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

19-01-2018 Sue Round

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

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

18-01-2018 Sue Round

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

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Looking at Welfare: Receiving and Giving

18-01-2018 Andrew Studdert-Kennedy

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

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Livestock Manager (Fixed Term) - Sheepdrove Organic Farm


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

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


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

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Nursery Administrator - Little Saints Nursery, St Francis School


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

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

16-01-2018 Matt Way

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

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


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

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


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

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Boris and Louise dominate second Summer School question time – oh, and the Olympics

Panellists and chair of the Summer School Question Time, L to R - Giselle Cory, Crispin Blunt MP, Louise Bazalgette, Michael Kallenbach (chair), Claire Fox, Andrew PiercePanellists and chair of the Summer School Question Time, L to R - Giselle Cory, Crispin Blunt MP, Louise Bazalgette, Michael Kallenbach (chair), Claire Fox, Andrew PierceThe second of Marlborough College Summer School’s ground-breaking political question times saw many more contributions from the audience. But the audience was a bit depleted by rival summer school attractions – and by that man Usain Bolt. 

Marlborough College Summer School Question Time Panel on stageMarlborough College Summer School Question Time Panel on stageUnsurprisingly, the first question was about gold medals versus grass roots participation in sport. “We have been inspired”, came the cry. “Why aren’t political leaders responding?”

In about the same time as it takes a Jamaican to cover 200 metres, Crispin Blunt MP, minister for prisons, probation and youth justice, destroyed the notion of instant policy making: “It’s the worst kind of politics to make policy on the hoof because of two weeks of success…that’s a rotten way to make policy.”

From the audience, it was gently pointed out to Mr Blunt that they had had seven years to consider policies in the light of London staging the Games.  Also from the audience, Summer School organiser Jon Copp said the Games had shown there was a “wonderful array of sports open to young people.” His game was hockey and his team was playing while they were debating.

Andrew PierceAndrew PierceChair Michael KallenbachChair Michael KallenbachAndrew Pierce, political columnist from the Daily Mail, explained that the sports minister was the “Cinderella of government”: “I’m thrilled to see Team GB doing so well – but let’s give those kids in the comprehensives more of a chance to do well.”

Blunt and Pierce were joined on the panel by Louise Bazalgette (from think tank Demos), Giselle Cory (from think tank The Resolution Foundation) and Claire Fox (director of the Institute of Ideas).  In the chair was Michael Kallenbach from Mildenhall and from a career as a political journalist.

Next in the frame was Mayor of London, Boris Johnson – would he be the next leader of the Conservative Party? Mr Blunt would not consider the question – there was “No vacancy”. The others were quick to comment.

Louise Bazalgette thought Mr Johnson’s Olympic zip-wire stunt might not be what it seemed: “I actually think the role of Mayor is very different to that of leader of the party or country.” Andrew Pierce warned the audience: “Don’t rule him out.  Quick as a flash he’ll be back as an MP. Project Dave are getting increasingly nervous about Boris – so they should.”

Claire FoxClaire FoxClaire Fox hated politics being reduced to personalities. But Boris seemed to know how to appeal to people – a taxi driver had recently assured her that he was “not like all these posh gits”.

We were going to be left with the picture of a Boris who probably spends half-an-hour every morning making sure his hair is “shambolic” and that it might be time for the Conservatives to choose another “blonde bombshell.”

However, we got into a heated debate as to whether our politicians represent the real world. Andrew Pierce said “George Osborne has never had a real job – and is not doing a good job now.”  Adding that all three party leaders had “never lived in the real world.”

Crispin BluntCrispin Blunt“That is trite”, Crispin Blunt shot back, “We all live in the real world.”  And how were Team GB’s men’s hockey team doing in the real world?

Next was a question about Louise Mensch’s resignation as an MP so she could spend more time with the husband – who lives in New York.  Or was it, as one panellist suggested, more that as a mother of three she “couldn’t hack it in Parliament”. Andrew Pierce said Ms Mensch had let down her party and abandoned people in her constituency who had worked for her.

Was this about a political personality or about an important issue? Giselle Cory said it highlighted the wider problem: “Women cannot afford to get into work.” And Claire Fox supported her: “My solution is about child care. We’ve gone too far down the family friendly work place route” – it should not about flexible working conditions.

Giselle CoryGiselle CoryBut in the end this question turned on David Cameron’s “absurd” policy for an A-list of candidates in an effort to get a wider intake of MPs. Claire Fox: “The A-list was really, really irresponsible.”  

Andrew Pierce stuck his neck out with a very relevant forecast: “The next leader of the Labour Party will be a working woman – Yvette Cooper.” And, Andrew, a working mother.

Louise BazalgetteLouise BazalgetteThere followed some ritual criticism of Nick Clegg while the panel considered whether the coalition would survive the dropping of House of Lords reform. And some ritual slagging off of state education by people who do not appear to have been in many real state schools – certainly not in this town.

Altogether two stimulating question time sessions. And a worthy experiment for the Summer School. Talking to people afterwards it was clear they wanted the sessions to become a fixture on the Summer School programme.

And the result of Jon Copp’s favourite hockey team?  While all that hot air was being generated in the College Memorial Hall, they lost to the Netherlands 2-9. There’s always Rio and mostly Team GB’s inspiring not drowning.

