News

Travellers served notice (UPDATED)

Pangbourne parish council is reported to have served notice on the travellers yesterday (Saturday) evening at around 10 pm, on a criminal charge, giving them 12 hours to evacuate the site. It is reported that they used a chainsaw to open the gate at the Dolphin Centre leading to the meadow. They are understood to be a different group from the travellers who were on the meadow in June.

The photo shown here was taken at midday yesterday. 

Whitchurch parish council took action last night to block the entrance to the village green, initially with the chairman's locked car and then early this morning, thanks to Jon and Lissie Steward, with the cricket pitch roller.   

At 10 am this morning there were no visible signs of any preparations for departure by the travellers. 

Update, 3.30 pm Sunday:  The travellers had moved on by noon today, with police attending their departure.  At the site, rubbish is scattered over a wide area. The damage by chainsaw to the Dolphin Centre's gate into the meadow can be seen in this photo. There are now reports of about 20 traveller vehicles in the area of The Moors or Moor Copse in Pangbourne, attended by police.

Progress on changing the law so that trespass is a criminal offence rather than a civil one, which would bring our law into line with Ireland's, was described in this article in the Daily Telegraph last month.

Date/Time : Sunday, 23rd September 2018 09:30

Whitchurch football coach receives county award

Alistair Aitchison, AFC Whitchurch’s longest serving coach, has been awarded the Oxfordshire Football Association’s 2018 Respect Award.  The award is given to “a coach who is committed to creating a fun, safe and inclusive environment for all players, who inspires positive change, and always brings out the best in people.” 

Alex Hilton, chairman of AFC Whitchurch, says: “Alistair has been coaching AFC Whitchurch players for 13 years.  He is a balanced, fair and calm communicator setting a high bar that, as a team, they thrive to achieve.  This is a richly deserved award and we are delighted Alistair has been recognised for his years of selfless service to the club and village.”  

The photo above shows Alistair. The attached photo shows the Under-18 team from last year, coached by him from when they were 5 years old. The team has now been disbanded as the players have gone to university.  Alastair can be seen in the back row, in a blue cap.

Date/Time : Saturday, 22nd September 2018 15:45

Travellers are back on Pangbourne meadow

Travellers’ caravans and cars have this evening returned to the meadow near the Dolphin Centre from which they were removed on 26th June.  This time they are reported to have driven their vehicles further downstream and set up a camp further away from the bridge, possibly in National Trust land.  They are reported to be in larger numbers than before.  At the time of writing (7.30 pm) further vehicles are still arriving to join the group.  There are unconfirmed reports of damage to the gate leading to the meadow and of some aggressive behaviour.  

Date/Time : Friday, 21st September 2018 19:42

Equinox art project on time lapse video

Gill Williamson and Nick Brazil have produced a video showing the installation of the spiral patterns of totem poles decorated with terracotta, textiles, mosaics, metal and knitted objects now displayed on Pangbourne Meadow.

See the 2-minute video here.

More than 500 people were involved in creating the many elements of the project, which will be on display until the end of September.  More information here

 

Date/Time : Thursday, 20th September 2018 14:45

Revised plans submitted for Eastfield House care home

Once again, outline plans have been submitted by Ross Heathcare Limited (Majesticare) for redevelopment of the empty Eastfield House care home.  The current application is for complete demolition of the building and the construction of a much larger new one, similar to the scheme presented in the village hall in March this year.  (See our news item of 10th March.)

The plans can be viewed on the SODC website here.  One of them is in the picture on the left, which can be seen more clearly here, and shows the south elevation (facing Eastfield Lane) at the top and the north elevation (facing houses in Swanston Field) beneath. 

The number of beds planned is 48, compared to the present 27.  The planned floor area is 2,712 m2, compared to 848 m2 for the present building.  The number of car spaces is 15, compared to 9.  As in a previous application, the design of the façade copies elements of the Victorian architecture of the existing building.

The Design and Access Statement dated October 2017 included the following statements:  “In terms of scale, whilst the footprint of the current proposals has been amended in places over that of the previously approved scheme, the impact of the building from either the street or from neighbouring properties will be lessened over that which was previously approved.”……“Whilst demolition of the existing building may be seen as a drastic measure, it is felt that the proposed replacement maintains the contribution to the street scene and conservation area and therefore does not result in demonstrable harm.”

The pre-application advice of SODC’s Major Applications Officer, Joan Desmond, can be read in her letter of 17th April 2018, one of the documents viewable on the SODC website.  She concludes: “No evidence has been provided with this application that suggests that the conservation area would be preserved, enhanced or better revealed by the total demolition of Eastfield House. Nor has evidence been presented that suggests that previous officer and appeal inspector decisions were incorrect that those elements of the building that were always to be retained make a positive contribution to the area. If a full application is made for total demolition of the building, it must be informed by a Heritage Appraisal and Impact Assessment proportionate to the significance of the non-designated heritage asset and the conservation as per Paragraph 128 of the NPPF.”

Whitchurch residents may wish to submit comments during the present consultation period, which ends on 5th October 2018.

