found a new lease of life, now serving multiple roles for people in the village. Not only does it house a public defibrillator but it is also in use as a lending library and even features a vase of flowers to brighten up the space.

Shaun Walker returns for Christmas concert The wonderfully talented local musician Shaun Walker is set to return to Stone on Friday, December 6, as he plays a two-hour set at the Stone Festival Christmas concert at Christ Church. Readers may have seen Shaun at various events in Stone over recent years including his pre-race entertainment at this year’s Soapbox Race and at the Stone Music Festival in the summer. Festival Chairman Grahame Neagus said: “We are delighted Shaun has agreed to play at our Christmas concert this year and bring to the town his great musical talents in both guitar playing and his evocative singing and all within the marvellous setting of Christ Church.” Shaun will be playing a two-hour set with a refreshment break in the middle and will be on stage from 7.30pm. Tickets are available from November 1 at Home & Colour, The Royal Exchange and Fairway Garage or you can pay on the door. Tickets cost only £7.50 for what is set to be a fantastic evening of acoustic sets with a Christmas twist.

• John Ariklitis at work

40 years for John the chippy Ioannis Ariklitis, better known to the chip loving public of Eccleshall as John the chippy, celebrated 40 years providing quality fried food to the public last month. John started in a small outlet in Small Lane and moved to Stafford Street where he is now. Congratulations John, keep on frying!


Sport and Spode are on the agenda for Oulton children Children at Oulton First School have enjoyed a variety of activities in their first half term of the year. Those who had taken part in the Summer Reading Challenge were awarded with certificates for their efforts. The school was also excited to welcome sports athlete James Dasaolu in October. Each class enjoyed a fitness session and a question and answer session with James. Class 3 had a visit to the British Ceramics Biennial Exhibition at the Spode Factory in Stoke-on-Trent on Tuesday, October 8. The children were given a tour of the exhibits

and chose items to sketch. They took part in discussions about the different techniques used to create the items and then had the opportunity to take part in a clay workshop. They saw some of the 5,500 flatback figures created by children from schools across Staffordshire and some of the children recognised the figures that they had made. These figures are still on display at various Biennial sites, including Wedgwood and Spode. Oulton First School is pleased to have been accepted as a Clay School and this will enhance their learning in art, writing and maths. • All at sea: Keith Winstanley from Eccleshall will sail four legs of the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.

Eccleshall’s Keith sets sail for charity

• Children at Oulton First School meet athlete James Dasaolu.

Guide Dogs on the look out for life-changing volunteers The Guide Dogs Community Team that covers Shropshire, Staffordshire and The Black Country, is on a mission. Shrewsbury Guide Dogs Community Team is aiming to reach more people living with visual impairment than ever before; current projections show that by the year 2050, there will be four million people in the UK negotiating with the challenges that are created through life with sight loss. Guide Dogs are rising to this challenge and have set a target of filling an extra 8,500 roles by 2023 as they move from 24,500 to 33,000 roles filled by volunteers, an increase which excites Community Fundraising Development Officer Mary Conner. She says: “There has never been a more exciting time to volunteer for Guide Dogs, not only are we embracing new ways of

volunteering but there is more variety in the volunteer opportunities we have to offer than ever before. For example, we are looking for exciting roles like an Area Speaker Co-ordinator, a Name A Puppy Co-ordinator, and Group Co-ordinators to name a few.” Engagement Officer Andy Farrell also applauds the variety on offer: “I think that it is fitting that we have such a wide variety of volunteer roles, it reflects the amount of time, work and effort that those living with visual impairment have to put in, before they decide to pursue the option of having a guide dog.” If you feel that you have the skills and the passion to support Guide Dogs, then visit for more information about the wide variety of roles available in or call your Community Team on 0345 143 0226.

Retired Royal Navy Commodore Keith Winstanley, who lives with Type 2 diabetes, will sail more than 17,000 miles in the adventure of a lifetime, while raising money for Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society. Keith, 58, joined the Clipper Round The World Yacht Race in South America to sail the second leg of the race to South Africa. The iconic race started in London in September and will finish there in August 2020. Keith, who lives in Eccleshall, has signed up to compete in four of the eight legs, which will see him sailing on from South America to South Africa and then South Africa to Australia this year and returning next year to sail from China to the USA and then the final leg from New York to London. Keith married Ruth in June this year and, between them, they have five children and three grandchildren, all of whom will be following his adventures. Keith said: “I’m so looking forward to the challenge and also raising money for Diabetes UK and the National Autistic Society. “I was diagnosed [with diabetes] while I was in the Royal Navy back in the mid 1990s. It was a shock at the time, but while I was serving I managed it with tablets. Since I left the Navy about six years ago, I have used insulin to manage my condition. “I’m keen to prove what you can do while living with diabetes. I have good control and use technology to help myself, but there is no doubt that managing it along with the gruelling demands of sailing every day will be tough.” Julie Wood, Diabetes UK Midlands Fundraising Manager, said: “We’re so grateful to Keith for choosing Diabetes UK as a charity to benefit from this awe-inspiring adventure. “This challenge will be physically and mentally exhausting for all involved, but Keith’s generous fundraising will support our work to fund ground-breaking research, care services and campaigns that can change the lives of those living with diabetes.” Keith will be at sea for 96 days, he is funding the challenge himself and raising money for his two chosen charities. To sponsor Keith’s epic adventure and for more details of the race visit

