Picture courtesy of www.freedigitalphotos.netWiltshire is the eighth safest county in the UK, and has the third lowest level of recorded burglaries, according to the latest crime statistics.
New Home Office figures show that overall crime in Wiltshire went down in the year to June 2012, compared to the same period in the previous year.
The statistics reveal that Wiltshire and Swindon remains a low-crime area: during the 12-month period, the Force recorded a total of 36,137 crimes.
The Force continues to record a relatively low volume of dwelling burglaries, moving from fourth to third lowest nationally.
There was a 17.4 percent reduction in Wiltshire, compared to a national drop of 6.4 percent.
Wiltshire Police has maintained its position as having the lowest number of drug offences of any force in the country.
There has been a reduction of 2.8 percent in criminal damage. This equates to 193 fewer victims compared to the previous 12 months.
However, there has been an increase of 8.9 percent in vehicle crime. The Force has been running initiatives to remind motorists to keep their vehicles locked with valuables out of sight.
The figures also show an increase of 6.8 percent in violence against the person compared to the same period last year. Nationally there has been a drop of 6.2 percent in such offences.
There should be fifty On Wednesday (October 24) it’s the children’s turn for a party to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of St Peter’s junior school’s move to the iconic building on The Parade. On Tuesday they had worked hard to show their school off to the assembled visitors who had come to celebrate this important birthday.
In September 1962 St Peter’s moved to The Parade from the building that is now Marlborough’s library. The grammar school had just moved out of The Parade building to their new school ‘up the hill’.
Among the people attending the reception and performance were Marlborough’s Mayor, Edwina Fogg and her consort, Nick Fogg, and many of the school’s present Governors. There were former teachers - including Tom Perry who taught at the school for thirty years and retired in 2001.
Also there were Ann Owen who was the last Head Girl of the Grammar School before it moved from The Parade, and Tony Gray who had been a pupil at the school in 1949. There were memories of the days when some grammar school pupils from outlying villages were not brought in by coach, but were boarded in the town.
The reception had been prepared by members of the Parent Teachers Association and Friends of St Peter’s.
Appropriately, this term the school has been concentrating, as headmistress Caroline Spindlow explained, on the nineteen sixties - especially in history and art. So the performance put on by Class 5S for the people attending the reception was a spirited show called Let’s Twist Again – ending with a reminder to those of more years than they care to count what it was like to do the Twist on young legs.
Let’s Twist Again included a ‘teacher’ who, in true sixties style, tried to persuade one of her pupils that you don’t say ‘the best bit of my school holidays’, you do say ‘the best part of my school holidays’. There were Mods and Rockers, renderings of London’s Burning taking in various fictitious teachers names and, if one heard correctly, an “uncharismatic music teacher”. Tremendous.
Then we toured the classrooms – shown round by pupils and with guides on the doors to make sure you had enjoyed your visit. Education never ends: your correspondent learned something new about the limited colour palette used by both Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. And to prove the point there was row upon colourful row of self-portraits in the style of Lichtenstein and views of St Peter’s building in the style of Warhol. Most impressive.
On Wednesday, the children get a fiftieth birthday party of their own with squash and a big birthday cake. At least we can be sure the school won’t be in their old but well-used building come the next fiftieth birthday.
LATE NEWS: last Saturday's Feast of Food raised £12,000 for Cancer Research UK.
It’s all about food and gifts – but it’s also all about beating cancer. The Marlborough branch of Cancer Research UK held their annual Feast of Food event at the College on Saturday (October 20) – and it was a sell-out success.
The Norwood Hall and an adjoining marquee held sixty-eight stalls with traders representing just about every part of the south-west of England and far beyond too. One of the organisers told Marlborough News Online that they’d had applications from almost twice as many stall-holders as they had space for.
Crowds started to fill the hall almost as soon as it was open. And many of the stalls were very soon doing brisk business. Organisers said they had a consistent flow of people and were “really pleased” with the whole event. They hope to make between eleven and twelve thousand pounds.
