Issue 117

1st December
1st March 2018

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

Front Cover by Micky Thompson

As if you didn’t need reminding, Christmas is upon us once again. By the time this issue is published Halloween and Bonfire Night are behind us and the Victorian Extravaganza is only a short time away.

Looking back to mid-summers day, an iconic steam train visited Hungerford, stopping to pick up passengers and to take on water. This issue’s cover picture shows Bittern approaching Denford bridge, just outside Hungerford. Bittern is a sister locomotive to Mallard, the locomotive that broke the speed record. During the year many steam trains pass through Hungerford. I, like I am sure many others, usually become aware of the event at the sound of that nostalgic whistle, and the sight of the smoke as the train passes through.

Tony Bartlett, a fellow Hungerford Camera Club Member, is also a keen railway enthusiast and photographer and has volunteered to update Chain with dates and times of these steam train events, so that those interested can have prior notification. You might even like to try your hand at photographing one.

In good time for Christmas, check that your cameras have charged batteries and the memory card is still ok. Using the flash and looking at the pictures on the back of the camera drains the battery quite quickly, so it is well worth either having a charged up spare, or having the battery charger close to hand.




Message from the Chairman of CHAIN

Well here we are in December already and Christmas is just around the corner. In Hungerford we have many events to look forward to including ‘Switch on’ of Christmas Lights on Sunday 2nd December at 6.00pm. Then we have the Victorian Extravaganza on Friday 14th December 5.00 – 9.00pm and the Mayor’s Carol Service on Sunday 16th December at 6.30pm.

Chain would like to thank all the families who arrange for Chain to receive donations from collections at funerals of their loved ones. This money helps us to keep Chain running and we are most grateful to everyone.

Hospital Transport is becoming more and more difficult to obtain and therefore Chain is going to be needed to fill the gap. So you will see we are advertising in this issue for more volunteer drivers (Appealing) and if you are interested we are very happy for you to give as much time to volunteering as suits you; this could be an hour a week or an hour a month.

The new ‘Chairman’ vehicle is a great success and I would, once again, like to thank all the sponsors and David Piper for dealing with Greenham Common Trust. There have, as you would expect, been some teething problems with the new vehicle and I would like to thank David Thorpe for all his hard work in sorting these out. Where would we be without our wonderful volunteers?

I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy Christmas
and a peaceful New Year Best Wishes, Janette Kerse


hank you to all my contributors and advertisers for making this issue one of the most varied ever, ( I think) !

Some articles I have picked out below, but there are many others that deserve a read.

Richard’s Bus in Letters & E-mails
The Old Codger Expressing his views (as usual)
Hugh’s page in Virtual Museum
Steam Railways, Tony responded to my appeal in the last issue
Hilary, Soaked through to raise money
Home Guard as Roger taking us backwards
Anita’s adventurous travels continue in Romania
The Art of Denial, not for the squeamish! John Haigh please pay attention!
Appealing, If you want to help in a boat, The Bruce Trust, also CHAIN and more

We have just bought Hungerford Town Council’s 2013 calendar, and a couple of packs of Christmas cards, see the details below. I am so pleased that my boat was clean (for once) as unbeknown to me it was captured in the Spring by Martyn Hopkins moored up by St Lawrence’s Church. Thirty minutes after that it was all bedecked with flags, and a ‘Just Married’ sign, as it was waiting to transport a newly married couple down to the Wharf, from where the wedding party then made their way to The Bear.

Lots of events happening in our Town “What’s On” pages, if only people & clubs would contact Margaret Wilson or myself, we could promote many many more, and it’s free, why oh why don’t some of you bother? If you upload your dates to the What’s on pages , (do get it up there at least three months in advance), as that is downloaded and re-printed here in CHAIN MAIL on the date that ‘Copy is Needed By’

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 Feb for the issue on March 1st. 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

So how was it for you?

The opening of our footbridge over the canal; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations, Bradley Wiggins winning the Tour de France; the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations; the London Olympics and Paralympics and our main streets resurfaced, might have blurred the hard edge of recession. As there is no doubt that 2012 will be remembered for all those wonderful events and the atmosphere of genuine warmth and friendship so admirably demonstrated by the Olympic volunteers, when for those few weeks, they showed the world that the UK is a pretty good place to live and visit. The shops in Oxford Street may not have seen the upsurge in sales they had expected but the legacy of the Games may well extend to an increase in tourists over the coming years.

A boost for our local economy

Tourism is an important and growing part of the UK economy and Hungerford aims to build upon this trend and capture some of the economic benefits that it can bring. To date the town has attracted many visitors who from the survey done earlier in the year, enjoy the quaint and charming nature of the town and may spend a few pounds here. The real challenge is to convert those visitors into tourists who base themselves here for a night or two and explore the hinterland of the North Wessex Downs and return to spend even more pounds here. Your Council has been considering what and how we might achieve this aim with the help of the Chamber of Commerce, Town and Manor and others and will be developing some positive plans to promote Hungerford as a tourist destination.
These will include new signage for pedestrians that flag up places of interest in a uniform and distinctive way; a site for coaches to park nearer the town centre and wider publicity for the town. The new team within the Council will be encouraging residents to submit their ideas for this venture as the results will impact upon the whole town.

2013 and beyond

We may see a slight improvement in the economy next year but we are under no illusion that the “going will be tough” as it is for so many who have felt the draught of severe cuts in social services. The Council has been able to ease some of the pain like stepping in, with others, to support the John O’Gaunt Youth Community Centre. No doubt there will be other worthy causes where we shall need to consider what we could do but even using some of our reserves, our funds are small by comparison with the West Berks pocket.
Hungerford is blessed with many voluntary organisations such as CHAIN that have shown the true meaning of community spirit through support and service to our residents and long they may continue to do so. I know that the town would be a much poorer place without them.

On behalf of your Town Council may I wish each and every one a much better personal year in 2013 even without those national celebrations.

Martin Crane OBE
Town Mayor of Hungerford

Mayor’s Carol Service on Sunday 16th December at 6.30pm

Chain’s Page

Also on this page……..Bruce Trust ………..N V B………Alzheimer’s…….


Are you recently retired (or part-time) and find that you need to occupy just some of your time, then we really need you. To take Hungerford people to the Doctors, Dentists, Chiropodists and Hospitals etc.

We need you (well about 10 of you actually) to give us a few hours a month (or more).

We can give you in return, a small mileage allowance that will more than cover the latest petrol increases.

We also give you the choice of car journeys, you only do the ones you want!

