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Wheatsheaf fundraising revamps playground for Chilton Foliat Primary School

22-03-2019 Sue Round

The Wheatsheaf pub in Chilton Foliat has donated £1,200 to Chilton Foliat Primary School.  The money was raised in a fundraising initiative which asked diners to contribute a voluntary donation of £1 at the end of their meal.

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Review: from Mozart to Bernstein - Ryan Drucker's piano recital at St Peter's Church

21-03-2019 Christopher Rogers

Pianist Ryan Drucker performed the latest recital in the Saint Peter’s Brilliant Young Musicians series (Sunday, March 17). Ryan graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music with a first class degree and was awarded the Alfred Clay Scholarship with the highest mark in an undergraduate recital. He is currently...

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2…4…6…8… save our planet, it’s not too late St John’s students join youth climate strike and march

21-03-2019 Sue Round

Last Friday, March 15, six St John’s Year 12 students missed school to join the second #Youthstrike4Climate in London.  More than fifteen thousand students gathered in Parliament Square and marched via Downing Street to Buckingham Palace. 

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‘Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye’… baby trout released into the Kennet

21-03-2019 Sue Round

This week it was the turn of Baydon St Nicholas Primary School to release the baby trout they had cared for since January into the River Kennet.  The children and teachers donned waders to join Anna Forbes and Sean Dempster from Action for the River Kennet in the river at...

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Bank building to get a shop window


Here is another example of the changing face of Marlborough High Street:  NatWest who own No. 14 on the High Street's south side, have applied to change the frontage of the building so it is easier to sell as a retail shop.

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The Hundred Tonne Diet

19-03-2019 Professor Dave Waltham

  Don’t take my word - or anyone else’s - for anything. Y ou don’t need to.  The data is so clear that you can see - see for yourself - the reality of human-induced climate change.The graph shown below has two curves.  The first, in blue, shows the cumulative amount of carbon dioxide...

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If you dream it…you can do it at the Primary Schools’ Dance Festival

19-03-2019 Sue Round

Over two hundred children from ten local primary schools participated in the Marlborough Dance Festival, held at St John’s on Saturday March 16.  They were joined by students from  St.John’s Year 10 BTEC Dance group.

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One-way traffic round The Green gets the elbow - but there is still a problem of parking & access


Following the decision in January to back double yellow lines around The Green, Marlborough Town Council's Planning Committee (March 18) were faced with a further proposal - to make the route round The Green into a one-way road.

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Area crime update - 11 - 18 March


  Below are details of the latest crimes committed in Marlborough and surrounding villages.  If anyone has any information as to these offences please contact the Police on 101,  or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111   Area:   MarlboroughType:    Burglary Residential (Dwelling)Time/Date:  11/03/2019  21:11:00Details:     Marlborough, Isbury Road  -  Unknown suspect(s) have...

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Local schools raise money for Comic Relief

18-03-2019 Sue Round

Preshute Primary School and Marlborough St Mary’s have raised several hundred pounds for Comic Relief and had lots of fun in the process.

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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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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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You can influence the new plan for the Avebury World Heritage Site

The first round of consultations is beginning towards renewing the management plan for the Avebury World Heritage Site.  And you can have your say.

World Heritage Site management plans provide a framework for meeting the United Kingdom’s obligation to protect its World Heritage Sites.  They carry weight in the planning system and aim to establish an appropriate balance between conservation, access and interpretation, local community interests, and sustainable use of the World Heritage Site. 

The last update of the Avebury Plan was in 2005.  UNESCO recommends that management plans are updated regularly to ensure they remain relevant. The renewed plan will need to reflect progress on the objectives set in the 2005 plan and new opportunities and challenges.

