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Marlborough Choral Society’s rousing Jubilee concert at St Mary's

Choral Society at St Marys on Saturday evening 19th MayChoral Society at St Marys on Saturday evening 19th MaySt Mary’s church was packed on Saturday (May 19) for a special concert to celebrate Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee.  Marlborough Choral Society sang a selection of appropriate songs – and the flag waving audience joined in some of the choruses.

The church had been decorated for the event and extra chairs had to be found. The choir was conducted by Gill Mortimer who has been with the choir for ten years, and accompanied by Marlborough College organist Ian Crabbe.

The concert included two of Handel’s anthems composed for the coronation of George II – Zadok the Priest (which was a central feature of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953) and The King shall Rejoice.  Vaughan Williams’ Oh Taste and See.  The Old Hundreth (the hymn “All people that on earth do dwell”.)  The Sprig of Thyme - a selection of English folk songs arranged by John Rutter.  Songs from Merrie England by Edward German – including The Yeoman of England, O Peaceful England and The English Rose.

And the audience joined in enthusiastically with Thomas Arne’s Rule Britannia and Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory, and Parry’s Jersualem.

It’s estimated that at least 200 people crammed into the church for this concert –  including  Mayor Edwina Fogg and Councillor Nick Fogg.

[Photographs kindly provided by Rob Harris – a member of the Marlborogh Choral Society.]

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That hosepipe ban will stay till Christmas despite all the rain

Despite having well over double the average rainfall during April -- only four dry days were measured in Marlborough -- the River Kennet is still only half its average flow for this time of year.

And although drought orders have been lifted in various parts of the country, the hosepipe ban is likely to continue to Christmas in the Marlborough area.

“The cold wet weather has provided a welcome respite for the beleaguered river, but is not enough to get us out of drought yet,” Charlotte Hitchmough, director of ARK, the River Kennet action group, told Marlborough News Online.

“The groundwater level is rising, and the springs at Avebury and up in the Winterbournes are now flowing, which is great news – however groundwater levels are still well below normal for the time of year.”

“Effectively, we have had below average rainfall of almost two years, so one or two months of above average rain is not enough to get us out of trouble.  But it has made a really positive difference.”

And she added: “The hosepipe ban is likely to stay in place until Christmas, but the rain has moved us further away from other restrictions like water rationing or restrictions on business use, so it's very good news.”

Everyone can help further, she pointed out, by getting a FREE water saving makeover for their home. So far, Barton Park is topping the tables with the most homes in Marlborough signed  up to save water as part of the Care for the Kennet


It's simple:

1. You call 0800 358 6665 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2. A trained fitter from Climate Energy comes to your house at a time to suit you, and in 20 minutes fits free gadgets to help you use less water and more is left in the river.

3. As well as those good things,  you save money by using less water if you are on a meter, and you save energy by using less hot water.

Thames Water is sponsoring a prize to the school which signs up the most home makeovers, so you can nominate the school of your choice to win.

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Boateng calls for Africa’s potential to be recognised for future development goals

 Lord BoatengLord BoatengLord Boateng has told an audience in Marlborough that Africa’s future needs a ‘Strategy for Success’ to build on recent progress.  Giving the thirtieth annual Marlborough Brandt lecture, the former labour cabinet minister and former High Commissioner to South Africa, referred back to Willy Brandt’s report North-South: a Programme for Survival.

It was Brandt’s 1980 report on the needs for innovative development policies which prompted the formation of the Marlborough Brandt Group (MBG).  Lord Boateng  gave his lecture the title: Africa – from Poverty to Prosperity – beyond the Millennium Development Goals.

Over 350 people came to the College’s memorial Hall on Thursday (May 3) to hear Lord Boateng.  Among them were students from Swaziland on an exchange at the College, members of Bristol’s Gambian community and students from the College and from St John’s  - some of whom are preparing to go on MBG’s summer visit to Gunjur in the Gambia which has a long-standing link with Marlborough.

