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Recreating Jane Austen’s World - Aldbourne couple feature in BBC Documentary

 2017 marks the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death. However, her world is very much alive today.  

 

Aldbourne couple Ros and Chris Oswald love all things Jane Austen and are featured in a BBC documentary – “My Friend Jane” - which will be shown on BBC One South on Monday July 17 at 7pm.

This is the eve of the anniversary Jane Austen’s death (July 18th 1871).

 

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Toyah wows MantonFest's biggest ever crowd

 

Roger Grant, the organiser of Saturday's (July 1) MantonFest 2017, is emphatic: "How did it go?", we asked.   "MantonFest 2017 was the most successful yet.”

"We had twice as many people as last year, the weather was good and the atmosphere was electric.  It was a complete family occasion with adults and children playing and enjoying themselves, listening to music and relaxing in the fine summer weather in amazing surroundings."

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The Third Policeman reports for duty on the Ogbourne Maizey beat - has a bicycle gone missing?

 

Transposing an iconic comic novel full of surreal lunacy into a play is one giant step for Irish literature - quite another step is bringing the play for one performance only to a beautiful garden in Ogbourne Maizey - a couple of miles north of Marlborough.  

The novel is Flann O'Brien's The Third Policeman and the Miracle Theatre Company from Cornwall brings this dramatised version to Maizey Lodge next month.  How lucky can Marlborough people be to have such a side-splitting rest from Nordic noir and all those grim cop shows on the telly?

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Oh Horrid Henry! Children's author Francesca Simon joins LitFest's 2017 line-up

Marlborough LitFest has announced that the bestselling children's author Francesca Simon is joining the line-up for its 2017 line-up - its eighth year (28 September-1 October).

Francesca Simon is universally renowned for her phenomenally popular Horrid Henry series - the books and CDs have sold over 20 million copies in the UK alone and are published in 27 countries.

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Jennifer Waite

Jennifer WaiteJennifer Waite

 

Jennifer Waite has fond memories of working in the Pelham Puppet factory in the late 1950’s. She told marlborough.news : “I enjoyed the friendship and how everyone worked together. It was like a big family. It was such a happy place to work.”

She worked mainly with the mini-pups (mini puppet range) of Wags the dog, poodles, parrots and various other birds and animals. She remembers Johnny Morris from BBC’s Animal Magic visiting the factory.

Jennifer’s job was to construct the puppets using little screws, hooking the bodies together with pliers. All the puppet faces were hand painted. Once the bodies were complete they moved to the room for stringing and then to the sewing room for costumes.

Some puppets, particularly the eight foot high ones, were made for display. Jennifer worked with owner Bob Pelham to construct one such puppet whose destination was Hamleys, London.

“Bob would visit the factory nearly every day, talking to everyone. He was like a God to everyone who worked there.”

Jennifer says he was generous to his staff and gave away the puppet seconds. “My children had hours of fun playing with a load of them.”

Once Jennifer had small children at home she stopped working in the factory and became one of the many Pelham homeworkers.

 

 

 Back to Marlborough Puppetry Festival

 

 

 

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Matt Prior - Marlborough Downs' "Mr Tree Sparrow" - keeps tabs on another new generation of chicks

 

During a very hot late afternoon and evening - one of June's record breakers - I watched Matt Prior ring 73 tree sparrow chicks from sixteen broods.  A five-hour shift after his day's work.

His conservation work on the Marlborough Downs centres on the tree sparrow, which is on the Red List of endangered birds and was almost extinct in North Wiltshire when he began taking an interest in them.

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NHS nursing crisis: Lili is from Romania & works at GWH - but the flow of EU nurses has now dried up

Lili Baleanu is a Romanian nurse working at Great Western Hospital - one of the steeply declining number of EU nurses to arrive since the Brexit referendum.

Lili graduated as a nurse in Romania in August last year and arrived at GWH in late November. She passed the obligatory English language test (the IELTS - more of which later) and will become a fully registered nurse in a matter of days - getting her Pin number from the Nursing & Midwifery Council (NMC).

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STP WATCH: Did anyone notice? NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans have become Partnerships - and permanent

 

There was a bit of noise during the election campaign around the government's latest move in the continual and discreet reorganisation of the NHS - the STPs aka Sustainability and Transformation Plans.  This noise of protest centred on rumours of cuts some STPs are going to make.

This kind of noise will get very loud indeed as the plans of some of England's 44 STPs focus on money saving closures of services and buildings - all in the name of sustainability with reduced funding.  But in case we got frightened by 'plans', the STPs have had their 'P' changed to the cosier and much more user friendly 'Partnership'.

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St Peter's Church recital series ends with three 'old friends playing music together' - actually they're three widely acclaimed musicians

 

The fifth series of recitals by Brilliant Young International Pianists and Musicians at St Peter's Church ends on Sunday evening (June 25) with a very special concert indeed.  Three internationally renowned instrumentalists performing together as the Watterton Trio - it will be a real treat for Marlborough.

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Phil Harding

 

Wessex Archaeologist Phil Harding, well known for Channel 4’s Time Team and BBC’s Digging for Britain, has many happy memories of his first full time job – at Pelham Puppets.

Phil went to work there from 1970-71 after leaving Marlborough Grammar School where a fellow student, Bob Pelham’s niece, recommended him for the job.

He told marlborough.news:“It was my first real job. I knew I wanted to be an archaeologist but I hadn’t got the A-levels, I was resitting them. The job at Pelham Puppets was ideal as the hours were flexible and the atmosphere relaxed.”

Phil remembers his first day there vividly. He printed faces on to wooden heads that were destined to become puppets. Very soon he was promoted and spent most of his time building ventriloquist puppets. “I had to fit the jaws, make the handles, spray the heads. The whole process probably broke today’s Health and Safety standards. I was given a face mask and a daily pint of milk to line my stomach to protect against paint fumes.”

“Bob Pelham,” says Phil, “was obsessive about puppets – they were his whole life. He was always very friendly and relaxed. He once decided to introduce a clocking in machine at the factory which didn’t go down very well as most of the workers were women who were working flexible hours because of home commitments. In the end the machine wasn’t used because Bob said it didn’t matter.”

Many of the workers in the Pelham Puppet factory had worked there since the factory was founded in 1947. Phil remembers Old Siddy who had lost a leg in the Battle of Anzio, in the Italian campaign of World War 2. Old Siddy was responsible for building Number 1 puppets which were the 8 foot Bimbo the Clown puppets, suspended on big springs. These were sold to Hamleys toy shop every Christmas.

Another ‘old hand’ Phil remembers was Handel Collins, named after George Frederick Handel.  “He had been a publican and a pattern maker for Great Western Railway and was very skilled. He had a work box with his own tools and pictures of locomotives. You never went near his box !”

Handel Collins was retired but was employed by Bob Pelham part time and Phil worked alongside him.

It was while he was at Pelham Puppets that Phil’s chance to become an archaeologist was given to him. He had taken a two week holiday to participate in a dig at Ludgershall Castle. While he was there, the trench supervisor, Mike Adey, asked him to go and dig with him at Southampton. “He told me, you’ll give up your job and come and dig with me.”

Despite some parental misgivings, Phil took him up on the offer and the first step towards a career in archaeology was taken.

“I have very fond memories of Pelham Puppets,” says Phil, “it was a crucial time in my life.”

 

 

 Back to Marlborough Puppetry Festival

 

 

 

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