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THE COUNTY’S ONLY HERITAGE, CULTURE AND LIFESTYLE MAGAZINE

WINTER 2018

magazine

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WORCESTERSHIRE

ALL ABOUT BALDWIN Winter 2018

£3.95 where sold

Lord Lexden celebrates Honest Stan’s character and achievements

PLUS . . .

ANDREW GRANT A people person

CECIL DUCKWORTH From Worcester Bosch to Worcester Warrior

Garden centre retailer Ed Webb | Compostable crisp packets | Worcestershire’s Home Guard | Harnessing neuro-diverse talent in cyber security | Nooks & crannies: The Regal Cinema, Tenbury Wells | Gardening | Interiors | EV news | Restaurant review | Wine | Fashion and lots more. . . .


Discover three centuries of colourful history through the world’s largest collection of Worcester porcelain. Museum of Royal Worcester Severn Street, Worcester WR1 2ND T: 01905 21247 www.museumofroyalworcester.org

Open Monday to Saturday 10 am – 5 pm Sunday 10 am – 4 pm Closed Christmas Day, Boxing Day and Easter Sunday

‘Royal Worcester’ and the C51 crown device are registered by and used under kind permission from Portmeirion Group UK Ltd to whom all rights are reserved.


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WORCESTERSHIRE

Managing Director/Head of Production Pippa Sanderson BA (Hons) Editor Gerald Heys MA Media Executive Jenny Walsh Editorial Contributors Elaine Lewis Lord Alistair Lexden Michele Longari Muff Murfin Pershore Patty Dr Emma Philpott Mick Wilks Martyn Wilson Client Accounts Lissie Goble Accounts Katherine Baines BA (Hons) FCCA Publisher Peter Smith

WR magazine

Wyche Innovation Centre Walwyn Road Upper Colwall Malvern WR13 6PL worcestershire@wrmagazine.uk www.wrmagazine.uk

ISSN 2059-2965

FOREWORD WINTER 2018

W

elcome to the winter edition of WR magazine. Our cover features three-time prime minister Stanley Baldwin, whose statue was, at long last, unveiled in his home town of Bewdley at the end of September. To commemorate such a great man of the county, we set down some details of Baldwin’s life and times as well as the text of historian Alistair Lexden’s speech at the reception that followed the unveiling. Lord Lexden points out that Baldwin once said, ‘A country is impoverished when it lacks leaders with a sense of the past.’ It might also be added that a country is equally impoverished when it has no sense of its own past or fails to acknowledge the contributions of its finest leaders. On the topic of leadership, we also profile three of the county’s most notable businessmen: Cecil Duckworth of Worcester Bosch (and Worcester Warriors), estate agent Andrew Grant and Ed Webb of Webbs garden centres, each of whom spoke to us in depth about his life and achievements and shared a few of the secrets of his success. We also look at the work of Lance Perkins, guitar retailer and repairman to some of the biggest names in the music business.

WR magazine is published by International Business Press Ltd. Articles and other material appearing in this magazine may be reproduced only with the express written permission from the publisher. The views and opinions expressed in the articles herein are those of the authors concerned and are not endorsed by the publisher. While every care has been taken during the production process, the publisher does not accept any liability for errors that may have occurred, nor for the views expressed.

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Not only that, but there are, of course, oodles of words and pictures on the best festive food, fashion and drink, with sequins and champers to the fore. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous New Year. If you would like to contribute an article of historical or cultural value to do with Worcestershire, then get in touch with us at worcestershire@wrmagazine.uk. Gerald Heys Editor

WR magazine is now available to buy from the Wyche Innovation Centre cafe, Walwyn Rd, Upper Colwall, WR13 6PL; The Commandery, Worcester and Worcester Tourist Centre, adjacent to the Guildhall.

twitter.com/WR_magazine

facebook.com/wrmagazine

www.instagram.com/wr_magazine/

COVER PHOTO: Pippa Sanderson

© International Business Press Ltd. 2018

In addition, cyber security expert Dr Emma Philpott explains how the talents of the neuro-diverse are being harnessed to help prevent cyber crime, and award-winning garden designer Martyn Wilson offers advice on walls, hedges and fences. On the heritage front, military researcher Mick Wilks tells the story of the Worcestershire Home Guard, while Nooks and Crannies admires the murals at the Regal cinema in Tenbury Wells.

To read the magazine online, visit ▷ www.wrmagazine.uk

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Easing the process of divorce Is the current legal basis for divorce hypocritical and does it lack intellectual honesty? It is criticised as such by Sir James Mumby, former President of the Family Division. It is no coincidence that the government is considering reform of our existing divorce law after the landmark case of Owens v Owens. In 2016, Mrs Owens petitioned for divorce. The court found the marriage had irretrievably broken down, but was not satisfied that the fact upon which Mrs Owens relied was proven. In simple terms, this means that Mrs Owens argued that her husband’s behaviour towards her had caused the marriage to break down and, as a direct consequence, she sought a divorce. The court on this occasion did not agree with Mrs Owens, finding that Mr Owens had not behaved in such a way that Mrs Owens could not reasonably be expected to live with him. Currently, the only grounds for divorce is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. In order to prove that it has, the petitioner must satisfy one of five facts; three of those facts are fault based and two rely on periods of separation. Once a marriage has failed, most couples want to divorce sooner rather than later and settle their financial arrangements. Currently, the quickest way to get divorced is to blame an offending spouse. The fact that parties can only legally settle their financial arrangements on grant of decree nisi is a persuasive factor and often the reason for expediency. A government consultation paper has been launched in order to review current divorce law and has largely been welcomed. The consultation process seeks to establish whether the current requirement to establish fault or wait two or even five years to divorce amicably should be replaced with a process of notification. Further, as the law stands at present, should one party wish to defend a divorce, they can currently do so, as in the case of Owens. However, the government is also considering whether to remove the ability to object to or defend a divorce petition.

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There are arguments for and against simplifying divorce; those against believe the sanctity of marriage should be supported and articulate concerns that the divorce rate will increase and children might suffer. There have been many previous attempts to ease the process of divorce by senior members of the judiciary, Resolution and The Times newspaper, but none have yet succeeded. Those who are in favour of an easier process argue that a no fault divorce will remove conflict and reduce both cost and delay for parties who are necessarily facing a difficult and stressful time in their lives. The government has provided this overview of what is proposed and why: • The breakdown of a marriage is a difficult time for families. The decision to divorce is often a very painful one. Where children are involved, the effects in particular where there is ongoing conflict, can be profound. • Under current law in England and Wales, couples must either live apart for a substantial period of time before they may divorce, or else they must make allegations about their spouse’s conduct. This is sometimes perceived as showing that the other spouse is ‘at fault’. • Both routes can cause further stress and upset for the divorcing couple, to the

detriment of outcomes for them and any children. There have been wide calls to reform the law to address these concerns, often framed as removing the concept of ‘fault’. • The government therefore proposes to reform the legal requirements for divorce so that it is consistent with the approach taken in other areas of family law, and to shift the focus from blame and recrimination to support adults better to focus on making arrangements for their own futures and for their children’s. The reformed law should have two objectives: • To make sure that the decision to divorce continues to be a considered one, and that spouses have an opportunity to change course • To make sure that divorcing couples are not put through legal requirements which do not serve their or society’s interests and which can lead to conflict and, accordingly, poor outcomes for children • This consultation proposes adjusting what the law requires to bring a legal end to a marriage that has broken down irretrievably. This adjustment includes removing the ability to allege ‘fault’ (ref: Commons Briefing papers SN01409 ). Russell & Co is keen to reduce conflict when couples are divorcing and subscribe to the code of practice developed by Resolution, which commits family lawyers to resolving disputes in a non-confrontational way. Russell & Co is available to give initial free advice to assist parties who find themselves in this difficult situation.

Helen Morton, Senior Solicitor Russell & Co Solicitors, Church Street, Malvern Worcestershire WR14 2AH Tel: 01684 892000, fax: 01684 892202 Russell & Co Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Russell & Co Solicitors is a Trading name of Russell Malvern Limited, Company No. 06722941. SRA Number 498255

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CONTENTS

WINTER 2018

12 20 25

8.

EXPERIENCE WORCESTER’S PORCELAIN HERITAGE . . .

20. INTERIOR DESIGN IS TRULY AN ART But it’s also definitely an investment

And something new at the Museum of Royal Worcester

22. KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES 10. YULETIDE AND CHRISTMAS TRADITIONS 25. A FAMILY AFFAIR Retailer Ed Webb talks history, Italy and synergy 12. CHAMPAGNE HAS A SPARKLING FUTURE 14. CHRISTMAS WINES: THE BEGINNER’S GUIDE 34. EV NEWS 16. PERSHORE PATTY’S REVIEW 36. HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE The Mount Pleasant Hotel, Malvern.

18. TWINKLE, TWINKLE LITTLE WINTER STAR Winter fashions

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With Youthcomm Radio

38. WORCESTERSHIRE’S GUITAR SPECIALIST Lance Perkins

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‘live a life less ordinary’

elainelewisdesigns Interior Design 07816 369 895 info@elainelewisdesigns.co.uk www.elainelewisdesigns.co.uk Malvern, Worcestershire 6

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CONTENTS

WINTER 2018

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52 76 69 43. HARNESSING NEURO-DIVERSE TALENT IN CYBER SECURITY

46. NOOKS & CRANNIES

The Regal Cinema, Tenbury Wells

50. WORCESTER IN 50 BUILDINGS A new book by James Dinn

52. ALL ABOUT BALDWIN

Lord Lexden’s address at the Baldwin statue unveiling, along with details about the new Baldwin Trail leaflet

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64. THE HOME GUARD IN WORCESTERSHIRE

Contrary to its current image, the Home Guard was a serious business led by serious men

69. WORCESTER WARRIOR

Launching the combi boiler in the UK in 1970, Cecil Duckworth CBE transformed the way we heat our homes. More recently, he’s transformed the fortunes of Worcester’s rugby club

76. SOLD

Estate agent Andrew Grant on faith, art and psychology

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HERITAGE

EXPERIENCE WORCESTER’S PORCELAIN HERITAGE . . . and something new at the Museum of Royal Worcester

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n Summer 2018, the Museum of Royal Worcester reopened to acclaim with completely refurbished and refreshed displays through a major £1.7 million Heritage Lottery Fund investment. The relaunched galleries provide a fitting setting for the world-class collection and tell a rich story of how the history of porcelain in Worcester connected with people and places in every corner of the globe. The younger generation are invited to discover this heritage of invention and manufacture in the city through thoughtfully designed interactive exhibits. The museum’s renovation has been perfectly complemented by the redevelopment of the facing ex-Royal Worcester factory buildings into the ‘Royal Porcelain Works’ with the buzzing ‘Nest’ café and spaces for events, meetings and workshops clustered round a landscaped piazza – all the ingredients of a great day out are here, just a few minutes from the centre of Worcester.

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The museum is looking forward to an exciting programme of events in the first few months of 2019 linked to its current special exhibition ‘The Precious Clay: porcelain in contemporary art’. This show brings together artists who are inspired by the unique qualities of porcelain.

Above and next page bottom: Inside the refurbished museum. Next page top: Precious Clay exhibition: Bouke de Vries, ‘Worcester

There are some big names on show, like Edmund de Waal, author of ‘The Hare with the Amber Eyes’ who has work in the V&A and the Ashmolean, as well as emerging artists and those with a local connection, such as Laura White who grew up in Worcester and will shortly have a solo show of her work opening at Worcester Cathedral.

Teapot with Butterflies’, photo courtesy of Stefan Handy.

The contemporary exhibits make an interesting contrast with the museum’s exceptional historic collections of Worcester porcelain. The museum is asking visitors what they think of the new works alongside the historic china and it’s definitely getting people talking. This show has been developed with support from Arts Council England and Meadow

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Arts, a visual arts organisation working in the Midlands, which specialises in getting artists to work in unusual places and surprising ways. The exhibition is open until 30 March 2019, so plenty of time to head down and take a look for yourself. There will be an opportunity to discover the museum and the Precious Clay exhibition ‘after hours’ on Thursday 9 January, when a special evening opening will include a tour and talk in the exhibition, a skilled ceramic painting demonstration by Tony Challiner and an opportunity to see the creative outcome of ‘Portal’, a community ceramic-making project. This has invited local groups who are not always able to readily access museums to work with creative duo Storymine to get involved with the museum’s rich collections and archives, and make a ceramic door handle using traditional slip-casting techniques. Inspired by the idea of opening up doors to history and collections, all the handles

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created with different groups during the project will be mounted in a display and lit up to make an art installation at the Museum of Royal Worcester from 9 January to the end of March 2019. On the evening of 9 January, the museum and shop will be open between 7.00–9.00pm; event tickets are £3.00 and are available on the museum’s website. In February, the museum will once more be part of the city-wide heritage festival ‘Love Worcester’, with a family trail to enable all generations to explore and enjoy the galleries during half-term week. There will also be some unusual family creative workshops on offer led by artist Fliss O’Neill in this half-term week designed for young and old to get handson; choose from discovering fun drawing and watercolour techniques or sampling different teas in a relaxed ‘tea ceremony’ followed by making your own clay pinch pot tea bowl. See the ‘What’s On’ section of the museum’s website for dates and times, and to book a session. Workshop

places are £5.00 per participant ▷ www.

museumofroyalworcester.org / whats-on/.

The museum has a lot to offer groups, now in even more polished surroundings: discounted group entry rates and a menu of bookable talks and demonstrations that give insight into the history, characters and skilled techniques of Worcester porcelain. Refreshments can be provided from tea and coffee, through to buffet lunches and a sit-down meal, all served on Royal Worcester china. If you’re looking for a unique venue for a group outing, special occasion or corporate event, then get in touch as the museum takes pleasure in tailoring arrangements to suit. The museum is open seven days a week, between 10.00am–5.00pm on Monday to Saturday; and between 10.00am– 4.00pm on Sunday. Admission is £6.50 for adults, £5.50 seniors and children under 15 go free. ›

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FESTIVE

Yuletide and Christmas traditions

As you and your family gather round your brightly bedecked Christmas tree to sing carols, or stand under the mistletoe to steal a quick kiss, or overindulge in food and drink as you pass round gifts, then you’re participating in pagan traditions that stretch back millennia . . . long before the emergence of Christianity

T

he tradition of Yule, from the Norse Yul or Jul, began as a pagan religious midwinter festival of the sun. Found in lands occupied by Germanic peoples, it was a time of drinking, feasting, singing and revelry; it was also the season of wassailing, where trees and crops were celebrated and toasted with plentiful amounts of spiced ale or cider.

Saturn with merrymaking, the giving of gifts, feasting and debauchery; the Mithraism’s Birthday of the Unconquered Sun on 25 December and the Kalends on 1 January. These festivals promoted fertility and celebrated the end of dark days with the return of the sun. Feasting and overindulgence were encouraged and there were rituals including lights and evergreen trees.

The winter solstice

Stories abound throughout history of burning logs; the Egyptians lit logs in 5000 BC to honour Horus, the sun god, and the Viking custom of burning yule logs was incorporated into the Celtic Druids’ solar festival of Midwinter, or Fionn’s Day.

Three pagan festivals occurred around the time of the shortest day of the year, including the Roman festival of Saturnalia between 17–24 December, which honoured the agricultural god

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Yule log

A large oak, birch, willow or holly log, sometimes an entire tree, was chosen and ignited on the eve of the winter solstice. Often adorned with pine cones and holly, and sprinkled with salt and wine, the log would burn for several days, some even for an entire year. The ashes offered protection against evil and were highly prized. These days yule logs are a little different: edible desserts made of sponge and rolled to look like a log.

Greenery

In pre-Christian times, sprigs of holly and ivy were used to decorate inside and outside the home for good luck and to encourage sprites to join in with Yuletide celebrations. Door wreaths later

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developed, crafted from local evergreens and the occasional piece of fruit, which were hung on the front door until Twelfth Night or Epiphany. Symbolising the seed of the Divine, mistletoe was gathered by Druids to adorn the home. In contemporary times, its origins are celebrated as it hangs high so that those who gather underneath it can kiss. The idea of using plant life during these winter celebrations was expanded upon by Prince Albert in the mid-nineteenth century, when decorated fir trees were introduced. After a drawing was published in the Illustrated London News of the royal family gathered around such a tree in 1848, it wasn’t long before most homes followed suit, with trees of varying heights adorned with sweets, candles, fruit and homemade decorations taking pride of place by the fireside. This theme carried on through the home and elegant, colourful decorations quickly became the norm.

Christmas carols

During the winter solstice, revellers would sing pagan songs and dance round stone circles. The etymology of the word carol means either to dance in a circle from the Greek choros, or a song to accompany dancing from the French carole. When this pagan midwinter festival was adopted by the Christians, Christmas carols were

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composed and sung in Latin, which was not popular as most people couldn’t understand the language. As a result, the singing of carols had almost ceased to exist by the 1200s (except in private)

CHRISTMAS DAY FACTS yy The name Christmas Day didn’t enter into popular use until the middle of the eleventh century, when writers of the Anglo Saxon Chronicles made reference to it instead of the more familiar Midwinter Mass. yy In the seventeenth century, Oliver Cromwell banned Christmas for some 15 years; the main focus of his fury being mince pies because they were associated with Catholic ‘idolatry’. yy Mince pies, which originated in the thirteenth century, were traditionally made from minced meat, fruit, suet and spices including nutmeg, cloves and cinnamon. They were large and rectangular in shape; however, by Victorian times, a sweet, small and round variety had become popular. yy The eating of turkey at Christmas was introduced by King Henry VIII. As well as being large enough to cater for many guests, turkeys were expensive and exotic, being imported by the Spaniards from America. Turkeys initially became extremely popular with the nobility, which in turn, filtered down to the rest of the nation, although they remained a luxury until the invention of refrigerators in the mid-twentieth century.

until, in Victorian times, old songs were gathered from English villages and the tradition of carol singing was revived. New tunes were composed and old, yet understandable, lyrics added and, by 1833, a collection of carols was published for everyone to enjoy.

Christmas cards

Civil servant and inventor, Henry Cole, had a card created for him in 1843, which included a Christmas message and an illustration of several people gathered round a dinner table. Although too expensive for most, the idea caught on and many people, including Queen Victoria’s children, were encouraged to create their own cards. Alongside the Industrial Revolution, colour printing evolved and Christmas cards began to be mass produced; by 1880, some 11.5 million cards had been printed.