Update, 14th September:  Roger Pratap of Majesticare has pointed out that in response to the pre-application advice received in April a number of specialist reports were added to support the current application, including a detailed heritage assessment undertaken by their consultants Abbey Architecture. This concludes with statements that “rebuilding Eastfield House in the way proposed would result in no detrimental impact to the character and appearance of the site or to Eastfield Lane” and “Having viewed the application from a neutral position, my opinion is that the proposal will not harm the special interests of the Whitchurch-on-Thames Conservation Area. Consequently, there is no heritage environment reason why this application should not be approved”.

Date/Time : Monday, 10th September 2018 14:21

Second village sign stolen (Report updated)

The plaque displayed on the brick wall of the High Street opposite Eastfield Lane, commemorating the Twinning of Whitchurch with La Bouille, has been detached from the wall and stolen.  The Twinning Association is appealing for the its return.  Designed by the late Ray Honey of Swanston Field, the cast aluminium plaque was unveiled in 1985 and the cost of £187 was paid by the parish council.  The original location, to the right of the village notice boards, can be seen in this photo page.

It is not clear when the plaque was stolen but its absence was first noticed on 1st September.  This comes not long after the theft of the colourful new village entrance sign on Hardwick Road, stolen on 16th/17th August, which cost the community around £1000.  One resident speculates that the two signs may have been stolen around the same time, perhaps for the aluminium scrap value, and the absence of the plaque could have gone unnoticed for a while.

Anyone who can offer information as to the whereabouts of either the twinning plaque or the village sign is asked to report it to parish council chairman Jim Donahue.

Alternatively, information can be given to the Police, under crime reference number 43180274983. PCSO Mark Bell has been informed.

The photo page attached shows both the missing signs.

Report updated 8th September 2018.

Date/Time : Thursday, 06th September 2018 18:41

Controversial cobbles story reaches Private Eye

The almshouses at Goring Heath, also known as Allnutt's Hospital, were built in the 1720s.  Not long ago the trustees of the Grade I-listed building replaced the courtyard cobbles with a modern, smoother, bonded latex gravel surface for health and safety reasons.  These pictures show the courtyard before and after the work. 

When the trustees subsequently applied to SODC for retrospective planning permission they found some support from the planners but objections from Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society (OAHS) and from Goring Heath parish council. 

Private Eye magazine, in its Nooks and Corners feature, reports that the parish council is demanding that the trustees be required to reinstate the cobbles through enforcement action, and quotes Peter Dragonetti, chairman of Goring Heath parish council, as saying that “what had been a very charming and characterful setting for the almshouses and chapel… now looks like a shopping centre.” 

OAHS accepts that the courtyard cobbles were re-set in the 1970s but maintains that it is likely that the historic 18th century cobbles were re-used.  It also claims that no proper assessment was made of the safety risk, given that there are smooth pathways of York stone enabling the residents to negotiate the courtyard without treading on cobbles.

Date/Time : Monday, 03rd September 2018 19:13

Bus service is reduced to Saturdays only (Updated)

It appears that demand has not been strong enough, despite some financial help from two parish councils to Going Forward buses, to enable the service through Whitchurch to continue to run on weekdays.  The new timetable shows there are now just three services on Saturdays to Reading (via Whitchurch Hill, Crays Pond, Cane End, Caversham and Friar Street).  The service number varies during the journey from 145 to 146 and 148. 

Buses pick up at The Greyhound at 10.12, 13.07 and 15.12.  The return journey leaves Reading at 11.30, 14.00 and 16.15.  The trip takes 35 to 40 minutes each way. 

A number of regular users in Whitchurch have expressed their disappointment at losing the weekday service.

Update:  Mike Ward of Going Forward Buses has given a detailed response today to an enquiry from Hilary Jensen, saying he still hopes it may be possible to introduce a Wednesday service.  Read his frank comments on the difficulties of organising a bus service with a mixture of regular and voluntary drivers.

Date/Time : Friday, 31st August 2018 12:24

Hard ground threatens community art project

Help is needed for this year’s Equinox art project after the exceptionally dry summer.  Organiser Gill Williamson says: “Last year the Art Cafe Together community yarn-bombed Whitchurch Bridge, come rain, come wind, come shine.  But this year the weather is defeating us - we have 84 posts to put in the ground of the Pangbourne meadow soon and right now the ground is very hard.  We badly need some help from someone who has the right equipment to make holes for the posts.” 

Click here to see the appeal and pictures. 

Over 500 people have been making and decorating the clay pots and at least 5000 visitors are expected to enjoy the colourful spirals - but only if the problem of drilling holes and driving posts in hard ground can be overcome.  If you can help, or you know someone who can, please contact gill@artcafe.co.uk.

Date/Time : Friday, 24th August 2018 17:32

Tickets on sale for Outdoor Cinema event

Whitchurch Pre-School has announced that an Outdoor Cinema event will be held on the village green on the evening of Friday 14th September. 

Colette Rinaldi gives the details: 

We will be screening the blockbuster The Greatest Showman on a big screen.  A cash bar and food will be available, all with the aim of raising vital funds to support our Pre-School.  The event is kindly sponsored by Lamborghini Pangbourne and Warmingham. 