Macmillan fundraiser

• Local volunteers providing support to the Guide Dogs Community Team.


Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

The Old Smithy in Eccleshall was the location for a Macmillan Coffee Morning on Friday, September 27, raising funds to support the valuable work of Macmillan Cancer Care. The Old Smithy has been the venue for the charity event for several years and the right venue is always a good start to fundraising. Home-baked products are always an attraction and the team who produced and donated them are to be thanked once again.

• Jo Hill’s textile work is inspired by the beauty of the nature she sees in Staffordshire.

Exhibition by local textile artist If you’re looking for unique, locally made Christmas gift ideas, head to Gallery at 12 in Eccleshall this month for an exhibition of new work by local textile artist and designer, Jo Hill. Jo’s range of work includes lampshades, cosmetic bags and wall art and is inspired by British wildlife. Jo, who lives in Whitgreave, told the Gazette: “I’m really looking forward to showcasing my autumn and winter range at the gallery. I am particularly pleased with my new Pheasant design - it was a joy to stitch its intricate feather details and I loved dyeing all of the fabrics to achieve the perfect colours of this magnificent bird!” Jo’s work is created on her sewing machine, using a technique known as ‘free motion embroidery’ where she draws her unique designs on to fabric. As well as a variety of original textile wall art and lampshades, Jo will also have a range of gifts and homeware for sale. She has her designs photographed and printed on to fabric using a local printing service, from which she creates her textile homewares and kitchenware. Jo’s work is inspired by her local

surroundings and the hidden beauty of nature. She says: “Living in Staffordshire provides a wealth of inspiration for me, from the huge variety of birds that visit my garden, to the fallow deer on Cannock Chase. I can often be seen on Cannock Chase with my sewing machine, stitching the beautiful landscapes!” Jo has been a member of Gallery at 12 since 2009 and also stocks a variety of shops across the UK. Earlier this year she was recognised by Theo Paphitis, star of BBC’s Dragon’s Den as a winner of his Small Business Sunday award. Jo says: “We feel very lucky to have been recognised by Theo for this award. It’s lovely to know that my unique range of cushions, lampshades and homewares have the recognition of such a well known entrepreneur.” Gallery at 12 is open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 5pm and Jo’s exhibition runs throughout November. Come and meet Jo at the gallery on Saturday, November 2, 11am to 2pm for the opening of her exhibition.

Paws for thought 1st Walton Rainbows enjoyed a recent visit to the Cats Protection charity shop in Stone. They enjoyed an interesting and informative talk from Jessica Keitley, manager of the shop, who is herself a leader in Staffordshire Girlguiding. The girls also handed over donations of used goods that will be sold in the shop.

Jane West, leader in charge of 1st Walton Rainbows, said: “The girls are doing a ‘Take Action’ skills builder badge this term and the visit to the shop has proved to be a really valuable and important way for the girls to take action themselves to help others.”


GA AZ ZE ET TT TE E M OTO OTO R R II N NG G World premiere for the new Volkswgen Golf he Golf is the most successful European car for more than four decades .... and a new chapter in the history of this best-seller begins at the end of October 2019, with the world premiere of the eighth Golf – digitalised, connected, and intuitive to operate. Never before has a Golf been so progressive. With hybrid versions launched at the same time, it is electrifying the compact class. Its digital interior enables a new dimension of intuitive operation. Speeds of up to 210 km/h are possible with assisted driving. It is the first Volkswagen to use swarm intelligence from traffic via Car2X, meaning it can warn against hazards on an anticipatory basis. Its world premiere takes place in Wolfsburg, where the Golf was invented, and where it has been built and refined for the last 45 years. The new Golf will be available on the market in December. Over the course of seven generations, the Golf has impressed more than 35 million customers. The entire automobile industry expects a new Golf to set the standard In terms of its technology, the Golf is making the greatest leap forward since its debut. But of course, a Golf always remains a Golf. Because the underlying concept is timeless. It is a fact that the new Golf makes sustainable mobility accessible to many people. What’s more, with this Golf Volkswagen is moving to digitalised, self-explanatory operation. Practically all displays and controls are digital: the new instruments and online infotainment systems meld together into a display landscape featuring touch buttons and touch sliders. A windshield head-up display is optionally available to further enhance the range of information available. Five hybrid drives for the new Golf With the new Golf, Volkswagen has started a hybrid offensive. As the first model of the brand,


