Monthly Archives: December 2017

William Dent Robinson 1911 – 2017

December 14, 2017

William Dent Robinson, one of Blewbury’s oldest residents and the sole surviving member of the original staff of St Birinus School, Didcot died peacefully in his sleep at home on 4th December. He was just three weeks away from his 106th birthday.

William’s family were from Cumbria though William spent much of his childhood in Leicestershire after his father became the head of a village school there. After attending Reading University, in 1933 William joined the then co-educational Didcot Secondary School at its Manor Crescent site (now part of Didcot Girls School). It was here that he met his future wife, Winifred, who taught Mathematics. Three years later when Berkshire County Council decided to segregate the boys from the girls, William was a founder member of the staff of Didcot’s newly built St Birinus Secondary Modern School for Boys.

William took a break from teaching to serve in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. He undertook wireless interception and intelligence work near the front line in Europe. He took part in the D-Day landings and in 1945 he was close by when the German Belsen concentration camp was liberated and when Field Marshal Montgomery accepted the German surrender on Luneberg Heath, North Germany on 4 May prior to VE Day. After a subsequent posting to India and Singapore, in 1946 William returned to Didcot to resume teaching at St Birinus School. He oversaw the Geography Department and was also acting Headmaster for a year and for two decades was Deputy Headmaster. In the early 1950s William oversaw and participated in one of the UK’s earliest post-war pupil exchange visits with a German school – to Bad Harzburg. He was also active in the National Union of Teachers and was a member of the local examination board for Geography before retiring in 1973, just before Didcot became part of Oxfordshire.

After that William enjoyed cycling, walking, reading, writing, doing The Times crossword and gardening at his home in Blewbury where he lived for over 75 years. He also kept a close watch on the local weather, having his own meteorological records dating back over 60 years. After his wife Winifred’s death in 1992, William was involved in the John Betjeman Society, the British Legion and the Methodist Church. Until 2016 he continued to visit family in Cumbria each Summer and still maintained close links with former pupils and teaching colleagues from St Birinus School.

William could very clearly recall the celebrations at the end of World War One and he often reflected on the many changes that had taken place over his lifetime – the jet age, space exploration and the IT revolution. As a former Geography teacher he enjoyed Google Earth and was also fascinated by satellite navigation. But he always said the most amazing thing in his lifetime was Man’s landing on the Moon!

William is survived by his son Nick and daughter-in-law Linda.


December 31, 2017

Thank you to everyone who voted for the project in the Aviva Community Awards.

Unfortunately, we again failed to reach the final, but will be getting a £100 consolation prize. Much more positively, the project has received £2280 from Blewfest and £8500 from the Definitive Rat Pack. Many thanks to the whole Blewfest team and to Sheila Loy, George Long and the Rat Pack team for these magnificent contributions from two outstanding village events.

Buoyed up by these donations, we will be identifying a builder in the New Year who can do the work at a sensible price. We will be discussing a start-date and, depending exactly how much we have in the bank and success with funding applications, whether to do the job in one go or in phases. We won’t be able to afford everything we would like to do; nor can we afford to hang around indefinitely hoping to raise all the money we need. We need to get on.  With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year.  Steve White

Sustainable Blewbury


Annual village leaves clearance on 3rd December: For the second year we turned this chore into an enjoyable family event. There was a very big turnout – more than 50 people pitched in to clear the footpaths of slippery, wet leaves quickly and efficiently. Many of the children wore leaf crowns made earlier in the afternoon at the school. Afterwards, The Blueberry offered hot drinks and juice to go with a wonderful array of home-made cakes. Some of the leaves will be used to make leaf mould for mulching at our permaculture orchard garden. The rest will be made into composta at Agrivert at Benson.

We’re very grateful to The Blueberry for their warm hospitality in sponsoring this event, everyone who made and donated delicious cakes, David Hollick and team for collecting all the bags of leaves, Becky Costello and Blewbury Primary School for getting the children interested and involved, and the Parish Council and PTA for support.

Thermal imaging: Every winter we borrow a thermal imaging camera from the Vale of White Horse District Council in order to help anyone who wants to improve their home’s insulation. It’s a double win – for the climate and for your bills. We can also check the effectiveness of any insulation improvements that you have made. We’ll have the camera during January – if you are interested in having a survey, contact us as above. This is a free service offered by volunteers from Sustainable Blewbury.

Hedge-laying: Work has started to lay the hedge along Pound Furlong Lane, the footpath connecting Cow Lane and Rubble Pit Lane (which leads up to the Chalk Pits). When that is completed work will move to the last stage of completing the hedges around Tickers Folly. Anyone who would like to join the group should contact either Alex Musson ( or John Ogden (

Thanks: Sustainable Blewbury has had a very busy and varied year – there’s a summary in our latest monthly newsletter, available via a link on our web home page. We would like to thank all of the many people who have given their time and effort in different ways to make our events, projects and other activities successful.