VIP tickets are priced at £25 (including welcome drink and nibbles, chair and blanket in our VIP area plus film), or standard film entry at £15.  Tickets are available to buy in person at The Ferryboat in Whitchurch and at Garlands in Pangbourne (cash only please) or you can email and we will request payment via bank transfer. 

If you are interested in advertising or sponsorship opportunities then please contact us here. 

Here is the poster for the event.

*See a trailer for The Greatest Showman.

Date/Time : Saturday, 11th August 2018 10:25

An opportunity to add new names to the Maze

Now is your chance to add your name to the village archive at the Maze!  A second restoration project is underway for this much-loved and unique feature in Whitchurch.  The existing bricks are getting a face-lift at two sessions (Saturday 4th and Sunday 19th August, 2 pm) and then those bricks that have been damaged by frost will be replaced by new sponsored engraved bricks, at a cost of £20 each. 

The brick maze was designed and turned into reality by local resident Nick Brazil.  He came up with the original idea in 2003 and it was officially opened on 27th June 2004.  The named bricks were sponsored by individuals and local groups.  Peter Woolhouse laid all 2,650 bricks as well as working with Nick on the detailed plans, with lots of volunteer effort digging the trenches and earth moving. 

In 2013, a restoration project was initiated by the Parish Council and the Whitchurch Society to replace some of the frost-damaged bricks.  The community were invited to sponsor more named bricks and approximately 160 additional names were added in this second phase, whilst retaining the original layout of the maze. 

If you would like to place an order for one or more engraved bricks for family and friends and even for your pets, please contact Leslie Prater by email or phone him at 984 5230 by 29th August

Finally, please come along to help with one of the face-lift sessions on 4th and 19th August – more details here.  It will give you a chance to find familiar names of friends and neighbours, and to order your own brick(s) to join this great bit of Whitchurch history! 

News item by Sally Woolhouse.  The photo shows named bricks being added in 2013.

Date/Time : Saturday, 28th July 2018 15:35

Volunteers make improvements to village green

A working party was in action today (Sunday 22nd July), organised by the Village Green Working Group and guided by Gill Goodwin of WoTHabs. 

Parish councillor Keith Brooks said afterwards: “A big thank you to all who turned out this morning to tidy up the village green entrance area.  We set about cutting back the bushes and smartening up the area by the entrance to the car park.  We also trimmed the new hedge and cleared the pavement leading up to the school.  Now people can walk along the pavement and are not forced into the road.  I would like to see some more clearing on the opposite side of the road to improve the safety of walking along Eastfield Lane.  There will be opportunities for people to join future working parties at dates to be announced.  This time we had representatives from the Primary School, WoTHabs and the Village Plan Working Group, as well as other village residents.  We achieved a lot in a short space of time so once again thank you all.” 

The picture (which is shown enlarged here) was taken by Tim Suiter and shows Gill Goodwin, John Bradon, Charles Cotgreave, Tim Hardwick, Leslie Prater, Gavin Jones, Keith Brooks and Laura Lucas.

Date/Time : Sunday, 22nd July 2018 18:43

Parish Council agrees support for 142 bus

Following the news that the 142 bus service will be reduced to two round trips per working day, the Parish Council agreed this week to provide financial support of £100 per month for a trial period of three months to Going Forward buses.  Goring Heath Parish Council is also understood to have agreed a subsidy.  It is hoped that this will enable the present schedule to be maintained. 

At the same meeting on 10th July it was agreed: 

  • to appoint Owens Galliver Architects, based in Pangbourne, to provide planning and design services for the new pavilion on the village green.  Three firms had submitted offers.

  • to raise funds towards buying new kitchen equipment in the village hall.  New windows and doors have already been ordered and are expected to be installed in August.

  • to provide a picnic table and bench for the new Polish garden at the top end of Manor Road.

Date/Time : Friday, 13th July 2018 13:06

Look out for spiral totem poles in September

Last year the Whitchurch bridge was “yarn-bombed” in a hugely popular community art project.  This year Gill Williamson, founder of the Art Café, has announced a follow-up in the form of Equinox Together.  Colourfully decorated pottery cylinders made by local schools, community groups and individuals, will be on display on the Pangbourne river meadow, threaded on to spiral patterns of poles, from 15th September. 

More information here.   And there is a short video.  

Date/Time : Monday, 09th July 2018 13:23

The 142 bus service is to be reduced

The 142 bus service from Goring to Reading and back, through Whitchurch, has not been attracting enough passengers.  From 8th August the weekday service will be restricted to one round trip in the morning and a second in the late afternoon. The services between those times will disappear. However, on Saturdays the off-peak services will continue. 

Mike Ward, director of Going Forward, says he is sorry that the route has not attracted anything like enough passengers and is running at a substantial loss. There are more details on the company's website. The changes are all subject to approval by local authorities.