The Avebury World Heritage Site Officer, Sarah Simmonds, will be available to answer questions and collect your ideas in the Social Centre on Avebury High Street on Tuesday, August 7 between 2pm and 7pm and in Marlborough Library on Monday, August 13 between 2pm and 7 pm.  This is an opportunity to share ideas at an early stage in the process of review before the preparation of the draft plan.  The formal round of consultation on the new draft management plan will take place in 2013 before it is submitted to the government and to UNESCO. 15 

Sarah Simmonds explains: “It is important that the process of review and update involves extensive engagement with World Heritage Site stakeholders including the wider public and the local community whose expertise and knowledge should help shape the new management plan.”

Those unable to go to the drop in sessions in August, can find a leaflet and form to fill in on the Wiltshire Council website.  Hard copies of the leaflet are available from the World Heritage Site Officer.  All comments should be received by Friday, September 15.  There will also be opportunities to take part in the formal public consultation process on the draft management plan during 2013.

For leaflets or further information on this important review, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01225 718470.  The 2005 Management Plan can be read online

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Patients praise care improvements made at the Great Western Hospital

Great Western Hospital, SwindonGreat Western Hospital, SwindonPatients can now be assured that improvements made at the Great Western Hospital, Swindon, following a critical inspection report mean that they will receive safe care at the hospital.

More than 400,000 patients, which include those from the Marlborough area, are seen and treated at the hospital every year.

A Care Quality Commission inspection last year resulted in a call for action in relation to the care and welfare of those using the hospital and for an improvement to be made on their nutritional needs.

Now the Commission has given the Great Western the all clear, a new report declaring that it is meeting essential standards.

"We asked patients about their overall care at the hospital,” says the Commission report. “One patient said ‘care here is fabulous’ and another said ‘nothing is too much trouble’.”

"The staff we met on our visits to the wards showed dedication, professionalism and a caring attitude to patients.  We found evidence to judge the hospital had made significant improvements to providing and monitoring fluids.”

“Patients were being protected from the risk of inadequate hydration."

The Commission’s compliance manager Karen Taylor says the public can "be assured" that they will get safe care at the hospital.

Improvements to surgery procedures include greater communication among staff, rigid equipment inspection and a series of checklists adhered to in order to eliminate mistakes.

To address the issue of patient dehydration, the hospital has installed prominent information boards on wards and carries out greater monitoring of patient's fluid intake and output.

Hilary Walker, chief nurse at the hospital, says: "We've undertaken a vast amount of really important work, and we're very confident now that things have improved significantly."

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Claire Perry riles Tory bloggers with call not to imprison girls

Marlborough MP Claire Perry has got herself embroiled in another rumpus with her suggestion that “Prison for girls is not the answer”. This time the critics are within the Conservative Party, many apparently from its ‘prison works’ wing.

In a long article on the ConservativeHome website, Mrs Perry claimed that the youth justice system was ‘built with boys in mind’ and that using ‘inappropriate and unnecessary criminal justice interventions for girls’ low level behaviour is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.’

Her views – which originate in an inquiry by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Women in the Penal System – have prompted about one hundred and seventy comments on the Tory website. As the Prime Minister and other senior Ministers move to appease the more right-wing conservatives who’re fed up with working to what they see as a LibDem agenda, Mrs Perry seems to have roused the anger of many Conservatives – and some of them women.

She relates a story told to the Group by a magistrate about a girl with ‘a chaotic family background and her mother [who] was drug and alcohol dependent’. But the magistrate had no powers to invoke a care order and had to impose a community order.

“They [magistrates] are wholly unable to use basic common sense to help these girls out of trouble…The youth justice system should not be expected to deal with child welfare issues. That is the job of councils.” Mrs Perry does not say how councils which are facing significant cuts to their budgets, should fund this care.

Mrs Perry’s mention of ‘compassion’ in the treatment of girl offenders has raised the hackles of some of those adding comments to the article: “This one is a floor crossing defector to Labour waiting to happen.” Another states: “I am afraid this is the result of the A-List” – David Cameron’s method selecting only centrally approved candidates before the last election.