the eighth Golf will be available in no less than five hybrid drive versions. Its debut also celebrates 48V technology: a belt starter generator, 48V lithium-ion battery and the latest generation of efficient TSI engines form a new mild hybrid drive in the eTSI. Tangible benefits: consumption has been cut by up to 10% (on the basis of WLTP) and the vehicle is extremely agile and comfortable when moving off. Volkswagen will offer the Golf in three eTSI output stages: 81 kW / 110 PS, 96 kW / 130 PS and 110 kW / 150 PS. The eighth generation of the best-seller will also be available as two plug-in hybrid drive variants. A new efficiency version generates 150 kW / 204 PS while the very sporty GTE delivers 180 kW / 245 PS. Both Golf versions with plug-in hybrid drives will launch with a new 13 kWh lithium-ion battery on board that enables larger electrically powered ranges of approximately 60 kilometres, and temporarily turns the Golf into a zero-emissions vehicle. Efficient petrol and diesel – consumption savings of up to 17% The drive options for the new Golf also include a petrol (TSI), diesel (TDI) and natural gas drive (TGI), two four-cylinder petrol engines with 66 kW / 90 PS and 81 kW / 110 PS, two four-cylinder diesel engines with 85 kW / 115 PS and 110 kW / 150 PS, and a TGI with 96 kW / 130 PS The new TSI variants have particularly low consumption values and emissions thanks to elements including the innovative TSI Miller combustion process. An innovation in the TDI powertrains: Volkswagen uses twin-dosing technology (two SCR catalytic converters) to significantly reduce nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx) by up to 80%; in addition, TDI consumption is lowered by up to 17% compared with its predecessor.

Seat Mii electric now on sale in the UK he SEAT Mii electric is now on sale for ordering across the manufacturer’s UK dealer network. The fully-electric city car marks the first chapter in SEAT’s electrification programme, as the brand begins to shift towards meeting the demands of an ever-changing market. Priced from £19,300 (including PiCG), the Mii electric is one of the most affordable electric vehicles on the market. Complementing this is a tempting PCP offer from £199 per month with £4,399 customer deposit thanks to a SEAT UK deposit contribution of £500 and APR of 6.9%*. Making the Mii electric an even more attractive prospect, the first 300 retail customers to place an order before 31st December 2019 will receive a wall box charger fitted at their home, a 3-pin home charging cable, 3 years’ servicing and roadside assistance free of charge. The Mii electric fuses dynamism, urban design, an advanced powertrain and new levels of connectivity with low cost of ownership, to offer a vehicle that is ready to meet the challenges of the city and the needs of a new generation of customers. SEAT’s first all-electric production vehicle also lays the groundwork for future models to join the family, with more BEVs and PHEVs due in 2020 and beyond. These include the all-electric SEAT el-Born, plug-in hybrid versions of Tarraco and New Leon and highperformance plug-in hybrid models from CUPRA, including the Formentor and Leon. 100% electric-in-use The Mii electric’s motor, linked to a single-speed transmission, provides its 61kW (83PS) of power and 212Nm of torque instantly, meaning the five-door car can reach 31mph from a standstill in only 3.9 seconds – perfect for driving around towns and urban cities. The car’s 36.8kWh lithium-ion battery pack provides up to 161 miles (WLTP) of range from a single charge, based on the WLTP test cycle. Rapid charging (DC at 40kW) to 80% takes an hour – about the same time as an average smartphone – whilst using a AC 7.2kW home charger takes four hours to reach 80% fully charged.


Equipment Staying true to the SEAT UK easyMOVE strategy, standard equipment for the Mii electric includes metallic paint, sports seats, dark tinted windows, Lane Assist, Traffic Sign Recognition, rear parking sensors and fast DC charging capabilities. There will be a choice of five metallic colours: Deep Black, Candy White, Tornado Red, Chester Blue and Tungsten Silver at no extra cost. management of the vehicle. Customers can review driving More recently, SEAT introduced the e-Mii prototype car-sharing pilot project. A fleet of five all-electric Mii prototypes are used on the roads of Barcelona, allowing more than 1,000 employees at SEAT Metropolis:Lab Barcelona and the Pier 01 Barcelona Tech City, to hop in and out of vehicles as and when they need. The project has fed into the Mii electric and given valuable insight into how EVs work on public roads. Orders opened on 22nd October and first customer deliveries are projected for the end of Q1 2020. Retail price from £22,745


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Vauxhall continues to charge! auxhall continues to push ahead with its large-scale electrification offensive. As early as 2021, it will offer a total of eight electrified vehicles in important volume segments. Next year the battery electric version of the Vivaro van, as well as the electric version of the Mokka X successor will be added to Vauxhall’s electric line-up. Electric variants of the Combo and Combo Life along with the electric version of the Vivaro Life will be added in 2021. Vauxhall’s portfolio will also include an electrified version of the next generation Astra.


