Monthly Archives: October 2019

Blewbury Brass Band Winter Concert

October 31, 2019

Please come along to our Winter Concert at Aston Tirrold and Upthorpe Village Hall at 7.30 pm on Saturday 30th November.

This year’s theme is ‘Christmas All Wrapped up’ and there will be a bar and raffle. Tickets available on the door or from any band member: £7 adults, £1 under 16s. For details please contact

Calling All Carol Singers!


We are running a workshop on SUNDAY 17th November for anyone who has always wanted to sing descants to the Christmas carols.  No need to read music and no need to bring copies.  We will teach you the descants to some of the most popular carols so that you can join in with gusto at all your Christmas events!  If you don’t have a high voice, come along anyway and sing the tunes – all are welcome. The event takes place at St Michael’s Church, starting at 3 pm with refreshments halfway through and finishing at 5 pm. We are raising money for community based projects in Borneo, which Megan Laugharne will undertake during her trip in 2020, so donations towards this will be appreciated.

Community Carol Singing in the Village

The Church Choir will be carol singing in the Village from 4 – 6pm on Sunday 15th December.  Please join us when we will be singing in Grahame Close and Bridus Mead Green or when we walk around the Village.  Please let us know of any of your favourites and we will provide you with some seasonal music and festive cheer.

We will also be collecting donations towards Megan’s trip and her planned visit to undertake community based projects including with the Orang-utan Centre in Sipilak, Borneo.


The Village Carol Concert in St Michael’s Church will be on WEDNESDAY 18th DECEMBER.

Blewbury Local History Group

All of us are history in the making, which is what I was thinking at our recent meeting.

First, at our October meeting we were pleased to welcome some new members and covered many subjects in the discussions. We highlighted an error in the well circulated `100 years of Blewbury’ photograph book involving The Sawyers Arms, touched on the possibility of Eastbrook House having a tannery in its grounds, answered queries on a vicar of Blewbury in 1496 who has (possibly) a relative of the same surname alive today and many other points amongst the myriad of input from all the members. Copies of Berkshire Old and New were also given out.

We also plan to re-produce an A3 map of the village drawn in 1943 which is rather fanciful. It’s very similar to the one you can see in the Doctors Surgery waiting room in the village but with one very subtle difference. We believe only two copies of the map exist, drawn as gifts, with the copy the History Group owns being a very personal copy given to Gladys Hazel of Suffragette fame. It is hoped we can publicise this more in the December Bulletin (published end of November) making it an ideal Christmas present for those of you who leave gift purchases later than some.

Our next meeting is on November 12th at 8 pm in our dedicated room to the rear of Robinsons on Parsonage Lane. All are welcome. Contact Audrey on 850427 or Mark at

Blewbury Pre-School needs your help

Blewbury Pre-School is proud to have been open since 1971, educating generations of children from here, the surrounding villages and Didcot.

We are a registered charity, and as such, the management committee is made up of volunteer Trustees. We run our Pre-School with funding from three sources:

  • Government ‘free hours funding’ for every 3-4 year old for 15-30 hours per week
  • fees directly paid by parents/ carers for two-and-a-half year olds
  • fundraising by the management committee & staff and other financial donations

Sadly there is a significant gap between what it costs to have a child at Pre-School and what the government provides as part of the 15 free hours for 3-4 year olds (or 30 free hours if both parents work). The level at which these ‘free hours’ are funded was set and frozen in 2015, and now only just covers our staffing costs. Government rules on free childcare means we are not allowed to charge top up fees to make up any shortfall. Pre-schools across the UK are therefore having to find other ways of making up the difference or risk becoming unsustainable. According to the National Day Nurseries Association, the rate at which early years providers are closing has increased by 66% since the introduction of the free 15/30 hours funding scheme. Government data backs this up, stating the number of early years providers fell by almost 10,000 between 2016 and 2018. Indeed MPs have warned that “severe financial strain has been placed on private and independent nurseries offering the government’s flagship free 30-hours scheme” and “childcare in England risks becoming the preserve of the wealthy, unless a £660m funding gap in a free childcare scheme is plugged.”

Fundraising is therefore vital to Blewbury Pre-School’s continued existence and our volunteer management committee and staff have worked tirelessly to cover the gap in funding the provision of our early years education.

Here’s a few examples of how increases in costs over the last few years have impacted the Pre-School budget:

  • the minimum national living wage has increased from £6.70 in 2015 to £8.21 in 2019 – an increase of 23%
  • as an employer, pension auto-enrolment for all members of staff became mandatory in 2017
  • both the minimum national living wage and auto-enrolment pension contributions are set to go up again next year, with a further increase planned the following year
  • since 2018 Oxfordshire County Council stopped its commercial waste removal service, so we now must pay for a professional waste and recycling management service

Then there’s the increases in costs of things we’re all familiar with, such as utility bills, rent, annual boiler servicing, building repairs when something breaks unexpectedly, and the cost of replacing worn out equipment – all of which have hit the Pre-School’s budget significantly in the last year.

