Village News

It’s official: John Wiggins broke TWO rowing records!

April 1, 2016

In 1976, the Bulletin reported that John Wiggins, son of Roy and Meta, rowed in the winning Oxford crew in the Boat Race of that year.

A former pupil of Wallingford School, and then in his first year at Keble College, John was No. 7 in the Oxford boat, which not only won the race but set what was then a record time of 16 minutes and 58 seconds over the classic 4 mile (6.8 km) course from Putney to Mortlake. As the Bulletin’s front-page article put it at the time, CONGRATULATIONS JOHN!!


Now, 40 years later, that article has helped prove that John should be recognised for another “officially amazing” achievement: according to the Guinness Book of Records, he was then, and remains now, the youngest person ever to have rowed in a winning Boat Race crew. On the certificate held by John in the main picture, the full citation reads: “The youngest rower to win the University Boat Race is Austin John Wiggins (UK, b. 20th July 1957) who won the race at age 18 years, 212 days, in London, UK on 20th March 1976”.

So once again, the Bulletin is proud to say CONGRATULATIONS JOHN!!


May 1, 2016


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.”


Blewbury Brass Band is entering its busy summer season and both the Main and Learner Bands have been working hard rehearsing new music for our concerts and fete programme.

The Learner Band recently entertained shoppers in Didcot with a performance outside the Cornerstone. We played a lively programme of pop tunes, marches, spirituals and more and were treated to a fine display by some of our young soloists. We were joined by Dawkes Music and our Main Band musical director Ian Barlow, of, who encouraged local youngsters to try an instrument. This proved very popular and will hopefully have attracted a few new players.

On Saturday 23rd April, both bands can be heard at our annual Spring Concert in Blewbury Village Hall at 7pm. This year, the concert falls on St George’s Day so we are playing music with an English theme including Floral Dance, the Standard of St George, Eleanor Rigby, the Vicar of Dibley and many more popular pieces. Tickets are available on the door priced £7 (adults), £5 (seniors), £1 (children).

This year, for the first time, the band will be competing at The Oxfordshire and District Brass Band Association Festival in Woodstock on Sunday 24th April. The band has developed and progressed over the last few years and the festival gives us a great opportunity to show other bands in the area what we have achieved. Our young players are competing in many of the junior sections and some of our experienced adult players will be representing the main band in the duet, quintet and ensemble classes. Hopefully, we should have a trophy or two by the end of the day.

If you would like to see the band, please come to our concert, or come and support us at Brightwalton fete on 1st May, at Wallingford Castle Gardens on 29th May and at Ticker’s Folly, Blewbury on 11th June. For more details, please visit our website on

For details about joining the band, please visit our website:

or contact Julian Gallop (, 07984 046731).

For tickets for any of the events please contact Lindsay Lott 07749050886.   Lindsay Lott


March 22, 2016

The PC was extremely pleased that Beeswax Farming has created a Permissive Pathway across its land between the top of Cow Lane and Rubble Pit Lane.

They responded positively to our request and we are grateful to them. However a Permissive Path is made at the discretion of the landowner and in order to ensure that we retain a public right of way the PC intends to submit an application to make the track from the top of Woodway to Bohams Road a Bridleway/footpath. This will take a considerable amount of time but we are starting to collect evidence in support of this application now.

We would like all users – dog walkers, walkers, cyclists, horse riders etc – to fill in the evidence form which could be obtained from the Post Office or downloaded here. Guidance on how to complete the form can be downloaded here.

To see which area will be covered by this application, you can consult this map.  Please identify the stretch of the path for which you can provide evidence and mark it on the map.

Please return the signed hard copy of the form and the map to Jane Gibson – 5 Westbrook Green or the Clerk, 83 Dibleys. Remember that you can provide evidence not only of your own use but that of others using Question 12 on the evidence form.

The more evidence we can provide the better and we must be able to cover a period of 20 years or more. Both current and historic evidence will be most useful.

Image above and maps:
© Crown Copyright and Ordnance Survey Rights
Parish Council PSMA OS Licence No.100041147


March 21, 2016

In one corner of the Blewbury’s old cemetery in Boham’s Road are two fairly ordinary graves, which are the main reminder that the village has of two women, Gladys Hazel and Dr Gertrude Austin, who retired to Blewbury in the 1930s and lived in a newly built bungalow in Westbrook Street, with Gladys’s school age nephew, Peter Waterfield.

