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Visting Marlborough 252x140

Chilvester Financial sign up as long term sponsor for Marlborough Rugby as Elisi Vunipola joins as Head Coach


   Marlborough Rugby Football Club have just announced two very important signings:   firstly, Elis Vunipola, former Tonga international fly half, and uncle of England internationals Billy and Mako joins as Head Coach, and secondly, Chilvester Financial commit to a long-term five year sponsorship deal which will provide funding to support...

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Wiltshire Museum's new gallery space to attract exhibitions from national museums


  The Wiltshire Museum in Devizes is creating a new Special Exhibition gallery that will be suitable to take exhibits from national museums.

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Refurbishment of Marlborough Youth Centre wins £10,000 Area Board Grant


  Marlborough Town Council's decision to turn the deserted building that once housed Wiltshire Council's Development Centre for Young People into a working Community and Youth Centre, got a boost from the Marlborough Area Board with a £10,000 grant towards refurbishment.

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Marlborough Golf Club Junior Captain hands £850 cheque to St Mary’s Under Fives


Alex Jewell chose St Mary’s Under Fives as his Junior Captain’s charity for his year in office.

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Brimslade air crash - a tribute to one of those who tragically died


  The wife of one of the men who tragically died in a light aircraft collision near Marlborough has asked Wiltshire Police to release the following tribute. Kirsty Boazman said: “In the early evening of Thursday 13 July my precious and outrageously talented husband, Paul Gunnell (PG to most),...

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Brennan winner at Hills Wiltshire Professionals’ Golf Championship


Nick Brennan of Tony Valentine Golf Centre was the winner of the 37th Hills Wiltshire Professionals’ Golf Championship held at Marlborough Golf Club on Thursday, July 6. Brennan scored an overall three under par. Despite a forecast of heavy rain and thunderstorms, perfect conditions prevailed throughout the day and 19...

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Marlborough networkers can discover how to prevent paper panic


Paper panic and how to prevent it is the topic of conversation at the next Marlborough Chamber of Commerce business breakfast. Guest speaker Sammy Ryan will explain how her company, Strictly Organised, helps clients get to grips with piles of paperwork.The event takes place at Marlborough Golf Club from 7.30am on...

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Big crowds at Marden Open Day as time runs out for archaeologists working on the Cat's Brain long barrow


  Six hundred and seventy-three people went to Marden for the Open Day on Saturday (July 15) to see Reading University's final explorations there - and to see the major discovery of a long barrow at nearby Cat's Brain.

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Marlborough Golf Club Seniors Open attracts record entry


Marlborough Golf Club has hosted its annual Dick Lovett BMW Seniors Open - with a record 139 golfers taking part.

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One empty chair as Marlborough's Jazz Gala launches tonight


 Whilst this year's Marlborough Jazz Gala is all set to launch this evening with Beki Brindle, Sticky Wicket and Friends in the Assembly Room at the Town Hall at 6pm, there will be one face missing - David Draper, possibly the most fervent and loyal of all the Jazz Festival supporters...

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Town council provides vital funding to help Marlborough’s austerity-hit families

A suggestion that Marlborough town council should reduce its £1,000 grant to Home-Start Kennet, which helps families in trouble, met with an angry response at Monday’s meeting of the Finance and Policy Committee. 

Councillor Stewart DobsonCouncillor Stewart DobsonCouncillor Stewart Dobson, leader of the council’s Tory group, appeared unaware that Wiltshire Council has cut off all funding to the charity, which is based in Silverless Street, Marlborough. 

“The work Home-Start does with families who can’t cope is so important,” protested Councillor Richard Pitts.  “This is money well spent.  If we had the funds we should give them substantially more.” 

Marlborough’s mayor, Councillor Edwina Fogg, agreed.  “Home-Start helps young families near the poverty line,” she told the committee.  It is vital that we support them.”

“Marlborough is seen as an upmarket town with designer shops in the High Street, but there are other people who need all the help they can get.”

And deputy mayor Councillor Guy Loosmore joined in, pointing out that Wiltshire’s austerity measures was putting increasing pressure on the town council to provide help wherever possible.

