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Royal opening for Marlborough St Mary's - Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall to perform the ceremony

19-01-2018 Sue Round

On Tuesday January 30th Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, will visit Marlborough St Mary’s CEVC Primary School to officially open the new school.

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Marlborough launch for new Wiltshire based charity aiming to help young people

18-01-2018 Sue Round

An enthusiastic audience of well over a hundred attended the launch of the new Wiltshire charity Thriving Through Venture (TTV) at Marlborough Town Hall (January 17). The charity has been set up amid concerns that we have in our society an increasing number of young people who lack self-confidence, self...

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Looking at Welfare: Receiving and Giving

18-01-2018 Andrew Studdert-Kennedy

  Perhaps it’s the time of year, perhaps it’s the outbreak of flu but the news in the opening days of 2018 has been reminiscent of Private Fraser’s catchphrase from Dad’s Army, ‘We’re doomed’.  Queues in hospital corridors, a crisis in social care provision and the prospect of huge black holes...

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Livestock Manager (Fixed Term) - Sheepdrove Organic Farm


  Livestock Manager (Fixed Term)   Sheepdrove Organic Farm     The Livestock Manager will take responsibility for the 110 suckler cows and followers and 500 ewe flock.You will also be responsible for managing the Farm Team on a day to day basis, record keeping, medicine administration and livestock recording.  You will ensure that all legal requirements...

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Campaign revived for safer A4 west of the College and more cycle-ways


Accusations of people driving at excessive speed - sometimes with the result shown above - and evidence of poor safety provision for pedestrians along the Bath Road/A4 west of the College, were discussed by the Town Council's Planning Committee of Monday (January 15).  

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Nursery Administrator - Little Saints Nursery, St Francis School


  Nursery Administrator   Part Time (15hrs per week), Annual (52 week) contractRequired February 2018   Little Saints Nursery, at St Francis School, is currently recruiting a Nursery Administrator to join our caring, passionate and professional team.  The successful candidate will work with the Nursery Manager, taking responsibility for the financial and administration aspects of...

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Hockey: Marlborough men's first team back on form - a clean sheet & eight goals

16-01-2018 Matt Way

Marlborough started the second half of the season - with their home game against Bristol UWE (January 13) - knowing they needed to get back into the rhythm that saw them win their six opening games.   And reassuringly that was exactly what happened. 

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Town Council's plea to Wiltshire Council as decision on sale of Rabley Wood View open space nears


The controversy over the sale for a housing development of the well-used and safe open space and amenity land off Rabley Wood View, is about to move to County Hall, Trowbridge.  The deadline is approaching for the final decision by Wiltshire Council's cabinet on their plan to sell the land.

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George Lane and London Road to be re-surfaced in April


Now for some welcome news:  Members of Marlborough Town Council's Planning Committee were told on Monday (January 14) that Wiltshire Council is to re-surface George Lane and London Road in April - the first month of the new financial year.

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Mark Rylance unveils a memorial seat to Jimmy Gardner, dramatic hero of the skies and the stage

Victor Gardner and Mark Rylance talk over past timesVictor Gardner and Mark Rylance talk over past timesJust after noon today (Monday) on the immaculate Green at Marlborough it was curtain up time in memory of Jimmy Gardner, a small man with a big reputation who never thought he would die.

But remarkable, forever smiling Jimmy did pass away, aged 85, in May 2010 at the Royal Free Hospital, in London.

And ignoring the icy wind a huddled group of family and friends raised the temperature at the unveiling of a memorial bench in tribute to a man whom his brother, Victor, modestly remembered as “a very nice chap.”

Dramatically present to tell us about the true Jimmy was the award-winning actor, director and playwright Mark Rylance, who unveiled the seat from beneath a blue damask cloth to reveal a shining plaque that declared: Dedicated to the Life of Jimmy Gardner DFM. Actor and war hero – 24.8.1924 to 3.5.2010.

“I met Jimmy when I was 22 and he had a most profound effect on me, as he did on most people he met,” revealed Mark, now 53.  “I don’t know if it was his experience in the second world war or if he was just born with a certain frame of mind, but I never met a man who loved life more and enjoy life more.”

Mark Rylance stands head bowed as the Last Post soundsMark Rylance stands head bowed as the Last Post sounds“He was one of these people who was always prepared for the surprised visitor, for the unexpected guest.  He was a great host. That’s quite a high spiritual thought as well as just a practical one.”

“So I hope that this bench, which is a great expression of Jimmy’s soul, will be, as all benches always are, ready for the unexpected guest.”

Mark pointed out: “This one has room for two or three guests.  I hope they many people who have got a bit older and need a rest after crossing the road will sit here.”