Someone signing himself Jim writes: “This left wing kumbaya piece was made even more nauseating for me to read knowing it was written by a conservative party politician.” But not all Mrs Perry’s critics were male. ‘Sarah G’ wrote: “I just want to cringe reading this. Does the author actually know or understand anything about politics/crime/judiciary?”

People posting comments (who may not all, of course, be members of the Conservative Party) have questioned the logic of singling out girls for special treatment and bringing gender discrimination into the judicial system. “Wow, what an amazingly sexist article” and “This anti-male feminist Liberal twaddle is straight from the Guardian.”

Her article has even given one of her own constituents the opportunity to raise a more general gripe. Robert Eve writes: “Claire Perry, who is my MP, has been disappointing me since the election.”

Mrs Perry has recently been in some at least warm water over her ‘gaffes’ – such as the remark Marlborough News Online reported last week: “I think Kate Middleton is pregnant – and that would be good for the economy.”

This remark was picked up by two generally very Conservative-supportive newspapers, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph. Both newspapers sought views on her remarks to create stories for their websites that were critical of Mrs Perry.

Today’s Mailonline (July 29) carries a report by Brendan Carlin headlined “Tory donors tell Cameron to create ‘true blue’ Cabinet without his cronies in autumn reshuffle.” Tory ‘grass root’ members apparently have no problem with some Cameron and Osborne loyalist first elected in 2010 ‘being given ministerial red boxes.’

These, the Mail on Sunday says, include “Devizes MP Claire Perry – although her outspoken reputation, including last week speculating whether the Duchess of Cambridge was pregnant, may count against her.”

Only time will tell. But the effect was all rather spoilt when Mailonline captioned their photo of Mrs Perry as being the “Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Devizes”.

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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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Marlborough’s 81-year-old town crier survives a stroke thanks to a passing ambulance

Town Crier Alfie JohnsonTown Crier Alfie JohnsonMarlborough’s Mayor Edwina Fogg is heading for the Great Western Hospital on Friday to see 81-year-old Town Crier Alfie  Johnson, who is in the Swindon hospital recovering from a stroke.

He was taken to the intensive care unit almost instantly after the attack on Monday by an ambulance passing by his home in the London after a visitor caught him as he collapsed and then dialled 999.

“He is such a resilient and wonderful character that I am sure he will bounce back,” Councillor Fogg told Marlborough News Online. “I am hoping to visit him on Friday now that he is in an ordinary ward and cheer him up.”

“I sent a note to his wife Annie after I heard about the stroke.  He was so fortunate that an ambulance was virtually passing his door shortly after he collapsed and paramedics were able to pick him up so quickly.”

Mr Johnson, born and brought up in Marlborough, has been Town Crier for the past 18 years, his ringing the bell at civic events during that period making him well known throughout the community.

Councillor Fogg and her husband, Nick, who has twice been Mayor of Marlborough, have known Mr Johnson for much of his time as Town Crier.

“He is such a colourful character whom we have got to know very well since we became involved in the town council,” she said. “He is loved by everyone and we are all wishing him a speedy recovery.”

Mr Johnson’s career has included being a shoe repairer, saddler, postman and supermarket shelf stacker before retirement.  Since then he has carried out voluntary work and even played Santa every Christmas in a local care home.

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Students to share their Gunjur adventure

Volunteers from Marlborough Brandt Group working on a Disability Africa project in GunjurVolunteers from Marlborough Brandt Group working on a Disability Africa project in GunjurTen students from Marlborough College and St John's School will be talking about their experiences in The Gambia at Marlborough Town Hall later this month.

The students, along with leaders Rosie Carter, Harriet Compton and James Moran, have spent four weeks in Marlborough's twin community of Gunjur with Marlborough Brandt Group, helping to build an extension to the central market.

Nick Maurice of Marlborough Brandt Group explained: “This market, in many ways similar to the new Sunday market in Marlborough, is in the centre of the village and is a vital source of income for the women of Gunjur who sell their produce vegetables, meat and locally caught fish. 