“And the situation will get worse,” he warned.  “We need to come up with a new policy so that we can manage the funding we have.”

Some concern was expressed that Home-Start Kennet also aided the families of the armed forces based at Tidworth and Councillor Dobson asked for the £1,000 grant to be ring-fenced so that it was used only for helping Marlborough families.

Wiltshire Council originally gave Home-Start Kennet a grant of £49,000 but halved this in 2011-12 and then abolished it altogether in the current financial year.

A spokeswoman for Home-Start told Marlborough News Online: “Our position is that the £1,000 from Marlborough town council covered support to two families, for six months, in Marlborough.  However, £1,000 in a year, does not cover all of the work we do in Marlborough.”

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Nine good causes to slug it out for jackpot

Good causes and charities will do battle in Marlborough later this month for a slice of a £6,000 jackpot.

The nine community organisations won a place in the final of the Budgens of Marlborough Community Giveaway after their supporters voted for them in a contest run on Facebook.

Nineteen groups faced each other in three categories – Education and Young People, Health, Wellbeing and Social, and Community & The Arts.

Now the finalists will find themselves in the spotlight as representatives from each community group are invited to pitch their ideas to a voting audience at The Theatre on the Hill, St John's School, Marlborough on Thursday, September 27 from 7pm.

The community group from each category that receives the most votes on the night will walk away with £1,000.

And all of the nine finalists will get a share of another £1,000 over the first three months of the new forecourt opening.

Customers will be given a token each time they shop, to vote for one of three organisations per month. Each of these three organisations will get a share of £1,000, proportional to the amount of tokens they receive in-store.

Anyone can apply for a ticket, which will give them a vote to support their favourite community organisation. Tickets, which are free, can be booked through the Facebook page at or at

The Community Giveaway is being staged by Budgens of Marlborough, which is opening a petrol station, convenience store and Subway outlet at Marlborough Business Park in October. Work on the £2 million development, which will create 50 new jobs, started in July.

The finalists, and their projects, are:

Education and Young People:

St John's School
Having completed the new school building without the help of any national government funding, and moved in late 2009, the school is now working hard to raise the money needed to complete the external sports facilities at the new school. The All-Weather Pitch will not only benefit the students, but will also be available for evening, weekend and school holiday use by the wider local community.

Marlborough Brandt Group
To enable six students studying for the international baccalaureate from St John's School in Marlborough to travel on a study visit to The Gambia with a teacher and an education worker from MBG, to enhance their learning about development in an African community.

Savernake Forest Scout Group
Savernake Forest Scout Group requires new lightweight tents so that the 60 young members of the scout troop can go on camping adventures and develop key life skills through adventurous physical activity.

Health, Wellbeing and Social:

Wiltshire Air Ambulance
To support the running costs of the Wiltshire Air Ambulance, the only emergency helicopter in the UK to fly with a pilot, paramedic and police observer at all times. Each day the Wiltshire Air Ambulance is called out an average of three times. Since 2009 the Wiltshire Air Ambulance has attended 41 emergency incidents in Marlborough and Pewsey alone. It costs almost £2,000 per day to keep the Wiltshire Air Ambulance flying and saving lives.

Splitz - KidzPace
Working with children aged 11-17 who have witnessed or been exposed to domestic abuse in Marlborough and Pewsey. Splitz provides a mix of one to one support and group work to build children's confidence and self-esteem.

Carer Support Wiltshire
To support the work of the Wiltshire-wide charity that gives free and confidential emotional support, information, advice and breaks to unpaid carers living in the county.

Community & The Arts:

Phoenix Brass Band
To purchase two tenor horns to enlarge the horn section of the training band, which exists to introduce any person, young or old, to the joys of music and brass banding.

Marlborough Communities Market
To support the ongoing success of the monthly Marlborough Communities Market, a not-for-profit enterprise working in collaboration with Transition Marlborough and Marlborough Town Council and incorporating a farmers' market and local crafts and produce.