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Marlborough Rotary has its own Olympic inspiration for today’s teenagers facing tough options

Benjamin Lloyd (RC of Tewkesbury), Rory Watson (RC of Swindon Thamesdown), Liam Steel and Molly Reid (Marlborough and District Rotary Club)Benjamin Lloyd (RC of Tewkesbury), Rory Watson (RC of Swindon Thamesdown), Liam Steel and Molly Reid (Marlborough and District Rotary Club)Inspiration from the golden Olympic Games is not the only way to inspire people to take up challenges in tough times – a youth leadership scheme supported by Marlborough Rotary Club has also just proved its worth. 

Two teenage students, back from an intensive, six-day course at the Dean Field Studies Centre, in the Forest of Dean, have revealed how their confidence has been boosted thanks to Rotary Youth Leadership Awards. 

Molly Reid, 18, and Liam Steele, 17, have now been presented with certificates of achievement after taking part in activities ranging from abseiling and canoeing to speaking in public and self-assessment. 

“It was really hard going with long days, which was not what I expected,” Molly, a student at St John’s, Marlborough, now working at Waitrose while hoping to go to university, told Marlborough News Online. 

 “I had to stand up and make a speech before the 39 other teenagers on the course.  I had never done that before.  That alone definitely improved my self-confidence.  The course was very well worth doing.” 

And Liam, a student in his first year at Swindon’s New College, where he is studying public services, was equally impressed.  “It really helped me and boosted my confidence,” he said. 

“I’m very glad I took the course after hearing about the leadership awards from a neighbour, who is a Rotarian.” 

Howard Small, president of Marlborough Rotary, pointed out that the leadership awards scheme, has been running locally since 2004, a total of 16 students being sent on previous courses at a cost of around £500 each. 

It was but one of a number of charities and causes that the 38 members of the club supported and raised funds for. 

One of the club’s notable successes was raising £3,000 last year to help victims of the Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand, where Marlborough has strong links with its namesake town. 

“The students  do come back from the course very changed,” Mr Small, a building surveyor, told Marlborough News Online. 

“The results of the training experience are dramatic and have a lasting impact on young people. 

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Is the price of milk due to rise? How the milk crisis looks to a local dairy farmer

In the war that’s broken out between some of Britain’s dairy farmers and the big dairy processors something’s got to give.  Either we pay more for our milk, or the processors get less, or farmers are forced out of business.

The crisis has not gone away, it’s just taking an August break from its place in the headlines. A voluntary code of conduct for milk contracts has to be completed within weeks and the cuts in prices paid by the processors and some supermarkets have almost all been cancelled or postponed.

Farmers are still demonstrating outside milk processing plants. They obviously think the crisis will return soon – and they’ll be hit in the end with cuts to the price at which they sell their milk.

Tom Maidment and some of his Holstein heifersTom Maidment and some of his Holstein heifersTom Maidment’s family have been dairy farming in the Vale of Pewsey since 1887. They have lived through ups and downs in milk production and Tom takes the long view on the current crisis in the prices paid to farmers by the big milk producers.

He believes it’s a perennial problem. He remembers his father telling him how, before the war, he’d get an annual post card summoning him to London to sign the contract to sell his milk to United dairies’ plant near Paddington.

No negotiation – take it or leave it.  If he wanted his milk to leave Pewsey station each day and get a monthly cheque from United Dairies, he had to sign the contract.  And if he didn’t sign, United Dairies almost certainly had a drawer full of alternative dairy farmers willing to sign.

Those were hard times – his father took over the farm during the 1930s slump.  Then came the war and the post-war Labour government’s legislation to stop the nation ever having to import food again – learning the war’s dire lessons – and the birth of the statutory monopoly of the Milk Marketing Board (MMB) which brought stability to dairy farming.

The MMB vanished when the Tory minister Gillian Sheppard refused to legislate to maintain its monopoly.  It was replaced by a nationwide co-operative which the dairy farmers’ other political villain, Labour’s Stephen Byers, ruled to be uncompetitive.

“Since the MMB went, farmers haven’t had enough strength in the market place.”  But it was not all bad news.  Out of that double display of politicians failing to support farmers, there emerged in the south of England a co-operative called Milk Link.  It is a flourishing co-operative with a membership of 1,500 British farmers.

As a member of this co-operative, Tom is largely insulated from the present cuts in the price paid for milk.  He gets 27p per litre and he accepts that the co-operative has to take a premium to invest in its future and keep its equipment up to date.

There are three dairy farms around the village of Wilcot. Tom has five hundred cows in his pure-bred Holstein herd.  Of these about one hundred and eighty are in milk at any one time.

Unlike arable farmers who sow and reap well within a twelve month cycle, dairy farmers have to invest ahead. It takes three years from insemination to rear a calf and get it into milk.

Looking at the industry as a whole, Tom says there are still “Enormously powerful milk buyers, under enormous pressure from retailers, putting unsustainable pressure on farmers.” And he cannot understand the increasing profit on milk sales taken by the retailers.

In 1996 retailers’ profit on milk averaged 2.6p per litre.  It’s now about 13p per litre.  And over that time farmers’ costs – in electricity, cattle feed, bedding, vets’ fees and so on – have risen massively. “I don’t”, says Tom, “see why the fundamentals of this tussle should change.”

For most dairy farmers, buyers will still write contracts and set prices. Will the promised code of conduct change things enough?

The current crisis was said to be caused by the fall in the world price for cream. This is vital to processors because the more low fat milk we buy, the more cream they have to extract from whole milk and the more cream they need to sell on to meet their business plans.

There is some scepticism about the claims by some supermarkets that they pay their farmers well and look after them.  Many of their contracts demand a fixed amount of milk every day of the year. This forces farmers to change calving regimes and keep cows inside for more of the year – which forces their costs up considerably.

