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'Tommy's Ride' off-road cycling event raises over £2,700 for the Marlborough British Legion Poppy Appeal


Marlborough's British Legion received a cheque on Monday afternoon (17 December) for over £2,700 from the organisers of 'Tommy's Ride', a fund raising off-road cycle event aimed at raising money for the British Legion, which took place on the Saturday of Armistice weekend (10 November). 

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Outdoor education: Oxenwood’s future secure with Community First

18-12-2018 Sue Round

Community First is delighted that it has been given the opportunity to pursue the acquisition of the Oxenwood Outdoor Education Centre - which is near Marlborough - from Wiltshire Council. It aims to continue to develop and to deliver a wide range of inspiring courses for young people in Wiltshire...

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Reward issued for the return of boat stolen from Mildenhall


Early in the hours of Saturday morning (15 December) 'Muscadet', an 18 foot 'Microplus' day boat on a trailer was stolen from a farm premises in Mildenhall.  The owner's family have issued a reward for its safe return.

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Aldbourne Post Office knifepoint robber jailed


A man who robbed a village post office at knifepoint has been jailed for 44 months.  Matthew Stepp, aged 37, of no fixed abode, Swindon, pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of a bladed article in a public place at Swindon Crown Court on 14 December.

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Just another Aldbourne Christmas? Lights, camera, action - but not before that cross is covered


Aldbourne Parish Council got just 24-hours notice: please could the village Green be used to make an advertisement for Vodafone?  The answer was 'yes'.   And the production company making the advert was paying - but it was not going to be an easy ride.

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Bethlehem today: Baroness Tonge visits Marlborough

14-12-2018 A Correspondent

At a packed meeting in St. Peters Church last Thursday evening, Baroness Jenny Tonge talked about the situation in Bethlehem today.

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Rabley Wood View residents soon to lose play area to developers: Uncertainty as to replacement


At Monday's (10 December) full meeting of the Town Council it was announced that Wiltshire Council had given advance warning that the children's playground will have to close very soon.

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Dispensary Receptionist - Ramsbury & Wanborough Surgery


Dispensary Receptionist 23.5 hours per week    We are looking for a receptionist to join the Dispensary Team.   Excellent communication, organisational and accuracy skills are required.  The successful applicant will be expected to be friendly, approachable and maintain a high level of confidentiality at all times.   For an application pack please contact the surgery...

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Dispenser - Ramsbury & Wanborough Surgery


Dispenser 16 hours per week    Excellent customer service, communication, organisational and accuracy skills are required.  You will be required to work alongside our Dispensary Team members providing dispensing services to our patients.  Your duties will include preparing prescriptions, liaising with all prescribers, dealing with queries face to face or on the...

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Mid-Day Supervisory Assistant - Marlborough St Mary's


  Mid-Day Supervisory Assistant     The Governing Body of St. Mary’s School is seeking to employ a Mid-Day Supervisory Assistantto work 1 hour per day, from Monday to Friday, supporting the children at lunchtimes. As an Mid-Day Supervisory Assistant (MDSA) you will be responsible for setting up/clearing the hall for lunch, encouraging and supporting the children in the...

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Thanksgiving tributes to Lilian Ross, one of Marlborough’s formidable mayors who has died at 97

Lilian RossLilian RossA thanksgiving service held at St Mary’s on Wednesday paid warm tribute to Lilian Ross, one of Marlborough’s formidable former mayors, who has died a month short of her 98th birthday.

More than 100 people packed into the parish church to hear how Mrs Ross, then a widow, was co-opted on to the then borough council and became mayor for the first time only 18 months later, in 1977.

She was at the time president of Marlborough’s Chamber of Trade having originally sought a seat on the council in 1968 and losing by 73 votes.

“It is the Queen’s year, so I feel we should have a lady,” said outgoing mayor Ted Beauchamp at the time.  “She has shown great interest in this council and involvement in the town.”

And Mrs Ross, who died last month in Wootton Bassett Care Home after playing a role in Marlborough over 40 years, went on to become mayor for a second time in 1983-84.

“My mother was a very civic minded woman,” her son Andrew Ross, himself a former Marlborough mayor and a current town councillor, told Marlborough News Online.

“She was a formidable woman, very Margaret Thatcheresque.  Margaret Thatcher probably took lessons from her.

“She lived with us here in Marlborough for the last seven years of her life until she became too ill to look after herself.  When she died she was just one month away from her 98th birthday.”

And paying tribute to Mrs Ross at the service, Councillor Nick Fogg, also twice mayor of Marlborough, recalled Shakespeare’s words, “All the world’s a stage/And all the man and women merely players” before adding: “Lilian certainly played many parts – not least in the Marlborough Amateur Dramatic Society, in which she was a leading light for many years.”

Lilian May Willis was born on May 23, 1915, in Thornton Heath, Surrey.  She married Don Ross, who had worked as a manager at London’s Dorchester Hotel. In 1938.  When he became Steward at Marlborough College, the newly-wedded couple moved here to Marlborough.

“As a big city person, Lilian confessed to being anxious about this,” said Councillor Fogg.  “She felt she was in an unknown land, but recalled, ‘Soon I knew this was home.  I have put my roots down deep and have never wanted to leave Marlborough.’

