News Archive

Annual Parish Assembly on Thursday – all welcome

Once a year Whitchurch has a get-together at which representatives of all the groups in the village have a chance to say what they have been doing and tell others what their plans are.  This year’s Parish Assembly is on Thursday 25th May at 7.30 pm in the Village Hall, Manor Road.  All residents are welcome.  

An account of last year’s Assembly can be read here.

The picture (left) shows a well-known scene painted in 2015 by the late Stephen Trinder. 

 

Here is the agenda for this year's Assembly: 

1. Parish Council Chairman – report on the Parish Council Year and Financial Report 

2. County Councillor Report 

3. District Councillor Report  

4. Neighbourhood Plan Report, Residents' Issues Update

5. Roads and Traffic Report 

6. Transport Report 

7. Planning Report 

8. Allotment Report 

9. Village Organisations' Reports & Activities (5 minutes each approx):

  • Allotment Society
  • Bulletin
  • Parochial Church Council
  • Town Twinning Association  
  • Whitchurch Bridge Company
  • Whitchurch and Goring Heath History Society 
  • Whitchurch on Thames Habitat Study Group
  • Whitchurch United Charities

Date/Time : Saturday, 20th May 2017 17:58

War memorial work to begin soon

The project to restore and refurbish the war memorial near the top of the hill before the centenary of the Armistice in November 2018 is nearly ready to start, reports Peter Dragonetti, chairman of Goring Heath parish council. 

 A contract has been awarded by Goring Heath to Reading stone masons A F Jones for the work shown in this drawing prepared by Pangbourne architects Owens Galliver.  The memorial will be restored to its original height, topped by a Celtic cross to the original design, as reported with photos in our news item of 12th December 2016 (scrolling down will reach it).  The landscaping work around the memorial comprises areas of granite setting and a kerb at the roadside.  Currently the project is waiting for official approval from Oxfordshire Highways for the kerb. 

Peter reports that fund raising has been successfully completed, financial support from the War Memorial Trust having been boosted by gift-aided donations from individuals living in both the communities represented by the memorial, Whitchurch-on-Thames and Whitchurch Hill/Goring Heath, without a financial contribution from either parish council.

Whitchurch parish chairman Keith Brooks said he was delighted that the project was going ahead and he congratulated Goring Heath on their successful efforts, starting with Martin Wise's proposal in 2014, to promote the restoration and to raise funds.

Date/Time : Thursday, 18th May 2017 10:46

Open Day for Neighbourhood Plan

At least 25 residents called in at the village hall on Saturday morning to find out about the initial stage of a Neighbourhood Plan for Whitchurch and to discuss their wishes and concerns for the future of the village.  They were able to talk to members of the steering committee and examine display boards specially prepared for the occasion.  There was a questionnaire to fill in, which can also be accessed here

The members of the steering committee are: Jim Donahue (chairman), Keith Brooks, Dave Bowen, John Bradon, Charles Cotgreave, Peter Ferguson, Jean-Marc Grosfort, Sarah Hanfrey and Emily Williamson. 

Jim Donahue said: "This initial stage of the village consultation is important to understand what type of development village residents want and what their vision is for the future. The Neighbourhood Plan is the main vehicle for us to have a say in what development looks like over the next 15 years. We are lucky to have so many people from the village come forward to support development of a plan so far, but there is a lot of work required and we are looking for more villagers to get involved."

Those who missed this event are invited to come to a second Open Day on Saturday 3rd June in the Old Stables. 

One resident said he felt that Whitchurch had few development opportunities and that there was sufficient protection already in the normal planning process, especially within the conservation area. 

Parish chairman Keith Brooks said that the parish council had agreed to go ahead with the first stages of the process of creating a Neighbourhood Plan and that a decision would be taken later on whether to pursue it through to the referendum stage.  He said that many villages are currently at this exploratory stage. 

Meanwhile, anyone who wants to comment on the SODC’s overall Draft Local Plan has a few more days to do so.  The consultation ends on 17th May.

Date/Time : Sunday, 14th May 2017 16:17

‘Wotjam’ performs at The Old Stables

Leslie Meynerd and Jan Buhagiar started two years ago to assemble a group of jazz musicians who live within reach of Whitchurch.  Every Friday morning the members of Wotjam now come together from Reading, Lower Basildon, Wallingford, Basingstoke and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell to play at The Old Stables in the High Street.  Last Saturday night (29th April) they put on an evening of jazz for an audience of about 20 guests. 

The photo above shows Wotjam.  A larger one can be seen here.  Leslie is at the far right.  Jan, with tenor saxophone, is in the centre.

Leslie says:  “Last Saturday we played some well known jazz standards together with some less well known numbers such as “Funk in Deep Freeze”,” Voodoo Rex” and “Fungii Mama”.  They all seemed to be enjoyed by the audience.  Refreshments were served throughout the evening and a donation of £60 was made to St Mary’s Church.  Watch out for the next event, which will be listed in What’s On.”