Crackers

Invented by Thomas J Smith, a Londonbased confectioner in 1848, he hit upon the idea of crackers because of a slump in the sale of his bonbons. To generate interest, Smith popped mottos written on paper in each sweet’s wrapper, later adding bangers for an added thrill. It wasn’t long before the popularity of crackers took off, so much so that the actual sweet disappeared and, in its place, a small gift was added. ›

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FOOD & DRINK

UK sales of champagne dropped by around 6 per cent last year while sales of Prosecco soared by around 50 per cent. Industry experts suggest that pricing is a major factor in these statistics. Nonetheless, champagne, with its traditional ‘special occasion’ association, is still considered to be the more luxurious option

CHAMPAGNE

HAS A SPARKLING FUTURE

F

or those who enjoy a glass of bubbles, just the mention of champagne will probably evoke many pleasurable memories; Christmas and the New Year for instance, when it’s perfectly acceptable to open a bottle; but then again, when isn’t it?

Maybe its appeal lies in the fact that one can drink it at any time of day without causing offence.

Maybe it’s a romantic occasion; perhaps a touch of decadence; the bubbles tingling on the tongue or the complex flavours. One thing is certain; our love affair with champagne continues unabated.

Produced exclusively in the Champagne region of France from the Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and white Chardonnay grapes,

Whatever the reason for having a glass or two: a new job, a new baby, a wedding anniversary or a birthday perhaps, something about champagne seems to accurately punctuate the occasion.

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Whether it’s destined for your anniversary or for the next time a friend comes round, you’ll be glad you have it, and it will make your fridge (and you) look chic. CHEERS!

THE SOUND OF THE ESCAPING GAS SHOULD SOUND LIKE A KISS. www.wrmagazine.uk


Glasses

Champagne flute: Preserves carbonation. Wine glass: Allows more ‘nose’. Coupe: Not ideal for popular dry champagnes. Rapidly loses carbonation and ‘nose’.

Opening

champagne is thought to have first been created during the seventeenth century when bubbles accidentally appeared in a bottle of fermenting wine. Although Dom Perignon is rumoured to have invented it, it was in fact a British scientist, Christopher Merrett, who created the first production method around 40 years earlier in 1662.

Storage

Champagne should be stored in cool (not cold) conditions, between 40ºF and 60ºF (4ºC–15ºC), avoiding direct light.

Chilling

The ideal drinking temperature is between 45ºF and 48ºF (7ºC–9ºC); four hours or more in a refrigerator should be sufficient. Cold champagne has a better taste and is less likely to bubble over

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when opened (make sure that it doesn’t get shaken on the way to the table). Note: Champagne buckets should be larger than wine buckets to allow for more ice.

Effervescent facts

1. There are around 49 million bubbles in a standard bottle of champagne. 2. A champagne cork pops at around 40 mph. 3. Champagne is full of polyphenols; the plant chemicals which scientists believe expand the blood vessels. Great for boosting brain and heart power. 4. The metal cage around the cork is known as the muselet.

Remove the wire cage and keep your thumb over the end of the cork as a precaution in case it attempts to launch itself out of the bottle. Always have a glass nearby and hold the bottle at 45 degrees as you uncork it; this should ease the pressure of the gas in the wine. Point the bottle away from your guests and work the cork out gently, twisting the bottle (not the cork). When the cork is almost out, tilt it sideways to release the gas inside. The sound of the escaping gas should sound like a kiss.

Champagne cocktail

To make a very simple champagne cocktail, place one sugar cube in a champagne glass, add five drops of Angostura bitters, then fill two thirds with chilled champagne. Garnish with a slice of orange or half a strawberry. If you use slightly less than two thirds of a glass of champagne, then you should get approximately five cocktails from one standard champagne bottle. ›

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FOOD & DRINK

Christmas wines:

the beginner’s guide Michele Longari, sommelier for Hay Wines, provides novices across the county with a guide to festive wine . . . so why not experiment this Yuletide?

‘T

SPARKLING WINES

is the season to be jolly’, they say and, as a wine enthusiast, I could not agree more. The last part of the autumn season is always very exciting because it leads on to the festive period and we start to adapt our daily routine to the colder weather.

Most important occasions tend to be associated with champagne and sparkling wines. Sparkling wines are more than just wine; they represent a state of mind and a description of particular, good time occasions. However, sparkling wines can have completely different tasting characteristics (more or less dry, more or less complex) and prices; therefore, for a successful festive event, it’s important to make informed choices!

We start changing our habits in terms of hobbies, clothing, sleeping, eating and, obviously, drinking. We cook richer dishes and we look for warming, weighty wines.

PARTY: Fratelli Collavo, ‘Settolo’ Prosecco Extra Dry (Italy, £14.99) This organic Prosecco is made in small volumes by the Collavo family, organic viticulture pioneers in their region. To the nose, we can immediately get distinct tones of green apple and, to a lesser extent, peach, with floral notes of wisteria and acacia flowers. The taste has

Our festive wine selection has everything you might need for Christmas, from sumptuous Saint-Estèphe, to fine champagne. To make things simpler, in each category you will find three different types of wine: • Party: Products that represent the best value for money, which are extremely versatile and meet the different tastes of most people and palates. • Foodie: Wines with character and complexity, which represent the best match for our Christmas favourites. • Gift: Products more difficult to find on the market and the perfect gift to impress your loved ones.

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WHITE WINES a slight but pleasant acidity and it is well-structured. Pleasant, harmonious and delicately dry. FOODIE: Padroggi La Piotta, Hay Wines ‘1231’ Vintage Brut (Italy, £18.99) This sparkling wine shows a complex, warm and elegant nose dominated by enticing notes of dried fruit, toasted almond and honey. Good structure, with a beautiful creamy texture intensified by fine lingering bubbles. GIFT: Charles Heidsieck, Brut Reserve NV (France, £39.99) Charles Heidsieck is one of the most admired champagne houses thanks to the unrivalled and consistently high quality of its wines. The current range is one of the most award-winning collections of wines in the world.

Although most people think that rich food should be paired only with a hearty red, a glass of crisp white wine can actually enhance and add liveliness to heavy, wintry dishes. With so many grape varieties and styles available, it is very important that we keep a good balance in our cellar between easydrinking whites for informal gatherings/aperitifs, and richer whites with more complexity for important occasions. PARTY: Padroggi La Piotta, Pinot Grigio ‘1930 Vineyard’ (Italy, £12.99) This wine is made from organic grapes and comes from one of the oldest vineyards in the region. Pale yellow, with green hues, the nose is primarily focused on notes of apricot, white peach and roasted almonds. Soft and round on the palate, with good acidity and a dry finish. Surprisingly easy-drinking and fresh for an oldvine wine.

FOODIE: Domaine des Baumard, ‘Clos St Yves’ Savennieres (France, £19.99) 100% Chenin Blanc from low-yielding vineyards. Intense aromas of green apple, honey, apricot and white flowers with a hint of gun smoke. On the palate, it is clean and bright, with good minerality. Ripe fruit yet zesty acidity, ensuring good ageing potential. GIFT: Greywacke, Reserve Chardonnay (New Zealand, £31.99) A truly exceptional wine made by Kevin Judd, one of New Zealand’s finest winemakers. A bright fragrance of Clementine oranges, fresh limes and a honeyed floral sweetness mingle with rich almond butter and flinty, mealy savouriness reminiscent of freshly mown meadow hay. The palate is smooth and textural with lemon and grapefruit top notes wound into a warm marmalade brioche.

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All of these wines are available to purchase online or at Hay Wines, Ledbury: ▷ haywines.co.uk If you want to learn more about this fantastic world, or maybe just spend a nice evening tasting good wines, visit ▷ haywines.co.uk/wine-tasting and find a list of unmissable events. RED WINES Imagine this scenario: a cold day in December, a glass of red wine and you, just relaxing after a busy day of Christmas shopping. I am sure many of us find ourselves familiar with this festive scenario! Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Nebbiolo are just five of the most popular grape varieties drunk during the Christmas period. So, what kind of red wines should we be looking for in the coming weeks? PARTY: Altolandon, ‘Mil Historias’ Malbec (Spain, £11.99) Bright ruby to dark purple in colour, it promises plenty of power. The nose is complex with powerful aromas of blackberry and blueberry with rose, rosemary, violets and floral notes, as well as a hint of spice. The palate is nicely concentrated and with fine tannins.

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FORTIFIED WINES & LIQUEURS FOODIE: De Loach, Russian River Valley Pinot Noir (USA, £25.49) Revealing a beautiful bright ruby colour, this wine exudes aromas of shiitake mushroom and plum. The aromas also shine through on the palate along with subtle spiciness and roasted hazelnut. The wine is velvety and soft with a plush mouthfeel of perfectly balanced structure and acidity. GIFT: Chateau Le Crock, SaintEstèphe (France, £38.49) From the excellent 2010 vintage, the Château Le Crock has good depth on the nose with complexity developing from time in the bottle. It is drinking beautifully now with aromas of blackberries, plums, tobacco and dark chocolate, wrapped by silky tannins and lifted by nicely balanced acidity.

For many, it is not Christmas unless there is a bottle of port or liqueur sitting on the mantelpiece and I must say there is solid logic behind this thought. In fact, this is indeed the perfect period of the year to indulge in the richness of flavours and aromas of fortified wines, spirits and liqueurs. This is why our holiday wine list cannot be complete without a proper selection of these special palate pleasers! PARTY: Zuccardi, ‘Malamado’ Malbec Liqueur Wine 75cl (Argentina, £17.99) This wine boasts a red purple colour of medium intensity, with light brown hues due to its ageing. Immensely concentrated, ripe plums, black fruit marmalade, dried figs and nuts. A rich, complex wine with final spicy notes like cinnamon, toasted almonds and leather.

make this gorgeous mint chocolate liqueur, they only use five main ingredients: fresh milk, sugar, pure Dutch cocoa, alcohol and natural aromas.

FOODIE: Fonseca, ‘Guimaerens 1998’ Vintage Port 75cl (Portugal, £29.99) This big and vibrant port shows excellent notes of dark and ripe cherry, plum and damson fruit. It is the second wine of the renowned Fonseca House and the wine is from an exceptionally good vintage. Enjoy this robust port with strong rustic cheeses or dark chocolate desserts.

A final word of advice: experiment! Most importantly, do not be afraid to try your own ideas out in the wine shop. Talk to your local wine merchant about what you’re cooking and what you had in mind in terms of wines. Trained wine professionals can often give you useful feedback and put you on the right path. Do not be afraid to fail; be creative. Even for experienced sommeliers, it might be very difficult to pick a perfect food and wine match but, when you put your own ideas, experiments and passion into it, it will always be something special for you and your guests. ›

GIFT: Piolo & Max, ‘Before 9’ Choccy Mint Cream Liqueur 50cl (Italy, £22.99) A liquid alcoholic version of one of the nation’s favourite after dinner treats! This liqueur is made with generous amounts of Dutch cocoa, matched together with high-quality fresh mint extracts. Piolo & Max always pay special attention to the quality of the raw materials, all strictly natural and, when possible, organic. To

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FOOD HERITAGE REVIEW

The Mount Pleasant Hotel Malvern

n the centre of Great Malvern on Belle Vue Terrace you’ll find The Mount Pleasant. This established family-owned hotel, bar and restaurant, in a unique Georgian building, enjoys a prime location overlooking the town.

A first impression worthy of a mention are the high-backed comfortable dining chairs, which prompted the question of why don’t more restaurants follow suit? We are greeted and served by Jay, who looks after us for the evening and provides us with menus to read, and drinks, while we decide what to order. The menu, which could be categorised as modern British or bistro style, has a good range of dishes catering for most tastes, making it easy to shortlist two or three starters and mains. I opt for the halloumi fries to start and the serving, with a bed of coriander and lime mayo, and herbed greens, is very generous. Crisply coated fish finger-sized cheesy fries – ideal for any fan of halloumi. My companion opts for the scallops with pork belly. The seafood is cooked with care; the delicate flavour of the plump scallops contrasting perfectly with the meaty pork, while a cauliflower purée and red wine jus bring the dish together wonderfully. Both starters have a genuine balance of freshness, flavour and texture . . . great starters to enthuse about while we wait for the main course to arrive. My seabass fillets arrive aloft a circle of coriander mash with wilted spinach, complete with prawn wontons on top. The

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oriental wontons work really well with the more traditional herbed mash . . . and the fillets flake as they should . . . a great combination of flavours with a subtle prawn sauce to round off the dish and soak up the potatoes.

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Succule nt s cal lop s

The recently refurbished restaurant area has been tastefully decorated and provides a welcoming and pleasant atmosphere; an opinion clearly shared by the other guests, which include couples, families and what seems to be a reunion of friends during our Friday night visit.

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BY PERSHORE PATTY

Next to me, a thick rump steak arrives with skin-on chips, a side of garlic mushrooms and blue cheese rarebit on top of a beef tomato. The 8oz steak has been cooked rare as requested, and has a delicious charred flavour from the searing process. The optional peppercorn sauce or red wine jus is vetoed in favour of some good old English mustard. A classic with the cheesy rarebit being a welcome addition to the obligatory grilled tomato.

While deciding on puddings, we both agree that this hotel restaurant serves great quality food with good portion control and friendly, polite service. The atmosphere is pleasant without being too formal and the service is professional and non-intrusive. The pudding menu is inviting and has some tempting treats, such as sticky toffee pudding, crème brûlée and panna cotta, but we opt to share the cheeseboard. After all, you can never have enough cheese! This arrives and provides a delightful choice of Brie, Worcester Gold, Hereford Hop, Stilton and Worcester Sauce & Shallots. A selection of non-fussy biscuits lie next to home-made chutney and celery accompaniments. Our evening at The Mount Pleasant was as the name suggests! Extremely enjoyable with great service and very good food, catering well for hotel guests, visitors to Malvern and locals alike. ›

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Although my Mum did cook for our family, my parents also had a business that required them to travel the world and entertain clients, which meant they ate out . . . a lot. I was fortunate enough to dine with them at some unforgettable restaurants, pubs, tucked-away eateries (best kept secrets known only to the locals) and, from a young age, I learned all about fine dining.

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Food has always excited me. The journey of reading the words on a menu and picturing in your mind how that plate of food might look, smell and taste. Then it arrives at your table and the clever chef who’s designed and made this piece of art completely blows your mind with their creation. It’s entirely fascinating. It’s not just fine dining and Michelin star restaurants that impress me though, one of my quests is to find the perfect burger, if there is such a thing. Living in Pershore, my passion for food and burgers has inspired me to start a food blog called Pershore Patty. I post simple recipes that I cook at home, updates on visits to food places both locally and during my travels and, of course, photos of lovely burgers. The quest continues.

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y mother has always been an amazing cook. As a child, she encouraged me to bake with her; she taught me to make all of the basics from scratch and I still do a mean chilli con carne. I’ve such fond memories of licking the bowl after the Victoria sponge mix went into the tin and salivating as I waited for the cake to rise in the oven. I loved the magic of how a few simple ingredients could transform themselves into something that not only smelled and tasted extraordinary, but also looked so incredibly beautiful too.

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To read about Pershore Patty’s culinary exploits, visit: ▷ www.pershorepatty.com Facebook: /pershorepatty Twitter: @pershorepatty Instagram: pershorepatty

THE MOUNT PLEASANT HOTEL 50 Bellevue Terrace, Malvern WR14 4PZ ▷ www.mountpleasanthotel.co.uk

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FASHION

Twinkle, twinkle little winter star Put a little glitz and sparkle into your lifestyle this season with our ‘all that glitters’ collection of clothing and accessories. You’re sure to make a lasting impression. . . .

PURE COLLECTION SPARKLE JUMPERS FOR ALL THE FAMILY FROM £55.00

▷ www.purecollection.com

NEXT FLORAL SEQUIN SKIRT £55.00

▷ www.next.co.uk

LITTLEWOODS STRAPPY SEQUIN JUMPSUIT £99.00

▷ www.littlewoods.com

LIPSY SEQUIN JUMPSUIT £88.00

▷ www.next.co.uk/lipsy

ACCESSORIZE RAINBOW SEQUIN SHOULDER BAG £30.00

▷ www.accessorize.com

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CUCKOOLAND GARDEN IGLOO DOME £849.00

▷ www.cuckooland.com

DOROTHY PERKINS BLACK SEQUIN ANKLE BOOTS £35.00

▷ www.dorothyperkins.com

WHITESTUFF SEQUIN STAR MAKEUP BAG

£35.00

M & CO SEQUIN SLIPPERS

▷ www.whitestuff.com

£10.00

▷ www.mandco.com

NEXT PINK SNOWFLAKE JUMPER £28.00

▷ www.next.co.uk

DOROTHY PERKINS GOLD DIAMOND SEQUIN DRESS £55.00

▷ www.dorothyperkins.com

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INTERIORS

Interior design is truly an art, BUT IT’S ALSO DEFINITELY AN INVESTMENT Airbnb and rental units are popping up left, right and centre, and it has never been so easy to make extra money with the additional space many of us have. Interior designer Elaine Lewis reveals that, with some thought and planning, you too could be earning extra cash from the unused rooms and spaces around you

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he types of interiors used for these spaces range from spare rooms, loft conversions and converted double garages, to tree houses, train carriages, shepherd’s huts and entire homes, to name but a few. Almost anything goes these days and the quirkier the better in my opinion. The space you are willing to share is the only limit. Clever home owners are even able to make a full-time living out of renting out their personal spaces; some even invest in bespoke garden rooms built to a high specification with stunning glazing, turning them into profitable rental spaces.

must have a well planned and carefully designed interior, which supports all the essential criteria as well as the necessary luxuries someone escaping for a break needs, right down to the extra touches that make the difference to someone’s stay. Add a superb location with stunning views and, rest assured, your rental will never be empty.

So what is Airbnb and what do you need?

But, in my experience, interiors are the key. Interior design is truly an art. But, it’s also definitely an investment.

Airbnb is an online marketplace that enables people to rent out their properties or spare rooms to guests for a commission fee. In February 2018, Airbnb also launched Airbnb Plus for owners of properties whose interiors stand out from the crowd.

