Issue 114

1st March
1st June 2012

Please click a heading or just scroll down to read the articles, click the Up arrow to return here

Front Cover by Micky Thompson

At the time of writing in early February, the temperature outside is minus 2.5 at midday. I am sure that you all remember it well. One of the really good things about winter is how much spring is appreciated, once it arrives. With the days once more starting to lengthen, the snowdrops are up, promising warmer days ahead.

The cover picture this issue of a mother with her lamb, is yet another symbol of the new life that is starting to burst forth as the season starts to get underway in earnest.

With so much photographic opportunity I am sure that many of you will be moved to capture inspiring images. Remember that during HADCAF the art exhibition in the Corn Exchange is open to everyone. Why not enter a photograph, and the best time to start thinking about it is right now.

Micky Thompson

Message from the Chairman of CHAIN

Well when you read this Spring will be on its way but as I was writing it the temperatures were well below zero. Christmas was so mild the cold snap in February was a shock to everyone. As I said in the last Chain Mail, our Christmas Lights would be one of the best in the South of England and I think they were the definitely the best, so thanks to Rod and his team.

Chain has many volunteers and I decided it was time to thank them all for their efforts, so in January I held a ‘Thank You Tea Party’ in The Cygnet Room at The Three Swans. Over 70 volunteers came and it was a lovely afternoon. There were Volunteer Car Drivers, Handybus Drivers, Office Staff and Chain Mail Links and they were able to meet each other over tea and cakes. Thanks to the staff at the Three Swans for making it such a great afternoon which i am sure will be repeated. It certainly made me realise that Chain has well over 100 volunteers and they all help make Chain the wonderful caring organisation it is today.

The Office have said goodbye to two of their regular volunteers, Margaret Williams and June Rowland and I would like to thank them for all their years of help in the office.

If you need transport to a surgery or hospital appointment please ring the office as soon as you receive the appointment so the office staff has time to book a driver for you. The office is open every weekday between 9.00 and 11.00 on 683727.

Volunteers are still needed so if you can help in any way as a Car Driver, Handybus Driver or Office Volunteer please call into the office or ring them 683727, or ring me on 683302.

Best Wishes, Janette Kersey


Well the New Year started with the great loss in Hungerford of dear Robin Tubb. Robin had been a fascinating contributor of odd jottings and past happenings in our Hungerford CHAIN MAIL, so it’s a sad goodbye to Artie.

The Friends of Chestnut Walk also say goodbye.

Railway improvement works started on January 30th, no end date is known at this time! The Croft Road Railway Bridge has a road closure Thursday 5th April to Monday 9th April according to Network Rail (will it be just these days?), so be prepared to go down Parsonage Lane.

Did you know that Martin’s Newsagents, High St. new telephone number is 684868

So CHAIN is 35 years old this year, as a relative newcomer to Hungerford I think that this is an achievement to be very proud of. If you want to find out more about CHAIN go to click on ‘Community’ on the left, this brings up the latest CHAIN MAIL. Then on the left of the CHAIN logo click on volunteering.

Ron Rowland has written The Story of CHAIN 1977—2012 which is available on CHAIN MAIL’s web page as a pdf download for you, or there is a copy in the Library (Local History section)

Thanks & Regards, David Piper
Tel: 01488-683152

Letters, articles and adverts should be sent to me by the 7th of the month preceding publication, i.e.7th Mayfor the issue on June1st. If you send something to me I try to acknowledge within 3 days. No reply from me then I have not got it, so please re-send.

Hungerford Mayor

Discovering Hungerford. It may seem strange writing about how you might discover the town in which we live when most residents, especially those who have lived here for many years if not their whole lives, could find most of those areas in and around town that make it so special. However, if you are a visitor to Hungerford, how would you know where to start looking for those hidden treasures?

You could start at the town map that is featured under the railway bridge or on the wall of the library, but even there you cannot find a reference to the River Kennet, surely one of the most treasured features of the town. Whilst many a tourist is content with a small map, it might be a little more helpful if there were some handy signs that would direct them to their destination or in some cases introduce them to what is available. For instance, how would a visitor know how to get to Freeman’s Marsh, (let alone the Wirly (Ash) Pool) from the station, assuming that they were aware of its existence? Whilst asking a local for directions would elicit the answer in the usual courteous Hungerford way, we don’t go around with ‘local’ stamped on our foreheads.

With this issue in mind, your Council is embarking upon a programme to place some directional signs around town to guide our visitors and make their stay here that much more pleasurable. We shall be trialling a few different designs (using existing posts) and I should be pleased to receive comments on the style and usefulness over the next month or so in order to gauge the level of support before expanding the scheme around the town.

Visitors or Tourists. The economic fortunes of Hungerford rely heavily upon the number of spending visitors we attract and one of the aims of your Council, in conjunction with the Town and Manor and the Chamber of Commerce, is to convert as many visitors into tourists who can base themselves here and tour the North Wessex Downs. If we are to be successful in this aim, we need to know what they like and dislike about the town so that we may address areas of concern. To do this we shall be conducting a series of street interviews with the help of teams of volunteers including 6th formers from The John O’Gaunt College. If you are approached and are a resident, do not be disappointed to be politely thanked and not asked to participate further. We shall be publishing the results in due course.

Cllr Martin Crane O.B.E. Mayor of Hungerford

Ed’s comment, Sorry about the quality of the signs, all due to the pdf Martin received!

Chain’s Page

Also on this page……..4wheel drive……..Bruce Trust…

An ongoing appeal from CHAIN

We are looking to replace our ‘Chairman’ vehicle and if anyone would like to make a donation towards the cost we would be very grateful.
The new vehicle will be a Renault Kangoo which will cost £17,250.00 plus VAT and we will be using £5,000 from our reserves.


The ‘Chairman’ is used to takepeople who are in wheelchairs to hospital appointments, stroke clubs, family visits, etc. Sometimes our own drivers are used or family members drive the vehicle (after training).