To see more of Volunteering for CHAIN please see near top left ‘’Volunteering’’ , click it and you will find an awful lot more of information, and a downloadable form to start Volunteering!

So please don’t delay, and at least ten of you. Volunteer!

To drive your Car, please call    Janette Kersey 683302
our Wheelchair vehicle, call       David Thorpe    685080,
for the Handy bus please call    Gary Moore       683988
The office Monday to Friday 9-11a.m.                 683727

There is nothing to stop you from volunteering for all three!!

Give to Hungerford people what you yourself might need one day.

The Bruce Trust

The Bruce Trust has now come to the end of its 23rd season providing canal boat holidays for disabled, disadvantaged or elderly people, along with their families, friends and carers and it has been an incredible year.

Our biggest adventure was taking our boat, The Diana, on the 160 mile round trip to the Regents Canal in London to provide accessible accommodation to a different group of disabled people each day and night, throughout the Paralympics, as they visited the Games. We would like to thank absolutely everyone who was involved and supported us with this epic journey including Hungerford, Newbury and Thatcham Rotary Clubs, our volunteers, local supporters, press members and fundraisers.

Next year we have more adventures planned and an exciting new project in the form of our first specially-designed, purpose-built, wheelchair-accessible motorhome which will enable us to provide canal and land-based holidays in the future.

The Trust simply cannot run without the help of all our wonderful volunteers and if you would like to join us and help towards the boat or motorhome next year, why don’t you come and visit us at the Volunteer Recruitment Fair at The Corn Exchange, Newbury on Saturday 19th January.

Rebecca Bruce

Volunteering is fun and easy
to get involved with.

Volunteering in West Berkshire is alive and well but there are always people that want to find out what’s going on. On Saturday 19th January 2013 between 10am and 3pm, 40 West Berkshire charities will come together for Volunteer Centre West Berkshire’s annual volunteer recruitment fair at the Corn Exchange in Newbury.

“Every year we have a fun theme” says Volunteer Centre Director Garry Poulson. In 2013 our theme will be War Time Britain and every stall will be dressing up in 1940s costume, keeping Calm and Carrying on ! There will be organisations from across West Berkshire and residents from every parish in West Berkshire are welcome to come and find out how they can get involved.

For more information about the day, contact the Volunteer Centre West Berkshire on 01635 49004 who have a database of around 300 different things to help with.

Alzheimer’s Society

West Berkshire invites you to our Stay Sharp! Yoga class:
Calming, gentle, seated exercise for those with memory problems, their carers, friends / families. Suitable for all abilities, just work at your own pace. Optional social coffee before and / or lunch afterwards.
The class and parking are both free. Weekly on Thursdays at 11:30am – 12:30pm, Northcroft Leisure Centre, Northcroft Lane, Newbury, RG14 1RS.

Dates: weekly until the 25 Oct. with a break for half-term on Nov 1.
Then start again on 8 Nov and last class on 13 Dec. Starts again in New Year on 10th Jan. 2013.

For more information contact: Kim Westall on 01635-500869 or 07713390712, or email her at

Letters & E-mails

Sometimes called …………..Richard’s Bus…….

I wonder if people are aware that there is a wonderful facility in Swindon for people to swim or have a Jacuzzi in thoroughly warm water. We all know that swimming is one of the best exercises for the body as the water supports limbs and the heat relaxes muscles thus helping various ailments or just even “old age”. The Chain Handy-bus leaves every Wednesday morning for the Hydrotherapy Pool. Some people elect to be picked up from their homes ,others are picked up outside Martins in the High Street. The journey takes about 40 minutes passing through Aldbourne (itself a very pretty ride) and then along the A417 into north Swindon. The staff are very kind and welcoming. They put music to suit for one to swim by. We have 45 minutes in the pool (and/or Jacuzzi) then a shower and home. The cost is £5per trip for both the bus and pool. You build up good friendships with people who you see on a weekly basis and share news and views with. So much so that a Xmas lunch is organised for former participants and existing users at the Swindon Wyevale Garden Centre where home cooking is the norm.

You need a recommendation from your doctor that swimming in warm water would help your particular condition or situation. People have attended with spinal problems, hip and knee replacements, any arthritic condition, rheumatoid arthritis, recovery from most operations ( after wounds have healed). There are two sets of changing rooms with showers. The pool caters for many types of disability and many age groups and schools. They never stop fund-raising and are supported by Chain. They run swimming competitions and challenges for their specific groups. Much of Swindon industry and churches pledge money as the Local Authority down-sizes its grants. They are open at week-ends. I cannot stress how beneficial it is to be a regular swimmer and visitor.

Each week Richard Grant is on the Handy-bus as an aid to people getting on and off
Please contact Betty Grant on 01488 682607

Dear Ed
Finally think we are getting a bit more settled. Have been in our house for nearly a month. I think I have got to grips with the washing machine – although I won’t use it unless Trevor is around as we have already had trouble with leaks!

You definitely need a car to get around, which means that I haven’t really gone very far. Trevor needs the car for work. I sometimes go into the office with him – just for a change of scenery. Driving in Malaysia is something else! They undertake, overtake and change lanes at will and you have to watch the moped and motorcycle riders – they come at you from all directions! Trevor says you need eyes in the back of your head!

We visited Kota Tinggi Waterfalls on 20 October. At the main crossroads in Kota Tinggi town I saw my first wild monkey. It was using the overhead cables to get to some trees. The area where the waterfalls are is described as a rainforest resort. There is definitely more forest around this area. There is an upper waterfall and a lower one. People can stay at the resort and swimming is allowed at the lower waterfall.

A couple of benefits about being out here are that you never need to wear a coat and I am practically living in shorts!

All best wishes. Carolyn & Trevor (Carolyn was previous Chain Secretary)

Bits 1

Also on this page……..Autumn………..Rotary…….

POPPY APPEAL 2012 / 2013

A big thank you to everybody for the support that Hungerford have given to the Royal British Legion (RBL) Poppy Appeal for 2012/13.

I would like to thank all the volunteers for their hard work and commitment both in the High Street, Membury Services and outside Tesco and to the people of the Town for their kind donations.

I would also like to thank all the shops, hotels, clubs for their support, with special thanks to the Hungerford Arcade for their excellent window display and for the display of military vehicles, The Rotary Club and John O’ Gaunt sixth formers for all their help. There is still 2 days to go and there are still a large number of tins to be counted, but so far we have raised £11.5k.

The money raised by the Appeal will be used nationally by RBL for rehabilitation services for seriously wounded servicemen and women returning from Afghanistan. In particular the Legion’s Battle Back Centre which will use sports training to help those injured to recover.