Although the concept may sound easy, the reality in the execution of a successful Airbnb is not easy unless you’re prepared to put the time and work in. Your space

Homes can now be booked in 41 cities around the world, a figure that has more than doubled since its launch in February. Plus homes are nine times more likely to

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ALWAYS USE WHITE BED LINEN; IT’S A PSYCHOLOGICAL THING. www.wrmagazine.uk


When in doubt, or you have a very small space, get furniture you can ‘see through’ meaning something with lots of open spaces and not too bulky; it will create a sense of openness. Elaine Lewis has been professionally styling residential and commercial interiors for over a decade. She lives in Malvern with her family. See ▷ www.elainelewisdesigns.org for more information. Follow her on Instagram.com/elainelewisdesigns and Facebook.com/elainelewisdesigns. Interiors by Beverley Vaughan; photos by Tony Binns.

be seen by guests because of beautiful interiors and locations, and the hosts are earning 75 per cent more, on average, than other listings. So, what do you need to get started? If you have a space in your home that isn’t used, or an outdoor space to build something, you are halfway there. I would advise choosing a ‘theme’ or ‘style’; think vintage, industrial, trendy, elegant or to whatever your space lends itself. Choose your colour scheme and keep it simple; maybe utilise a palette of just four colours. Remember, keep the finishes predominately neutral, including your main flooring, wall colours and finishes, so that you can add splashes of colour with cushions, throws and accessories. Always use white bed linen; it’s a psychological thing (they communicate cleanliness). In addition, quirky wall and floor tiles, wall panelling, boarding, murals, feature lighting and wood burners all help to achieve a look with a difference.

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One of the most important things you can do when it comes to the interior design of your Airbnb is to focus on getting the floors right. Buy nice tiles for the bathroom. Rip up carpets and have the old floorboards polished, or buy some beautiful rugs. Guests do care what’s under their feet when they’re staying in a rental. Make it nice. When it comes to investing in furniture for your rental, there are many places you can buy cool stuff that’s affordable. It’s hard to go past IKEA in terms of home decor because you’re guaranteed to find furniture that’s acceptable to more consumers, is not too offensive and has a reasonable price tag. If you’re tight on budget, you can still make a fabulous impact using secondhand furniture and using bits and bobs from flea markets and charity shops. Be creative; buy a £20.00 secondhand bedroom chair and have it reupholstered in some lovely fabric. Second-hand stores are also a great

Wall hooks – strange choice I know – can add a bit of pizzazz to an entry wall without making it feel cluttered. Don’t use just any old wall hook though; cool quirky wooden shaped, trendy or artsy ones look fabulous. Large colourful framed artwork or canvases can fill a big wall and give the illusion of space. Remember to keep it simple and uncluttered; larger items for a small space often work better than lots of smaller items. Shaped accessories and objects with texture and feel can look stunning with wall boxes accenting some carefully chosen accessories, and plants will complete your look. Whatever you do, don’t skimp on plants. Indoor plants and their containers act as accessories; they add to the final design and help to create the overall look and feel of the space. For example, cactus and succulents add a south-western feel, palms add a sense of luxury, and tall, sculptural plants add the right touch to a contemporary minimalist feel. And last, but by no means least, is the photography. Good pictures are possibly the most important element of any Airbnb listing. They bring your property to life and can ultimately be the decisive factor for potential guests. ›

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FANCY STAYING HERE? VISIT ▷ WWW.OLDMILLTREEHOUSE.CO.UK AND ▷ WWW.LODGEBATH.CO.UK FOR MORE INFORMATION

source of inspiration for unique pieces that will be the talking point for guests – whether it’s a gorgeous vintage lamp or a retro room divider – it will be a photo opportunity for them to remember.


FLORA

Award winning Garden designer Martyn Wilson discusses screening ideas for your garden

Know your

boundaries

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alls, hedges and fencing cannot only define your garden’s boundaries, but can also offer privacy, texture and interest to your garden. But this important element of a garden is one that’s often overlooked.

Fencing

style screening, using materials such as cedar or iroko woods. This architectural style of fencing is wonderful in that it can provide visual interest while also providing privacy without blocking out the natural light. These fences can either be created from scratch or panels are now available from a number of suppliers; and some are even available pre-painted, saving you the time and effort.

Designing a garden is similar in many ways to designing an interior and, similarly, taste, style and innovation moves on at a quick pace. No longer are we bound to the typical feather-edge fence panels often available in many a familiar DIY store and there are many different timbers and styles that can be used as a fence. Contemporary styles may include the use of batten or ‘Venetian’

The materials and style of fencing can create a fantastic backdrop to the garden and to your planting. As pictured in the gold-medal-winning garden we designed for BBC Gardeners’ World, we used an innovative new composite material as a fence: London Stone’s Design Board. Using composite materials in this manner comes with the added benefit of reducing the need for treatment and maintenance.

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With the emerging trend in 2019 for a more restrained and elegant palette of whites and greens, painting your fence in a darker colour – perhaps black or grey – can provide a wonderful contrast to green foliage while also receding into the background.

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Previous page: Drystack veneer system on a low retaining wall introduces natural tones. Top left: The golden limestone walls of the Cotswolds offer a more traditional look.

our RAF100 Celebration Garden at the RHS Malvern Spring Festival earlier this year.

Pleached and panel trees

Top right: Corten steel pictured with Hornbeam hedging creates an architectural boundary. Below: Panel trees in a garden in Cheltenham.

Martyn Wilson is a Worcestershirebased award-winning professional garden designer creating spaces and landscapes for domestic and commercial clients. See

▷ www.wilsongardendesign. co.uk for further information.

a low wall, perhaps for a front garden boundary. But in a more urban setting, this is perhaps less necessary and again the choice of materials or finishes is hugely varied. You can still achieve that natural stone look, but by cladding a wall in so called ‘drystack’ or ‘tier’ systems, such as the wall we designed for our clients in Droitwich Spa.

Hedges

Walls In a more rural setting, it is often the case of needing to match the local vernacular. Picture the golden honeyed walls of Broadway and the Cotswolds, great for

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In my view, there is nothing better than the formality of a nicely clipped hedge and this can benefit both a more classical style of garden or, indeed, the contemporary. Hedges can provide screening and privacy by using evergreen species such as English Yew (Taxus baccata) or Portuguese Laurel (Prunus lusitania Angustifolia). Or how about hedges that turn golden with the autumn but largely hold onto their leaves, such as Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus), which is ideal for Worcestershire’s wet clay soils.

Metal Boundaries can also be a feature of the garden with materials such as laser cut aluminium or sheets of steel as seen in

Pleached trees can make an architectural statement and are an increasing favourite for town gardens that are often overlooked. A row of pleached clear stemmed trees can add privacy and, with a little pruning, you can create the illusion of an elevated hedge. Panel trees can also be used as a slimline low floating hedge. Panels can be purchased with a clear stem of 1.8 metres or two metres‚ providing an aerial hedging effect, ideal for screening above an existing wall as pictured in our recent project in Cheltenham. In the autumn, panel trees such as the beautiful Liquidamber styraciflua ‘Worplesdon’ with its maple-shaped leaves that turn from a yellow, through orange, red and finally a deep claret, are a joy to behold. The beauty of the clear stems is that they also allow for under planting for an added layer of interest. For small or enclosed gardens, simply hanging a mirror on a wall or fence will help reflect sunlight into the home and garden. This technique, known as trompe l’oeil, is a great trick for making a small garden appear larger than it actually is. But fencing and hedges are not just for boundaries; see how you can divide the space up with a strategically placed screen to change your view, hide the ugly compost area or add some intrigue by revealing the garden in stages. ›

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R A E Y NEW

! Y A W A E V I G What is physical activity?

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ife@Whitehouse Worcester is excited to announce that, in the New Year, it will be offering its New Year Healthier You (NYHY) fitness scheme, FREE OF CHARGE to the first five people who qualify, and a heavily discounted rate to the next 10 people.

Why is it running this free scheme? A report by the British Heart Foundation recently found that more than 20 million adults in the UK are physically inactive and it estimates that this increased risk of heart disease may cost the NHS £1.2 billion each year. This scheme has been specifically designed to adopt key themes published by the Worcestershire Health and Well-being Board in its action plan running from 2016–21. Whitehouse’s scheme adopts an emphasis on disease prevention by targeting populations with poorer health or higher risk of morbidity by increasing their physical activity, well-being and health awareness. The scheme aims to improve the longterm quality of life for those taking part and reduce the cost of sedentary behaviour on the NHS.

How do I qualify?

Physical activity (PA) is defined as ‘any bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that results in a substantial increase in caloric requirements over resting energy expenditure’ (Riebe 2017). Regular PA is crucial for obtaining and maintaining good health. It has been proven to lower morbidity (susceptibility to disease) and decrease premature mortality, as well as improving brain function, the cardiovascular system, bone strength, energy levels, a sense of well-being and body composition. PA has been proven to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD), which is the second biggest killer in the UK, causing just over one in four deaths, or 160,000 deaths each year and 435 daily in the UK alone. Around 42,000 people die prematurely (under the age of 75) from CVD in the UK each year (British Heart Foundation, 2017). CVD is associated with several factors that increase the risk of its onset: age, family history, alcohol use, smoking, nutrition and physical inactivity.

What does the scheme include? • • • •

Gym induction Access to gym classes Eight-week tailored training programme An extensive nutrition, exercise and healthy life style booklet as well as nutritional support • Access to its spa facilities after your workout

If you partake in less than 150 minutes of physical activity per week and are overweight (Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than 25), you qualify for our NYHY weight-loss scheme. For more information or to enquire, please contact 01905 24308 or email: life@worcswhitehouse.com

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INTERVIEW

A FAMILY affair Retailer Ed Webb talks history, Italy and synergy WORDS: GERALD HEYS

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ate October, and Christmas has already landed just north of Droitwich, with Santa’s Grotto, singing reindeer, ice skating, huge glittering prezzies and baubles hanging from the ceiling, and the festive paraphernalia piled up high. At any time of year, it’s not just about gardens here at Webbs, but the range of goods on show at the moment is enough to swallow up an entire day’s worth of shopping time.

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Ed Webb, great-great grandson of the company’s founder, is a very busy man. He does, however, have a few moments to spare this afternoon to sit down over a cuppa in the cafe to talk about the history, vitality and diversity of the family’s everexpanding retail business. ‘We aspire to grow all the time,’ he says, ‘but in a sustainable, family way. Whatever we do here – which is many and varied – we try and do it to the best of our

ability, and give it 100 per cent. So the categories you see that make up Webbs are the things that we believe we do really well, as opposed to merely dipping our toe in the water.’ He adds that what’s on show at the centre is frequently the result of consultation. ‘Historically, we’ve been pretty good at chatting with our customers before we do anything new, and researching what it is they actually want. So when we put in the

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food hall in 2006, that was on the back of good market research we’d already done with our core club customer base. And we’d gone into quite a level of detail into the type of food that they wanted, and the look and feel of it. So we’d never really go into anything blindly. Or we’d try not to, anyway.’ Webbs is a 100 per cent family-owned concern, with Ed and his wife Louise as the only family members involved in its day-to-day running. The firm goes back to the mid 1800s, when it began as an agricultural seed merchant. In the twentieth century, it started to produce more ornamental and horticultural seeds for domestic gardens. ‘And then in the 1930s, the site we’re on now was bought as the primary advertising mechanism for our mail-order business for seeds, in the days before any mass advertising on television and radio.’ Webbs also then set up testing and trial grounds for new plants, and invited gardeners to look around, with gardeners from big estates and large gardens being entertained in its iconic thatched building. And that, Ed explains, was really the core of what visitors can see today. ‘In the 1950s, the market for agricultural seed become quite consolidatory, and large players, particularly American entrants into the market like Fisons, hoovered up quite a lot of the agricultural seed merchant business.’ And Ed’s father and great-uncle moved on that side of the business, but retained the Wychbold site, which is about 50 acres in total and stretches from Upton Warren to Wychbold village. The concept of the garden centre didn’t really take off until the 1960s, making Ed’s dad part of the first generation of garden centre operators. This site was, Ed says, developed along two strands: the retail business that we’re sitting in today, and a wholesale growing business mainly producing perennial shrubs and trees, and a wide range of plants for resale to itself, and for sale to other retailers and garden centres.

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‘We had a little detour when we had two smaller sites, one at Wordsley, in Stourbridge, where the original heart of the business was. When we were agricultural seed merchants in Victorian

IF YOU LIKE GARDENING, YOU LIKE FOOD. I’VE NEVER MET A GARDENER WHO GROWS VEG WHO DOESN’T LIKE COOKING, AND VICE VERSA.

times, we had a large factory and processing plant for seeds there, so it was a bit of a spiritual home, and we still have a smaller garden centre in West Hagley. And then for a while we had a garden centre at the West Midlands Safari Park.’

Ed’s way of operating has been partly influenced by the fact that studying European history and Italian at university took him to Italy, where he worked extensively in the nurseries there – particularly those between Florence and Pisa, where the light allows them ‘to grow things on a scale unheard of here’ – all of which added considerably to both his linguistic and commercial education. Returning to the UK, he finished his degree, and spent some time working for the family firm and for other retailers. After two years studying for an MBA in France, he returned home again and to the company in the early 2000s, when retail was undergoing ‘quite a dramatic shift’, with the Bullring redevelopment

Above: In the 1930s, gardeners from big estates and large gardens were entertained in Webbs’ iconic thatched building. Next page top: Webbs is home to the national collection of hellebores. Next page bottom: Ed Webb. Next page: Webbs’ award-winning food hall.

Because of its handy location, however, the Wychbold site grew to a point where it became a totally different operation to the smaller sites, and Webbs took the view, back in the late 1980s, to concentrate their attention on it.

just completed in Birmingham, and the Internet becoming a major reality, despite the bursting of the dot-com bubble. The family decided that they

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INTERVIEW

THINGS LIKE THAT JUST LOG IN THE BACK OF THE BRAIN, AND YOU SAY, WE’LL EVOLVE AND DEVELOP THAT IDEA OVER TIME. had a great core of retail business at Wychbold that simply had to be grown. ‘We felt it was critical for us to keep developing this site and pouring in blood, sweat, tears, love, passion and . . . investment.’ Webbs continued ‘producing plants that most people could have success with’ and increased the size of the garden centre to 110,000 square feet of covered space, but added the food hall and brought in a more diverse range of other retailers, such as Cotswold Outdoor and Hobby Craft. Webbs also took over the West Hagley site in 2011 from a previous competitor, which returned it to its heartland of Stourbridge. ‘And we’re very happy. It’s a great site with a wonderful team. And the business here, it keeps developing. Louise and I travel the world, looking for ideas and inspiration, and talking about it with our customers. Then evolving parts of the business to the next stage and level of where we want to be.’

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About three years ago, they started to build on the success of the food hall, intending to amalgamate the local produce they sold into their restaurant. Researching how this kind of thing is handled elsewhere took Ed back to Italy, where he and Louise visited what Ed describes as an ‘amazing’ four-storey retailer in the middle of Milan called Eataly, which has three different restaurants, all on separate floors. But Eataly wasn’t their only source of inspiration. ‘It probably started from a journey to the States I did 20 years ago that was still sort of sitting in the back of my mind, and an amazing food court I saw between Boston and Lexington that was the forerunner of what we consider to be a modern food hall nowadays. Things like that just log in the back of the brain, and you say, We’ll evolve and develop that idea over time. We’re always looking to be the best that we can be in whatever we do. And then go out and find inspiration from others who

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Image: Richard Kiely

Ed comments that the garden centre businesses you find in Europe are often far bigger than those in Britain and perhaps don’t have the independent charm or the passion of the likes of Webbs. ‘In the UK we have perhaps one biggish chain. And there are two or three other slightly smaller chains. But we always wanted to be ferociously independent, and not spread ourselves over too many sites, diluting what we do.’ Maintaining independence is, he believes, a crucial factor in their success. ‘It protects us commercially from the ravages of bigger business and the fast pace of Internet trading, and all the other various challenges that retailers are finding at the moment. But it also allows us the creative freedom to be really expressive and invest back in our businesses.’ They will continue to invest here in Wychbold, Ed says, ‘making sure that our

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Image: Richard Kiely

are doing similar work around the world, and try and be at the forefront.’

team are as equipped as they can be to deliver such a lovely experience to our customers, which is everything we want to do at all times. It’s our guiding light in everything that we do, really. That’s our ethos, culture and the way we like to go about things.’ No matter what the future may hold, gardening remains their ‘absolute core and hub’. There has been an enormous

amount of energy and investment in the food side of things, Ed says, but for him food and gardening go together in ‘a beautiful synergy’. At Webbs, this is part of an already established pattern: ‘Because, first of all, as agricultural seed merchants, we were pretty involved in the evolution of the food industry. Historically, we bred a lot of the varieties of plants and vegetables that you see commonly grown [Webbs lettuce being the most famous].

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INTERVIEW

is becoming more important with food scare stories and the like – then I think that traceability and provenance are critical. Marry that with a lovely local individual story of someone who is the best grower or the best producer or farmer, and it’s a great story.’ He is very proud, for example, of the work they’ve been doing with Droitwich Salt and Will & Gillian Kerton at Churchfields Farm. And teaming up with chefs like Brad Carter at Carters of Moseley in Birmingham, and with smallscale farmers like Julian Swift, ‘who’s producing some of the most amazing pork I’ve ever come across from lovely heritage varieties of pig.’ And it doesn’t neglect the booze. Webbs has just launched its own cider this year, called eureka!, complete with Archimedes on the label. ‘That was done with cider guru Tom Oliver, who’s based on the other side of Bromyard, and is the most amazing stuff. He calls it “minimum And many of them would have gone on through breeding programmes to become the modern varieties that we know today.’ Ed adds that they love celebrating that tradition and combining it with their knowledge and passion for gardening, then introducing the whole shebang to an audience that has become a little distanced from food and its origins. ‘A lot of what we do in the food hall is about reconnecting with a great combination of local artisans – whether they be farmers, growers, food manufacturers – but also connecting that with what we do on the growing side. We’ve got a few little programmes that we’re experimenting with at the moment that are incarnations of this, such as how we can take the very best basil seed, for example, and grow it here for use in restaurants to try to get the best flavour, as opposed to the maximum yield.’ There’s a passion, Ed says, among customers to know more about what they eat. ‘For those who are interested in where their food is coming from – which

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A LOT OF WHAT WE DO IN THE FOOD HALL IS ABOUT RECONNECTING WITH A GREAT COMBINATION OF LOCAL ARTISANS. intervention cider”, using wild yeasts and all these wonderful things that I’m now starting to discover. He’s starting to work with quite a lot of brewers who are using some of the naturally existing yeasts on the skin of the apples, and cross-brewing them with all sorts of things. So there’s a whole wild world of fermentation going on over there that I didn’t realise was happening. ‘Traditional Herefordshire bittersweet apples crossed with Worcester Pearmain,

which we’ve been selling here and encouraging garden owners to put in their gardens for years. It’s what I would call almost a Riesling-style Alsatian cider that is a perfect table cider for drinking with pâtés and other wonderful food. And that’s where this whole thing is great fun and gives us lots of opportunities to merge our experience and expertise with the world of food as well, bringing horticulture and food together in an exciting way. ‘We’re trying to hybridise it – to use a horticultural term – in today’s market. If you like gardening, you like food. I’ve never met a gardener who grows veg who doesn’t like cooking, and vice versa. They go together for me. Intimately. I love growing. I love growing all sorts of weird heritage varieties of veg that no one’s ever heard of – the more unusual the better, generally. And experimenting back in the kitchen in, I guess, much the same way that some of the very best cooks have their own veg patches. And that’s why we try and persuade and educate our customer base to have a go where they can.’ Before we finish our chat, there’s an opportunity to hear it for one of the flowers. There are six acres of display gardens at Wychbold, Ed says, including the national collections of hellebores: ‘The most wonderful, and soon-to-be, I think, the nation’s favourite perennial plant, which flowers from February right through to March, April.’ And they are indeed a lovely, and remarkably varied, sight. Ed’s career might have taken a different turn had he not decided to join the family firm (after all, his degree thesis was on Venetian trade in the sixteenth century). ‘Probably the real reason why I’m still here, having done all sorts of weird things en route, is because of the team and community that I’ve worked with over 20 years on and off. Such an amazing, lovely group of people, whether that’s our team of colleagues here or our customers. That keeps the future of Webbs looking rosy. It’s all about the team.’ ›

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Food at Webbs first to stock UK’s only 100 per cent compostable crisp packet

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INTERVIEW

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n Monday 15 October, the UK’s first 100 per cent compostable crisp packet from Two Farmers went on sale for the first time at the award-winning food hall, Food at Webbs, Wychbold.

