Retired dinghy starts new life in High Street

Three months ago the Whitchurch Web carried this appeal from Leslie Maynerd: “If anyone has an old boat tucked away in their garden and would be happy to donate it (or even sell it) she would love to hear from them.” 

Within days Nick Bailey, director at Beale Park, had offered an old wooden sailing dinghy as a gift to Whitchurch.  The parish council agreed to have a supply of cobbles delivered for the dinghy’s new berth at the entrance to Church Drive, where it will serve as a planter.  An anonymous resident generously donated money to buy plants.  Dave Bowen offered the use of his trailer.  Yesterday he, Dave Maynerd and Keith Brooks collected the boat.  The photograph shows the handover in Lower Basildon. 

The boat is now sitting in its new location.  The next stage involves settling it in and planting it up.

Date/Time : Friday, 15th December 2017 10:29

New pavilion plans submitted

Revised plans have been submitted to South Oxfordshire District Council for the new sports pavilion on the village green.  The size of the building has been slightly increased to enable showers to be included in each of the changing rooms.  The new location of the building in the south-east corner of the village green has also been adjusted from that presented in July. 

The new location of the pavilion, together with the revised building layout and elevations can be seen here

Carrie Leadbeater-Hart says:  “We at the Parish Council are very excited to say that the proposed Village Pavilion is progressing nicely – thank you to all who contributed comments with regards to where you would prefer to have the new building placed on the Village Green. 

We have taken these comments into consideration and have 'budged' the Pavilion back as far as possible, taking into account the constraints of proximity to existing mature trees (9 metres minimum distance from centre of trunk).  This means that the Pavilion will be well placed to serve the cricket team, the football team and be close for access for use by the school.  We would love to encourage new activities and sports once the Pavilion is built to make the Pavilion a well used and loved village hub. 

We care very much about making the Village Green look fabulous, befitting our wonderful community.  The Pavilion will be of traditional wooden construction and will be nestled well in the existing trees. 

The planning submission for the Village Pavilion will be available for comment on the OCC website by the 15th December 2017.  All comments gratefully received, either formally to OCC Planning, or informally by email to me.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 12th December 2017 17:28

Opportunity to acquire old village sign

Following the installation of the new village sign, the old one is being auctioned for Whitchurch charities by means of sealed bids.  Anyone wishing to make a bid for the sign should hand it in a sealed envelope to Graham Dednum at The Ferryboat by closing time (10.30 pm) on Friday 22nd December.  The winner will be announced at the Ferryboat’s Community Carol Singing on Saturday 23rd December. 

More details here

Date/Time : Thursday, 7th December 2017 11:13

The Ferryboat Christmas Concert packs out St Mary’s

This was the fifth year of the concert and every pew in the church was occupied on Sunday evening to hear the 28-strong Ferryboat Brass Band, gathered together by landlord and compère Graham Dednum, fill the building with lively Christmas music. 

Shortly after the start, nearly 40 children trooped in along with their teacher Lucy Lombos.  Singing in two sessions and an encore, the Whitchurch Primary School Choir enchanted their audience. 

Solo stars of the concert were Steve Clapton on cornet, the vocalist Debbie Jenkins and Whitchurch’s own Claire Donahue on flute.  Claire, who married Jim Donahue earlier this year, had just returned from performing on a Cunard cruise. 

Kelvin Ketteringham directed the band and band member Mervyn Clarke arranged the music for most of the carols, which the audience joined in enthusiastically. 

Congratulating Graham, Rev Claire Alcock pointed out that it was not only a feat of organisation but also a feat of imagination to have created such a successful event. 

Graham announced that ticket sales had already raised an impressive £2,500 in aid of the Church, the Pre-school and the Primary School. 

The photo above is by Jennifer Bruce.  More photos in the Gallery.

Date/Time : Monday, 4th December 2017 17:52

Opinions differ on coloured lights at toll bridge

Some people say the new flashing red and green lights on the rising booms at the bridge add an attractive touch of colour at the entrance to the village, especially at Christmas.  Others have described them as bringing Las Vegas to South Oxfordshire and are not enthusiastic. Some drivers say they are dazzled.  Bridge Company Director Geoff Weir says the new booms were introduced to improve safety. 

However, within two days of installing them a car driven by a Whitchurch resident struck the southbound boom, knocking it off its mounting and calling into question the improved visibility.  Geoff says that a boom is struck by a car once a week on average and he is confident the red lights will reduce the number of accidents. 

So far Geoff has heard comments both in favour and against the lights.  It would be quite feasible, he says, to eliminate the green lights and just have the red ones if that is the general preference in the village. 

What do you think?  You are welcome to comment on the Message board.

Date/Time : Monday, 4th December 2017 11:47

Muddy Lane now has a stronger gate

Only two weeks after the wooden entrance gate to Muddy Lane was shattered by a joyriding vandal it has been replaced by a more robust one made of steel. 