Lord Boateng was introduced to the audience by Lord Joffe who in 1963 was part of Nelson Mandela’s defence team at the Rivonia trial.  Mandela and ten other opponents of the Apartheid regime were tried on sabotage and conspiracy charges and received life sentences.

Lord Boeteng with Lord JoffeLord Boeteng with Lord JoffePaul Boateng was looking beyond 2015 when the current Millennium Development Goals run out of time and to the coming negotiations on how the next set of goals for Africa’s development should be decided and what they ought to include: “The last set of Millennium Development Goals emerged from an opaque top-down process generated out of the UN Secretary General’s office – through the UN machinery.”

This time, he declared, it must be a bottom up process. The action the new goals will demand “needs to be rooted in the experience of those whose lives are still circumscribed by poverty and/or environmental depredation that continue to haunt our world.”

As an example of what should not happen, he cited the case of the recent appointment of a new head of the World Bank.  He had been Addis Ababa at a meeting of African finance ministers when the Nigerian finance minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, announced her candidacy – and it was well received there.

But in what Lord Boateng called the “carve up” that followed, she was ignored by the dominant western nations and yet another American was installed at the World Bank. “Made in Washington, London or Paris simply isn’t good enough anymore…the balance of power is shifting – unreversably and rightly so.”

Anna Quarendon, Chair of the Marlborough Brandt Group, proposing a vote of thanks to Lord BoatengAnna Quarendon, Chair of the Marlborough Brandt Group, proposing a vote of thanks to Lord BoatengPaul Boateng illustrated his analysis of Africa’s future needs with evidence provided by his grandfather, a cocoa farmer in Ghana.  He had benefitted from a rail line to the port and, right on his doorstep, from the West African Cocoa Research Institute.  Now the railway had gone and the Institute had become a Ghanaian rather than a West African concern.

Africa he said needed investment in infrastructure and, through stronger tertiary education,  in research and development.  It also needed co-operation between its states.

Lord Boateng based his optimistic forecast for Africa’s future on the strides it has been making: Africa’s GDP is growing by about six per cent a year and over the past decade six of the world’s fastest growing economies have been in Africa.

Africa has a huge workforce available and a huge area of land ripe for arable use – it should, said Lord Boateng, shrug off the ‘basket case’ label, and become the world’s bread basket.

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A remarkable royal picture is on its way to the Queen to mark her diamond jubilee visit

remarkable royal pictureremarkable royal pictureHe didn’t meet the Queen, alas, but Marlborough’s Nick Fogg did greet the Duke of Edinburgh during yesterday’s diamond jubilee visit to Salisbury – and showed him a photograph of a unique event in royal history.

It was surprisingly something the 90-year-old Duke of Edinburgh remembered, the moment when the late American jazz musician Duke Ellington was presented to the Queen in 1958 on a visit to Leeds.

And it turned out to be a truly special occasion as Ellington was inspired to write the Queen’s Suite, a composition which is to be royally revived at the Marlborough International Jazz Festival in July.

As the jazz festival’s founder, as well as a Marlborough and Wiltshire councillor, Mr Fogg had wanted to show the photograph to Her Majesty, but she and the Duke of Edinburgh split up at the Salisbury celebration.


And it was the Duke who arrived at the medieval jousting tent representing the Marlborough Area Board to be greeted  by board chairman Chris Humphries and vice chairman Nick Fogg.

The Duke of Edinburgh in the Marlborough Pavillion meeting Rosalind Martin dressed in period costume as Mrs BaylyThe Duke of Edinburgh in the Marlborough Pavillion meeting Rosalind Martin dressed in period costume as Mrs BaylyThe Duke of Edinburgh in the Marlborough Pavillion meeting Rosalind Martin dressed in period costume as Mrs BaylyWe invited him in and he quipped, ‘It looks like a pub!’, which I suppose it did as we had the Ramsbury Brewery there inside as one of the stands representing the local area. He was totally charming and extremely friendly – really quite remarkable for someone who is 90.”