Image: Photopia Photography

The ethically minded brand is the brainchild of Herefordshire farmers, and long-time friends, Mark Green and Sean Mason. Second-generation potato farmers, Mark and Sean decided to develop their own range of hand-cooked crisps that celebrates local ingredients while causing minimal impact to the environment, with a completely compostable packet.

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Sean commented, ‘As farmers living and working in the beautiful Herefordshire countryside, we have seen first-hand the impact plastic waste can have on the environment. We are also crisp lovers and our greatest challenge has been to make great tasting crisps and find a way to bring them to market without compromising our principles.

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Image: Photopia Photography

and give them our full support. Not only are these suppliers local, using local ingredients, their sustainable credentials are really important to us. We are always seeking ways to improve the environmental footprint of our business, so working with Two Farmers was a

‘Even the salt we use in our Lightly Salted variety is sourced from Worcestershire, where Droitwich Salt harvests its natural salt springs using renewable energy.’ Ed Webb added: ‘When we heard about these fantastic crisps, we wanted to get them into store as soon as possible

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Food at Webbs is selling all four flavours in 40g size packs and will be stocking the 150g size as soon as they are available later in the year.

The crisp flavours are: • Hereford Bullshot, gently seasoned with spices and the delicious flavour of Hereford Beef. • Salt & Two Farmers Cider Vinegar, lightly salted and flavoured with Two Farmers’ own cider vinegar, made from apples grown in its Herefordshire orchards. • Lightly Salted, lightly seasoned with Droitwich Salt, which is harvested by hand from natural springs and crystallised using renewable energy. • Hereford Hop Cheese & Onion, seasoned with deliciously sharp and sweet Hereford Hop cheese, made by artisan cheesemakers Charles Martell & Sons, and with onions grown on Two Farmers’ Herefordshire farm. ›

FURTHER INFORMATION For more information about Two Farmers visit

▷ www.twofarmers.co.uk

Image: Photopia Photography

‘We have also been keen to source as many of the ingredients from our own farm as we can, or from local suppliers.

natural fit and the type of brand we are committed to championing.’

For more information about Webbs ongoing commitment to the environment visit

▷ www.webbsdirect.co.uk/ environment

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Go on . . . give your tummy a treat

Enjoy year-long offers at more than 80 of Worcestershire’s best independent restaurants, food & drink shops, cafes, pubs, cookery schools and more with the Worcestershire Foodie Card. Yummy :)

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a card for £20 (or two for £30) and view all offers at

www.pershorepatty.com Tag us with a photo on Twitter or Instagram using your

#TheFoodieCard for a chance to win £50 at one of the card’s participating independents. www.wrmagazine.uk

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Uniti to create the first fully digitalised electric vehicle production site in the UK

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Uniti has been working with MEPC Silverstone Park to develop a vision for the pilot plant, with further details to be announced soon. This is the first of several planned initiatives for Uniti to establish itself in the UK, working towards the goal of becoming a major player in the UK’s EV market over the next few years. To date, the Swedish carmaker has already engaged a team of engineers at an R&D centre in Northamptonshire, while fostering partnerships with local companies such as KW Special Projects (lightweight structure and additive manufacturing), Danecca (EV powertrain) and Unipart (global supply chain). Concurrent to Uniti’s engineering activities at Silverstone, the company is setting up an office in London to ensure capital is raised for UK operations in a timescale meaningful to its plans. Uniti plans to unveil its production models in late 2019 and deliver vehicles to pre-order customers throughout northern Europe shortly thereafter. As the UK represents a key market, the Swedish carmaker has recently announced a limited equity crowdfunding campaign through UK-based Crowdcube to give British investors an opportunity to own shares in the company.

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hell has opened its first highpowered charging station in France, in partnership with charging network operator IONITY, helping European EV drivers drivers to to make make longerlonger distance journeys. The high-powered chargers take up to 10 minutes to charge next-generation EVs, making them up to three times faster than any other type of charger currently available to drivers. IONITY is a joint venture between BMW Group, Daimler AG, Ford Motor Company and the Volkswagen Group with Audi and Porsche. It was formed to create a 400-strong network of 350-kilowatt chargers next to major highways in Europe. Installing high-powered chargers at 80 stations in Europe is part of Shell’s global drive to provide more and cleaner energy solutions. The chargers are in addition to its acquisition of NewMotion, one of Europe’s largest charging providers, and a growing number of Shell Recharge fast chargers at Shell forecourts in the UK, the Netherlands and China.

Image: Karl-Fredrik von Hausswolff

EV NEWS

Image: Karl-Fredrik von Hausswolff

niti Sweden has announced plans to establish an electric vehicle (EV) ‘pilot production plant’ at Silverstone Park, the home of the British Grand Prix. The facility will be used to produce the Uniti One electric car, while serving as a blueprint for globally licensed ‘digital’ assembly plants throughout the world. The initiative aligns with the UK’s industrial strategy to lead the world in zero emission and autonomous vehicle technologies. Uniti anticipates this Industry 4.0 pilot facility to be operational by 2020, leading the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies.

Shell opens first fast chargers at major European service station

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the future’s electric Groupe Renault announces new, affordable EVs The new Renault K-ZE.

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enault has announced two steps forward in the company’s continued electrification of its Renault range: a new, affordable urban EV in 2019, and new hybrid and plug-in hybrid options on three of its popular vehicles in 2020.

Tesco and VW partner to provide the largest retail EV charging network in the UK, powered by Pod Point

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esco and Volkswagen have announced the development of the largest UK retail EV charging network, powered by Pod Point. Customers will be able to charge their EVs using a normal 7kW charger for free or a ‘rapid’ 50kW charger for a small cost in line with market rates.

Jesse Norman, the Minister for EVs at the Department for Transport, said: ‘We welcome Tesco’s pledge to roll out over 2,400 new charge bays across its stores.’

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Renault also confirmed its plans to further electrify its range in its 2020 product refresh cycle, offering hybrid on Clio and plug-in hybrid on Mégane and Captur, giving consumers the possibility to go electric in the models they know and love. e-Tech, an innovative, 100 per cent Renault in-house technology, enables Renault to offer hybrid versions on B and C segment models.

Vauxhall confirms two more EVs as tech-leap repeats history

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auxhall will embark on an electricfocused technology drive, which will transform its range over wthe next two years at a similar rate to its first heady days as a car manufacturer at the start of the last century. Two all-new models – next-generation versions of the Mokka X SUV and Vivaro van – will be fully electrified and go into production in 2020. Both vehicles have been sales hits for the Luton company in their current generations, with the Mokka X still making regular appearances in the UK’s top-10 bestsellers lists, six years after it was launched. In addition, Vauxhall has announced that two more electrified vehicles – the Grandland X PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and the batteryelectric, next-generation Corsa – will go on sale in the first half of 2019. The Grandland X PHEV’s propulsion system will develop the equivalent of up to 300PS and will come with e-All

The Prince Henry, the world’s first sports car.

Wheel Drive technology. At the other end of the scale, the Corsa BEV will electrify what is arguably the UK’s best known automotive nameplate, with Vauxhall promising to bring the car to market at a competitive price. As the UK’s oldest surviving British brand, Vauxhall is used to embracing new technology. It produced the world’s first sports car, and the UK’s first 100mph car. It made Britain’s first unitary construction car and transformed the driving experience for thousands of motorists. But only in its first seven years of car production – between 1903 and 1910 – did Vauxhall advance technologically at the same rate that it anticipates it will between now and 2025, thanks to electrification. In 1903, it produced the 5hp, a horseless carriage, steered by tiller and driven by chain, from a singlecylinder, single-litre engine. By 1910, its new Prince Henry model, the world’s first sports car, could carry four adults in comfort and achieve a belting 65mph, thanks to its three-litre engine and fourspeed transmission; and it had a proper steering wheel. Progress of a different kind, definitely, but progress that has never been matched . . . until now. ›

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EV NEWS

They will roll out more than 2,400 EV charging bays across 600 Tesco stores within the next three years. The charging bays will be based in Tesco Extra and Superstore car parks and will be installed by Pod Point. Tesco wants to offer customers and local communities an alternative to fossil fuels and also play its part in supporting the transition to a low-carbon, clean air UK. This builds on Tesco’s commitment to 100% per cent renewable electricity made in May 2017.

Groupe Renault unveiled the Renault K-ZE, a new global A-segment, SUV-inspired EV, capable of 250km/155 miles NEDC, the best autonomy in its segment. It features a seductive, sporty design with assertive lines and a muscular, compact footprint. Beyond its attractive design, Renault K-ZE is also easy to charge thanks to a double charging system compatible with domestic plugs and public infrastructures. Renault K-ZE comes with a host of equipment maximising the experience of driving an EV, such as rear parking sensors, rear view camera and a central screen with connected navigation and services.


MUSIC

made exceptional progress. Owen Lowe is 17 and his talent is such that he now presents our breakfast show. Make a note of his name. Currently, the training has been on a small scale. However, now our training school is getting underway, we will train many more students.

HITTING THE RIGHT NOTE

Y

outhcomm Radio was initially broadcast online only. However, in 2008, it received an FM licence. The station was originally operated ‘by young people for young people’ with financial support from Worcester County Council.

Three years ago, following cuts in local government expenditure, operation of the station was handed over to a small group of directors and advisers. As the County Council grants had ceased, our operational expenses had to be covered by the sale of advertising and, in order to attract that revenue, our programme content needed to compete favourably with other radio stations in the area. From those early days, we have developed a significant audience, with a corresponding group of very loyal and satisfied advertisers. Youthcomm is a charity and, as such, it can apply for grants and donations. While we have had limited success in this regard, against a background of many charities applying for funding from limited sources, our survival depends on selling airtime. All profits are invested in the training of young people for employment in the media industry and, to date, we have placed 10 people into full-time employment in radio and television with 100 per cent success. One of our young apprentices has

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WORDS: YOUTHCOMM RADIO CONSULTANT MUFF MURFIN

Due to our popularity, selling airtime is relatively easy, but the mix of music and commercials must be right, so we try to limit the advertising to one type of business at a time. This is not easy when prospective advertisers become aware of the success of their competitors, even though, legally, we cannot say no if an advertiser selling the same product requests airtime. Nonetheless, we have been praised for not carrying too much advertising. While our music is ‘top 40’, (or recent ‘top 40’), we do try to make sure that it is designed for family listening. With the advent of successful shows like The Voice, Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor, parents and older people are now listening to and enjoying the latest records. That was not the trend 30 years ago, when parents listened to one station while the children listened to another. Those differences have somewhat evaporated and now we are able to offer a music mix for all the family. The young people who work at Youthcomm are very much into social media and, accordingly, our Facebook and Twitter feeds are very engaging, receiving excellent responses. We recently gave away a prize of a family ticket for the Three Counties Show and, within 12 days, we received 98,000 likes on Facebook. This is very similar to the many prizes we give away. Last year we had more than 20 million tweets and retweets on our Twitter account. We have many online listeners and although they are currently limited to the size of our bandwidth, we plan to expand our reach in 2019. With modern technology and Wi-Fi becoming available

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IT IS NOW POSSIBLE FOR PEOPLE TO LISTEN TO THEIR LOCAL RADIO STATIONS WHILE TRAVELLING IN THE UK AND OVERSEAS. in cars, it is now possible for people to listen to their local radio stations while travelling in the UK and overseas. We are a media partner with two major music festivals in the area, namely the Sunshine and Mello festivals. We are also the proud media partner for cricket, rugby, basketball and netball in the city of Worcester. In fact, Joe Leech, the Worcestershire cricket captain, is practising in our spare studio to start his own show in the new year.

Owen Lowe . . . remember the name.

bulletins – broadcasts from Worcester 24 hours a day.

Image courtesy of Richard Purvis.

The future holds exciting developments for Youthcomm. There is the prospect of more transmitter power, which will give the station a much larger reach and we will soon be available on DAB. While this will mean that our coverage will include Herefordshire as well as Worcestershire, we will always remain Worcester’s local station. We broadcast on 106.7 FM and online. Give us a listen. You never know, we could become your favourite station. ›

Our greatest asset is that we are a local radio station and, in addition to our association with all the major sports in the area, we also support – and have an excellent relationship with – many local charities. We are the only radio station in the area which – apart from the three-minute national news

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MUSIC

Worcestershire’s guitar specialist Lance Perkins.

I

t all started at the age of 13 with a passion for learning how to play the guitar and a burning ambition to perform on stage like all the rock stars seen on TV.

brandishing a large carrier bag full of old broken parts with the neck sticking out of the top. He simply shook it up and down a few times when entering the studio to see what my reaction would be. The challenge was far too good to turn down . . . and I can now say that the guitar is completely re-built and firing on all cylinders!’

‘I spent many hours late at night learning what is essentially a simple, yet complex instrument and it was not long before the mechanics, playability and set up became a fascination, which led to an interest far beyond just playing, so I started experimenting with pick-ups, strings and all the associated hardware’. All of this soon led to Lance joining his first band at the age of 14 and, after many years of playing, performing and recording in groups, including four albums with the signed band Wrathchild, he pursued a career in guitar repairs. ‘In 1995 I was fortunate enough to meet David Busby, formerly of 1960’s legends Cats Eyes from Evesham. David’s guitar shop in Stratford-upon-Avon incorporated a repair room and this provided me with not only a real learning curve, but also a great foundation for serious guitar repairs’. After a while, it became clear that rather than basic instrument repair and refurbishment, Lance’s main interest lay in customising, rebuilding and setting up guitars to a very high standard incorporating high quality components. It

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was this passion which evolved in 2003 to become the GuitarStudio, a purposedesigned workshop specialising in customisation, utilising the latest tools and techniques to enable a very high standard of craftmanship. Over the years, many different examples have found their way into the workshop: ‘Old guitars, covered in dust and, after many years of neglect, being rescued from lofts and garages’, Lance states, adding that, ‘One customer turned up

The premises enjoys a superb location at Craycombe Retail Park near Fladbury and has the important bonus of free parking. Over the years Lance has been very lucky to attract a great many enthusiastic guitar players who have become regular customers, which has helped to drive the business forward and make it an exciting and enjoyable place to be. GuitarStudio has attracted customers from Evesham, Pershore, Worcester, Malvern and further afield. ‘Not long after the studio was established, Chris D’Adda, who had been in the music industry in London, became a good friend and subsequently set up a professional top-class recording studio in Fladbury – Vale Studios – only a stone’s throw from Craycombe. Bands were travelling from all over the UK to record at Vale Studios and, inevitably, they were soon bringing me their guitars to be set up and serviced’.

GuitarStudio | Craycombe Retail Park, Evesham Rd , Fladbury, Pershore WR10 2QS Monday–Friday: 10.00am–5.30pm | Saturday 10.00am–2.00pm Tel: 01386 861873 | www.guitarstudio.co.uk

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In addition to the workshop, GuitarStudio also has a retail shop, which grew from a demand for highquality instruments, covered with after sales guarantees and requiring professional set up and service. The shop also offers a range of accessories – including strings and cables – and quality second-hand guitars.

GuitarStudio has assisted many famous guitarists over the years, including rock legends Luther Grosvenor (aka Ariel Bender of Mott the Hoople), Steve Gibbons (Steve Gibbons band) and Dave Hill (Slade), Glenn Hughes (Deep Purple and Black Country Communion) and additionally the new crop of rock guitarists from the bands The Answer, Deaf Havana and Kodaline.

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‘The range of electric, acoustic and bass guitars include Gibson, Fender, Epiphone and Gretsch. I’m proud to say that I hold the main dealership in Worcestershire for the superb range of handmade Takamine acoustic guitars and have an extensive range of different models on display’. Also on display are great quality amplifiers such as the vintage Vox Valve amps and Fishman state of the art combos. With the repair and retail shop working hand in hand, a customer can obtain not only a life-long dream guitar but also a top-class amplifier and all the

essential industry standard accessories to complement it. Whether you’re looking for a regular restring of a cherished guitar or a complete re-build and customisation, GuitarStudio offers a high-quality service, regardless of the financial value an instrument may have, and each one is treated to the same professional standard. ›

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ROOM WITH A VIEW

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modern businesses; especially for those who live rurally and usually suffer from poor connectivity. By taking space with us, businesses can manage their costs and avoid the commitment, risk and hassle of owning their own property, which gives them the flexibility to grow in a professional, well-equipped environment. By having just one bill at the end of the month and everything else dealt with by us, our clients save time, energy and money.