Please make your kind donation through this enables Greenham Common trust to collate all the donations, attract 22% gift aid, and the Trust will then possibly contribute up to £5000 towards our project to replace our ageing vehicle

Do you drive an all terrain vehicle ?

When it’s needed most, could you offer a little help by becoming an
ICED Driver ?

ICED stands for In Case of Emergency Drivers – and as part of Warm in West Berkshire, we are recruiting volunteer drivers with 4 x 4 and all terrain vehicles willing to help out in local communities in severe weather conditions. From collecting prescriptions to emergency provisions delivered to people in the community, ICED drivers are needed now.

Call 01635 49004 now to find out more and we will put you in touch with your local volunteer car scheme of which there are ten in West Berkshire



Providing canal holidays for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people

Since 1990 over 13,000 disabled, disadvantaged and elderly people, together
with their carers, have enjoyed holidays cruising on the Kennet & Avon Canal
on our four specially-designed, purpose-built, wide-beam canal boats.

We need more Voluntary Helpers between March and October to join us for a couple of hours on occasional Friday or Saturday mornings at Great Bedwyn, near Marlborough, or Sunday mornings at Lower Foxhanger, near Devizes, to help prepare the boats.
Each boat requires a team made up the following roles:-
Team Leader External Engineer Internal Engineer
Pump-out Person 2 x Internal Cleaners External Cleaner

We also need Voluntary Helpers to skipper and crew the boats for day trips and to assist us with our fundraising efforts. It’s fun, anyone can do it and there’s always a cuppa and a piece of cake available, so why not come and join our friendly team?

Contact: Rebecca Bruce, The Bruce Trust, PO Box 21, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 9YY
Tel: 01264 356451, Email:
Registered Charity Number: 800402

Letters & E-mails

Letter below received from David & Janet Long
Dear Sue,

Thank you very much for the support you gave us again in 2011 leading up to Christmas.

Over two thousand Newbury Weekly News food parcels were distributed on the 9th and 10th December thanks to donations and fundraising which this year brought in £20,000 during the months leading up to Christmas. This meant the food parcels were full of even more goodies than in previous years.

I thought you might be interested in seeing some snippets from thank you letters…..

What a lovely surprise I had this morning! A beautiful clear sunny morning; a knock on my door, and a sweet young man delivering my food parcel; wishing me a Merry Christmas with a smile. Now really life is still full of good things isn’t it?

In these dark and dismal times we live, this is a shining light that cheers and warms ones spirit. Thanking you so much.

My husband and I were like a couple of children as we unpacked and discovered so many useful, and acceptable goodies. Thank you is so inadequate for how we feel. How good it is to be thought about in such a kind way.

It was a truly lovely parcel! Am looking forward to having a bowl of steaming hot porridge!!

Yours sincerely, Joanne Fulker Co-ordinator – NWN Over 80s’ Christmas Parcel Fund

Dear Ed, Please pop this in………..

Poppy Appeal 2011 Update

Once again a very big thank you to everyone who supported the Poppy Appeal in 2011.
As of the end of January the total is £21,729.04, just over £2,500 more than for 2010.

Shelagh Parry January 2012

Dear Chairman of CHAIN, Janette Kersey,

Thank you for the very enjoyable tea party for CHAIN volunteers in January. Having only recently become involved, I was amazed to see the Cygnet Room at the Three Swans bursting at the seams with CHAIN volunteers! It is very impressive to see how CHAIN organises such an army of enthusiastic people working to improve the quality of life in our lovely market town.

We are very fortunate to live in Hungerford: a very special town with CHAIN and the very many other organisations that do so much to make the town a community.

Yours sincerely, A new CHAIN volunteer


Bits 1

Also on this page……………Town Band………….Kick Boxing……
……………………….. ….Vivaldi Concert……..Love on the Tracks

Hungerford & District Community Arts Festival

29th June – 22nd July 2012

Coming as it does between the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics, this year’s HADCAF might be thought to have both a hard act to follow and a hard time competing with the imminent Games. However, undaunted, the Festival organisers have set their sights on producing a programme to rival the excitement and match the celebratory mood. After all, 2012 is also HADCAF’s 21st birthday!

Please mark the dates in your diary, and keep an eye on the Festival website ( for updates as events are confirmed. The Festival brochure and tickets will be available from the last week of May, and brief details of the programme will be listed in the next issue of CHAIN MAIL.

Advance notice: the Art, Craft & Photography Exhibition, which is open to all, will be held in the Corn Exchange on the weekend of 14th and 15th July – plenty of time to get creative! Please contact Kath Nurse on 01488 657525 or email for more information.

If you would like to open your garden to visitors during the Festival, Beryl Fowler would be pleased to hear from you on 01488 684901.
or e-mail Elizabeth Davis

Hungerford Town Band

Tues 17th April –Tutti Day open rehearsal –
town hall – 7.30pm

Monday 7th May – Shalbourne Fayre

Sat12th May – Annual Concert –
Hungerford Town Hall – 7.30pm

Sun 27th May – Open Air Concert –
Newbury Bandstand – 3pm

Saturday 2nd June – Jubilee Celebration Concert


Hungerford KickBoxing School

KickBoxing is a modern Martial Art that can provide increased confidence, improves fitness and teaches the art of self-defence. We have classes for different age groups, abilities and we cater for all types of student – young or old, fit or “should be fitter” we have a class that will suit you.

Mondays at theHungerford Leisure Centre, Priory Road,
Hungerford, Berkshire. RG17 0AN .

Juniors 5:30pm – 6:30pm. Adults 7:00pm – 8.30pm

Fridays at the Kintbury Leisure Centre, Inkpen Road, Kintbury,
Berkshire. RG17 9TU.