“And I know that Jimmy will hope that many young people will come here and carve things in it, have a secret conversation and maybe some people who have fallen in love will come and express their love here.”

“All sorts of different things can happen on this bench.  So may Jimmy’s spirit reside here, be part of it and bless the encounters that happen on this bench.”

Yet his eloquence denied the fact that Jimmy was the runaway son of a champion jockey, who wanted to be a film star rather than a rider.  He escaped two shipwrecks before joining the RAF to become the rear gunner in Halifax bombers flying over Germany, completing 30 sorties when most airmen were shot down after two, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal (see separate citation).

Plaque on Jimmy Gardner memorial seatPlaque on Jimmy Gardner memorial seatIt was only then that Jimmy, known as Jimbo, trained as an actor and became acclaimed for his roles ranging from the first gravedigger to Mark Rylance’s Hamlet, and the drunk old man in Clockwork Orange, to Harry Potter’s Knight bus driver, Ernie Prang.

Indeed, as Marlborough councillor Nick Fogg, who helped organise the memorial seat event, pointed out in introducing Mark, they both wrote extensive obituaries detailing Jimmy’s dramatic life, Nick in the Guardian, Mark in The Independent, which can be read online.

Brother Victor, now 80, who lives in Ogbourne St George, quietly watched as the event took place, then stood head bowed with others as a student volunteer from Marlborough College played the Last Post.

He sat on the memorial bench chatting with Mark about past times, recalling their champion jockey father - Teddy Gardne - who worked at Fred Darling’s Beckhampton Stables just outside Marlborough.

The Gardner family lived in what is now the Caffe Nero property in High Street, Marlborough, as well as in a cottage on the London Road and, in later days, Teddy ran his own bookmaker’s in Silverless Street, Marlborough.

A surprise champagne reception followed the unveiling at the nearby home of Marlborough’s Mayor, Edwina Fogg, where Mark told me he believed Jimmy’s lust for life and love of spontaneous parties came from escaping from the terrors of the second world war.

“Jimmy was never depressed,” he said “It was because of that war-time experience he was so particularly keen to have a good time and enjoy himself.  When you see pictures of him at that time during the war he seems to be smiling.”

“And he always said he never thought he was going to die.”


Jimmy GardnerJimmy GardnerIt was air gunner Jimmy Gardner’s fighting spirit that won him the Distinguished Flying Medal in 1944.

A recommendation and later citation for Gardner, Edward Charles James 189821 Sgt. 10 Squadron, were posted by his commanding officer:

"Sgt Gardner was posted to 10 Squadron in November, 1943, and after completing 30 sorties comprising 163 operational hours has been screened and posted for instructional duties.  This NCO  was the rear gunner of a Halifax aircraft detailed to attack Berlin on December 19, 1943.  The aircraft was severely damaged by flak, No 3 tank being holed and the starboard outer engine damaged, necessitating feathering. In addition there were 30 holes in the aircraft.

During a sortie on Leipzig on February 19, 1944, the aircraft in which he was the rear gunner was attacked before reaching the target by a Me109 and a Me110 and three Ju88s. Sgt Gardner co-operated magnificently with the mid-upper gunner in passing accurate evasive information to his captain and simultaneously got in accurate bursts of fire on enemy aircraft.

One engine of a Ju88 caught fire and, although the Halifax was damaged, his skilful directions and accurate fire played a good part in frustrating the attacks and enabled his captain to return safely to base.

While attacking Ottignies on April 20, 1944, three separate attacks on his aircraft were made by an Me109 and two Ju88s. Sgt Gardner, in co-operation with the mid-upper gunner, returned the enemy’s fire and a Ju88 was claimed as damaged.

This NCO has proved himself to be a first class air gunner and stalwart member of a gallant crew.  I strongly recommend that Sgt. Gardner’s determination, fine fighting spirit and strong sense of duty be recognised by the award of the Distinguished Flying Medal."

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Apple guru to lead fruity workshop

Neil MacdonaldNeil MacdonaldApple guru Neil Macdonald – the man behind the Orchard Pig cider brand - will be leading what is billed as a “fruit-filled day of learning and fun” in Marlborough later this month.

The third annual Apple Workshop will take place in The Enterprise Centre at St John’s Academy, Marlborough from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, February 23.

The workshop – organised by Marlborough Community Orchard - will cover choosing varieties and rootstocks for small gardens, planting fruit trees, after-care and pruning, including how to train espalier, fan and cordon trees.

Illustrated talks will be followed by discussions and advice, Q&A, hands-on demonstrations and practical experience. 