The parish council agreed to purchase the new gate and yesterday Pete Woolhouse and Keith Brooks installed it. 

More pictures here.                     

Date/Time : Friday, 24th November 2017 11:16

Creativity of all ages on display

Sally Woolhouse, organiser of last weekend’s successful Art & Craft Exhibition, reports on the event: 

This popular annual event, now in its 39th year, was staged by The Whitchurch Society in Whitchurch Village Hall over the weekend of 18th & 19th November. There were exactly 200 entries which is the second highest number ever, only beaten by the 218 entries in 2013. It was a very successful and sociable occasion which provided the opportunity for everyone to see and share the results of creative talent in our community. There was a wonderful variety of artwork, craftwork and photographs from young and old, showing a very high standard.

This year’s theme for the Joyce Voysey Prize was ‘Circles’ which produced some very varied interpretations. Colourful displays of work by children at the Pre-School, the Primary School and the Oratory Prep School were very eye-catching and showed great promise. Visitors enjoyed refreshments all weekend and meeting up with friends and neighbours before the prize-giving ceremony at 4-30pm on Sunday. 

Congratulations to all the prize winners; a full list of these can be found here. 

Very many thanks to all exhibitors and also to everyone who helped with the setting up, dismantling and running of the show, including serving the refreshments and making delicious cakes. Finally, my special thanks to Sarah Dixon, Wendy Ferguson, Jean-Marc Grosfort and Peter Smith who helped me in the planning stages and to the Whitchurch Society members who supported us. 

The photo above shows two of the winning entries in the Art 6 to 8 years category. There are more in the Photo Gallery. 

Sally Woolhouse can be contacted here.

Date/Time : Monday, 20th November 2017 18:23

Whitchurch welcomes visitors with new signs and coloured lights (UPDATED)

A new village sign was installed last week at the entrance to Whitchurch from Pangbourne, together with a Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sign beneath it.  The design of the village sign resulted partly from a competition among children at the primary school, as reported in our news item of 30th June this year (scroll down to see it)

The parish council resolved at a meeting earlier this week to order two more village signs and place them at the other entrances to the village.  The AONB sign will not be included at either location. 

Also this week, new traffic barriers have been installed at the toll bridge, incorporating a novel safety feature of coloured lights on the booms.  Geoff Weir, director of the Whitchurch Bridge Company said that the barriers are longer than before and cyclists and motorcyclists will need to be aware of this.

Update, 24th November:  The old village sign is to be auctioned for charity by the Ferryboat during December – details to be announced. OCC have confirmed, following criticism of the new sign’s surprisingly long support poles, that they will visit the site and consider whether they can make it more “aesthetically pleasing”.

Date/Time : Saturday, 18th November 2017 11:03

New owner sought for Coombe Park estate

The 125 acre estate of Coombe Park in Whitchurch is on the market for £10 million.  In addition to the main house, which is reported to be in a poor condition, there are three smaller dwellings, as well as an orangery, a coach house, an indoor tennis court, stabling and a boat house.  The private drive is ¾ of a mile long and leads from the entrance gate in Manor Road. 

The original Palladian house was built in 1794 by Samuel Gardiner, who had the grounds landscaped by Humphrey Repton.  His friend Francis Sykes, also wealthy from the East India Company, built a similarly impressive property on the opposite side of the valley at Basildon Park. 

The house was enlarged by a Mr Foster in the 1880s.  The Howard family acquired the estate in 1898 and added a stud complex where they bred racehorses. In the 1920s the estate extended to 670 acres. 

Towards the end of the Second World War the property became a Rest and Recuperation centre run by the American Red Cross for US air force combat crew, who were encouraged to have a quiet week here during their tour in the UK.  After the war most of the house was demolished. 

In the 1980s the remaining part, originally the servants’ quarters, and the coach house, were joined to create the present building.  The Howard family sold the estate in 1982.  The owner from then until recently was Martyn Deaner, an oil industry entrepreneur, who encouraged polo playing and arranged for the Reading Football team to train in his grounds. 

Full details of the property can be found on the agent’s website here.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 15th November 2017 16:53

Vandals wreck Muddy Lane entrance gate

The wooden gate at the Hardwick Road end of Muddy Lane, leading to the allotments, was badly damaged on Saturday night (photo). 

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks says: “The damage has been reported to the police by James Norman who also suffered considerable damage to his property in Path Hill. If anyone has information please phone James on 07867 657 156 as he has the URN number for the crime. The parish council will take steps to replace the gate as soon as possible.  It is unfortunate that some people seek to cause mindless damage to our lovely village.” 

