Village News

Blewbury School Announces Phased Re-Opening

May 25, 2020

Blewbury School, like other schools around the country, has been busy facing the challenges of Covid-19 during the period since late March.

Although formally closed since the start of the lockdown period the school has remained busy providing learning and practical support for all pupils, including a small minority who have continued to come into school as they were children of key workers or met other government criteria.

A temporary Emergency Advisory Committee (EAC) of governors has been put in place to ensure that the school’s Covid-19 contingency plans are being satisfactorily executed, and that all the children have been receiving adequate learning support. It has been a priority for the EAC and the staff to ensure that all of the children are safe and happy and that all of the statutory provisions for the most vulnerable pupils are in place. The EAC has been impressed by the agility and commitment of the staff, and the amazing support from parents and carers all of which has ensured that the children continue to thrive. The EAC has expressed its thanks to everyone involved for this response.

As the Bulletin goes to press the situation is that the school is intending to start a phased return of pupils to the school from Wednesday 3rd June. This will involve the first stage in a process of phased reopening, following government guidance and Public Health England recommendations. The first children to return will be from reception and years 1 & 6. They will be kept exclusively in their own special group of no more than 15 children, and each group will have one teacher and one teaching assistant allocated to it to ensure appropriate social distancing, and other safety measures, throughout the school day. There will continue to be separate arrangements for key worker children from other year groups, building upon the experience of the last few weeks.

Further information, as well as any updates on the phased reopening arrangements, as well as the minutes of recent governor meetings, are available on the school website (www.blewbury.oxon.sch.uk) . Any questions about what is happening in the school may also be addressed to Miss Becky Costello (head.3248@blewbury.oxon.sch.uk) and/or Kevin Moyes

And the winner is…

May 21, 2020

In early May, readers were invited to choose their three favourite lockdown-themed cartoons from a collection of 25, all drawn by Elphin Lloyd-Jones, that were posted on the Blewbury website.

For a chance to win a bottle of bubbly, they were also asked to suggest a topic, or a situation, that could be illustrated in a new cartoon. The results are now in!

The highest scorer among the existing cartoons was No 9 (‘Over reacting’), shown below.

Just one point behind, in equal second place, were 11 (‘Coping Mechanism’) and 12 (‘A Grave Situation’), followed by seven runners-up: 2, 3, 4, 10, 14, 20 and 21. All 25 of the original drawings can still be viewed here.

The winning suggestion for a new cartoon, featuring the differing reactions of dogs and cats to seeing more of their owners, came from Lydia Wanstall, and is shown as the main illustration above.

Elphin would like to congratulate Lydia and thank everyone who took part – especially Kevin Aubrey, who sent in his entry from New Jersey, USA, despite the fact that his location put him out of the running for the grand prize! (Kevin’s explanation was that he was ‘bored’.)

Coronavirus in Blewbury

May 15, 2020

Here are the main Coronavirus-related news items notified so far; there are more inside the April and May issues of the Blewbury Bulletin. Information affecting the wider area can be found on the Local Government news page on this website.

THIS WEEK’S ANNOUNCEMENTS

• Recycling centres open on 18 May for essential use

Oxfordshire County Council will re-open Household Waste Recycling Centres on 18 May, for essential use. Essential use means waste that cannot be stored at home, or would cause hard to health if stored.

There will be new site rules to ensure social distancing and the safety of residents and site staff. This includes reducing opening hours to 8am – 4pm to allow for cleaning, limiting the number and size of vehicles coming in and contactless payments only.

Queues are likely, so if it can wait, please do. If it’s waste that can be disposed of legally and responsibly in another way, such as weekly kerbside collections or district council collection services, please do that.

Full information about the changes to recycling centre rules can be found on their website – www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/wastereopenquestions

OLDER STORIES

• Information on Church activities

While all church buildings, including St Michael’s, are closed, the church community continue to be very active despite the current limitations on our gatherings and movements. Services and groups are continuing online and by telephone, and the clergy are available if people have questions, would like to talk, or would like to ask for prayer for themselves or someone they care about.

