Monthly Archives: May 2016

Neighbourhood Development Plan: Blewbury votes ‘Yes’!

The voting in the Blewbury Neighbourhood Plan referendum was as follows:

Total votes cast: 562
‘Yes’ votes: 531
‘No’ votes: 31
Turnout: 42.9%

This means that the village’s answer to the question ‘Do you want the Vale of White Horse District Council to use the Neighbourhood Plan for Blewbury to help it decide planning applications in the neighbourhood area?’ was a resounding ‘Yes’.

Congratulations to everyone on the Neighbourhood Plan team and everyone who helped achieve this successful outcome.

Main Photo: The team and supporters drink a toast to the result. (Thanks to Bernard Mattimore)

Photo below: The official announcement


Buses Update: DVTG’s first Annual Meeting

The Downland Villages Transport Group’s first Annual Meeting will be held at the Astons’ Village Hall, Thorpe Street, Aston Upthorpe at 8 pm on Monday 10th October.

An interim Committee has been working for some time, but the Annual Meeting will be asked to approve an ongoing DVTG Management Committee from representatives of the parishes and bus users and to adopt a constitution. The meeting is open to all residents of the Downlands Villages

The meeting will be preceded by a forum at 7.30 pm to allow people to ask questions and comment on the new bus services. The DVTG has worked to keep our bus services running after OCC removed all the subsidies from Oxfordshire’s subsidised buses. Both services (the Thames Travel 94/94A service to Didcot and the DVTG bus service to Wallingford on Fridays) are operating on a trial basis – they have to be economically sustainable if they are to continue operating – and we welcome your thoughts on the services and how to encourage greater use.

If you would be interested in representing bus users on the Management Committee, please pick up a form at any of the places where tickets are sold or by email from If you would like to propose a topic for the forum or an agenda item for the meeting, please contact David Rickeard at .

** If you need a lift to get to the Astons Village Hall for the meeting, please let us know, by either emailing , or phoning Jo Lakeland on 01235 850490 **

Maranda St. John Nicolle and Jo Lakeland, for the Downland Villages Transport Group

Village Hall refurbishment project update

I am delighted to report that Wren have approved a grant of £50,000 for Phase 1 of the project and the Doris Field Trust have approved a grant of £1,000.

The recent concert in St Michael’s by Jonathan Lakeland and Claire Barnett-Jones also raised £1,000 towards the project. We are very grateful to everyone involved in securing these contributions. We are now well on the way towards our target of £500,000, having raised or had pledged over £250,000 towards the refurbishment.

We hope to start Phase 1 later this year. There is still, though, much to do and at a quickening pace. Our architects are about to submit an application for Building Regulations consent and are preparing tender documents. Only when builders have responded to these with firm prices will we be clear exactly how much the work will cost. In parallel, fundraising continues, with a number of further grant applications having been submitted and a promotional film being made by Didcot Sixth Form College (thanks to the unsuspecting passers-by who were grabbed for interview last week). We have applied for Gift Aid status from HMRC and, once we have their response, we will let people know the arrangements for personal donations. Thanks again for all the ideas, questions and help. The project won’t succeed without the continuing support and encouragement of everyone in the village.  Steve White

Downland Villages Transport Group

Meeting with Oxfordshire County Council

Parish Transport Representatives were invited to a meeting on Subsidised Services with Alexandra Bailey, Fleet Manager at Oxfordshire County Council. At the meeting, it was confirmed that bus subsidies are still to end on 20th July, and bus companies have to give the council 56 days notice of change of service, so by the time you read this we should all know more about what is likely to happen to our buses.

Both the meeting and discussions with Thames Travel have confirmed that there are two possibilities for income that could help keep the 94/95 buses running, the first being the transfer of St Birinus and DGS pupils onto the 94/95 buses, and the second getting section 106 funding from developers of some new housing in the area. While we do not yet know (at the time of writing) the results of the negotiations in these areas, we believe that things are more positive than had been feared early in the process.