Eric Hartley says he discovered minor damage to horse barriers in Hardwick Woods and reported it to the Hardwick Estate Office who told him there was a 'joy-riding incident' on Saturday night.  Later he discovered the damage to the Muddy Lane gate and to the anti-vehicle posts further down the Lane. He has also noticed similar minor damage to the posts on Church Drive.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 14th November 2017 08:33

War memorial restored and ready for Sunday

The project to restore the Whitchurch war memorial to its original height, topped by a Celtic cross to the original design, prior to its damage by a falling tree in a January 1990 storm, has been successfully completed (photo).  The work included a thorough cleaning of the stonework and some new granite set paving. 

The annual Remembrance Service will be held this Sunday 12th November at 10.45 am.  All are welcome to attend.  There will be a road closure for 20 minutes. 

The work on the memorial, implemented by Goring Heath Parish Council following a proposal by Martin Wise in 2014, was funded partly by donations from individuals and partly by a grant from the War Memorial Trust.

(Earlier news items: 12th December 2016 and 18th May 2017)

Date/Time : Friday, 10th November 2017 14:20

The Christmas Market is coming soon

The annual Christmas Market at Whitchurch Primary School will be held on Sunday 26th November from 11 am to 3 pm. 

Kate Lowe of the Parents Association says: “It promises to be a fun and festive day with Christmas market stalls filled with delicious treats and not-on-the-high-street goodies. There will be games and prizes – and if we're lucky Santa might even pay us a visit! We hope you can join us to celebrate the Christmas season, get your last minute (or for some of us first!) gifts – and most importantly help raise much-needed funds for our Primary School.”

Date/Time : Monday, 6th November 2017 17:50

Tickets now available for Christmas concert

Tickets for the annual concert of Christmas music in St Mary’s Church at 6.30 pm on Sunday 3rd December are now available from The Ferryboat, at £10 for adults and £5 for children. 

In what is expected to be another unforgettable evening of Christmas music, the Ferryboat brass band will play, the primary school choir will sing and newly-resident professional musician Claire Donahue will perform on the flute.  There will be opportunities for everyone to enjoy singing carols.  Funds raised will go to the Church and to both schools in the village. 

Ferryboat landlord Graham Dednum, the organiser and compère for the evening, says he anticipates another sell-out of tickets and suggests all in and around the village should buy theirs soon.

Date/Time : Friday, 3rd November 2017 11:40

Comments on new Pavilion by November 1st

In an earlier news item, Keith Brooks  asked for comments on the position of the proposed new Pavilion on the Village Green. To give an idea of the proposed new siting in the south east corner of the Village Green, a resident has kindly measured out the plot and made mock-up photos of  the possible appearence. (Please note, it is only a representation of the new Pavilion!)

Date/Time : Monday, 30th October 2017 20:41

Meeting to re-launch Village Plan

There is a meeting to re-launch the process of updating the Village Plan at 8pm on Wednesday 8th November at the Old Stables.  Jim Donahue says:- "If you would like to get involved we hope you will come along. 

We are looking for anyone who wants to help in the development of the Village Plan over the course of the next year.  No specific experience is required other than being a resident of Whitchurch and a willingness to get involved. We need people for the overall  Steering Committee and for workstreams to develop recommendations in specific areas.  Or perhaps you could provide us with specific finance, publicity, legal, technical writing, or graphics skills.

We have identified the following workstreams and will need workstream leaders and members for each:

  •      Community Facilities
  •      Open Spaces
  •      Community Groups and Activities
  •      Traffic and Parking  (led by Rachel Hatcher with TAPAG)
  •      Pavements and Walking
  •      Built Environment

There is more information in the attached document or you can contact Jim Donahue at or any member of the current Village Plan team: Dave Bowen, John Bradon, Keith Brooks, Charles Cotgreave, Peter Ferguson,  Jean-Marc Grosfort,· Sarah Hanfrey or Emily Williamson.

The resulting Village Plan update will update the 2009 Village Plan and provide a vision to guide development of improvements to our community for the next several years.  We need your help!"


Date/Time : Thursday, 26th October 2017 11:14

Eastfield House break-in

There was a further break-in at Eastfield House at lunch time today, Friday. Police are aware: please contact them if you have any information.

Date/Time : Friday, 20th October 2017 14:42

Family Nature Walk at Chalkhills

On Sunday 15th October a lively group greatly enjoyed the Family Nature Walk organised by WoTHABS and Sandra at Chalkhills.  Sally, Gill and John reported that:-

 “...again we are very grateful to Sandra for allowing access and for guiding us round. It was a pleasure just to be there in the fields, woods and on the hillside.

 Following the walk, Sandra reported that the leaf collection of one child included what appears to be an ash leaf the like of which she has never seen before.   At the moment it remains a mystery where it could have come from.

Another observant child found a large hairy caterpillar (the larva of a Pale Tussock moth).  The caterpillar is not frequently sighted at Chalkhills, though not considered rare as it can eat the leaves of lots of different trees.