“I showed him the Duke Ellington picture in which he also appears.  ‘The other one’s the Duke too,’ he recalled.  Of course he couldn’t take the photograph with him, but it will be conveyed to the Queen through the Lord Lieutenant’s office.”

And he added: “I had hoped to show this historic photograph to the Queen, as Duke Ellington composed his Queen’s Suite in her honour, and to tell her how we were reviving it here at the Marlborough Jazz Festival.”

“I don’t think she will drop everything and come and listed on July 13, but you never know once she hears about it.”

The royal Salisbury visit brought with it “royal weather”, according to Mr Fogg, the rain clouds dramatically disappearing and the arena where each of Marlborough’s area boards had its own tent was bathed in sunshine.

Inside the Marlborough tent were stands and representatives of Avebury’s world heritage site, the Merchant’s House, the Brandt Group, Action for the Kennet (ARK), Riding for the Disabled and the North Wiltshire Area of Outstanding Beauty.

Their appearance and presentations were organised by Area Board convenor Andrew Jack.

Nick Fogg, the Queen and the DukeNick Fogg, the Queen and the DukeNick Fogg, the Queen and the Duke“The weather was gorgeous and it turned out to be a terrific day, a great occasion for all of us,” said Sir John Sykes, chairman of the Merchant’s House. “Jane Scott, the Wiltshire Council leader, said it was like having our own gigantic garden party.”

One centre of attraction in the tent was volunteer Rosalind Martin dressed in period costume as Mrs Bayly, wife of the silk merchant Thomas Bayly, who built the Merchant’s House in 1653.

The splendid costume was specially made for the occasion by Angela Munn.

Also present was Helen Kelly, co-ordinator of ARK’s Care for the Kennet project in Marlborough.

“The Duke of Edinburgh didn’t make it to our stand,” she said.

“He was so engaging with everyone he met.  And for me it was a fabulous experience to be part of the diamond jubilee royal visit.”

Marlborough Brandt Group was represented by its founder, Nick Maurice, Kathy Pollard, Alex Davies and long-standing Gambian friend of MBG, Lamin Manjang.

Prince Philip spoke to Kathy who told him about the thirty years of Marlborough’s relationship with Gunjur, in the Gambia.  “Been busy then?” he responded, and was then introduced to Lamin Manjang, who was asked if he was returning to the Gambia – Lamin replied that he intended to do so to take up his teaching career again.

After the Royal party left, two car loads of Gambian friends from Bristol arrived with their drums and, with a Gambian Kora player from Oxford and dancing by two Gambian ladies, attracted a good crowd to the tent.

One disappointed person who didn’t make it to Salisbury was Devizes MP Claire Perry because she is still recovering from a minor operation. She obeyed advice not to drive from London to Wiltshire and back in one day.

“I was particularly looking forward to hearing the Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir sing – they are fantastic,” she said. “It such a huge shame that I was unable to meet the Queen.”

Salisbury pics:  Sam Pinkney

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Late artist's sculpture will be signature piece of exhibition

Penelope Waiting by Althea Wynne (© Anthony Barrington Brown),),Penelope Waiting by Althea Wynne (© Anthony Barrington Brown),),Sculptures by twenty artists including the renowned artist Althea Wynne, who was killed in a car crash in January together with her husband, the photographer Anthony Barrington Brown, will go on show to the public this week.

Wynne 's Penelope Waiting is the signature piece of the exhibition of contemporary sculpture, which opens at Avebury Manor on Saturday, May 5.

Other leading sculptors taking part include Will Spankie and Roger Stephens, both stone carvers who draw on nature to create abstract forms in granite and marble, and Emily Young, who works in the same medium, but creates human forms which express a strong sense of our long history in this ancient landscape.

Work in clay, metal, glass and resin will add to the mix. Some, like Ruth Moilliet’s stainless steel Allium, reflect planting in the long border, while Alex Moore’s steel obelisks hint at more dramatic planting to come.

On the east lawn large ceramic pots by Phil Simmonds look stunning set against the cream stone façade of the Manor itself.