Just over the horizon there may be change on the way. In 2015 the EU’s national production quotas will disappear and countries will be able to produce as much milk as they want. Already the Republic of Ireland, with its long established and secure base of co-operatives, is planning to step up its milk production.

Britain has lost about twenty thousand dairy farms since 1996 and produces well below its annual EU quota of fourteen billion litres. Some people forecast another four thousand dairy farms may be lost soon. Giving farmers a fair return so they can invest in herds and equipment should be a political aim if in the future we are not due to import much more of our milk.

However, if that all sounds pessimistic, Tom and is wife Molly are “fairly positive” about the future of British farming. It was during the 1970s and 1980s with the surpluses and the Common market’s various food ‘mountains’, that British farming “lost its zing”:  “The tide changed – as it does.” 

Now it’s changing again: during the current recession they’ve seen a real increase in interest amongst young people in farming as a career.  “Young people are becoming positive about farming again.”

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Mustn’t grumble... Wiltshire folk among the happiest in UK

People in Wiltshire are the fourth happiest in the country according to the results of a recent national survey.

With a happiness score of 77.1 percent, Wiltshire was beaten only by Anglesey (77.3), Rutland (80.8) and Eilean Siar, Orkney & Shetland (82.8).

The unhappiest people lived in the local authoprities of Swansea (65.8), County Durham (65.3) and Blackpool (63.5), which had the dubious honour of being named the unhappiest place in Britain. 

The first national well-being survey showed that, nationally, those who are married, have jobs and own their own homes are the most likely to be satisfied with their lives.

As a general trend, people were the most satisfied with life in their teenage years and when they reached retirement age, with happiness levels dipping during middle age.

Those aged 16 to 19 and 65 to 79 reported satisfaction levels considerably higher than the UK average of 7.4 out of 10.

People living in built-up or former industrial areas, such as South Wales, the West Midlands or London, tended to be less happy, while rural areas, such as Orkney and Shetland, and Wiltshire were the happiest.

The results were obtained after researchers asked adults aged 16 and over to rank themselves between 0 and 10 to a number of questions, including:

  • Overall, how satisfied are you with your life nowadays?
  • Overall, to what extent do you feel the things you do in your life are worthwhile?
  • Overall, how happy did you feel yesterday?
  • Overall, how anxious did you feel yesterday?

The scheme aims to provide a better understanding of how society is doing, and could help form future government policy. Prime Minister David Cameron described the survey as crucial to finding out what the government can do to "really improve lives", but Labour ridiculed the survey as a "statement of the bleeding obvious".

Welcoming the findings of the survey, Wiltshire Council leader, Jane Scott, said: “This doesn’t surprise me as the enthusiasm and the happiness I saw from our communities celebrating the Jubilee and the Torch relay was fantastic.

“More than 50 percent of people in the county came out and I think it shows what a strong community spirit we have in Wiltshire.

“We live in a beautiful county which is one of the safest and healthiest places to live, with low unemployment.

“However we must not rest on our laurels and, although the survey suggests older people and teenagers are the happiest groups, we must continue to work hard with our partners to support them.”

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Marlborough’s remarkable 81-year-old Town crier Alfie Johnson is staying on in the job

Alfie Johnson with Christine SmithAlfie Johnson with Christine SmithAlfie Johnson, Marlborough’s much admired Town Crier for the past 18 years, is back on his feet – well almost – after suffering a stroke at his home in London Road and being rushed to the Great Western Hospital. 

He has been told by Edwina Fogg, Marlborough’s Mayor, that he has to take up his duties again once he is fit and well.  And 81-year-old Alfie told Marlborough News Online: “I’m really, really grateful.”

Alfie, who considers himself fortunate to be alive after collapsing from a stroke and a friend calling 999 just as an ambulance was passing his door, came out of hospital on Thursday.

And at the weekend he was back in the High Street so familiar to him being pushed in a wheelchair by family friend Christine Smith (pictured).

“I am a lot better thank you than I was the other day,” he said. “I was talking a load of garble after the stroke.  Nobody knew what I was talking about in the hospital.

“They were firing questions at me – who are you, how old are you, where do you live?  I didn’t know a thing.”

But he made it into an ordinary ward after initial intensive care and was sent home on Thursday.

“They released me from hospital earlier than expected,” he explained.  “An influx of emergency cases come in and I was the one walking around the ward.  So they said you can go home.”

But there was another calamity before he was back from Swindon to Marlborough, where he was born.

“My wife Annie went into hospital the same afternoon as I came out but she came home on Friday night,” he revealed.

“She suffered a stress attack, one of those panic attacks after I was taken ill.”

“But they have sorted her out and she’s back home too and beginning to feel a little bit better now.”

As to his future, he added: “They’re keeping me on as Town Crier.  The Mayor came to see me on Friday.  We had a little chat . ‘Have I got to give up’, I asked? but she said,  ‘No, when you’re fit to come back, you come back.'

“And I’m very thankful for that, really, really grateful.”

The Mayor too is amazed at Alfie’s resilience after his lucky escape.  “It was almost as if nothing had happened,” she told Marlborough News Online today (Monday).  “He looked no different at all.”

“There is no reason why he shouldn’t continue as our Town Crier once he is ready.  He was very pleased to hear that.”