Limited tickets for the workshop are priced at £25. For more information, or to book a place, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01672 514497.  

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Band get £7,000 grant to blow their own trumpet

The Aldbourne BandThe Aldbourne BandThe Aldbourne Band will be blowing their own trumpet, after receiving more than £7,000 of National Lottery cash to tell the story of their organisation.

The Heritage Lottery Fund has awarded Aldbourne Band Heritage Project £7,700 to secure and publish the 153 year history of the band, which was originally formed in 1860 and is currently ranked at 48 in the world.

The project will digitise photos and documents, collect reminiscences and deposit them at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre and in the village of Aldbourne for future generations to access.

Summaries will also be published online and made available for presentations, events and for schools’ local history work as part of the All Our Stories project, a new small grant programme, launched during April 2012 in support of BBC Two's The Great British Story.

TV presenter and historian Michael Wood said: "We British love our history, and no wonder: few nations in the world, if any, have such riches on their doorstep, and so much of it accessible to all of us.

"It is really tremendous that the people of Aldbourne have been inspired to get involved to tell their own story and to dig deeper into their own past."

Gavin Dixon, secretary of the Friends, said “We are delighted to have been awarded this grant and we can’t wait to get started.

"The Aldbourne Brass Band is now 150 years old and there are many stories to be told. We know that artefacts, documents and photographs exist and our aim is to gather and capture the history and stories of the band to ensure they are available for future generations."

Anyone with memories, old programmes, photographs, newspaper clippings, magazine articles, old instruments, notices or banners should contact the Heritage Project Manager, Gavin Dixon, secretary of the Friends of Aldbourne Band, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The Friends of Aldbourne Band have also organised a Memories Open Day on Saturday, April 27, from 10am to 1pm at the Aldbourne Memorial Hall at which people can share their memories.

Meanwhile, the Aldbourne Band will be in concert at the Theatre on the Hill, St John's Marlborough on Saturday April 20, playing music with Italian connections. 

For more information about the band, log on to or join the Friends of Aldbourne Band on Facebook at

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Claire Perry abstains in controversial same sex marriage vote in the House of Commons

Claire PerryClaire Perry

Wiltshire’s four MPs were totally divided in the House of Commons vote last night (Tuesday) on the controversial same sex marriage legislation.

Claire Perry, Tory MP for Devizes wasn't present to vote, Duncan Hames, Lib-Dem MP for Chippenham voted in favour, and James Gray, Tory MP for Wiltshire North voted against. 

The only Tory to vote in favour was Andrew Murrison, MP for Wiltshire South.

Mrs Perry, 48, married with three children, has given no indication of her reasons for not supporting the legislation either on her parliamentary website or to Marlborough News Online.

She has always been a totally committed supporter of the coalition  government and there has been no known occasion when she has failed to vote in favour of legislation since the general election in 2010.

The difference this time was that it was a free vote, the Bill being given a majority of 400 votes to 175, more Conservative MPs voting against the legislation than for it, despite a last minute personal plea from David Cameron to back the new legislation.

Serious concern has been expressed both within and outside the Conservative Party that the same sex marriage legislation, which did not appear in the party’s election manifesto, would split it apart and cause the resignation of Tory stalwarts.

Marlborough News Online asked Mike Smith, chairman of the Devizes Conservative Association, on Monday for his opinion on the legislation and whether he personally supported it.

That followed the delegation of 20 Tory association chairman delivering a letter to David Cameron at No 10 Downing Street on Sunday expressing their opposition.

We asked Mr Smith too whether anyone in the local party, which includes Marlborough, had resigned over the issue. No response has been received.

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Changes in council tax rules cause a headache as Marlborough presents its budget for the year

Councillor Andrew RossCouncillor Andrew Ross

Marlborough Town Council will hold a special council meeting on Monday – the very day new town clerk Shelley Parker arrives in post – to decide its budget for the coming financial year.

Its precept, as part of the total Wiltshire council tax, in what will be an election year, will be discussed initially at a  meeting of the Finance and Policy Committee, and is forecast to be a rise of 3.93 per cent.

But the final figure depends on the advice of Mrs Parker on new budget procedures introduced by the government, which have yet to be made clear and need to be clarified.

“They have changed the rules, which seem somewhat strange and obscure at the moment,” finance chairman Councillor Andrew Ross, a trained accountant, told Marlborough News Online. “I am awaiting the arrival of the new town clerk to discover exactly how the new system is going to work.”

As yet the town council is not affected by any government freeze on council tax increases, the forthcoming budget due to increase from a total income of £407,000 to £423,000, mainly because of unavoidable rising running costs such as electricity, the utilities and wages, plus a reduced level of property income.