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Xytron Data Recovery UK

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n operation for 14 years, Xytron has recovered data from a vast array of situations. Managing Director Richard Cuthbertson recalls one of the more memorable cases: ‘In 2006, a Norwegian client contacted us in a state of considerable panic, having dropped a hard disk into the sea. Upon receipt of the drive, we were able to completely recover all of the client’s data.’ Richard adds: ‘After thousands of cases, we really have seen it all, but dud Internet information doesn’t help so, to put the record straight, if you have a hard drive malfunction, please note the following and call us straight away’: • •

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Xytron’s lab data specialists recover files from all types of storage device failures; from dropped or bumped external hard drives, to virus or malware damage. Routine data recovery includes hard disks and RAID systems, mobile phones and tablets. The company’s strict Confidentiality and 256 AES Security policy provides clients with the peace of mind that their recovered data is in safe, secure and competent hands. Their services have been employed by many of the UK’s leading organisations, companies and celebrities to recover accounts, videos, photos and all manner of documents.

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CYBER SECURITY

HARNESSING

NEURO-DIVERSE TALENT IN CYBER SECURITY

The brilliant IT guy with no social skills is a cliché recognised in numerous films and jokes throughout the world, reflecting the reality of a group of people who think differently. However, this ‘neuro-diverse’ group of people possess a set of highly valued skills that are a perfect fit for cyber security, an industry that’s crying out for new talent. Dr Emma Philpott, MD of the UK Cyber Security Forum and recently named one of the 50 most influential women in cyber security by SC magazine UK, tells us about a new initiative that addresses this issue by tapping into the specialist skills of the neuro-diverse www.wrmagazine.uk

W

hile many people with this way of thinking can cope independently to get a job and survive in the workplace, a large number find the social aspects too challenging and so become long-term unemployed despite being talented and keen to work. Indeed, only 16 per cent of autistic adults are in full-time employment and this has not changed for the last decade. The effects of long-term unemployment are often more debilitating than the

neuro-diversity itself. The individuals can develop social anxiety, low self-esteem and depression which, in turn, can lead to them becoming particularly vulnerable to exploitation by criminal gangs who actively search for people with good IT skills to be used to conduct cyber crime. In parallel, the cyber security industry now has a skills shortage at crisis point. A low number of people trained or capable of work in the specialist cyber security field is being magnified by a fast-growing need for such skills. Across the whole industry there are job vacancies.

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THE CYBER SECURITY INDUSTRY NOW HAS A SKILLS SHORTAGE AT CRISIS POINT.

A new initiative, based at the Guildhall in the centre of Worcester, is aiming to address these issues by developing and supporting unemployed neuro-diverse individuals to allow them to fill cyber security vacancies, which are so critical. The initiative is being run by the UK Cyber Security Forum, which is a not for profit Community Interest Company based at the Wyche Innovation Centre in Malvern. In June 2018, the forum managed to secure a central government grant to fund the setting up of a cyber security training programme at the Guildhall. The government funding was matched by a number of county councillors, personal donations through Just Giving and an overwhelming number of volunteers from the world of cyber security itself.

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THE TRAINING PROVIDES ME WITH ... A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT

WITH NO HIDDEN AGENDA OR POLITICS ... RUN BY PEOPLE WHO ARE

PASSIONATE TO IMPROVE THE TRAINEES’ EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS.

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CYBER SECURITY

The training is based around access to an online ‘Digital Cyber Academy’ run by a Bristol-based company, Immersive Labs. It has developed a fantastic online training platform, which has a large number of different ‘labs’ teaching different aspects of cyber security. The labs go from complete beginner level all the way up to levels where even our visiting cyber security experts cannot help. The labs are constantly being added to by the Immersive Labs team and trainees can earn points and badges, and see how they are doing on a leader board. Most importantly, if a trainee scores above a certain level in a particular lab, a job opportunity will be displayed to them.

Protecting the vulnerable

FURTHER INFORMATION For

further

information,

visit

▷ www.ukcybersecurityforum. com/community-soc

Sadly, cyber criminals target the most vulnerable people in society: people with learning disabilities, the elderly and people who have already been a victim of crime. There is nothing available at

Another key aspect of the cyber security training is guest speakers. On most days there is an expert volunteer speaker and, to date, they have included senior security members from Camelot (the National Lottery), Microsoft, O2, Babcock International, KPMG and many others. The visitors are linked by an enthusiasm to support this scheme and develop the trainees into cyber security professionals. Other support provided during the training sessions includes workplace skills training, work with the National Careers Service and help with understanding employment expectations. Since the start of the initiative, there has been between 15 and 20 trainees on the course at any one time. There is a steady flow of referrals from charities, the NHS, the police and the Job Centre. To date, 15 people have successfully completed the cyber security training. However, once the training got under way, it became clear that most of the trainees would find it difficult to move straight from the training into a full-time commercial job. It also became evident that, despite the cyber security skills shortage, companies were reluctant to employ people who may need additional support. At this point, another Malvern company, The IASME Consortium, stepped in to help.

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IASME (Information Assurance for SMEs) is a small company and market leader in delivering the government’s Cyber Essentials scheme across the UK. It licenses the certification to 165 companies across the UK and its primary market is nontechnical, small companies that struggle with cyber security. IASME heard about the neuro-diverse cyber security training and decided to set up a project that could employ a large number of individuals from the course, to give them cyber security work experience in a supported environment, which would also continue to support their development. Eventually it is hoped that trainees will leave the IASME team and move to fill other cyber security vacancies. When this happens, other trainees from the UK Cyber Security Forum course will join the IASME team. So, in October 2018, IASME invested £180,000 to set up the Community SOC (Secure Operations Centre), comprised solely of neuro-diverse people from the cyber security course.

the moment that is simple enough and affordable to protect these vulnerable people from cyber criminals. With this in mind, the Community SOC team aims to develop and offer very low cost and simple Internet protection services for vulnerable members of society. This service will enhance the lives of vulnerable people by giving them the confidence to safely live and work online. The service will also meet a growing need from organisations, such as banks and the police, who are overwhelmed by the high numbers of cyber-crime victims. The combination of training from the UK Cyber Security Forum and paid employment in a supported environment from IASME has started to make a big difference to people’s lives. The trainees have improved confidence and happiness, have made new friends and learned about cyber security. If the project can be shown to work commercially, it is hoped to expand the initiative to other regions. ›

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Nooks n C s n e a i &r HERITAGE

A closer look at some things worth looking at.

The Regal Cinema Tenbury Wells

If you’re not totally engrossed in the film at this Art Deco picture palace, you can always stare at the walls WORDS: GERALD HEYS

240 cinemas within a 45-mile journey of Tenbury Wells. In 2012, there were 28. Manager Adey Ramsel is here today to show us around, pointing out that in 1937, the front doors were right up by the handsome old box office, a few yards ahead of where they are now. ‘So it was very much a traditional come in off the street, up the stairs and straight through into the auditorium.’ In that dark period when it looked like we’d all been enslaved by the telly and scores of cinemas were being closed down, the Regal was salvaged. ‘The council bought it in the 1970s. But like all council theatres, they couldn’t keep on top of it, so it fell into disrepair.’

A

lovely town, Tenbury Wells, surrounded by the kind of countryside that elicits oohs and ahs as you round a bend or come over the brow of a hill. And its cinema, the Regal, is one of those gems that stands as a monument to cinema’s Golden Age. In her book outlining its history, Sarah Fellows describes the Regal’s opening night (Thursday 29 July 1937), when its 316 seats were packed ‘for a showing of the 1936 film Everybody Dance starring

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Cicely Courtneidge and Ernest Truex, supported by the Laurel and Hardy short Them Thar Hills and the cartoon Good Little Monkeys.’

Then, in 2007, the Regal was badly damaged by the floods. ‘A charitable trust took it over, redecorated, kept the Art Deco theme, and reopened it. It’s been run as a charity ever since. And it’s been going from strength to strength. We have no major funding or sponsorship, which for an arts venue is unheard of.’

The Regal was built, Sarah says, by Craven Cinemas, a company based in Craven Arms, Shropshire, that, back in the day, had six picture houses: the Cinema House in Ledbury, the Picture House in Ludlow, the Old Tanneries in Winchcombe, and three Regals – in Craven Arms, Church Stretton and, of course, Tenbury Wells. To this information, Ms Fellows adds a striking statistic: in 1942, there were

Adey opens the auditorium doors now to reveal the Regal’s pride and joy. ‘The murals are the reason why we’re protected. The guy who painted them [George Legge] did it in some other cinemas in the chain, but this is the only example, apparently, of his work that exists. And you can see his monkey motif there. And there’s a story behind it: I’m not sure, but when he painted the

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Image: Richard P Gill

monkey in 1937, he made it look like the local vicar; apparently, they’d fallen out. English Heritage paid to have the murals restored, and the guy who did the renovation painted another monkey.’

Previous page: The Regal’s grand entrance. Top: Restoration underway in 2012. Middle: Restoration complete. Bottom: (L–R) Adey Ramsel, Sheila Benbow and Joan Parker at the box office.

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The walls are covered with a wonderfully rendered Italian scene: lakes, mountains, poplars, bougainvillea, stripy canopies and a couple of cheeky monkeys added for fun. At the back of the auditorium are the original tiny folding seats where the ushers and usherettes sat during the show. Restoring Legge’s work in 2012, artist Richard P Gill faced a number of difficulties, he says, including an attempt by a ‘well-meaning group’ decades before to touch it up using household paints. Richard’s ‘three or four months’ of labour was further hampered by water ingress, degraded steel girders, and a cocktail of condensation and nicotine ‘running down the walls’.

In addition, and not unlike Charlton Heston’s Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel for Rex Harrison’s Pope Julius II, Richard had to clamber over ‘three layers of scaffolding’. Not only that, but he could never see the whole thing until it was finished. ‘It felt like working on the side of a ship.’ But what a grand job he did: a perfectly restored example of the kind of exotica intended to add to cinema’s ability to magic us into another world. A little like that moment when Dorothy opens the farmhouse front door to find blackand-white Kansas has turned into Technicolor Oz. As with many similar cinemas, Adey says, the Regal thrives in the modern era by hosting live acts. ‘We had a Buddy Holly tribute last week, and Dame Patricia Routledge on Sunday doing her one-

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Image: Richard P Gill

FURTHER INFORMATION Visit the Regal’s website at:

▷ regaltenbury.co.uk/ RegalCinemaTenbury.dll/Home Worcestershire resident Richard P Gill’s website:

▷ www.richardpgill.com/ Richard is a fine artist who has worked extensively as a muralist.

woman show – packed out on Sunday afternoon. Our reputation’s getting bigger and bigger. A lot more people want to book us in on their tours.’ Not only do they have live shows, the latest blockbuster films, and their own plays and pantos, there are also live screenings: ‘The King and I from the London Palladium; shows from the RSC and the National; Oscar Wilde from the

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Vaudeville. Every musical that’s on in the West End seems to do a broadcast now, which is great. Alan Bennett’s new play, Hallelujah, is booking really well.’ Adey took over as manager just over two years ago after returning from New Zealand, where, for some 20 years, he ran theatres and theatre companies. ‘Prior to that, I was an actor, playwright and comedian. So I’ve always been in live theatre. When we returned to the UK about four years ago, I saw the job advertised here and came over just for a visit. I walked into the auditorium and couldn’t believe all this was here behind the facade on the street. It’s amazing. You walk into the auditorium every day, and it just reminds you how grateful you are to be working here.’ Which perhaps explains why 80plus volunteers choose to help keep the Regal going. ‘Without them,’ Adey says, ‘we couldn’t survive. They do everything.’ One such volunteer is Joan Parker, who’s in the foyer as we leave, chatting to Box

Office Manager Sheila Benbow. Joan has lived in Tenbury since 1948, she says, and knew the cinema when she was a teenager, adding that she used to do her courting in the back row. The Regal back then was, she says, ‘basically like it is now’. Nice to hear testimony, as well as see evidence, that the Golden Age of the silver screen never really died. ›

I’M NOT SURE, BUT WHEN HE PAINTED THE MONKEY IN 1937, HE MADE IT LOOK LIKE THE LOCAL VICAR; APPARENTLY, THEY’D FALLEN OUT. www.wrmagazine.uk


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NONFICTION

WORCESTER IN 50 BUILDINGS Explores the rich and fascinating history of Worcester through an examination of some of its greatest architectural treasures

Bibliographic information Author: James Dinn Publication: November 2018 Price: £14.99 ISBN: 978-1-4456-8051-4 Size: 234 x 165mm Binding: Paperback Extent: 96 pages Illustrations: 110 illustrations For more information, please see

F

rom its time as a flourishing glovemaking town in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, and home to the Royal Worcester Porcelain Company, through its

growth and development in the twentieth century as a major engineering centre, the city of Worcester has a proud and distinctive identity. This extraordinary history is embodied in the many fine buildings that have shaped the city.

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greatest architectural treasures. From the imposing cathedral and the Queen Anne style Guildhall to more recent additions, such as the award-winning Hive, which houses the public library, the university library, the county record office and archive, this unique study celebrates the city’s architectural heritage in a new and accessible way. Local architectural historian, James Dinn guides the reader on a tour of the

▷ www.amberley-books.com

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community through a selection of its

WORCESTER IN 50 BUILDINGS explores

city’s historic buildings and modern

the history of this rich and vibrant

architectural marvels.

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About the author James Dinn spent the first half of his archaeological career in field archaeology, mainly in Wales and the western Midlands. Since 1997, he has been the Archaeological Officer at Worcester City Council, where he developed the Worcester Urban Archaeological Database and has overseen excavations on sites of all periods from the Mesolithic to World War II. He is fascinated by the hidden quirks of historic buildings, and by the evidence they embody for past lives and livelihoods. James lives in Malvern with his family. ›

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ALL ABOUT BALDWIN

HERITAGE

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Following our coverage of the unveiling of Stanley Baldwin’s statue in the last issue, the following pages contain Lord Lexden’s speech at the unveiling, and we also discover the new Baldwin Trail, a leaflet published jointly by Bewdley Civic Society and Stourport Civic Society, which takes the reader on a journey through Baldwin’s life in Worcestershire

CONTENTS:

• PAGES 53–57: THE ADDRESS AT THE STATUE UNVEILING IN BEWDLEY: Lord Alistair Lexden • PAGES 58–59: THE BALDWIN TRAIL LEAFLET • PAGES 60–63: THE BALDWIN TIMELINE, PART OF THE BALDWIN TRAIL LEAFLET

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Lord Lexden and the statue before it was unveiled.

ADDRESS AT THE

UNVEILING OF THE STATUE

On 27 September 2018, Lord Alistair Lexden, historian of the Conservative Party, recalled the character and achievements of Stanley Baldwin, three times Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader for 14 years from 1923–1937. His address followed the unveiling of the statue of Baldwin in Bewdley, Worcestershire, the first to be erected in his memory, by His Royal Highness The Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO. The text of the address follows www.wrmagazine.uk

S

tanley Baldwin loved his native county of Worcestershire, a constant source of inspiration to him, and he loved his country. Large numbers of his contemporaries, sensing his profound, yet gentle patriotism, which threatened no other nation, came quite quickly to regard him with affection after he emerged suddenly at the forefront of public life in the early 1920s. Politicians have to expect mocking or derogatory nicknames. Baldwin escaped them:

he was known kindly, and accurately, as Honest Stan. People thought of him almost as a personal friend: for he spoke to them frequently in clear, straightforward language in their homes, through the newly established BBC. He was a brilliant broadcaster, far surpassing all his fellow politicians. It was the start of a new era of mass communications: and he dominated it. The ranks of his admirers extended far beyond those who belonged to, or voted

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for, the Conservative Party, which he led to the three greatest election victories in its history during his 14 years at its head. He had the ability, given to few political leaders, especially in peace time, to address the nation in language – some of the most moving and beautiful language it had ever heard – that avoided partisan rancour and bitterness. He had friends in places where most Tory leaders attract only opponents. He enjoyed the company of trade union leaders and gained their trust, which helped bring the General Strike of 1926, one of the most formidable challenges he faced, to a swift conclusion in 10 days, and minimised the damage to industrial relations and the economy. The editor of The Times wrote that ‘Toryism, as expounded by him, lost many of its repellent features.’ His objective, from which he never wavered, was to diminish the class divisions, which scarred his country so deeply, and draw people together irrespective of their backgrounds in the service – one of his favourite words – of their country. It was a mission which he told his own party to pursue with vigour. Addressing a great election victory rally at the Royal Albert Hall in December 1924, he said that Conservatives must dedicate themselves to creating ‘union among our own people to make one nation of own people which, if secured, nothing else matters in the world.’ In this way, he introduced into political life that famous phrase, ‘one nation’, which is heard again and again today on the lips of some Labour, as well as of Tory, politicians. Few have worked as hard as he did to make it a reality. Yet he is too frequently denied the credit for devising it. Whenever I come across its misattribution in the media, I write in to correct it. It was Stanley Baldwin who made Britain a fully democratic state. In 1928, he brought all women over 21 within it by giving them the vote, finishing what had been begun 10 years earlier when the franchise had

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been conferred on women with property over the age of 30. He said in 1927 that ‘a democracy is incomplete and lopsided until it is representative of the whole people, and the responsibility rests alike on men and women’. This year has brought events commemorating the centenary of the limited enfranchisement of women in 1918. But it was Baldwin who did women as a whole the greatest service 10 years later. Fittingly, he was asked to unveil the lovely statue of Mrs Pankhurst erected beside Parliament in 1930. By 1930, many had come to regard Baldwin as the third most famous person in the realm, after their revered monarch, King George V, and the charming Prince of Wales. The gruff, good-hearted sovereign occasionally found it necessary to chide his longestserving prime minister, who spent nearly eight years in all at Number 10. In a letter to the King in 1925, Baldwin described an all-night sitting in the Commons as resembling ‘St James’ Park at midday with members lying about the benches in

A COUNTRY IS IMPOVERISHED WHEN IT LACKS LEADERS WITH A SENSE OF THE PAST.

recumbent positions.’ Royal displeasure was communicated to him. ‘Members of Parliament now include ladies and such a state of things as you describe seems to His Majesty hardly decorous’. It was fortunate that other less than decorous remarks made by Baldwin did not reach the royal ears. ‘Never stand between a dog and a lamp post’, he once advised his Downing Street staff . . . sensibly enough. He invented proverbs. One which he said was of Afghan origin would certainly have bemused the sovereign and many others besides: ‘He who lies in the bosom of the goat, spends his remaining days plucking out the fleas’. He was deluged with letters from retired colonial officials authenticating this bogus proverb, but insisting that it originated in Burma, or Malaya, or Singapore, or some other place where they had served. Baldwin saw the monarchy as the utterly indispensable constitutional linchpin of the nation whose unity and cohesion

he sought throughout his career to strengthen. Of the strait-laced George V, he said: ‘we are fortunate indeed to have as our King a man with such a sense of duty’. He looked in vain for similar virtue in his successor, Edward VIII. He believed that the interests of the country compelled him to ask the King to choose between the throne and a hard, greedy

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HERITAGE

TORYISM, AS EXPOUNDED BY HIM, LOST MANY OF ITS REPELLENT FEATURES. Previous page: HRH The Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO speaking before the unveiling.