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Marlborough students praised for their work on Gunjur’s new market

Village leaders at the inauguration of the marketVillage leaders at the inauguration of the marketThe team of eleven students from St John’s School and Marlborough College were honoured guests at the inauguration of the new village market in Gunjur in The Gambia on Monday (July 30).  The students had raised £4,000 to fund the scheme and worked hard to construct the main market hall during their month-long stay in Gunjur. 

Gunjur has been linked with Marlborough for thirty years and they were the sixteenth group sponsored by the Marlborough Brandt Group to make the summer visit and work on a project in Gunjur since the first group went in 1985 led by the then Mayor, Nick Fogg.

The new market was brainchild of Gunjur’s Village Development Committee which drew up the plans.  When the students arrived a month ago three smaller buildings had been completed, their job was to help build the main market hall which will be used by local small businesses, by village women who want to sell vegetables they grow and by local fishermen to sell their catch. 

James Moran, one of the group’s leaders, told Marlborough News Online that the group are really pleased with the result of their hard work: “The whole village is really excited about the project.  They say it’s the most needed project Marlborough students have worked on – which is why we had so much help from young people of the village. Some days there were three times more local people working on the building than us.”

The Alikali prepares to cut the ribbon to open the new marketThe Alikali prepares to cut the ribbon to open the new marketAt the inauguration ceremony the village leader, Alikali Sulayman Touray, praised the local volunteers and the volunteers from Marlborough. And the Chief of the Kombo South region, Mustapha Touray, thanked the students and said he hoped the bond between Marlborough and Gunjur will go from strength to strength.

The leader of the Marlborough students, Rosie Carter, told the local Gambian newspaper, The Daily Observer: “I am hopeful that the market will last a long time and that it signifies how vibrant our bond between the communities is.  We have learned a lot during our stay in Gunjur, and I thank the people on behalf of my group for their hospitality.”

The group got back home late on Tuesday night (July 31) and on August 20 will give a presentation about their visit – for details see Marlborough News Online’s What’s On calendar.

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Is Pewsey about to lose its popular Knitty Gritty shop?

Pauline Hawkins outside Knitty GrittyPauline Hawkins outside Knitty GrittyPauline Hawkins has been running Knitty Gritty in the centre of Pewsey for over thirteen years.  Now she wants to retire and do something different and has put the shop up either for sale as an established business or to let as premises for another kind of shop.

She sells women’s clothes, gifts and cards, but it’s the clothes that customers say they will really miss. As one very satisfied and frequent customer told Marlborough News Online: “Pauline doesn't just stock smart-casual clothes for us women, she also stocks all the basic, everyday essentials you can't buy in Marlborough or anywhere else around here.”

Knitty Gritty is the area’s main stockist for Sloggi, Triumph and Naturana underwear and swimwear. Which leaves plenty of space for Aristoc, Viz-a-viz, Pretty Polly – and for that special gift – Bulaggi designer handbags.

With one of the best addresses in the village – 1 Market Place – Knitty Gritty has been developed by Pauline into a thriving business.  Now she thinks “Someone with new enthusiasms and new ideas could take the business to a higher level.”

One of the reasons for her success is that she stocks a variety of goods: “If you specialise you’re not going to sell everyday.”  In the short time we were in the shop to talk to Pauline, she had four customers checking out her stock.

Pauline was born and brought up in Pewsey, but moved to Pembrokeshire where her husband became a well-known and successful builder renovating farmhouses and building new homes.  After eighteen years in Wales, the family moved back to Pewsey.

So far she’s had a couple of people interested in taking over the shop.  But she says despite being ‘of a retirement age’, she’s not in any great hurry to retire.

Anyone interested in taking over Knitty Gritty can ‘phone the shop on 01672 564313.

1 Market Place, Pewsey1 Market Place, Pewsey

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The pick of all the picnics – and a recipe for Devizes Pie

Anabel Loyd’s new book Picnic Crumbs is an anthology of anecdotes and amusing tales about picnics in many climes and many eras.  It was published early last month when it was officially – as if we didn’t all know – “exceptionally wet and sunless”.  Not a very suitable time for picnics, but this book provides plenty of opportunity for imaginary picnics away from our sodden summer.

It is seasoned with unusual, eye-catching illustrations by the figurative artist Peter Haslam Fox. It ends with an alphabet soup of sandwich fillings which includes green butter (coloured with spinach), udder sandwich (‘Take a young Udder and lard it with great lard…’), and kipper cheese paste (‘Pound six ounces of cold grouse debris with the same amount of gruyere cheese…’)

Anabel Loyd is the daughter of the late Sir Charles Morrison, Conservative MP for the Devizes constituency from 1964 to 1992, and his wife The Hon Sara Morrison.  Her mother still lives in the area and has had a long career in public service – including her term as a founding director of Channel Four Television.

When she’s not travelling (we’ll come back to her itchy feet and her love of getting onto planes to go to new places), Anabel lives between London and Mildenhall and knows Wiltshire well. So it is not surprising that her book contains a good deal about writers, food and picnics connected with this area.  Perhaps most notable is a recipe for Devizes Pie – we’ll come back to that too.

Anabel Loyd has lived in Hong Kong and in India.  She’s worked for several charities in India – especially those concerned with children’s rights. She’s passionate about international aid and cannot understand how aid that’s being well used by a small charity can suddenly be cut: “There are really good things going on with money used properly – suddenly it’s gone – and that’s the end.”

Anabel Loyd at home in MildenhallAnabel Loyd at home in MildenhallShe has five children and is used to making large scale picnics.  If it rains, as it’s wont to do when they’re on holiday in Scotland, they all adjourn to the kitchen.  But Scotland’s not far enough for Anabel.