Date/Time : Saturday, 6th May 2017 18:02

Kevin Bulmer re-elected as county councillor

The results of yesterday’s county council election for the Goring division were announced at 2 pm today:

Kevin Bulmer, Conservative:        1,918 votes

Laura Coyle, Liberal Democrats:     601 votes

Dave Bowen, Labour:                     393 votes

Jim Dowling, Green:                       389 votes 

The turnout was 28%.  More details from OCC here.

Date/Time : Friday, 5th May 2017 15:39

Hundreds flock to see decorated bridge

The art installation on Whitchurch toll bridge was opened today by the organisers, Gill Williamson and Alison Livesey, who expressed delight at the number and variety of the artworks and the skill of the many people, almost 100, whose work is on display. 

Among the admiring visitors were a number from the French towns of La Bouille and Houdan, twinned with Whitchurch and Pangbourne respectively.  Three Chelsea Pensioners added extra colour. 

The photo gallery on this website shows some of the knitted, woven, embroidered, collaged and painted panels and a few of the crocheted characters.  Familiar riverside creatures such as Ratty, Mole and Mr Toad are joined by more elusive ones such as the owls of Hardwick Road.  References to boating, swimming, fishing, kayaking, allotments, the Reading Festival and the Thames Barrier are there. Nature is well represented by squirrels, Canada geese, kingfishers, ducks, a heron, dragonflies and others. 

There are contributions from Whitchurch Primary School, both Twinning Associations, Pangbourne Heritage Group, Pangbourne Primary School, Pangbourne Heritage Group, Oratory School, Purley Quilting Group, Girl Guiding and others, including Action for Pangbourne Toilets. 

The Thames Path Together Community Art Project will be in place for two weeks, closing on 14th May. The Art Café is open from 10 am to 4 pm all this weekend and the next two. To donate to the project’s charitable causes: Text YARN17 to 70070 or drop some change in the boxes at the toll booth or at the Art Café.  Or visit the JustGiving page.

Date/Time : Saturday, 29th April 2017 17:51

‘Yarn bombing’ of bridge begins

Today those who have been working away in Knit & Stitch sessions in recent months were beginning to install their creations on the bridge. The picture shows Alison Livesey, crochet expert and assistant organiser of the event, admiring a Toad of Toad Hall created by a fellow enthusiast. 

Tomorrow Saturday 29th April there will be a short opening ceremony.  Participants will gather in the car park of The Boathouse Surgery from 12 noon and at 12.30 pm will walk across the bridge, led by event organiser Gill Williamson, to mark the beginning of a fortnight in which the toll bridge will be transformed by the presence of colourful art installations.  All are invited to join in the opening ceremony. 

Gill has arranged for the Art Café to be open from 10 am to 4 pm on all three days of this bank holiday weekend, at the Old Stables in the High Street. 

More information about the event and its charitable aims is given in the project brochure.  For the international background to the activity see this article

A Henley Standard article last week described the preparations for Whitchurch's unique event. 

There are more photos in the gallery.

Date/Time : Friday, 28th April 2017 15:29

Sports for young people on the village green

Designs have been obtained for two sports facilities for children and young people that might be installed near the present cricket nets on the village green.  Such facilities have been requested by a number of parents in the village and by young people themselves.  One benefit to families would be that an outdoor attraction would counteract the appeal of indoor electronic games.  But parish councillor Dave Bowen, who has been investigating the possibilities, has encountered a mixed reception to the idea so far.  He is now seeking the views of as many village residents as possible, via the village website, before deciding whether the proposal should be put to the parish council as a whole.

The proposed facilities are: 

  1. A tarmac ballcourt offering a football goalmouth with side panels at one end and a basketball hoop with backboard at each end.  The court would be marked out for football and basketball.  Bikes and scooters could also be ridden on the area. 

  2. A concrete mini skatepark, incorporating a quarter-pipe, kerbs and ramps, with wrap-around handrails at each end. 

Attached are two diagrams prepared by Sutcliffe Play Southwest Ltd.  The first one gives an idea of the appearance of the facilities, with options for the shape of the skatepark. The second (scroll down for it) shows the locations proposed, on opposite sides of the existing cricket nets.

The estimated cost is not clear but substantial grants are understood to be available for such work.

If you have views on the desirability of proceeding with (1) or (2), or both, or neither, you are invited to email your thoughts to Dave Bowen.  Or to express your opinion on our message board.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 26th April 2017 17:53

Memorial garden begins to take shape (Updated)

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks, who took the photo (left) of fellow volunteers, reports on the current state of the patch of land at the north end of Manor Road on which the derelict Polish chapel stood until its demolition in 2014: 

On Saturday morning volunteers massed with chainsaws and other gardening implements and under the direction of Jon Steward and Sally Woolhouse started to clear the waste ground that is to be the Polish Memorial Garden. Trees have been felled, scrub cleared and we are starting to see what a fantastic and valuable resource the parish council has taken on.  The possibilities might include a picnic area, wild flower meadow and nature walk, as well as a memorial to the Polish community who built the chapel there in the 1940s. Well done everyone who turned out and I am sure that this is just the start of a successful project which will attract even more support from the village in the future.