The money raised will also go to help local veterans and their dependants with mobility needs, respite care, and with minor adaptions to their homes.



The days are shortening, dawn wakes with a mist
Spiders webs festoon with hoar frost kissed
A weak sun climbs into the bleary pewter sky
To cheer the daylight hours till dusk is nigh.

The fruits of the hedgerow, all colours can be
Sloe, crab apple, hips, haws and rowanberry
A wonderful display, just happened by chance
No colours clash in nature, simply enhance.

The trees all resplendent in their autumn guise
Shower down leaves of all shapes and size
Of russet and amber and dark golden brown
They spiral and flutter but don’t make a sound.

The sun sinks down the twilight sky
Jack Frost is around, the breezes sigh
Another day gone, never to return again
Dark, dark sky till dawn will remain.


Hungerford Rotary Club ………..

has continued its’ commitment to the Council’s Hungerford Chestnut Walk Care Home by installing a new TV and providing much needed Activity Equipment including items used in daily life in the1930/40’s, such as Ration Books and Wash Boards, which were found to stimulate much needed conversation with patients.

Jane Blackett, manager of the Home,
commented on this wonderful local support and is seen with Nick Fritz, President of the Rotary Club of Hungerford.




Hungerford Surgery


Monday 24th Dec: Normal Day 8:30 am – 6:15 pm
Tuesday 25th Dec: Closed
Wednesday 26th Dec: Closed

Thursday 27th Dec: Normal Day 8:30 am – 6:15 pm
Friday 28th Dec: Normal Day 8:30 am – 6:15 pm
Monday 31st Dec: Normal Day 8:30 am – 6:15 pm
Tuesday 1st Jan: Closed
Wednesday 2nd Jan: Normal Day 8:30 am – 6:15 pm

A reminder that outside of the surgeries normal opening hours, all medical emergencies are attended to by the WestCall out of hours emergency service: The telephone number for WestCall is: 0118 978 7811

Extended Opening Hours
Hungerford Surgery continues to offer additional routine appointments on specific days of the month. Early appointments are available on Tuesday mornings whilst late evening appointments are available on one Monday evening per month. We also provide a Saturday morning surgery once a month. Full details of these appointments can be found on our website or by contacting the surgery on 01488 682507.

Flu Immunisation Campaign 2012/13

It’s not too late to get your seasonal flu jab which is free to those patients who fit into one of the following ‘at risk’ groups.
Over 65 years old / Aged between 6 months and 65 years of age and in a clinical risk group / All pregnant women at any stage of pregnancy / Frontline health and social care workers / Those in long-stay residential care homes or other long-stay facilities / Those in receipt of carer’s allowance or whom are the main carer of an older or disabled person.

Please call the surgery on 01488 682507 to make an
appointment with one of our nurses.

Don’t forget the surgery website for requesting repeat prescriptions, requesting
appointments, general information and much more.

Mike Hall – Practice Manage

Virtual Museum

Autumn Manoeuvres, 1872      

140 years ago, in August and September 1872, Hungerford was nearly overwhelmed by some huge troop manoeuvres. The Parish Magazine of October 1872 describes them thus:

“The great event of the past month has been the marching of the Troops forming the Northern Army at the Autumn Manoeuvres through our town, and their encampment upon the Down. Such a sight has not been seen in Hungerford during the present century, and it may well be imagined that it caused no little commotion in our quiet neighbourhood.

The Troops arrived in Hungerford on their way to Salisbury Plain, on Friday August 30, and in spite of the drenching rain they found the inhabitants well prepared to receive them. From an early hour vehicles of every description were driven in, loaded with passengers from the neighbouring villages, business was entirely suspended in the town, and the whole population seemed to have adjourned to the Newbury road, to await the arrival of the soldiers. The whole extent of road from Hungerford to Denford Lodge was thronged with people, the favourite spot being the cross roads by Denford Farm.

The Troops turned off the high road at Denford Mill, and entered the Down at the eastern end, while General Walpole and his Staff rode round by Charnham Street and up through the High Street and Park Street to Hungerford Park. The Hussars encamped at the east end of the Down near the Kintbury Gate, between the Railway and Hungerford Park. The Royal Artillery occupied the south side, and the 22nd and 100th Regiments of Infantry pitched their tents between the roads leading to Kintbury and Hungerford Park. General Parke, with whom was HRH Prince Arthur, had his headquarters a little to the south, the Prince’s tent being distinguished by a purple flag. The operation of pitching the tents was witnessed with great interest by the numerous spectators and the rapidity with which it was done seemed to astonish every one. In the evening the bands played for an hour, much to the gratification of those assembled.

Great as was the excitement and interest shown on this occasion, it was surpassed by that which was manifested at the arrival of the Troops on their return march on Monday, September 16. The town was thronged with people, and all business was made to give way to the engrossing occupation of receiving and welcoming the Northern Army. The first indication of the approach of the Army, was on Friday, September 13.

Between fourteen and fifteen thousand Troops marched through the town during the week.

Hugh Pihlens

For more on this or any other aspect of Hungerford’s fascinating history, visit the Hungerford Virtual Museum – .

The Old Codger

It’s not often in my pages that I give praise, but there has been an occasion that warrants it. Well done Hungerford Town Council, West Berkshire Council and the contractors that
carried out the resurfacing of our High Street down to, and including parts of the A4, and what with the lovely pristine white and yellow road markings it truly has been a job ‘WELL DONE’.

Of course I just have to add a ‘but’, but how about getting the pedestrian crossing that has been surveyed as needed, installed, and the road sign on the north side of the bridge that gave warning to the blind turning that is Canal Walk re-instated. Was there ever official notification to its permanent removal?

I am really fed up, and annoyed that the BT Telephone Preference Service (meant to stop unwanted telephone calls) does not really work. It says they are powerless to stop international calls of this nature. Well surely those foreign calls are on behalf of a UK based claims company, and they should be ultimately held responsible?

The other day we had three from Home Shield, I took the third one, young man said his name was Alistair, when I said we had TPS and was going to report him, he said go ahead BT won’t do anything about it any way. I e-mailed Home shield to complain, 10 days later (as I write this) still no reply! Probably more on this subject in the next issue.