For full details, click here to view/download a PDF file containing the latest information from the Churn Benefice.

• Blewbury Post Office is now open Monday, Tuesday and Friday 9.00am – 11.30am.

Essential transactions only. No home shopping returns or eBay please.

• Bulky waste collection service reopens

South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse district councils have reopened their paid-for bulky waste collection service for large household items and are also issuing a warning about fly-tipping while other outlets for domestic waste remain closed.

The bulky waste collection service was temporarily stopped to allow the councils’ waste contractor, Biffa, to prioritise the important kerbside household collections while members of their waste collection crews were off sick or self-isolating. Biffa has now built up sufficient resilience in its workforce and can now provide the paid-for service again. The situation is being regularly monitored and residents should be aware that if staffing levels fall the service may need to be suspended again.

With household waste recycling centres still closed, along with charity shops and their donation banks, there are fewer places to dispose of unwanted items that do not fit into kerbside collections.

The councils have issued a warning to anybody tempted to fly-tip – this includes leaving rubbish next to litter bins – that they will investigate and prosecute anyone found to be responsible.

• Please stay away from Trim Trail on Tickers Folly Field

Unfortunately there are some visitors still using the Trim Trail equipment at Tickers Folly field. None of the equipment should be used for the foreseeable future. Please be aware that the virus can remain on surfaces and be contagious for many hours.

Please protect yourself and others by not coming into contact with any shared surfaces. This includes, but is not limited to, all community play and fitness equipment.

Should you have any contact, thoroughly wash your hands directly you get home.

Chris Lakeland, Chairman Blewbury Parish Council
Email: BlewburyPCChair@gmail.com

• From the Parish Council:

In the current circumstances, when the vast majority of children in the village are being home schooled and taking exercise breaks in their gardens, the Parish Council asks residents to be considerate and not light bonfires.

• From Sustainable Blewbury:

Our article in the April Bulletin has been superseded by recent Government announcements, so please note that our permaculture orchard garden on Woodway Road is now closed until further notice.

• From the Croquet Club:

Until further notice, Blewbury’s croquet courts should be seen as off-limits for any form of play.

The information we provided to April’s online Bulletin – advising that the courts were still open as long as players took sensible precautions – is now out of date, and has been overtaken by last night’s Government announcements.  We are today closing the courts with immediate effect.

We will review the position as further advice is received, but safety and health concerns must come first.

David Long, BCC Secretary (07484 360169)

BLEWBURY GOOD NEIGHBOURS

If you live in Blewbury and are self-isolating due to COVID-19 we can help with:  Urgent supplies  Picking up shopping  A friendly phone call  Other essential errands • Help (by phone if necessary) with setting up Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime etc – just ask! Please text/call one of the following three phone numbers and a volunteer will arrange to help you: 851777 (Blewbury Post Office), 07825 154842, 07801 932393. If you would like to register as a volunteer, please also call these numbers or visit the Blewbury Good Neighbours page on Facebook. (Please note that the Post Office number will not be in operation during the period when the Post Office is closed for refurbishment, i.e. from Friday 10th April to 2.30pm on Tuesday 28th April.)

PARISH COUNCIL

The April Parish Council meeting (April 8th) and the Annual Parish Meeting (April 22nd) will proceed as required by law, but in a highly restricted form. More details on page 18.

ST MICHAEL’S CHURCH

All weekday and Sunday services are cancelled until further notice, including Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Day. The church will be OPEN every day as usual for private prayer and reflection. More details on pages 10 & 11.

BLEWBURY FLYING SQUAD

Following Government advice on social distancing and non-emergency hospital visits, and taking into account the fact that many of our drivers are themselves members of at-risk groups, the Flying Squad service is regretfully suspended until further notice.

BLEWBURY BRASS BAND SPRING CONCERT

This concert, due to take place on Saturday May 2nd, has been cancelled.

VILLAGE HALL AGM

In view of the current restriction on public gatherings the AGM will be held as soon as possible after the reopening of the Hall following refurbishment, subject to government guidelines prevailing at the time.