We Love Marlborough
To bring Christmas cheer to Marlborough families, We Love Marlborough would like Father Christmas to be free to visit in the town hall this year, and have an free top-quality artist-led Christmas crafts-making session culminating in a procession at the lights switch on at 7pm. The Christmas Lights Switch On Activities will take place on 29 November 2012.

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Town councillors may rebel against Cameron’s home extensions planning free for all

Marlborough town councillors may rebel against the government’s latest plans to relax planning rules and allow people to build extensions to their homes without seeking planning consent.

They fear it will lead to a war between neighbours and result in local councillors facing the flack from residents opposed to new extensions.

Prime Minister David Cameron’s aim is to get planning officers "off people's backs" and the government intends to carry out a consultation exercise before allowing a three-year period during which extensions up to eight metres long can be built on detached properties.

There are also proposed relaxed rules on shops and offices looking to expand, and similarly on developments having to include affordable housing as ministers seek to boost the economy.

The issue was raised  by Councillor Peggy Dow, who is also a Wiltshire councillor, at the Planning Committee meeting of Marlborough town council last night (Monday).

Councillor Margaret Rose, the Tory committee chair, responded: “I personally feel we ought to send a letter expressing our objections to this.”

She referred to a radio programme on the subject and added: “This is bound to lead to a war between neighbours and we will be left in the middle to take all the flak.  I shall put it on the agenda for our next meeting.”

Town Clerk Derek Wolfe pointed out that that at the moment this was only a government proposal and no changes had yet been made to ease the planning regulations.

But Councillor Nick Fogg, also a member of Wiltshire Council, fears that it is a misguided policy.

“You can’t have a planning free for all,” he told Marlborough News Online.  “There may be cases where minor alterations shouldn’t be subject to planning but I’m against people being allowed to build extensions all over the place without regard to the nature of the property and its effect on their neighbours.”

“I can’t quite believe that the government would allow that but obviously there is a mood abroad to try and boost the economy by getting more buildings works carried out, which I find bizarre.”

“I tend to believe that house buildings reflects the state of the economy rather than stimulates it.  It is a misunderstood issue in economic terms.”

What might be the reaction of Tory-controlled Wiltshire Council?

“I know the planning committee in the eastern area, which covers Marlborough, and I believe those good people and true would not be happy with this,” added Councillor Fogg. “ Can’t speak for them but can speak from my knowledge of their reaction to certain issues.”

“They are an objective and unpolitical group.  And they wouldn’t like this.”

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Members of Gambia’s Paralympic squad visit Marlborough

London 2012 saw Gambia’s first ever participation in Paralympic Games with two wheelchair athletes competing.  The day after the closing ceremony, athlete Isatou Nyang, coach Faye Basirou and the Chef de Mission, Sulayman Colley visited Marlborough.

Isatou Nyang, Chris & Caroline Loveday and Sulayman ColleyIsatou Nyang, Chris & Caroline Loveday and Sulayman ColleyThey were guests at a lunch given by Caroline and Chris Loveday whose daughter Lilli lives and works in the Gambia.  She’s married to Gunjurian Kebba Jatta who has been working with the Gambian Paralympic Committee.

Travelling with the Gambians were three of those wonderful volunteers – the Games-Makers – still in theireye-catching official uniforms.  Also present at the lunch were Marlborough Mayor Edwina Fogg and Nicholas Fogg.

Isatou Nyang, who is twenty-eight years old and was born with deformed legs, took part in the women's T54 100 and 800 metre events.  The other competitor was Demba Jarju, aged twenty-three. He is wheelchair-bound through polio and took part in the men's T54 100 and 800 metre events.Isatou Nyang at the opening ceremony   photo by Sulayman ColleyIsatou Nyang at the opening ceremony photo by Sulayman Colley

Neither of them advanced from the first round. But Demba was in the same 800 metre heat as gold medallist David Weir and Sulayman Colley says Demba is very proud of that.