The Henley Standard has a recent article on Going Forward bus services.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 03rd July 2018 15:58

Drafts of local history go online

For many years local historians have been putting together a detailed village-by-village account of Oxfordshire’s history.  The Victoria County History website now has links to six draft texts, with pictures and maps, on the villages of the South Oxfordshire Chilterns.  These include Goring, Gatehampton, Elvendon, Cray’s Pond and Goring Heath, including the Goring Heath Almshouses (picture). 

The author is Simon Draper.  Once this volume is published he will be turning his attention to Whitchurch Hill and Whitchurch on Thames.  Vicky Jordan of the Whitchurch & Goring Heath History Society says that members of the society are looking forward to contributing to the project. 

You can see the texts here.  If you wish to comment on any aspects of them, you can contact the author here.

Date/Time : Saturday, 30th June 2018 15:22

Pangbourne granted possession order on meadow

Following the serving of a claim on the travellers who had moved their caravans on to Pangbourne meadow on 13th June, a court hearing took place yesterday, Friday 22nd June, at which Pangbourne Parish Council was granted a possession order on the meadow. This is expected to be enforced early next week at the latest, according to the Council. 

Meanwhile, in Whitchurch, action has been taken to block the Eastfield Lane entrance to the village green.  The entrance gate to Muddy Lane and the maze from Hardwick Road is also normally locked. 

Reading West MP Alok Sharma has launched a petition to make trespass a criminal rather than civil offence, after various groups of travellers recently “settled on sites in Tilehurst, Theale, Calcot, Southcote, Coley and Prospect Park.”  BBC Berkshire had a report on this yesterday. There is also a national petition of a similar nature here, which is over halfway to reaching the 10,000 signatures needed to ensure a government response.

Update, 25th June:  Pangbourne Parish Council said this afternoon that eviction is expected tomorrow morning (Tuesday), following the serving by Sheriffs of the Order of Possession and the Notice of Enforcement. The travellers are said to have told Police that they have identified a "local" site to move to.

Further update, Tuesday 26th June:  Police were on site this morning, after most of the vehicles had left. The few remaining travellers departed, reportedly in the direction of Reading, and a clean-up task now awaits the attention of the authorities. There are some photos in the gallery.

There is a report that the travellers have moved only a short distance and have now parked their caravans in the area behind Pangbourne Primary School, adjacent to Sulham Lane, where a fresh landowner will now need to start the legal process of obtaining an eviction order.  

Date/Time : Saturday, 23rd June 2018 17:48

Travellers arrive on Pangbourne meadows

Several caravans were parked today on the Pangbourne meadows.  One report said that the travellers had informed police they intended to stay for a week.

Update, 14th June: Parish council chairman Jim Donahue reported yesterday evening:

"I have just had a briefing from Rob Holden, Chairman of the Pangbourne Parish Council, and the situation is as follows:

-       There are approximately 6 caravans.

-       These are NOT the gypsies that were recently evicted from Theale and Englefield Estate who have been reported to be causing trouble locally. ("gypsies" is the term West Berkshire Council says should now be used.)

-       These gypsies are from the Reading area, most recently from a Richfield Avenues site.

-       The West Berkshire gypsy liaison officer’s advice is that these are not troublemakers if not provoked. The lock to the gate to the meadow was compromised but they deny breaking it.

-       Rob notified them today that they are not welcome on the site as landowner of the site giving them 48 hours to vacate. Based on advice  from WBC that they are not a particular threat, he has not gone down the route of serving legal notice yet which is a process that costs £8000 to initiate in West Berkshire.

-       He is expecting the police to take action in the next few days and is hopeful that they will move on in a cooperative manner, but he will serve formal notice next week if the situation is not resolved. In this case they would have 1 to 2 weeks before being formally ejected."

 

The Reading Chronicle published an article on 14th June about current discussions between Pangbourne Parish Council, West Berkshire Council, the Police and the travellers.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 13th June 2018 20:06

Remembering Michael Screech (Obituary from The Times added)

Professor Michael Screech, who died on 1st June at the age of 92, had lived in Whitchurch with his wife Anne, at their house in Swanston Field, for more than half a century. He is survived by his wife, who is now in a care home, and by their three sons Matthew, Tim and Toby. 

Michael Screech was born in Plymouth and served in East Asia during the Second World War, becoming fluent in Japanese.  On return to England, he studied French and in time rose to the position of Fellow of All Souls College, Oxford.  His distinguished academic career centred on French literature of the Renaissance period, and he is best known for his translation of the Essays of Montaigne published by Penguin Classics.  In 1992 he was made a Chevalier in the French Legion of Honour.  He was ordained as a priest in the Church of England in 1994. 

Michael and Anne moved to Whitchurch in early 1962 with their two young sons Matthew and Tim, and Toby was born shortly afterwards.  Michael was Church Warden of St Mary's for many years, and played an active role in securing a primary school within the village in the mid-1960s.  He was a parish councillor and a member of the Whitchurch Society.  When the Hillside housing development was underway he sat in the trees, along with others, an action which secured the magnificent beech that spreads its branches high above Hardwick Road.

Thanks to Tim for providing information on his father’s life.