The event came hard on the heels of the joint Channel 4 and Cancer Research UK Stand Up to Cancer campaign – which raised a magnificent £6,483,995.
Pies galoreAt this year’s Feast of Food you could find some really delicious meat and game pies. There was Wiltshire honey and Marlborough’s famous shiitake and oyster mushrooms. And Wiltshire chillies of varying strength. Making their second appearance at the Feast of Food were Loire Uncorked with an array of Loire wines and highly delectable cheeses.
Looking ahead to Christmas there were homemade puddings with traditional and not so traditional ingredients. And a range of Christmas cakes that might well find themselves being opened long before the day itself.
If you had shopped for food and had your mid-morning coffee and cake, you could start on the Christmas gifts. There were some really attractive Polish pottery designs and Backdoor Shoes brought a colourful display of their light waterproof clogs painted with fruit and vegetable designs.Thanks to Wiltshire's bees
Vying for a place on the Christmas present list was all manner of ‘kitchen stuff’ from bottles of oil (olive and rapeseed) to innovative cookware; from cookery books to antique cutlery; from Turkish delight to fragranced candles.
Finally time for a taster from Ramsbury Brewery or the Wiltshire Liqueur Company.
Oh, and there’s a date for your diary: also raising funds for Cancer Research UK is the Marlborough Spring Fair which will be on 13 April 2013.
You probably won’t have heard about this very special specialist centre – and you almost certainly haven’t heard about the financial position it’s been landed in. But it’s a vital part of the care and development of very vulnerable toddlers in our area.
Devizes and District Opportunity Centre is an independent charity which was originally set up in 1978 by a small number of parents who needed help for themselves and for their children with special needs.
Ever since then, the Centre has provided specialist early years educational and therapeutic care for children from birth to five years old, who have disabilities, learning difficulties or complex, life threatening health conditions. It is now designated as one of Wiltshire’s four District Specialist Centres.
Forty-two children and their parents are supported at the main centre in Devizes and a further ten at the satellite centre in Tidworth. The catchment area covers the towns of Devizes, Marlborough, Pewsey, Tidworth and Melksham and all their outlying villages.
Children come to two sessions each week and each has their own key worker. The staff team consists of one full-time and eleven part-time highly trained and experienced pre-school teachers and four trained volunteers – that gives a minimum ratio of one staff member to every two children in each session.
Parents have the opportunity to play with their children, learn how best to support and stimulate their development with support and advice from experienced staff and medical therapists. Parents can also benefit from mutual support and friendship with other parents.
There are also preschool sessions for children over two-and-a-half who attend on their own.
The centre works closely with consultant paediatricians, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. It also works with other charitable organisations such as Portage and Home Start. The centre’s policy is to ensure children benefit from a ‘Whole Team Around the Child’ approach.
When children join the Centre staff take approximately eight weeks to assess them, identify their strengths and their needs and then devise an individual developmental plan. Betty Newman, who has been involved with the centre for twenty-one years and now manages it, explains: “We concentrate on maximizing each child’s ability, we might only deal with tiny steps of progress but we celebrate every single one”.
Julia and PaddyTwo-and-a-half-year-old Paddy and Tom are two children who come from Marlborough to the centre in Devizes with their mothers Julia and Nancy. Both mothers say the centre has done wonders for their children.
Julia and Nancy support one another and as Tom’s mum Nancy doesn’t drive, Paddy’s mum Julia brings them in her car. As we shall see, transport can be a major problem for some of the centre’s families.
Over the years the Devizes building has been enlarged and improved. It now has a multi-sensory stimulation room, a soft play room, a computer area with specially adapted equipment, and two large play rooms – one of which has an under-floor sand pit which can easily be opened up to provide a real get-in-and-get-sandy experience. There are also outside areas to play in and explore – when it’s not raining.