Considering the lack of fungi on site due to the dry spell, sightings included two very interesting ones: a waxcap called Toasted Waxcap, and a Gomphideus, English name Slimy Spike - though the latter was very old and not slimy anymore.  Both are unusual if not rare these days. 

One of the highlights of the walk was a fascinating talk by Adam Howe, whom many of the Whitchurch children and their parents will well remember from our Explorer Days. This time it wasn't mammals or reptiles he showed us, but fascinating finds he has made recently using his metal detector at Chalkhills and along the Bozedown escarpment. Back down the hill again, Sally had kept the kettles boiling for the very welcome tea - and cakes.  

The trig point on the top of the hill puzzled many - so much for the earlier days of map-making!”

contributed by: Sandra Parkinson, Sally Woolhouse, Gill Goodwin and John Bradon 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 18th October 2017 12:02

Update on the new Village Pavilion

The chairman of the Parish Council has given an update on the proposed position of the new pavilion on the Village Green.
Keith Brooks says:-"Having  applied for planning permission to demolish the existing pavilion and replace it in exactly the same spot, with a new one, on the village green, we were told that ‘the new pavilion would be well inside the root protection area of protected trees so that construction could cause significant root damage to these important trees.’
We are therefore moving the pavilion to a new site which will avoid trees with protection orders and large trees that could cause subsidence. The new position is indicated on diagram shown here with the new site on the right hand side and the old buildings on the left.
We would like to hear what the village thinks about this new position and so if you have any comments please email our parish clerk by the 1st November."

Date/Time : Monday, 16th October 2017 17:37

Pangbourne Loos re-opening celebrations

Tomorrow (Saturday 30th) at 11 am the Station Road Loos will be ceremonially re-opened, with people invited to gather at 10.30, a press call at 10.45 and tea, coffee and cakes available afterwards in the car park. All are welcome.

Charity trustee Rosie Nurick is seen here with fellow trustee Antoinette Solera, fund-raising at the Whitchurch fete this summer. 

Rosie says that the Action for Pangbourne Toilets Community Trust is being watched by many other communities as this is the first time in Britain that a local group of volunteers has taken over the responsibility from a local authority for running a public convenience.  Around the country many such facilities have been locked up and are out of use as councils search for economies. 

Whitchurch parish council made a contribution of £750 earlier this year to the APT Community Trust (more in news archive, 21st February 2017).

Date/Time : Friday, 29th September 2017 12:38

Neighbourhood Plan shelved

The parish council has voted to postpone developing a Neighbourhood Plan and has decided to update the 2009 Village Plan instead. 

Parish councillor Jim Donahue, chairman of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee said yesterday: “It was felt that the village would get more benefit in the short to medium term addressing issues that we can directly influence such as traffic and parking, the future of our community facilities, and planned improvements to our infrastructure and open spaces such as the Village Green. The goal will be to complete a new Village Plan by the end of 2018. Neighbourhood Plan activities that focus on housing allocation and future development policies will be put on hold until the Village Plan is completed.” 

Jim says that the various consultations carried out in the past two years will feed into the new plan and that the members of the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Committee have all expressed interest in contributing to the Village Plan.  He will be leading these activities and setting up a working group and steering committee structure. 

 Anyone interested in getting involved should contact Jim.  He says that one area where volunteers are particularly needed is for planning improvements to the Village Hall. 

The 2009 Village Plan can be seen here - its 22-point action plan is on page 21.

Date/Time : Sunday, 24th September 2017 11:43

Buzz Aldrin visits Whitchurch

On Saturday evening Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, visited The Ferryboat for dinner along with some friends in the village.  Landlord Graham Dednum, pictured here with him, gave the former astronaut a very warm welcome, as did staff members and other evening guests.

Date/Time : Monday, 18th September 2017 17:53

Old wooden boat – Update: Boat offered; some help is now needed

After reading this news item, a trustee of Beale Park got in touch with Leslie Maynerd and has kindly offered a choice of several old boats.  Now Leslie is looking for some help at 10.30 am on Saturday 30th September to clear the area where the boat will be placed. (Update, 15th September)

If anyone has an old boat tucked away in their garden and would be happy to donate it (or even sell it) she would love to hear from them.  Or perhaps they know of someone else who might have one.  Leslie can be contacted at 0118 984 5513 or by email

Some examples of boat planters installed elsewhere can be seen here

Leslie is looking for volunteers to help clear the left hand area in a few weeks' time and would be grateful for offers.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 5th September 2017 17:52

Concern about further ‘Yellow Peril’ incidents

One topic is currently dominating conversation around the village and on the community Facebook page.  That is whether the village is now safe from further damage by the yellow Range Rover from Manor Road whose driver has caused two serious wall collapses in the village within five weeks. 