Update, 3rd July:  A service of Thanksgiving was held in All Souls Chapel on Thursday 28th June. This was attended by almost a dozen past and present residents of Whitchurch in a capacity congregation of almost 100, including his former assistants Pam King, Sonia Wakely and Sally Horton. Learned Addresses were made by eminent academics and by Michael's three sons, Matthew, Tim and Toby, all brought up in the village. The service was jointly conducted by Dr John Drury, the Chaplain of All Souls, and by Rev. Richard Hughes, former rector of Whitchurch.

Update, 21st July:  The Times has published an obituary.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 12th June 2018 10:54

Discover St John’s – explore the church and churchyard

The Friends of St.Mary's & St.John's are holding an event at St John’s, Whitchurch Hill, on Sunday 17th June from 2 pm to 5.30 pm.

"It is open to everyone and is for all age groups." explains Keith Williams, chairman of The Friends. "There will be a Wildlife Trail in the churchyard, looking at butterflies, moths and flowers. There will be a History Trail for church explorers.  The little church has an interesting history and there will be people there to explain it.  Refreshments will be served across the road at Goring Heath Village Hall." 

The event will be followed by a Cheese & Wine Evening at Goring Heath Village Hall from 6 pm to 8 pm.  This is also open to all, with an opportunity to make a donation at the door.

Date/Time : Sunday, 03rd June 2018 16:24

Successful first sing-along for WotSing

Whitchurch’s fledgling community choir, known as WotSing, took advantage of the opportunity to let rip yesterday evening with some familiar songs such as Do-Re-Mi from The Sound of Music and the Beatles’ Hey Jude.  Leader Graham Dednum drew promising sounds from an enthusiastic group, who were warmly welcomed by Geraldine Witcher to St John’s Church, Whitchurch Hill.  She said the venue had been chosen for its well-tuned piano and good acoustics, emphasising that no one is required to read music or have any previous experience.  They just need to enjoy singing. 

Geraldine on piano and Leslie Maynerd on saxophone provided the accompaniment. 

Graham and Geraldine said they hoped that more members of the community would come along to these friendly, monthly get-togethers, which last only an hour, including a refreshment break.  The date and venue for next month will be announced soon.  To express interest, send an email

WotSing has a presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Date/Time : Friday, 01st June 2018 17:26

Mapledurham view spoiled by new fence

Eric Hartley was walking his dog through Bottom Wood on the Hardwick Estate on Saturday.  He arrived at the edge of the wood, expecting to enjoy the well-known and delightful view towards the village of Mapledurham, and found that a new fence had been erected on the hillside, seriously affecting the view.  He says he was most surprised and wondered why the Mapledurham Estate, owners of the land, had considered it necessary to fence the public footpath here.  He is also concerned that more fencing may be planned. 

Eric says he has written to the Estate, which is owned by Mr Jack Eyston, asking for a review of the need for a fence.

The location of the fence can be seen here.

Date/Time : Monday, 28th May 2018 12:01

Pedestrian safety at the toll bridge

Among the speakers at a well attended Annual Parish Assembly in the village hall on Thursday (24th May) was Whitchurch Bridge Company director Geoff Weir.  He had two items of good news to report.  First, the white railings on each side of the road on the Pangbourne embankment will soon be repainted.  Second, a traffic calming scheme is to be introduced.  The 20 mph limit in Pangbourne will be extended across the full length of the bridge to the toll booth, pro-active “Slow Down” signs will be installed and the rumble strip alongside the kerb will be reinstated. 

However, many members of the audience expressed concern on learning that the Bridge Company’s plan to widen the road on the curving Pangbourne embankment, by which the footpath becomes a safer place for pedestrians, has no firm date for implementation.  Also that the ‘walkway through the trees’ scheme put forward in 2016 is no longer favoured. 

Geoff Weir said that it has turned out that the main difficulties for all these schemes are the potential impacts on trees and the absence of adequate records of accidents to pedestrians.  Recent progress of pre-application discussions between the consultants Peter Brett Associates and West Berkshire Council is reported in the current Whitchurch Bulletin (viewable on this website) and on the Bridge Company’s website. 

Members of the audience spoke of recent incidents involving pedestrians and wing mirrors that clearly demonstrated the hazardous conditions.  Geoff said that the Bridge Company has asked for any such incidents to be reported immediately at the toll booth.  Vague reports are not enough to convince the planning authorities that the safety benefits of a scheme outweigh the harm to the landscape.  Even the detailed spreadsheet of 16 incidents to named people submitted by TAPAG in 2011 is considered anecdotal evidence.  Signs have been displayed at the bridge since 2012 requesting written reports.  

Parish council chairman Jim Donahue expressed his unhappiness with the slow progress on a widening scheme.

Date/Time : Sunday, 27th May 2018 11:16

Up the hill for the Whitchurch Hill fete this Saturday (UPDATED with a report)

It seems that there is no definite news yet about a Whitchurch-on-Thames fete this year, but those who want to make sure of not missing the experience will be most welcome at the Whitchurch Hill fete which starts at 2 pm this Saturday 26th May on the recreation ground next to St John’s Church. 