The new BMW M340i Xdrive saloon and BMW M340i Xdrive touring he new BMW 3 Series range has taken on a more sporting flavour than ever before, as the presence of two top-class athletes at the sharp end of the line-up clearly illustrates. From November 2019, the BMW M340i xDrive Saloon (fuel consumption combined: 38.2 – 40.4 mpg imp; CO2 emissions combined: 168 – 160 g/km) will be joined in the range by the BMW M340i xDrive Touring (fuel consumption combined: 37.2 – 39.2 mpg imp; CO2 emissions combined: 172 – 163 g/km). Powertrain and chassis technology developed with race track expertise from BMW M GmbH, distinctive design cues, exclusive standard specification and a cockpit created for the enjoyment of driving pleasure at its most intense treat those on board to a performance experience head and shoulders above anything else in the midsize premium segment. From November 2019, the Saloon and Touring models will also be available in BMW M340i First Edition guise. Limited to 340 units in each case, the First Edition will include particularly enticing design and equipment features. The new BMW M340i xDrive Saloon and BMW M340i xDrive Touring represent a highly concentrated distillation of the sporting essence that enshrines the 3 Series as the definitive BMW and has set it apart from the competition for over 40 years. The original BMW 3 Series made its mark at launch in 1975 with its strikingly agile handling qualities. And the Touring model – which took to the stage for the first time with the arrival of the second-generation “3” – combined its trailblazing versatility with signature BMW dynamics. Powerful engines (most notably of the six-cylinder inline variety), consistently upgraded chassis technology and the allwheel-drive system first introduced on the 3 Series have been serving up a matchless driving experience ever since. In the model’s latest incarnation, BMW M adds extra depth to the dynamic potency at hand. A 374 hp straight-six unit with M TwinPower Turbo technology, an M Sport differential, M Sport suspension including variable sport steering and M Sport brakes, plus bespoke M exterior features with optimised aerodynamic properties form a flawlessly composed overall package designed to maximise performance. The new BMW M340i xDrive Saloon powers from 0 to 62 mph in 4.4 seconds, the new BMW M340i xDrive Touring in 4.5 seconds. This makes both models half a second quicker than the range-topping variants of the outgoing 3 Series. The six-cylinder in-line engine developed exclusively for the new BMW M340i xDrive Saloon and BMW M340i xDrive Touring stands out with its instantaneous power delivery and appetite for revs, combined with the smoothness for which BMW engines are renowned .



Harvest Festivals aid food bank Eccleshall defender in regional call-up

The choir at Oulton First School was delighted to support a fundraising event for St John’s Church, Oulton, held at the village hall on Saturday, October 12. The children sang beautifully alongside the C-K Community Choir despite never having the opportunity to practise together. On Friday, October 11, the school celebrated its Harvest Festival and food donations will be given to Stone Food Bank which the school is supporting again this year. The children and staff of Mumbles Day Nursery, Stone, also donated harvest baskets to the food bank at the Stone Community Hub. • Oulton First School children with their harvest donations The children made the baskets with their families and filled them with food to donate to other families within the local community.

Eccleshall footballer Freddie Nakash has been called up for regional duty after catching the eye of selectors at an under-16 Midland tournament. The 14 year old defender gave a stand-out performance when he turned out for Stafford Grammar at the Independent Schools’ Association (ISA) championships in Nottingham. SGS team mates Josh Myles (15) and fellow midfielder Luke Turnbull (16) also put in an impressive shift and are picked alongside Freddie for the ISA U16 Midland squad. The trio lined up in the side’s curtain raiser against Wolverhampton Grammar U17s, which ended in a 1-1 draw. They are now preparing for their next fixture against Repton School on November 26.

• Pictured left to right are a community hub volunteer, apprentice nursery practitioner Georgia Griffiths and nursery manager Eve Hawksworth with children Jacob Ball, Rory Smith and Alfie Norman, all aged two.