Among the questions being asked are: Did the police interview the driver after each of the wall collapses?  Was the driver breathalysed or given a warning?  Is the driver, who is understood to have mobility problems, safe behind the wheel? 

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks said today: “The parish council is of course concerned about the welfare of residents but this is primarily a matter for the police.  When I contacted the police after the first incident I was told that there was little they could do in the absence of an injury to a person.” 

Keith said that the topic will be discussed at the parish council meeting on 12th September. 

Date/Time : Saturday, 2nd September 2017 12:28

Does Whitchurch have a patron saint?

Commander Allen Gardiner of Coombe Park, Whitchurch, was a naval officer and missionary credited with founding a community that became the city of Durban in South Africa.  He later made strenuous attempts to bring Christianity to indigenous people in Bolivia and Chile before he finally died of starvation in Tierra del Fuego in 1851 just a few weeks before a relief ship arrived.  His reputation as a Victorian hero was such that the Anglican Calendar marks 6th September every year as Allen Gardiner Day. 

To find out more about the career of this unusual man, come to St Mary’s Church at 6 pm next Wednesday 6th September.  His memorial is on the wall of the church.  There will be a brief service followed by a talk.  All welcome.

Date/Time : Thursday, 31st August 2017 16:47

Village resident gains unexpected view of pub

Police rang the doorbell of The Walled Garden House in the High Street yesterday evening (Bank Holiday Monday) at around 10 pm and told Stan Remington that a vehicle had knocked a big hole in his wall opposite The Greyhound.  The police had cordoned off the adjacent footpath in case of a further collapse of the brickwork. 

According to unconfirmed local reports the vehicle was the same yellow Range Rover that destroyed a brick pillar and wall at the Manor Road junction last month (News item, 18th July). 

Stan says that his damaged property was once the garden wall of Walliscote House and is around 250 years old.  It is Grade II listed and he hopes a repair can be done successfully.  About 15 years ago there was a similar but less severe incident, he recalls, after which the full height of wall had to be demolished before repairs could start. 

Further up the High Street today, work was continuing on rebuilding the Manor Road entrance pillar and wall.  See picture.  Bricklayer Terry Stacy of Val Build Group, Southampton, said he was re-using as many of the original bricks as possible, after removing the old mortar, and adding reclaimed bricks from elsewhere to get the right match.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 29th August 2017 15:09

The Village Fete is this Saturday 2nd September

Pony rides, climbing wall, giant inflatable maze, orchestra, barbecue, cakes, tea, proper coffee, Pimms, Prosecco, waffles, strawberries and cream, beer tent…..  Have lunch there!  Craft stalls, Art Café, community group stalls, there’s even an RSPB display.  Tug of war, hobby horse gymkhana, grand prize draw…..  there’s lots for all ages.  The Whitchurch Village Fete is on Saturday 2nd September from 2 to 5 pm on the village green. 

More information here on what to expect at this year’s Fete.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 22nd August 2017 10:30

Help needed checking Hartslock sheep

Hartslock nature reserve, situated about a mile from the village along the bridlepath to Goring, has a flock of Shetland sheep helping to manage the habitat by grazing on the chalk hillside. There is a rota of local volunteers who take it in turns to visit the sheep daily to check that all is well.  Currently there is a need for some extra help at weekends. 

Read more about it here.  No previous experience is needed.

Date/Time : Friday, 18th August 2017 13:41

Bench damaged on village green

The wooden bench at the top end of the village green has been vandalised.  Keith Brooks, parish council chairman, discovered the damage on Tuesday this week when he and a plumber went there to install a new tap for the football club. 

 Keith said: ‘”We found beer bottles strewn everywhere and damage to the bench which the village had paid for.  This could not have been an accident as substantial force was needed.  Also the broken off pieces had been thrown around.  I recently painted all the benches and they were in good order.  I wish whoever is doing this would cease.  The incident has been reported to the police and we will be keeping a close eye on the village green, which was also the target for vandalism last week when a pavilion window was broken”.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 16th August 2017 11:21

Superfast broadband in Whitchurch

Claire Hutchins-Lee of the Better Broadband for Oxfordshire programme has written to the parish council to report on progress with superfast coverage.  The report includes details and a map of the services provided so far in Whitchurch.

She says: As we move into the closing phases of the programme, it is important to let us know if the information provided is incorrect in any way and if there are any areas in your parish, which to your knowledge, remain without superfast broadband coverage already installed or planned for installation. 

The general view is, that with some 73,000 premises enabled by the programme so far, we are on track to achieve above 96% of premises having access to superfast broadband by the end of next year and are now dealing with truly small conurbations of less than ten premises. 

However, we still have the means of addressing gaps either on a fully funded or partly funded basis, so feedback from you or directly from parishioners would be very welcome.”