Cream Tea by Helen SinclairCream Tea by Helen SinclairElsewhere in the garden, Alan Foxley’s abstract ceramic sculptures have a remarkable similarity to some of the standing stones set in the landscape beyond, while the borders will sparkle with glass installations by Sue Tinkler and Alan Spark.

The Celebrating Art in the Garden exhibition runs every day from 10am to 5pm until 10 June. Normal National Trust membership arrangements and charges apply. For more information visit

The exhibition is organised by the Friends of the Garden in partnership with the National Trust. All work will be for sale and commissions from artists will be used to support artists in Wiltshire.

 Wynne, who lived near Warminster, was a world-renowned sculptor, best known for large works in bronze and ceramic for gardens and public spaces.

Finback Seat by Ben BarrellFinback Seat by Ben BarrellAmong her best-known works is the three bronze horses at Minster Court in the City of London. Cast and erected in the early 90s, each stands at 10ft tall and weighs four-and-a-half tonnes.

Pictured top to bottom: Penelope Waiting by Althea Wynne (© Anthony Barrington Brown), Cream Tea by Helen Sinclair and Finback Seat by Ben Barrell

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Town council publishes definitive list of Jubilee events

A definitive list of events being held in Marlborough to celebrate the Queen's diamond jubilee has been published by Marlborough Town Council.

A summer of celebrations open with a concert of classical music on May 19 and wrap up with more classical music almost three months later. Between times there'll be drama, talks, art and photographic exhibitions, films, fairground rides, a picnic, a ball, the lighting of a beacon and even a skateboarding festival!

Saturday, May 19
Olympic Jubilee Ball, Town Hall, 7pm for 7.30pm. Organised by the Chamber of Commerce in aid of Swift Medics. Tickets £40 from Specsavers, The Food Gallery and Joules. Black Tie.

Marlborough Choral Society Concert. St. Mary’s Church, 7.30pm, British songs and Last Night of the Proms music, so bring your flags and celebrate! Tickets £9 from Sound Knowledge and Choir members.

Sunday, May 20
Fifteen: Drama with students from St. John’s & Marlborough College, Town Hall, 2.30pm. This unique production looks at the years from 1952 to 2012 through the eyes of a fifteen year old. Music by Kaya Drums. Sponsored by Kennet Valley Arts trust. Tickets £5 from White Horse Bookshop and KVAT website, or 07771704253.

Wednesday, May 23
The Merchant’s House Lecture, in association with Marlborough History Society, by Sir Roy Strong, entitled 20th Century Coronations, at The Memorial Hall, Marlborough College, by kind permission of the Master. 7.30pm. Tickets £14 (Friends of MH and MHS £12) from the Merchant’s House.

Sunday, May 27
Marlborough Area young people join in the celebrations with a Skate-n-Scoot competition, which they have organised. Open to all. Recreation Ground, Marlborough. Free entry.

Monday, May 28 to Friday, June 1
An Exhibition of Self Portraits by Marlborough’s Children, some of which will have been digitised to form part of the Face Britain initiative in celebration of the Jubilee. Town Hall, 3pm to 7pm, free entry

An Exhibition of Photographs of people in Marlborough taken during the celebrations on Coronation Day. Town Hall 3pm-7pm. Free entry. From the Merchant’s House collection. It is hoped that some of the residents featured will be on hand to tell their stories.

Friday, June 1 to Tuesday, June 5
Fair on Marlborough Common. All the fun of the fair from the town's old friends in the Showmen’s Guild who have visited Marlborough for generations for the Mop.

Saturday, June 2
Official opening of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations by the Mayor. Town Hall 10am. Hoisting of the Union Jack and a symbolic presentation by Marlborough Community Orchard of their gift of an orchard to the town.

 A Queen is crowned : 1953 film of the Coronation, with narration by Sir Laurence Olivier. Town Hall. 7pm for 7.30pm. Organisers will also be showing rare footage of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Free entry. Licensed bar.

Sunday, June 3
A Civic Service of Thanksgiving for Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee. St. Mary’s Church 10am. Marlborough Churches Together invite you to this service, which, in common with churches across the country, will include prayers and readings especially composed for the occasion.