“Life was not easy in those early days.  With the outbreak of war, Don joined the RAF.  After his demob at the end of the war, he became too infirm to work – their son Andrew’s early  memory of him as a young lad is of a man who sat permanently in an armchair.

“Thus Lilian had to combine bringing up two young boys, Alistair and Andrew, with caring for a sick husband and attempting to eke out a limited income.

“This she did admirably, taking on a series of secretarial jobs before going to work as PA to Bob Pelham.  Bob had founded Pelham’s Puppet’s in Silverless Street and Lillian was an ideal person to fit into the philosophy of ‘make-do and mend’ that permeated the firm.

“In the era of post-war shortages, all the early puppets were made from recycled materials.  The local scrap-yards received many visits from Bob, a tall, blonde rather loose limbed figure, who, at times seemed to look like one of his own creations.

“Of course, the most famous of all the Pelham Puppets was Muffin the Mule, but many other delights – now highly valued collectables – emerged from the works.

“Lilian’s rooted common-sense made her indispensable at Pelham’s.  Amidst all that creativity her cool-headed ability to pick up everything was vital to the growth to international fame of this remarkable company.”

But Lilian’s family and working commitments did not prevent her becoming involved in the wider community, said Councillor Fogg, pointing out: “The number of organisation that benefited from her verve and enthusiasm is too numerous to mention.

“She became President of the Chamber of Trade.  In 1975, she was co-opted onto Marlborough Town Council and, within 18 months, had become Mayor.

“These were tenuous times for the body civic.  The Local Government Act of 1972, had abolished many of the centuries-old powers of the old boroughs.  Even their ancient traditions, including the office of Mayor itself, were under threat.

“It was vital  to assert the continuing importance of these traditions in asserting a place’s identity.  Lilian did this admirably, always maintaining the dignity of the office without incorporating the dead hand of pomposity.”

He added: “While Lilian was a formidable figure, she never bore grudges. The council was a happy place.  The office had its mishaps, however. Lilian was the first lady Mayor to lead the Beating of the Bounds of the ancient borough.

“At a certain point, the boundary lies for quite a way down the middle of the River Og.  Wishing to do it properly, she accepted the gallant offer of Councillor Tony Gray to give her a piggy back down this vital stretch.  It all went well until he slipped in the mud and deposited her in 15 inches of water.”

And Councillor Fogg concluded: “We can be proud to have known her. God rest her soul.”

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An eye-opener for the voters as Marlborough’s mayor raises £8,000 for the Prospect hospice

Mayor Edwina Fogg presenting a large-scale cheque to Sheryl Crouch of Prospect HospiceMayor Edwina Fogg presenting a large-scale cheque to Sheryl Crouch of Prospect HospiceAs a trickle of voters climbed the Marlborough town hall steps yesterday (Thursday) they were confronted with a huge cheque presentation event that proved the power of the community to come to the aid of those in need.

Councillor Edwina Fogg, the town’s elegant mayor, chose Prospect Hospice as her mayoral charity during the Queen’s diamond jubilee year, inspired to do so after the partner of her next door neighbour, Susie Fisher, died there.

The hospice provides dedicated end of life care for more than 1,800 patients a year, care received by patients at home for those who prefer to stay in family surroundings or in the Great Western Hospital through a pioneering partnership between the two organisations, support too for families and carers.

“That happened two weeks before the mayor-making ceremony to which they were both invited,” she told Marlborough News Online. “Susie and others on the committee threw themselves into organising a host of fund-raising events.

“We refused to set a target of much we could raise. ‘What are you talking about?’ somebody said when £6,000 was mentioned. But then the amount crept up and up. And I couldn’t believe it when we hit £8,000.”

Edwina presented a large-scale cheque to Sheryl Crouch, for the past five years head of fund raising at Prospect, which costs £5.4 million to run, some £4 million of that coming from outside sources, including community support and donations.

“It’s an enormous, ongoing task,” Sheryl told Marlborough News Online. “Without people like Edwina and the support of the community we wouldn’t reach our target.

“When I met her a year ago on this project she kept saying, ‘Let’s not have huge expectations on this.’ So raising £8,000 is fabulous, absolutely fantastic.”

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Social Seminars will help businesses get to grips with social media

Marcus Lilley of FutrSocialMarcus Lilley of FutrSocialA series of free workshops aims to give Wiltshire businesses and organisations a better understanding of social media.

The informal courses will be led by social media entrepreneur Marcus Lilley, whose Marlborough-based firm, FutrSocial, helps people across the UK get to grips with an ever-changing array of communications technology.

The sessions are aimed at people who are using the basics of social media, and want to improve their skills.

Each of the interactive workshops will include a practical Team Challenge element, during which Marcus will help attendees to try out platforms and create their own project.

During the first workshop, More Than Words, Marcus will explain how Twitter has broken from its 140-character boundaries to embrace pictures, video and sound.

He'll also be looking at platforms that enable users to schedule and manage their tweets.

The Team Challenge will be to document and promote the event using the Twitter tools Hashtags, Mentions, and Lists, and to collate the tweets using the Storify app.