The power of the hour Charles Darwin once said: “A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” Your local Guide Dogs team has taken notice of this and is part of the National Donate an Hour scheme being run by Guide Dogs throughout the Guide Dogs Appeal in October up until December. The man behind the idea at the Guide Dogs Association, was Daniel Myatt, aged 40, who was keen to ensure that volunteering across Staffordshire, Shropshire and the Black Country

• Daniel Myatt, initiator of Donate An Hour for Guide Dogs

was accessible for as many people as possible. He said: “I’ve always been passionate about voluntary work, and supporting causes which mean a lot to me, but as life marched on, I was finding myself with more obligations and committing time was an issue.” Those interested can navigate to the Guide Dogs website donate-an-hour, enter their postcode and it brings up the nearest collection, and the available 60-minute time slot that they can support. Guide Dogs are aiming to collect £420,000 in a month to support the life-changing journey of seven dogs from Guide Dog Puppies, all the way to Guide Dogs. There are currently more than two million people in the UK who are living with sight loss; the charity Guide Dogs provides life changing services so that those people are able to play an active part in their community, but more importantly live full, enriched and independent lives. If you would like to volunteer, but you’ve been unsure if you had the time, Donate an Hour is a fantastic way for you to get involved with a charity without making a large commitment. You never know you may come across the odd Guide Dog while you’re at it and find yourself hooked.

• Eccleshall’s Freddie Nakash, 14 (pictured right), Josh Myles, 15, and Luke Turnbull, 16, are picked for the Independent Schools’ Association (ISA) U16 Midland football squad after impressing at a regional tournament in Nottingham.

Brownies say no to plastic 2nd Stone Brownies recently took part in a national girlguiding initiative to raise awareness of plastic pollution in Britain and what can be done about it even on a small scale. The Brownies collected plastic for the week and brought it into their meeting. The amount of plastic collected was quite staggering. Thousands of girls have taken part in the initiative and many have made ‘plastic promises’ to try and reduce the amount of plastic used in their households. The girls made sculptures of sea creatures affected by plastic pollution and although the girls had great fun creating their art, the activity taught them a lot about the effects of plastic pollution. Brownie Arabella said: “The activity was important because it represented our waste and the harm it’s doing to sea life.” Katie said: “We really enjoyed making the octopus and it made me think that we use so much plastic each and every week without really noticing.” Rosa added: “More needs to be done about plastic, it’s dangerous, something needs to be done.”

Road safety lesson for Guides Have you ever been alongside a lorry and wondered if the driver can see you or not? Tittensor Guides found out where to go and what to do to make sure they are seen when they welcomed some lorry driving guests recently. After a short safety presentation the Guides took it in turns to sit in the driver’s seat of a lorry to see where the blindspots are. Both Guides and parents had lots of questions which their guests – experienced lorry drivers – were able to answer to ensure everyone can stay safe on the roads. If you would like to find out more about Girlguiding or what the rest of the division has been up to, check out the Facebook page: GirlGuiding Stone Outward Division.


• Tittensor Guides had the chance to sit in the lorry’s cab.

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• 2nd Stone Brownies demonstrate how much plastic they use in their homes.

• Within Living Memory with Philip Leason MBE ince 2007 Stone has been the home of more than 100 felons but you need not worry as there is not going to be a rise in the crime rate. These Felons are all members of the Stone Association for the Prosecution of Felons. Such associations were formed in the 18th century before the days of the police force and their sole aim was to bring petty criminals to justice. To ensure this was done, the members paid an annual subscription and this was used to pay rewards for information leading to the offenders standing trial and being prosecuted. The affairs of the association were transacted at an annual dinner. Most towns and villages had their own association. For example, in the William Salt Library in Stafford there is a copy of the rules for the Sandon Association which also incorporated the villages of Coton, Ingestre, Weston, Hopton, Marston, Salt, Enson, Burston and Hardiwick. In his ‘Portrait of an Age – Victorian England’ G M Young states that in 1840 there were in England “five hundred Associations for the Prosecution of Felons”. George Eliot, in ‘Scenes of Clerical Life’, writing of the 1830 period, has a farmer, Mr Hackitt,“presiding at the annual dinner of the Association for the Prosecution of Felons at the Oldinfort Arms”, in the Nuneaton area. Arnold Bennett writes in ‘These Twain’ of an architect living in the Five Towns during the late 19th century: “Osmond Orgreave had never related himself to the crowds. He was not a Freemason; he had never had municipal office; he had never been President of the Society for the Prosecution of Felons.” With the introduction of the police force, the main role of the associations ceased to exist and many disbanded, although some continued as a social gathering. Examples of this are the Burslem and Hanley associations who have held an annual dinner from the start of their associations through to the present day. The Burslem Association even has its own song and new members toast the existing members with punch taken from a ceramic punch bowl. In 2006 some members of the Burslem and Hanley Association living in Stone discovered that the town had in the past had its own association and so decided to reform it as a social gathering. The first dinner was held on 16th November, 2007, at the Crown Hotel where the original association held its annual dinners. Unfortunately no records exist of the original Stone Association so we do not know when it was formed.