We have been asked by Thames Travel for a summary of the results from the transport surveys that have been carried out in Blewbury, Upton, East Hagbourne, West Hagbourne and the Astons, so we are in the process of completing this summary.

We are also discussing with the Oxfordshire County Council the possibility of running some form of community-commissioned Friday service to Wallingford on the route served by the 131. We will try to keep you up to date, by Stop Press if necessary. Maranda St. John Nicolle and Jo Lakeland, for the Downland Villages Transport Group.

A community orchard for Blewbury

Last month we announced that the village has been awarded a grant to create an orchard on Tickers Folly Field.

Now a Community Orchard Group (the COG!) has been set up to develop plans so that planting can begin this winter. The COG has already agreed that the orchard must respect the great feeling of open space under the Downs which is so important at TFF and that the trees should add to the appearance and amenity of the field. It will be a community orchard for all to enjoy so if you have views about which trees should be included, if you have a story to tell about Blewbury’s orchard traditions, or if you’d simply like to get involved please contact John Ogden ( Someone from the COG will be on hand at Sustainable Blewbury’s stand during the Family Fun Day on 11th June to answer questions and to hear your ideas. Volunteer – become a COGGER!

News from Blewbury School

With half term almost upon us it has been a busy few weeks at Blewbury School. Years 2 and 6 have been sitting their SATs (if that is the correct diction) and the school as a whole have been making their way through the National Curriculum with some gusto. The day seldom stops at 3:15 as there are after school clubs on every day with topics ranging from Construction, Art and Maths to tennis lessons and even the odd game of cricket. Very civilised indeed.

Which brings me nicely to the role of the School in the wider community, as even after the clubs have finished there are still meetings to attend and events to plan.

One such event is the upcoming “Music For All” Event at 19:00 on Thursday 16th June with Blewbury’s own Richard Blackford. For those who have not had the pleasure of experiencing Richard’s work he is a world renowned conductor and writer, who has composed four operas, two musicals, much concert music and the scores to over two hundred films. Blewbury School are very proud to have Richard front the event and talk about his experiences and works. The evening will also offer live music from pupils, some information about the role that music plays in the school, and a Q&A with Richard. We do expect the evening to be very popular as it is open to all, not just parents with children at the School, so book your places in advance, through emailing

On a completely different tack, highlighting the diversity of events at Blewbury, don’t miss the Fun Run and Tough Kid Challenge on 26th June on the School Field. The fun run starts at 10:30 and the Tough Kid Challenge at 12:00 noon. Do come and join us or at least look out for the competitors on their route around the Village and cheer them on their way. All are welcome and the School will provide a BBQ, smoothies and a bar (for grown-ups!) on the day.

With so much going on you can be sure that the half term break will be well earned!  Mike Evans, Parent Governor



The SPAB Fellows have been back in Blewbury helping with various projects around the village. They are part way through a six month travelling bursary scheme with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, working right across the UK learning about conservative repair of old buildings, in line with the teachings of the great William Morris. The 2016 group are Heather and Tom, Stonemasons from Scotland and Wales, Lizzie, a glazier from York and Peter, a Scottish roofer. They have been helping to remove the cement pointing to the Almshouse, and repoint in lime mortar, a project led by Michal Wolf. By the time this goes to press, they will also have rethatched a section of Curtoys Lane cob wall. These projects will be continued by the SPAB Scholars, a group of architects and engineers, who are due to visit Blewbury the last week in May.     Marianne Suhr



I love May, one of my favourite months, the warmer weather, the return of the house martins, the lilac is out, and the grass needs cutting!

All that, and two long bank holidays to enjoy without elaborate cooking or shopping to do!  Simply marvellous!