In Google – More Than a Search Engine, Marcus will explore Google+, and guide attendees through the concepts of Circles and Hangouts.

During the Team Challenge, he'll be creating a hangout of the session, to demonstrate how the tool can be used to create a virtual networking event.

And in Your Mobile – A Studio in Your Hands, Marcus will be looking at some of the smartphone apps that can help tell a story through video, text, pictures and sound.

The Team Challenge will be to create a curated record of the 2013 Marlborough International Jazz Festival, and attendees will be encouraged to contribute their own pictures, videos, sound recordings and thoughts to the event.

The session will be of particular interest to organisations or businesses that run their own events, and want ways of recording and promoting their activities, both from their own content and that generated by others.

Marcus said: “These events will be a collaborative experience; a chance for people to come together, learn about new technology, and share ideas.”

The sessions will be held at The Food Gallery, High Street, Marlborough from 6pm to 7pm on Tuesday, May 28, Tuesday, June 25 and Tuesday, July 30.

The sessions are free, although attendees will be encouraged to purchase a hot or cold drink or cake from the host venue. Attendees will need to bring a laptop, tablet or smartphone to participate in the practical sessions.

For more information, or to book a place, log on to

Marcus, who handles social media promotion for a range of businesses and events including Marlborough Jazz Festival and OxFest, will be a guest speaker at the prestigious Digital Shoreditch conference on May 23, alongside Eze Vidra of Google, Omid Ashtari of Foursquare, MTV's editor in chief Melanie Hick, and Nikhil Shah, co-founder of Mixcloud.

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No beating around the bush at Mulberry event

Picture courtesy of Richard PittsPicture courtesy of Richard PittsA special version of the old rhyme “Here we go round the mulberry bush” was performed with gusto on Marlborough Common on Sunday afternoon (28th April), as part of a mulberry tree-planting ceremony.

The words “on a cold and frosty morning” were changed to “on a cool and cloudy Sunday”. New verses included “this is the way we pick the fruit”, “this is the way we stir the jam” and “this is the way we eat our berries”. The singing and appropriate actions were performed by 1st Marlborough Brownies in Oscar-winning style.

An enthusiastic crowd of about 150 attended the event, which Philippa Davenport of Marlborough Community Orchard described as “the culmination of our achievements –so far.”

“We are proud to be one of just 60 parishes nationwide to receive an award from The Tree Council to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee,” she said.

“We choose a black mulberry tree because it is very handsome, exceptionally long lived, deliciously fruitful and it has such strong royal connections: so appropriate for the crowning glory for our Diamond Jubilee Plantation.”

Marlborough’s black mulberry is a variety called King James. It is descended from trees planted in 1608 by the king himself and by thousands of loyal supporters throughout the country. One of the king’s very own trees was still fruiting in 1931 in a site now within the gardens of Buckingham Palace.

King James urged people to plant mulberry trees because he hoped to start a silk industry here. Unfortunately for spinners and weavers (but happily for fruit lovers), he chose the wrong colour. Silkworms thrive on a diet of soft, easily chewed white mulberry leaves. The leaves of the black mulberry are too leathery for them to munch willingly.

Guests of honour at the event were Sue Clifford and Angela King, founders of the award-winning environmental charity Common Ground, creators of Apple Day and the inspiration behind the revival of the community orchard movement.

Sue Clifford told the crowd that she had visited countless of community orchards in recent years: “Yours is a special favourite. I have always dreamed of somewhere following in the footsteps of seventeenth century Norwich to create “a town in an orchard”. You are achieving just that and it is fantastic. Planting fruit trees in small groups, here and there all over the place, means every single person in your community can share in the benefits.”

“It is truly inspired – and I know you have inspired other communities too. I’m told you have planted (or caused to have been planted in surrounding areas) 171 rare Wiltshire apple varieties that were in danger of extinction; 28 other varieties of apple tree; plus 18 quince, medlar, pear, plum and damson. That’s an impressive 217 edible fruit trees. And today we will plant the 218th.

Addressing the children present she said “Learning how to care for orchard trees and the wildlife they support, and how to harvest and use the fruit, is important. Be sure to teach your children and grandchildren too, so this mulberry tree, which may live for 400 years or more, can delight and feed many future generations.”

She loved the idea of making mulberry jam and sending a pot to the Queen. “Maybe you should call it Marlberry Jam,” she suggested.

Councillor Edwina Fogg planting Marlborough's mulberry tree, in one of her last official duties as mayorCouncillor Edwina Fogg planting Marlborough's mulberry tree, in one of her last official duties as mayorMarlborough’s mulberry tree was duly planted by Mayor Edwina Fogg, Sue Clifford and Angela King of Common Ground, and Alison Galvin-Wright, widow of landscape and garden designer, Jeffrey Galvin-Wright, who designed Marlborough’s lovely Diamond Jubilee Plantation and was such a valued member of the Community Orchard committee.

The spade used for planting was loaned by MTC Head Gardener, Richard Beale, who reported that The Queen herself had used it a few years ago. This made the Brownies happier than ever each to take her turn at adding a spadeful of soil round Marlborough’s royal tree.