• Burslem, Longport, Cobridge and Brownhills Union Association for the prosecution of Felons - from the Enoch Wood scrapbook, 15th May 1823. This notice is an example of a group of local people who have formed an association to prosecute anyone guilty of crimes against person or property. They outline a sliding scale of rewards for informers that relate to a variety of offences – from £10 10s for capital offences, to £1 1s for theft of livestock. Pottery manufacturer Enoch Wood collected this document and it is now among the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.

• An aquatint print of the Crown hotel, Stone, with figures and a horse and trap in the foreground, c. 1809 - 1811. The original Stone Association for the Prosecution of Felons held its annual dinners here and the reformed association continued the tradition with its first dinner, held on 16th November, 2007.

To catch a thief The history of the Stone Association for the Prosecution of Felons However, we know that it was in existence by 1790 as there is an article in the Aris’s Birmingham Gazette of 8th February, 1790, which reads: “We whose names are hereunto subscribed, having formed ourselves into a Society for the purpose of prosecuting any person or persons who shall commit or attempt to commit any felony or robbery against any persons or properties and in order the more effectually to promote the intention of the Society, the following rewards will be paid to the person by whose information any offender or offenders shall be convicted of the following offences, viz For House Breaking, Highway Robbery, wilfully setting fire to any building or other effects £10 10s. For stealing any Horse, Mare, Filly, Colt or Gelding, Cow or Cow-Kind, Sheep, or Sheep kind, Hog, Sow, or Pig £6 6s. For stealing any Cock, Hen, Duck, Goose, Turkey, or any sort of Poultry whatever One Guinea: and if the offender or offenders shall be transported on such conviction £5 5s. For robbing any Garden, Orchard or Hemp Pleck, or stealing any Grass, Hay, Clover, Turnips, Potatoes, Corn, or any sort of grain whatever Three Guineas; and if the offender or offenders be transported for such offence £5 5s. For destroying any Hedge, or Fence of any kind, or stealing any implements of Husbandry One Guinea and so in like manner for every other offence in proportion to the nature £1 1s. That to encourage Persons to give information against Offenders, they be entitled to five shillings per day over and above the respective rewards, for each day they shall attend the Assizes or Sessions for the purpose of giving evidence in any trial to be had against such offender or offenders as aforesaid. Hugh Wheatley, Solicitor.” The formation of the original Stone Association came at an important time in the town’s history. The town had changed dramatically within the previous 20 years with the opening of the canal. The once quiet market town had expanded with the building of wharfs and warehouses. The ‘Topographer’ in 1789, describing the way that the canal had benefited the local economy, states: “The market town of Stone in particular soon felt this comfortable change, which from a poor insignificant place is now grown neat and handsome in its buildings, and from it wharfs and busy traffic, wears the lively aspect of a little sea-port.” It must also be remembered that Stone was on the main road from London to Chester and also to Liverpool and the North. All types of traffic passed

through the town. At the height of the coaching era 38 coaches a day passed through Stone. In addition there were various types on foot, ranging from soldiers to vagrants and petty criminals. The few records that exist show that the majority of petty crime was committed by those travelling through the town either by road or on the canal. One of the most unusual cases refers to a man who stole two flat irons from the Crown Inn by concealing them in his trousers (hopefully they were cold at the time). Crime particularly increased during the annual fair and wakes when people from throughout the area were attracted to the town for the various events including cockfighting on Crown Meadow. Perhaps the most prevalent crime was that of stealing food or poaching and this is reflected in the various rewards offered by the Stone Association. The after effects of the American War of Independence and our war against France and Spain between 1773 and 1783 had resulted in a serious depression in the British economy and food prices were high. This had resulted in the ‘Bread Riots’ in Etruria in 1783. Clothing was another popular item that was stolen. It is interesting to note the harshness of the sentences for what today we would consider to be a minor offence. For example, nationally there are cases recorded of villains being transported for the theft of a couple of hens or even a pocket handkerchief. As stated earlier, the rewards arose from the annual subscription paid by the members. Although it is not known what the subscription was for the Stone Association, the fee for the neighbouring society at Sandon was 10s. 6d. and so we can assume that it would be a similar amount. As mentioned at the start of this article, the Stone Association was reformed in 2007 as a social event. The association crest depicts the pile of stones over the grave of the two Saxon Princes Rufin and Wulfad above a martyrs cross and is surmounted by a Stafford knot. The first President was Mr Ian Moxon who presented a ‘President’s Jewel’ to the association. Although the role of the Association has changed, it provides a link with the past history of the town. I hope that you found the above of interest. Please help us to keep the heritage of Stone alive for generations to come. If you have any photographs relating to Stone, 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.