Did you see in the paper and on TV that chap Richard Herman who sued a company for his wasted time (and won) over nuisance calls. Well I e-mailed Richard for permission to use some of his website stuff, and he said yes the following day. So his website is , and a nice informative site it is too. On his home page (amongst other things) are his six steps of things to do..Play along to find out their UK company name…Say “Call again & I will charge my time at £10 a minute…..Record the call so that you have proof (if not write it down)…If called again, Play along to see who it is (get their name, telephone number and address)……Send them an invoice……Sue them in the small claims court.. Examples of paperwork to use are on his website.

So do visit Richards website. He also gives great advice about an ‘outside your door notice’, Go to the TPS and check that you are registered. There I found the Silent Call register , a register against silent calls. All of this is for free.

Well I’ve got me a laptop and an e-mail address , and when I tested it to David’s address it worked o.k. but when I sent it to another e-mail address that used Windows Mail it landed up in their Junk folder, say no more!

Please contact me, through my new e-mail
Don’t forget the dots after the and old

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

In Praise of Hebes

As a garden designer, I look for plants which are easy to maintain (generally a big plus for clients), combine well in planting schemes and are colourful. One such plant group which fulfils this is Hebe, the evergreen Veronica. These plants which range from small to large shrubs, originate form New Zealand and South America but have found a home in British gardens more and more recently. There are so many to choose from to suit a variety of situations, provided they are placed in a sunny site with well drained soil, sheltered from cold winds.

For small plants to grow as ground-cover at the front of a border there are many including Hebe pinguifolia Pagei- with silver grey small leaves and small white flowers in late spring, combines well with purple leaved Heucheras- and the mound forming Hebe Carl Teshner which has green leaves edged in red and produces violet flowers in mid summer.

As the plants are evergreen, they are beautiful all year round. However choose one of the many variegated- leaved varieties and they are sublime. One of my own favourites is Hebe Heartbreaker. It is classed as a small Hebe as it grows to around 50cm and has cream margins to its leaves. It does really well in a mixed perennial border to add shape and structure to naturalistic planting- plus once the other plants have disappeared in winter, its leaves take on a deep red/purple tinge. Recently I planted it with the Daylily Hemerocalliis Pandoras Box ( cream/pale peach flowers with a purple centre) and the ground cover Bugle Ajuga Black Scallop.

Another variegated Hebe is the larger H. x franciscana Variegata which has purple flower spikes in the summer.

It is possible to plant Hebes to flower from spring all the way through to Autumn, starting with Hebe anomola, H, pinguifolia Pagei, then on to H. Silver Dollar and H. Midsummer Beauty for summer colour. Hebe Autumn Glory takes over after this with its lilac blue blooms, although I prefer H. Mrs Winder as it has the added bonus of deep purple foliage and will grow in partial shade. Moreover some Hebe will continue flowering into winter with Hebe Nicholas Blush even providing a show of pale pink in a milder winter.

I also use Hebes to provide lower maintenance alternative topiary. Hebe topiaria grows in a ball shape but unlike its near look alike Box requires little clipping. In fact Hebes in general need very little pruning ( some really dislike heavy pruning); however some of the larger shrubs, which can become leggy, benefit from having older stems removed low down one or two at a time each year to allow new branches to grow through. Dead heading is not necessary but will prolong the flowering season for a dazzling display.

Nature Notes by Hawkeye


Mice, Voles, Rats and Shrews
A mammal is an animal that suckles its young. That is the definition most students learn in Biology lessons. Mamma is Latin for teat and so I guess the definition is logical. However it seems strange that small mice are mammals and they are eaten by Barn Owls and Kestrels.

It is also strange that our domestic cats eat these small mammals or bring them to us as presents.

Unfortunately living in the countryside we are never more than ten yards from a small rodent or vole or mouse. Food for birds maybe, pests for humans. I frequently get “visitors” in my loft and have to remove them. There is a possible threat that they may chew through the electric cables and cause a fire. [I had my fuse board changed to a residual circuit breaker system instead of a wire system for extra security.]

House Mouse (Mus Musculus)
This is the most common small rodent that visits our houses. It only lives for a year. It is about 3 inches long and weighs less than an ounce.
Mice can vary quite a lot in colour but they have large ears and no fur on the tail.
They can climb curtains as if they are walking on the carpet. I know from bitter experience as our cat likes bringing them into the house.

Harvest Mouse
In October I had to remove two mice from my loft. They were brown with white bellies. At first I was positive they were harvest mice but when I researched them on the computer I thought they could have been Yellow-necked mice.

There are three species of voles in the U.K.; the Water Vole, the Field Vole and the Bank Vole. All voles have a round face, a blunt nose, tiny ears and a short tail.

The Bank Vole is the one most likely to be found in your garden. It is slightly larger than the Field Vole and has a chestnut colour.

The Water Vole is very rare and the mammal we all want to return to our rivers, canals and water ways. It is the size of a rat but has a furry tail and blunt face. Surprisingly they can be seen on the Kennet and Avon Canal. Unfortunately it has declined by 95% in recent years and is in danger of becoming extinct in our country. So the residents of Hungerford are very lucky and must count themselves as being priviledged.

Voles are vegetarians and part of Natures Food Chain. They help foxes, stoats and weasels survive as well as some birds of prey.

One year I watched a Field Vole eat an apple I left in my garden for the birds. In another year I found a nest of Field Voles in my lawn. As they breed from March to September this should not have surprised me. The nest was a hollow scrape on the surface of the lawn.

Field Vole (Microtus Agrestis)
This is the favourite food for both Barn Owls and Kestrels. They tend to breed most prolifically, consequently they tend to fight and avoid breeding when there is an abundance of them. This is how we explain the peaks and troughs in their population. Every 4 years there appears to be a glut of them.
Unfortunately for them, Kestrels hunt in the day and Barn Owls hunt in the night.

The rat we usually see in the Hungerford Area is the Brown Rat (Rattus Norvegicus). It is the mammal that carries disease and is not liked. So enough said. However I must say there is a Black Rat found in Asia which is called Rattus Rattus. Some Scientists had no imagination or failed to understand the Carl Linnaeus formula for naming all forms of life.

The most abundant small mammal in the UK and Northern Eourope. Shrews have long snouts and look like mice but are actually related to the mole family and are not rodents.

Common Shrew (Sorex Araneus)
This is found throughout the UK but has not been found in the Outer Hebrides. It lives in long grass and unfortunately is predated by cats and owls. They have been known to raise 4 families in a year. Their main food is worms and insects. So the supply of worms is vital to their existence.

Finally I must confess I did not know that there is a small population of wild cats living in the UK. In Scotland there is a small population of wild cats which is in danger of becoming extinct because it breeds with the domestic cat. It looks like a dark brown Tabby Cat. Some scientists call cats Felis Catus and the domestic cat Felix Catus Domesticus.