“We’re rather like every household in Marlborough, which is facing the same cost pressures, all of which have been edging up,” said Councillor Ross. “And sadly there is no scope for us to absorb them, nowhere we can go to prevent the additional costs.”

Whatever precept sum is decided it will add a small amount, probably only pennies, to individual council tax bills.

One of the dilemmas the town council faces is that the public too often fails to appreciate that the town council’s powers are strictly limited and its overall budget is a sum of only £420,000.

This compares with the £30 million turnover of the Waitrose supermarket in Marlborough and the overall £800 million budget of Wiltshire Council, which this year will be squeezed by government cuts in funding.

There is little appreciation too of the fact that business rates charged by Wiltshire throughout the county go straight to Whitehall before individual sums are allocated to local authorities.

But one significant cost will not be in next year’s budget – the proposed introduction of a deployable CCTV system for Marlborough, which, as the town council agreed last year, will be financed from its £300,000 reserves.

“I am going to allocate to reserves certain specific figures, things like the CCTV project, which would be very hard to absorb it into the council’s current costs,” said Councillor Ross.

“What we have achieved so far is pretty well founded. We can hold up our hands and say that the newly-elected town council in May will inherit a budget that is workable.”

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Nothing to fear from initiative to recruit outside top police officers, claims Wiltshire’s crime chief

Police and Crime Comissioner, Angus MacphersonPolice and Crime Comissioner, Angus MacphersonWiltshire’s police and crime commissioner Angus Macpherson believes there is “nothing to fear” from the government’s controversial proposals to recruit senior officers from outside the service.

The Home Office’s consultation now taking place has produced some strong reaction against new chief constables brought in from foreign countries as well as people with business skills being given top positions.

And there has been opposition due to the fact that the Home Office has reduced by 40 per cent the number of chief inspector appointments.

Mr Macpherson has every confidence in the current senior leadership at Wiltshire Police, having this month appointed Patrick Geenty as Chief Constable from a strong field, including one female candidate.

“There is a surprisingly defensive reaction from some senior leaders in other areas,” he told Marlborough News Online. “In my experience, senior officers secure promotion in competition with their colleagues.”

“I do not think they have anything to fear from widening the pool of applicants.  The initiative sends a message that the national police service is a modern work-force receptive to new ideas.”

Mr Macpherson, a former Conservative councillor, added: “I will be giving my feedback on the consultation and encourage other people to do so.”

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I do support same sex marriage reveals Tory MP Claire Perry after "urgent business" prevented her voting

Tory MP Claire Perry does support same sex marriage after all.  And as a committed Christian she points to the fact that the new Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nick Holtam, is a supporter too.

Mrs Perry, MP for Devizes, who lives near Salisbury, explains that she didn’t vote in Tuesday’s controversial debate in the House of Commons because “urgent government business required me to miss the vote.”

She was listed as one of the Tory MPs who did not vote on the legislation, which resulted in more of her Conservative colleagues voting against the government than for the gay sex marriage Bill, which was passed with an overwhelming majority.

Marlborough News Online asked her to explain her position but she did not respond, and had not issued a statement on the issue on her own constituency websites.

Now she reveals in a local newspaper column: “It comes down to fairness and I think it is fair to allow as many people as possible to marry regardless of race, colour or sexual orientation.”

“Marriage is the bedrock of our society and anything that strengthens it is to be supported and this move will strengthen, not weaken, marriage.”

“I reach this view as a practising Christian and it is one shared by our Bishop, the Rt Rev Nicholas Holtam.”

Mrs Perry, married with three children, adds: “I support this legislation, although the irony of the matter is that urgent Government business required me to miss the vote on the second reading to the Bill on Tuesday.”

“I have appreciated the communications from my constituents on this issue – both sides of the argument have been represented without rancour and helped me to reach my decision.”

Claire Perry told Marlborough News Online:  “I was due to go to Afghanistan with the Secretary of State as per my twitter comments this morning.  I've just returned.  I intend to support the legislation at the third reading subject for scrutiny of the amendments.”

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A rise of nine pence a week is on its way for average council tax payers in Marlborough

Councillor Peggy DowCouncillor Peggy DowAn extra nine pence a week – that’s the rise average council tax payers in Marlborough face as a result of the town council deciding last night (Monday) on its new precept for the coming financial year.

The benefit of a one-off grant of £31,253 from Wiltshire Council as part of new government council tax rules to cushion increasing costs has reduced its budget for the coming year to £421,000.