Picnic in the Priory at Priory Gardens from 11am until 5pm. Bring your own picnic and join in the fun. Bouncy castle, bucking bronco, traditional Punch and Judy, dance and fencing displays, live music. Food and Bar. Town Hall open if wet. Free entry

The Thames Pageant, Town Hall, 3pm. Live coverage of this spectacular show with the Queen’s Barge and a flotilla of a thousand boats on the Town Hall's huge screen. Food and licensed bar. Free entry.

Monday, June 4
The Lighting of a Beacon above Barbury Racecourse, organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group.
This forms part of 2012 beacons being lit across the Commonwealth and those at Martinsell and Inkpen will be able to be viewed. Marquee, live music, dancing, bar. Tickets, to include hog roast, £15 Adults, £5 for those under 18 and £35 for a family of four. Available at the White Horse Bookshop and MBG on 01672 861116. Open from 6pm Beacon to be lit at sundown. A camping area will be provided for those who wish to stay the night at the site.

Tuesday, June 5
Presentation of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal to local emergency service personnel. Town Hall 10am. Come and pay tribute to the town's local heroes.

Live coverage on the big screen of the Service of Thanksgiving from St. Paul’s in the presence of Her Majesty. Town Hall 10 am (Service at 11am). Free Entry

Sunday, June 10
Diamond Jubilee Open Gardens. Certificates will be given to open gardeners who display in this Jubilee year. Look out for a variety of interpretations on the Diamond Jubilee theme. Details from the Merchant’s House.

Friday and Saturday, June 15 and 16
Jubilee: A Celebration in Dance: Performed by St. John’s students at the Theatre on the Hill. Tickets £5, concessions £3, family tickets £12. 7pm. Download a booking form from the St. John’s website Theatre page -

Saturday, June 23
 Manton Music Festival. A wide variety of music, including London Straight Six, Mort de la Mer and Scarlet Simonis Skedaddle. Bring your own picnic or choose from a hog roast or burgers. At Manton Grange water meadows. Licensed bar. Tickets £10, £5 for concessions and £15 for a family of four. 4pm until 11pm. For tickets see or call 07771704253.

Saturday, July 7
 MCO Diamond Jubilee Concert. Marlborough Concert Orchestra will play Handel’s Royal Fireworks Music among other pieces. An outstanding young violinist, Mathieu van Bellen, returns to Marlborough for a performance of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto at this concert. 7.30pm Tickets £8 Students £1.50. From Sound Knowledge

Friday, July 13
Priory Gardens (evening). A performance of the Queen’s Suite, composed by Duke Ellington,
and premiered this Summer in the UK by the band Echoes of Ellington. Written in her honour by the Duke after they met and performed by one of the greatest ever UK swing bands. Details from

Tuesday, August 7
Queen’s Jubilee Concert - A performance of the works featured in the Coronation, Walton, Parry, Handel and others. Marlborough College Chapel and in the Memorial Hall for the second half. Tickets £15 from Sound Knowledge. 8pm

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Marlborough’s Diamond Jubilee beacon - music, food, a full moon and a big bonfire

What links Marlborough, St Helena, Treetops in Kenya, Gunjur in the Gambia and Hadrian’s Wall?  They are all hosting beacons to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee – but not all of them will be graced by a glimpse of the full moon.

VICTORIAN BEACON 2 230pxVICTORIAN BEACON 2 230pxAnd not all of them will be on the scale of this beacon built for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.

Marlborough’s Diamond Jubilee Beacon will be above Barbury Racecourse on Jubilee holiday Monday, June 4 –under a full moon.  The event will be open from 6.30 pm – the sun will set at 9.20 pm and the beacon will be lit at 10.00 pm.

Marlborough’s beacon – organised by the Marlborough Brandt Group – will include a hog roast, fish and chips, and a bar in the racecourse barn.  There will be music from a trio led by Marlborough’s favourite saxophonist, Mick Allport – with dancing encouraged.