DUCK RACE & EGG ROLLING

The Easter Duck Race has been postponed until Sunday September 27th. The annual egg-rolling competition, also scheduled for Easter Sunday, has regretfully been cancelled. More details on page 3.

ARTWEEKS

All physical exhibitions that are part of Oxfordshire Artweeks are cancelled or postponed. More details on page 7.

BELL RINGING

Ringing at St Michael’s has now suspended with immediate effect. Hopefully when ringing is allowed to recommence we will send a powerful message of joy, hope and relief once the crisis has passed.

BULLETIN STOP PRESS SERVICE

If you would like to receive urgent village news and information by email, you can sign up to the Bulletin Stop Press service on the home page of this website. Powered by MailChimp®, all emails are blind copied so no addresses are shared.

Please note that the Bulletin’s coronavirus coverage does not, and will not, include advice on the virus itself, or on how individuals should respond to it. For the latest, most reliable information on these health-related issues, we recommend tuning in regularly to national and local broadcast news, or visiting the following websites (web addresses shortened for convenience):

Public Health Englandhttps://bit.ly/2WmUEUv

Department of Health and Social Carehttps://bit.ly/2WthCci

Coronavirus (COVID-19): UK Government responsehttps://bit.ly/3aWAV1U

Please note that information on these sites is frequently updated, so should be checked regularly for the latest advice.

Blewbury Bulletin: now available to download

March 25, 2020

Partly in response to the coronavirus outbreak, but mostly because we’re now 20 years into the 21st century, the Bulletin is now available as a downloadable pdf.

To access the download page, click on ‘The Bulletin’ main menu item on the top right of this page and select ‘Download the Bulletin’, or simply go here.

The Great Lock-Down Cartoon Competition!

May 6, 2020

Choose your three favourites and suggest a topic for a new cartoon, and you could win a bottle of fizz!

For the past few weeks, Blewbury’s resident cartoonist Elphin Lloyd-Jones has been trying to stay sane by producing a drawing a day. From the 25 examples shown below, he’d like you to choose the three that you think best reflect the strangeness of the times we’re living through. Plus, he’s looking for suggestions for a new cartoon: a situation, or a theme, or a jokey treatment of an incident that you may have experienced or heard about. He’s even willing to reward the best suggestion with a bottle of champagne! (N.B. For logistical and lock-down reasons, the champagne prize is only available to people physically resident in Blewbury.)

To enter the competition, simply email the Bulletin editor with the numbers of your three favourite cartoons, and your suggestion for a new one, by midnight on Sunday May 17th. The winner’s name, together with Elphin’s rendition of the winning suggestion, will be published in the June Bulletin.

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And now… over to you!

On the Bright Side

April 19, 2020

In the words of Eric Idle from the gospel according to Monty Python ‘Some things in life are bad, they can really make you mad, but always look on the bright side of life!’

None of us have ever experienced anything like this before but experience is something you don’t get until just after you need it. This is a time when we realise who our true friends are, those people who know you well but like you anyway. Blewbury has come up trumps in this time of adversity and talking of trumps, try telling Melania that social distancing is a bad thing.

Yes, even in Blewbury there are acute shortages caused by panic buying of avocados and goji berries and millennials shooting a line of bread flour but there are alternatives. Find something small and barely alive, put it on top of rice and strap it up with insulation tape – bingo, sushi! Or a cabbage from Savages, you know, that vegetable that’s as big and as wise as a man’s head. Going back to The Life of Brian – what did the Romans ever do for us, well they brought us tinned tomatoes, that’s what.

As well as bringing the community closer together, there have been other spin-offs, some good some bad. I no longer have to have as many meetings, where minutes are kept and hours are lost. Skipping the twentieth century we have embraced the twenty-first by having a Parish Council Zoom meeting which was ‘interesting’. But I have to say that I miss my twice weekly walk to the Blueberry with my mate Elphin for a couple of pints of Guinness, other makes of dark frothy beverages are available. This in spite of it now coming out of cans and brought to life with a vibrator. We would saunter along Watery Lane with his little legs trying to keep up in spite of doing four hundred Fitbit steps every hundred metres. He follows Ogden’s Law which states that the sooner you fall behind, the longer you have to catch up. But if I am inspired by anyone at this time to ‘always look on the bright side’ it is Elphin. In spite of a pretty ropey year before this mess he has still managed to come up with cartoons to amuse himself and others as he self isolates in Longridge, his house (see picture above).