Hungerford Library


Do you like being creative? Hungerford Library is hoping to start a Creative Craft group in the New Year .If you would like to join or have a skill you could share, contact the Library for more information.

15th Dec. A drop-in day where a volunteer acting as a contact for the Royal Berks Fire & Rescue Service, will be available to help with advice and any queries you may have.

13th Feb. at 7.30 “Travels in Verse – writers and their wanderings” . Enjoy an evening exploring the travelling eras of past and present through verse.

Rhyme-time for the under-fives is still being held every Wednesday morning at 11.00 during term time.

If you are not already a Library member, why not call in and join up. All you need is one item giving proof of your current address, which will entitle you to borrow up to 15 books and 6 DVDs. You can also request any books on the West Berkshire Catalogue and use the public computers free of charge.

We also offer free one-to-one tuition on using your computer, with six weekly one hour sessions for complete beginners or those wanting to brush up on their IT skills. Just call in and put your name on the list and we will contact you when a place is available.

Sylvia Laker

Steam by Tony Bartlett

Steam railwayswant to know more?

The recent celebration of 150 years of the railway from Hungerford to Devizes has reminded many of us how railways used to be. For the first time in many years a steam-hauled train stopped at Hungerford on 21st June and the crowds who turned out, and the nearly 100 passengers who travelled on it, demonstrate the ongoing affection for steam haulage. It would surprise many people to know that steam trains regularly operate throughout the UK, and several of these can be seen locally in the West Berks, Wilts, Hants, Oxfordshire border areas.

Excursions from the South East to Bath, Bristol and the South West can travel through Hungerford, or alternatively north of here via the Vale of White Horse, or via Andover to the south. Most are day return trips and might go out one way in the morning and then take a different route back later in the day. You can trace these routes on a local map.
These trains are run by specialist tour companies as they fall outside the remit of the normal passenger franchises like First Great Western. They are aimed at a wide variety of markets from steam-haulage enthusiasts with basic needs, to premium passengers in luxury surroundings with silver-service dining.

We are about to enter the winter season – short days, dull weather and cold conditions make it less attractive to wait by the lineside to see a steam train. Likewise, the number of excursion trains on offer is reduced, although the run up to Christmas festivities is traditionally a time of outings for shopping trips and carol services. Several steam-hauled trains pass through the region at this time, visiting centres like Bristol, Oxford and Winchester. After Christmas, the rail-tour business largely shuts down due to low demand – from eight trains to be seen locally in December, there is currently only one scheduled through to the end of February in 2013.

For details of actual train services you really need access to the Internet, or good contact with someone who has, to find out what trains are running, where and when. The enthusiast’s source of reference for this information can be found at  which provides a day-by-day listing of steam-operated services, with details of routings and steam locomotives being used. You will need to select the entries relating to our area. Nearer the day you will find a timing sheet showing when a steam train is due to pass points along its journey. The website provides links to the tour operators so that you can also book a journey.

At the time of writing, it is yet to be seen whether any steam trains in the winter months will be travelling through Hungerford. Keep up to date on-line, and hope for the best!

Finally – have fun, but …. please stay safe – don’t trespass on railway or other private property and be very careful on station platforms, especially with children or dogs, either of which can react unexpectedly to the awesome sight and sound of a ‘Hogwarts Express’ rushing by. Make sure you obey instructions from railway staff and don’t take flash photographs of passing trains. Enjoy!

Tony Bartlett

See our index on the left toward the bottom,or click HUNGERFORD STEAM
(opens in a new window)

Roger Day

Home Guard Under Attack

An extract from Roger Day’s book ‘Look, Duck & Vanish’.

On the morning of Sunday 27th October 1940 several hundred men, drawn from all corners of the Marlborough Home Guard Battalion area, assembled on Manton Down to watch a demonstration by the RAF. Surprisingly, local people were allowed to watch the display and hundreds turned up to take advantage of the free show. Three aircraft, a Westland Lysander, Bristol Blenheim and Fairy Battle took part and initially made three flypasts at 2,000, 1,000 and 500 feet followed by dive-bombing and low level sweeps.
‘Eddy’ Witts was one of those taking part in the exercise and recalls, “We had been watching the RAF display when suddenly the planes disappeared and we waited expectantly for something new to arrive. A few minutes passed and then somebody shouted ‘there it is!’ A plane was approaching from the southeast at between 1,500 and 2,000 feet. It flew over Granham Hill and the college before circling north towards Ogbourne. I recognised it as a German bomber – it was a twin-engine job, a Dornier I think, and it was the first time I’d seen a German plane. It then dropped two bombs, which exploded about half a mile away near the Devil’s Den. Nobody had any ammunition and we were all told to scatter.”

George Lanfear was on Manton Down throughout the exercise and understood the escaping German plane was shot down by a Spitfire! The bomber’s course had been tracked and passed onto Middle Wallop’s Operation Room where the Duty Controller vectored three Spitfires from 609 Squadron, towards it. Each Spitfire attacked the German plane and the following was written shortly after the event by P/O Baillon, one of the pilots. “I followed the leader into a separate quarter attack and opened fire at 300 yards closing to about 70 yards. Oil spurted over the whole of my windscreen and I broke away to the right. I climbed for a few seconds and as the cockpit became filled with oil and fumes… I baled out. The machine landed one mile south of Upavon aerodrome and was completely destroyed. I landed nearby uninjured”. The two surviving Spitfires returned to Middle Wallop and landed at 12:10pm.

Meanwhile, back on Manton Down the battalion was dismissed. Despite the unexpected turn of events the large crowd dispersed in a very quick and orderly manner – considering what had just happened, they’d all had a very lucky escape!

Roger Day

Seasonal Recipes

Pumpkin Walnut and Goats Cheese Rosti

250g Pumpkin, grated
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
100g Goat’s cheese
1 Egg
2tsp mixed dried herbs (parsley, thyme, sage)
40g Walnuts roughly chopped
Olive oil for frying

Add the pumpkin, onion, egg, herbs and walnuts and mix well
Crumble in the goats cheese and stir ( if the cheese is of a soft variety mix in well with the mixture)
Heat a frying pan with the oil and when hot spoon in the mixture and flatten in the pan into a small flat cakes the size of a scotch pancake.
Fry on each side until crisp and golden .

Can be eaten as a starter or served as part of a main course.

More seasonal recipes on the HEAT web site

Are you losing heat?