Juniors 5:30 pm – 6:30pm. Adults 6.30pm – 8.00pm

Contact: 07787997746 or

Back to the Top

The Glory of Vivaldi

By the Southern Sinfonia, Conducted by David Hill

9th March 2012 – 7.30pm St Lawrence Church, Hungerford
Four Seasons, Double Violin Concerto, Bach – Cantata

Box Office – Crown Needlework at Bossoms, 115 High Street, Hungerford 01488 684011 Tickets – £12, £10 concessions, £5 under25s

Quote ‘Concert Club’ at the Box Office & get 10% off with advance tickets
(Full-price on the door in the night, availability permitting.)


Love on the Tracks

by Richard Atlee

Inspired by the short stories of
Anton Chekov

On a summer’s evening in 1890 a train pulls out of Moscow station. On board sit three fretful passengers, each with an extraordinary tale to tell. As their stories are played out in a series of delightful comic vignettes, the drama in the carriage tantalisingly unfolds.

Love on the Tracks is a romantic comedy, inspired by the early stories and farces of Anton Chekhov. Chekhov is best known for his later work but in his twenties he published more than five hundred short works of fiction. Full of light-hearted humour and wonderfully eccentric characters, Love on the Tracks presents a 19th century world of dysfunctional marriage, traumatic romance and rampant infidelity – in a very modern way.

Richard Atlee, best known for his role as Kenton Archer in the BBC4 radio series, The Archers, performs in this delightful comic play.Friday 11 May The Croft Hall 7.30pm

Tickets £8, Newbury Building Society (available from beginning of April) or tel. 01488 684038

Bits 2

Also on this page……….Bookgroup……….Stroke care in Hungerford …………..
…………………………. .A Generation On……..PetrolWatch


It may come as a surprise to some that a committee known as “The Friends of Chestnut Walk” have been raising money for the last thirty years, with the help of many others.

This has enhanced the lives of the residents of the home with Entertainment several times a year, and helped towards purchasing many home comforts, plus the biggest item of all, the Millennium Conservatory.

Now the present committee have decided the time has come to call it a day. They have found it a rewarding experience, but it has become increasingly difficult to sustain the level of energy required to continue.




Library Bookgroup

We would love to get as many people involved as possible. The Bookgroup meets on the 1st Tuesday of each month at 5:45 to 6:45.p.m. , and we are introducing tea and coffee, so you are welcome to come along for a coffee and a chat, make some new friends and read some fantastic books.

Stacy Tuttle



Stroke Care

Newbury & West Berkshire opens a new facility             

In the Croft Hall, Hungerford is to provide support for stroke survivors in the extreme west of the county. We meet every Wednesday 2 till 4pm. Stroke Care for Newbury & West Berkshire already supports some 45 members (stroke survivors) at the existing two centres. We have a focus on recovery with standing and seated physiotherapy plus cognitive exercises. Time is also taken to develop confidence, fellowship and support.

Exercise or physiotherapy as soon as it is possible after the incidence of a stroke is considered to be critical to the recovery of stroke survivors.

Each year an estimated 150,000 people across the UK will have a stroke. It is one of the top three causes of death and the leading cause of severe disability in the UK. In West Berkshire it is estimated that over 7000 people will be affected by a stroke.

For further information about Stroke Care for Newbury & West Berkshire please visit or email or call 01488 658540.

If anyone is interested in supporting us as a volunteer helper they would be very welcome and please contact us


CHAIN – A Generation on.

“Good morning Sue! June Blakeway here, from Chain office. I have received rather an unusual request. A widowed Dad has just called in to ask if we could find a family for his nine year old daughter to spend three weeks during the summer holiday. Apparently she loves the countryside and riding.”
“Your not looking at me are you, June?”
“N0, no but I remember that you arranged for a number of London kids to stay with local families and thought that you might be able to help.”
“Should I visit him, as a Chain rep, to find out more? Give me his phone number. Thanks, I’ll do that.”

I discover he has no garden and suggest he comes up to the farm for a quiet chat whilst our eight year-old entertains his daughter with the animals. They rush off together and I instantly know that three weeks would be no problem.

His own small business to run, Dad was pleased to pick her up whenever he was able. She soon became a much loved member of our family and a wonderful peace-keeper between our three, asking them why they needed to scrap when she just longed to have her own brothers and sisters.

Seven very happy years later, and finished at boarding school, she went off to make her own life. Now married and living in Canada with her own two lovely children, she remains a very special part of our family.

Thank you CHAIN for the joy you brought us. B.A.





Just how much more are we being ripped off for buying our petrol or diesel in Hungerford?

Usually I shop once a fortnight in Newbury and often buy there when cheaper, otherwise I come back and fill up in Hungerford. When I checked on the 3rd, Hungerford was the same. Shame on you Hungerford often 3p dearer than Newbury & 4p dearer than Reading most of the time.

Do look on our MP’s website for his comparisons on petrol & diesel.


Hungerford Surgery


The Croft, Hungerford RG17 0HY

A warm welcome to our new Doctor

The surgery was delighted to welcome Dr. Ellora Evans (MBBS, MRCP, MRCGP, DRCOG) to the practice team in January and she will now be looking after those patients previously registered with Dr. Sarah Bruen. Dr. Evans works on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays.

New text messaging service
We have introduced a new text messaging service to help patients. Once you have given your consent and registered your mobile phone number, you should start to receive automated text messages confirming and / or reminding you of your appointment.

Travel Vaccinations
A reminder for those of you planning a trip abroad in 2012 that Hungerford Surgery can help with travel advice and vaccinations appropriate to the country you plan to visit. It is simply not worth taking the risk of skipping your travel vaccinations as infectious diseases can spoil your holiday and have long term health consequences. It is always best to plan this at least 6 – 8 weeks ahead of your expected travel date so don’t delay and contact the surgery on 01488 682507 today.