A lot of thought is being put into the project.  Here is a recent site visit report written by Sally Woolhouse, which includes a diagram of the site.

Update, Friday 28th April: 

Manor Road resident Jon Steward has pointed out that the idea for a memorial garden was his.  He said that Jack Lovegrove, Jowan Marsden and Jamie Friend had helped him with the initial job of felling trees, and Sally Woolhouse and Gill Goodwin of WoTHabs and Leslie Meynard of MOWS have been providing guidance.  He said he would like the garden to be called the Kaiser Miles memorial garden in memory of two residents of Manor Road who had connections with the chapel and its site. There will be a hazelnut copse in one area, he said, together with seats and perhaps a table, and also a memorial to the Polish community, while from the garden there is a lovely view over Coombe Park, particularly at sunset.

Date/Time : Monday, 24th April 2017 10:04

New bus service starts on 15th May

The Goring based company Going Forward Buses has announced that its new minibus route from Goring to Reading via Whitchurch, which they are calling the 142, will start earlier than expected, on 15th May. The local authority’s existing 143 bus service will continue to run until July. 

Full details of the 142 service, including the timetable, are given on this page of the company’s website. 

Parish councillor Dave Bowen said today: 

“I am pleased to announce that the new 142 Bus Service through the village will be launching on 15th May. This will provide a service to Reading via Crays Pond and Caversham that will take around 30 minutes as well as a service to Goring, Beale Park and Basildon Park. For those just looking to do a quick shop the bus will stop at Waitrose in Caversham, the Tesco Superstore at Kings Meadow or close to Marks and Spencer in the town centre. If you don't want to wait 2 hours for the return bus, the new service waits at Tesco for 30 minutes then picks up in the Town Centre giving a 40 minute shop and then Caversham where you have almost 1 hour. For those with Elderly or Disabled bus passes these are valid on the bus and Going Forward are actively encouraging those with passes to make use of the bus. The current 143 service will continue until July so there will be 2 services into Reading for a few months. Having been on the trial bus into Reading a week or so ago, I found the new route very pleasant compared to the Oxford Road route and it did not take any longer going that way.” 

Those who would like to help by occasionally driving the 142 minibus are invited to contact the company, which is recruiting standby drivers. Details are on the company’s website.

The 142 timetable will be displayed and kept up to date on our Links page (Buses, Trains and Taxis) which shows the current bus timetable.

Date/Time : Thursday, 20th April 2017 14:32

Vote for a county councillor on 4th May (Updated)

Theresa May has announced a general election for 8th June but well before that time we have the Oxfordshire County Council elections on Thursday 4th May, with voting in Whitchurch Village Hall between 7 am and 10 pm. 

The Goring Division elects one county councillor and there are four candidates standing for election: Dave Bowen (Labour), Kevin Bulmer (Conservative), Laura Coyle (Liberal Democrat) and Jim Dowling (Green). 

Two of the candidates are Whitchurch residents: Dave Bowen of Heron’s Reach, Eastfield Lane, and Jim Dowling of Flat 3, The Mount, Hardwick Road.  The other candidates are from Goring and Streatley.  Kevin Bulmer, the current county councillor, is also district councillor for the Goring ward and chairman of Goring parish council. 

The names of each candidate’s proposers, seconders and assentors are listed on page 7 of 13 of the Statement of Persons Nominated

Candidates’ manifesto leaflets are likely to be delivered to village residents in coming days.

Update, Saturday 22nd April:

Kevin Bulmer’s wife Mary, distributing leaflets for her husband in Whitchurch this morning, said she could not help feeling a degree of divided loyalty as the Green party candidate Jim Dowling, managing director of Oxford Renewables in Path Hill, is her son. 

Date/Time : Wednesday, 19th April 2017 17:53

Bridge parapet to bloom with artworks

The footpath across the toll bridge will be transformed into a riot of colour later this month, a spectacle likely to attract many visitors.  The Thames Path Together community art project, dreamed up by Art Café organiser Gill Williamson, will be opened on the morning of Saturday 29th April and will be on display for two weeks. 

Full details of what is involved are given in the project brochure. (Note: there are two pages.)  Panels displaying knitted designs, weaving, needlework, painting and collage will be attached to the parapet.  Visitors will be invited to make donations for distribution to the community charities involved in the Art Café up to now – no fewer than 22 of them. They will also be able to submit bids for the artworks. 

Gill, the event organiser, explains: 

The community has been working together since last October to create artworks based on the Thames Path. The starting point was yarn bombing – a form of street art where public spaces are covered in knitting and crochet. By expanding the definition of yarn to mean any spun thread, artists, needle workers and weavers, as well as individuals, art and craft clubs and community groups have joined us to offer an imaginative display of artworks. 