“This money is used to support their families and educate their children.”

The youngsters have also been working with the charity Disability Africa, helping to provide an appropriately stimulating, fun and educational environment for disabled children who, too often, are neglected because African traditions expect little or nothing of disabled children.

The group aged between sixteen and eighteen years old are entirely self-funded and have raised £4,000 towards the materials for building the extension to the market.

They are the sixteenth group to make the summer visit and work in Gunjur since the first group went in 1985 led by the then mayor, Nick Fogg.

They will be giving a presentation of their time in Gunjur on Monday, August 20 at 7.30 pm in Marlborough Town Hall.  Admission free, but there will be a retiring collection.

Meanwhile, the AGM of the Brandt Group will be held at the charity's office at Elm Tree Park, Manton SN8 1PS at 6.30pm on Thursday, August 9.  

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Celebrity William fires up Marlborough’s very own Olympic flame

William Copp with Mark PharoahWilliam Copp with Mark Pharoah“I feel like a celebrity,” said 17-year-old William Copp as he sat in the sunshine in his wheelchair clutching his golden Olympic torch and talked to admirers galore.

And he certainly was the focus last night (Friday) as, four hours ahead of the official launch in London that was beamed round the world, Marlborough had its very own flaming Olympic fun.

And there to share it with him was Olympic discus veteran Mark Pharoah, now white-haired and 81, who pushed William through an avenue of flag-waving children to light the Olympic flame on its own special plinth in the grounds of Marlborough College.

This was the moment that marked the public opening of the College’s annual Summer School, this week thronged with 1,200 students, scores of children included.

They all wanted to meet William, the St John’s School student who, a fortnight before, had picked up the flame from Olympic champion Michael Johnson in Salisbury and wheeled it ahead on its historic tour of the country.

“Having played a part at the start of the Olympics, and to be a part of the buzz it has created, is something I shall never forget,” William told Marlborough News Online. “It’s a wonderful day.”

“I just feel so honoured to be able to re-live it all over again, it’s great.  It’s marvellous to be able to help the Summer School, which has always played a big part in the Marlborough community for almost decade.”

“And to have the opportunity to help create all this fun for people.”

William will himself be watching the Olympic rowing at Eton tomorrow (Sunday) and has tickets too for his own sport, wheelchair basketball.

“That’s so close to my heart and will be wonderful to see,” he added.  “All this inspires me to get back into wheelchair basketball.  Since all this Olympic event has unravelled it has made me want to train much harder and get back into the gym and the sports hall.”

For Mark Pharoah, from Great Malvern, who recalls the last London Olympics in 1948 and competed in the 1952 Helsinki Olympics and those at Melbourne in 1956, it meant looking back 60 years.

That was when was a  discus competitor, missing a bronze medal by in Australia by 13cms with a British record throw of 54.27 metres, and also competing international for Britain as a shot putter and hammer thrower.

“So much has changed,” he said.  “So I have mixed feelings because the Olympics are such an extravaganza now.  But I can’t say I regret the commercialism because I think it was inevitable.  That’s what they call progress.”

He believes today’s Olympics don’t extol the same quality of pure competition.  “Amateurism has turned into professionalism and people are now full-time athletes,” he explained.

“They were happy days in my time, they were different, not so specific and selfish.  What we used to do was to enjoy international matches.”

“During the season GB would go to Czechoslovakia, to France and Germany to complete and they were great fun.”

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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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More stalls, more fresh food, arts and crafts at Marlborough’s second Sunday community market

Ellie Gill, market organiserEllie Gill, market organiserAn umbrella may come in handy, but don’t worry about the weather when the second of Marlborough’s open-air community market opens for business in the High Street at 11am on Sunday.

It’s going to be bigger and better than the initial event last month launched by Marlborough’s Mayor, Edwina Fogg, with the number of stalls boosted from 20 to 32.