• Stone & Eccleshall Heritage

• Canteen staff, Drake Hall, near Eccleshall, about 1943. On the left is Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Martin. (Mrs M Monteith)

• Catering Department, Drake Hall, 1945. The Kitchens at Work, Page 8 of ‘Drake Hall - A War-Time Hostel’. (Mr P Leason)

The changing faces of Drake Hall by Senior Museums Officer, Chris Copp at Staffordshire Past Track e’re revisiting Drake Hall’s fascinating past this month, thanks to a set of photographs kindly sent to us by Maria Monteith. Her mother, Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Martin, worked in the canteen at Drake Hall during World War II. She was from Edinburgh and started work at Drake Hall aged 18. As well as being employed in the canteen at Drake Hall, she also worked at ROF Swynnerton munitions factory. She was born in the United States, but her Irish parents moved to Scotland when she was six months old. While working at the canteen, she met her future husband, Jimmy Monteith, who was in the RAF and based in Staffordshire. Drake Hall was built by the Ministry of Supply to accommodate munitions at nearby ROF Swynnerton and opened in 1942. It was named after Sir Francis


Drake. There were 15 residential blocks, each with a male name, arranged alphabetically. At the centre of the site was an assembly hall, games room, canteen, kitchen, sick bay and administrative block. Many of the residents came from Ireland and Scotland and the Manager was Mr J H Damms. The Manageress and Welfare Officer was Mrs D H Damms. A wide range of activities, entertainments, talks, lectures and dramatic productions were put on for the residents, as well as a wide range of indoor games and sport, including netball, hockey, tennis, badminton, cricket and football. Towards the end of the war Drake Hall hosted 132 evacuees, all of whom were old age pensioners. It closed shortly after the end of the Second World War but reopened shortly after as an Emergency Teacher Training College for Men. During the 1960s it became

• Catering Department, Drake Hall, 1945. Page 7 of ‘Drake Hall - A War-Time Hostel’, a souvenir book produced for staff and residents at the Swynnerton Royal Ordinance Factory hostel at Drake Hall, produced in 1945. The top photograph shows catering staff with their Supervisor, Dorothy Thomas; the bottom photograph shows a second group with their Supervisor, Ivy Waddingham. (Mr P Leason)


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a male open prison. In 1974 it became a female open prison. Most of the accommodation blocks were rebuilt in 1994-95 and in 2009 it became a closed prison. All these photographs and more than 40,000 others are or will shortly be available on the Staffordshire Past Track website ( To find out what’s new on the site, just click on to 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 01889 869137, or you can email You can also keep up to date with what’s new on Past Track by ‘liking’ our Facebook page.

• Canteen staff, Drake Hall, near Eccleshall, about 1943. On the left is Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Martin. (Mrs M Monteith)

for November 2019 with Marcus Sylvester


March 21- April 20 Recently we encouraged you to take a break - even if only a long weekend. But as November starts, you may well be offered an opportunity that will open your options - but this time, someone rather than something, is holding you back. And they may well be being selfish, although they probably genuinely believe they are working in your interest, and this is where you need to be able to spot their agenda.

TAURUS April 21- May 21

November is a time to keep your own counsel - try not to leap in and advise others, and if you have a secret, keep it that way. You will find yourself being tetchy with people, your normal irritability has gone into overdrive and you risk saying something you will live to regret - so if you can, keep your thoughts to yourself. You could well be drifting away from a relationship or set of friends. Don’t worry, change happens, move on

GEMINI May 22 - June 21

• Canteen staff, Drake Hall, near Eccleshall, about 1943. On the right is Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Martin from Edinburgh who started work at Drake Hall aged 18. (Mrs M Monteith)

At last, your aspects are showing signs of developing a more positive spin. For the last few months you have been at full tilt. But there is a wind of change on its way and the winter ahead will be a totally different proposition. The opportunity to sit back and let someone else take the strain.

CANCER June 22 - July 22

After the turmoil of September and October, November leaves you becalmed. But it’s probably no bad thing - a break before the seasonal overkill that Christmas has become. Have you considered trying booking a break in the country - perhaps for Christmas week itself. Expensive, no doubt, but money is not a major concern for you just now, but a few days away could be a wise long term investment.


July 23 - Aug 22 You may well have learned a few lessons of late and you feel wise beyond your years. You are, however, not invincible and the grief and stress you have amassed in one area of your life will need some remedial work. But overall, your life is in the ascendant - two steps forward and only one back - progress may well be faltering, but you will get to where you are headed and the arrival will be worth the wait and the effort - in truth, most achievements only feel right when a certain amount of effort has truly been expended.