The Rev Canon Andrew Studdert-Kennedy blessed the mulberry and the crowd with holy water, then invited the Brownies to sprinkle water over him. They did so with relish before delighting everyone with their rendition of “Here we go round the mulberry bush”.

The party then withdrew to Marlborough Rugby Clubhouse to look at a little display of mulberry-related exhibits (including a silk moth and some silk cocoons; and a photograph of The Queen laughing and talking with mulberry jam-makers) and to enjoy a taste of royal scones and mulberry jam.

The scones may not have been baked by the Prince of Wales’s own fair hands but they were his Duchy brand (kindly donated by Waitrose), generously spread with Tiptree’s Mulberry Conserve.

“We’ve had a right royal time” enthused one departing guest. “I can hardly wait for our very own jam session”.

Marlborough’s mulberry tree-planting event is to be recorded in a special book to be presented to The Queen.

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Parents group thanks Claire Perry for her help in protecting their computer surfing children

ParentZone LogoParentZone LogoDevizes MP Claire Perry has been thanked by The Parent Zone organisation for the efforts she is making to help parents concerned about the dangers of their children surfing online with their computers.

Mrs Perry, who is David Cameron’s adviser on Preventing Commercialisation and Sexualisation of Childhood, took part last week in a group discussion with parents to discuss their safety concerns facing children surfing online.

“Claire spent a lot of time with a group of parents at the House of Commons taking part in a very constructive and helpful discussion,” Vicki Shotbolt, chief executive of The Parent Zone, told Marlborough News Online.

“We are grateful to her for that and feel reassured that she is doing so much to tackle this really challenging issue.  This government is doing a lot to put pressure on the industry to improve parental controls and ensure that filters are available for public wi-fi.

“Our remaining concern is that parents are not getting the information they need to manage technology so we are calling for a public education campaign to ensure that parents understand the online world their children are so familiar with.”

Claire, mother of three, pointed out: “Parents should have the primary responsibility over what their children do online but this meeting reaffirmed for me the fact that there is plenty more that can be done to give them the tools and the know-how to help protect their children.

 “We are seeing real progress being made in this area, like providing better parental controls and having clean public wi-fi across the country, and we are looking to do more to help educate and inform parents of the dangers online.

“I will certainly be bearing in mind the important points I heard today from parents as I continue my work to help ensure we lead the world in online child safety.”

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A poignant baby picture provides photographer Pete Davies with another accolade

A framed certificate now on display in the window of Pete Davies Photography and Marlborough Photo Service provides the evidence of the latest success of 40-year-old professional photographer Pete Davies.

He is celebrating – with the help of a magnum of champagne he received for his success in being named runner-up in the annual national Bump to Baby competition, the biggest of its kind in the UK, at London’s Hilton Hotel.

And he did it with this poignant picture.

“I’m absolutely delighted to have once again been named runner up in the renowned Bump To Baby competition, something which attracts fierce competition from hugely talented photographers across the UK,” Pete told Marlborough News Online.

“It’s great that I continue to be recognised for my work at such a prominent level, and that despite a difficulty economy my business continues to thrive.

“I now have bases in both the UK and in Spain, travelling all over the world, and my diverse portfolio of wedding, fashion, advertising and art portrait photography helps me to win a mix of on-going work.

“As a photographer, you really can’t wish for any better compliment than having your work recognised at such a level and in such a tough and competitive field. It’s great news and one of the highlights of the year so far.”

His success is the third award Pete has won in this particular competition, finishing second in both 2011 and 2012 in the fashion photography category.

But while a first prize still eludes him, Pete is currently celebrating the two decades running the High Street business originally launched by his father, Graham, who retired to New Zealand five years ago.

“When I am not pretending to be a shopkeeper, I run a successful photographic studio with commissions from companies such as Proctor & Gamble Prestige, Virgin Holidays, and Macmillan in New York,” Pete pointed out.

“I also do regular work for local enterprises, Marlborough College, Danisco, Pharmaccord and Claire Perry MP, to name but a few. I have taught a fun photography course for the College Summer School for the last 17 years, which is aimed at developing children’s imagery awareness – and it’s always sold out.”

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No date yet set for full launch of Wiltshire’s new NHS 111 phone service

Wiltshire’s NHS 111 system is still not ready for a full scale launch.  The private contractor Harmoni has not resolved all the faults in the system - including people not getting phone calls through, delays in treatment and ambulances called out unnecessarily.

The Harmoni NHS 111 service is being established across Bath and North East Somerset (BANES) and Wiltshire, following a ‘soft’ launch in February. This means that a test period is now underway in order to identify problems and rectify them before the service goes fully live.

The Wiltshire service missed the government’s April 1 deadline to go live – as did NHS 111 in more than half the country.  Following meetings with Harmoni executives, it has now been decided to defer the full launch until all issues have been sorted out and the system is safe.

The contract is looked after by the BANES Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and their senior officer, Dr Simon Douglas:   “Performance is continuing to improve, but we know that some patients and providers are still experiencing some problems with getting through to the service as well as delays in receiving treatment particularly during busy weekend periods.”