She just cannot stop travelling. Her haunts are mainly in Asia and North Africa and lately she’s been to some parts of South America. But she wants to travel to many more countries – though not all the family take to her idea of life in very basic hotels in Africa.

Anabel tells me she loves research.  She wouldn’t mind, she says, being locked away in the British Library reading rooms. Her next project is an edition of the prolific journals of Lady Minto while she was in India with her husband who was Governor-General and Viceroy 1905-1910.  After that she plans a family history.

It is her research that’s the basis and great strength of Picnic Crumbs.  She’s found an amazing variety of stories and recipes – some from very surprising sources.

To give just a taste: it’s worth stretching the definition of picnic to include the 1800 review of the Hertfordshire Volunteers and Militia at Hatfield House – attended by King George III.  Twenty-five tables of twenty-five places were laid on the front lawns with a bottle of port between two guests. There was enough beef, lamb, veal, hams, meat pies and ox tongues to feed a regiment.  Washed down with more than 1,300 bottles of wine and butts of ale and small beer.  Unfortunately the King went indoors for his lunch – perhaps he was feeling a bit odd – facing a lengthy menu laced with French culinary terms.  A brilliant find by our author.

Then there’s Bertie Wooster not forgetting to pack “a couple of bottles of Bollinger and some old brandy” in his hamper.  Mrs Beeton telling us how to make caviare sandwiches. And the Everest expedition of 1922 ordering one hundred and twenty tins of Harris’ sausages from the late and lamented Calne factory.

Anabel quotes Osbert Sitwell wondering whether Manet’s Dejeuner sur l’Herbe would have been heard of again had he called his painting Le Pique-Nique.  One might also suggest that it might not have been heard of again had all the picnickers been wearing clothes.  However on the evidence of this book, naked picnicking is not a very British pastime.

It is a wonderfully entertaining read – a bit of cook book, a lot of history, laced with literature, travel, adventure and a great deal of fun.

Then there’s Devizes Pie – from an 1836 recipe and a time well before CJD hit the meat trade: “Boil a calf’s head, cut it into very thin slices, with some of the brain. Add slices of pickled tongue, sweetbread, lamb, veal, a few slices of bacon, and some hard-boiled eggs…”

You’ll just have to buy the book to find out what you do next.  However, if anyone in the area has lurking in the back of grandmother’s cook book a similar recipe for Devizes Pie, please send it to us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll forward it to Anabel.  I am sure her children can’t wait to sample it.


Picnic Crumbs – a Gathering of Picnics, Packed Lunches and Provision at Home and Abroad by Anabel Loyd (Polperro Heritage Press) £14.95.


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Community orchard a-peels for a 'core' of volunteers

Children from St Mary's Infants celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by planting an apple tree as part of the Community Orchard projectChildren from St Mary's Infants celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee by planting an apple tree as part of the Community Orchard projectMarlborough Community Orchard is a-peeling for a 'core' of volunteers to help with various activities on and around the next Marlborough Apple Day.

The project needs volunteers to help run a number of events – including the exhibition of apple-themed art at the Town Hall –  on Apple Day (Sunday, October 14) and also to act as fruit buddies, tending the apple tress that have already been planted.

Marlborough Apple Day is a fundraising event for The Marlborough Community Orchard project, conceived in 2010, with the aim of creating 'a town in an orchard'.

The vision of this scheme is to bring English apple varieties, especially local varieties, back to the attention of the public and to return them to the landscape for all to enjoy.

Thirtyfive saplings have been planted so far and pledges for 91 more have been made. The majority are rare varieties of apple native to Wiltshire that were in danger of dying out.

To join the apple core, email your contact details to Kate Hosier at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Marlborough’s second Sunday market defies the downpours for medal-winning success

Rowie Meard – the market atmosphere is greatRowie Meard – the market atmosphere is greatDespite torrential rain plus a thunderstorm and the lure of Olympic tennis on TV, Marlborough’s second community market yesterday (Sunday) was its own medal-winning success. 

Some stallholders almost sold out, one got lost en route to the High Street, but when it was over all the signs pointed positive to the market’s continued future on the first Sunday of every month.

“It’s been fabulous,” declared town councillor Richard Pitts, a member of Transition Marlborough, which made the breakthrough of launching an open-air farmer’s market with arts and crafts stalls backed by council funding.

“We have just been building on the success from last month and have gone from 19 stalls to 31.  Today the market has been going non-stop since 10.30 with people coming to shop before the opening time of 11 o'clock.

“People have just been piling in, it’s really fantastic.  The Olympics may have made a difference slightly with numbers but people seem to want to come out and shop on a Sunday.  And so they have.”

Town Clerk Derek Wolfe, who bought himself some spicy cheese with peppers and garlic, agreed.

“The market is doing incredibly well, especially with the weather being not too helpful today,” he told Marlborough News Online.  “It is something different and people are still coming out to explore and see what’s here.”

“We need to build on that for the future.  And I’m pretty sure that we can.  Certainly the number of market stallholders is pretty healthy and the number of people attending, though not as high as last time, has been extremely good.”

“So it augurs well for the market’s future.”

Ellie Gill – the weather was potentially disastrousEllie Gill – the weather was potentially disastrousBut it didn’t seem that way when market manager Ellie Gill arrived with a band of 15 volunteers to erect the row of white tents and faced torrential rain.