Now that Winter is setting in it’s a good time to draft exclude and insulate your home as much as possible. The Hungerford Environmental Action Team has a thermal imaging camera which can help you to identify those areas.

Here’s what one Hungerford resident had to say “Many thanks for the use of the thermal imaging camera and allowing me to keep a copy of the footage taken. A hugely useful exercise in educating me on the parts of my house that emitted more heat than I was expecting. In particular it was noticeable how much heat is lost through window trickle vents and solid walls. I was able to prove to myself how effective recent improvements to loft insulation had been. The camera also highlighted a potential safety concern with a hot spot visible on a chimney breast.”

If you would like to use the camera to see where it might be possible to improve your homes heat efficiency, it’s simple to use and can take as little as 15 minutes.

Contact Daniel Cukier email: or HEAT on: 07590 555877.

Visit to Romania,

September, 2012.

Last year, I was in Nepal working with a charity. This year I went to Romania, to see how another small charity works. The charity, ‘Noreen’s Kids’ is run by Noreen O’Gorman, a fast talking indefatigable Irish woman who runs a unit for severely disabled children in a poor part of Romania.
As a community nurse she also heads a team which visits isolated rural communities and dispenses advice on health and nutrition, gives out some medicines, bathes and dresses wounds, provides Pampers and pads for young and old, helps with transport, argues with the local mayor over housing , and finally attends funerals. She is one of the most amazing people I have ever met.

I went in September with Dr Robin Dunn and his wife Anna. I expected to find a ruthless and uncaring society. Romania does not have a great reputation in the world. It’s not so long ago that its people came out from under the shadow of communism and Ceausescu. It still hasn’t a proper government. Instead I was overwhelmed with the kindness and care given to the most desperate cases, not only by Noreen and her team but by dedicated mothers, fathers and grandparents, all trying hard to look after mentally and physically handicapped children and young people, with little or no help from the state. It seemed a momentous task, to change, feed, bathe and talk to children who could often not hear , see, talk or understand and whose only response was a cry or a smile.

The impoverished villages are small and scattered, surrounded by huge fields stretching as far as the eye can see . It is a land of extremes. This year the temperature reached 40 degrees in the summer and last winter it dropped to –20 degrees.

Some memories stick in my mind. Little Lucica, at the Centre, tiny, blind and deaf but smiling when someone brushed her face against theirs. A little boy with a huge head whose father gently lifted him from his bed and hugged him. A husband ,anxious about his terminally ill wife, showing me around his garden, and a young father carefully giving an injection to his dying wife.

I met several wonderful ladies of a certain age, making a big difference to sick and abandoned children .I came back humbled by my experiences in a country not far from here and am now convinced that there is still goodness in the world.

To learn more go to:

Anita Campbell.

Health by Liz

Soothing Cinnamon

At this time of year the cold weather can strike suddenly leaving us feeling anything from lack lustre to extremely unwell. Liz Chandler from Natures Corner looks at a remedy that has been helping families since 1745 – essence of cinnamon.

It was over two centuries ago that Edward Langdale set up his distillery in London to produce essence of cinnamon. Unfortunately, some 35 years later it was burned to the ground during the ‘Lord Gordon Riots’, when a mob of 10,000 people swept through the city in an orgy of destruction. The popularity of Langdale’s cinnamon was so great that Charles Dickens wrote about the distillery in ‘Barnaby Rudge’. It was rebuilt soon after the riots and one of Britain’s oldest herbal remedies has been helping families soothe the effects of the cold for generations.

The warming aromatic qualities of cinnamon are blended with three natural herbal expectorants, ipecac, squill and senega, all of which are particularly useful when the weather turns colder and viruses are more virulent. These ingredients produce a unique product which had its merits fully tested in the 19th century by members of the Army, Navy and Police. Today essence of cinnamon is enjoyed by people from every walk of life as it is vegan and vegetarian, appropriate for children over 5 years and suitable for diabetics as it has no added sugar.

As an additional bonus, other benefits of cinnamon include aiding digestion, regulating blood sugar levels and helping to lower cholesterol. A teaspoon diluted in any hot or cold drink gives a pleasant taste and provides warming relief and is ideal for the festive season.

The British Herbal Pharmacopoeia gives frequent mention as to the powerful effects of cinnamon. Many traditional herbal remedies are steeped in history for good reason – they are simple, effective and still around in the 21st century.

For more help and advice on winter health, please call Newbury’s independent natural health store, Natures Corner.

Our Community


Come and meet the Hungerford Neighbourhood Team on Wednesday the 12th December, we will be in the High Street parked up with the mobile police station. We want to give you the opportunity to tell us what issues you would like us to tackle in our area. So please come to see us between 08.00 and 14.00. If you cannot make it on this day you can always come to my Have Your Say meetings which I hold twice a month Monday the 5th November you will find me sat on the bench at the Town Hall from 11.00am to Midday. Then on Friday 23rd November at the One Stop convenience store between 10.00 am and 11.00am.

Hungerford has had a quiet month with 28 crimes recorded at the time of this report, when I did a check for the same time last year we had 49. Drug related issues remain one of our priorities so if anyone wishes to pass on information about the taking of drugs or dealing please give me a call on 07970145703. Your information will be dealt with in complete confidence.

Overnight on the 2nd October two vehicles were stolen in Kennedy Meadow Hungerford. The good news is that Thames Valley Police has charged two men with a number of burglaries in West Berkshire. Damion Edward Hall, aged 29, from Hamilton Court Newbury, and Matthew Holmes, aged 20, from The Oaks, Newbury, were both charged by officers. Hall was charged with three counts of burglary in connection with burglaries in Harold Road, Kintbury on 29th September; Kennedy Meadow, Hungerford, overnight on 2nd to 3rd October; and Harrington Close Newbury on 7th October. He was also charged with two counts of attempted burglary in connection with two attempted burglaries at different addresses in Andover Road, Newbury, on 11th October. Both were remanded in custody overnight to appear at Reading Magistrates’ Court on the 12th October.

On the 23rd October at some point during the day a vehicle was stolen in Fairview Road. If anyone saw an old style red Mini being moved or driven away please give me a ring on 07970145703.

On the 11th October the team did a mini operation in the High Street, checking seat belts were being worn and the use of mobile phones whilst driving. We were there for one hour and during this time we issued 5 tickets for not wearing seat belts although 12 people were spotted, the paperwork tied up officers. I am pleased to say we did not see anyone using their phone at this time. We have more dates booked into our diaries so BELT UP.