At about 9.30 pm people will stroll up the hill from the barn, along a torch-lit route, to the beacon.  And while the huge bonfire burns on, people can camp close by for the night.  At least one other local beacon will be visible from the hillside – the one on Martinsell Hill.

Admission will be by ticket.  These cover the hog roast supper (with veggie alternative and with sausages for children) and are on sale now from the White Horse Bookshop in Marlborough High Street.  There’s a family deal available.

Access to this event is only from the Marlborough-to-Broad Hinton road.  There is no way through from the Barbury Castle side of the hill.  And as there are horses about – it’s strictly a no firework occasion.

A coach will take people from Marlborough High Street but only by prior arrangement.  This service will only be available if you book seats by close of play on Monday, May 28 by phoning Marlborough Brandt Group on 01672 861116.  And it’ll bring them back again.BEACON 1897 1 300pxBEACON 1897 1 300px

Why a beacon?  Once used to communicate from hilltop to hilltop – especially to warn of an approaching dangers like the Spanish Armada – beacons have become a feature of celebrations, notably royal ones.

Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897 was the occasion for some major beaconary – as the photo on the right shows some were so big the plate camera could not see the top and show the bonfire builders clearly as well.

Beacons were organised for Queen Elizabeth’s Silver (1977) and Golden (2002) Jubilees.  This year the aim was to have 2,012 beacons lit around the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.  That target has been left far behind:  over 4,000 beacons are now registered with the Queen’s Pageant Master.

These includbrazier beacon brazier beacon e sixty beacons (one for each year of the Queen’s reign) along Hadrian’s Wall; a beacon on St Helena in the South Atlantic; and one at Treetops in Kenya where Princess Elizabeth was staying in 1952 when she heard about the death of her father, King George VI.  And they’re building a beacon in Gunjur in the Gambia which has had a thirty year link with Marlborough through the Brandt Group.

The chain of beacons will be completed at 10.30 pm in London when the Queen will light the national beacon at the end of the celebratory concert.

Some beacons will be the brazier type (see left) – and this year there is a gas-fired version which is safe enough to install on church towers.  Marlborough’s beacon will be a huge bonfire some eight to ten metres high, designed to burn for a long time.


Watch this space for more news about the Marlborough beacon.

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Lord Boateng’s lecture on Africa’s future is based on his own experiences

Lord BoatengLord BoatengLord Boateng’s title for the thirtieth annual Marlborough Brandt Lecture (in the College’s Memorial Hall on Thursday, May 3) tells us a great deal about his connections with Africa,  both past and present: Africa – from Poverty to Prosperity – beyond the Millennium Development Goals.

Paul Boateng spent his early years in Ghana.  When his father was caught up in a coup against President Nkrumah and jailed, the family fled to London. He became a lawyer and was elected as the Labour MP for Brent South in 1987.  In 2002 he became Britain’s first black cabinet minister.

In 2005 he left government to be High Commissioner to South Africa.  Now he’s an active member of the House of Lords and works as a lawyer in emerging markets – such as Africa.  He was also the Prime Minister’s special representative for the Africa Commission.

LLord Boateng with Dr Nick Maurice discussing plans for the lectureLLord Boateng with Dr Nick Maurice discussing plans for the lectureBut his present links with Africa go much further.  When Marlborough News Online met Lord Boateng in London he was leaving the next day for Somalia.

There he has a “serious engagement” in helping the formerly British part of the country establish its legislature – part of an EU funded programme.  He is advising them how they might form their upper chamber – how their clan chiefs can be involved.  As an active member of the British upper chamber, he knows about the role ‘clan chiefs’ can find for themselves.

Advice is one thing, but he is convinced that when it comes to the debate about further development goals, the South must be allowed to lead. “The old notion was that we or the international banks could deliver.”

At a recent meeting of African Finance Ministers, Lord Boateng was told very clearly all that had changed and now Africa and the other nations of the poorer South must call the tune.  Anyway, as he says, “Africa increasingly looks to the east – and we in the west have to establish our own relevance – we now have to write our own relationship with the South.”