She can be contacted by email here.

Date/Time : Monday, 14th August 2017 11:04

Parish council chairman drives community bus

Yesterday the chairman of Whitchurch parish council, Keith Brooks, climbed into the driver’s seat of the 142 community bus and made four round trips from Goring to Reading and back, via Whitchurch and Whitchurch Hill.  Some months ago he had put his name forward following a request for residents to volunteer their services as occasional reserve drivers.  On Tuesday he received a phone call from the manager of Going Forward Buses to say the regular driver was unwell and asking if he would be available. 

Keith says: “it was quite an experience.  I started at 7 in the morning and finished at about 5 in the afternoon.  I met various passengers, some of them going to work, some going shopping in Caversham, others shopping in Reading.  One group were taking the bus to Beale Park.  I would like everyone in the village to support the service.  Why not take a trip into Reading and back from time to time?  There are plenty of spare seats.  Let’s all try to use our community bus!”

Date/Time : Thursday, 10th August 2017 20:14

Sportsman seeks to help Nigerian children

Peter Ferguson of Swanston Field is a former rugby player with a new mission.  Some years ago, when he was working for an oil company in Nigeria, he started up a scheme to bring rugby to deprived youngsters in Lagos.  British coaches visited and helped train locals.  Peter used to obtain second-hand rugby kit from schools and take it to Nigeria, much to the delight of the children.  After a while Nigerian junior rugby teams visited the UK. The coaching model, which was later introduced by Peter in Sierra Leone and then by Peter’s son William in Kenya, has been successfully developed and broadened over a number of years.  Many children have benefited.  In Nigeria, Peter says, “some gained international honours in rugby, some gained university places and others joined the police force which has a very creditable rugby side.” 

Recently Peter was contacted by his trusted friend and former colleague Emeka Ukome (above, with Peter) who asked for his help in setting up a similar venture in a different part of the country. He is now involved in helping to establish the Niger Delta Rugby Foundation, which will run a life skills programme that encourages sporting and academic achievement regardless of religious belief among deprived children in the troubled Niger Delta region.  A rugby tournament is being held in October and it is hoped that international players will support the venture. 

Peter is looking for sponsorship for the Foundation from companies with links to Nigeria, from rugby clubs and from schools.  There are also expected to be opportunities for individuals to become Friends of Niger Delta Rugby in due course. 

If you know anyone who might be able to help find sponsorship for this venture, then Peter would love to hear from you.  He can be contacted on 07557 383 634 or by email here.

Here is a photo of some of the younger children in their donated shirts.

Date/Time : Monday, 7th August 2017 10:53

Amphibious cars slip into Thames unnoticed

On Thursday this week at around 10 am a procession of amphibious vehicles rolled down the High Street.  When they reached the bridge they were guided by three marshals wearing fluorescent jackets towards the ramp next to the toll keeper’s cottage and into the water.  The leading car churned a path through the lilies on the mill pool and the flotilla then motored down the river towards Mapledurham lock. 

The unusual event was witnessed by few Whitchurch residents but was clearly planned well in advance by the European Amphibious Car Group.  The group meets in a different country each year and their 2017 gathering has brought them to this country. The owners of over 60 amphibious vehicles from around the world have enjoyed a week in the Thames Valley, sightseeing in and out of the water. 

For a flavour, watch the brief BBC video here.

Date/Time : Saturday, 5th August 2017 14:39

Eastfield House attracts wrong age group (UPDATE: new incident)

The boarded-up Eastfield House is attracting the attention of teenagers, according to a resident of the village who became aware of a break-in yesterday evening. 

At 8.30 pm yesterday a dog walker heard a window being smashed and saw three teenage boys wearing hoodies in the grounds of the empty care home.  He called out and the three disappeared, possibly through private gardens towards Swanston Field.  About fifteen minutes later, three boys of a similar description were seen on small BMX bikes on the High Street.  A second witness, who had called the police, said he attempted to speak to them but they were keen to make off towards Pangbourne.  They were white, two with shortish blond hair and similar appearance, who might be brothers, and a darker haired youth.  He estimated their ages as 15, 14 and 11ish. 

It seems the youths knew the area and its shortcuts well.  It is suggested that people with properties backing on to Eastfield House be vigilant. 

When the Police arrived the youths had gone. If anyone has information that could help with enquiries they should phone 101.

Update, Saturday 29th July:   Further visitors.  Last night at about 9 pm Eastfield Lane residents were alerted by noises coming from Eastfield House and reported seeing a group of people apparently trying to break in at the back.  The visitors then made off at speed towards Pangbourne.  The vehicles were a white van and a silver Honda Civic (reg R151 MMO).  A neighbour had seen the car and van occupants acting suspiciously in the vicinity and called the police.  Within minutes the community police arrived but did not see the individuals.  Local residents wondered whether the two incidents could be related.  The care home owner Majesticare has been informed and asked to make the building more secure.