Also on the visit to Marlborough was Gambian journalist Fatoumata Saho.  She has been covering the Paralympics for Gambia’s Today newspaper and the radio station City Limits.  However, as she was the only Gambian journalist at London 2012, her reports have been used in many other newspapers.Fatoumata SahoFatoumata Saho

LOCOG (the London 2012 organising committee) paid for the air fares and accommodation for the six member Gambian delegation.  And the two athletes were only able to compete after their competition wheelchairs were donated by the Swiss Paralympic Committee.

The President of Gambia’s Paralympic Committee, Sulayman Colley, says they get nothing in the way of funding from the Gambia government to support para sports. They struggle to get the proper equipment – and secondhand equipment is gratefully received.

Sulayman ColleySulayman ColleySulayman Colley, who is also wheelchair-bound, told Marlborough News Online that the great challenge facing them when they get home is that lack of funding.  The private sector in Gambia is small and raising money is never easy, so they try to interest people outside the Gambia. Sulayman Colley  can be contacted at

Sulayman’s committee now have four basketball teams in great Banjul.  Isatou, who’s better known as Ida, plays for one of the teams – she’s its only woman player.

The committee have organised para sports clubs in each of the country’s seven regions – and they been able to send ten wheelchairs to each region.  The problem now is keeping them properly maintained.

Ida has really enjoyed being in London for the Paralympics and hopes very much to have improved enough to come back in 2014 for the para sport events at Glasgow’s 2014  Commonwealth Games.  And beyond that, of course, there’s Rio 2016’s Paralympics.

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Town councillor issues public apology for delay in creating memorial seat to wartime hero

Jim SherrittJim SherrittThe chairman of one of Marlborough town council’s main committees has apologised unreservedly over the four month delay in the council providing permission for a memorial bench to go up on The Green in tribute to the late Jim Sherritt. 

Donations totally £526 have been made to an appeal launched by two of his close friends, Chris Sparkes and Lisa Bartlett, who wanted a permanent tribute to one of Marlborough’s wartime heroes.  

They expressed their considerable dismay at Monday’s meeting of the council’s Amenities and Open Spaces Committee over the council’s lack of action since they had first sought its support in April. 

Now Councillor Richard Pitts, the committee’s chairman, has accepted their criticism, promising that Remembrance Day on November 11 is now the targeted date for the bench to be in place.

And at the same time refurbish the damaged wrought iron seats that already exist on The Green.

“I apologize unreservedly over the way this has been handled by the town council,” said Councillor Pitts. “I do not expect it to take it as long as it did from the committee deciding to ask you about the current iron benches.”

Councillor Richard Pitts, chairman of the Amenities and Open Spaces Committee Councillor Richard Pitts, chairman of the Amenities and Open Spaces Committee “I am deeply sorry for the justifiable upset caused and will ensure that the final decision on location and style will be completed with all possible speed.”

“I do not see why this can’t be done in a very small space of time, in place to enjoy some autumn sunshine and perhaps with a formal dedication during the  Remembrance Sunday.”

And he added: “I stood for council to serve and provide leadership to make a difference for the improvement of the community and its environs.  That starts with accommodating the wishes of a group people where possible, exactly as you have requested.”

“With that in mind I see there is no better way to do this in remembering someone such as Mr Sherritt who fought to keep the British way of life safe and later to become a respected member of our community.”

Mr Sparkes had emailed the town council last week providing details of Mr Sherritt’s career and the fact that collection boxes at six points in the community, including Marlborough Conservative Club, home of the local branch of the British Legion, plus four public houses had raised £526 to pay for a memorial bench, any sum left over being given to Marlborough British Legion.

Mr Sherritt, born in Enniskillen in 1923, served in the Royal Irish Horse Regiment.  Shortly after the start of the World War II he became a tank driver and saw action in North Africa and Italy, where he also worked with the War Graves Commission before returning home to Marlborough.

His earlier career was in the construction industry before retirement at 65.  He then spent 18 years in the armoury at Marlborough College.  He died in February, aged 88.

Mr Sparkes later praised Councillor Pitts for his public apology over the delay and told Marlborough News Online: “We feel it is a magnanimous gesture on his part.”