Betty says: “Although we have excellent premises and equipment our most important resource is our trained staff.” And she’s adamant that she must be guided “by what the children need and what their parents want.”
The development of the centre over the years has been something of a roller-coaster ride as local authorities have changed, policies have changed at local and national level – and funding has changed. When early years education and specialist intervention became national policy, the centre was commissioned by the Council to provide specialist services for under-fives. Their funding was increased which enabled them to consolidate and develop the service that could be offered.Nancy and Tom
The centre is inspected by Ofsted – in May last year the Tidworth centre which had opened just five months earlier, was rated outstanding. And Betty sends quarterly reports to Wiltshire Council and there’s an annual inspection by Council officials.
Then in 2010 Wiltshire Council, which still commissions the centre as a service it is obliged to provide, cut its funding by £13,000 to £84,110 a year. And before March 2014, the Council will be putting this service out to tender again.
The centre has always had to raise some extra money, but this year with the added pressure caused by the funding cuts, the centre’s trustees need to raise £70,000 in order to maintain the high quality of its service. At the end of the last financial year the centre was left with a deficit of £10,000 and it looks as though that will be matched this year. This eats into the reserves which every organisation that employs paid staff must keep.
There's always been a reliance on community support and the centre has some very generous donors – often anonymous. The soft play room was added by a local builder who decided not to send in his invoice. A grant from BBC’s Children in Need pays the costs of one and a half members of staff.
Devizes Lions and Round Table have helped. Recently Melksham Rotary have raised funds and Waitrose in Marlborough gave one of their monthly Green Token community grants. In June Devizes-based Seren Events Management organised a ‘Roaring Twenties’ evening which raised £4,500.
The future of funding in this area looks most uncertain as the coalition government plans to take money from the early intervention grant to fund the new free nursery places for two-year-olds from poorer families, and to remove the ring-fence round the rest of this grant so local authorities can use it as they wish.
There is an urgent need to raise more money from communities the centre serves – Marlborough among them. And, to return to transport problems, there is an urgent search underway to find volunteer drivers-with-a-car to take children and parents to the centre from more rural areas.
The centre may have a colourful and well-equipped soft play room, but it does not offer a soft option for these children and their parents. The sessions are intense and tiring for all concerned. Whether children have temporary developmental delay problems or more lasting conditions, they and their parents need specialist help.
Betty Newman: “Our parents don’t have the security of knowing what the future will bring for them or their child. Each child’s difficulties and families situation is different however they all live with very high levels of anxiety and many experience varying degrees of isolation. I always say we haven’t got a magic wand here at the centre, but we deal with reality. Our job is to support and reassure parents and to give each child the chance to reach their potential by providing opportunities they would not otherwise have.”
The centre’s telephone number is 01380 726077 - half-term starts on October 22 - so please leave a message.
Shop and office workers in Marlborough are being urged to get the sack, in aid of Prospect Hospice.
Marlborough's local hospice is running its second annual Santa day on Friday, December 7 and is looking for 100 people to dress up as Father Christmas and raise much-needed funds for the charity.
Everyone who registers will receive an ID card, a collection bucket and a Santa suit, and participants can spend as few or as many hours as they like during the day collecting much-needed funds for the charity.
Sheryl Crouch, head of fundraising at Prospect Hospice, says: “What we’re really hoping for is to have lots of Father Christmases all across Swindon and North Wilts collecting money for us on the same day – it would be fantastic if we could get 100 people to do it.
“The good thing about it is that you don’t need to stand in the street or go door-to-door, or vary your normal routine during the day to do it, or even take a day off work. You simply dress as Santa for the day, take a collecting bucket with you and collect money from whoever you meet.
“It’s only £5 to register, and for that you get everything you need, including a free Santa suit to keep. It’s a really simple idea that will hopefully be a lot of fun for everyone and help raise some money towards our work.”
If you are keen to don the big man’s red suit for the day and help raise funds for Prospect, please visit www.prospect-hospice.net/santa