Date/Time : Thursday, 27th July 2017 18:21

Friends’ first concert announced

On Saturday 23rd September from 7.30 pm the Roy Bailey Big Band will be playing the music of Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and others. The concert will be held in St John’s Church, Whitchurch Hill, with a drinks bar in Goring Heath Parish Hall across the road.

This is the first fund-raising concert of The Friends of St Mary’s and St John’s, the charity set up last year to support the maintenance and preservation of the two churches.

Tickets at £10 each are available from: Kit Marriott 07813 948448, Lizzi Steward 07751 789107 or Tim Suiter 07930 490808.  Early booking is advisable as seating is limited and tickets are already selling.

The Roy Bailey Big Band will be familiar to many from their brilliant performance on the village green last summer – here is a refresher video.

Like to become a Friend? – find out more here.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 26th July 2017 20:28

Relics & Monuments in Whitchurch

Peter Hawley’s book on Whitchurch history Relics & Monuments has been re-issued, with extra chapters, and at the same price, eight years after its first appearance.

Vicky Jordan tells us more:

The new edition retains the many articles which throw light especially on the people of the past. Here is Sir John Soane, architect of the Bank of England; Allen Gardiner, naval captain and missionary; John Simeon, MP; the many distinguished Whistlers; Robert Grey, Governor of the London Foundling Hospital. There are two extra chapters on the tenants of Whitchurch House, and an intriguing Whitchurch mystery. Moreover, it is a good read, told in erudite but conversational style, as facts are tracked down and myths exposed. In the Introduction the author speaks of acting as Watson to Robert Noble’s Holmes as he helped with the articles published in the Bulletin in the 1980s and 1990s. Now he is Holmes.

Relics & Monuments, new edition 2017, by Peter Hawley is available at £7.95 from the Whitchurch & Goring Heath History Society or tel 0118 984 3260.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 19th July 2017 14:31

Care home not being cared for

The Eastfield House care home is boarded up and becoming overgrown with vegetation.  Attempts to find out what plans the owners have for its rebuilding or re-opening have not resulted in any clear picture, according to this article in the Henley Standard this week.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 18th July 2017 18:03

Historic wall knocked down (Updated)

Sometime on Sunday evening or night (16th July) a vehicle collided with one of the massive brick pillars at the entrance to Manor Road from the High Street, bringing it crashing to the ground together with a substantial length of the curved wall beside it, between Lower Lodge and the red telephone kiosk. Shards of mustard-yellow paintwork on the ground near the point of impact with the pillar suggest that the vehicle may have been that colour. The vehicle appears to have been travelling into Manor Road from the High Street.

The curving brick wall forms part of the grand bellmouth entrance to the original Coombe Park estate.

Nearby resident Peter Hawley says he recalls at least one similar incident about twenty years ago and he thinks the district council undertook the repairs then.  But since that time he understands that the parish council has taken over responsibility for the verges of Manor Road.  Whether the wall now belongs to the parish council, the district council or the owner of Lower Lodge, whose doorway is now obstructed by the rubble, is not clear.

Update, Wednesday 19th July:  PCSO Mark Bell confirmed today that the incident had been reported to the police and that the identity of the driver was known.  

Date/Time : Tuesday, 18th July 2017 11:16

Progress on pavilion plans

Consultation in recent weeks on proposals for a new sports pavilion on the village green has resulted in some changes to the design and location that were put forward in the planning application in late May.  Carrie Leadbetter-Hart, project manager on behalf of the parish council, summarises the current situation: 

“The outline planning application has been withdrawn, as SODC felt we had enough detail in our proposal to go directly for Full Plans - this will save us the fees of £385 and also time.  The full plans will cost £770, but SODC have agreed to move to offset the fees already paid. 

Secondly - following the feedback I have received from SODC, Sport England, The Forestry Commission and villagers - two issues became apparent:

1. The new Pavilion will need to be sited 9m away from mature trees.

2. The lack of showering facilities were seen as a concern. 

The showering facilities were a sticking point, as there wasn't enough space within the existing floorplan without significantly reducing either the changing rooms or the main social area.  However, a very wonderful patron has stepped forward in the form of Leslie Prater.  Leslie is passionate about supporting sports within the village, particularly in encouraging youngsters and has committed to fund the additional space required!  Therefore removing this barrier - Thank you so much Leslie!  

I have spoken to SODC and Sport England about increasing the floor space by 15% - they do not have an issue in principle - however I will need to put a case together discussing how this additional space will be used to encourage diversity in sport.” 

Carrie says that a satisfactory new location has now been found for the new building that complies with the rule on distance from trees.  This is in front of the existing mound of earth in the south-east corner of the village green.