So, no negativity. If we are all sensible, this will soon be a bad dream.  Chris Lakeland

Village Hall Refurb

February 20, 2020

We are still on track to finish by the end of June.

The Hall has been stripped bare, with openings cut for the new storage area and for the additional door at the back. A drain has been cut for the new Vale Room toilets and scaffolding has been erected in preparation for work on the gable ends and the new flat roofs.

Coronavirus has not yet affected progress but we cannot assume that it will not disrupt supplies or the availability of labour at some point. We’ll be keeping this under regular review and will let you know if anything changes.

Steve White

Editor’s note:  The picture shows Steve White (right) with MD Group’s Site Manager Kevin Campbell outside the Hall (photo: Oxford Mail)

Post Office News

April 23, 2020

The builders have postponed our refit: due to CV19, it’s difficult to get enough workmen in there and still be able to stay 6ft apart. They are hoping to now do the refit towards the end of May or in June.

Meanwhile, I am open on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 to 11.30am for essential transactions, which gives me time to set up beforehand, clean and do the admin afterwards. I am also on the ‘at risk’ register, and Post Office Ltd have told me that I should close immediately if I feel unwell at any time, I will ask the Blewbury Bulletin and Upton News editors to send a ‘Stop Press’ email if this happens, it’s worth signing up to!

I am not handling any post at all, you will be given the self adhesive stamps or labels to put on yourself, and you will put it in the bag! Please wait outside using the scaffolding poles as ‘safe distancing’ markers, and only come in one at a time.

I have got some of the new ‘Romantic Poets’ stamps, but they are disappointingly dreary, and all ‘Special Stamps’ are in quarantine in the safe, as they need licking! Not a good idea really!

If anyone needs emergency gas, electric or phone top up, or local collect parcel, (I’ll try & contact you if I have a local one) please ring my mobile 07825 154842, I will also get emergency cash for you too, if you’re isolated.

Love Karen (& Maggie & Carl in isolation)

Blewbury Good Neighbours Group

April 24, 2020

We now have over 200 lovely volunteers.

If you need a prescription collecting, some shopping done, a letter for posting or just need a friendly phone call, please ring Blewbury Post Office 01235 85177 or see the printed Bulletin for Karen or  Lydia’s mobile numbers and we will then find a volunteer who will call you back.

Woodlands pharmacy now requires a written letter of authorisation to collect on someone’s behalf, so please have a note written out & ready! Please don’t think you’re ‘being a nuisance’, because when we are poorly, we will be relying on you!

Stay safe. Love from Karen and Lydia 

What did you in the big lockdown, Granny?

  •  Blewbury Local History Group

Here we are in a situation dreamed up by a sci-fi writer that none of us could even dream of. Some people liken it to WW2, or the Spanish flu of 1918, but it only bears some similarity to those and is almost certainly affecting more of the world than anything before. We are all part of an historic time, so we should record it. That means all of us, not just academic professors or politicians but us, in Blewbury and around. We, the History Group, are suggesting that everyone should record our new everyday lives. What about random acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity? Funny things that have happened? lf you have time to write about your life daily, keep a diary. Shopping, meeting new people, glove wearing, keeping 2 metres apart, missing the family, the pub, football. The list is nearly endless, and if we don’t record it now it could be lost. Please send contributions to us, see below, any time, any length, and we plan to have an exhibition of a selection of items when we come out of lockdown and maybe a booklet as a permanent reminder.

Contact Audrey on 850427 or audreyrosettalong@gmaiI.com or Mark at markpaIethorpe@taIktalk.net.

  • For anyone interested in the gravestones around St Michael’s (there have been some Facebook posts on the subject recently) there’s a complete list of all the inscriptions, compiled in 1939, on our website at https://bit.ly/2xzOczf