Pangbourne and Whitchurch on Thames are divided by a river and united by a bridge. The Thames Path Together community art project is a celebration of Whitchurch Bridge and the Thames Path that has brought us together to make and exhibit art and to raise money for charitable and community causes. 

The picture above shows two participants enjoying a Knit & Stitch workshop session in the Old Stables.  There are more pictures in the Photo Gallery. 

Whitchurch Bridge director Geoff Weir said the company was delighted to support the project.  With many more people expected to be using the footpath than usual, safety issues have had to be carefully considered and special signs will be in place to warn drivers, he said.

Date/Time : Monday, 17th April 2017 14:35

Planning for potential new bus route continues

On Friday, Dave Bowen, the parish councillor coordinating Whitchurch’s input into the planning of the new bus service, went with Mike Ward from Going Forward buses on a test run of the potential new bus route through Whitchurch. Dave says that a lot of thought is going into the route and timetable and provided this update to Facebook users at the weekend:

“…The route starts in Goring and connects with the 134 to Wallingford. This would provide an easy bus route from Whitchurch to Wallingford. From Goring the bus goes over the bridge and then past Basildon Park and Beale Park. At Pangbourne it stops at the station and then across Whitchurch Bridge. It then follows the 143 route up the hill and through Whitchurch Hill past the Sun and back onto the main Road. At Crays pond it turns right to pick up the A4074. It turns off the A4074, just before Caversham and then stops at Caversham Library, opposite Waitrose. From here it goes across Reading Bridge and stops at Blagrave Street near to Marks and Spencer. From here the bus goes to the Tesco Superstore at Kings Meadow.

This is where a lot of thought has gone into the timetable. The bus stays at Tesco for 30 mins so you have time to get your shopping and get back on the bus home. The added benefit is the bus stops right outside so you can wheel your trolley right up to the bus. It then goes back to Blagrave Street giving you 40 minutes to do a Marks and Spencer or town centre shop and still get the same bus back. From here it's back to Caversham and for those who prefer Waitrose get almost an hour to get your shopping with time left for a coffee and cake and can still get the same bus back. I thought this was particularly good and allowed people to get their shopping without having to wait 2 hours for the return bus. There is of course buses throughout the day for longer stays. Journey times were comparable to the current 143 times to Reading. The journey through the back roads to Reading was very pleasant compared to the Oxford Road. Another great feature is the bus is likely to be "hail and ride" so the driver will stop almost anywhere on the route for people. The only exception is on the A4074 where it would have to be the bus stops.”

An update on the bus service in Whitchurch is on the agenda at the Parish Council meeting on Wednesday, this week.

Date/Time : Monday, 10th April 2017 12:12

Whitchurch Web improved and re-launched

Viewers may not have spotted much that is different, but early this morning the Whitchurch Web was re-launched with significant changes.  The website is now ‘device-responsive’ so that the layout of the columns varies with the size of the screen on which it is viewed.  This is needed as many people are now browsing the web on mobile phones and tablets instead of laptops and desktops.  So now, for example, we have delights such as ‘liquid text’ that flows to occupy the changing width of a window on the screen and a ‘hamburger menu’, the three line icon that keeps the menu accessible when there is not enough room to show it in full.  Various other improvements have been introduced, including greater width for material on the back pages. 

Phil Weir, our London-based IT advisor and website host, deserves the thanks of the Whitchurch community for a lot of work over several months in achieving the new design.  Phil, son of Geoff and Meryl Weir, spent his early life in Whitchurch and created our first village website from the family home 17 years ago.  Since moving to London and becoming an IT professional he has continued to maintain it in good shape and continuously improve it, all without requesting any payment from the village for his professional services, beyond a very small annual fee to cover the cost of website registration.  Thank you, Phil.

Date/Time : Saturday, 1st April 2017 15:06

Beale Park chairman dies (UPDATED with memorial details)

Richard Howard, who lived at Walliscote House, Whitchurch, died on 18th March at the age of 80.  A private funeral was held on 29th March.  He is survived by his wife Sally, his daughter Suzie, his sons William, Andrew, James and Duncan, his step-children Amba and Selby, 13 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren. 

His daughter Suzie says that from the age of 17 her father worked with his great uncle Gilbert Beale, who started the Child Beale Trust in Pangbourne in 1956, dedicating 350 acres of Thames-side parkland for wildlife conservation.  In 1966 Richard moved with his first wife Sheila and their five children into Coombe Park, Whitchurch, the residence of his great aunt Lillian Howard, née Burgess, who had been married to Charles Howard.  Earlier on, Charles had received the Coombe Park estate as a wedding present from Lillian’s parents. 

Gilbert Beale died in 1967 at the age of 99, having assembled a collection of over 300 Indian Peafowl.  Beale Park is now a charitable trust run by a board of trustees, specialising in the captive breeding of rare birds and mammals.  As chairman of the trustees, Richard Howard held his final board meeting in the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, three days before he died. 

There will be a memorial celebration of his life at Beale Park, where his legacy lives on, at a date to be arranged in May.

