November 2019

Shipston Museum set to move to new venue thanks to local enthusiasm

Shipston Museum is set to move to a new venue thanks to the combined efforts of the Shipston on Stour and District Local History Society, Shipston Town Council and the Ashley family.

Shipston Town Council has agreed to lease Old Clark House to the History Society at a peppercorn rent, subject to a formal lease being agreed. Old Clark House has already been hosting a photographic exhibition - a project championed by the town council’s Heritage, Amenity and Leisure Projects (HALP) Working Group. This new arrangement will see the exhibition expand to encompass all the treasures collected by the History Society since it formed in the 1960s.

Shipston has benefited from a museum since the 1970s, thanks in large part to the generosity of the late Mike Ashley and his family who have provided a venue to house the growing collection of artefacts from the local area over the last 20 years. Mike and fellow historian, Dick Burge, regularly opened the museum to the public and passed on the stories accompanying many of the museums’ exhibits.

Moving to a new venue will allow the museum to grow and be more accessible to residents and visitors. The photographic exhibition has already attracted people from far and wide – including a lady from America who was here on her honeymoon! The new venue will be led by the History Society, with support from the HALP working group and volunteers.

Bekky Hillman, local archaeologist and Director of the Shipston on Stour and District Local History Society, said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to have the town council’s support in giving Shipston Museum a new home. The History Society has collected a vast array of interesting artefacts that tell a fascinating story about Shipston’s past and it’s wonderful that more residents and tourists will soon be able to enjoy these exhibits.”

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “As a local council, we are really proud to be able to invest in preserving our town’s history by giving Shipston’s History Society the opportunity to carry on the fantastic work started by Mike Ashley and Dick Burge. There are legalities that need to be completed but we are looking forward to seeing Shipston Museum open its new doors as soon as possible.”

The new museum venue will be open to visitors as soon as practically possible. In the meantime, the photographic exhibition will continue to be open at Old Clark House, West Street, on Thursdays and Fridays from 1-4pm and Saturdays from 11am-4pm

Shipston aims to become a ‘Healthy Town’

The Town Council has endorsed proposals to seek ‘Healthy Town’ status for Shipston.

According to Healthy Bicester, ‘healthy towns’ “involve individual residents, workplaces and employers, schools and nurseries, clubs, associations, volunteers and health and care services who are all working together to enable and support people to live healthier lives and to promote their wellbeing”.

While national efforts to create healthy new towns are focusing on ten ‘demonstrator sites’ Bryan Stoten, Chair of the Ellen Badger League of Friends has challenged Shipston to attain the status of a ‘healthy town’ with the expansion of the hospital, including a wellness hub, and location of the new medical centre on the site being at the heart of the initiative.

A number of community groups and associations have already come together to set up the Stour Partnership Against Social Isolation and Loneliness (SPASIL), including Rotary, the Lions, SCAN, the League of Friends, Shipston Medical Centre as well as Warwickshire County Council and Stratford District Council.

The next step is to expand SPASIL into a Health and Wellbeing Partnership (HWP), which will allow a wide range of community groups to get involved. The new HWP will develop a health and wellbeing strategy, taking into account the emerging priorities arising from current plans and consultations.

Shipston Town Council has nominated two representatives to join the partnership. For more information about this initiative, please contact Trevor Russel on 01608 662514/ 07771 855214 or

Local swim teacher receives surprise visit from Olympic Medallist

Award-winning Shipston swim teacher, Suzanne Verralls, recently received a surprise visit from Team GB swimmer, Rebecca Adlington.

The Olympian visited Shipston Leisure Centre, managed by Everyone Active in partnership with Stratford District Council, to surprise Suzanne and present her with the Everyone Active Swim Teacher of the Year 2019 Award.

Suzanne scooped the award for her commitment to continuously bettering her own teaching skills, as well as her ability to help people of all ages to build their confidence in the pool and consistently working to a high standard. Her students develop fantastic abilities throughout all levels of the swim scheme, proving the quality of her teaching.

Swim Teacher of the Year 2019, Suzanne Verralls, said: “I’m speechless! I had no idea I had won, everyone’s kept it very quiet, and I can’t believe I have won this award for simply doing what I love!

“I’ve been teaching swimming here for over 10 years and really enjoy seeing my students develop their skills and become more confident in the water, especially when they get to grips with something they have been struggling with and achieve their goals.”

Speaking about her surprise visit, Adlington said: “I’m delighted to be here to celebrate Suzanne’s incredible commitment to teaching swimming… I’m so honoured to be a part of this award and celebrate an incredible teacher who’s inspiring the next generation - plus the expression on her face when I walked in was priceless!”

Jacqui Tillman, Group Swim Manager at Everyone Active said: “Suzanne is fantastic. She always goes above and beyond to make sure her students get the most out of their lessons. She’s always looking to improve too, and is now planning to gain her aqua fit qualification to help more Shipston residents keep active in the water.”

For more information about the activities at Shipston Leisure Centre visit