  • Wednesday 4th May, Lyn’s walk, meet at Blewbury Village Hall, 9.15 am, (everyone welcome) for a walk around Highmoor Cross near Greys Court, & lunch at Rising Sun pub, some cars needed!
  • Tuesday 17th, trip to Braemore House
  • Wednesday 18th; trip to London to see “Wicked”
  • Monday 23rd; Oxfordshire WI Quiz night
  • Wednesday 25th, cookery demo at Denman
  • Wednesday 25th Main meeting, Vale Room, 7.30pm, Talk on the “Rather Odd Men Who Have, Over The Years, Become Prime Minister” (visitors welcome)

For more details of any of our events, the date of the next Coffee morning, Scrabble or Mah Jong session, or if you wish to join us, please ring Karen on 850219 or visit our webpage, where you will find more information.  Love from Karen


Easter is over and spring has sprung.

This is a great time for the school and it really is a case of making hay when the sun shines, or in this case peppers, tomatoes and strawberries! For those who have visited us this term you will have noticed three shiny new buildings gracing the school grounds, two lovely cedar wood structures, a smaller one already being put to good use as a music room and a larger one for small group work and outdoor learning. The third, space-age structure, is the “biodome”, a self-contained, solar powered gardeners’ delight and the place where the peppers and strawberries will be flourishing… to be followed by more exotic varieties no doubt.
With raised beds to come, the school now boasts a gardening club and would welcome any keen green fingered Blewburyites to volunteer any of their time to help out or impart any wisdom they may have. We hope to consume some of our own produce in healthy school meals and sell any excess back to the village.

This term the school theme is “Appreciation”, and all classes will take part and contribute on various levels. The term will focus first on Nature and Habitats, then move through the spectrum to Music and the Arts. This themed approach is a great way to integrate the whole school and nurtures a holistic approach to learning and problem solving. It helps to break down any age barriers and encourages all classes to work as a team. Once again, if any residents would like to be involved and volunteer some time toward the “Appreciation” theme do let us know.

Finally, a note about year 6’s impressive feats this term as, following a trip to Wallingford Hospital, they are now able to use a defibrillator, administer CPR and perform resuscitation. They have also been trained as “Junior Citizens” to boot and have learned Fire Safety, Railway Safety, Water Safety and how to place a person into the recovery position, so as I mentioned at the beginning it is a busy time for the School, but I am sure you will agree it’s making it a safer and healthier place to be!  Michael Evans – Parent Governor


Music For All– Thursday, 16th June – 7:00 to 9:00 This Blewbury School community event will be a celebration of the role of music in all of our lives. Everyone is invited to come along to a presentation by Richard Blackford, our very own Blewbury musical genius, who is one of the pre-eminent concert and media composers in the UK. He will talk about ‘Music for Cinema and Concert Hall’. There will also be musical contributions from Blewbury School pupils, and a discussion of the role that music plays in the school. The event will be held at Blewbury Primary School and refreshments will be provided. Please put this date in your diaries now!

Family Fun Run and ToughKid Challenge – Sunday, 26th June – 10:30 & 12:00 Start Times Join us at the School for some active fun! Starting with our annual cross-country race at 10:30, run or walk the family-friendly course of around three miles. At 12:00, we will be debuting a new event – the ToughKid Challenge. Open to children ages 4-11, there will be obstacle races of varying distances. There will be drinks and smoothies as well as a barbeque lunch. Please do support this fundraising event for the School.


On June 30th we are planning for a talk by Mark Palethorpe about the eve of the Battle of the Somme, 100 years ago.

If you have any mementoes of your father/grandfather dating from that time, please let Mark know and we would be pleased to either display them that evening, or to find out from you the story attached to the item. You can contact either Mark or Audrey (850427). The next ordinary meeting is on May 10th in the history room, Parsonage Lane at 8pm.

The owners of Spring Cottage thank many people in the village who reacted very encouragingly to the idea of a campanile. We particularly appreciate the offer from the Church bell ringers to lay the bricks for the tower, from the Parish Council whom The Clerk predicts will be delighted with the improvement a campanile will bring to the village, from the Flying Squad who commented how it would improve the appearance of Greater Didcot, from two somewhat more mature village members who want to bungee jump from the top when it is finished. Other residents have asked if they can build one too – “Of course you can”, we say, “as long as ours remains the tallest.”