“We’d like to apologise for this and reassure patients that we are continuing to work with our NHS 111 provider, Harmoni, to resolve the remaining issues before the service is launched in full.”

Dr Douglas explained there had been a reduction in the number of 999 ambulances dispatched by the NHS 111 service.
When fully launched, NHS 111 will be a free to call service, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year – replacing NHS Direct. It will act as a one stop shop for patients if their healthcare need is urgent, but not a 999 emergency.

A statement emphasised that both CCGs and Harmoni are committed to providing a safe and high quality NHS 111 service and contingency plans, involving the established local out-of-hours GP service for patients, have been in place throughout this period. 

NHS England, which oversees the CCGs, supports the their decision and is working with them to ensure the service meets national requirements.

Meanwhile, NHS England is to conduct an urgent review of the sustainability of NHS 111 across England. A paper prepared for its board meeting acknowledged that a ‘small number’ of NHS 111 contractors had provided an ‘unacceptable service.’

A senior executive at NHS England is worried that some contractors had bid low because they were counting on economies of scale across their contracts.  If they then lost one contract they might not be able to sustain the service elsewhere.

NHS England has admitted that the ‘market’ in NHS 111 contracts may need to be ‘managed’.  This is an early admission by NHS England that dividing up the NHS into smaller, privatised units can have dangers.

The cross-party Health Select Committee of MPs is also enquiring into emergency services and emergency care – an enquiry which will include the transition from NHS Direct to NHS 111.

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Parents of 14-year-old Marlborough bike crash victim Kadian Harding to take legal action

Kadian HardingKadian HardingThe parents of 14-year-old bike crash victim Kadian Harding, killed last July while out cycling with his family in Marlborough, have announced that they will take legal action over his death.

Thomas and Debora Harding issued a statement following the decision of Wiltshire and Swindon coroner David Ridley at Salisbury yesterday (Wednesday) to record a narrative verdict on the boy’s death.

Kadian died when his front brake failed on a slope at Clatford, outside Marlborough, and he was in a collision with a Mercedes van.

The coroner said he would use his powers under Rule 43 and write to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents detailing the “lessons learned” and whether anything could be done to raise awareness of bike checks.

In their statement, Kadian’s parents said: “It’s not yet been a year since our beautiful 14-year-old son, Kadian, died.  During this time we’ve relived every moment of the events leading up to his death.

“As we heard, and the coroner found, the brakes did not work on Kadian’s bike.”

Recording his verdict, Mr Ridley said the front brake suffered “a complete catastrophic failure”, which was probably due to the pinch bolt on the front yoke not being tight enough.

He said the rear brake had some function but it was “unclear as to the extent of its function”.

And he then added: “As I made clear at the outset of the inquest, Rule 43 prohibits me in relation to my findings from finding any civil and criminal liability of any named person.

“An inquest is not a court of blame.  It is not a trial.”

The inquest had been told that Kadian, from the Hamptshire village of Steep, near Petersfield was taking a course at Marlborough College’s annual summer school at the time of his death on July 25 last year.

He went for a bike ride with his family when the tragedy happened at 5.50pm, his father, cycling behind him, witnessing unable to stop as he approached the busy A4 road outside Marlborough.

Earlier that same day, Kadian had taken his bicycle to the Acceler8 bike shop in Marlborough having been told by his father to get the brakes checked.

Philip Birkett, owner of the bike shop, told the inquest: “I stand by my work and everything I did was correct.  When the bike left the shop it was in a perfectly safe condition.”

See also:

Two experts agree that front brake failure caused the death of 14-year-old cyclist - Day 2 of the inquest

Father reveals the tragic moment he saw his cyclist son killed in a crash on the A4 at Clatford - Day 1 of the inquest

Full statements from Kadian Harding bike crash family and their solicitors

Thomas and Debora Harding said: “It has not yet been a year since our beautiful 14-year-old son, Kadian, died.  During this time we have relived every moment of the events leading up to his death.

“The Coroner today issued a narrative verdict.  As we heard, and the Coroner found, the brakes did not work on Kadian’s bike.  We appreciate, too, that the police have made clear that, in their opinion, the failure of the front and back brakes caused the accident that cost Kadian his life.

“We remain, therefore, shocked and angry that this happened just two hours after he had been to a bike to shop to get his brakes repaired.

“With more and more people taking up cycling, we need to make sure that bike shops are sending people out on bicycles that are safe.”

Sally Moore from law firm Leigh Day who is representing the family said:  "The evidence from the police vehicle examiner involved in this case was clear that Kadian's death was caused by the failure of both front and back brakes.

“The coroner also agreed that there had been catastrophic failure of the front brake and that the back brake was not working sufficiently so as to stop the bicycle in an emergency,  therefore the family will be pursuing legal action against Acceler8."

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No real let up from shivery April as we head into May says Marlborough’s weatherman

Stevenson Screen1Stevenson Screen1April’s shivers look set to continue into May after months of below average temperatures. So don’t turn off the central heating just yet, advises Marlborough’s weatherman Eric Gilbert.

There have been four months of consecutive mean monthly temperatures below the long-term average, April with minus1.1C, March a shivering at a record minus 3.6C after February at minus1.7C, he reports.