Update, 16th April:

A memorial to celebrate the life of Richard Percival Howard will take place on Thursday 18th May 2017 between 3.30 and 6 pm at Beale Park, Lower Basildon, Pangbourne RG8 9NW.  Any donations will be shared amongst the Ostler Chest Ward at the John Radcliffe Hospital and The Beale Park.

Date/Time : Friday, 31st March 2017 17:42

Overweight lorries and how to report them

Two days ago the driver of this articulated lorry found himself at the toll booth.  He was warned that he would not be able to fit under the railway bridge in Pangbourne but allowed to continue across the toll bridge to turn around at Thames Avenue, an easier feat than trying to back up to Eastfield Lane. 

The driver should not have been passing through the village (see Weight Limits in Whitchurch) and has been reported to OCC Trading Standards who will decide what action to take.  If the driver denies being there, evidence is available from the bridge’s CCTV camera. 

Bridge Company director Geoff Weir has kindly offered to help Whitchurch residents make more effective reports on overweight lorries.  If you see an overweight lorry in the village, you can let Geoff know by email and he will produce a date-stamped CCTV photograph of the offending lorry, if it reached the toll booth.  He needs to know the time accurately so that he can locate the image.  He will then report the event to officers with whom he is familiar at OCC Trading Standards.

Date/Time : Thursday, 30th March 2017 14:25

Tony Voysey has died (updated again)

Tony Voysey, well known Whitchurch resident, died yesterday (Sunday 19th March). He was 84. He was taken ill suddenly in the morning and died later in the Royal Berkshire Hospital.  The arrangements for a funeral will be announced in due course. 

Tony, who lived in the High Street, was an active member of the Whitchurch community, involved in various roles in the Church, Riparians, History Society, Theatre Club, Whitchurch Society, Bowls Club and Bridge Club.  He was also a volunteer fundraiser for the RNLI for 50 years.  Last Friday he was playing in a charity bridge drive in Goring and on Saturday he was at the Art Café. 

Tony’s wife Joyce died in 1999.  He is survived by his son John and his daughter Linda.  

(Photo by Nick Brazil)

Update, 31st March, an announcement by the family:

The funeral will be held at St Mary's Church, Whitchurch, on Tuesday 11th April at 1.30 pm.  The service will be followed by tea and cake in the Old Stables (next to the church) while we as the immediate family attend a private committal at the crematorium.

Family flowers only, please. In the light of Tony’s 50 years' service as a volunteer fundraiser for the RNLI, we ask that any donations in lieu of flowers  are sent to the funeral directors: Coop Funeral Care at 75-81 Southampton Street Reading RG1 2QU, or direct to the RNLI, mentioning Tony’s name.

We very much hope that the service will be a celebration of Tony’s long and full life. Please feel free to wear whatever you are comfortable in; black is not obligatory.

All are welcome - however, to give us an idea of the numbers to cater for please let Linda know that you plan to attend, via email by 6th April. Thank you.

We look forward to seeing you on 11th April. Any queries, please email Linda as above.

Linda, John, Carol, Paul, Ian and Erin

Date/Time : Monday, 20th March 2017 19:14

Would you like to get to know some alpacas?

Mary-Jo Smith of Bozedown Alpacas is planning to offer members of the public the opportunity to take a walk with the animals.  Each visitor would be invited to lead an alpaca.  For this plan to work she wants to recruit some members of the local community to act as guides to small groups of visitors. Here is what she says: 

Do you have a few hours to spare at least once a week? Would you like to get to know alpacas better? Would you like to guide small groups of visitors leading alpacas around our farm?

If so, come and see what’s involved, learn the basics and have a go on Tuesday 21st March at 2 pm. If you are interested and can't make the 21st, please still get in touch.

Call or email me  -  Mary-Jo 

maryjo@bozedown-alpacas.co.uk, 0118 984 3827, or 07718 750 303.

Date/Time : Thursday, 16th March 2017 12:21

High Street given a new seat

Behind the new flower beds at the entrance to Church Drive an elegant wooden seat has recently been installed, carrying the inscription ‘In Loving Memory of Pockets Remington, 1923-2016’. 

Some people may be wondering who Pockets was and how she got her name. She is shown in the picture. The seat has been kindly donated to the village by her husband Stan Remington, 90, who lives in The Walled Garden House nearby.  Here he tells us something about his late wife: 

Pockets was born Isabella Morrice, to a farming family in a croft in Aberdeenshire.  Breaking the family tradition, she was determined to be a nurse.  However her height was under five feet, which prevented her from being accepted by the Royal Hospital in Aberdeen, and she joined a children’s hospital instead.  Here a rather large sister, on meeting her, said her size was such that she would fit in her pocket and she became known as Pockets, a name which she adopted.  She became a state registered nurse in 1948, the first year of the National Health Service. 

I met her in the Prince of Wales hospital in Tottenham where she was caring for my brother who had suffered a rugby injury. We were married in 1954.  Happily the marriage stood the test of time and we celebrated our diamond anniversary in 2014. 