But the town council has suffered a £18,000 drop in income following the recalculation of the rent it charges Marlborough Golf Club, resulting in a final increase down from 4.53 to just 3.73 per cent.

“This is the best we can hope for,” said Councillor Peggy Dow (pictured) moving the acceptance of a new budget.  “We have got the cushion this year, but I fear that we are going to face cuts next time round.”

And finance committee chairman Councillor Andrew Ross told colleagues: “We can’t think about what is going to happen next year.  We can only act on the figures we know at the moment.”

“Next year may be a serious problem and the newly-elected council will have to face up to that in their own way.  If we lose the £31,000 grant it is a serious sum and we shall have to take the rap.”

“The figures now take us down to a nine pence a week rise for a Band D council tax payer – the cost of one packet of Woodbines (cigarettes) from 1940 prices.”

He thanked profusely the help he had received in understanding the new council tax rules from Marlborough’s new town clerk, Shelley Parker.  She only arrived in post yesterday to find herself attending two committee and one full council meeting in one evening.

“Shelley has had a baptism of fire,” he said.  “And she has done a fantastic job.”

Mrs Parker was earlier applauded and cheered at the first meeting of the evening, the Planning Committee, and found the usually vociferous councillors on their best behaviour, no rows erupting, the final full council meeting to adopt the new precept lasting just four minutes.

Councillor Ross revealed that the council was in talks with Barclays Bank to put the council’s account on an interest-bearing basis, adding an expected minimum £2,000 to be added to the council’s future income.

But with the major banks in difficulties colleagues suggested that the council’s finances might be transferred to a different bank or even two banks if necessary and that the cost of the council’s insurance policies might also be renegotiated and/or moved.

Councillor Ross also pointed out that the eventual cost of introducing a CCTV system -- £20,000 has been one over-estimate -- would be taken out of the council’s substantial reserves, as would the final £30,000 cost of the now completed Kennet Place flood alleviation scheme.

But there would be no increase at all in staff wages and no change in the already allotted £65,000 cost of the town hall improvement project, the need for town hall maintenance being an on-going problem.

This was despite the suggestion of Councillor Stewart Dobson that £15,000 should be cut from that cost to help reduce the council’s precept in difficult economic times, but other councillors argued that funds once lost could never be regained in expected tough economic times.

The final council tax demand now depends on Wiltshire Council’s decision and the precepts of the police and fire services, which are not expected to increase.

As far as Marlborough town council is concerned, Councillor Ross declared: “We can safely say that we are passing the council’s financial affairs over to incoming colleagues in fairly good order.”

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Barge Inn community project’s debts top half a million pounds

The size of the financial disaster that befell the creditors of the collapsed Barge Inn community project at Honeystreet, near Pewsey, is revealed in the winding up ‘statement of affairs’.

There were two companies involved in running the project which was backed with £478,920 of grants from the Big Lottery Fund – including the Big Lottery Fund’s Village SOS programme.  Both companies have gone into liquidation and are being wound up.

The Barge Inn Community Project Limited had one secured creditor – the Big Lottery Fund itself to whom the company had granted a legal charge.  In fact the Big Lottery was this company’s only significant creditor being owed £371,829.

The declared assets to set against this debt are a bank balance of £8 and a loan from one of the directors (John Brewin) of £1,250.  Leaving a very large debt.

The winding up of The Barge Inn Trading Company Limited is a much more complicated affair.

The preferential creditors are the eighteen former staff who are not owed any wages but some of whom are owed holiday pay totalling £2,794. This company’s bank balance at the time it ceased trading will pay £1,305 of this – leaving a deficit owed to staff of £1,489.

The Trading Company’s largest creditor is Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs which is owed an estimated £85,920 in unpaid VAT and another £5,879 in unremitted PAYE money.

Other creditors include a loan of £28,729 in the name of one of the company’s directors, Nigel Chesser of Calne. The Devizes branch of Lloyds TSB has an outstanding loan to the company of £24,108.  And Pewsey Area Community (Enterprises) Limited is owed £13,935.

Wiltshire Council claims it is owed £390 for domestic rates and £4,260 for business rates, but these sums are disputed by the now defunct company.

On top of these creditors there are various suppliers of food, services and utilities.   Altogether this company owes £183,708 to its creditors.

The total owed to creditors by the community project’s two companies is £554,225.

At the end of last year, the Big Lottery told Marlborough News Online that it was seeking to recover part of the grant and had begun legal proceedings to recoup what it is owed.

NOTE: The Big Lottery Fund has changed their figure for the total amount of funds the Barge Inn Community Project received from their programmes. They had double counted one payment.  The correct sum for the total amount of funding paid to the Project is £478,920.