“But it should not have been necessary if members of the council had fully appreciated how well Jim was liked and respected in Marlborough -- and done what we felt was in the best interests of the community at an earlier stage.”

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Government awards academy status at last to Marlborough’s acclaimed St John’s school

St John’s School, Marlborough, has finally been granted academy status by the government , a move that will give it significant independence and a boost in the school’s annual budget of £8 million.

Headmaster Dr Patrick Hazlewood has told parents: “This represents a very important step for the school and secures a considerable higher level of funding that will directly benefit our students.”

Education Secretary Michael Gove has announced that St John’s will operate on this basis as from September 1 this year – and the internationally acclaimed school already it has changed the school’s logo to announce the fact.

The decision comes some 20 months after a school deputation headed by Dr Hazlewood met Lord Hill, the then Parliamentary Under Secretary for Education, in London, together with the school’s governors, who include local Tory MP Claire Perry.

It was then reported that academy status will give the school extra government funding of about £450,000 and allow St John’s to return to being an independent state school able to control its own curriculum for its 11—18 year old students.

A statement on the school’s website recalls that between 1993 and 1998 St John’s was a grant maintained school and during these years was directly funded by central government, making it independent of local authority control.

Since 1998 the school has had foundation school status, which gave it independence in most respects other than funding.

And it adds: “The academy status will allow St John’s to return to an independent state school status and will bring significant benefits.  A letter from Dr Hazlewood has gone to parents to explain the new status.”

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Could you lend Olympic medalist Shelley a pooch?

Shelley RudmanShelley RudmanWinter Olympics hero Shelley Rudman is appealing for help to complete her latest challenge – a sponsored walk through Marlborough's Savernake Forest.

The world cup champion and winter 2006 Olympic silver-winning skeleton bobsleigher is hoping someone will lend her a canine companion for the Best Paw Forward walk in aid of Cancer Research UK. 

Shelley’s commitment to her sport makes it impossible for her to own a dog so she’s looking for a temporary canine companion.

“I don’t have a dog of my own at the moment, but would love to take part in such a great fundraising event if someone has a dog I can borrow...I promise I will give it back!” said Shelley. 

“Growing up in Pewsey, we had four beautiful dogs and I would love to have one, but sadly my training schedule and competing in North America doesn’t allow me the time.”

The sponsored dog walk is the first regional event outside of London organised by Cancer Research UK.

Organisers are hoping to attract hundreds of dog walkers to the Savernake Forest on Sunday, September 23 between 11 am and 4pm to raise much needed funds for Cancer Research UK. Entry is £10 per dog and is open to walkers of all ages.

To sign up for the event log on to

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Large crowd sees David Hemery light Marlborough’s Jubilee Beacon at Barbury Racecourse

Click on pics to enlarge

David Hemery with Edwina and torchDavid Hemery with Edwina and torchAbout six hundred people were at Barbury Racecourse on Monday evening (June 4) to see the former Olympic hurdle star David Hemery light Marlborough’s Jubilee Beacon. David Hemery brought with him the Olympic torch he had carried through Royal Wootton Bassett and signed many autographs.

The rain held off and, as the beacon began to burn, the clouds parted to give a wonderful view of the full moon.

The event was organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group with the help of the Barbury Estate and of Chris Musgrave and his team who built a huge bonfire which blazed into the night sky – helped by some very large bales of old linseed straw.

After the hog roast, pay bar and fish and chips and a charity auction of Coronation and Jubilee memorabilia, many people took the steep, torch-lit route up to the beacon – some very young and less young were taken up by tractor and trailer.

Several families took advantage of the wonderful site with its views across the downs, to camp overnight – while the beacon blazed away above them.

David Hemery lights the BeaconDavid Hemery lights the BeaconThe only disappointment was that the young rowers from Marlborough, New Zealand who had rowed in the previous day’s Thames Pageant, never made it down to Marlborough, Wiltshire. They were held up in London to attend an unscheduled presentation and to fix some problems in getting their boat shipped back to New Zealand.