Organiser John Gray says "The Fete will have a Concert Band, Tea Tent, Bar, Children's Races, Fairground Attractions, a Raffle with excellent prizes, Coconut shy, Punch & Judy Show, Ferret Racing, Tombola, Dog Agility Show, a wide range of  Stalls and the legendary Egg Throwing at the end. Plenty of free Car Parking at the Castrol Car Park - drive up the hill and you'll spot the Car Park Signs." 

One of the stalls will represent the Whitchurch & Goring Heath History Society.  Vicky Jordan says that the Society’s range of local history books will be on sale and there will also be a treasure map.  

The Whitchurch-on-Thames fete has been successfully organised for several years by successive groups of parents at the Whitchurch Pre-School.  Last year it was held in early September.  Parish councillors are currently trying to clarify whether something can still be arranged for this year.

Update, 27th May. John Gray reports:

The Fete went very well, good weather helped bring a large attendance and an enjoyable day was had by all. Whitchurch-on-Thames was well represented, with visitors both to the event and stalls. The Pre-School and Primary School had their own stalls, as well as local Societies (History, Twinning, Allotments). Peter and Sally also had the popular 'Clockwork Jukebox' in action, playing some Classic Jazz. And a particular thanks to Graham at The Ferryboat for his continued support for the event and his always generous Raffle Prize - the lucky winners will be enjoying an excellent meal there soon!

AND... don't miss this video of the fete made by Nick Brazil.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 23rd May 2018 17:41

Hole in High Street wall finally under repair

It is nearly nine months since a reversing Range Rover created a large hole in the 250-year-old brick wall of The Walled Garden House, opposite The Greyhound, on 28th August 2017.  But a bricklayer employed by insurance specialist Roywood Contractors of Tilford, Surrey, is now nearing completion of his careful rebuilding of the ancient wall. 

The bricklayer, who has forty years of experience, points out that the impact coincided with a curved feature known as a ‘horse’s nape’ where the level of the top of the wall changes.  He needed to remove this suspended portion of the wall before starting the rebuild.  But fortunately he has been able to re-use most of the curved bricks, which would have been difficult to replace. 

The owner of the wall, Stan Remington, says he understands that the work has been delayed by the insurers in order to avoid any risk of frost damage. The rebuild is being done using lime mortar to match the original.  The wall is three courses thick and some of the inner bricks are lighter in colour.  He is confident that in time the repair will not be obvious, though he thinks it will take a few years for the colour of the rebuilt area to darken and match the existing wall. 

Date/Time : Tuesday, 22nd May 2018 20:57

Sun shines on wedding celebration (Updated)

The tea party on the village green in celebration of the Royal Wedding on Saturday went with a real swing provided by the Roy Bailey Big Band and drew many outdoors after the TV coverage of the wedding.  Union flags decorated the gazebos and would have fluttered, given half a chance on such a warm, still afternoon. 

Two young members of John and Lissie Steward’s growing flock of Zwartbles sheep stole the show for many children (photo). 

Yesterday parish council chairman Jim Donahue thanked Lissie Steward for her role in getting the event up and running and for helping to bring in the many volunteers who lent a hand on the day.  He said:  “I know that none of it would have happened without your leadership and initiative.  Thank you for all your hard work.  It is volunteers like you that help us create a sense of community in our wonderful village.” 

Nick Brazil has produced a three minute video of the event, to the mellow sound of the RBB band.  This includes Leslie Meynerd on alto sax. 

Don’t miss Jim Donahue’s display of photographs of party goers, which can be seen here.

Update, 1st June:

The Henley Standard has written an article about the party.

Date/Time : Monday, 21st May 2018 10:42

Community singing date announced

The first get-together of the new Whitchurch singing group WotSing will be in St John’s Church, Whitchurch Hill, on Thursday 31st May from 7.30 to 8.30 pm. 

Clare Donahue and Geraldine Witcher are hoping for a big turnout and say that those attending can expect to enjoy singing some well known numbers from musical shows: “We hope that WotSing will be a truly community-run choir, drawing on the diverse skills of our amazingly talented residents.  We really look forward to meeting you on 31st and to sharing our mutual passion for music and singing.” 

All are welcome.  The poster can be seen here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 17th May 2018 18:59

Whitchurch friends take on Jurassic coast challenge

The team of six walkers is Trudi Benzie, Beth Baxter, Fiona Ackworth and Angela Sidhu, all from Whitchurch, together with Anna Cao from Whitchurch Hill and Gill Sefton from Reading.  They are in training already, preparing to take on the challenge of a 62 mile walk on 21st-22nd July.  The charity they are supporting is Diabetes UK. 

Trudi comments: 

"The team is taking on the adventure of the Jurassic Coast Challenge, a stroll along the wonderful Jurassic coast of a mere 100km from Poole to Bridport straight through, stopping only for water, food and perhaps a couple of loo stops! Starting our epic challenge at 7am on 21st July, we’re aiming to come over the finish line, possibly in time for breakfast on the 22nd, but definitely in time for the pub opening!