Lord Boateng works for several different companies involved in development in Africa.  Foremost is Aegis the private security and risk management company. He’s a non-executive director and advisor.

He sees this company as a major aid to investment in “difficult markets”, with boots on the ground to “Advise on how not to fall foul of local anti-bribery legislation, on personal and plant protection and how to relate to the local community and make friends of the local community.”

He is also an advisor to Gilead Sciences a huge United States based drug company which was foremost in providing low cost generic drugs for HIV-Aids.  He also works with the Swiss company 4G Africa which is providing broadband wireless and mobile networks in sub-Saharan Africa.

Oh, and he’s just become a Governor of the London School of Economics.

However strongly Lord Boateng feels that the nations of the South should design the next phase of development goals, he does, unsurprisingly, have ideas of his own.

He believes that sound agriculture and strong science and technology are essential to economic growth.  And he is critical of the obsession in some development policies with primary education: “No economy can flourish on primary education alone.”

And he warns South Africa that they cannot go on with policies that have led to there being less land under cultivation than in the Apartheid years and fewer people in education, especially learning maths, than under Apartheid.

And then we got round to the Jubilee and the Queen as Head of the Commonwealth.  Lord Boateng is a “great believer” in the Commonwealth as a forum for business development.  And he lauds the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association as being very influential in improving the standards of governance.

He’s a realist who remains an optimist – and the next round of development goals can be decisive in spreading that optimism far and wide across the South and be another programme for survival”, just like Willy Brandt’s 1980 report North-South: a Programme for Survival.
Lord Boateng’s lecture will start at 8.00 pm in Marlborough College’s Memorial Hall.  He is being introduced by Lord Joffe, onetime human rights lawyer and a member of Nelson Mandela’s defence team at the 1953 Rivonia trial.  Joel Joffe will be signing copies of his book about the trial The State vs Nelson Mandela – the trial that changed South Africa immediately after the lecture.
Admission is free. There will be a gift aided retirement collection for the Marlborough Brandt Group.


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Meadow day a great success

Meadow day a great successMeadow day a great successWhen an organisation called ARK hosts an event, no-one should be too surprised when there's a downpour.

Regardless, around 60 friends of Action for the River Kennet braved the wettest weekend of the year to spot the wildlife that lives along the banks of the river, which flows through Marlborough.

People on the wildlife walk, led by expert Peter Marren, had good views of great spotted woodpeckers, a kingfisher, a bullfinch, a blackcap and – perhaps thanks to the soggy conditions - four species of snail.  There was also evidence of the healthy water vole population.

ARK's riverfly monitors, who carry out important surveying of river invertebrates were on hand to help the many young children present explore the river and get up close to the wide variety of creatures that live in the riverbed.

There was a last chance to help fund a large wildlife pond in the 15 acre meadow by buying Grand Pond Raffle tickets and being in with a chance of winning one of 50 prizes donated by local businesses and individuals.

The raffle and meadow day was organised by voluntary Stonebridge Meadow project officer Anna Forbes and her son Harry.

“Even with the weather there were approximately 60 people who donned their wellies, bought homemade cake and enjoyed the reserve. Through the raffle, donations and cake sales we have now raised just over £2,000 towards the pond. I would like to thank everybody for their amazing support, ” said Anna.

ARK will also be holding a series of Moth Trapping Evenings in the meadow over the coming months. This will add to the valuable data already collected of species present. Anyone interested in attending should call Anna on 01672 511028.

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Routemaster bus will be centrepiece of new market

It's a long way from London, but Marlborough residents will soon get used to seeing a red Routemaster bus in the High Street.

The bus, which is fitted out with a kitchen and has a small cafe on the upper deck, will be the striking centrepiece of the relaunched Farmers' Market, which will return on Sunday, July 1 from 10am to 4pm with a wider remit under its new name – Marlborough Communities Market.

The market aims to be a showcase for local enterprises and fairly traded produce, as well as locally-sourced produce grown with the minimal use of pesticides and fertilisers.

