Skip to content

Monthly Archives: October 2021

Local networking group joins fight against Covid

October 22, 2021

The online business networking group, Networking in…, has been chosen by the South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils to host a new online business networking event for the region.

The three-year-old organisation, whose parent company Outside Ideas is based in Blewbury [see their ad on p 12 – Editor], offers a virtual networking capacity that will play a key part in the Councils’ joint initiative to minimise the potential for spreading Covid through face-to-face business events over the winter.

Networking in… is no stranger to Covid. Soon after opening its doors as a face-to-face networking operation, the outbreak of the pandemic forced it to hold its first online event in February 2020. “Numbers dropped by two-thirds for those early meetings. It was tough,” says the group’s founder Peter Mols, “but we knew that if we stuck to our values of being warm, welcoming, inclusive, supportive, and fun, we’d find a new audience – and we did! We played around with the format a lot in the early days and over time we’ve created a concept which is unique in the online space. The underlying rule is that it must be fast flowing and it has to be fun.”

As the world started to open again, the group was faced with a dilemma: go back to face-to-face or stay online? It was an easy decision for Peter: “We’ve found a loyal tribe who have become friends that we wouldn’t get to see if we went back to the old days”. Peter also highlighted that remaining online has other benefits “it’s easier, more convenient, more environmentally friendly and saves a huge amount of travel time. It’s hard for a hugger like me,” he admits, “but I genuinely believe it’s the future”.

The new partnership with South & Vale, which sees the councils subsidise attendee fees for the first 40 local businesses people to register, will take place on the second Wednesday of the month at 10:30 till 12:00. It will follow the same format as other Ni… events with the addition of a brief update on local business support from SVBS. Nick King, Principal Economic Development Lead for South and Vale District Councils said; “we are looking to increase the capacity for covid-safe networking opportunities across the area. Networking in… has got a genuinely unique feel to it and we love the energy in the rooms.” To book your place visit and use code SVBS to redeem 50% off the cost of your ticket.

Goodbye to Chorister Caitlin

In September, the Church Choir bade farewell to Caitlin Smith as she leaves to study at Exeter University.

We are so grateful to Caitlin for her time with the choir of nearly 10 years!  In the photo, Caitlin received flowers and a gift with some of the choir.

If you love singing and want to join a Choir, we are very fortunate to have two in the Village!  For Blewsing, please contact Sheila Loy for further details: 850537 or or for the Church Choir, Sharon Phillips on 850817 or

BVS Halloween Disco

October 3, 2021

The BVS are delighted to announce that, in partnership with Blewbury Pre-School, we will be holding a Halloween Disco on Saturday 30th October from 7:30pm in the Village Hall.

Entertainment will be provided by the live band ‘Too Much Stuff’ playing a selection of tracks from the likes of ZZ Top, Blondie, Guns n Roses through to more contemporary artists such as George Ezra, with a disco between band sets. There will be a bar so please no ‘bring-your-own’ and over 18’s only.

Fancy dress is welcome, but not compulsory.

Tickets are £6 and can be purchased from the Post Office or by emailing All profits will go to Blewbury Pre-School and local causes supported by the BVS. Please note that this event could be subject to Covid restrictions and full refunds will be provided if the event cannot go ahead.

We are also hoping to hold our monthly BVS meetings in one of the village pubs going forward – these are usually held on the last Tuesday of the month and would be open to everyone to drop in, whether you want to be a member of the committee or just get involved in a particular event. Watch the BVS Facebook Group for details of time and location if you’d like to come along.

Vale Of White Horse District Council update

October 21, 2021

Hello! We’ve had a busy month since our last update, with two Full Council meetings in addition to our usual committees and parish councils, but it has been brilliant to also get out and about in the community a lot more.

We can highly recommend DISH, the fantastic new food and drink venue on our doorsteps at the Harwell Campus. With a range of local street food vendors, a bar and regular live music, it’s a great place for breakfast, lunch, dinner or drinks and it’s a short cycle or bus ride away from the nearby villages.