The team has been training hard, with at least 1 walk a week, movement workshops with Running Reborn and, to date, 2 long training walks of 50 and 57km. Endless kit discussions have taken place, many a blister had and plenty of nice breakfasts and coffee consumed.

This epic challenge is being taken on in aid of Diabetes UK - please read Beth’s story on the JustGiving page. We'd welcome your support and Diabetes UK would love the cash should you wish to sponsor us. Oh and just for the record, normally at around 45km some of us actually run out of conversation!!"

Date/Time : Tuesday, 15th May 2018 12:31

New Parish Council chairman

At the Parish Council meeting on Tuesday, Councillor Jim Donahue was elected  chairman. The outgoing chairman, Councillor Keith Brooks said:

I have enjoyed my role as chairman for the last three years; it has been an honour and a privilege to serve the village and I intend to continue my work as a councillor; I wish Jim success in his new position. “

Chairman Jim Donahue made this statement this morning:

“It is an honour for me to be selected as chairman of the Parish Council in our wonderful village. I will do my very best to ensure our Parish Council is working effectively to support the needs of Whitchurch on Thames.

I'd like to thank Keith Brooks, our outgoing chairman, for his past 3 years in the role.  He has worked tirelessly as chairman, most recently tackling the new village grass cutting and maintenance contract in addition to the Village Hall refurbishment improvements. When there are things that need to be done in the village, Keith is always the first one to roll up his sleeves with a couple of volunteers and get things done, whether it is repairing the broken windows in the Village Hall, a broken gate on Muddy Lane or installing a new fence in the Polish Garden (which I understand he is doing today).

We have dedicated and passionate parish councillors here in Whitchurch on Thames and I am sure that we will continue work well together, and grow stronger as a team, to achieve our ambitious agenda for the coming year; this includes improvements to the Village Hall, starting work on the new Village Green pavilion, and supporting the development of our updated Village Plan.

I am looking forward to working with Rachel Hatcher, our new vice-chairman with whom I had the pleasure of collaborating on the Village Plan. Rachel is also leading a team of residents to find solutions for the long standing traffic and parking issues along the High Street.

Councillors  Dave Bowen, Denise Huxtable and Sarah Hanfrey and our now well-established clerk Felipa House are, I am sure, no strangers to you.  I am confident that our Parish Council will be one that can deliver for our community. 

Finally, I'd encourage each resident to have a look at the document recently developed by the Village Plan team that lists all the improvements we have made to the village over the past eight years as a result of the 2009 Village Plan. I am very proud of all of the things we have accomplished as a village but I am also aware that there is still much to do."

Date/Time : Thursday, 10th May 2018 13:37

Jazz Night at the Old Stables this Friday (Who

Local group Wotjam started up three years ago and they rehearse every Friday morning at The Old Stables.  All are welcome at their Jazz Night, 7.30 to 10 pm, Friday 11th May at The Old Stables, opposite The Ferryboat.  The £5 entry includes a drink and nibbles. All welcome - no need to book.

Leslie Meynerd says the group will be showcasing a selection of numbers worked on this year, in an informal jazz club atmosphere.

Update, 15th May:

Those playing on the 11th were:

Drums - Andrew Last
Bass - Tim Walker
Guitar - Martin Dix 
Tenor saxes - Jan Buhagier and Clive Downs
Alto saxes - Colin Heaven and Leslie Maynerd 
Violin - Anna delnevo
 

Date/Time : Saturday, 05th May 2018 15:16

Football club parents and children get to work

Whitchurch Football Club made a successful effort last weekend to improve the condition of the football pitch on the village green.

Alistair Aitchison reports: 

On Saturday afternoon we had around 20 parents from the football club come with their children for the annual spring work party.

We re-turfed the goals, re-set and painted the goals, re-hung the nets, seeded the worn turf areas, cut the grass around the goals and nets, marked out the pitch and put a manhole cover over the new tap.

It was a great event and the pitch is looking much better as a result.  Thank you to the parish council for their excellent support. 

There are photos in the Gallery.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 02nd May 2018 09:35

Dr Oppenheimer retires

After more than 32 years as a GP at the Pangbourne Medical Practice, Dr Matilda Oppenheimer retired yesterday. 

An ‘Open House’ farewell was held at the Boathouse Surgery for all her patients and friends and a large number called in to say goodbye and thank you. 

Joanna Knott, Chair of the Patient Participation Group, says: 

For many of us it was a very sad day as she has been the most wonderfully kind, caring and capable doctor and her cheerful smiling face will be much missed by her patients. Not only has she been an excellent GP but she has also led the Practice extremely well, making the Boathouse Surgery one of the best in the country. 

To recognise all that she has done for patients in Pangbourne and the surrounding villages, the Patient Participation Group commissioned a watercolour painting of the Boathouse Surgery viewed from her home village of Whitchurch, which was presented to her at the farewell event. 

In expressing her thanks, Dr Oppenheimer said it had been a real privilege to be let into people’s lives and she would miss working with her many patients.