The result is that Blewbury Pre-School needs your help. In order to continue to offer the same high standard of care and education to all long into the future, we’re planning a big fundraising push on the run up to our 50th anniversary year. If you would like to help, or offer a donation of any kind, please contact the committee by emailing We’d love to create an Alumni or Friends of Blewbury Pre-School group!

Thank you for your consideration – we are extremely grateful for all your continued support.

Sustainable Blewbury



Recently looking for spring bulbs, I told the stallholder that I only wanted daffodil bulbs, no tulips. ‘Muntjacs’ he said. He told me that they don’t eat daffodils because they are poisonous. I am puzzled about our muntjacs.  They are fearless, quite large and look you straight in the eye. I have always understood that they are escaped Chinese Muntjac Muntiacus reevesi   but these deer are quite small, eighteen inches in height, from Woburn in Bedfordshire.  A characteristic of these deer is the white tail which only shows clearly when they are in full flight, and this is true of our deer. But  there is another  escapee, the Siberian Roe Capreolus pygargus, larger which may have crossbred with the Chinese deer. Our muntjac could be the result. These are just my thoughts.  Maybe there are no longer any pure genetic forms.

This is the time of year for finding Hawk moth larvae preparing to settle for winter  in a chrysalis. They are amazingly large and ugly. They are found in gardens under their food plants. Bernardine Shirley-Smith

Our last public apple juicing session this year will be on 27 October – note the earlier time. |
Apple juicing27 October, 11 am to 1 pm at Blewbury Manor

You can also hire our equipment at low cost. Please contact or ring Eric at 07935 232296 for more information and bookings.

Annual leaves clearanceSunday 24 November, 2 to 4 pm

Meet at the Playclose to help us clear slippery fallen leaves from our footpaths. Wear gloves and bring leaf rakes or grabbers and barrows if you have them. If not we will have a few tools you can borrow. Fun for all the family, and there will be FREE tea/coffee/juice with homemade cake at The Blueberry pub from 3.45 as a reward!

Tree planting and community wood

Sustainable Blewbury is aiming to plant trees wherever possible, including helping people to plant on their own land. We are also discussing the possibility of establishing a Blewbury community woodland. If you are interested or want to join in, please contact John Ogden at

Thermal imagingGet your home imaged for free in January

This winter we will again be offering our free service to thermally image homes in Blewbury. Thermal images can help reduce your carbon footprint, make your home more comfortable, and save money. Contact us at or phone Eric at 07935 232 296 to be on our list or to get more information. Would you like to help? It’s interesting work and no experience is needed to help take the images. If you know or want to learn about writing reports that would also be useful. For either just contact us as above.

Large, sturdy metal Christmas tree holder Mark Vaughn 07479 290296
·  Cat carrier basket, hardly used               · 1 litre HG protective coating for floor tiles Chris Whatmore 851055
To freecycle your item please send a short description, email & phone number to Lydia Inglis (

To find out more about Sustainable Blewbury go to
Getting involved is fun and can contribute to the village and its environment. To participate, or to receive
our free monthly Newsletter, email
us at or phone 01235 850372.

Blewbury Croquet Club

The lawns are now in use again after the autumn treatments.

The 2019 AGM was held at the Melland Room on 15th October at which it was agreed that the club is in a good shape financially with well kept lawns. Paul Wolff, Chairman, thanked the committee and all the members who had helped with various maintenance and other jobs without which the club could not function nearly as well.

The club trophies were given out by Coral Richards, President. The Player of the Year was awarded to Peter Allan who not only won the Association Croquet (AC) Prebendal Manor Trophy, the local round of the AC All England Handicap competition but also won the Greek Open Championship, held in Corfu! As a result of all this his handicap dropped during the course of the year from 16 to 9.

Paul also presented the past Chairman, Deirdre Cochrane, with some flowers and thanked for all her work as Chairman for many years before she had to step down last year.

Last, but not least, the afternoon finished with tea and cakes.

For more details please contact David Long, secretary, 07484 360169,

Bridge Club

The club’s members are feeling great sadness at the recent loss of Roy East. He was, of course, one of the founding members of the club and was Chairman for 20 years. He continued playing bridge and supporting Blewbury Bridge Club throughout his long illness, and last played only a week before he died. He will be greatly missed.