Back in September, we had a lovely time at the Blewbury Village Hall Refurbishment official opening. Well done and thank you to all involved in this incredible long-term project to refurbish this wonderful community asset. It was an excellent opening event for the while community to enjoy, with a fantastic market – including the now legendary Blewbury Bread Co – and the Blewbury Brass Band doing an excellent job as usual, providing the perfect musical backdrop to a lovely celebration in the sunshine.

Harwell Village Hall also has lovely new bespoke signs outside, designed and made by local artist Julie Grose and funded through the arts contribution from housing developers. Councillor Margaret Crick, Chair of the Vale of White Horse District Council, attended the official unveiling of the signs, alongside Abigail Brown, arts officer at the council, who assisted with the research for the pieces. Well done to the village hall committee and everyone involved in this project.

We are very pleased that the Chilton Neighbourhood Plan has now been adopted by the Vale at the latest Full Council meeting. This is great news for Chilton, well done to all those involved in developing the Neighbourhood Plan, a huge amount of work and effort went into this. Neighbourhood Plans are a really important way that local communities can influence planning applications in their area, as all new planning applications should adhere to the Neighbourhood Plan. Local planning policy developed by local people is always a good thing.

Last weekend we met with our fellow councillor colleagues and friends Cllr Victoria Haval and Cllr David Rouane at the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot. We had a good chat about our shared aims for the Didcot area, and enjoyed the delicious coffee, cake and bagels at the Cornerstone’s Nourish Café – well worth a visit. Congratulations to David Rouane on being elected as the new leader of South Oxfordshire District Council.

We will use these monthly updates to keep you updated on our activities, general council news and any COVID-19 developments,. We also post regularly on our councillor Facebook Page: Cllrs Hayleigh Gascoigne & Sarah Medley – please do not hesitate to get in touch with any issues or concerns, either via Facebook message or email: and

COVID-19 Community Support

A reminder to all residents that the councils’ Community Support Hub continues to operate for anyone who needs any assistance, either as a result of COVID-19 or just for anyone who needs signposting towards the appropriate support channel. There are multiple ways to get in touch with the Community Support Hub:

Residents can also contact:

  • Citizens Advice – 0808 278 7907
  • Vale Community Impact – 01235 765348

Remember that the latest figures are updated on the county council’s interactive dashboard on a daily basis. The national change in rules on self-isolation for fully vaccinated people took effect on 16 August. We encourage residents to get tested regularly and, if they feel unwell, book a PCR test, as Covid-19 is still very much around.

Garden Waste Suspension

Service update 21st Sept, 21

Dear Garden Waste Customer

Firstly, please accept our sincere apologies for the disruption to your garden waste service this summer.

We are pleased to share the news that we have agreed a temporary arrangement with Biffa that will enable us to begin collecting garden waste again from 27 September.

The well documented national shortage of HGV drivers is still an issue for Biffa, as well as for other council waste collections and many supermarkets, but the temporary arrangement they can provide requires fewer drivers, which means the service can resume sooner.

The temporary arrangement is that fortnightly collections will change to take place every four weeks, but you will be able to leave twice as much garden waste out as normal.

We appreciate this is still not the service you expect from us so we will be extending your subscription this year by three months to make up for the collections that you have missed while the service has been suspended. We will delay the collection of your next Direct Debit payment by three months – if we have recently informed you that your payment is due to be taken imminently but the payment has not yet come out of your account, the payment will be cancelled, and you will be notified of the revised collection date in due course once your subscription has been amended. If somebody else pays for your garden waste collections, please let them know of this change. If you choose not to continue with the garden waste service when your subscription expires, we’ll continue to empty your brown bin for three months after your subscription was originally due to end.

While we will be reviewing the situation closely on an ongoing basis, we have set an agreed review date with Biffa at the end of October to see if the normal service can resume and we will let you know the outcome of that review.

Your collection day remains the same as before

If your bins are usually emptied on a Monday, for example, your brown bin will still be emptied on a Monday under a new temporary garden waste timetable with your bins emptied once every four weeks, instead of every two weeks. 