We moved to Whitchurch in 1980, by which time our daughters Shirley, a doctor, and Sylvia, in pharmaceuticals, were already grown up.  I worked in book publishing in London.  Pockets was a much loved mother and grandmother to our daughters and our three granddaughters, two of whom have also become doctors.  (Photo when they were young.) In Whitchurch she was an active member of the Women’s Institute and found time for her great interests of needlework, embroidery and gardening. 

She died peacefully with me beside her in the Royal Berkshire Hospital on 14th March 2016, aged 92. 

Date/Time : Tuesday, 14th March 2017 16:58

Local girl aims for the Olympics

Emily Brown, 15, from Hill Bottom in Whitchurch Hill, has always wanted to be an ice skating champion.  Last year she and her partner James won a silver medal in the British championships.  Her sights are now set on selection for the 2018 championships in Bulgaria, with a later ambition towards the Olympic squad.  Her story is told in this article in the Henley Standard. 

Emily recently received a grant from the Whitchurch United Charities, to be used towards her tuition and choreography fees.  Sally Woolhouse, treasurer, said that Emily’s parents are making considerable sacrifices to enable their daughter to achieve her goal and the trustees agreed to support her efforts.  Generally the charity supports educational needs but at the end of the recent half-year year there was money unallocated, enabling trustees to take a broader view. 

Whitchurch United Charities traces its history back to a legacy of £1 made by Augustine Knapp in 1602.  More about it here.

Date/Time : Wednesday, 8th March 2017 17:48

New bus route chosen

The Going Forward Bus company has decided on a route for the minibus that it hopes will be replacing the 143 bus service after July.  The minibus will provide a service into Reading for a number of communities in both Berkshire and Oxfordshire. The route is shown in blue on this map. The minibus will start from Goring, go past Basildon Park and Beale Park, then through Pangbourne, Whitchurch, Crays Pond, Goring Heath, Kidmore End, Caversham and into Reading. The service will return along the same route.

Dave Bowen, the parish councillor coordinating Whitchurch’s input into the planning of the new service, says that Mike Ward of Going Forward Buses is now thinking about the timetable and particularly about the first and last services. He would appreciate comments from likely users as to whether there is any demand for an early bus into Reading for the start of the working day and also for a later bus for coming home from work. Comments should be sent to Dave Bowen.

Date/Time : Monday, 6th March 2017 18:23

New landlord at The Greyhound

Andy Prior, who has been chef at The Greyhound for the last five months, said yesterday on the pub’s Facebook page:  “It is with great pleasure that I announce that I am the new landlord at The Greyhound, Whitchurch on Thames.  Please bear with me during the transition while I sort out card machines etc.  No food this week, but feel free to drop in for a bite to eat from this Saturday.  I look forward to seeing you soon!”

The new landlord joined the pub last October, recruited by his predecessor Ray Cameron, who had re-opened the pub two months earlier.  Before that Andy spent five years working at The Rowbarge at Woolhampton.  Ray left the village earlier this week.

Andy will be assisted by part-time barman Robin and has announced a special event for the evening of Saturday 18th March, a 70s-80s Disco with free admission. 

Date/Time : Thursday, 2nd March 2017 16:15

MOWS adds colour to the High Street

Signs of planting by the volunteers of Make Our Whitchurch Special (MOWS) are now evident. The photo shows Leslie Meynerd with some of the shrubs sponsored by the parish council. 

Leslie said she wanted to thank that those who helped in the recent work: her husband David, Andy Heaps, Geoff Weir and Sally Woolhouse.  She would love to see some volunteers, perhaps even some new faces, turning up to assist her in laying a membrane for further planting at 10.30 next Saturday morning, 4th March. 

Parish chairman Keith Brooks said today: “When the display at the entrance to the church is finished it will be a credit to the village and a demonstration of how residents give up their spare time to keep Whitchurch a wonderful place to live in.  The Parish Council on behalf of the village would like to thank those who put themselves out to do this good work.”

Date/Time : Tuesday, 28th February 2017 16:15

Call for volunteer bus drivers

Have you always wanted to drive a bus?  An opportunity is coming soon when the 143 bus service is replaced from July this year by a new minibus service run by Going Forward Buses, a community interest company based in Goring.  The company is run by Mike Ward, who has recently started running replacements for Goring’s 133 and 134 services.  He now needs to buy a second minibus and recruit more drivers to replace our 143 service.  Whitchurch and Goring Heath parish councils are jointly working with Mr Ward to get this up and running. 

Whitchurch parish councillors recently agreed to pay £4,125 to West Berkshire Council as part of the village’s share of the 143 bus subsidy, which continues until July when it is hoped that the new local service can start.  Councillor Dave Bowen explained that “as Going Forward Buses is a not-for-profit based company its expenses are somewhat less than Thames Travel’s, so it should be more viable.” 

Full details of the requirements for volunteer bus drivers to help in running the new service can be found on the Going Forward Buses website under Could you help by driving occasionally? .