Medicine Waste Initiative
It is estimated that £20million is wasted across our region (NHS South Central) on unused medicines each year and we will all know someone who has a stock pile of unused medicine in their cupboard. At least half of this dreadful waste could be avoided if we all remembered to:
• Only order what is required – particularly when requesting repeat prescriptions
• Return unused medicines to your pharmacy for safe disposal (the surgery CANNOT accept medicines for disposal)
• Take our medicines with us when we go into hospital

Mike Hall


Freeman’s Marsh and the Birds Nesting Season 2012


It is now 3 years ago since the Trustees of the Town & Manor of Hungerford launched a long term conservation programme to arrest a depleting wild bird population, constant damage by the cattle to the water courses and vandalism to the structures in the “Marsh”. We should ask what if anything has been achieved and has this big effort and cost been justified so far?

Fencing of the rivers has limited the invasion by our cattle grazing the water plants and stopped them eroding the banks, prevented the daily visits of dogs that disturbed the water fowl and water voles and made access difficult to wading by unthinking people. Furthermore the riverside has since grown up with indigenous plants to the area giving cover to the river life, fish and a vast population of insects, the major source of food for the birds and fish. A carefully conducted survey of the water voles, an endangered species, was completed last year to ascertain the effect of the work on them. The result was a significant increase in numbers which is contrary to other areas in Berkshire and nationally.

Rebuilding of the Hatches and Weir has enabled the Water Keeper to adjust the distribution of water flow between the two arms of the River Dun. This is particularly important in seasons of low flow. Groynes of Hazel bundles have been fixed in the river upstream of the Ash Pool to raise the velocity of the flow of the river to maintain a clean gravel bottom, and to give the right conditions for water weed to flourish, particularly Ranunculous or River Crowfoot and Water Cress in the areas of slack flow. We are very grateful to the volunteers of Freeman’s Marsh Conservation Group for their help with this work.

The Canal had big works carried out early in 2011, re-instatement of the banks and towpath with back-fill dredging and fencing. The pre-planted indigenous plants in the coir rolls fixed to the sides of the canal have flourished and has established a new and “environmental super space” for birds, animals, fish and insect life. The boats now travel in the middle of the pounds as there is no silt, and do not damage the banks. Marsh Lock is being re-built by British Waterways, shortly to be re-named Canal and River Trust, a national charity. Cobblers Lock was refurbished 5 years ago. So this stretch of the Canal should be in good order for some 20/25 years.

Coppicing and fencing the hedge row beside the River Dun in Rootes Meadow between the aqueduct and the railway bridge was completed in the 2011 winter and has grown up well. The footpath is back in it’s proper place and also a site which will develop into a good habitat for wildlife and for a mixed area of trees and shrubs.

For the future we hope to set up wild bird recording and ringing by a team from BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) to establish the population of birds both resident and migrants birds and hope this will start in April.

There are many visitors with their dogs walking daily in the Marsh and it is important that during the bird nesting season 1st March to 31st July, dogs are kept on the lead while in the area north of the Canal which is the area designated SSSI “Site of Special Scientific Interest”.

Bear in mind that dogs may be run free south of the Canal during the nesting season.

It is pleasing to note that more and more dog walkers are respecting the need for the code of “walking their dogs on short leads” while within the SSSI. For that the Trustees are grateful to those who are setting this new countryside standard, for it is so important that each of us all help to raise the environmental standards and encourage biodiversity in this unique piece of England. The alternative beggars belief that it will be lost as a trampled piece of Hungerford, denuded of any wild life for future generations.

Robert W. James, February 2012.
Trustee of the Town & Manor of Hungerford
Hon Secretary of the Commons

The Old Codger’s Column…….

Regarding faster Broadband and Hungerford, we were on a list that said our town would be the second to have an improved service, that was in 2011, now it’s 2012. Will it be this year or never? Perhaps somebody can find out and let David know please.

What a shame that the widest pavement on the canal bridge has been closed off so much. Hope it’s on schedule? I hear that the willow tree on the Canal Walk side is very unhealthy, so the view might very well be more drastically changed than all of us had ever envisaged, but the footbridge had to be a ‘must’

Yet another year that British Waterways has closed off the canal above Cobblers Lock for the ‘’New’’ Marina, and yet another year gone by and nothing has happened! I do hope that it will be impossible for this site to be developed without the Marina taking place. The area that was designated as water infill should be filled first, so that ‘buildings/holiday homes could never be built on that part. Would form a reservoir to help maintain the levels

Whilst mentioning canals, most boaters ‘always’ go down the middle especially on the notoriously shallow and poorly dredged Kennet & Avon canal. The canal contour anyway is ‘saucer shaped, and only in a few places are boats able to get close to the bank to moor up.

My goodness, we are certainly well off for bakeries/bread sellers in Hungerford now. Although I bake our own bread (Panasonic) and do not shop for bread, I do hope that the businesses either side of Inklings are able to make a go of it. Fully occupied shops give the High Street life.

I see somewhere on Hungerford’s web pages that within a year or so that the upper part of Church Way will be resurfaced. Why oh why wasn’t it done when the lower part had the drainage works done? When all the re-surfacing machinery was onsite surely the total job would have been more economical, or is that too sensible of me? Will it be done all the way to Salisbury Road?

So good old BBC had problems on the 1st digital change over. For those that live below the hills in Hungerford, they started off with such low power, BBC2,3,4 & lots of radio stations just disappeared. Wasn’t till the afternoon that mine burst into life.

Please contact me, as always, through David’s e-mail,
or to CHAIN Office…..address on outside back page and title your words/thoughts as …….Old Codger column please ……. Bye Bye & keep safe.


Gardening by Stacy

Praise of Rhododendrons

Woodland gardening, which started as a trend in the second half of the 19th century, has enjoyed a bit of a revival in recent years. It all started in the late Victorian era, with those intrepid Indiana Jones type figures, the plant hunters, who ventured in unknown territory to find those exotic specimens to bring back to the grand estates of the day.Unwittingly these Victorian gardeners caused a problem as Rhododendrons invaded many areas, killing off native planting. Rhododendrons, seemingly intent on world domination, became the Bond villain of the plant world. They were also categorised as old-fashioned with no place in the modern garden.