They lived there for over twenty years during which time Peter grew up, went to Oxford University, married the daughter of the Vicar of Didcot, and then left the village to pursue a career as a school teacher and head teacher. Peter, now in his 90s, lives in Cornwall. Just last year, to his amazement, he came across an old manuscript which turned out to be his Aunt Gladys’s memoirs. These memoirs reveal that, in her earlier life, she had been a very active, militant Suffragette. She was born in 1880 and had become a school teacher in Birmingham, when she was invited to a tea party, which was addressed by Emmeline Pankhurst sometime around 1908. Fairly soon after that she became heavily involved in the Suffragette movement, working in their offices in Birmingham, Leicester and Bristol over a period of several years. Passive campaigning led to more militant activity. On one occasion for example, she describes stepping into the middle of a road to obstruct a troop of mounted police during a visit to Birmingham by Asquith. The cavalcade was forced to part either side of her to great cheers and laughter from the assembled crowd. She calls it her “first taste of heady power” and writes: “I was immensely exhilarated”. Not all acts of defiance were as enjoyable. During the time she was in Holloway Prison, Gladys took part in a hunger strike and was force fed. In her memoirs she describes the occasion when the now famous Emily Wilding Davison attempted suicide in Holloway, trying to end the suffering and force feeding of others. “My cell door was open and a warden hurried to me calling: ‘Come quick!’ I followed her out to the gallery. And there was Emily Davison. She was sitting with her feet hanging down over the stairway her face closed and set. The warden said, ‘Speak to her and stop her doing it.’ I felt suddenly full of [emotion] and in a sort of rage and I said, ‘Why? She’ll be well out of it.’ And I turned away. I heard her fall and saw her lying across the steps as they hustled me into my cell.” Earlier in 1912 she had been involved in a demonstration in New Bond Street in London. She was arrested after smashing several windows of Asprey’s store, but while being led away by a burly policeman still managed according to his account in court to ‘break two more windows’. So this quiet old lady living in Westbrook Street from 1939-1959 had quite a colourful past campaigning for women’s rights, and it seems that no-one living in Blewbury at the time knew anything of her past. Her nephew has very fond memories of his time in the village, and is collaborating with the Local History Group to ensure that his aunt’s exploits on behalf of such an important cause are not forgotten. Anyone else with relevant information about Gladys and Gertrude is encouraged to contact the group. Roger and Elizabeth Murphy

News from Blewbury Pre-School Playgroup

February 21, 2016

We are now well into the term and our theme this year has been ‘People Who Help Us’.

We have enjoyed visits from the Police, our local GP Dr Sally Lewis, Dental Nurse Stevie, and the Fire Officers from Didcot Fire Station.

We have baked cakes with Tash Pepper, cooked stir fry to celebrate Chinese New Year, learnt all about farming and had lots of fun exploring and learning through the early years’ curriculum.

On 19th March we are holding our annual Spring Craft and Food Fair in the Village Hall, please do come along and support us, we would love to see you there.

Blewbury School: Expanding Horizons

January 29, 2016

Over the last week I have had cause to visit Blewbury Primary School on two occasions and each time I have left feeling rather impressed and proud.

As a “Link Governor” for Class 6 I was privileged to be invited to watch the making of a radio programme, and with the help of their teacher, Becky Costello and production expert Jack Mills, was captivated by the creativity and sheer enjoyment the class showed in creating timetables, playlists, agendas and articles for the broadcast. The material the class produced was fresh and current and their delivery could put some seasoned broadcasters to shame. Moreover, nobody was left behind as there was enough diversity in the task to appeal to every pupils’ interests. Importantly, this kind of learning shows the lateral thinking taken by the school in tackling the educational agenda and putting it in a real world scenario.

Which brings me nicely to my second visit…

January 19th saw the school host a “Curriculum Evening”, not a box ticking exercise showing parents what their children will be doing in the terms to come, but instead an insight into the mindset of the school. The progressive attitude of Blewbury School was demonstrated admirably in adopting a philosophy which challenges the way we think. “Children love challenges” we are told by the school head Marion Mills, and in a series of video backed presentations parents are shown the methodology behind the teaching. The school believes that all children’s abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point! Parents are encouraged to praise effort and motivation and try to get their children to view themselves as learners. We are told that when our children say they cannot do something, the key response is – you cannot do something  “yet”. Surely a life lesson for all of us! Workshops followed where parents could understand the roles of Science, IT and Spelling (including a difficult test for the parents, which we were not prepared for!), and the evening concluded with a powerful message on protecting children from the dark side of the internet, underlining how seriously the school takes all aspects of safeguarding.

Next week I am looking forward to travelling with twelve of the year 6 radio broadcasting team to Cheltenham to visit a recording studio where their hard work will be transformed into a professional piece… watch this space for a memorable link. No doubt it will be the third time I will leave feeling impressed and proud.

Michael Evans Class 6 link Governor and parent