I have sent so many others there, hoping I should never see their faces again’.

Above: There was a large turnout of local people and dignitaries for the unveiling. Right: The Duke unveils the statue.

woman, uninterested in public service, with two former husbands living. His masterly handling of the abdication crisis in 1936, saving the Crown from any lasting damage, brought his career to a triumphant conclusion. His detailed explanation of the crisis in the House of Commons was described by Harold Nicolson as ‘the best speech we will ever hear in our lives’. He retired a few months later. Hensley Henson, the Bishop of Durham, said: he is ‘really a very great man and a genuine member of the “goodly fellowship of the prophets”’. Not all the country’s historic institutions gained his full-hearted praise. He went reluctantly to the House of Lords on his retirement, saying disarmingly ‘there is perhaps a certain retributive justice in it as

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This, then, was the much-praised, utterly down to earth, deeply humane statesman – no lesser term would be appropriate – now to be commemorated for ever by this magnificent statue in a place which he knew so well and cared for so deeply as boy and man, sentiments that were amply reciprocated by its people during his long years of association with it, nearly 30 of them as its Member of Parliament. How frequently in the hundreds of speeches he delivered outside Parliament – more than any other modern prime minister – he referred to vivid memories of Worcestershire which abided with him and to which he gave eloquent expression. Here is an extract from one of them, recalling Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee in 1887 when he was 20 years old: ‘I was walking slowly across a wide common in Worcestershire, waiting for the warning light of the great beacon on

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FREEDOM, ORDERED FREEDOM WITHIN THE LAW, WITH FORCE IN THE BACKGROUND AND NOT IN THE FOREGROUND; A SOCIETY IN WHICH FREEDOM AND AUTHORITY ARE BLENDED IN DUE PROPORTION.

Above: The statue in all its glory. Top left: The Duke takes time to reflect upon the life and achievements of Baldwin. . . . Bottom left: . . . and checks to see if the statue is hollow. Next page top: L–R: Mark Garnier, MP for Wyre Forest; sculptor Martin Jennings; the 4th Earl Baldwin of Bewdley; the Duke of Gloucester; Beatrice Grant, great granddaughter of Stanley Baldwin; and Richard Perrin, Chairman of Bewdley Civic Society. Next page bottom: The Baldwin family of

Victoria’s reign. How often in our history had these same hills sent out their fiery message, to Briton and Roman, to Saxon and Dane. But this night it was a message of rejoicing and thanksgiving and pride . . . at the appointed hour the first flame shot up on Malvern and, one by one, each hill took up the tale until I stood in the middle of a vast illuminated circle, the nearer fires showing the people attending them and the remoter dwindling in size until they merely blazed as stars on the horizon’.

today gather for the unveiling.

Malvern, which was to give the signal for the chain of beacons running north to carry the glad news of the jubilee of Queen

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Apart from the power of the language, note the historical resonance which is a recurrent feature of his speeches. A country is impoverished when it lacks leaders with a sense of the past, as we do today.

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HERITAGE

Baldwin’s total lack of self-importance, that besetting sin of politicians, is well illustrated by a famous anecdote. On a train journey during the second of his three premierships, he noticed that another occupant of the compartment was looking at him with some puzzlement. After a time this man leant forward and tapped Baldwin on the knee. ‘You are Baldwin, aren’t you?’ he asked. ‘You were at Harrow in ‘84?’ Baldwin nodded assent to both propositions. His former schoolfellow appeared satisfied. But after a few

How proud he would have been that this wholly spurious accusation, which he himself was too old and infirm to rebut, should have been countered so powerfully, first by his son, Windham, and then by Edward, his grandson. They have been vindicated. Detailed research by modern historians has removed the tarnish from Stanley Baldwin’s reputation, spectacularly so in Professor Philip Williamson’s brilliant book, Stanley Baldwin: Conservative leadership and national values, published in 1999, which was followed by a fascinating collection of extracts from Baldwin’s personal papers that he produced jointly with Edward Baldwin. What did Baldwin think about Nazi Germany? He detested it. Appalled by the Kristallnacht attack on Jews and their property towards the end of 1938,

more minutes he again became puzzled and tapped once more. ‘Tell me’, he said, ‘what are you doing now?’ I had long imagined this story to be apocryphal, but I was heartened to see it in the lovely speech made by his great-granddaughter Bea Grant at Hagley Hall during the fundraising campaign for the statue. It is well known that Baldwin’s reputation plunged precipitously from the astonishingly high point at which it stood when he retired in 1937. The cause is equally well known: the charge that he failed to rearm Britain in the face of the growing menace of the fascist dictators.

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A DEMOCRACY IS INCOMPLETE AND LOPSIDED UNTIL IT IS REPRESENTATIVE OF THE WHOLE PEOPLE, AND THE RESPONSIBILITY RESTS ALIKE ON MEN AND WOMEN.

he launched The Lord Baldwin’s Fund for Refugees. In eight months, it raised £522,000, slightly over £34 million in today’s values. It helped fund the Kindertransport, and is regarded as the most successful British public appeal of the inter-war years, as Baldwin’s greatgrandson, Simon Russell, Lord Russell of Liverpool, recently told the House of Lords. Baldwin made his last speech as Prime Minister on 18 May 1937 to a packed Albert Hall, filled with representatives of the youth of the Empire and Commonwealth. Much to Baldwin’s pleasure, they were joined unexpectedly by the Duke of Gloucester, father of His Royal Highness, bearing a message from his brother, the recently crowned King George VI. What, asked Baldwin, had made Britain so successful? His answer: ‘Freedom, ordered freedom within the law, with force in the background and not in the foreground; a society in which freedom and authority are blended in due proportion’. He told his young audience: ‘It may well be that you will have to save democracy’, as a number of them would indeed do a few years later. And he added: ‘live for the brotherhood of man’. These were the ideals of the great man now commemorated here in Bewdley by the glorious statue that Martin Jennings has created. Ideals like these need to be enunciated once again today, with Baldwin’s eloquent persuasiveness, in our deeply troubled times when his great aim, ‘one nation’, seems especially elusive. Finally, on this important day, should we not remind ourselves of perhaps the bestknown words spoken by this formidable figure, deeply imbued with Christian faith, who cared so strongly about the unity of his country? Tears stood in the eyes of MPs throughout the House of Commons as he concluded his famous speech on industrial relations on 6 March 1925: ‘There are many in all ranks and in all parties who will re-echo my prayer: “Give peace in our time, O Lord”’. ›

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HERITAGE

The Baldwin Trail leaflet DESIGNED AND PRODUCED BY ROTARY CREATIVE GROUP, STOURPORT

T

here are numerous places nationwide pertinent to the life and work of Stanley, First Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, KG, PC. The unveiling of his first and only statue, by HRH The Duke of Gloucester, KG, GCVO, in September 2018, was an incentive to commemorate the unique event. A leaflet was planned, outlining the life of Stanley Baldwin and directing visitors to local places connected with the Baldwin family.

Society, in 2014. Pauline Annis, leader of Stourport Civic Society, had researched the Baldwin family tree and presented talks on the family’s connections with Stourport. Stourport Civic Society had also organised the refurbishment of the Baldwin memorials at Saint Michael’s Church in Stourport. Nic Harvey, formerly headmaster of Wilden School, has published books on Wilden Church and the ironworks. Thus a well-informed working committee emerged and it was an obvious decision to proceed with the project jointly as neighbours, under the leadership of Brian Stephens, one of the Vice Presidents of Bewdley Civic Society.

Stanley Baldwin is best known for his political career, which began when he was 40. Previously, he had managed the family business of iron founders which, during his time, became a substantial part of the national and international iron and steel industry, with its origins in Stourport and Wilden.

The group met several times during the summer of 2018 to plan and develop the leaflet. The first task was to clarify its intentions, then gather relevant material, select what was suitable, discover what was still needed and decide on a suitable format.

The idea of a ‘Baldwin Trail’ had been mooted several times over the years. An exhibition of the life of Stanley Baldwin by students from The Bewdley School was organised by Barbara Longmore, Honorary Secretary of Bewdley Civic

The printer (Stourport-based Rotary Creative Group) suggested using Baskerville as a clear, easy-to-read type face. By happy coincidence, John Baskerville (1706–75) was born locally at Sion Farm, Wolverley. Not only that, in

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1758, Baskerville was appointed printer to Cambridge University, the university Baldwin attended and at which he acted as chancellor for 17 years until his death. Baskerville type was adopted by Birmingham University, where Baldwin trained, and by Hansard for Parliamentary publications. In addition, the carved lettering on the Baldwin tombs resembles Baskerville type face. Not everything relevant could be included in the leaflet, but it is hoped that there is sufficient detail to stimulate further enquiry. It is not a trail with a strict sequence, but rather a number of relevant sites that can be visited independently. A total of 16 sites are described, some more substantial than others. For example, only a plaque marks the location of the Lucy Baldwin Maternity Hospital where many local people were born. The story of ‘Stanley Baldwin’s Iron Gates’, now at the New Elizabethan School, Hartlebury, can be found on BBC iPlayer as a 15 minute talk (Radio 4, Tuesday, 3 October 2017, 13.45hrs. See ▷ bbc.co.uk/radio/ play/b07nrlqn). The leaflet can be obtained from Bewdley Tourist Information Centre, local libraries, hotels and churches in Bewdley, Stourport and Wilden. ›

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5. Baldwin Memorials, St. Michael’s Church, Stourport South-east of the modern church are two large white cast-iron memorials to many members of the Baldwin family. East of the church, where footpaths cross, is the large granite memorial to Enoch Baldwin, 1822–1905, and his wife.

1. Statue, Load Street, Bewdley Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl of Bewdley K.G. Sculpture by Martin Jennings. Unveiled by H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester K.G., G.C.V.O. 27th September, 2018. Guildhall (1808) DY12 2AH Stanley Baldwin presented with the Freedom of the Borough of Bewdley, 1925.

Re-cross the traffic lights on to the Bewdley Road. Sixth on the left is Olive Grove. DY13 8XZ

From the Guildhall, pass south of Saint Anne’s church, turn left and continue to the end of High Street, to the corner of Lax Lane and Lower Park. DY12 2DP

6. Lucy Baldwin Maternity Hospital, Stourport Now demolished and the site redeveloped, this was one of the first purpose-built maternity hospitals in the country and an example for many others.

2. Stanley Baldwin’s Birthplace. Lower Park House Alfred and Louisa Baldwin married and settled here 1866. Stanley Baldwin was born to Louisa 3rd August 1867.

Return and bear right before the police station into Lombard Street and first left into Foundry Street. DY13 8EB

3. 1866. The Rev George Browne Macdonald and his wife Hannah retire from their Methodist ministry in Wolverhampton, to live in Lower Park. Their daughters, the ‘Macdonald sisters’, were remarkable. Alice was the mother of Rudyard Kipling, Georgiana married the artist Edward Burne-Jones, Agnes married Edward Poynter, artist and later Director of the National Gallery, and Louisa was the mother of Stanley Baldwin.

7. Foundry Street, Stourport Baldwin’s foundry was where the Civic buildings now stand. Only the former offices and the quays along the canal side remain. The three storey house was occupied by Thomas Baldwin, later by Enoch Baldwin (1). Enoch’s widow, Mary Ann, lived there until the 1880s. The Rising Sun pub was where, reputedly, foundry workers were paid. Off the High Street, Parkes Passage connects with York Street. DY13 9EA

Continue south on B4194 for one mile to Ribbesford Church. DY12 2TQ

10. All Saints Church, Wilden The church is famous for the only complete collection of Burne-Jones windows, installed between 1902–1914 and other treasures with numerous Baldwin connections. Founded in 1879 by Alfred Baldwin with £3,000 of his own money, in addition he built the school, adjacent, which opened in 1882. Playing fields and company houses for the workers were also provided. The clock is a memorial to Alfred Baldwin unveiled by his grandson Oliver. The war memorial was unveiled by Stanley Baldwin in February 1921. The graves of Alfred and Louisa are nearby. Church open the first Saturday each month, May to November. More details can be found at www.cofe-stourport.org.uk DY13 9LP 11. Wilden Industrial Estate As one of 17 ancient mills on the river Stour, Wilden has a history from at least 1511, with numerous owners, notably the Foley Family, and Richard Knight before the Baldwin family. George Pearce Baldwin took over in 1840 soon followed by his brother Enoch and sons Pearce and William. George’s youngest son, Alfred (born after he died), took over the Wilden works in 1870 as Baldwin’s Limited. Alfred, with his family moved from Bewdley, where Stanley was born, to Wilden House, where Stanley spent his childhood.

8. Wesleyan Methodist Church, Parkes Passage, Stourport 4. Saint Leonard’s, Ribbesford Several generations of the Baldwin family were Three west windows, by William Morris and benefactors; circuit stewards, organists, Sunday designed by Edward Burne-Jones, are memorials To Bridgnorth school superintendents. They also built a manse In 1888, aged 21, Stanley joined the business to Hannah Macdonald, mother of Lady BurneTo Wolverhampton Parkin Prospect Road. Enoch Baldwin (1) and 1878 and three years later took complete control after Jones, grandmother of Rudyard Kipling and KingsfordinForest A442 To Stourbridge Arley his nephews, William Hill Baldwin and Pearce his father became MP for Bewdley, and until he Stanley Baldwin. Arboretum The grave of George and Baldwin and Mary Ann, are commemorated by himself entered politics in 1908. Hannah Macdonald lies near theShatterford west boundary Drakelow plaques inside the church. The church was built of the graveyard near the path. in 1788, extended in 1812 and 1896 retainingChurchill its To Birmingham For a detailed history of the site, visit A449 Upper Arley Bodenham Forge Arboretumcharacter with box pews and gallery. Georgian www.wildenestates.co.uk At the traffic lights where the A451 meets A451 Churchill A fine organ, the B4195, turn into Church Drive to Saint Wolverleyalabaster pulpit and screen were Trimpley Reservoir added later. B4169 12. Dunley Hall Private and not Michael’s and All Saints Church. DY13 9DD Hurcott Pools accessible. DY13 0TX Trimpley & Woods Stanley and his new bride lived here for ten years A456 B4194 from 1892. Stanley cycled to work. er Riv

rn Seve

Stour

1

9. Methodist School Room Opposite the church, this was built and paid for by Thomas Joseph Baldwin, in 1875.

ilway y Ra Valle

Buttonoak

B4190

Kidderminster A456

SVR Railway Museum

West Midlands Safari Park

A448

Stone Wyre Forest Leisure Centre

14. Hartlebury School Gates DY11 Chaddesley Corbett Baldwin was a governor of the former

7TE Queen Elizabeth I Grammar School, an almost unique, single form entry school. The gates were at Astley Hall and survived the requisition of ironTo Bromsgrove work for the war effort in 1940.

er S ever n

4 B4194

A451

B4195

W or

Ri v

Ribbesford

To Ludlow

cs

Ca

n al

Severn Valley Railway

River S t ou r

Wyre Forest of Discovery

A4117

Museum of Carpet

&

Go Ape

Bewdley 1 2 TIC, Museum & Gardens 3 A456

Sta f fs

Wyre Forest

Stourport-on-Severn Wilden 10–11

5–9

Stourport Canal basins

A451 Dunley

13 15 Astley

25

96

To Great Witley

B41

12

40

A

Rock

A449

Hartlebury Castle

B4193

13. Astley Hall (Grade II Listed) Private and not accessible. DY13 0RW Stanley and his family rented Astley Hall in 1902 and bought the estate in 1912, where the couple Harvington Hall lived for the rest of their lives.

A450

To Worcester 16

A442

14

15. Astley Memorial At Astley, on the east side of the B4196. 16. Worcester Cathedral WR1 2LA Where Baldwin’s ashes are buried and with a memorial stone in the nave. To Droitwich

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HERITAGE

The Baldwin timeline The Baldwin Trail leaflet includes a timeline of Stanley Baldwin’s family and life, which is reproduced on the following pages (although not all the images are used). The leaflet also includes a simplified family tree (which is not included here).

with Artillery Volunteers, and training at Mason College, Birmingham.

1892:

Stanley Baldwin married Lucy Ridsdale in Rottingdean, East Sussex (where they had met at the home of his aunt and uncle, Georgina and Edward Burne-Jones).

1905:

Alfred Baldwin, MP, was made Chairman of the Great Western Railway Company.

1908:

Stanley’s father, Alfred Baldwin, died suddenly in February, in London, aged 66. Stanley replaced his father as the Member of Parliament for Bewdley or

Lower Park House: Baldwin’s Birthplace

1866:

Alfred Baldwin married Louisa Macdonald in a double wedding with her sister Agnew to Edward Poynter who later became a renowned artist and Director of the National Gallery.

1867:

3 August – Stanley Baldwin was born at Lower Park House, Bewdley, to Alfred Baldwin and Louisa (nee Macdonald).

Wilden Works

1870:

Alfred Baldwin took control of the family firm and moved with his wife and son to Wilden House, situated just opposite Wilden Works, where the business was centred.

1892: Stanley and Lucy Baldwin began

1878–1888:

born to the couple. The first of six children following a still birth.

Stanley received his education from preparatory school and Harrow, then at Trinity College, Cambridge.

1888:

Stanley entered the family business at Wilden after spending time at Malvern, learning to become a gunner

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their married life renting Dunley Hall, Stourport. Stanley followed his father’s lead serving the local community.

1895: 8 April – Diana Lucy Baldwin was

1902:

The family moved just one mile from Dunley to Astley Hall. This house, initially rented, was eventually bought by Stanley in 1912.

Oliver, later to become 2nd Earl

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the Western Division of Worcestershire, unopposed, at the age of 40 and thus embarked upon his long political career. He served as Bewdley’s Member of Parliament continuously until his retirement in 1937. Stanley Baldwin’s early political career was not very remarkable – he made only five speeches between 1908 and 1914, but he was a respected, if not an ambitious politician. At the same time, he was also Vice-Chairman of Baldwins Ltd, which was becoming an increasingly large business, and he had taken his father’s place on the Board of the Great Western Railway.

service, yet young enough to feel that there was more for him to do. His first action towards this end was to start giving away money, mainly to Worcestershire charities. Over a few years, he disposed of £40,000, paying the Friendly Society subscriptions for those fighting the war.