August 23 -September 23

• Canteen staff, Drake Hall, near Eccleshall, about 1943. Veronica ‘Ronnie’ Martin is standing in the middle of the back row. (Mrs M Monteith)

You think you have probably come to a fairly momentous decision in the last week or two. Your problem is you allow your mood of the day to be dictated by how you fell when you wake up. Big mistake! Do not allow your heart to rule your head. Easier said than done, but preconceptions are you worst enemy. Do what you need to do to fight your corner as in tennis, as long as you you get the ball back over the net, then it’s your opponents’ problem. As soon as the pressure is off, sit down with the person you most trust and ask their advice. You don’t have to take it - but you must open yourself to the possibility.


September 24 - October 23 It’s now that you are peaking in all aspects of your life - be it at work or in your social life you tend to look on others as being slow to catch up. Cut them some slack. You might well be giving off sparks, but you may well be shining by comparison or at someone close to you’s expense. So take care not to gloat or take advantage of your current flair - it could well leave you vulnerable - the old pride proceeding a fall etc. Keep focused.


October 24 - November 22 As we told you, your star is definitely in the ascendant and any self doubt of recent months is now well behind you. Your confidence will see you through to Christmas - possibly beyond and into 2020. So, subject always to the circumstances, you can commit to relationships and investments with a feeling of certainty - and people trust your opinion.

SAGITTARIUS November 23 - December 21

What was that tricky decision that you faced last month - and did you prevaricate as advised or jump in with both feet as is your wont. Let’s face it, you sometimes can’t help yourself - the wind for you is invariable the target for your caution. So if this is indeed the case, November - and probably December, is the time to operate a zero spending regime - when you are in a hole, stop digging.

CAPRICORN December 22 - January 20

The worst is over - all you have to do now is clear up the mess, and sort out how you are going to spend the rest of the year - possibly even the rest of your life. Don’t be surprised if you are faced with a momentous choice in November - possibly the chance of a new start, a new life, a new home - even a move abroad. The stars are very definitely aspecting change - keep a grip on reality and seriously think about a fresh start.

AQUARIUS January 21 - February 19

We warned you about always trying to please others - to keep something back, to try and retain at least a modicum of mystery. But you are still at it - trying to be all things to all people and where has it got you? Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Be selfish, distant, unapproachable even. It really will pay off in the end. Playing hard to get - be it at home or at work really will make those around you sit up and take notice. Saying no can sometimes have the desired effect.


February 20 - March 20 If you are reading this, it probably means that you have spurned the exciting opportunities that came your way last month and decided that caution was the better part of valour. Was this the right decision? You may never know, though it is highly likely that the opportunities for moving on will keep on coming in November. Your whole life is in a state of flux and literally anything can happen. You are blessed with a nose for the right direction you should be heading in - so be prepared for the onslaught.




1 Clergyman's gown (7) 5 One who shows people to their seats (5) 8 Sightless (5) 9 Clipping of trees into fancy shapes (7) 10 Let go (7) 11 Period during which a monarch rules (5) 12 Place of worship (6) 14 Financial holdings (6) 18 Bush (5) 20 Race-meeting for boats (7) 22 Capital of Kenya (7) 23 Not asleep (5) 24 Assumed name (5) 25 Heighten, augment (7)

1 Floor show (7) 2 Expertise (5) 3 Eccentric person (7) 4 Young cat (6) 5 Part of a shoe (5) 6 Weightier (7) 7 Artificial silk (5) 13 Gin and vermouth cocktail (7) 15 Piffle (7) 16 Breed of cat (7) 17 Sea trip (6) 18 Father Christmas (5) 19 Floating markers (5) 21 Rail transport (5)


1 6 3 3 8 2 6 5 9 1 3 2 4 2 1 8 4 9 3 8 5 6 7 3 9 1 5 7 6 9 5 2 58

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Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read



Stone & Eccleshall’s Favourite Read

DRY ORGANIC CARPET & UPHOLSTERY CLEANING We use the most powerful deep cleaning dry organic system in the world which means Zero Drying Time! Our system will: • Deep clean and remove soil & spots • Lift and revive matted carpet pile • Leave a clean, fresh scent • Reduce allergens • Leave carpets dry & ready to use • Using our low moisture system - Solvent and Detergent free We shrink the drying times - not the furniture

Contact Ian Plimmer: Tel: 01785 814272 or 0800 634 3561


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The Stone & Eccleshall Gazette - November 2019  

The Stone & Eccleshall Gazette - November 2019