Date/Time : Thursday, 23rd February 2017 12:35

Whitchurch to help Pangbourne keep loos open

On 13th February Antoinette Solera and Mike Fellows, representing the Action for Pangbourne Toilets Community Trust (APTCT), told Whitchurch parish council about their progress towards re-opening the public toilets in the Pangbourne village hall car park.  They said they had received pledges of £4,000 from local residents and a grant from Pangbourne parish council of £3,000 towards their £10,000 target.  Whitchurch councillors voted unanimously to donate a sum of £750. 

The APTTC trustees issued this statement yesterday:

There is lots of good news to report as we move steadily towards our goal to re-open Station Road Toilets.

Our application to the Charity Commission was successful, so APTCT is now a fully registered charity. Our official charitable status means we can now work on agreeing the 99 year lease agreement with West Berkshire Council and setting up our bank account - in the coming weeks we will be in touch with donors who have generously pledged financial support. 

Meanwhile both Pangbourne and Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Councils have kindly agreed to grant a donation to our re-opening fund. This means we are now much closer to our initial target of £10,000 to partially re-open the building (the single cubicle and the disabled toilet) and to pay for cleaning and maintenance for 12 months. 

Recently residents may have seen contractors carrying out works at the toilet block. West Berkshire Council has carried out some essential health & safety work, redecoration and basic repairs which will help us to ensure that the toilets, once re-opened will provide a clean and safe environment for visitors. 

We look forward to announcing the re-opening of the toilets as soon as we can - and if you would like to pledge a financial donation or offer practical help, please contact us at actionforpangbournetoilets@gmail.com . 

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Dog fouling in Whitchurch

On a (loosely) related subject, the parish council also discussed the problem of dog mess on footpaths and green spaces in our village.  A video of a dog-fouling incident had recently been given to PCSO Mark Bell, who would be speaking to the dog owner concerned.  Councillors agreed to purchase ten dog-fouling signs for display around the village, to remind owners of the importance of clearing up after their pet.

Date/Time : Tuesday, 21st February 2017 16:44

Litter cleanup on Saturday 4th March

Whitchurch will be taking part in the Great British Spring Clean on the first weekend in March. The parish council has decided to back the nationwide campaign led by Keep Britain Tidy and has registered the village. 

Parish council chairman Keith Brooks is looking for volunteers to spend a couple of hours picking up litter around the village, starting at 10 am on Saturday 4th March. Litter pickers, sacks, gloves and high visibility jackets will be available. Volunteers are invited to contact him for further details. 

Keith says: “I look forward to hearing from you. Let’s make this a success in Whitchurch!”

Date/Time : Wednesday, 15th February 2017 10:26

Primary School wins sports award

Whitchurch Primary School has been awarded the accolade of SPORTING PRIMARY SCHOOL OF THE YEAR in the 11th annual Oxfordshire Sports Awards.  The event was organised by Oxfordshire Sport & Physical Activity (OxSPA). 

Whitchurch beat runners-up Larkhill Primary and Wantage Church of England Primary.  More information here

OxSPA, a partnership run by Oxfordshire County Council, states that its vision is to make Oxfordshire the most physically active county in England by 2017.

Date/Time : Saturday, 28th January 2017 16:29

An alternative to the 143 Bus is in sight

The parish council has been discussing the replacement of Thames Travel’s 143 bus service with a minibus service to be run by a recently formed Community Interest Company (CIC) based in Goring. The company is Going Forward Buses, which is currently preparing to take over the running of another service, the 134 from Goring to Wallingford. 

Parish councillor Dave Bowen provided this update to Facebook users yesterday:

“Yesterday evening, Keith Brooks, myself and Peter Dragonetti from Goring Heath PC met with Mike Ward from Going Forward Bus's CIC which Mike has set up as a Community based Bus Company with a view to Going Forward running a community based bus in place of their current 143. As a Not for profit community based company Going Forward are able to recoup 100% of the average fare of OAP and Disabled concessionary pass holders from the County Council where as a commercial company, such as Thames Travel are only able to recoup 30% of the fare. Coupled with the not for profit concept this makes running the bus much more viable and would almost certainly reduce any subsidy the Parish Councils would need to pay.

From last night’s discussion there are various routes that Mike would be keen to look at. Essentially the Bus would start at Goring, run through Basildon past Beale Park to Pangbourne. From there it would cross the bridge and up to Goring Heath, past the Sun and White Lion at Crays Pond. From there it would go through Tokers Green, Kidmore End and into Reading. This would provide the quickest route to Reading however other routes may provide more usage by passing through other villages. Timings on this route are comparable to the current 143.

An alternative route could take in Woodcote and Stoke Row, and another alternative could see Henley rather than Reading as the final destination. Mike is very keen to provide a service in other areas that have been left without a bus. The Henley suggestion would allow for connections to Oxford and Reading using the X40 from Woodcote so Reading is still a destination.