And before that January showing a minus 0.6C cold spell.

“Interestingly, in April there were three days when the usual ‘moderate’ levels for ultra-violet radiation rose to ‘high’, normally experienced during a few days in May, and the Meteorological Office issued a warning for skin exposure,” he told Marlborough News Online.

“The trend over the past 30 years is for the occurrence of air frost to diminish in frequency during May.  There were 17 days in the 1990’s, down to six in the 2000’s with none at all in 2011 and just one last year.”

Rainfall in May for the last four years has been below average in contrast to the deluge of 150mm (270 per cent) in 2007.  The April 2013 rainfall was 84.6mm, which is 80 per cent of the long-term average.

“Gardeners and farmers will be hoping for at least an average amount in May, to germinate and generate growth in newly sown crops,” he points out.

“Studying the forecast track of the Jet Stream, which dictates so much of our weather, I note that well into May it is projected to be fragmentary with segments too far south for any consistently warm, dry weather.

“The North Sea is expected to be colder than normal for May.  So any winds from an easterly quarter will be cool.”

The view of the Meteorological Office is for May to bring temperatures around or just above average but with any clear night skies bringing the occasional overnight ground frost. They forecast – “Probably a good deal of dry and bright weather overall, but some unsettled spells perhaps later in the month.”

We all look for some sunshine, warmth and blue skies now that we are well into spring.  In both 2011 and 2012, the mean May temperature was above average so hopefully the trend might continue.


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St John’s law students suggest youth forum to help police in their fight against crime

PCC Angus Macpherson with St Johns studentsPCC Angus Macpherson with St Johns studentsA youth form where the problems of crime can be discussed and possible solutions found may result from a visit to St John’s Academy, Marlborough by Angus Macpherson, the Wiltshire police and crime commissioner.

He spent a morning at St John’s on Tuesday, meeting GCSE and A-level Law students from years 10 to13 and spent time discussing his role -- and debating with students how best to engage with young people in the county.

Mr Macpherson, elected to the new post last November, revealed his vision for his role and highlighted the need to reduce crime surrounding the distribution of illegal drugs in the county and explained how he is endeavouring to ensure that Wiltshire’s concerns are represented nationally.

The groups also discussed the idea of a Youth Forum and a number of students expressed an interest in becoming involved, as well as given the commissioner their own useful advice on how best to use social media including Facebook and Twitter.

Sixteen-year-old student Jake Seaward said:  “After talking about current local policing, we discussed how the service could move forward in the future.  It was suggested that building a presence on social media sites would provide easy attention from younger citizens as they are the largest proportion of social site users.

“That, of course, led to the discussion of youth crime commissioner Paris Brown and how people can avoid making mistakes such as hers online.

It was genuinely a great experience to meet the person who is in charge of keeping the streets in our local area safe and even offering him a few of our own ideas on how he can continue to improve the way that the local area is policed”.

St John’s Law teacher Dr Leslie Spencer pointed out that the visit proved to be both interesting and useful to students.

“The students enjoyed hearing about the strategic side of policing and, even more particularly, the commissioner’s views on how we can reduce crime in the county,” she said.  “Students were also able to advise Mr Macpherson on communicating with young people in the county and how best to use social media.  It was also interesting to hear about Mr Macpherson’s other interests outside his role, including the work he does with Swindon homeless charity The Filling Station ”.

Mr Macpherson said: “I enjoyed meeting the students at St Johns and hearing their views on the Youth Forum, which I am going to set up as a way to continue to engage with young people in the county.              

“My new role is all about talking and listening to people in local communities on policing matters and that includes children and young people, so visits to schools like this are very useful to me.”

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Sir John Sykes pays tribute to Merchant’s House pillar of strength Jeffrey Galvin-Wright

Jeffrey Galvin-Wright at the planting of the Community Orchard on the Common last OctoberJeffrey Galvin-Wright at the planting of the Community Orchard on the Common last OctoberWarm tribute has been paid by Sir John Sykes, chairman of the trustees of Marlborough’s historic Merchant’s House, to its stalwart volunteer Jeffrey Galvin-Wright, who has died at the age of 77.

“Those of us involved in the Merchant’s House project will always remember Jeffrey’s great contribution to its success, carried out with conviction, commitment and constant good sense,” he told Marlborough News Online.

“A pillar of the Merchant’s House for upwards of 10 years he and his wife Alison made a formidable team and by their generosity, endeavour and single minded devotion to the project have done a huge amount to carry it forward.

“Jeffrey’s lasting memorial will be the creation of the 17th century garden to the rear of the House, a task for which his training as a garden designer, enhanced by his achieving a MA in Garden History from the University of Bristol, made him especially fitted.  

“As a volunteer he spent numberless hours planning the garden’s construction, its layout and its planting – his rigorous approach ensured that no plant was admitted which did not exist in this country by 1700.    

“Undeterred by the numerous obstacles to the fulfilment of his objective he kept quietly going and in 2007 the garden was formally opened by Sir Roy Strong.”  

A celebration of Jeffrey’s life is to be held at St Mary’s Church on May 9 at 11am.