Mayor Edwina Fogg was very disappointed as not only were they to have been honoured guests at the beacon celebration, but were also to be presented at the Town Hall on Tuesday (June 5.)

One young person at the Beacon was especially saddened that the lads from Marlborough, New Zealand didn’t make it - her cousin was one of the rowers and she was looking forward to meeting him for the first time.

“It was a most wonderful occasion and the culmination of months of planning and organisation by a large number of people,” Brandt Group founder Nick Maurice told Marlborough News Online.

“At least 30 people were involved in one way or another and almost exclusively in a voluntary capacity.

“The beacon was built over three days by the staff of the Barbury Estate who were quite magnificent in everything they did to make sure the lighting of the beacon went smoothly.

“It was such a privilege to have an Olympic Gold Medallist in David Hemery to light the beacon in the London Olympic year in front of 600 residents of Marlborough -- and to have Edwina Fogg our Mayor to encourage us all to raise our glasses to Her Majesty The Queen.”

And he added: “Then two special moments occurred when the blaze was at its height, huge sparks were rising into the heavens and the clouds cleared and the full moon appeared.

“My mobile rang and it was friends in Marlborough's link community of Gunjur in The Gambia announcing that they had just lit their beacon and were wishing Her Majesty long life and happiness!”

Below are more photos of the Marlborough Beacon event - including a shot showing the full moon and a 'morning after' shot of the pile of still burning ashes:

Reuben & Lucas Arkwright and Courtney Goodwin  with David Hemery's Olympic torchReuben & Lucas Arkwright and Courtney Goodwin with David Hemery's Olympic torch    Mayor Edwina Fogg with loudhailer addressing the crowdMayor Edwina Fogg with loudhailer addressing the crowdDavid Hemery with lit BeaconDavid Hemery with lit Beacon
The morning after.....The morning after.....    BEACON-MOON.800pxBEACON-MOON.800pxCrowd wind their way up to the beaconCrowd wind their way up to the beacon

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Wiltshire raised £6.876m selling off school playing fields – but where has the money gone?

Councillor Nick FoggCouncillor Nick FoggWiltshire Council has sold off four school playing fields and raised £6.875 million in the process but has so far failed to reveal what has happened to the money. 

The Tory-controlled authority was asked by Marlborough News Online to provide this information, as there are fears that it has not been added to the council’s budget for educational purposes. 

And also because of growing demands, following the success of the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, that the sale of sports facilities must be legally stopped. 

Former Tory minister Lord Moynihan, about to step down as the British Olympics Association chairman, has called for the first ever Government audit of the number of leisure and sports facilities in the UK amid evidence of an alarming decline.

He wants the government to introduce legislation forcing councils to protect their leisure and sports facilities.

“I wasn’t’ aware of Wiltshire selling off playing fields,” Councillor Nick Fogg, who represents Marlborough on Wiltshire Council, told Marlborough News Online.  “I know this selling off of playing fields is a bit of a scandal nationwide.  And I find that regrettable.”

A Wiltshire Council senior press officer told us: “It appears there are only four.  And these mainly relate to school playing fields for schools which have amalgamated or moved.”

“I am unable to give to individual amounts as we understand some are the subject of confidentiality agreements.  The public details are available through the land registry.”

“Wiltshire Council received somewhere in the region of £6.875m for their sales.”

The specific sales were as follows:

*   Wilton former Middle School Site - Thistledown. 04/06/2010. Thistledown Educational Trust.  Wiltshire Council received 50 per cent of price, rest paid to the diocese.

*   Wootton Bassett Rylands Stoneover Lane Land. 10/10/2011.  Rugby pitch replaced with new club facilities.

*   Melksham Queensway Site  -  Sold to Sarsen Housing for social housing - December 2011.  Playing field provision no longer required as sale arose from merger of two schools.

*   Salisbury Fisherton Manor site  -  to Taylor Wimpey - February 2012.

This site is at least 80 per cent building or tarmac playground, being the former Highbury First and Fisherton Manor Middle School buildings.  Field retained as site of Manor Fields Primary School.