We have discussed hours of running and it seems that the peak morning and evening services of around 8 am and 6pm are not particularly financially viable so we are looking for feedback whether this is something people do use.

In terms of route we would very much like to hear your feedback on routes to assist Mike in which route may be viable. Would people be keen to change buses for a service to Oxford and Reading so we gain a Henley Service or perhaps a fast direct route to Reading would be preferable?”  

There is an explanation of CICs, limited companies which operate to provide a benefit to the community, on the Going Forward Buses website.

 

Update 24th January:  The Henley Standard today published an article on the subject. 

Date/Time : Friday, 20th January 2017 14:21

Village hall to be refurbished, not sold

The parish council has decided to invest in improvements to the present village hall in Manor Road.  The scheme put forward early last year (news archive, 25.3.16) to sell it off, build affordable housing on the site and invest the proceeds in a new combined village hall and sports pavilion on the village green, is not being pursued. 

The reason is a legal condition in the agreement under which the village hall was sold by SODC to the parish council for a nominal sum many years ago.  The agreement gives SODC the option to buy it back for a mere £4,000 in the event of a sale.  The estimated £550,000 sale proceeds would not be available for the construction of a new combined building on the village green. 

The parish council decided at a meeting earlier this month (draft minutes on the Parish Council page) to have the condition of the village hall professionally assessed in order to plan a programme of improvements. 

As a separate project, the design of a new sports pavilion on the village green will be considered again by the village green working group, which includes representatives of the cricket club and other interested parties. The parish council will be investigating the availability of grants. 

The parish council is asking to hear from anyone who is interested in helping with the management of the village hall, which is registered as a charity.  Please email parish clerk Felipa House to express interest or to hear more.

Date/Time : Friday, 20th January 2017 14:12

Two M4 motorway bridges need repair

Highways England has announced that two bridges supporting the motorway near Bradfield, between Junctions 12 and 13 of the M4, are suffering from chloride-induced concrete corrosion.  Repair work will start in mid-February, taking around seven months and involving weekday overnight closures and three full weekend closures of the motorway.  Dark Lane and Ashampstead Road, which pass under the motorway, will be closed for about two months. 

There is more information here

The picture above shows a similar bridge elsewhere.

Date/Time : Monday, 16th January 2017 19:21

Skateboarding area for children requested

A 13-year-old girl wrote to the chairman of the parish council last month asking for a place to be provided for skateboarding.  Yesterday her mother Maureen O’Brien, who lives in Old Gardens, persuaded the parish council that the idea should be seriously considered.  She said that it was vital for young people to have outdoor opportunities as an alternative to screen time and suggested a location on the village green between the cricket nets and Muddy Lane where she felt it should be possible to install a skating ramp and perhaps also a basketball net. 

There was support from councillors for the idea in principle, but recognition that it might not be universally popular. Jim Donahue, deputy chairman, pointed out that a village survey had shown 23% support for a skateboard facility and 55% for a basketball net.  

Maureen offered to put together a detailed proposal with costs and it was agreed that this would be considered at the next council meeting. 

Maureen said she would like anyone who wished to make suggestions, or to support the idea, to contact her by email

Date/Time : Tuesday, 10th January 2017 16:18

Activities for young families

  1. The Whitchurch Web today has a new feature designed to help parents of young children to find play groups in the Whitchurch area.  Laura Lucas, who has a young child and lives in Swanston Field, has compiled two lists, one of free drop-in sessions and the other of payable ones.  Babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers are all catered for.

Laura’s lists can be seen by visiting the Schools and Young People page (menu on the left), third paragraph down, where two links will be found. 

As an introduction to the lists, Laura focuses below on two local playgroups, one well-established and one brand new: 

  • Tots on the Hill (pictured) is a long-running playgroup within the village of Whitchurch Hill.  “We warmly welcomes parents, carers and their pre-schoolers to join us for our weekly stay-and-play sessions, which take place at the Goring Heath Parish Hall (there is plenty of parking in the adjacent car park).  Sessions run on Wednesdays during term times, between 10-11:30am, and include free play with our wide range of toys suitable for babies and pre-schoolers, a healthy snack, and a song time.  And, of course, tea, biscuits and good company for carers as standard!  Each session is priced at £2 per adult & child, with an additional 50p per extra child, and newcomers are made very welcome.  For further details, please contact Emily Dalton at emilydalton@outlook.com.” 

  • Next week sees the start of a new, local playgroup for pre-school aged children.  The Little Ducklings toddler group will be run by 2Wild (www.2wild.co.uk) on Fridays 10-11.30am at Path Hill Farm, Goring Heath.  Although 2Wild have been providing outdoor activities for adults and children for some years, this is their first group aimed at preschoolers.  Children will explore nature, sing songs and play in the great outdoors. Facilities include yurts for inclement weather!  The group is already proving popular, so please pre-book on 984 2500 to avoid disappointment!  Tea and coffee for adults and a snack for little ones included.  £5 per child and sibling discounts available.

Date/Time : Friday, 6th January 2017 12:50