1917:

Baldwin was promoted to the Front Bench and became a junior minister,

as government spokesman for the Treasury and Joint Financial Secretary. His parliamentary to blossom.

career

continued

1919:

Baldwin wrote an anonymous letter to The Times, pledging to pay 20 per cent of his personal fortune to help repay the national debt.

1914–1918:

At the outbreak of war, Stanley Baldwin was too old for military

One of the first maternity units in the country

Astley Hall

Baldwin and Churchill 1929

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Freedom of the Borough of Bewdley

Minister, and was called off by the unions after nine days.

1929:

Oliver Baldwin became Labour MP for Dudley. As Prime Minister, Stanley opened the Lucy Baldwin Maternity Hospital.

1930:

Stanley Baldwin was made Chancellor of the University of Cambridge, an honour he held until his death.

1931: Chancellor of the University of Cambridge

1920:

Stanley became Chancellor of the Exchequer.

1923:

Stanley Baldwin became Prime Minister on the resignation of Bonar Law through ill health. In December of that year, he called a general election over trade tariffs but lost the election to a hung parliament. The Labour Party formed a government which only lasted for 10 months. The Freedom of the City of Worcester was granted to Stanley Baldwin.

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1924: Labour lost the election in October

A National Government was formed under Ramsey MacDonald. Baldwin became Lord President of the Council.

and Baldwin became Prime Minister again. He made Winston Churchill his Chancellor of the Exchequer.

1934: Secret development of the Spitfire,

1925:

In March, Louisa, Stanley’s mother, died and was buried with her husband at Wilden Church. Stanley Baldwin was given the Freedom of the Borough of Bewdley.

1935: Baldwin succeeded MacDonald as

1926: The General Strike was effectivley

with Wallis Simpson caused a constitutional crisis which was dealt with by Stanley

dealt with by Stanley Baldwin, as Prime

Hurricane and RADAR was authorised during the controversy over rearmament.

Prime Minister. The National Government won another general election, so Baldwin continued as Prime Minister.

1936: Kind Edward VIII’s relationship

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HERITAGE

Baldwin, as Prime Minister, and led to Edward’s abdication.

1937:

Baldwin resigned as Prime Minister and was honoured with the Order

Baldwin’s BBC Radio Appeal saw Parliament raise £522,000 (equivalent to over £34 million today) helping Jewish children in Germany.

1945: On 17 June, Lucy Baldwin died at Astley Hall, aged 76.

1947: Earl Baldwin of

Bewdley died at Astley Hall on 14 December, aged 80. His ashes were buried in Worcester Cathedral, together with those of his wife, where his memorial stone can be seen today.

1948:

A sandstone memorial for Earl Baldwin of Bewdley was erected at Astley. Winston Churchill unveiled it and contributed a considerable amount towards its costs.

1997: Memorial in Worcester Cathedral

On 18 November, a memorial plaque was unveiled at Westminster Abbey

Published jointly by Bewdley Civic Society and Stourport Civic Society. September 2018.

Memorial at Astley

of the Garter. He took the title of Earl Baldwin of Bewdley.

in honour of Earl Baldwin, just 50 years after his death.

1938:

2017:

On 3 January, Edward Baldwin was born in Worcestershire. He was Earl Baldwin’s first grandson and is the current Earl Baldwin of Bewdley.

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In September, a memorial service was held in Worcester Cathedral to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Stanley Baldwin in Bewdley.

www.stourporttown.co.uk www.bewdleycivicsociety.org.uk www.wildentowitley.org.uk © Stourport and Bewdley Civic Societies Printed in Baskerville by Rotary Creative Group, Stourport-onSevern. Tel: 01299 823839

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HERITAGE

THE

HOME GUARD IN WORCESTERSHIRE

In May 1940, the seemingly unstoppable German forces had occupied much of Poland, all of Norway, all of Holland and much of Belgium, and their armoured columns were racing through France with little apparent resistance. Next in line . . . Great Britain. Mick Wilks, a researcher with both the Worcestershire Regiment museum and the Worcestershire Archive and Archaeology Service, offers a fascinating insight into the birth of the Home Guard in Worcestershire, making the important point that, contrary to its current image, the Home Guard was a serious business led by serious men

W

ith the British Expeditionary Force falling back on the port of Dunkirk, and eventual evacuation, it became apparent to the British people and their government that an enemy invasion of our island was likely to follow soon afterwards. A supplemental home defence force would therefore be needed and, in the evening of 14 May 1940, the

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Right Honourable Anthony Eden, the newly appointed Secretary of State for War, made a broadcast appeal for ‘large numbers of men in Great Britain, who are British subjects, between the ages of 17 and 65, to come forward now and offer their service’. The name of the new force was to be the Local Defence Volunteers (LDV) and it was to be a spare-time job, so there would be

no need for any volunteer to abandon his occupation. In Worcestershire, men volunteered as enthusiastically as anywhere, the local newspapers reporting that large numbers came forward. World War I veterans made up about 45 per cent of the total, and were men who were largely in their forties and still fit. They were able to bring their experience to bear on the nascent force, having already been ‘shot over’, as one

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officer put it. However, all age groups were represented, from the youngsters of pre-military conscription age, to those employed in reserved occupations in industry and agriculture. In addition to long hours in their day jobs, the defence volunteers would undertake two or three nights of duty each week, as well as evening and Sunday morning training. The experience of former officers and NCOs now enrolled in the force became invaluable in the early days when only the briefest of instructions had been issued by the War Office, and there was a complete absence of training manuals and pamphlets. They brought to the LDV a high standard of training and soldiering. The force was renamed the Home Guard in July and, by late 1940, Worcestershire had raised a substantial force of nearly 20,000 men. A total of 12 battalions were formed and affiliated to the Worcestershire Regiment, one for each of the main towns and surrounding rural areas. Consequently, Home Guards were present everywhere in the county, which then included a substantial area of the Black Country. The signal for the appearance of the enemy was to ring the local church bells, which would bring all members of the force to their planned assembly points. There they would be issued with their orders and sent to their respective defence or guard positions. This would include the manning of road blocks for the purpose of checking the bone fides of the travelling public to ensure there were no enemy agents or parachutists among them. Infiltrating enemy soldiers and saboteurs into the allied lines had been a feature of the continental campaign by the Germans. The great strength of the Home Guard was that they knew their areas of operation intimately, as well as the people living there, and could spot a suspicious stranger immediately. The above map shows the extent of Home Guard defences provided around the river crossing at Worcester. Every other river

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bridge and built-up area in the county was to be defended in like fashion.

Previous page: Members of the Redditch Battalion marching past the saluting base in Church Green during one of their parades.

Auxiliary Units, an anonymous name deliberately chosen to disguise their purpose, were secretly recruited from the ranks of the Home Guard. These civilians were trained and supplied with armaments and explosives in order to carry out acts of sabotage and assassination during the hours of darkness against any occupying enemy forces. Evidence of eight patrols, of about a half-dozen men each, has been found for Worcestershire. Recruiting was carried out in this area during the summer of 1940 and into 1941 by a Captain John Todd, a military intelligence officer. He estimated that their operational lives

Courtesy of EP Grace via Mike Johnson. Above: Defence of Worcester Bridge and electricity works vulnerable point.

would have been about two weeks before the Germans caught and dealt with them as terrorists. In the meantime, and operating from hidden underground operational bases, they were to create as much mayhem as possible among enemy forces. By the time the Home Guard was stood down at the end of November 1944,

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and the likelihood of enemy action in Britain had passed, it was a well-armed and trained force, which had been able to take on many of the home defence tasks, including the guarding of so-called vulnerable points, such as munitions factories and communications, antiaircraft gunnery duties, bomb disposal and the provision of transport columns. This allowed the regular field army the time to train for, and carry out, the fighting overseas. The Home Guard was a serious business, officered by men who had, in many cases, extensive battle experience and whose ranks included many Distinguished Service Order, Military Cross and Military Medal holders. Not all were elderly warriors by any means and the young men of pre-conscription age, especially, benefited from the experience and training in the force before being called up. The bulk of the force, however, was made up of men who were engaged in reserved occupations. Their training and hours of duty had to be fitted in around their occupations and the majority were able to maintain their enthusiasm for Home Guard service for the life of the wartime force. ›

THE HOME GUARD WAS A SERIOUS BUSINESS, OFFICERED BY MEN WHO HAD, IN MANY CASES, EXTENSIVE BATTLE EXPERIENCE AND WHOSE RANKS INCLUDED MANY DISTINGUISHED SERVICE ORDER, MILITARY CROSS AND MILITARY MEDAL HOLDERS. 66 |

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CHRONICLES OF THE WORCESTERSHIRE HOME GUARD This book chronicles the story of the Home Guard in Worcestershire from its formation in May 1940 to its disbandment in December 1945, as well as its recreation in the 1950s. It tells of the gradual equipping of the force, its initial and subsequent roles, its increasing professionalism, the move from an ethos of volunteering to one of enforced participation backed up by fines for non-attendance; the structure and organisation, the characters of some of the officers and men, the establishment of the Auxiliary Units, the increasing role played by women, the training and exercises that its members had to undergo and of false alarms, incidents and accidents. A number of the main characters of the Worcestershire Home Guards are described and an extensive index of names of Worcestershire men and women who served is included. However, since probably some 40,000 men, women and boys served in the Worcestershire Home Guard at

one time or another, it has not been possible to mention everyone. It is the result of years of work, involving both interviewing former Home Guards and trawling through mounds of Home Guard paperwork, including some records no longer available for inspection. Copies of the book can be obtained from local bookshops or online from ▷ www.logastonpress.co.uk (with free delivery), Waterstones and Amazon.

Bibliographic information Author: Mick Wilks Price: £12.95 ISBN: 978-1-906663-87-2 Binding: Paperback Extent: 368 pages Illustrations: More than 140 black and white photographs, maps and drawings For more information, please see

▷ www.logastonpress.co.uk

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Lancaster Bomber Taxy Ride Experience

Experience the vibrations, smells, sound and atmosphere of a real Lancaster Bomber operating on an authentic Bomber Command airfield.

Lancaster Bomber Taxy Rides . . . the ultimate World War II aviation experience at the largest Bomber Command museum in the world The only chance in Europe to ride inside a Lancaster Bomber. The sound of the four Merlin engines will have a profound effect on anyone with an interest in WWII. Ride in one of several positions, including: • • • • •

Rear Turret Middle Turret Radio Operator’s seat Navigator’s seat Cockpit and Bomb aimer’s position

The whole experience lasts for approximately an hour, with the taxy run itself lasting around 15 minutes; and each guest takes home a certificate signed by the pilot.

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Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre East Kirkby, Spilsby Lincolnshire PE23 4DE 01790 763207

www.lincsaviation.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

Cecil Duckworth CBE came to Worcester from his native Macclesfield in 1958 to take up an apprenticeship with Redman Engineering and founded Worcester Engineering Ltd (now Worcester Bosch) four years later. Launching the combi boiler onto the UK market in 1970 transformed the way we heat our homes. More recently, Cecil has transformed the fortunes of Worcester’s rugby club and been twice honoured by the Queen for his services to rugby, charity and the local community WORDS: GERALD HEYS

Worcester

WARRIOR

I

n its ‘Current Comment’ section of May 11, 1882, the Atlanta Constitution attributed the following subsequently celebrated quotation to Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.’ Merely coming up with a superior device to do a job is, however, often not enough to guarantee success. As Cecil Duckworth suggests in his autobiography, Worcester Warrior – which, he says, he started writing in Barbados – factors such as luck and ‘quiet persistence’ may also play their part. It’s not quite Barbados weather here at Sixways this morning, but there’s an unbroken blue sky and dazzling sunshine, with Cecil looking sprightly in one of the stadium’s myriad meeting rooms. It’s

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been said that he’s the most successful businessman to come out of Worcester in the last 50 years. Does he think that’s true? ‘I’ve no idea,’ he says, Macclesfield still in his voice despite all his years Down South. It all depends, he adds, on how you measure success. ‘Obviously there’s the financial thing, and the size of the company. And we were employing towards 2,000 people when I retired. From that point of view, we are the biggest company in Worcester. So I like to think that’s pretty successful.’ To illustrate, though, how manufacturing has declined in the city over the years, he says that when he first started, Worcester MP Peter Walker used to hold suppers for local industrialists that were attended by the likes of Metal Box, Archdale’s, Worcester Porcelain, Kays, Dowty and Wards, companies now long gone. But the boiler company Cecil started (now Worcester Bosch) continues to thrive and expand.

Is his a rags-to-riches tale? Cecil concedes that it could be seen that way. ‘It was a struggle in the early days, because one had an idea – or a couple of ideas in my case – and significant financial restraints, but I remember going to my first bank manager [Colonel Cronin, one of those old-school bank managers now gone the way of the AA man’s salute] and told him what I wanted to do. And he said, “I like your story. I’m going to back you.” ’ The two ideas were a self-service petrol pump and manufacturing central heating boilers. ‘I told him about the petrol pump concept, but I said I would put it on one side because all the pump manufacturers wanted expensive prototypes. I wanted to continue with the petrol pump idea because that was my first love, if you like. But to be practical, I needed something to keep me going and I thought boilers might be the answer. And later I came up

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Top: The first factory at the Old Vinegar Works in Worcester. Bottom: Carden Street works, Worcester, 1964. Next page: Demonstrating the Firefly combi boiler in 1970 (Cecil is pictured far left).

There was a lot of initial scepticism in the industry about the likely success of his innovation. Cecil recalls a Christmas-time AGM of British boiler makers at the Savoy Hotel in London at which the talk among the directors and chief executives turned to what share of the market the combi was likely to take. The maximum, one said, was 10 per cent; most said it wouldn’t reach five. For Cecil, these figures were music to his ears, and he hoped the competition would carry on thinking they were right, because at Worcester they believed the market share would get to 80 per cent. And, in time, it did.

with the concept of the combi. And that was the big breakthrough.’ Introduced by Cecil in 1970, the combi was entirely new to Britain. A form of it was in operation on the Continent, but it wasn’t quite what Cecil came up with. ‘They were tacking it from a slightly different angle. They wanted it for small flats and it was more or less a sophisticated water heater.’ Cecil’s combi was the result of asking himself a few strategic questions. ‘Why do we have a boiler in the kitchen, or nearby, a cylinder on the first floor and cold water storage? Why can’t we do it all in one unit, i.e. one boiler and no hot water cylinder and no cold water storage tank? To be successful, our combi had to have a much higher flow rate than the continental units so it could provide high-pressure showers but still be able to fill a bath at a reasonable rate. We knew it would take time for people to accept taking a shower rather than a bath.’ What stood in the way of the combi’s development though were bylaws that,

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WHY DO WE HAVE A BOILER IN THE KITCHEN, OR NEARBY, A CYLINDER ON THE FIRST FLOOR AND COLD WATER STORAGE? WHY CAN’T WE DO IT ALL IN ONE UNIT? because of the fear of back siphoning of contaminated water, didn’t permit water to be taken directly from the mains and then heated by a boiler. There was also considerable opposition from the (at the time) 179 water companies. These obstacles were, however, slowly overcome, and Worcester Engineering Co Ltd was in business. The question was, would it prosper?

‘So they gave me a free start and, of course, when I started to make an impact in the market, they eventually bought into combis. But we were way ahead of them by then, and ours were so much more superior. So we’ve never looked back and the company is now the largest manufacturer of boilers in the country.’ He adds that, just as the combi was getting going, one of the chief executives of a rival manufacturer said, ‘Well, Cecil, if you’re successful, I have to tell you we’ll come in and sweep you aside, because we have the marketing strength.’ That manufacturer was Thorn Heating, and the man who promised to blow Cecil away was also a friend of his. ‘Well,’ Cecil replied to his friend, ‘we’ll have to see about that.’ Thorn Heating ceased trading in 1986. Cecil attributes the success of his combi to a handful of crucial factors. ‘We had a number of good engineers in the research and development department. But we didn’t lose anybody, though there were various poaching attempts. And there are temptations when you’re successful to start diverting into other things and away from the main objective. I was

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INTERVIEW

determined not to do that. We knew it took us in those days about three years to develop a new boiler, but by the time we launched it, we knew we could make one better. And that’s what we continued to do, make a better one. So we kept in front of our competitors.’ After going public in 1986, he knew that keeping the shareholders sweet in manufacturing concerns could be tricky. ‘You’ve got to deliver a continuous profit and growth to be successful. You can have a bit of a lull, but generally that’s not ideal for a manufacturing company.’ Worcester did have tremendous growth, but looking to the future required at least a degree of circumspection. ‘Growth and keeping an increasing market share is not that easy. I didn’t want to be paying out dividends I couldn’t afford, or couldn’t project forward. We needed to invest in the company for tomorrow and for the following year. Getting the right balance between keeping the shareholders happy and planning for the future is difficult. But

in our case, it helped because I still held 40 per cent of the shares.’

WHAT STOOD IN THE WAY OF THE COMBI’S DEVELOPMENT THOUGH WERE BYLAWS THAT, BECAUSE OF THE FEAR OF BACK SIPHONING OF CONTAMINATED WATER, DIDN’T PERMIT WATER TO BE TAKEN DIRECTLY FROM THE MAINS AND THEN HEATED BY A BOILER.