“There may be a reason for the sales in some cases,” added Councillor Fogg. “But the general process is to be regretted particular given our wonderful performances in the Olympic Games.”

“Obviously it is quite crucial to the health and welfare of the nation that playing fields are available to all schools.”

The Daily Telegraph has launched a campaign called 'Keep The Flame Alive' to boost school sport after the Olympics’ success and to encourage more volunteering.

“When we see facilities being cut back then those who have been inspired by the Games don't get the opportunity to really engage in sport,” Lord Moynihan protested. “We should be looking at changing the law to make provision of sport and recreation opportunity a statutory requirement.

“At the moment in England it’s discretionary and once it’s discretionary it’s inevitable that councillors will be looking for discretionary cutbacks first.”

Sports provision is currently a legal requirement in Scotland and Northern Ireland but not in England and Wales.  However despite this, a survey found that councils across the UK had cut back on sports facilities.

Out of the 369 councils that took part in a survey, 126 – some 36 per cent – admitted they had reduced sports provision for local people. They included 70 authorities which said they had closed one or more facilities, and 82 councils which had cut hours at on or more of its centres.

Just 33 councils had added new sports facilities or increased opening hours.

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Anti-online porn petition signed by 115,000 handed in at 10 Downing Street by Claire Perry

Claire Perry handing in the anti-online porn petition at No10Claire Perry handing in the anti-online porn petition at No10Backed by five other cross-party MPs, Claire Perry knocked on the door of No 10 Downing Street yesterday (Thursday) and handed in a petition signed by more than 115,000 people demanding action to block children watching internet pornography. 

The petition, organised by the online safety campaigning group SafetyNet, calls for the government to mandate that internet service providers introduce a default Opt-In filter system for adult content on the internet. 

It was presented yesterday to coincide with the ending of the government’s 10-week consultation on internet parental controls, which has resulted in more than 2,000 responses being sent to the Department of Education. 

Claire told Marlborough News Online: “The voices of over 110,000 ‘ordinary people’ are being heard loudly and clearly at the heart of government and they are asking for a simple solution to the problem of keeping our children safe online – an Opt In system for adult material.

Parents are too complacent warns Claire Perry

Claire Perry took part last night (Thursday) in a Newsnight TV debate on the dangers of paedophiles grooming children --often by giving them a mobile phone whose existence they keep secret -- and the question of filtering internet pornography.

The programme stressed the need to make children aware of the dangers through talks in primary schools, children’s homes and youth clubs.

“Parents are frequently incredibly complacent,” said Mrs Perry. “Only four out of 10 families use new technology to protect their children from harmful effects of internet pornography.

“Now with the new smart phone they are accessible all the time. I’ve got three children. I ask myself why don’t I feel confident at looking at their phone messages. We have given our children this unprecedented access. You feel you have the right to do that. We have given them this private bubble we didn’t have. But we don’t.”

She disdained government legislation to control the internet but added: “Lots of people should be getting involved, specifically the internet service providers of which just six provide 95 per cent access in the home in Britain. They make about £3.5 billion a year.

“The internet is the only form of media where there is no control. On television we have a watershed, films we have ratings, why should the internet be different? I’d like to have a bit more protection, a bit more filtering of some of the adult content.”

“This is one of the recommendations made by our independent parliamentary inquiry into online child protection and we were delighted that the government listened to us and set up an official consultation on this important issue.”

“With that process coming to an end, it is crucial to make sure that the views of parents across the country are heard.”

More than 60 cross-party MPs and peers supported the parliamentary inquiry, chaired by Mrs Perry, who has three children, which reported in April.

The petition, contained in seven plastic boxes, will now be handed over to newly-appointed Culture Secretary of State Maria Miller, who is responsible for internet policy.

And in a letter to Mrs Miller, also mother of three children, SafetyNet pointed out that one in three children aged 10 have watched pornography online, the largest group of internet pornography consumers to be in the 12 to 17 age group.

“Our petition shows that there is a massive groundswell of opinion at all levels that the government and internet service providers must act urgently,” said SafetyNet spokeswoman Miranda Suit.