Date/Time : Sunday, 29th April 2018 15:10

Youths leave trail of painted graffiti (six CCTV images added)

On Sunday morning (22nd April), scribbles were found painted on various walls and other surfaces in Pangbourne and Whitchurch, including the toll bridge. 

Around 9 pm on the previous evening a group of about six youths, some with rucksacks, were seen near the bridge, before a car (possibly a grey Chrysler Grand Voyager) picked them up at the toll booth. 

Anyone who can offer information on the graffiti damage is asked to phone 101 and report it to PCSO Mark Bell. 

The photo shows the bridge being pressure-washed only eight days ago. Bridge director Geoff Weir said the contractor would be returning next Wednesday to try to remove all the marks.

Update, 26th May: Six CCTV images were made available by the Bridge Company today showing pedestrians crossing the bridge shortly after 9 pm, who might be able to help police with their enquiries. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 25th April 2018 16:34

Volunteers wanted for churchyard tidy-up

The Friends of St Mary's & St John's are holding a churchyard work session at St Mary’s on Saturday 21st April from 10 am until about midday.  Tim Suiter says that volunteers will be most welcome – just turn up and bring tools suitable for trimming shrubs or trees.  Afterwards you will be rewarded with a free tea or coffee and a delicious slice of cake at the Art Café. 

Date/Time : Monday, 09th April 2018 16:32

Majesticare to make Eastfield House more secure

Steve Oakes, Director of Majesticare, has today written an open letter to the residents of Whitchurch and asked us to publish it: 

Eastfield House Care Home 

Following the public consultation held at Whitchurch Village Hall in March, we have taken the opportunity to review the feedback received from the many attendees on the day.  We are grateful to everyone who attended and those who completed a comment form.  We received a wide range of feedback and are reviewing its content in detail to assess how and where elements can be incorporated into the proposals.  We were encouraged by some of the very positive and supportive responses received on the evening, though we respect the fact that others were opposed to the plans as they currently stand. 

A very clear message that came out of the consultation was concern about anti-social behaviour associated with the site.  Whilst we have previously invested in secure fencing to secure Eastfield House we recognise that this has not been as effective as we would have wished.  Therefore, we are taking further steps to secure Eastfield House.  These include: 

  • Securing and boarding up remaining accessible windows
  • Installing CCTV with remote monitoring to deter intruders 

Whilst this work is being done we have also instructed the contractors to undertake a tidy-up of the site to address concerns raised about the current visual impact.  We will make sure to continue to keep the community updated on progress. 

Once again, we would like to thank everyone who took the time to participate in the consultation and share their views on the proposals.  We remain committed to working with the community to deliver a scheme that will be a real asset to the village. 

Yours faithfully

Steve Oakes

Director

Date/Time : Friday, 06th April 2018 16:09

Work on beech hedge to benefit wildlife

Further efforts are being made towards recovery of the beech hedge near the school that featured in our item of 7th January (“The beech hedge that got away”).  Here are photos taken before and after the tree-cutting, and of recent work. 

Gill Goodwin of WoTHabs reports: 

A Corridor for Wildlife:  A small working party has now strengthened the line of the hedge by using some of the cut brushwood across the gaps.  It is hoped this will both allow the healthy growth of new shoots to fill those gaps and in due course encourage wildlife.  We have left several openings for going in and out, and are optimistic that the children will understand the value of helping us regenerate areas of habitat for wildlife.  At home time the schoolchildren who stopped by to help us showed great interest in what we were doing and why.

Date/Time : Thursday, 05th April 2018 11:04

School to hold Open Forum on 18th April

Whitchurch Primary School is currently facing a financial challenge, caused by a reduction in funding at a time when costs are rising.  Chair of Governors Eleanor Sugrue and Head Teacher Dawn Chesters say that there are several options on how to proceed and have written to parents and members of the local community inviting them to discuss the choice.  An Open Forum will be held at the school at 7 pm on Wednesday 18th April for this purpose. 

The letter says: “Understanding your preferences, concerns and how we can harness the collective support of the community will enable us to make the best budget decisions for the school.” 

Read the full letter here.

Date/Time : Friday, 30th March 2018 17:39

Volunteers clean up the village

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks reports:
 
On Saturday morning volunteers gathered outside the Greyhound to clean our streets as part of the Great British Spring Clean. This was originally scheduled for early March but cancelled due to the snow. It was a great success. Keith Brooks and Tim Hardwick cleaned the upper High Street up past the war memorial to the Whitchurch Hill sign, Leslie Maynerd looked after the lower High Street, John Bradon took care of East Hardwick Road and Manor Road, Leslie Prater tidied up Eastfield Lane and Sally and Peter Woolhouse spruced up West Hardwick Road. We collected a lot of debris including bottles and cans and a couple of tyres: this will all be collected next week by BIFFA. This is an important event which helps to keep on top of litter in Whitchurch and it should continue annually to ensure that the village continues to look smart and rubbish-free.
 
The photo shows five of the seven volunteers, from left: Tim, John, Leslie M, Leslie P and Keith.
 

Date/Time : Sunday, 25th March 2018 16:22