However, with the recent love of nostalgia, combined with the move towards naturalistic gardening, they have found a place once more in a planting scheme.
Right Plant, Right Place is the mantra to follow, so have you tested your soil? If not, why not? It’s relatively easy, cheap to do and ultimately could save you pounds in unsuitable purchases. A soil test kit can be bought easily from a garden centre. A soil test with a pH of between 6.5 or 7 will let you grow a fantastically variety of neutral plants. Above pH7 will mean you have to select lime loving plants, while less than pH7 opens up the world of the ericaceous plants, a club of which Rhododendrons and Azaleas are members. Azalea is a name often given to the smaller deciduous Rhododendrons but you may equally find these plants referred to as Rhododendron.

They originated from China, Japan and the Himalayas and ideally they enjoy shade offered by the canopy of a tree and humus rich soil with lots of leaf mulch. This also helps to give protection from frost. Of course, as with many plants, there are exceptions to this and some will grow in sun. Many new varieties have been grown for the modern garden with dwarf characteristics, making them ideal for pots in ericaceous compost. I know I have said it many times before but, as with all pots, it is important to keep them well irrigated. Also as flower buds start to form in late summer, it is crucial that they receive plenty of water at this time to encourage healthy bud development. They are fairly low maintenance, do not really require cutting back, ( unless you have one of those rampant varieties). Make sure they receive enough moisture, a top up of ericaceous soil in the spring if potted or an acid plant feed and after flowering, the spent flower trusses should be pinched or cut off to ensure healthy bud development.

There is a tiny Rhododendron –kekeiskei “Yaku Fairy” which is a naturally occurring ground cover plant, which can reach a height of only 15cm after 30 years but will spread for over 1m. It has full size Rhododendron flowers in April which smother the foliage. R. charitopes grows to around 50cm. An evergreen, its flowers are really charming as they resemble Campanulas (bell-shaped). They are a beautiful soft pink, highlighted with a deeper pink/red, appearing in April/May and sometimes repeat flowering in autumn. Azalea “Blue Moon” will flower in early summer with lilac coloured blooms and reaches an eventual height of around 1m.

Stacy Tuttle


Nature Notes by Hawkeye

Ringing Birds
On the last two Sundays in January I watched the Berkshire Downs Ringing Group in action at Sheepdrove Organic Farm in Lambourn. It was good to see a small group of volunteers working so efficiently and enthusiastically.

They placed their mist nets around a feeding station financed by the owners Mr. & Mrs. Kindersley and waited for the birds to fly into them. They then carefully extracted the birds and assessed them. It was amazing to see how much care was taken of the birds and to see how much data was recorded. Weight, fat levels, and feather length were all carefully logged before the birds were ringed and then released.

I was shocked to see that most small birds weigh less than an ounce, further I was told that a blackbird that had been ringed on the farm had been found dead in Sweden. Also I was pleased to see a young lad Luke Parkes from Great Shefford, was learning to ring and so vital research into birds will continue for many years to come.

Blackbirds (Terdus Merula)

I thought blackbirds were residential birds and did not migrate, so I checked the RSPB web site and found it officially recorded as a resident. So why did the Sheepdrove bird fly all the way to Sweden? Obviously they migrate just like Fieldfare and Redwings.
The web page stated that there were 4,935,000 pairs breeding in the U.K. and 10—15 million blackbirds live here in the winter. As they live on insects, berries, fruit, invertebrates and bird tables, the Great British public must be doing their bit in the winter time most successfully.

Opposite is a male which is very easy to recognise. They should be regular visitors to your garden. Presumably this medium sized bird was given the name blackbird because the other black birds in the U.K. are members of the Corvid family . Crows, Jackdaws, Rooks and Ravens are all jet black!

Strangely this is a photo of a female taken on a lawn. It is easily confused with a Song Thrush because it is all brown with spots and streaks. However the Song Thrush is also well named because its song is full of repeated phrases. As a boy I was fascinated by the nests of Song Thrushes because they are lined by mud and are vey similar to that of a blackbird.

It is very sad to end with the warning that Song Thrushes are on the RED WARNING LIST and need help this winter.

So keep feeding the birds with various seed, fat balls, apples etc. and water please.


Gloriana, continues her journey……….

As this goes to press we will be leaving Sydney on our way home from New Zealand. Of particular interest to a lot of readers will be the fact that, 12500 miles away from home, in a place quite remote, even in New Zealand, we met by chance a Hungerford man. Dave Cook left Hungerford for the other side of the world in 1985 with his wife Eileen and their children, and we were able to commiserate over the passing of Robin Tubb with whom Dave went to school. Read more about it, if you wish, on our blog,

But on Thursday 30th June 2011 we were on
Gloriana in Ely. We were awake soon after six, and up and about before seven. Nick set off to walk with Caspar along the dyke to view the state of the tide and, having learned the previous evening that there was a barn owl about, was armed with his camera. In the event he was rewarded by the sight of a pair of them, albeit at a distance, presumably coming to the end of the breakfast run for the owlets.

Just before half past seven we had a conflab with the lock keeper and it was resolved that we would lock down with the 32ft boat on the second locking. The boat ahead of us, Phoenix (owner-builder an ex-fireman), had had to wait for Denver sluice lock to be prepared, so, as the guillotine gate lifted, we followed her out onto the tideway and a convoy of three made the half-mile dash to the awaiting lock. The delay meant that as we turned onto the Ouse the tide was on the turn and there was no noticeable flow in either direction. Within the half-hour we were dropping onto the non-tidal river above Denver Sluice: yes, at high tide the tidal river is well above both the Mid-Levels and the upstream river.