And such has the message spread of the success of the July market that another dozen would-be stallholders are waiting in the wings to take part.

“Nothing is going to spoil it,” market organiser Ellie Gill told Marlborough News Online. “I wasn’t surprised how well we did at first because the community is really right behind the market.

“That’s thanks to the efforts of Transition Marlborough and the town council who want to boost what goes on in the in the High Street and bring in people from outside.”

Energetic Ellie will be walking the High Street pavements tomorrow (Thursday) talking to people and handing out leaflets to ensure that they know Sunday is going to be another big day.

Indeed, the bigger and better boast comes from the fact that an even greater variety of local fare from prepared foods, farmers’ market produce and a huge variety of arts and crafts

will be on display until 4pm.

Such has been the interest in the new venture, that Ellie has introduced four Guest Stalls to give producers a chance to try out the market for themselves. 

“We now have a considerable waiting list of interested producers,” she said. “We’re really excited to have such a great core of producers, which means that operating the Guest Stalls will ensure constant variety in what the market offers.”

The 32 stallholders will be selling everything from local teas, honey, fudge, flowers, plants, cheese and mushrooms to handmade shawls, oil cloth bags, bunting, soap and clothes, all emanating from the fact that the Farmers’ Market held in the town hall for 13 years closed down last year.

The Transition Marlborough group, prime movers in creating an outdoor Sunday market, also have other environmental goals in mind for preparing the town for the effects of peak oil prices, one of them being recycling. 

With the help of The Green Machine, the group have declared a “Computer Amnesty” for August. Local residents and businesses are invited to bring old and unwanted computers, often found in garages, attics and cupboards in many a household so that former IBM technician Simon Crisp can recycle the parts to make new ones. 

For every computer donated, The Green Machine will donate £5 to be shared between five community groups and charities, with Afrikaya and Helen Douglas House having already been chosen along with Transition Marlborough.

“At the last market some people remarked that there was perhaps not the variety of fresh vegetables and eggs normally found in a farmers’ market,” added Ellie. “That why we are thrilled to have Purton House Organics coming back, as they were such keen supporters of the original Farmers’ Market.”

They will be bringing a range of vegetables, in addition to soft fruit and eggs.  Other newcomers include Neustift Goats from Lyneham, joining Greens of Glastonbury in bringing cheese to market and to go with it, and Langsfords Preserves who will be bringing a range of Hedgerow chutneys and relishes with them.

The Cotswold Cooks will be adding their own delights too in a 1950’s inspired , beach hut themed trailer which will be offering tea and cakes together with a range of homemade savouries including their latest recipe, slow cooked porchetta with fennel and garlic. 

  And the market will also be operating an alcohol licence and a new Cider and Perry business run by David Harrison, from North Wiltshire, will be on hand to advise on the best tipples to try at home.

But the Routemonster’s bus café is currently booked for other sites across the country and will be missing on Sunday. But the bus organisers have promised to make a return at Christmas with a Santa’s Grotto on the top deck.

 Other highlights will be local biodynamic therapist, Hilary Price will be offering treatments for the second month running, the flag making workshop will be freely available to youngsters and parents wanting some relief from retail therapy.

Take your pick – the market runs from 11am on Sunday to 4pm.

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Flag lies at half mast for Summer School student killed in road crash

Kadian HardingKadian HardingA short service of remembrance is to be held at Marlborough College’s Summer School later this week in tribute to 14-year-old Kadian Harding, who was killed in a road crash while out cycling.

It happened during an evening bike ride on Wednesday when Kadian, coming down a steep hill on to the A4 at Clatford, just outside Marlborough, was hit by a Mercedes van.

The flag over the College has been flying at half mast ever since but it was only at the weekend that students were officially informed of the tragedy.

This was at the request of the Harding family, who did not wish to release his name immediately.

Now Summer School director Jon Copp has revealed in a statement to Marlborough News Online: “The news of the death of Kadian Harding has stunned the Summer School community.