Recently there have been a number of thefts of catalytic converters from vans in Charnham Street and Benchmark Hungerford as well as across the West Berkshire area.
Please remain vigilant and report any persons seen tampering with vehicles immediately on 999.


There are a number of steps that businesses and individual owners of vans can take to protect themselves from this type of theft.
1. Private vehicles should be kept in a secure garage where possible and if no garage is available, in a well-lit public area.
2. Vehicles should be parked in such a way as to make access to the catalytic converter difficult, or parallel park with another vehicle if you own one
3. Commercial vehicles should be kept in a locked building or compound
4. Where possible use alarms, lighting and CCTV to deter thieves
5. Marking your converter with a unique reference will help police identify the owner should it be located after being stolen but please note any additions or alterations may affect your warranty or guarantee for the vehicle so it is advised to check with your dealer first.
6. Protective coverings and security casings make it much more difficult for a thief to access the converter and remove it.
It’s that time of year when we need to top up our vehicles with Anti Freeze. We have had a number of cats poisoned by Anti Freeze. This is a very painful death and distressing for pet owners to see their pet die like this. Can I ask that you dispose of empty containers properly and not leave them lying around and if you spill any please wash it away as it has a sweet taste that cats like.

The Art of Denial or Dance To The Music of Time

My hands are red to the wrist. Blind and clumsy in outsize rubber gloves, my fingers probe the uterus to find the incision I made a few seconds ago. The nurse scoops blood from the opened abdomen into a metal bowl. She pours it through a sieve and back into the patient via a hanging drip bag and tube. Fast as she bales, the level rises. I locate the cut and through it, a small hard head. My fingers inch along slippery curves of back and buttock, hook miniature armpits, slide the baby through the opening and into the nurse’s hands. She wraps the child deftly and continues ladling.

The barely anaesthetised teenage mother murmurs. With looping stitches I secure the gaping uterus. The nurse still ladles but the lake begins to subside. The patient is stirring as I close the abdominal wall; no bikini-line incision, just straight up and down – the safest way for an inexperienced surgeon to get the baby out. As I push the needle through wasted muscle, I misjudge the pressure. It snags, slips, and pierces my thumb.

I volunteered with VSO in 1988, directly after completing my training in General Practice, and was posted to Malawi. After two weeks language training, and three months learning the rudiments of surgery, I was appointed District Health Officer in Mchinji, a small town on the border with Zambia. At the absurd age of twenty eight, I was the only doctor in a district of 100,000 people.

On my first day, Matron presented me with a list of women and their HIV statuses, all positive. ‘Our social workers,’ she said.

These, I learned, were the impoverished prostitutes used by the truckers that passed through town on their way to Zambia. If I walked past the market at night, I’d see them dance in the flickering light of oil lamps, outside the wooden shacks that served as bars. Music poured from tinny speakers, and the young women, many with babies strapped in colourful cloths to their backs, partied to the sounds of Jo’burg and New York. They sold themselves for less than the price of a beer. In a country where most people subsist on less than 60 pence a day, they had neither choice nor future. The girls laughed and danced vivaciously, in complete denial of the wretched truth: they were terminally ill.

My needle-stick patient was HIV positive. I considered this, as I washed my injured hand under the guttering tap. I thought of it a few months later during a week of feverish illness, and again when I found a strange bruise on my thigh – until I realised this was caused by my bike saddle. In those days, HIV AIDS was untreatable, and the public, misinformed by the press, still believed it to be contagious and deadly. I remember one lecture at medical school about a new, mysterious illness suffered by homosexuals, Haitians, and another two groups beginning with H which I have long forgotten. Yet by the time I arrived in Mchinji, one in ten Malawians was HIV positive; now, the statistic is one in seven. On the wards, nearly everyone had AIDS. Nothing had prepared me for the desperate, Dantean suffering of which the world, and even the Malawian government, seemed unaware.

For years afterwards, whenever passing traffic lit up my bedroom wall, I would jerk awake in a cold sweat, imagining myself back in Mchinji. In the absence of bleeps and phones, at night the ambulance would come to fetch me. I’d hear revving outside, and then headlights would blaze at my window. On the short, bumpy ride to the hospital, I used to dread whatever emergency lay ahead. There was no time to brood on my health. My colleagues – nurses and medical assistants – often suffered bouts of pneumonia or diarrhoea, and their skins were pitted and blotchy. I doubt any are living now.

Years passed before I knew my HIV status. Getting a confidential test seemed difficult, and it was easier not to think about it. In the early nineties the Daily Mail, with feigned shock and sanctimony, liked to ‘out’ health workers suffering from HIV AIDS. I mentioned my concerns to my GP in passing, with one hand on the doorknob, as if in a consultation skills teaching scenario. He suggested I attend GU clinic, or speak to the Sick Doctors Trust. As a new GP in a small town, I was embarrassed by the prospect of my patients spotting me in the queue for an STD check; and I wasn’t ‘sick’ – the euphemism for alcohol and drug addicted doctors. I knew I didn’t endanger patients. I had lost appetite for the bloody and heroic side of medicine, and couldn’t bear even to remove ingrown toenails.

Now I work in the inner city. Everyone eats enough, and though my patients moan when I run late, they get excellent free health care. Many lead lives of miserable deprivation, but of the emotional or existential kind. Crushed by depression, loneliness or addictions, some have never been loved by anyone, nor succeeded in any meaningful activity. People suffer, but differently.

Recently, as I tentatively broached the subject of hospice care to an elderly man with advanced cancer, I was horrified to watch his morale suddenly collapse. In a moment I had undermined the powerful, yet underrated, coping strategy that supports him: denial. It took a few weeks to rebuild, but once more, we cheerfully agree that he is ‘getting there.’ I salute him. We are all running head-long into a wall – why think about it? My negative HIV test was a reprieve, but only of sorts. Let’s dance with our friends to tinny music, in flickering lamp-light, as if there were no tomorrow.

Details have been changed to protect patient anonymity.

By: Jo Cannon

Ed’s comment, We met this lovely bubbly lady and her husband on a river cruise in Russia recently, and they were enjoying her prize from winning a short story competition, and this was first published in BMA News.

Jo writes :- It would also be great if you mentioned my short story collection,
Insignificant Gestures which is available from Amazon or the publisher, Pewter Rose Press. (You never know – someone might be lured into buying a copy!)

Readings Plaza

There was a distinct edge to the atmosphere amongst the few hundred people who had gathered at Reading’s Apex Plaza on a cold, rainy autumn evening.