“An opt-in network level filter with the default setting of porn off will provide the best protection.”

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Marlborough College music scholars to perform at Wiltshire Music Centre

Friday, September 28 will be a big night for Marlborough College’s music scholars - they’re giving a special concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon. It promises to be a taxing programme of music from the ancient to the very modern – and they’ll only have been back at College for just over three weeks.

The concert will precede the scholars’ annual charity concert at the Royal Overseas League in London which raises money for the charity Future Talent which finds, funds and monitors gifted young musicians whose financial circumstances prevent them fulfilling their potential.

Similarly, all proceeds from the College scholars’ Bradford on Avon concert will go to Wiltshire Music Centre’s work with young musicians.  The concert will be introduced and compered by the College’s Artistic Director, Philip Dukes.Philip DukesPhilip Dukes

Marlborough College has about forty music scholars and a significant number of them go on to read music or become choral scholars at university – and some go on to study at the conservatoires. Philip Dukes told Marlborough News Online that giving such a high profile concert so early in the school year is difficult: “It’s dangerous, but it sets the bar high and gets the students going.”

Philip Dukes conducts Marlborough College Symphony OrchestraPhilip Dukes conducts Marlborough College Symphony OrchestraThe scholars have the advantage of some thirty visiting music teachers – many from the country’s leading orchestras. And, unique to the College, they have an annual visit from the Southbank Sinfonia of London who give a series of concerts and one-to-one lessons – culminating in a side-by-side orchestral gala with the Marlborough College Symphony Orchestra.

Their concert at the Wiltshire Music Centre is a great opportunity to see some exciting young musical talent in action. The programme includes a brass quintet playing an arrangement of music by the seventeenth century English composer Giles Farnaby; the College’s saxophone quartet play Andante et Scherzo by the French composer Eugène Bozza; and there’s a clarinet quintet by Mozart.

Seventeen year-old virtuoso double bassist and principal double bass of the National Youth Orchestra, Henry Williams, plays a solo piece B B Wolf by the American bassist and composer Jon Deak.  Bulgarian student Zhivka Ivanova, who Philip Dukes describes as an outstanding pianist with a wonderful personality, plays a Beethoven sonata.

To round the evening off there’s what Dukes calls the “razzle dazzle finale”.  The College’s renowned eighteen piece Big Band will play an arrangement of the Coldplay number God put a smile on your face and Birdland the 1977 jazz-fusion instrumental composition by Josef Zawinul of the American group Weather Report.  Stand by for a roof raising performance under the  direction of Alex Arkwright, the College’s head of woodwind and brass.Marlborough College Big Band at full throttleMarlborough College Big Band at full throttle

Philip Dukes admits that it is difficult to find time in the busy school timetable and with curriculum pressure for practice and rehearsal time. Dukes, who is an eminent international viola soloist and conductor, has to find time to make sure all the music scholars are on top form for the concert: “It’s challenging, but it’s good to blood them with a live concert.”

He is just back from a tour of Germany.  Before Christmas and besides his College duties, he has concerts at London’s Wigmore Hall with the Nash Ensemble; he is recording a new Brahms CD for Chandos with English mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly; and he conducts the London Mozart Players with Robert Powell as narrator, in one of the Marlborough College Concert Series performances (that’s on November 4.)

In the last five years the Marlborough College music scholarship programme has relied on a much more rigorous programme aiming to “monitor, mentor and provide specialist coaching.”  The result has been the level of musicianship has gone up:  “We have a greater quantity of quality. And these pillars of quality pull the others up – they are inspired by them.”

If the applicants are not of a high enough standard, not all the scholarships are awarded each year. For this year’s Shell entry five were awarded out of the eight available; and for the lower sixth entry four were awarded out of the eight available.

It’s tough being a young musician.  But it’s glorious to hear new young talent playing for an audience.

Tickets £14 with under-18s £7 – call 01225 860100 or
By car,  Bradford on Avon is just over an hour from Marlborough.
The concert starts at 7.30 pm and tickets include a pre-concert talk by Philip Dukes at 6.30pm.

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