To find out more about Sustainable Blewbury, go to If you’d like to get involved in what we do, or to receive our free Newsletter, contact us at


Hello to everyone.  Just a reminder of our forthcoming events in January 2018, to which all new members will be welcome.   Happy Christmas and a Peaceful and Healthy New Year to everyone.

  • Tuesday, 9th January Coffee at Style Acre. 10.30am.
  • Tuesday, 9th January Scrabble at Rosemary’s.   30pm.  Please phone first.
  • Wednesday, 24th January WI  Monthly Meeting in the Vale Room. Speaker, Neil Stewart : Beating about the Bush in Africa.  30pm.
  • Friday, 26th January   Talking Science lecture at RAL Harwell. 1.30pm.  Last Day of the Dinosaurs. Professor Phil Manning.
  • Monday, 8th January Mah Jong at Judy’s 2.30pm.  Every Monday afternoon thereafter.  30pm.
  • A reminder that there will not be a “Lyn’s Walk” in January, because of the New Year’s Day walk to Aldworth.
  • Friday, 5th January    Craft Evening at Liz’s.  00pm.  Please phone first.

For more details of any of our events, or if you wish to join us, please ring Karen on 850219 or visit our web page, where you will find more information.       Love from Cilla.


Your Local Village Gardening Club

Our annual social on the 2nd December at Upton Village Hall was a great success with great food and plenty of fun and games.

Our full programme for 2018 will be circulated in the Blewbury Bulletin and in the Upton News (online) but in the meantime just another reminder, please make sure you have the following dates in your 2018 diary.

16th June – Visit to West Green House Gardens, Hartley Witney, Hampshire

7th July – Annual Summer Show, Blewbury Village Hall

11th August – Visit to Royal Horticultural Gardens, Wisley, Surrey

2nd November – Annual General Meeting, Vale Room, Blewbury Village Hall

8th December – Annual Social, Upton Village Hall

On behalf of the Committee Members of the VPA, Season’s Greetings and very best wishes for the coming New Year to all the residents of Blewbury and Upton.

And finally,

DID YOU KNOW ? If you have a small garden you should place your bright, colourful flowers or larger-leaved plants nearer the house rather than at the end of your plot of land because the eyes are immediatey drawn to bright colours and bigger objects. If you put them at the end of the garden they will have the effect of making it seem smaller than it is. Happy Gardening Eileen


The Christmas break will be a hard earned one for both pupils and staff at Blewbury school, with the Children looking forward to a visit from Santa, and the Staff some well-deserved R&R, as it has been another busy term.

Those parents with children at Blewbury School will know that there are common themes which run through the school’s curriculum. This academic year the topic is “Innovation”, and it has been warmly embraced by the pupils. Each term the theme is broken down into subdivisions and the last term has been labelled “Farm to Fork”. Children love inventing things, and when given the opportunity to design their own bread they relished the opportunity (no pun intended). When I was informed that I would be on the receiving end of some marshmallow and chocolate loaf, I was not lit up with anticipation, however, the reality was quite different, and I can now see a career in food technology ahead for some very imaginative students. If bread was not your thing, then perhaps pizza may be more tempting. The dough was made from scratch with basic ingredients, but the only limit to the topping varieties were whether they were edible (well, that was the brief anyway). I learned of many new, never considered, bread ingredients and pizza toppings including edible glitter and other such sparkling delicacies.

The purpose of all of this is, of course, education and what a fun way to learn. Take, for example, the science of bread. Adding simple ingredients to make a more complex compound and studying the material change. Then comparing that to melting a pan of chocolate and cooling it again so it returns to its original state. There is plenty of maths involved too. Measuring, weighing, working out quantities and being precise in the calculations (particularly of the edible glitter). Reading and writing too, documenting new recipes and observing the findings and results, as well as the design of the finished product. Our students were also give the opportunity to study different breads from different cultures, thanks to some wonderful input from our overseas link schools who shared their own local recipes and ideas with our school.

In addition to the academia there has been traditional Christmas activities too, including a carol service which incorporated carols from around the world and a musical nativity production which identified the plight of refugees and donated all collections to UNICEF. Foundation year took a trip to the Cornerstone and Key stages One and Two made a journey to the Watermill theatre to watch a performance of the Borrowers.

Food to fork has been a great theme for last term, but I must say I am really looking forward to the New Year theme which will be entitled “What did they do for us?”. The pupils will study Ancient Civilisations and will look at many aspects of technology passed down through the ages and used today. It will also give me an excuse to blow the dust off the Monty Python videos at the back of the cupboard.

Have a wonderful Christmas.   Michael Evans, Class 6 Link Governor




It’s been a different month as far as Bell Ringing is concerned.