Born in Surrey, Jeffrey was educated at Ashtead and Epsom College, where he was a keen cricketer and rugby player representing the College at the highest level, and later becoming a member of the MCC.

After National Service, spent in Khartoum he followed his father, head of publicity for ICI, into advertising and publishing, joining the top London advertising agency, SH Benson, which became Ogilvy and Mather, in 1955.

He joined the Reader's Digest as media director in 1962, playing a major role during its heyday of the sixties and seventies, but left in 1986 after a boardroom disagreement with its American owners.  

But after setting up his own agency he decided on a complete change of career in 1988.  He went to Merrist Wood Agricultural College and studied landscape construction and design and, having qualified, set up his own successful business in Oxshott, Surrey, before retiring to Marlborough in 2001.

He had married Susan Abell in 1965 and had two sons, Duncan and Jonathan.  Following divorce, he Alison Lovibond and acquired two stepsons, Charles and Max, and set up home in Old Lion Court, off the High Street, where their magnificent garden played a significant role in Merchant’s House Trust’s annual Open Gardens event.

He became early on with the newly formed History Association and went on to be chairman of the Marlborough History Society.

At the Merchant’s House, the 17th century home in the High Street of silk merchant Thomas Bayly, he also used his talents as its PR, producing numerous articles for the Merchant’s House Journal and other publications.

He was a leading light in Marlborough’s Apple Day initiatives and last year he designed the Diamond Jubilee Community Orchard for Marlborough.

Sir John added: “Jeffrey had a ready sense of humour and was always good company.  But, above all, we should remember him for the quiet courage with which he faced his last few months. 

“He never complained about his lot despite knowing that his life would be cut short untimely but accepted it with the stoicism which was his trade mark.”

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Once you are 80 you have the advantage to babble on at parties says Marlborough Litfest star Fay Weldon

Fay WeldonFay WeldonOld age has its advantages, according to Fay Weldon, at 81 the author of more than 30 novels, who has been given the honour of being Golding Author at the forthcoming Marlborough LitFest in September.

The title celebrates Marlborough’s link with William Golding, the Nobel Laureate and Booker Prize winner, who grew up in Marlborough and taught at its original grammar school.

Fay’s 34 provocative novels include The Fat Woman's Joke, Growing Rich and What Makes Women Happy, and her work for film and TV includes the original Upstairs, Downstairs series, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil and Pride and Prejudice.

And interviewed in the June edition of The Oldie magazine, Fay, now living with her third husband in Dorset, is asked whether wisdom comes with age?

“Yes, if only because you know what’s going to happen next inasmuch as something like it has happened before,” she replies.  “Some people think it makes you cynical, but you’re not.”

Before you reach 80, you pretend you’re younger, but when you’re 80 you realise there are advantages to age, she insists.

“You can babble on at parties.  Once upon a time you’d go away thinking, ‘Oh my God, did I make any sense?’

“Nowadays you know it doesn’t make sense, but it doesn’t matter.  I don’t feel any different but the world looks at you differently.

“The natural thing is for the young to wish the old to be dead.  But more and more we just won’t die.  So many of us.”

Indeed, Fay, whose latest historical novel, Long Live the King, was published last month, worries about attitudes today compared with the world in which she grew up.

“One only knows one’s own little pocket of the world,” she says.  “Mine seems in a worse state then when I arrived (from New Zealand) in 1946.

“There was a feeling, then, of building things, of hope and change, and people working together to survive, far more than there is now.

“The world looks very gloomy to younger generations.  We had the best of it.”

Once an icon for feminists whom she has also outraged, Fay is asked where she stands now.

“I didn’t set out to preach,” she explains.  “I was writing novels in which there was a view of the world around me dictated by the society we were living in.

“Life was grossly unfair and insulting to women in the 1970s.  You think everybody must think the same as you but they don’t.  Later on I realised I was a middle-class woman trying to impose my opinions on women who really just wanted to get on and have babies.

“I think the vast majority would rather stay at home and be kept by a man and chatter to the neighbours than go to work.  If I didn’t have a particular sort of work that’s probably what I’d do.”

Fay will be interviewed by Valerie Grove when she takes part in the Martlborough LitFest.

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Chamber raises cash for highway heroes

Chamber president Paul Shimell and treasurer Rachel Atkins (centre) present a cheque to doctors Dan Bawden (left) and Jonathan Glover (right) Chamber president Paul Shimell and treasurer Rachel Atkins (centre) present a cheque to doctors Dan Bawden (left) and Jonathan Glover (right) Wiltshire’s highway heroes Swift Medics are nearly £800 better off, thanks to a fundraising drive by Marlborough Chamber of Commerce.

Chamber president Paul Shimell and treasurer Rachel Atkins presented doctors Dan Bawden and Jonathan Glover with a cheque for £795.43, the proceeds of a charity ball.

Swift Medics are the volunteer doctors who save lives at the scenes of Wiltshire emergencies before the victims are transported to hospital by the emergency services or Wiltshire Air Ambulance.

Because of the advanced skills of doctors compared with emergency paramedics alone, lives are much more likely to be saved when a Swift Medic attends the scene.

Over a year Swift Medics will attend over 300 medical emergencies, saving a life or preventing permanent, life-changing disabilities on around one in six occasions. And they want to increase the number of people saved.