“It was potentially disastrous,” she said.  “The weather was absolutely foul.  It was just like a sheet of water descending.”

We had traders turning up at nine o’clock saying, It isn’t happening, is it?

“I said, What do you mean?  Just sit in your car and shut up.  It’s going to happen.  Having a community market in the middle of the High Street is the way forward.”

“It’s the transition message, absolutely.  Despite the weather -- and despite the Olympics -- we’ve done very well.”

Rowie Meard, from Purton House Organics, near Swindon, who was making her first visit to the community market, agreed.

“It hasn’t been a great day for us because if people want organic veg they probably need to know you are coming,” she admitted.  “It started off quite busy this morning  but then tailed off a bit when the rain came back.”

“But there is a lot of potential.  People were very pleased to see me here and said they would come back.  The atmosphere is great and Marlborough is just a brilliant town in which to have a farmers’ market.  It’s ideal.”

Katy Tatem with her last offering of enticing cup cakesKaty Tatem with her last offering of enticing cup cakesAnd Katy Tatem from Katy’s Kitchen, Swindon, who had a stall full of exotic cupcakes, echoed that success.

“I’ve sold almost 200 cup cakes today and I’m really pleased with that,” she revealed. “It’s my first time here.  There was a great turn out.”

“It’s a brilliant market despite the rain and this thunderstorm.  I’m very pleased indeed.”

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Wiltshire NHS hit by further ‘bed blocking’ costs

Fragmented NHSFragmented NHSThe number of cases of ‘bed blocking’ in Wiltshire has increased again.  Following our report last week that ‘delayed transfers of care’ (or DTOCs as 'bed blockers' are now known) had risen and were alarming directors and executives at NHS Wiltshire, Marlborough News Online asked for the latest figures. 

These figures compiled by NHS Wiltshire (the Primary care Trust) show that for the week up to midnight on Thursday, July 26, there were seventy-four patients whose treatment was complete but who were still occupying beds in acute, community or trust hospitals.  That’s an increase of seven over the week. 

This was sixty-four more than NHS Wiltshire had planned for. 

While NHS Wiltshire is responsible for and pays for patients’ treatment in hospital, those patients who cannot simply go home at the end of their hospital treatment and need social care become the responsibility of Wiltshire Council once they are ready to be discharged.

Of those seventy-four patients, thirty-seven were waiting for Wiltshire Council to find them care home places.  A further eleven were waiting for assessment by Wiltshire Council social workers to work out what level of care they needed once they left hospital.

That’s forty-eight DTOCs waiting for action by Wiltshire Council but costing NHS Wiltshire in lost hospital bed days.  The total cost to NHS Wiltshire’s budget was 363 lost bed days or an estimated £88,209.

The figures quoted in our previous report had been revealed at NHS Wiltshire board meeting.  They were disputed by Wiltshire Council even though the Council receive the weekly figures collated by NHS Wiltshire.

For the record the DTOCs were split as follows – showing also the change over the previous week’s figures: Community hospital beds – fourteen (down two); Avon and Wiltshire Partnership Mental Health Trust – eleven (up two); Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust – thirteen (up three); Royal United Hospital NHS Trust, Bath – twenty-one (down one); Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust – fifteen (up five.)

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Council plans to probe mystery of missing heroes named on Marlborough’s war memorials

Carved figure on the St Mary's Church War MemorialCarved figure on the St Mary's Church War MemorialA working party to delve into the names of Marlborough’s heroes named on the town’s war memorials is due to be set up by the Town Council when it meets on Monday.  

And it will hope to solve the mystery of why different names appear in three different memorials, those that might have been left off, and those that are maybe erroneous.

It follows a plea to the council from an as yet unnamed family who wishes the name of a so far unnamed uncle to have his name added to the war memorial at the A346/Barn Street roundabout.

But Councillor Andrew Ross, who has a passionate interest in Marlborough’s history, is concerned that before adopting any policy to add names, there should be an investigation as to who exactly is commemorated at the moment.

“I understand where this family is coming from and their desire for recognition,” he told Marlborough News Online.  “But it would be wholly wrong to add one isolated name at this moment.  I know of no war memorial where a new name has been added.”

“There is in fact a strange collection of names on our war memorials at the roundabout and in St Mary’s church and St Peter’s church.  Some are clearly correctly there, others not so.”

“It is something of a mystery that needs to be solved. There are possibly as many as 25 people who are missing if you compare the names on the memorials for the first and second world wars.”

An edited letter the council received last month states:  “I am writing to request that my late uncle’s name be added to the Marlborough war memorial.  He lived in and around Marlborough all his life and his address was ***** when he was killed.”

“My aunt informs me that this building has since been demolished, although it was part of ***** in 1944.  I have done extensive research on the surrounding war memorials, but there is no record of him anywhere.”

“My aunt believes the correct location for any memorial to him should be the main memorial in Marlborough.  I am grateful for anything that can be done so that his sacrifice is not forgotten.  It would also be wonderful if this could be achieved in my aunt’s lifetime as she is my last remaining relative from that generation.”

London Road War MemorialLondon Road War MemorialSt Mary's Church War MemorialSt Mary's Church War MemorialThe main memorial shows 19 names of those who were killed in World War I on a side panel (pictured) while there are but 13 names on the memorial in nearby St Mary’s (pictured) and a different number at St Peter’s.

“Whether this is due to the fact that records were not well recorded at the time but the fact is that some names have just not been recorded,” added Councillor Ross, a retired accountant working on a history of the town, who chairs the council’s finance committee.