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London, New York, Prague, Mumbai, Cologne – now Mishka plays for Marlborough

The fourth recital in the St Peter’s Church Brilliant Young Pianists series brings twenty-one year-old Mishka Rushdie Momen to Marlborough with a challenging programme of Bach, Schubert and Chopin.  Her recital is on Sunday, February 17 at 7.30pm.

Mishka says she feels very close to the three composers she’s chosen for this recital: “These are works of genius – I absolutely love them.”

Now in the second year of her Masters at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Mishka was the youngest pupil ever admitted to the Purcell School at Bushey on the outskirts of London. More recently she’s performed around the world and has won a fistful of prizes – including coveted first place in the Leschetizky Concerto Competition in New York.

As Mishka told Marlborough News Online, she started her music training very young: “I learnt both piano and violin at school from the age of five and right from the beginning found myself spending much of my free time reading and playing music.”

“I suppose by the time I was ten it became clear to me that I couldn't divide myself between the two instruments and I knew my choice would be the piano. My violin teacher never spoke to me again!”

For five years Mishka studied with Imogen Cooper - as her only student.  She has also studied with Alfred Brendel and Nelson Goerner, and is now being taught at the Guildhall by Joan Havill. photo: Barbara Luckhurstphoto: Barbara Luckhurst 

How does Mishka balance all the necessary practice time with other interests?: “Being a pianist requires many hours of practice but there is also the question of thinking very deeply about the music you are playing. I also love to read and recently have been slightly obsessed with Angela Carter and I am very interested in politics.”

“I don't follow much sport apart from horse racing and tennis - when I was watching the Australian Open recently it struck me how much musicians can learn from sport about focus, discipline and freedom of thinking in performance.”

What’s ahead for Mishka after she finishes her Master’s course?: “I hope to make a career as a primarily solo pianist but chamber music is one of my great loves and I hope to do a lot of that too. I'm already playing professionally more and more and hope to build on that.”

This recital – in the series organised by Dr Nick Maurice of the Marlborough Brandt Group and David Du Croz of St Peter’s Trust – will be a great chance to hear a young pianist who has a  brilliant career ahead of her.

The series of seven recitals in St Peter’s Church is sponsored by Robert Hiscox and Hiscox Insurance.

For details of Mishka’s programme (which is not the same as previously advertised) and how to buy tickets click February 17 on our What’s On calendar.

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Marlborough mayor throws open the town hall doors for a celebration day for its citizens

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the unveiling of the Diamond Jubilee Mural last May, which will be on displayCamilla, Duchess of Cornwall at the unveiling of the Diamond Jubilee Mural last May, which will be on displayStanding in pride of place at the top of the High Street, Marlborough town hall is a beacon that attracts attention.  Though if you are passing by more often than not the main door is locked.

So that’s why posters have gone up to announce an Open Day on Saturday, February 16, which one local resident told Marlborough’s mayor Edwina Fogg really ought to be Celebration Day “because there is going to be a real buzz about the place.”

From 10am until 4pm members of the public can step across the threshold without charge, though voluntary donations can be made to the Mayor’s Fund, the Mike Bracey Appeal at the Prospect Hospice.

And inside they can view the remarkable Diamond Jubilee Mural, a  hand-painted mosaic gift to the town from Marlborough Tiles, which was unveiled on the town hall steps by Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, last October.

Children will also be able to answer a quiz sheet based on information on the mural.

There will be exhibitions too on Marlborough’s international links -- Gunjur in the Gambia, Marlborough Massachusetts, in America, and Marlborough in New Zealand.

At noon the Mayor will unveil the Steering Oar, a replica of the one used in the Swiftsure, a traditional whaling boat which took part in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Thames Pageant.  A a gift from the people of Marlborough, New Zealand, to the people of Marlborough, UK.

In the refurbished ancient town cells below, you can experience the past, an event Camilla described as “spooky” as she viewed the town stocks, complete with a dummy prisoner to provide a taste of the past.

Then, in the Council Chamber, on view will be Marlborough’s

historic maces, together 19th century primitive paintings and other historic artefacts. The “Officers of Dignity” will be on hand to answer questions and to give newly discovered information about the history of the maces.

The refurbished upstairs Assembly Room will offer family films on the big screen, courtesy of Kennet Valley Arts Trust -- showings at 10am for Ice Age 4 and 2pm for Puss in Boots.

“There is something for everyone to see and enjoy,” said the Mayor.