“Kadian and his sister, Sam, were attending courses at this year’s event along with several friends.

“On behalf of Jonathan Leigh, the Master, members of the College Council and the entire Summer School staff, I would like to pass on our deepest sympathy to the Harding family for their devastating loss.”

Now a short service of remembrance in the College chapel is being organised for one day later this week.

“Details are not yet confirmed,” explained Mr Copp. “Kadian was a popular member of the teenage group attending the Summer School and he will be sorely missed.”

An inquest has been opened by the Wiltshire coroner, David Ridley, and adjourned while police continue to investigate the accident.

The driver of the van, a 32-year-old man from Melksham, has not been identified by the police.

pic courtesy of the Shepherdstown Chronicle

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Voting opens in £6,000 Community Giveaway

CommunityGiveawayCommunityGiveawayVoting has opened in the preliminary round of the Frasers Budgens of Marlborough Community Giveaway.

The Community Giveaway is being staged by Oxfordshire-based retail group Fraser’s, who are opening a petrol station, Budgens convenience store and Subway outlet at Marlborough Business Park in the autumn.

From now until 1 September, local good causes are invited to nominate themselves for a community grant.

And until 7 September, a public poll will select nine finalists from three categories – Health, Wellbeing and Social; Communities and the Arts; Education and Young People.

The finalists will be invited to pitch their projects to a live voting audience at Theatre on the Hill in Marlborough on Thursday 27 September, when representatives from each community group are invited to pitch their ideas from the theatre stage to a voting public.

While there's a lot of money at stake, the emphasis will be on fun, with organisers insisting the event will be more like Britain's Got Talent than Dragon's Den.

The three community projects that receive the most votes on the night will walk away with cheques for £1,000. And all of the nine finalists will get a share of another £1,000 over the first three months of the new forecourt opening.

Readers wishing to cast a vote, or to apply for a grant on behalf of their community organisation, should go to www.facebook.com/BudgensMarlborough Visitors are able to vote for one organisation in each category  so are urged to use their vote wisely.

The applicants vying for the public's vote include:

Community and the Arts

Marlborough Communities Market

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

Kennet Accordion Orchestra

To develop younger/beginners to the interest of music generally and to fund new instruments for the youth orchestra.

Phoenix Brass Band

To purchase 2 Tenor Horns to enlarge the Horn section of the Training Section, which exists to introduce any person, young or old, to the joys of music and brass banding.

Kennet Valley Arts Trust

Support for the showing of films in the Town Hall for adults coming under the heading of Marlborough Downs Movies.

We Love Marlborough

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

Health, Wellbeing and Social

National Childbirth Trust

To support the ongoing success of NCT Marlborough and District, which offers local parents and parents-to-be invaluable support, services and NCT events including: ‘bumps and babies’ cafés’, monthly newsletter, nearly new sales, antenatal classes, baby first aid, walking club and local events.

Carer Support Wiltshire

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

Wiltshire Air Ambulance

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

Splitz - KidzPace

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

SWIFT Medics

SWIFT Medics provides specialised medical care at the roadside and in people's homes to people who are critically ill or injured. The grant will go towards blue light driver training and specialised medical equipment for a new emergency responder.

Education and Young People

Marlborough Brandt Group

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

The new All-Weather Pitch at St John's School

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

Savernake Forest Scout Group

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

The Merchant's House Education Programme

The programme gives the children a real insight into what life was like in the 17th century for the middle class as well as servants. A grant would be used to make some 17th century children's outfits that the school children could try them on to experience how different the clothes were to the modern day clothes.

Savernake ExplorerScout Unit

To explore the seven local White Horses in a two day hike. The unit needs camping equipment and a trailer to do this without having to hire. This will enable them to explore other parts of Wiltshire and beyond.

Voting for the nine finalists in our Community Giveaway has now opened. You can only vote once in each category – so use your vote wisely! For more details about the applicants and their projects, go to http://bit.ly/MCIMkZ

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