At eleven o’clock we tied up on a mooring just short of Littleport, seventeen miles upstream of Denver. The river is deep, and the river is wide, but there’s nothing on either side worthy of photographic record: the continuously changing skyscape has more interest. However, sometime between twelve and one, our friend from the Lancaster, Angela, joined us and we debated whether to stay on this mooring or continue into Ely. A fairly heavy downpour postponed our decision but, when it passed, we completed the remaining nine miles into Ely; Angela at the helm. We had been warned of a dearth of moorings in the city; in this area any civilisation is a draw but Ely is particularly magnetic; and we were fortunate in finding the last mooring suitable for our needs.

With the afternoon drawing to a close, Angela and Jackie took off to investigate the retail delights of this historic city.

Nick Furr

Seasonal Curried Parsnip Soup

1 heaped tbsp coriander seeds
1 level tsp cumin seed
½ tsp chilli flakes
Crush these in coffee grinder or pestle & mortar
Add to : 1 tsp turmeric, ¼ tsp ground fenugreek
2 onions chopped
2 crushed cloves garlic
2 or 3 large parsnips peeled & cubed
4 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
4 pints stock
½ pt cream (or milk if you prefer)
chopped parsley

Cook onion, garlic & parsnip gently in butter, lid on pan for 10 mins. Stir in flour and spices, cook 2 mins stirring and then pour in stock gradually. Cook till veg are tender. Puree in blender, dilute to taste with water. Season to taste. Reheat and add cream

More seasonal recipes & what’s on at
e mail

HEAT – Hungerford Environmental Action Team ENERGY
We are nearing the end of winter but now is the time to look at your home and see where you are losing that expensive heat. While we have some cold days left it is easier to see where heat is escaping from your property and implement any solutions for next year. HEAT has a thermal imaging camera which will allow you to measure the temperature of the exterior surfaces of your abode. The camera is easy to use, we loan you the camera after a brief introductory workshop and then you can interpret your own
results. Contact Daniel on

Growing Vegetables
The HEAT Allotment at Marsh Lane will be restarting on Thursday 12th April at 6.30pm , and provides a friendly environment to come and help grow this years crops and share in the produce. Plenty of knowledge, seeds and plants swapped plus a good cup of tea and cake. All welcome especially beginners, and a great way to see if producing a little own grown local food could be part of your life.
Grub Tubs
We are running the Grub Tub project again to encourage young children to have an interest in growing their own food. For each child we provide an old recycling box, free compost and plants/seeds. If you have young children and would be willing to help with the project or you just have old recycling baskets you do not use then please contact Angela on

Talk to us face to face on the HEAT stall at the Farmers markets on the 26th Feb, 25th March or 22nd April and see local and seasonal food being cooked.

Or contact us via, or

Picture This Cards –

launching an online business

What would you think was the average number of greeting cards sent per person in the UK last year?

Apparently 31, according to the Greetings Cards Association – with more money spent on single cards in the year than on tea and coffee put together!

We’ve always had a passion for nice greetings cards, and after finding fewer shops dedicated to supplying a good range, we decided to launch an online greetings card shop – and Picture This Cards was born. Being online means we can stock an enormous range of cards, so there are plenty to pick from – Anniversaries, Birthday’s, Get Well, New Baby, Thank You, Wedding … and many more.

However, setting up an online business was not something that either of us had any experience of previously, and we went round several learning curves before we finally launched.

Firstly we had to do some market research – get to know the market and who our potential customers could be.

Then we had to decide on the type of website we wanted. Did we want to buy a cheaper ‘off the shelf’ package or have a more expensive one built professionally by a web designer which would give us exactly what we wanted? We chose a web designer and went through many design idea’s and tweaks before we got the website which we were happy with.

Next job was to find our stock suppliers, and we looked through many card designs before we settled on the 1700 designs which we currently stock.

All the backroom stuff also needed to be sorted out along the way e.g. finding an accountant, registering the company name / website address and opening a business bank account which could deal with secure payments for online sales.

Then came the time to load all the greeting cards onto the site which took many weeks – every card needed to be photographed and accurately described; every verse typed out.

9 months since we had first sat down with the web designers came the day we launched online. It was great feeling to be finally open for business.

It doesn’t stop there though! Now begins the promoting of the website – and we shall be very busy this year spreading the word.

Our website address is   so please pay us a visit and let us know what you think!


Health by Liz

Natures Corner

Wonderful Walnuts!

Most of us know that a handful of nuts or seeds during the day will help balance blood sugar levels and avoid energy dips and hunger pangs. Yet the nutritional profile of nuts is often overlooked, so this month, Liz Chandler from Natures Corner takes a closer look at one nut in particular – the walnut.

Walnuts (Julglans regia) are part of the tree nut family, which also includes Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, pine nuts and pistachios. However, walnuts stand out as the nutritional superstar being rich in omega 3 and omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids, as compared to the monounsaturated fatty acids from most other nuts. These essential fats (EFA’s) can help with the prevention of cardiovascular disease. In fact, the combination of nutrients found in walnuts – EFA’s, polyphenols, magnesium, potassium and arginine – can help to manage lipid and LDL cholesterol profiles, blood pressure, lower the risk of clotting, and reduce inflammation.

Arginine is an amino acid used by the body to produce nitric oxide, which helps relax blood vessels which allows blood to flow easily, keeps the lining of the blood vessels healthy and reduces the risk of potentially dangerous blood clots.

Walnuts are also one of the few natural food sources of melatonin, which is not only important for regular sleep patterns and daily rhythms but has valuable antioxidant properties.