“We need to set up a working party to study the subject and I suggest I should sit on it. It may take a little time to solve the mystery of our war memorial names but it is something we do need to do.”

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Star Track comes to Marlborough College to inspire future Olympic gold medal winners

Aspiring Olympic athletes wanting to emulate Jessica Ennis and Usain Bolt can have a week trying athletic disciplines on a dedicated sports track as part of a special summer camp this month. 

Marlborough College athletics track will be hosting its own athletics camp from August 20 to 24 for young people aged from eight to 14.  The camp, a national initiative called Star:Track will cost £80 for the whole week with each day running from 10am – 3pm.

Fully qualified coaches will lead young people in a variety of athletic events including hurdles, sprinting, long jump and javelin, with the final day set aside for an Olympic competition.

Stuart Wheeler, Wiltshire Council cabinet member for leisure, sport and libraries, told Marlborough News Online: “We have all been inspired by the wonderful achievements of both the GB athletes and the world’s athletes in general.”

“Wiltshire’s young people are being given an opportunity to emulate their heroes on the track and we hope as many as possible will sign up and take part in what promises to be an enjoyable week.”

For more information and to book a place on the course, please contact Alex Muse, sports development officer for Wiltshire Council on 01380 724911 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Epic longboard trek to stop in Marlborough

Members of London LongboardsMembers of London LongboardsOne of the most unusual transport processions since the arrival of the Olympic Torch Relay will come to Marlborough High Street later this month.

The town will be a staging post for five Londoners who are skateboarding from the capital to Cardiff, in a bid to raise £10,000 for charity.

The sportsmen will be using longboards, which are skateboards with a longer deck and bigger wheels, and are designed for transport, as opposed to their shorter stunt-oriented cousins.

Longboarding is one of Britain's fastest-growing sports. And while the five members of London Longboards are used to downhill racing at Crystal Palace or dancing – a discipline similar to surfboarding – in Hyde Park, it will be the first time they've attempted a journey as long as the 160-mile challenge they face.

Longboarder Steve Matthews explained: “We'll be following the A4 for most of the journey, and crossing the old Severn Bridge, which has pedestrian access.

“We'll be covering around 40 miles every day over four days, travelling at between five and ten miles per hour and stopping at Reading, Marlborough and north of Bristol.

“The Marlborough stage will be our most challenging – it's the hilliest, but it's spectacular countryside so we're looking forward to it.

“We were thinking about doing Land's End to John O'Groats, but thought London to Cardiff would be a more sensible choice for our first long-distance trek. Perhaps we'll do it next year!”

The five longboarders – Steve Matthews, Matthew Hernon, Will Aldington, Anthony Pierce and James Jones – will be arriving setting off from London on Friday, August 17 and arriving at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Monday, August 20.

All their kit – including tents and sleeping bags – will be carried on their backs. They're aiming to reach Marlborough High Street at around 5pm on Saturday, August 18.

The team are raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support, as the disease has effected friends and family of most members of the group. They've already raised over £2,000 in sponsorship, and will be using their marathon trek to attract more.

Anyone who would like to donate click here to just giving.

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I have lived through much tougher times before says Grace as she celebrates her centenary

Dressed in pink for the occasion, Grace enjoys her 100th birthday telegram card from the Queen, one of more than 70 that arrived in the first postDressed in pink for the occasion, Grace enjoys her 100th birthday telegram card from the Queen, one of more than 70 that arrived in the first postWhite-haired Grace Denman celebrated her 100th birthday today (Saturday) with a visit from the mayor – plus a telegram from the Queen of course – and her own words of wisdom on how to beat the recession. 

'Young people must give up their “gimmie, gimmie.gimmie” desire to have everything now and learn to save with the help of an old fashioned money box if necessary' is Grace’s message. 

And before the arrival of Marlborough’s mayor Edwina Fogg at Grace’s home in River Park, the quietly-spoken, elegantly dressed centenarian told Marlborough News Online how she faced up to the difficult days of the depression of the 1930’s when she earned just £1 a week.

She expressed her views on today’s fashions, pop music, television and her delight in living in such a friendly town as Marlborough since 1985.

“I never thought I’d reach 100 – of course not,” she giggled. “When I was a girl people used to live to 60 and that was quite old.  I am very well in myself.  And I think I am still young at heart.”

However, the age of austerity is nothing new to her. “I have been through tough times before,” she said. “I joined the civil service in 1930 when it was much tougher financially than it is now.”

“People must buckle under and see it through.  And they must try and save money.  I find young people say, ‘Oh spend your money.’  It’s all live now and pay later.  Then they go off on holiday with their Barclaycard, so I’m told.”

“In my day you had a money box and saved up.  If somebody came to tea with your parents they might give you a sixpence if you were lucky.  And that sixpence went straight into my money box.”

“We were all taught to save.  There was a lovely expression, ‘Put money away for a rainy day’.  But now quite a section of younger people expect to have everything.”

“It’s gimmie, gimmie, gimmie all the time with people saying, ‘Why should I save?’, which I think is rather sad.”

Marlborough’s mayor Edwina Fogg presents Grace with a bottle of vintage champagne to mark her centenaryMarlborough’s mayor Edwina Fogg presents Grace with a bottle of vintage champagne to mark her centenaryGrace grew up in Tiptree, the Essex town known for its strawberry jam, her father dying when she was only 11 from an infection caught serving in the trenches during World War I but her mother proving the longevity genes in the family by living to within three months of 90.