Inside, the lights were bright, the conversations lively, the food plentiful, warming and filling, but the increasing arrival of buckets to capture leaks from the glass ceiling served as a constant reminder that at 10.45pm, we were all going to be kicked out to fend for ourselves overnight and the elements were not in our favour.

This was Byte Night, an event sponsored by the UK IT industry in aid of Action for Children. On the same evening similar events were set up throughout the UK where volunteers, including myself, were spending one night out in the open. The aim is to raise money and awareness for the charity which tackles homelessness amongst children and young people.

Only the previous evening I had been cosied up at the Reading Hilton, at a work award ceremony dinner tucking into prawn terrine, roast chicken and raspberry cheesecake. Now I was about to sleep rough in Forbury Gardens on one of the wettest and wildest nights of the year.

We were able to bring whatever protective gear we liked but tents were out. Now myself and my team of work colleagues were scuttling round the gardens trying to find a suitable tree to camp under. We were a bit slow off the mark and had to settle for one which, although offered some protection against the rain, already had pooling water stretching out from the trunk.

It was that or full exposure to the elements though so we set up our sleeping bags close together forming a tight pack. We hung around chatting for a bit – mainly discussing why on earth we were here – then drifted back to our sleeping bags to try to get some sleep. When I returned to my spot I had to sluice the rainwater off the top of my survival bag before wriggling inside my sleeping bag without any water seeping in.

Strangely, lying there listening to the constant sound of water dripping onto plastic and leaves over the now hushed park was soothing and relaxing to me. I was not uncomfortably cold and I managed to drift off to sleep, waking shortly before the designated end time of 6am.

During the night, however, a rivulet of the pooling water had worked its way into my survival bag and had soaked into my sleeping bag. I had slept on my left and every layer of clothing from top to toe on that side was saturated. I was now stiff and shivering and not for hanging about. My colleagues were in a similar state so we swiftly packed up and departed.

It was on the way home to Hungerford with the car heating on full blast when I started to realise, ironically by my own paradoxical situation, the misery experienced by those who don’t have a choice but to sleep rough night after night. There are 75,000 children and young people in the UK for whom this is real life. While I was able to go home, peel of my wet things, chuck them in the wash, have a hot bath and crawl into a warm dry bed – many people don’t have that luxury. Instead they have no other option but to roll up a soaking sleeping bag, get through the day as best they can and then do it all over again.

The experience I had on that Friday was, I realise, artificial. I was well fed beforehand,
Forbury Gardens was locked for the occasion so we safe and there were hot drinks and medical staff available through the night. Such security and protection is not available for those who endure this on a nightly basis.

That said, this one night did succeed in serving its purpose of providing a glimmer of awareness amongst people like me, a person with a roof over my head, of what people who do not have to go through. Our team is also confident the few thousands pounds we raised will be put to the best use possible in helping relieve this suffering – and we’ll be back next year to do it again, with or without the rain.

Blasts from the Past

From the Parish magazine dated February 1877.

“The Annual Government Inspection of the National Schools will be held on Tuesday and Wednesday, February 20th and 21st.All the Scholars are absolutely required to be present on each of those days at nine o’clock in the morning and at half-past one in the afternoon. All who are absent without leave of the managers will be charged double School-fees for the ensuing year”.

”It has been suggested that a couple of benches placed near the Porch of St. Saviour’s Church would be a great boon to those who wish to rest awhile after their walk up the hill. Our readers will see from the accounts published last month that St. Saviour’s Offertory is not available for that purpose: but the Vicar will be very happy to receive contributions in furtherance of so desirable object. A kind friend has already made a donation of two sovereigns.”

From the Parish magazine dated February 1888.

“On his departure from Kintbury, after a very successful curacy of four years duration, The Rev. T Sotham was presented with a massive and beautiful time-piece, and vases of marble and bronze. The presentation was made by Thomas Lanfear, Esq., as Churchwarden, and many gentlemen of Kintbury bore witness to the great loss which would result to the Parish by Mt Sotham’s departure.”

FOOTNOTE; Unfortunately there is a very sad ending to this extract. Rev. Sotham moved to Hungerford as senior Curate when he left Kintbury, and was very popular and it is believed that the Vicar the Rev. James Anstice and he had become good friends, as this was Rev. Sothams second appointment as Curate to the Parish. He married shortly after moving back to the Town, but happiness was to evade him as on 11th December he was found lying dead in a lane between Leverton and Eddington from a single gunshot wound to the head, still clutching the pistol in his hand. He was 29 years old. His wife gave birth to a daughter in 1889.

More from the Archives next issue. Fred Bailey.

Legal Spot


Our editor suggested this title and I am tempted to say I can’t remember why!

We all suffer from it at some time – how many times do we go into a room for something only to wonder what it was.

If you are ‘young’ and don’t know what I am talking about – read on for a minute. Sometimes forgetfulness is because we put something out of our minds (albeit subconsciously). So many times we’ve been told “Everyone needs a Will” and we think we will do one, only to ‘forget’. If you have anything of value and you die without a Will, will your assets (however few) go to the person or people you want? The Rules of Intestacy mean that unmarried partners will not inherit or maybe you would prefer your brothers and sisters or friends to benefit rather than your parents. A Will enables you to say to whom whatever you have will go. Don’t forget this time.

On a more serious note it is a sad fact that a proportion of us will become so forgetful that we will be unable to manage our own affairs – in legal terms we will not have mental capacity. A person without mental capacity cannot make a range of decisions for themselves. These may be financial and even to do with our health and welfare in extreme cases. To cope with these eventualities we need to have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place before we lose mental capacity. Lasting Powers of Attorney enable us to choose who will look after our affairs when we cannot or they may be useful if we simply become too disabled or disinclined to manage them ourselves. With increasing regulation and awareness everyone is becoming more careful about the legal implications of taking instructions from anyone on anyone else’s behalf. From banks to doctors everyone wants to know there is a Lasting Power of Attorney in place before they will speak to you or listen to what they have to say. It is understandable; if someone says they are speaking for you, you would want to be sure that it can only be someone you want to do that for you and not some well-meaning but ill-informed friend or neighbour. In extreme, but rare, cases it can stop the abuse and exploitation of elderly people.

While we can remember who we ought to appoint and, more importantly too, be with it enough to make sure they know how we would like them to act on our behalf we should all remember to make Lasting Powers of Attorney.

It is not always easy to take these steps but don’t forget – whilst we will surely hope our forgetfulness is just because our memories are too full to remember trivial things (my excuse!) it may possibly be the earliest signs of memory problems in the future.

Amanda May Solicitor MacAuley & Co     01488 682348