Although walnuts are energy rich, eating them does not cause weight gain. Just a small handful a day can help cognitive function and protect the brain against age related cognitive decline. By way of a change, why not try delicious walnut butter? Opt for organic and avoid heating and simply enjoy the versatility of this scrumptious spread. Here are a few suggestions:-
• Walnut hummus – Mix walnut butter, garlic, chickpeas and orange juice for a zesty dip.
• Nutty yogurt – blend into Greek yogurt and add a spoonful of manuka honey.
• Kids favourite – mix with a little cocoa powder and honey to form a delicious chocolate nut spread.
• Walnut ‘satay’ – use instead of peanut butter for a healthier option in satay sauces and marinades.
• Breakfast bonus – stir into breakfast dishes such as porridge and other hot cereals.
Simply spread – makes a delicious spread on crackers, bread, toast and muffins and in sandwiches instead of margarine.

Staying healthy doesn’t mean being less creative with food, so next time you need a snack or a change from the norm, think of WONDERFUL WALNUTS and give them a try.

For more advice on a healthy lifestyle call Natures Corner on 01635 33007,      or email

Our Community


January has been a very quiet period considering the mild spell we are having. I have noticed the spring bulbs coming through and on my train journey to work today I could see large amounts of snowdrops in flower. The dark nights will soon be gone and once again I will see youngsters in the park in the evenings.

On the 17th January we had several vehicles broken into, these were mostly work vans where tools have been taken, I have also been made aware that there are some unreported thefts. Can I remind you to please empty vehicles of valuables at the end of your working day as I am hearing the same story that people have lost what has taken them years to build up and had work disrupted because they then don’t have the tools to work.

Shed and garage breakins have also been the target this month. Over a period of a few days we had four. High value things should be put indoors as I cannot see this sort of crime stopping any time soon.

The skate park is high on my hotspot list as it seems it has become very popular due to Newbury not allowing scooters on their park. I have noticed far more people attend from Newbury as word has spread from their friends in Hungerford what a great park we have. I have seen the increase in litter, mainly soft drink bottles; I intend to speak with the children about this.

Crime-wise we have had some success, OPERATION Festive was a joint operation between Land owners and the Police. Land owners and some of their employees and game keepers were out in the early hours actively looking for criminal activity acting as spotters.

Dozens of police, landowners, game keepers and farmers were involved in an undercover police operation in West Berkshire which took place on Wednesday 18th January. The operation resulted in 30 stop searches and one arrest.
Thames Valley Police’s launch of Operation Festive aimed to crack down on rural crime and encourage people living in rural parts of the district to act as ‘spotters’ by patrolling their own land.

The new non emergency number has now been up and running since mid November. This number can be called on any telephone and will connect you directly to the Police Enquiry Centre where someone will assist you. The new number is 101 which replaces the 0845 number.

Community Messaging is a free service which provides information to subscribers about crime and police activity in their area via phone or email. It also includes information on what we and our partner services are doing to bring offenders to justice or combat anti-social behaviour. More information can be obtained via our website, and you can sign up by following this link:

For updates and news in your area follow us on Twitter @TVP_WestBerks

Contact us
If you want any advice or would like to contact the neighbourhood team you can call us on the police non emergency number 101 but if your call is an emergency then dial 999.

You can also contact us via email:
please note this email address cannot be used to contact Thames Valley Police to report crimes or for any urgent matters. If you have information about crime or Anti Social Behaviour in your area but you do not want to speak to the police, please call the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555111.
To view information on your neighbourhood team you can visit the force website at:

Volunteering at 70.

Who would want to do charity work in a Third World country at 70 years of age? Well we did. We came back in December 2011, after a month in Nepal where we worked for a small charity ’First Steps Himalaya.’ This charity specialises in providing good early childhood education in rural Nepal.

I was a teacher of English and my husband Gordon was a civil engineer. We have both been involved in raising funds for charities in Hungerford for 15 years and have always wanted to see how the money was spent, how a charity worked in the field and what volunteers actually did.

We lived in a poor Nepali village, high up in the foothills of the Everest range. Conditions were basic but we are used to travelling in poor countries so the rain coming in our hut and the rats scampering around under the tiles, although not welcome did not trouble us unduly. Washing was either a cold tap or the occasional bucket of hot water. Food was mostly rice and vegetables with a few lentils added. Amazingly we were never ill.

We had raised money for galvanised
water pipes and Gordon worked with the local farmers to take water from a spring to the school which had no water for toilets, washing or drinking. The water project, thanks to the generosity of the people of Hungerford has been completed and the teachers and children are enjoying the benefits.

I worked with teachers to improve teaching methods as most teaching in the school was a question of the teacher shouting out what was scrawled on a blackboard and the children shouting back. I introduced the idea of getting the children to make up their own stories, through listening and commenting and the use of drama to develop ideas. Gordon and Durga one of the co founders of the charity, worked on putting up shelves, and making bookcases. I was very proud of the stock cupboard we created.

‘First Steps Himalaya’ has developed clean , bright and cheerful Early Development Centres where tiny tots can come and play and learn. We grew very fond of the children and the teachers. We also visited other centres run by the charity and saw how even in very remote areas, children were still coming to the centres to benefit from the excellent facilities. It was a joy to see their little faces light up when they came into the classrooms.

We were really sorry to leave .Volunteering at 70 ? Certainly. There are lots of charities which would appreciate the skills older people have to offer. We certainly felt we had done something worthwhile.

Anita and Gordon Campbell. Visit for more details

Blasts from the Past

From the Parish Magazine dated April 1884.
“The Church Sunday School Institute will hold its Examination for Sunday School Teachers on Monday, May 26th. The subjects of Examination are:- Scripture:- The book of Ruth and the first six chapters of St Luke’s Gospel. Prayer Book:- The Baptismal Service. Lesson:- To be selected from the Scripture Portions. The Vicar will be happy to receive the names of Candidates, and to help them in their preparation.”

From the Parish Magazine dated April 1891.
“Our Dramatic and Gymnastic Societies propose to give entertainments at the Corn Exchange, one on the sixth, and the other on the fifteenth of the current month. The members of both these societies have attained to a considerable degree of proficiency in their respective arts, and they may fairly expect that their efforts will be encouraged by crowded houses on both occasions.”