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Fast learners seek sponsors for Eco Challenge

St Johns Racing Team members Fergus McShane (15), Dan Snipe (16) and, seated, Euan Humphreys (17)St Johns Racing Team members Fergus McShane (15), Dan Snipe (16) and, seated, Euan Humphreys (17)Speedy students from St John's Academy in Marlborough are looking for sponsors from the business community to enable them to compete in an eco marathon. 

The fast learners, members of the Student Racing Team, want to compete in the Schools Eco Marathon, aiming to travel the furthest possible distance on the smallest amount of fuel.

Matt Jones, 16, Dan Snipe, 16 and Euan Humphreys, 17, who have been team members for the last few years, under the supervision of design & technology tutor Clive Stell, have written to local businesses asking for support to help them raise the £500 they need to compete in the challenge.

The Racing Team is a group of young and enthusiastic engineers who are aiming to build a fuel efficient car to run in the 2013 Schools Eco Marathon on June 18. The students have invested hundreds of hours of time and effort during their lunch breaks and after school.

The club started in 2010 when a group of St John’s students went to Rockingham Raceway, where they learnt a lot about the materials used and the methods of construction, then went on to develop their first car, the St John’s Racer 1 (SJR1).

The engine used was a 35cc Honda GX35 four stroke, similar to a strimmer engine, which provided about 1.3hp, more than enough to meet the required average speed of 15mph.

The team drove the car at Mallory Park raceway in the Schools Eco Challenge 2011, even though the car was untested and completed just a few days before, achieving a credible 157 miles to the gallon.

To prepare for the 2012 Eco Challenge the team began to work on modifying “SJR1” to improve the vehicle’s mpg.

Matt said: “A technique used by almost all of the other teams was to build up speed and then coast; some could even shut down and restart the engine while driving.

"Our approach to this tactic was to fit a bicycle freewheeling mechanism to the drive wheel and mount plastic bodywork onto the previously bare chassis. As a result of these changes we achieved a much improved 253 mpg in last year’s challenge; and on the day, with the assistance of some pizza boxes, gaffer tape and fine tuning, the economy of SJR1 shot up by more than 30 mpg to 287.

"We are really proud of our achievement which shows the progress the team has made as a group of young engineers, who are now more likely to pursue engineering in the future as a career”.

For the 2013 Eco Challenge St John’s has two teams. One group is working on further improvements to SJR1 and a second group has designed and is currently building a brand new car, SJR3.

Using CAD and 1:5 scale models and a full size wooden mock-up, the new racer is still constructed from steel bars but is longer and much lower, wrapping around the driver to improve aerodynamics; as well as being much more accurately put together. The increase in planning has led to SJR3 going from first sketch to rolling chassis in less than four months.

The team has also had to learn how to put together a business plan, and has now calculated the cost of entering the 2013 challenge. They are now hoping that local businesses will help them achieve their aim of entering both cars in the 2013 Challenge later this year.

Teacher Mr Stell said: “General materials are required, and items such as harnesses and fire extinguishers are necessary to satisfy the safety rules.

"The team’s business plan shows that we need £500 to bring the two cars up to competition standard. I hope that local businesses or individuals will be prepared to help this enthusiastic group of students, who have worked extremely hard on this project, and help to encourage their passion and their design and manufacturing skills”.

Anyone interested in sponsoring the St John’s Racing Team, and taking the opportunity to have their business name featured on the car, should contact Sally Bere at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The team members are keen to meet potential sponsors and show the team’s developments to date.

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A morning with Inside Out and a couple of very welcome birds

There were two special guests at Inside Out’s weekly morning for adults with learning difficulties held at Marlborough Conservative Club. Colin ‘Geordie’ Sutherland, from Hungerford, had brought along a barn owl called Rocky and a kestrel called, of course, Kes.

There was real excitement in the room as Geordie brought out first Rocky and then Kes. Both are trained not wild birds. Rocky is eleven months old and flew across the room when he was told to – well, most times. And Kes, who was found in Great Bedwyn, had escaped from captivity and needed looking after.

The two birds were certainly welcomed by the fourteen members and their carers at Tuesday’s (February 5) session.  Most of them took the chance to let the birds sit or alight on their gloved hands.

Inside Out has been in the news recently.  It won a grant from the Marlborough Area Board  to take its group on educational day trips – including a visit to the Minstead Training Project and Furzey Gardens in the New Forest.

Last summer Chris Beardshaw took a Furzey Garden design which had been planted by a team with learning difficulties to the Chelsea Show – and won one of the coveted gold medals.Geordie with RockyGeordie with Rocky

Inside Out is just eighteen months old.  It is run by two members of the local Mencap committee – Suzanne Bailey and Judy Richardson.  It aims to help fill ‘the massive gap’ left when the town’s Wyvern Centre closed.

