Monthly Archives: August 2019

A Milestone in Local Conservation

August 26, 2019

Almost two years after being broken in half by a person or persons unknown, Blewbury’s historic Grade II listed milestone, now fully restored, has been returned to its rightful place at the western end of the village.

Marking the distance from Reading to the east (15 miles) and Wantage to the west (9 miles), the near quarter-tonne triangular milestone from the old Harwell & Streatley Turnpike has languished in Savages’ car park while an affordable solution for its repair and return was explored. Responding to a social media post and an article in the November 2018 Bulletin, stonemason Ryan Morris, from Aston Upthorpe, volunteered his services free of charge and has restored the stone to the required conservation standards.

Howard Ward, who wrote the articles, has nothing but praise for Ryan’s work, and for the help and cooperation of the Milestone Society, Savages and local highways and conservation officers. “It was a complete pleasure watching a skilled stonemason at work”, says Howard, “He made everything he did look so easy. In fact, the whole team effort, involving experts in their various fields, has been a joy to see.”

Special thanks are due to four other people involved in the project, as well as the stonemason himself:

Emily Karau, the Conservation and Design Officer for South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils, was one of the first people to respond to the appeal for help and, although being subject to quite a long spell of illness, managed to keep her eye on the Milestone over and above of her normal work.

Derek Turner, of the Milestone Society, provided chapter and verse on regulations, as well as information on what the Milestone Society expected when repairing, repositioning and replacing the Blewbury Milestone.

Richard Savage gave sanctuary to the broken milestone while awaiting repair: “I don’t know what would have happened if Richard had not given his permission for it to be kept and restored on his property,” says Howard.

And finally, Mark Francis of OCC Highways was responsible for the Milestone’s journeys to and from the Highways Depot, and arranged the crane and crew for removing it from Savages to its original position alongside the A417.

Asked how he felt to see his appeal finally achieving a result, Howard said “I am simply happy that the milestone is back home.”

Blewbury School

August 27, 2019

SOME RECENT & FORTHCOMING EVENTS

Following its poor OFSTED outcome last Spring, much has been happening at Blewbury School to give it a fresh start and a bright future. Bulletin readers who are interested to learn more might like to access the Blewbury School Governors’ Annual Report, which will be available on the Blewbury School website (www.blewbury.oxon.sch.uk) at the start of term (Wednesday 4th September).

The Governors are aware there is still a lot to do to address ongoing concerns, but improvements are being seen, with some having already been recognised by external experts. The Governors want the community to know they are committed to ensuring that every child in our School achieves their full potential. They do not shy away from recognising the many and significant failings identified by OFSTED, but rest assured they are addressing them – not least those matters raised by parents such as concerns over behaviour. In fact this latter matter is one seeing many positive signs of significant improvement. In addition to the School Improvement Plan, each governor has a clear monitoring role, the Headteacher and staff have clear objectives in place and the Interim Executive Board are robustly holding them to account for progress. Based on this, governors are confident that rapid progress will continue from September which we should all view as the first chapter in the school’s journey. The Governors are very much focused on looking forward not back.

One of the biggest developments that has occurred in the last few months is that, as a consequence of the OFSTED outcome, the School is being compulsorily converted into an Academy. The Regional Schools Commissioner has decided that the school should join the Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST) by the end of 2019. It is hoped that this move will bring many advantages to the School. ODST is a large well respected and established multi-academy trust, which already includes 33 infant, primary, junior, and middle schools. Blewbury School will become part of the ODST Southern Area Hub, which also includes Grove, the Hendreds, Northbourne (Didcot), South Moreton and Fir Trees (Wallingford) Schools. Anyone interested in learning more about this ODST development is invited to attend a Community Session at Blewbury School on Monday 23rd September at 7:30pm. This session will be attended by a Parent Governor and a Headteacher from another ODST school. Please send any questions you may have in advance (by September 13th) to  the Chair of the IEB kevin.moyes@blewbury.oxon.sc.uk .

Blewbury app

HELP NEEDED TO SUPPORT THE BLEWBURY APP

It’s been a year since the Blewbury app launched and it currently has 500+ registered users – a mix of current & former residents, people from neighbouring villages and others with connections to the village. While the app largely self-manages, and we add new people every week, overall usage is unfortunately declining. To improve, it needs greater attention than I’m able to give and I’m looking for help in two areas.

First, I’m looking for someone to help with editorial, a point person to work with the Bulletin team and the village’s clubs and societies to get more content in the news feed and update the events list. The team at the Bulletin have been supportive but are too busy to take this on too. Currently I rely on those already in the habit of publishing to the app, but I believe others will post more often if the audience is there. The community self-moderates and doesn’t need policing; this is about getting content into the app, not deleting posts.

Secondly, I need someone to help with technical support; working with the team at Disciple (who host the app) to address any technical issues, and support people with simple things like password resets and logins. I currently do very little of this but my expectation is, if more people use the app more often, this will be required.

I will remain involved (not least as my company currently pays for the app’s running costs, and is responsible for data-compliance) – I’m just in need of some extra help. My guess is that each role need only take up to a few hours each week, as & when you can. Both roles are technically simple and you will get help from myself and others. The platform is simple to use with basic training.

This may appeal to anyone interested in media and marketing (practical experience like this can look good on CVs) or anyone in our community open to taking on something new. While I expect many others also want the app to succeed, I’m aware people are incredibly busy, and the community-minded are often called on to support other projects and take on more – which is why I have split this into two roles. I’m also aware that people may not want to be saddled with a job ‘forever’ so I’m only looking for an initial commitment until the end of the year. If you’re interested or have any questions, please email me at blewburycommunity@gmail.com. Thanks so much. Matt Phillips