But despite their vital role in saving lives, Swift Medics receive no funding from local or central government, health trusts, or the NHS. It costs £10,000 to train and equip a new member of the team, and costs a further £3,000 per team member, per year in training, equipment and insurance.

To find out more about the work of Swift Medics, log on to or find them on Facebook at

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No fears of a measles outbreak at Marlborough College following national scare

Jonathan Leigh, Master of Marlborough CollegeJonathan Leigh, Master of Marlborough CollegeMarlborough College has dismissed suggestions that with other major public schools it provides a potential threat of a measles outbreak that will harm teenagers’ health in the town.

Professor John Ashton, who represents the country’s public health doctors, claimed in the medical journal The Lancet that the combination of high numbers of middle-class children whose parents refused to have them vaccinated, plus overseas pupils with unknown health records, meant such schools might form “reservoirs of disease”, threatening the wider population.

He said their pupils could pose a health threat to the rest of the population similar to that from groups such as gypsies and travellers, who have previously spread the infectious disease because parents rejected the MMR jab.

Professor Ashton, who is soon to become president of the Faculty of Public Health, representing all public health doctors, said the UK’s 600,000 children in private education were falling victim to a number of combined risks.

“You’ve got a lot of middle-class, well-off parents, large numbers of whom did not have their children immunised because of the Wakefield scare — which was a very middle-class phenomenon,” he pointed out.

But Jonathan Leigh, Master of Marlborough, which has more than 800 boarding and day pupils aged from 13 to 18, has revealed that the College carries out thorough health checks on its students.

“A detailed medical history, including vaccination records, is sought from all pupils who join Marlborough College,” he told Marlborough News Online.  “All pupils receive a health check on arrival at the College.

“Detailed records are maintained within our full-time medical centre and the College’s chief medical officer works closely with colleagues in MOSA, and with NHS / Public Health guidance to support the ongoing health and wellbeing of pupils.”

He added: Our medical centre and the chief medical officer will continue to monitor the current measles situation, with a view to responding appropriately when and if public health guidance with respect to an MMR catch-up programme is received.”

Some public schools have reacted angrily to Professor Ashton’s statement.

Dr Christopher Ray, the chairman of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, said the importance of vaccination had been undermined by an “ill-founded attack on independent education”.

Dr Ray, who is High Master of Manchester Grammar School, said the picture painted by Professor Ashton of the independent school sector’s approach to health was “woefully inaccurate”.

Independent schools had close links with the NHS, and their policies were highly regulated.  “The inspectorate which closely monitors the policies and performance of schools in our highly regulated sector will be astonished to learn that independent schools have the autonomy to be the law unto themselves,” he declared.

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Councillor Nick Fogg invited to address the world’s former leaders in Bahrain event

Councillor Nick FoggCouncillor Nick FoggA surprising invitation has landed in the lap for Nick Fogg, who is seeking re-election next week as one of Marlborough’s two independent members of Wiltshire Council, on which he has served for the past four years.

Marlborough’s former mayor has been asked to deliver a paper on the risks of sectarianism at the meeting of the Inter-Action Council for ex-Heads of State and ex-Heads of Government, due to take place in Bahrain between May 8 and 11.

The Inter-Action Council was established in 1983 to deliberate on long-term, global issues facing humankind and to come up with feasible solutions.

These are then incorporated into the Final Communiqué issued after each annual meeting and sent, along with the keynote address, to decision-makers throughout the world.

“It's a formidable challenge,” Nick told Marlborough News Online. “Among the council’s members are former American presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, former German Chancellor, Helmut Schmidt and former Australian PM, Sir Malcolm Fraser.

“And the chairman is former Canadian PM, Jean Chretien.”

 He added: “Of course Bahrain has troubles of its own, with internecine strife between Sunni and Shia Moslems.  There were riots only days ago before the Bahreini Grand Prix.

“I suppose I can't avoid addressing this issue in my paper.  I did engage with them in my recent 70,000-word paper entitled 'Optimism with Information' on democracy in the Islamic World, which I wrote that for Queen's University, in Ontario.”

 Also taking part in the Bahrain event will be Michael Ancram, the former Conservative MP for Devizes, who will be revealing his experiences of the Northern Ireland peace processes.

“I was instrumental in securing him the invitation,” revealed Nick.  “But never thought I'd receive one myself.”

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Singing sensation takes another step towards stardom

Rachel AllderRachel AllderTeenage singing sensation Rachel Allder has taken another step towards performing onstage at the 02 Arena in London, in a competition which aims to find Britain's next big music star.

Rachel (13), who performs under the name Rea, flew through the regional finals of the Teen Star competition at Fareham last Saturday, with a self-arranged acoustic version of the dance anthem Titanium by vocalist Sia and producer David Guetta, which reached number 1 in the charts in 2011.

The St John's schoolgirl will now compete at the regional final at the Guildhall Theatre in Portsmouth on Saturday, May 18.

And success on the south coast will win Rachel, who lives in Burbage, a place in the final at the 20,000-capacity 02 Arena in London in front of a judging panel made up of big names from the music industry.

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