The markets will be organised by the not-for-profit organisation Wessex Community Markets, with support from Marlborough Town Council and Transition Marlborough.

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We meet Nerissa Vaughan as Great Western Hospital makes some good news

Last week was a good week for Great Western Hospital: it did not get caught in the headlines over increased waiting times for elective surgery, or in those lurid headlines about patients being sent home at night – and then it scored a first with a new heart operation.

GWH has checked its records and found that a tiny proportion of those discharged from its wards do so between eleven at night and six in the morning – about three per cent.  And the great majority of those are pregnant women who come in but find it’s a false alarm or new mothers keen to get their babies home as soon as possible.

Patients are only discharged if they want to be, are fit to be and if support is in place at home.  One patient looking forward to going home was 76-year-old Derek Wakefield who lives near Malmesbury and has just had a pioneering operation to insert the country’s first ever defibrillator implant that is safe under an MRI scan. A patient with one of the normal defibrillators, which are inserted to prevent cardiac arrest, cannot have an MRI scan because the instrument reacts badly and can seriously damage the heart.

When Marlborough News Online met GWH’s chief executive, Nerissa Vaughan (pictured right), she was keen to point out that the hospital had recently been in the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley’s list of the top ten hospitals for keeping waiting times for elective surgery within the eighteen week target.  And the average wait was lower in 2011 than in 2010.

Nerissa Vaughan has only been chief executive at GWH (officially Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust) since last October.  She came from King’s Lynn hospital which was her first appointment as chief executive.  She joined the NHS in 1991.

She is openly bullish about the process of change that is affecting all parts of the NHS: “The NHS is going through a lot of structural change – but it’s remarkably good at coping with structural change – because it has so much experience of it.” 

What does she think about the new Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) led by GPs that will be taking over from the Primary Care Trusts in April 2013?   “What I think is good is that GPs are already opening up direct dialogue with our consultants in a way that they wouldn’t have done without CCGs.  In the past they talked about individual patients, now they are beginning to decide how services are planned and finding new pathways.”

And the bad things about the changes? “Reorganisation inevitably means disruption – but it’ll be resolved over time.”  She admits the Wiltshire GPs have been a slower than most in getting themselves setup: “But they’ve done a lot of in depth thinking about what works for Wiltshire.”

One of Nerissa Vaughan’s priorities is the county’s community health services which GWH took over in June last year after the Primary Care Trust was forced by the government to give up providing services as well as commissioning them.  “There are things we can do to improve community services – like embedding better technology in people’s homes.”

These services will be part of GWH’s changing workload due to the aging population: already the average age of patients in their general medical wards hovers around the late 70s: “We’ve got to find better ways to meet the needs of the elderly – this will mean redesigning care to help more of them to live at home.”

Ms Vaughan sits on Wiltshire’s shadow Health and Wellbeing Board which under the new Health and Social Care Act will, from April 2013, bring councillors onto the commissioning stage.  She believes these Boards could turn out to be the best thing in the current NHS reforms: “If they work effectively, they’ll bring agencies together and provide a democratic link.” She’s not worried by any political input the Boards may bring to the NHS.

Finally, what about the future of Savernake Hospital?  GWH are using more beds at the hospital for recuperation, for patients on their way from surgical wards to their homes. They have just announced an increase in these beds at Savernake to thirty-four.

“The direction of travel will mean moving care away from hospital’s and into communities – where it’s appropriate to do so.”  But she’s also certain that this will not endanger GWH’s income stream from services provided on the hospital site.

To round off GWH’s week, the now spritely sounding Mr Wakefield was interviewed on BBC Radio Wiltshire about his new-style defibrillator implant: “I can’t praise the gentleman that put this in and all his staff enough…It’s been absolutely fantastic…If you’re frightened to come into hospital, don’t be frightened to come to the Great Western.”

Bruce Laurie, who chairs the Great Western Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, will be speaking at the annual general meeting of the Friends of Savernake Hospital on May 16 at 7pm in Marlborough Town Hall.

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