She found herself fluent in French at school and also learnt German thanks to private tuition, which enabled her to work at the War Office with the Free French during World War II, later in Paris for the peace conference, and from 1948 at the London headquarters of the Post Office, having previously worked on the continental telephone service speaking French all the time.

“During the war I was working right in the centre of London when it was terribly bombed but I was very fortunate and came through alright,” she recalled.

It was in her early days training for the civil service she earned 17s 6d a week, then £1 only to face cuts.  “I remember having a half a crown (two shillings and sixpence) on my birthday in August and they took it away in September.”

“Then the following year without any further rise they took another half crown away.  It meant that for two whole years one had no rise in salary.”

“One pound a week was a lot of money then, though by the time you paid for your season ticket to London there wasn’t much left.  But you could get lunch in the canteen.  The first time, I remember, it cost seven pence for meat and two vegetables and a tiny sweet.”

Grace didn’t marry until after she retired in 1972 and had 17 happy years with Teddy, a widower.  He was 14 years older than her and died in 1990, five years after they came to live in Marlborough.  For the past five years she has lived with the help of a permanent carer.

Grace still attends Sunday morning service whenever possible at St Mary’s, where she used to run the Mother’s Union and coffee mornings, also playing a role with the Marlborough Brandt Group and the Prospect Hospice.

Marlborough was much smaller when she arrived, she points out, and remembers in particular a fashion store now departed where she could buy Windsmoor suits and lovely underclothes.

“Mostly the clothes in the High Street now are for trendy dolly birds not old ladies like me,” she insisted.

She has been following Olympic cycling events on TV, Eggheads being one of her favourite programmes along with watching Channel 4 news – “it is the best news, much better than the others” – as well as tuning into concerts.

“I don’t like jazz and none of the pop music,” she declared.  “People say someone is a wonderful singer but for me it’s just noise, an absolutely noise – because I am so old you see.”

But not too old to use her computer occasionally.

Now she is throwing a 100th birthday party for no fewer than 56 friends she has won through her devotion to the town.

“I am fortunate to live in Marlborough where the people are so friendly,” she said. “It’s a lovely town and I love it here.”

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A runaway first ballot victory for Val Compton to become a Marlborough town councillor

Val Compton on the Town Hall stepsVal Compton on the Town Hall stepsVal Compton stood smiling  on the steps of Marlborough town hall last night (Monday) after a personal success in a battle to be co-opted as a councillor the run-up period to next year’s full council elections

She won hands down on the first ballot in a runaway victory against three other candidates, each of whom made a presentation and were then be subjected to a session of tough questions at a special meeting of the town council.

And 50 minutes later vivacious Mrs Compton, a campaigner on local issues ranging from her High Court bid to save the minor injuries unit at Savernake Hospital and residents’ parking to regular litter picking in the town and protecting the Kennet, comfortably defeated two candidates with significant local government experience.

“It was my own Olympic hurdle and I am delighted I achieved my personal best,” she told Marlborough News Online.

“It was a more grilling process than I thought it would be.  Nevertheless, it was enjoyable in a way as I have been attending council meetings for so long it was a comfortable place for me to be answering questions from people I knew.”

And it was undoubtedly Mrs Compton’s much admired reputation in the town that overwhelmed the other would-be candidates to fill a “casual vacancy” caused by the resignation of Tory councillor and former Mayor Robin Notton and no demand being made to hold a by-election for his East Ward council seat.

They included trained therapist Elizabeth Hendry, a former councillor in St Albans, Hertfordshire, and Charles Winchcombe, a former mayor of Devizes whose own uncle was Mayor of Marlborough in 1967. 

Mayor Edwina admonishes councillor who refuses to provide “bullying” evidence

Mayor Edwina Fogg, at the start of the special meeting, referred to the resignation of Councillor Notton and said: “At that time he alleged bullying by certain members of the council (in a report in the local newspaper).

“I wrote to him on June 11 and subsequently sent him an email on June 26 asking for chapter and verse on the accusations.  None has been forthcoming.

“I therefore request -- and will put it in writing -- that the Gazette and Herald gives equal coverage to this announcement since the original report brought the name of this council into disrepute.”

The fourth candidate, 50-year-old engineer Gerard Young, virtually ruled himself out of being chosen by the 13 town councillors present by insisting he wanted to be a stop-gap councillor for nine months only with no intention of standing at the ballot box in May.

Mrs Compton, who resigned from the Tory Party last year, revealed how she became widowed 19 years ago when she was 46, and on arriving in Marlborough 16 years ago immediately became involved in all aspects of the local community through service as a senior local information officer and working with elderly patients at Savernake Hospital.

“This was not new for me, I’ve been attending parish council meetings wherever I’ve lived for 30 years and campaigning for longer,” she revealed.

“I don’t believe in just having a ‘house in a nice place’, but living within a community – and that means making an effort plus a contribution and getting involved.”

“I know I’m a good listener.  And people will and do approach me with many problems for some help, which I enjoy giving, but am very honest with them about whether I can help or if I agree with their thinking.”

And she added:  “I am an ‘ideas’ person, as many of you will know.  I also like to take things forward – not around in circles, which I find very frustrating.  I speak my mind plainly, apply common sense, stand up for what I believe in and keep my personal integrity intact.”

“I will always try to protect the vulnerable members of our society, a cause close to my heart.  I would see my membership of this council as a natural progression of  things I have already been doing.”

“I am secure in the belief that carrying on ‘doing what I do’, strengthened by my membership of this council, would benefit the local community as a whole.”

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