The bells were silent for two weeks on both practice nights and Sunday mornings due to the performance of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe which was a truly amazing performance, congratulations to all those involved.

Richard and Gill Loyd were part of the Old North Berks Branch (ONB) team of 10 ringers who took part in the Guild’s 10 bell striking competition. The team were placed 1st and will take part in the national competition in May 2018 a first for ONB! Many congratulations.

We now head to the festive season, do listen out for the bells. We will be ringing for the Carol Service, Midnight Service on Christmas Eve and again on Christmas Morning.

As has become tradition on Boxing Day Morning a team of 8 ringers will attempt a ¼ peal. This year it will be in memory of Mr William Dent who died recently (he would have been 106 yrs. this Christmas). The end of 2017 will hear the bells ring out the old and ring in the New Year.

We wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.



It’s that time of the year when little is growing at the allotments but there are still veggies to pick if you have been organised over the summer. Brussels sprouts are ready to harvest in time for Christmas and there are still plenty of leeks on the allotments.

On my allotment my veggies have all been collected and I am turning my thoughts to rogue blackberry plants. Blackberries are great in hedgerows and for picking on walks around the village, but on the allotments they are a bit of a nightmare. Basically they are ferocious growers and spreaders, sending out underground runners which invade adjacent allotments if neglected. About 10 years ago I had a campaign to eradicate a wild bank of blackberries growing in the ditch adjacent to my allotment. This was mainly to stop them blocking the ditch which is the main runoff route for waters draining from Blewburton Hill and eventually draining into the Blewbury stream. I thought I had eradicated them from the ditch but they cleverly rejuvenated on the other side of the ditch and over the past three years have grown fast and spread, so they now cover the ditch again. So it’s time to chop them back. However, they are actually growing on one of the new allotments we have acquired thanks to Mr Allan at Winterbrook Farm and the Parish Council. Unfortunately this allotment is a bit abandoned at the moment, so if anyone wants an allotment with a built in blackberry supply let me know.

Climate change is almost certainly happening now, and not surprisingly it is beginning to impact on the allotments. Extended growing seasons are having an effect and it has been noticeable that the warm autumn has resulted in continued growth of plants and veggies. My daughter and her kids plant dahlias on the allotment and the plants produced a steady stream of amazing flowers over the summer and into the autumn. My Dad always said that you need to dig up dahlia roots at the end of the year and wrap them in newspapers and store them in a cool shed. However, because there are fewer frosts now, this is no longer necessary and they will survive left in place, as long as they are covered with some mulch or leaves to stop any hard frost. Perhaps one of the few benefits of climate change. Paul Whitehead


It is unfortunate that the Christmas Party had to be cancelled. However, the Hall has now been booked for Sunday January 14th for a New Year (‘Christmas’!) party instead.

Mike Brown and Malcolm Cochrane came 69th. nationally, out of around 2,000 pairs, on the Thursday heat of the Children in Need Simultaneous Pairs, with 63%. Well done to them.

Winners of our various annual competitions are as follows: The Tom Le Cren Cup for the Men’s Tuesday ladder – Richard Bird; The Marjorie Le Pen Cup for the Women’s Tuesday Ladder – Shirley Moore; The Pari Parsu Cup for Tuesday Handicap Pairs – Bob Downey and June Wells; The Blewbury Bridge Club Cup for Tuesday Handicap Individual – Dermot Paddon; The Roy East Cup for the Thursday Handicap Ladder – Heather Saysell; and a shield for the Most Improved Player to Pres Wells. Well done to all.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  Michael Allen  851870


So sorry about the unexpected closures recently: I have been quite poorly, and have only managed to open in the mornings, too exhausted to manage the afternoons as well. Hope I get better soon, as I am quite fed up with it!

We will definitely be open in the mornings, but afternoons cannot be guaranteed. All Parcelforce items must be in by 11am, and any Special Deliveries must be in by 11.30am, in time for the postman to collect.

We have also had a big problem with our land phone line, which is in the process of being fixed, but it’s Post Office Ltd so who knows how long it will take? This also means we have no Paystation at the moment either! (pre paid gas & electric keys)

Last Posting dates are:

Second class – 20th December

First Class & Special Delivery – 21st December

Special Delivery (Saturday Guaranteed) – 22nd

We will be open on the 23rd, the Saturday morning before Christmas, then closed on the Monday & Tuesday, open Wednesday 27th morning, Thursday & Friday, and then closed on Saturday 30th before New Year & the Monday. Allowances will be paid early on the Friday as usual! I hope the paystation is fixed by then, but I am home over Christmas & new year (07825 154842), for emergency top-ups, so please don’t go cold or without power, or drive to Oxford! We have been told by Royal Mail that we may not get any collections/deliveries if the weather turns bad again. (elf & safety again!)

We wish you all a merry Christmas, a happy, prosperous & healthy new year!   Love from Karen & Maggie