The club will host a heat of the Children in Need Simultaneous Pairs on Thursday 14th November. We hope that as many as possible will attend and support this worthy cause – all money received on the night will be donated and we hope everyone will be very generous – we would expect a minimum contribution of £5 per player. There will be a commentary booklet available at the end with analysis of each hand by an expert.

The Annual General Meeting was held on Tuesday 8th October. One of the main points discussed was to generate new publicity locally both for the normal club sessions, and also the Friday night novices and for anyone new to the game who would like to learn. Help would be welcome in distributing notices locally and particularly in Didcot.

The end of October sees the finish of all this year’s competitions and so a new set of competitions will commence from 1st November. It also means that all existing cupholders should return their cups to the Treasurer by the end of October. Michael Allen  851870

Post Office News

We are back to our normal opening hours again, including Saturday mornings, 9.30 to 12, hopefully my leg will improve from now on!

Thank you for being patient with us! I’m not allowed to stand up for too long, but I’m allowed to walk or sit with my leg up, so if you see me dancing about, just join in!

Our big news this month is that Barclays Bank have decided that from January 8th, their personal banking customers can not use the Post Office network to withdraw cash, although cheque & cash deposits will continue as usual, & business  accounts are not affected. The Post Office network are extremely angry about this, and have set up online petitions, but urge customers to contact Barclays to make a complaint if they wish to, I will be closing my accounts & changing bank provider.

You may also have read or seen the news that Royal Mail workers have voted to strike over pay & conditions, this will obviously cause disruption to the collection & deliveries before Christmas, so post early! Happier news is that we have the absolutely gorgeous Gruffalo stamps in stock, & the Paddington Bear 50p, (Paddington station, Buckingham palace & Tower of London) we haven’t got the new St Paul’s Cathedral ones yet, but will keep some back when we get a delivery, for collectors! Christmas 2019 stamps go on sale on Tuesday 5th November, they are a ‘stylised version of the nativity’ apparently. One of them looks like an ultrasound picture to me, but I’ve ordered extra,  pretty ones for the alternative option!

Most of the recommended posting dates for surface mail to far flung destinations has passed, but if you’re quick they may get there in time. Otherwise most of the other international posting dates are in December, although overseas BFPOs are late November.

“Christmas Tree” fund post boxes will be in most village establishments from late November, with the last post on 15th December & sorting & delivery just after that. I still have a few roads & lanes that need a postie, just let me know if you can help. All money donated will go towards paying for the tree on top of the church in Blewbury, whilst the Upton post money will go to a project at St Mary’s.

My usual reminder that sometimes it’s very hard to see pedestrians & cyclists around the villages in the dark evenings & mornings, please wear some reflective items, & check your bike lights are working properly, too many cyclists seem to forget that a bike needs static lights by law, & the ‘flashy’ ones are an extra, not the main light! Please also remember that fireworks at night are a real nuisance to pet owners, families with young children or older people who are tucked up in bed, and are woken up by loud bangs & whizzy things, we can cope with one night, but when it goes on every night for weeks, it’s very annoying! Love from Karen and Maggie xx

Blewbury WI News

By the time you read this, I hope the constant rain and wind will have stopped and we have some real nice Autumn weather enabling us to finish all the work in the garden, ready for next Spring.

The following events are lined up for November and we would love any new members to come and join us in a friendly atmosphere.

  • Friday, 1st Craft evening at Liz’s. 7pm. Please bring nibbles, bottle etc.
  • Tuesday, 5th Lyn’s Walk. Meet at the Village Hall at 9am. Destination of the walk will depend on how much rain we have had. Bring Bus Passes in case we return by bus!
  • Monday, 11th Scrabble at Bernardine’s. 7.30pm. Please ring beforehand.
  • Tuesday, 12th Coffee at Style Acre. 10.30am.
  • Friday, 15th Talking Science lecture at RAL Harwell. 1.30pm.

“Vampires – not for the nervous!” Dr. Kathryn Harkup. Science Communicator.

  • Wednesday, 27th Blewbury WI Main Meeting in the Vale Room. Social Evening. 7.30pm.
  • Mah Jong. Monday afternoons at 2.30pm. At different venues. Contact Sharon 850412 for details.

For more details of any of our events, or if you wish to join us, please ring Cilla on 851966 or visit our web page, where you will find more information.    Love from Cilla.

Bell Ringing News from Blewbury Tower

It seems strange not ringing at Blewbury!

Our practices at Steventon are well supported and feedback from Steventon villagers is that they are enjoying hearing the bells on a Friday night. We have also continued to support towers in the Benefice for Sunday ringing especially North Moreton who are very short of ringers.

Project Resound continues to be on target and the clock is now chiming again, thank you to Dick Street who has been making fine adjustments to ensure accurate time.

We are looking forward to ringing again at Blewbury in December.