You can see the temporary timetable on this webpage, which shows when your four-weekly collection will take place.

Remember, when you put your garden waste bin out while this temporary timetable is in place, you can leave an extra bin’s worth of garden waste out next to your brown bin. The extra garden waste can be put out in cardboard boxes, old compost bags or bin bags (not the very large trade waste bags please).

We will still collect your food waste weekly, and your recycling and rubbish every two weeks as normal.

We want to thank you for your patience and understanding and apologise once again that the service has fallen short of the standards you have come to expect. We hope you feel that the temporary arrangement is a good way of getting the garden waste service up and running sooner rather than later, while Biffa continues to look for ways to address its driver shortage.

Local News:

Cornerstone and the Beacon now open

Cornerstone in Didcot and the Beacon in Wantage have fully reopened their doors. Hot off the heels from our successful Didcot Garden Party summer programme, Cornerstone is now open Tuesdays to Sundays and has tickets available for a wide variety of performances coming to the arts centre in the next few months – see the website for more information. The Beacon, which was used as a vital symptom-free testing centre until June, has been converted back to a vibrant community venue with its coffee shop now open on Mondays to Saturdays – more details are expected to be published on classes, performances and live music at the Beacon soon.

Council News

White Horse Community Lottery

The first draw took place for the White Horse Community Lottery on Saturday 18 September with many supporters winning a variety of prizes including £25 to 3 extra tickets. One good cause had multiple winners! In addition to this, players of the first five tickets drawn have won £100 to donate to a good cause of their choice.

Since the launch, many good causes have joined the White Horse Community lottery and can now benefit from vital unrestricted funds and players can support the causes they care about the most. It’s predicted that over the next year, the lottery will raise just over £28,500 for good causes in the district.Please spread the word to good causes in the area and encourage local voluntary groups and charities to register.

Great success as children across southern Oxfordshire become Litter Bug Detectives

Vale of White Horse and South Oxfordshire district councils’ waste team successfully worked with 20 local parish and town councils to run children’s activity trails in the school summer holiday.

New policy to boost the planting and protection of trees on public land

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse District Councils have launched a new policy which outlines how they will protect, plant and manage trees on the land they own, and how they’ll support communities to apply to plant trees on council owned land.

Joint leaders’ statement to mark World Homelessness Day – 10 October

The Oxfordshire Growth Board is now the Future Oxfordshire Partnership

The Oxfordshire Growth Board has officially renamed as the Future Oxfordshire Partnership. The partnership’s new web address is and their social media accounts have also been renamed.

Councils discover Air Quality Superheroes in southern Oxfordshire

The district councils launched the competition for primary school children across southern Oxfordshire earlier this year, challenging the children to create an air quality superhero.

Celebrating 10 years of enterprise success

It has been a decade since the first enterprise zone was created in Oxfordshire, and during that time the zones have helped scores of businesses to grow, created thousands of jobs and invested millions of pounds across southern Oxfordshire.

Amazon wishlist for specific donations to help Afghan guests

People in Oxfordshire are being asked to make donations of very specific items to help Afghan people currently being looked after in the county after their recent arrival in the UK following events in their home country.

Litter picking equipment presented to St Nicolas school in Abingdon

St Nicolas CE Primary School in Abingdon was presented with 30 children’s hi-vis jackets and other litter picking equipment by Vale of White Horse District Council as part of a council competition.

A joint statement by the leaders of South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils, Cllrs Sue Cooper and Emily Smith to mark World Homelessness Day on 10 October.

Council Meetings

The latest Full Council meeting of the Vale of White Horse district council was held on 6th October. The meeting agenda can be found here and the video recording of the meeting can be found here. More detail below on the motions passed at this meeting:

More funding for new community facilities as updated rates for developers agreed

Councillors have agreed revised rates that developers will be required to pay towards community facilities and local infrastructure that are needed as a result of development growth in the Vale of White Horse District.