From the Parish Magazine dated April 1893.
“The Hungerford Cycling Club held a general Meeting on Thursday, 23rd March, when it was decided to have the first run of the of the Season on Saturday, 1st April, starting from the Corn Exchange at 5 o’clock. The Subscription for the year is 2s. Members wishing to join should apply to the Secretary, Mr W E Stephens, Church Street.”

From the Parish magazine dated April 1894.
“There is a deficiency of about £5 in the Choir and Organ Fund. The annual expenditure is:- Organist’s salary £35, and other expenses including Blower, Music etc, is about £6. About £10 of this is raised by the Quarterly collections in Church; and the rest £31 or £32 has to be met by annual subscriptions. The present subscription list amounts to only £26, so that it is impossible to meet the expenses incurred without an increase of subscriptions. Some of those who occupy seats contribute a very inadequate sum, and others do not subscribe at all. It is hoped that the present notice will be sufficient to remind seat-holders and others of their duty in this respect. The Organist and Choir are highly appreciated by the congregation, and it seems strange that there should be any difficulty in providing the necessary funds for this important accessory to Divine Service.”

More from the Archives next issue. Fred Bailey


Legal Spot

Sometimes I get asked the question ‘do you specialise in Family Law?’ To which the only honest answer is no, I don’t really, but I have done enough of it during my working life as a solicitor to feel reasonably confident in taking on whatever cases come my way – and I don’t recall too many disappointing outcomes.

It’s not an easy area of law to practise in because in most cases one is dealing with clients who are hurt, angry, upset and sometimes determined to be as difficult and even aggressive as possible towards their ex-partner – and this applies equally to male clients and female ones. Usually it isn’t the divorce (assuming that the parties were married) that is the problem – there are only five ‘facts’ on which irretrievable breakdown of marriage can be proved (adultery, ‘unreasonable behaviour’ and two years’ separation coupled with consent to a divorce being the most common) and usually there is no dispute from the party against whom the petition is issued (one good reason being that defending a divorce is extremely expensive in legal costs and very few defences are successful). What the parties tend to fall out about and argue about, often for at least a year, is (1) the children and/or (2) property and finance.

Certainly there are exceptions to this ‘general principle’ (if it is one – more an expression of my personal experience) and there are such things as ‘amicable divorces’, and solicitors who do family law are all encouraged nowadays to be as conciliatory and sympathetic and unaggressive as possible in their approach and to persuade their clients to do the same. Most cases however do involve quite a lot of emotion and stress and anxiety and it’s hardly surprising given what the subject-matter of the case is – the breakdown of a once-cherished relationship, the loss of a shared life and all its related hopes and memories and invariably the loss of the family home – and the certain prospect for any children of Mum and Dad not living together anymore, and having to adjust to living with one of them and only seeing the other at periodic intervals and for limited periods of time.

This certainly ain’t easy and I usually say to clients at the outset that the next few months are going to be pretty b……y awful and that there is nothing much that they or I can do about this – you just have to grit your teeth and put up with it and grind on until eventually you get to the other side. Then and only then, usually, will the dust start to settle and whatever ‘new life’ lies in store for you can begin. In that sort of context decisions have to be made and it is usually possible to reach at least some of them by agreement with ‘the other side’ – in my experience agreement ‘across the board’ is the rule rather than the exception albeit that this might take a long time to achieve. I also tend to take the view that it pays to be generous – by contrast, trying to drive the hardest possible bargain always costs a lot more in legal fees and tends to perpetuate and even exacerbate ill-feeling between the parties, sometimes for years to come.

David Small

Church Bells

Bell ringing at St Lawrence

During the last 12 months, in addition to ringing for Sunday services and 8 weddings, a total of 33 quarter peals and 3 peals were rung. A full peal traditionally refers to the maximum number of unique sequences that can be rung on a set of bells. (this is called the full extent). On 6 bells, the full extent would be 720 changes (1 x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6). Allowing 2 seconds for each bell strike, this would take about half an hour to ring. The maximum number of permutations possible on 8 bells is 40,320 changes, which would take about 22½ hours. Ringing the full extent of 10 bells (3,626,800 changes) would take over 30 years!

Obviously, except in towers with few bells, only a section of the full extent can be rung. Nowadays, a peal is defined as at least 5040 changes (which on 8 bells takes about 3 hours 50 minutes to ring ) and a quarter-peal, 1280 changes (45-50 minutes). In a peal or quarter-peal, no sequence of bells can be repeated and the piece must start and end in rounds. Successful attempts are recorded, not only in a book in the tower, but also in the church bell ringers’ weekly publication “The Ringing World”. Special note is made if it is a first for a particular band member or if it was rung to commemorate a specific occasion.
During the last year, quarter-peals were rung for Mothering Sunday, Fathers’ Day, the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, the Duke of Edinburgh’s 90th birthday and the 206th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.

On a more personal note, other quarters were dedicated to wedding anniversaries, and to commemorate the birth of children. On 19th January 2012 we were also proud to ring a successful quarter-peal before the memorial service for Bellman, Robin Tubb. The band on this occasion was comprised of only Hungerford ringers and included our youngest member, Jacob, who was given special leave of absence from school by the Headmaster of John O’Gaunt in order to participate in the quarter peal.

Peals are not rung so often and all 3 last year were rung by visiting bands.
This year, special events we will be ringing for include the Royal Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics. If you would like us to ring a quarter-peal to mark your own special occasion, we would be happy to do this, for an appropriate donation to be split between the church and the bell maintenance funds. You would also receive a certificate recording all the details. We mainly ring quarter-peals on Sunday evenings, before evensong, but they can be rung at other times if a band is available and the vicar gives his permission.

If you would like further information, please contact Tower Captain, Mark Robins on 01488 644616.