Suzanne Bailey worked for twenty years at Swindon College’s outreach branch, the Wyvern Education Unit – first at Pewsey Hospital and then in Marlborough: “We helped people reach their full potential – and they did.”

At first the new Inside Out group worked with a few clients in the Richmond Trust garden off the London Road.  They soon had too many people wanting to join and so moved inside – and the Conservative Club offered them free use of their room.

It is an informal club offering an outing from home or care home and pastimes and educational help. Members are assisted with craft work. Though not much work was done with Rocky and Kes there to watch.

Watching RockyWatching RockyOn Saturday, March 23, their craft work will be on sale at a pre-Easter stall outside the Conservative Club. As Suzanne Bailey told Marlborough News Online: “They are raising money for their own club – giving them a sense of purpose.”

So make a note of the date.  For when publicly funded provision goes, small scale alternatives need all the help the public can give.Judy Richardson & RockyJudy Richardson & Rocky

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Estate agents Smiths Gore launch their first Property Forum in Marlborough

Edward Hall of Marlborough estate agents,  Smiths GoreEdward Hall of Marlborough estate agents, Smiths GoreSara Lovesey, a legal conveyancing executive from Wiltshire solicitors Awdrey Bailey and Douglas, is to be the guest speaker at the first of a series of Property Forums organised by newly-arrived Marlborough estate agents Smiths Gore.

The event, aimed at providing ideas, inspiration and technical help on all property matters, takes place at the firm’s offices at 42 High Street, Marlborough, from 5 to 7pm on Thursday (February 7).

And anyone is welcome to attend.

The driving force is Smiths Gore’s new property professional Edward Hall, who told Marlborough News Online: “I have been struck by the quality of property in and around the Marlborough villages.  There is a demand for quality advice, guidance and updated market intelligence.”

“That’s what we will provide.  People and property is what makes me tick.  The High Street is the life blood of the town and we must inject more energy into it and get people talking about changing planning policy, high speed broadband for the town, communications by road and rail.”

“And what is a sustainable home – and how we can reduce the costs of running a home.”

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John Lewis Christmas ad singer to play Marlborough gig

Gabrielle AplinGabrielle AplinThe singer-songwriter who scored a number 1 hit with the soundtrack to John Lewis' Christmas advertising campaign will be providing some early Valentine's romance at Sound Knowledge on Wednesday, February 13.

Gabrielle Aplin – whose haunting cover of Frankie Goes to Hollywood's The Power of Love accompanied the £7m retail giant's ad The Journey, and subsequently shot the previously unknown singer to number 1 in the charts – will be appearing in support of her new single Please Don't Say You Love Me, which is currently on the playlists of both Radio 1 and Radio 2.

Following the performace the 20 year old, who lives at Sutton Benger near Chippenham, and is currently recording her debut album, will be signing copies of her single. 

Attendance is free, but places are limited. To bag a place, visit the Sound Knowledge Facebook Page:

Remind yourself of the John Lewis ad:

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Marlborough tourism plans given major boost

Marlborough is to be the benefactor of a government-backed tourism campaign.

Developing Your Tourism Potential is part of the Hidden Britain initiative, and funding has been secured from the Department of Food and Rural Affairs to bring the Hidden Britain team to Marlborough.

The scheme aims to help businesses, residents, community groups and local authorities come together and work as a team to identify and develop the tourism potential within their community. 

Experts from Hidden Britain will assist stakeholders from the tourism, community, council, and business sectors to develop a structured basic strategy to address tourism and the visitor economy.

At their January meeting, business leaders from Marlborough Chamber of Commerce were told that the report would help to identify Marlborough's key objectives and long term vision as a tourist destination, and suggest ways in which a new tourism strategy might be delivered.

But although the report will come examine resources and look at timescales and budgets, implementation costs will need to be found separately. 

The DEFRA funding was secured by Marlborough Communities Market co-ordinator Ellie Gill, who as co-ordinator of Trowbridge Town Team also managed to land funding for the county town.

“Hidden Britain will also conduct a mystery visit to Marlborough to evaluate the visitor journey and experience, and provide a report,” explained Ellie.

“This will include, assessment of marketing channels, ease of obtaining relevant information, signage and directional information, quality of facilities, welcome and overall visitor experience.”

Hidden Britain recently worked with the nearby market town of Hungerford. The results can be read at

The process will start with a Hidden Britain workshop, which is being held at Marlborough Town Hall from 2pm to 4pm on Wednesday, February 27. Anyone interested in attending the event should click here to register.  


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