Vale to reaffirm its climate commitment by joining influential leaders’ network

The motion, seconded by Cllr Hayleigh Gascoigne, Vale of White Horse District Council has agreed to start the process to join a national network which gives local government leaders greater influence and resources in tackling the climate emergency – UK:100.

Leader’s Statement – 6 October 2021

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, delivered her Leader’s Statement to Council at the meeting on 6 October 2021.

Council calls on the government to reverse Universal Credit uplift cut

Cllr Emily Smith, Leader of Vale of White Horse District Council, is to write to the Chancellor of the Exchequer and the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to express grave concern about how families in the Vale will be impacted by the government’s decision to cut the £20 Universal Credit uplift.


Statement of Community Involvement

We are currently working with South Oxfordshire district council to produce a joint Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) to cover both districts.  The SCI sets out how we will consult on planning applications and planning policy, including the joint Local Plan – Until midnight on 20 October 2021. Click here to take part in the consultation.

Sustainable Blewbury

October 3, 2021

Read our most recent newsletter at

Blewbury Garden Market: Continues at Blewbury service station on Saturday mornings 9.15 to 11.15 until the end of September. If you have surplus fruit, vegetables, flowers, preserves or baked goods for us to sell, bring them along at 9.00 am (you keep 90% of the price). For more information, please contact either Eric (850558 or 07935 232 296) or John (850372 or 07785 364 072).

Apple Juicing: Our remaining public sessions at Blewbury Manor stable will be on 26th September, and 10th and 24th October, from 2.00 to 4.00 pm. Bring washed apples (bad bits removed, but no need to remove cores) and your own clean bottles or containers We can pasteurise the juice so it keeps for up to a year, but if you want to pasteurise (which requires glass screw-top wine or drink bottles), note that this is a slow process, so please arrive well before 3.00 pm. Unpasteurised juice can also be frozen in plastic bottles. If you have too many apples for our public sessions you can HIRE our equipment for £15/day in Blewbury or Upton, £20/day elsewhere. For bookings and/or more information, contact Eric at or 07935 232 296.

Hedge laying: Will soon be starting up again. We have organised a free training day on 27th September. If you would like to learn the skills of this ancient, traditional, green craft, we will have a trainer for the day (Clive Leeke) and can provide all the necessary tools. If you are interested then contact John Ogden ( or 07785 364 072) for details. Places are limited so please book as soon as you can. Britain’s hedges are a very special feature of our countryside, a vast natural habitat and a vital carbon sink. Hedge laying is the ideal way to strengthen and rejuvenate old hedges.

Talks: We will be running a new series of talks, starting on 18th October with Old House to Eco House: making your historic home more energy efficient. See separate item about our talks in this Bulletin for more details.

Getting involved in Sustainable Blewbury can contribute to the village and its environment. To participate, or to receive our free bi-monthly Newsletter, email us at or phone 850372.



Marianne Suhr, local resident and co-author of Old House Handbook and Old House Eco Handbook, kicks off our new series of talks with Old House to Eco House: making your historic home more energy efficient. Marianne will be talking about houses built before 1900, and the challenges homeowners face when trying to retrofit them to reduce heating bills. As well as ‘quick wins’, she will show case studies of more complex interventions, and discuss the issues regarding moisture movement and condensation.

This talk will take place on Monday 18 October at 20.00, Melland Room in Blewbury Clubhouse (doors open 19.45).  Tickets £6 including a drink of your choice.

Dr Brenda Boardman, Emeritus Fellow at the Environmental Change Institute, University of Oxford, will lead our November talk and discussion on one of today’s most urgent topics:  15-Minute Neighbourhoods and other local issues:   what do we need within a short walk from home?  For an introduction to Brenda and her work, just listen to her on BBC Radio 4’s Life Scientific on 21st September 0900, also available on BBC Sounds.

This talk will take place on Monday 22 November at 20.00, Melland Room in Blewbury Clubhouse (doors open 19.45). Tickets £6 including a drink of your choice.