The formal responses to the application from the Forestry Officer, from Leisure South and others can be seen on the SODC planning page here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 13th July 2017 18:11

New village sign on the way

Arrivals crossing the bridge from Pangbourne will soon be welcomed by a new village sign.  It will be displayed together with a new Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty sign. The two can be seen here. 

The new sign is the result of several months of consultation by the parish council, including a design competition at the primary school resulting in six finalists, followed by feedback from residents who voted on the designs in a survey in The Bulletin and feedback from parish councillors. 

Parish councillor Jim Donahue, manager of the project, explains: 

“The final version was developed by Caroline Widdop, a professional graphic artist and mother of a child at Whitchurch primary school.  She was also responsible for the final coat of arms design for the primary school.  Caroline is volunteering her time for this project and is now working with sign makers on the final stages.  We hope the new sign will be in place by the end of the summer. 

There will initially be just one new sign, located at the village entrance by the bridge, to keep the costs down.  It is expected to cost approximately £1000.  Signs at the village entrances from Whitchurch Hill and from Hardwick Road were not considered to be in such need of refurbishment and the entrance by the bridge is considered by most people to be the grand entrance to the village as well as the edge of the Chiltern Hills. 

The current sign is damaged and slightly crooked and the old Chilterns AONB sign was removed a number of years ago as it was faded and vandalised.  We think this new sign will be a much more suitable entrance to our lovely village and show visitors how proud we are to live here.”

Date/Time : Friday, 30th June 2017 14:30

Remembering Anna Scanlon

Anna Scanlon, who moved into her Hardwick Road house in 1962, died aged 92 on 6th June 2017.  A memorial service will be held on Tuesday 4th July in St Mary’s Church, Whitchurch, at 3.15 pm. 

Her four children have provided this note on her life and an invitation to the memorial service: 

Anna Scanlon, a familiar Whitchurch resident for the past 55 years, passed away peacefully aged 92 at the Royal Berkshire Hospital on Tuesday the 6th June having been taken ill the previous day. 

Anna was born in Hawick in the Scottish borders in 1925 where she met and married Martin during the war whilst he was posted there with the Royal Ulster Rifles to train for the D-Day landings. 

They moved to Birmingham after the War before moving with the family to Whitchurch in the early 1960s and purchasing one of the newly developed properties in Hardwick Road. 

Having added a fourth child to the coop in the mid 60s, she returned to work as a PA for organisations in Henley and Pangbourne, including a stint for Michael Heseltine MP during the 1970s. 

Both Martin and Anna were active members and familiar faces in the community, particularly if you happened to venture into one of the local hostelries. 

Anna was a past member of the local WI and especially well known in the village for her “Paddy’s Market” stall at numerous village fetes, ever popular cricket teas complete with home-made scones, legendary open-door New Year’s Eve parties with trademark “Turkey Curry”, and willingness to welcome and chat to all comers at the Greyhound, Ferry Boat and/or Working Men’s Club. 

Even very recently she could still be found from time to time in her usual spot at the bar partaking of a wee dram of Scotch whiskey or a half of Guinness and regaling those around her with tales of yore. 

A committal at West Berkshire Crematorium will be followed by a memorial service to celebrate her life at St Mary’s Church on Tuesday the 4th July at 3.15pm. Everyone that knew her is welcome to attend, especially if you bring your singing voices, and it would be helpful if anyone planning to attend could let us know via email so we can gauge numbers. 

Funeral arrangements are being handled by A B Walker (Reading) and donations in lieu of flowers can be made to The British Red Cross via  

We look forward to seeing you on the 4th July. 

Patsy, Fiona, Mike and Paul 

The photograph shows Anna at The Greyhound in 2012.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd June 2017 15:00

Fact-finding on High Street parking

Residents of the High Street will soon receive an important questionnaire.

In the last year there have been seen some angry confrontations between northbound and southbound drivers in rush hours.  The main reason appears to be increased numbers of parked cars, which turn a two-way road into stretches of one-way without rules of priority.  Families with small children are finding the road riskier to cross because parked cars make it difficult for them to be seen by drivers, some of whom are hurrying to get through gaps.  Many residents believe that some of the parked cars belong to people seeking to avoid Pangbourne parking charges and the bridge toll. 

What are the facts?  The Traffic and Parking Action Group (TAPAG), consisting of two parish councillors and four other residents, wants to obtain firm information and then investigate solutions. This week they are distributing a letter and questionnaire to every property on the High Street in an attempt to find out the parking needs of each property and to enable them to distinguish cars of residents from those of others. 

Parish councillor Rachel Hatcher said that she very much hopes that all High Street residents will cooperate on this project by completing and returning the questionnaire by Sunday 9th July.  She also invites those not living on the High Street to submit a response if they wish, by emailing her here.

Date/Time : Thursday, 22nd June 2017 12:59