Worcester was sold to Bosch in 1992, but Cecil remained and was made president/ chief executive of the Bosch Heating Division, the first non-German to head an operation within the Bosch group. His attention was then drawn to the local rugby club. . . . ‘I thought it’d be fun. I’ve always been keen on sport. And when I moved to Worcester, my girlfriend of the time, wife now, knew a lot of the rugby players. We used to go and watch Worcester and got to know quite a lot of the people there. They had this ambition to grow Sixways, but they had no money. So they asked me if I’d help them and I thought that would be interesting in my retirement.’ Initially, he was confronted by the complexities of what could and couldn’t be done in what was then an amateur sport (rugby went professional in 1996). ‘I was told you couldn’t pay the players, but you could pay them travelling expenses. Well, one of the top clubs in the Midlands was Moseley and for some reason or other, the head of rugby there started upsetting some of his best players. And our coach at the time said he could bring those in if we could pay them travelling expenses. So I said, Why don’t we do that? So we did.’ So much a mile was agreed to, which meant they were able to recruit some very fine players. The result, however, was Cecil turning up one night to training to see most of them arrive in the same car. But the club got off the ground that way and gradually they went professional. ‘And you’re on a conveyor belt then and it becomes a pretty expensive conveyor belt. Fortunately, I got financial help after about 10 years. They’ve now disappeared, but we’ve got some new financial people involved who are very supportive and want to carry on and expand the club and they have the vision that I had. So that’s great news for the future.’ There were, however, some tricky periods in the club’s climb to the top and some very potent rivals. ‘We got stuck in the

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SO WE’VE NEVER LOOKED BACK AND THE COMPANY IS NOW THE LARGEST MANUFACTURER OF BOILERS IN THE COUNTRY. old second division for three years. And every time we played Exeter, we used to beat them, but they got promoted to the Premiership six years after us. But now they’re one of the best teams in the country. Fortunately for them – unfortunately for us – they had a very good director of rugby called Rob Baxter. People say to me we haven’t been as successful as Exeter and I say it’s because we don’t have a Rob Baxter. But we have now, and we’ve produced a lot of very good players from our academy. So we have the potential to be a top club.’ What Cecil modestly calls ‘some progress’ has in fact been phenomenal. ‘We used to get about 50 people here on a good day, or 100 on a very good day. But we have sold out many times since at 11,500. And we regularly get 7,000–8,000.’ As there was no top rugby in the county when the Warriors were promoted to the Premiership, there was, inevitably, a honeymoon period. ‘But we lost a bit of that because of a lack of continued success. We had, though, some great wins. And now we’re rebuilding. And it’s looking pretty good. The vision of winning the Premiership is very much still there.’ Cecil’s reward for services to rugby and to the community was an OBE. ‘The odd thing, I thought at the time, was I didn’t get it for industry. Nobody put me forward, I suppose, and I sometimes find that a bit strange. I was presented to the

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Queen at Buckingham Place. A lovely day. And then, of course, five or six years later, I was awarded a CBE. This was for contribution to the community and to charity. Another great day, this time at Windsor Castle.’

Above: With a Worcester combi, there is no need for a tank, a cyclinder or all the associated equipment. Next page top: Cecil and wife Beatrice stand either side of Margaret Thatcher during a reception at 10 Downing Street for Britain’s most successful entrepreneurs in 1982

Cecil was responsible for bringing Acorns Children’s Hospice to Worcester, of which he’s very proud. ‘They do a fantastic job. A friend of my daughter’s drew me into it. They had a child who had limited life expectancy and she was finding it extremely difficult to have respite. It’s 24/7. And with these children with such difficulties, it seemed appropriate that, as I’m supporting super-fit athletes, I could support people who are not so fortunate. So Acorns is now here and operating very successfully. And the rugby club and players are very supportive.’ There are other causes that he’s committed to, particularly in the area of the environment. ‘I’m a bit of a nut for picking up rubbish – I even picked it up in

(Crown copyright). Next page bottom: At Buckingham Palace after receiving the OBE in 2004.

the car park at the factory – I think people used to drop the odd can and watch me to see if I’d pick it up. But I believed if I picked it up, it could become contagious. I used to say to our employees, this place is your place of work. You own a part of it. Your future’s here. Make it clean and tidy. ‘Before setting up our family trust, I spoke to the police and local council, thinking I could complement what they were doing to make the city a better place to live. Because it’s our city. And we can look after it and make it better. So that was the idea

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INTERVIEW

of the Duckworth Worcestershire Trust. I want Worcester to win the tidiest city in the country award, and we’re not far off. The trust has done an enormous amount of work in and around the city. ‘We have carried out a number of capital projects like the fountains by Browns on the riverside, and Chapter Meadows, which the trust owns; we look after that and maintain it and keep it in good order. And the Pump House at Gheluvelt Park, which is the trust’s headquarters and an environmental centre where we have a very successful cafe open seven days a week. Also, our wardens have a workshop, and it’s they who carry out work such as removing graffiti and flytipping, and hedge laying, etc. So with Acorns and that on my charitable side, I think we do quite a bit for Worcester. The council and the government can do so much, but we can make it better.

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THE ODD THING, I THOUGHT AT THE TIME, WAS I DIDN’T GET IT FOR INDUSTRY. NOBODY PUT ME FORWARD, I SUPPOSE, AND I SOMETIMES FIND THAT A BIT STRANGE. ‘I also set up the Warriors Community Foundation at Sixways, which works exceptionally well with young, disadvantaged people, children, people

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on probation and those getting back to work. My last financial partner was very keen on us doing that and the current one is exceptionally keen.’

Does he have any regrets in life? ‘I regret that we haven’t won the Premiership.’ With that, and appropriately for our being at a sporting venue, the conversation drifts back to sport. Cecil recalls going to watch Manchester United as a youngster, whom he still supports, though not avidly. And he remembers being invited to the directors’ box to see United play Coventry City when City were a decent side, and considers himself fortunate to have seen George Best and Bobby Charlton in full flow. ‘I’ll always remember that. It was fantastic. Every time we got the ball, you thought they were going to score. We won four-nothing, I think. It’s a day I will never forget.’

Above: Winning the Championship Trophy in 2011. Below: The Pump House at Gheluvelt Park, the Duckworth Worcestershire Trust’s HQ.

He loves his cricket, too, and has enjoyed some great moments at New Road and not just as a spectator. ‘I financed Glenn McGrath [the Australian fast bowler] to come to Worcester. That was exciting. A lovely guy. Good both on and off the field. We’ve had a few Australians here at the rugby club, and they’ve all been good on and off the field. Dedicated, easy to manage, always here on time, do what you ask them. A catalyst for other players and a help to other players. And good with the supporters, too.’

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Right and next page: Cecil on the Worcester Warriors’ Sixways artificial grass pitch and taking in the atmosphere.

And is Cecil Duckworth good both on and off the field? ‘I like to think so,’ he says. ‘Looking back on what I’ve achieved, I think I’ve made a difference to Worcester. And one of my proudest moments was when I received the Freedom of the City.’ ›

I’M A BIT OF A NUT FOR PICKING UP RUBBISH – I EVEN PICKED IT UP IN THE CAR PARK AT THE FACTORY – I THINK PEOPLE USED TO DROP THE ODD CAN AND WATCH ME TO SEE IF I’D PICK IT UP. www.wrmagazine.uk


FURTHER INFORMATION Worcester Warrior by Cecil Duckworth CBE was published by Polperro Heritage Press in 2012 and is available through Amazon, Waterstones and WHSmith. ISBN: 978-0-9570481-4-0 Extent: 184 pages Binding: Paperback

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INTERVIEW

Estate agent Andrew Grant on faith, art and psychology WORDS: GERALD HEYS

F

or just about everyone in the county, the name must ring a bell; the eponymous red-andwhite boards that stretch from Ludlow to Henley-inArden are, after all, hard to miss. And, not content with being ‘the Midlands’ leading independent estate agents’, there’s even a London office in St James’s, which, as ritzy business locations go, is not to be sneezed at. Andrew Grant has, as they say, done very well. In answer to the question of how he’s doing today, he says he’s ‘absolutely fine’ but must add a story. ‘When somebody asked me the same question about a month ago, I said, I’ve got a very bad back and I can’t walk. I’ve just had a hernia operation, got an ear infection and just had an operation for cataracts. That day I’d also fallen out of bed at 05.30am and

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hit my head. But apart from that, I said, I couldn’t be better.’ Then, not for the first time this morning, he laughs with gusto, and is obviously now in very fine fettle. High over his flagship branch in Foregate Street, Worcester, in what used to be a bedroom of the long-gone Chinese restaurant downstairs, Andrew Grant’s office is more cosy than cluttered: an important-looking desk that he doesn’t sit behind, preferring instead to take a chair on the same side as his interviewer and in front of a cabinet full of figurines and curios; a listing rank of dated box files stretching back yonks; a stuffed albino pheasant in a glass case by the window and, lying next to it, a crucifix; and paintings: the Queen at a civic function in Nottingham back in the 50s, something impressionistically French, and a Terence Cuneo (he of the spot-

the-mouse railway pictures) that would probably fetch a bob or two. Artwork also lines the corridors of the climb up here to the top floor. Andrew collects British Modern, he says, and used to do fine-art auctions; getting himself invited to dinner at Coughton Court by Lady Isabel Throckmorton (‘I was probably 30 years younger than anyone else there.’), who would ask him to her gallery that, Andrew estimates, was around five thousand square feet. He doesn’t think she wanted him to buy an exhibit, but he invariably came away with something. ‘When I first set up, I did fine-art auctions for quite a long time. Then, sadly,’ he adds, knocking on his desk, ‘brown furniture. Which doesn’t fetch any money.’ Buying and selling has been an enthusiasm for almost as long as he can

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remember. ‘When I was about 12 or 13, I was at a prep school called Penryn, now Winterfold, near Chaddesley Corbett. In the school holidays, we used to go to Kidderminster Cattle Market on Thursdays, when they had auction sales of furniture in the cattle pens, and we got known as The Syndicate. If we got up to five shillings, we would pull out. But if anyone bid against us, the auctioneer would say, “You can’t bid against The Syndicate.” What we bought was all absolute rubbish, of course. And we took it home on the bus.’ Andrew started as an estate agent in 1971, when he was 26. It was, he says, simply what he wanted to be. ‘I was qualified as a chartered surveyor, so I’d got all my examinations behind me. And I set up in a little office in Pierpoint Street, a twoup two-down, one woman and myself

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and bare floorboards. The first week, I advertised a few properties at Cliftonupon-Teme and three new houses up the Ombersley Road.’

And how is business these days? ‘It’s okay. I’d love to say it was booming, but it’s not. The lower end of the market – up to £500,000 – is pretty good. More expensive stuff is tricky, the prices haven’t really gone up since 2007, that was the peak.’ It’s hard sometimes, he says, for clients to understand that they might need to lower their expectations. He adds, though, that he’s just sold a highly desirable country residence for not far south of four million. ‘I was quite pleased about that,’ he says, before knocking on the wood of the desk again and adding, ‘Haven’t signed the contract yet.’

One of the oddities of the online retail revolution is that, so far at least, it appears to have left estate agents unaffected: the high streets remain jam-packed with them. But their ways of operating are, Andrew says, moving with the times. Its website and social media presence show that, in terms of innovation, Andrew Grant’s business is about as digital as can be. He acknowledges, though, that online and hybrid agents are changing the game, even if what’s happening on the high street may, as yet, appear untouched by technology – it is about adapting to provide clients what they need in today’s digitally driven world. And the complete disappearance of estate agents you can physically walk into is unlikely to happen anytime soon. ‘I read a feature the other day saying that you should keep the high street

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Below: Andrew in front of a cabinet full of figurines and curios. Next page: Auction with Philip Kerr at Shelsey Beauchamp in the 1980s, courtesy of Michael Dowty. Page 80: Clay pigeon shoot with Gordon Yardley at Bransford Manor, raising £60,000 for St Richard’s Hospice and the Country Landowners Association Charitable Trust, courtesy of Mike Taylor. Page 81: Selling the Grade II-listed Ribbesford House at auction, with Columb Howell in March 2018, courtesy of Chris Wilmhurst.

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INTERVIEW

WHEN SOMEBODY ASKED ME THE SAME QUESTION ABOUT A MONTH AGO, I SAID, I’VE GOT A VERY BAD BACK AND I CAN’T WALK. I’VE JUST HAD A HERNIA OPERATION, GOT AN EAR INFECTION AND JUST HAD AN OPERATION FOR CATARACTS. THAT DAY I’D ALSO FALLEN OUT OF BED AT 05.30AM AND HIT MY HEAD. BUT APART FROM THAT, I SAID, I COULDN’T BE BETTER.

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presence. We don’t get so many people coming in now, though. It’s mostly phone calls and emails, but I think you’ve got to remain in the public eye. There are probably too many agents in each town, and some may go.’

rendered that a good agent supplies. ‘In my 40-odd years, I’ve sold the same house some four times. Even though I’ve sold it to them, they return. Which says something about our service. You can’t do it all online all the time.’

That said, the convoluted business of selling a house is, Andrew stresses, best not handled without an agent’s help. ‘There is a real need for someone to act as an intermediary. Definitely.’ And a sale can only benefit from the knowledge, personal touch and sense of a service

It can, though, be a very difficult trade. ‘I always say the day we agree the sale of a house is when the hard work really starts. Because people might’ve got a house to sell and it may fall through. They’ve got a surveyor and the valuation might not be right. Someone has delayed signing a

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contract. The solicitor might be a bit slow. There are a thousand and one things. And whenever it goes wrong, we often get the blame.’ Conversely, some people are very grateful indeed, leaving glowing online reviews and even bringing his staff flowers when things go well.

Is it, in that case, a satisfying thing to do? Without the slightest hesitation, he says yes. And adds that perhaps the best thing about the job is that you get to work with people, a process he not only enjoys but also seems to have given quite a lot of thought. ‘The thing about talking to people is to actually listen to them and not give them the sort of car salesman stuff. If you want to get a job, you’ve got to find out what they’re thinking. We should take a course in psychology to be an estate agent, because I think it is psychological.’ There can also, he adds, be enormous personal problems in which an agent can become entangled, such as bereavements. ‘Empathy,’ he says, ‘is important.’ He admits, though, that such an attitude hasn’t always permeated the entire

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industry and, in his early years, was even himself at times a little severe in his dealings. ‘When I first started, I worked for a man in Kidderminster who was successful, but he was pretty ruthless. He used to write rather nasty letters to people and they came crawling into the office. But I noticed this, and I thought, that’s not very nice.’ He says that he then came to avoid temptations to be brusque or unpleasant. ‘Sometimes it doesn’t do to upset people, even if you’re upset yourself.’ It is, he stresses again, important to remember that it’s very much a people business. Making the effort to actually talk to clients is therefore crucial. ‘I’m trying all the time with my own firm to get them on the phone and not send emails. And even if a client emails, I ask my people to pick up the phone to reply and not email back. Because an email can give the wrong impression sometimes. It can be a bit terse.’ And if you’re a people person thinking about what kind of job you’d like to do, he would thoroughly recommend estate agency as a career, but with a caveat.

BUYING AND SELLING HAS BEEN AN ENTHUSIASM FOR ALMOST AS LONG AS HE CAN REMEMBER. ‘It is hard work. I mean, I’m always up at six every morning during the week, and sometimes I get home about 7.30pm. As I drive in, I’m already talking to my secretary Louise, sending off letters and emails. So quite a lot’s done even before I get in.’ Researchers for the 2017 Ipsos MORI Veracity Index asked the following: ‘Now I will read you a list of different types of people. For each would you tell me if you generally trust them to tell the truth, or not?’ Nurses, doctors and teachers topped the list as being regarded as the most reliable. Unsurprisingly perhaps, politicians were at the bottom of the pile, but (marginally above professional

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INTERVIEW

footballers) tied as the fourth least trusted professionals in the country were journalists and . . . estate agents.

politicians don’t like to do these days, not even vicar’s daughter Theresa May or the very religious Tony Blair.

off.’ Being paid in kind back then led to a long-standing passion for shooting of various kinds.

Andrew has another hearty laugh before accounting for this apparent dearth of public trust. ‘I think probably it might be lack of communication. Or if a house stays on the market too long. It’s very hard to please people. We maintain regular contact with clients, ensuring we keep them abreast of progress.’

Andrew himself is a Catholic, acknowledging the importance of faith in his life. A friend of his, he says, a Jesuit priest who used to minister in El Salvador, came to represent Saint Oscar Romero at Westminster Abbey when he was being commemorated there, having known Romero when he was in South America. ‘And when he lived in El Salvador, he lived in a house where some Jesuits had been gunned down.’

Business has not only grown over the years but become, he feels, more professional. ‘If you want to last, you have to be very professional. We open on Sundays. I don’t like doing it, but we do – viewings, you see. I don’t really sell much on Sunday, but if somebody wants to view a property, you have to be there. And, very importantly, we do a lot of press releases and social media.’

His family life, which came to him relatively late, has been ‘very happy’, having married Beatrice HuntingtonWhiteley, great-granddaughter of former Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, when he was 50. ‘My wife’s 17 years younger. And her family obviously came from Worcestershire, but when I first saw her, she came down here, and I took her to the cathedral, she said I think my greatgrandfather’s got something here about him. We couldn’t find it, so we asked the guide, and he remembered Baldwin, and said, “Oh, yes, it’s down over there. And I remember the shop he used to buy his tobacco from before he got on the train.” ’ Like so many others, Andrew finds much to admire when assessing Baldwin’s personal qualities. ‘He was a very humble man, unlike some politicians. He was very good with people. He was made president of Stourport Workmen’s Club. Would that happen to any other Conservative prime minister?’ And Baldwin, Andrew adds, was a Christian who was not shy of mentioning God in his speeches, which

A Knight of Malta, Andrew regularly takes groups to Lourdes. ‘Our job is to dress them, wash them and put them to bed. But they do have a good time as well. I don’t think there are any miracles, but they come back with some sort of feeling of something. I’ve been about 14 times. My wife, who’s not a Catholic, has been 30 times. She used to go in September as well to look after them. And my mother-in-law was a Lutheran and she became a Catholic.’ All of this accounts for the crucifix by the window. And the pheasant? ‘Well, when I started, more than 40 years ago, I sold some building land for a farmer. And when it came to getting the bill, he must have noticed I’d been working hard. He didn’t pay it straight away, and eventually I rang him up and said, What about paying that bill? And he said, Well, I’m going to pay, but only half of it – I’m going to put you into a syndicate at a shoot in Herefordshire, so you can have some time

Andrew Grant is Deputy Lord Lieutenant for the county; patron of St Richard’s Hospice; an Ambassador for the Elizabeth Fitzroy Charity; a governor of Worcester and Dudley Historic Church Trust; a trustee of Worcestershire Community Foundation; an Honorary Vice President of Worcestershire Red Cross; a member of the board of the Country Landowners’ Association; and has just been announced as strategic business partner of the Worcestershire Ambassadors. He also has a farm, with sheep and suckler cows. It doesn’t pay much, he says, but he clearly has a fondness for the animals he keeps and a huge liking for the countryside. He adds that he often plants trees and each morning takes a walk around the fields before leaving for work, which very much helps him plan his day. ‘I do think about things, and if I’ve done the right thing or the wrong thing. I do think that’s quite important. And I think I probably run a reasonably good show in a way, otherwise probably the business wouldn’t have prospered.’

How much longer is he going to carry on working for? ‘I don’t know,’ he says, laughing again. ‘But I’m really grateful for those people in the county who’ve supported me over the years, because they come back time and again. I really am grateful for all they do. And I feel very lucky indeed to be surrounded by such dedicated staff.’ ›

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Profile for WR Magazine

WR magazine Winter 2018