BlewShed News

We held our first post-lockdown BlewShed Wednesday club meeting on 8th September when members attended a demonstration and discussion of how and when to use any of the many different types of power saw, most of which are now available at the Shed. The meeting adjourned for a convivial discussion over a beer at the Blueberry – this could become a regular item on the agenda!

Shed opening times are Tuesday and Saturday afternoons 1.30-4.00 pm. There is an outside seating area for breaks, conversation and a cuppa, weather permitting. If you have been waiting for the right time to start a DIY job, or a project you’ve seen on YouTube and want some friendly and expert advice now is a good time. You don’t need to be a member to come along. Or, when members have a particular project for which a workshop is needed, the very well-equipped Shed is there for you to use, whether your project is large or small.


Our regular club meetings are where members and outside experts can share their special expertise. Please let us know if you have any suggestions for topics, demonstrations or hands-on practice you would like to see. The next one will be on Wednesday, 13th October, when we look forward to Dave Carless giving a demonstration of welding.

Meetings are on the second Wednesday of each month at 7.30 in the Shed (next door to the Band Practice Room) and everyone is welcome, whether or not you are a member. We look forward to seeing you.

Mike Wrottesley, Club Secretary

Blewbury WI News

Hello Everyone. Hope you all are getting used to being out and about and will join us at the following events:

Tuesday October 5th   Coffee Morning at Style Acre Tea Room 10.30am

Wednesday October 6th Lyn’s Walk.  Meet at the Village Hall at 9.30am. Walk will be a bit longer than often (just under 4 miles) but underfoot should be reasonable and there will be an opportunity for coffee a mile from home.

Scrabble session. Date & venue to be confirmed. Ring Judy on 850381

Wednesday October 13th Lunch at The Blueberry.  12 noon for 12.30pm.

Wednesday October 27th WI Main Meeting. 7.30pm in the Vale Room.

Mahjong Regular weekly Monday sessions are continuing. Contact Sharon Pegram (01235 850412) for details.

For more information please contact our Secretary, Joy Boness, on 01235 850543 or visit our web page, where you will find more information.       Love from Cilla.

Bridge Club

As I write this we have just made our first attempt at re-starting Face to Face bridge in the newly refurbished Vale Room, on a Tuesday night.

Regrettably, very few members turned up, despite our extensive preparations and requirements to minimise the risk of infections spreading, which included wearing masks. As some may not relish the prospect of spending 3 hours in a mask, we decided to have 5 minute breaks after every couple of rounds in order to allow players to go outside and remove their masks. We plan to have one more attempt to get F2F bridge off the ground next Tuesday (21st September, and so, by the time you read this, that will probably be last Tuesday!)

The Annual General Meeting of the Club is to be held on Zoom at 7pm on Wednesday 6th October. Only those who express an interest in joining the meeting will be sent a formal invitation to join the Zoom session. The Agenda and Minutes of the previous AGM will be circulated separately, as will a summary of most matters to be discussed, in order to streamline the meeting somewhat, such that we only need to discuss the issues on which there may be varying opinions.  Michael Allen  852870


Post Office News

The latest updates from Royal Mail are now insisting on the correct customs label being fully filled in, in block capitals (tracked or not tracked). You must itemise the contents, with the weight and value of each item (on everything that’s a large letter or parcel), and also sign and date, otherwise the parcels will be returned to you and no refunds will be available. Airmail stickers must be applied to every item going overseas going by plane. Customs restrictions on value will apply and customs charges may apply in the destination country. Please check values and restrictions before sending! (

NO COVID tests will be accepted at post offices; please put them in a PRIORITY post box as these postboxes are sorted at the depot & dispatched first. The Blewbury one is in Church End, outside Chestnuts & Carpenters.

We are incredibly busy at the moment, so please make sure your mail is ready to send, addressed, with a customs label & an airmail label on if needed BEFORE you get to the counter.

Katrina has been a very clever girl and got a proper job for a while, she may be back, but meanwhile we send her our best wishes!

Stay well and safe. Love from Karen, Maggie & Michael