Shipston prepares to welcome the festive season

Shipston is gearing up for another busy festive season, with plenty of events and entertainment planned.

Shipston Town Band will be heralding the start of December with their Christmas Concert on the 1st December at the Townsend Hall.

This will be swiftly followed by the Shipston Rotary Victorian Evening and Christmas lights ‘switch on’ in the town centre on the 6th December. This much-loved event will be packed with festive delights, from carol singing and Santa’s grotto, to mulled wine and mince pies.

The Rotary Tree of Life will be lit in remembrance of loved ones - bulbs can be sponsored in advance or on the night and all donations will support a local charity helping children with disabilities.

A quick look at the calendar on page 6 shows just how many events are planned for December, including a town carol service on 22nd December and a couple of opportunities for an early Christmas win at two bingo events in the town.

Thanks to the continued efforts of volunteers, Shipston will once again host a Community Christmas Lunch so that no one has to be on their own on Christmas Day. The lunch is open to anyone of any age who would otherwise be on their own, whatever the reason. The plan is to provide a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and added entertainment including a raffle, tombola and even a visit from Father Christmas.

Support from volunteers is very welcome, both in the run up and on the day. Contact Tessa Hince on shipstoncommunitychristmas@hotmail.com for details and to book your place at the lunch. If you can’t help in person but would like to support, you can also make a donation to the event by visiting: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/shipstontownchristmas

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “This time of year shows Shipston at its best - the events really showcase our community spirit and I feel very proud to live in a town where people go out of their way to make sure everyone can enjoy Christmas.”

Managing flooding in Shipston

November saw Shipston and surrounding areas experience flooding which left a number of roads impassable and forced both schools in the town to close early.

The Environment Agency attended to monitor Shipston Bridge and Lawns 2 Mow were out in force to manage road closures and diversions. Residents took to Facebook to share information about safest routes for travel and local road closures.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “Thanks to the work that Shipston Area Flood Action Group has been doing in recent years and some kinder weather in recent years, this is probably the most severe flooding we have experienced for some years. I’m extremely grateful to Lawns to Mow for supporting the local police with road closures and diversions, and to residents for keeping everyone up to date which hopefully reduced the pressure on local roads during the worst of the weather.”

Remembrance Sunday in Shipston

Shipston residents turned out in great numbers to remember those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

The Remembrance Parade, led by Shipston Town Band and members of the Royal British Legion, included civic dignitaries and representatives from the Cubs, Scouts, Beavers, Brownies, St John’s Ambulance, Shipston High School, Shipston Community First Responders, Rotary, Lions, Police and Ambulance services and other community groups.

Following the Parade, wreaths were laid at the Town’s War Memorial before the Remembrance Service took place at St Edmund’s Church. Reverend Daniel Pulham from Stour Valley Baptist Church shared his own family’s story about the loss of his great Uncle, and the impact of that loss on his Great Grandparents. The congregation also heard about the life of Ernest Webb, one of Shipston’s fallen soldiers from WW2, while the names of all those from the town who lost their lives in the two World Wars were read out by senior prefects from Shipston High School.

Lt Col David Kernohan, President of the Shipston Branch of the Royal British Legion, announced that Richard Adams intends to step down as Chairman of the RBL and Poppy Appeal Organiser at the end of this current term, making this year’s Remembrance the last Richard will be responsible for. Spontaneous applause followed, in recognition of the considerable contribution Richard has made to the Royal British Legion, Remembrance events and the Annual Poppy Appeal.

Many residents also turned out on Monday 11th November – Armistice Day - to mark the Two Minutes’ Silence.

Shipston Medical Centre bids farewell to Dr Jane Gilder

After nearly twenty years at Shipston Medical Centre, Dr Jane Gilder will be leaving the practice at Christmas.

As senior partner, Dr Gilder has led the practice since 2015, and has been working with colleagues on future plans for a new medical centre as well as looking after patients. In addition to a number of specialist roles at the practice, Dr Gilder has also been involved in training and supporting newly qualified GPs as well as providing support and guidance to the whole team.

Practice Manager, Rachel Vial, said: “Dr Gilder is extremely popular with staff and patients alike and will be sorely missed.

We wish her every success for the future.

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 t.w.russel@hotmail.com

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 www.everyoneactive.com

Shipston Town Council seeks bids for grants to support the community

Shipston Town Council’s annual community grants scheme is now open or bids for the next financial year – April 2020 to March 2021.

The community grant scheme is one of the most rewarding aspects of the council’s work. The council sets aside money every year to directly support local initiatives undertaken by voluntary groups and charities which benefit residents.

Last year saw a total of £20,500 awarded to support a wide range of projects from community events to lifesaving services.

The grant scheme is open to any voluntary group or charity based in Shipston or actively working in the town. Bids must relate to specific projects, such as a purchase of new equipment or support for an event, rather than general funds.

Typically, individual grants range from £250 to £2,000, although in some cases, awards may be higher. Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “Community grants are a great way of supporting the many and varied projects and services available in the town. Wherever possible, we are keen to support projects that benefit a wide group of residents to make best use of public funds, but we do consider niche projects as well, particularly when it’s to do with supporting some of the more vulnerable members of our community.”

Applications for grants must be received by 31 October. To find out more and for copies of the application form, please
contact the Town Clerk on 01608 662180.

Grants in Action

Improving access to the river bank
Shipston Town Council contributed funds to help pay for work being done by the Sports and Social club and Angling Club on
the riverbank. The grant has helped make it possible for people with disabilities to access the river and enjoy fishing. The new platform was officially opened as part of the Fish n Frolics festival in July.

Keeping people moving
The Town Council has supported both the voluntary drivers scheme through VASA and Shipston Link, both of which provide transport for those in need, particularly to help residents get to medical appointments and shops.

Lifesaving support
Through its grant scheme, Shipston Town Council funds the ongoing costs of the Shipston Community First Response vehicle, including insurance, road tax and maintenance. This funding helps ensure the voluntary first aiders can reach people throughout the town quickly when there’s an emergency.

Proms party
Grant funding has also been awarded for the Last Night of the Proms, recognising that it is such an important event for the town, and an opportunity for everyone to come together and enjoy music free of charge.

Blooming marvellous
Every year, the council funds the flowers planted by Shipston in Bloom which make such a positive visual impact throughout the town. 

Grants have also been used to support maintenance projects and new equipment for the Townsend Hall, invest in the Youth Club outreach programme and Xfest, support Citizens Advice services and help pay for repairs to the Town Band hall.

Unfortunately we can’t fund every bid, and often we are not able to give as much money as groups would ideally like. However, we consider every bid carefully and aim to support as many and as diverse a range of projects as we can”, the Mayor concluded.

For application details see the advert on page 14 of the Forum.

Shipston Town Council welcomes new councillor

Shipston Town Council has co-opted Gerry Kelly to the council, following a successful application and interview in September.

Gerry lives locally having moved here from Merseyside some years ago. He worked in the Fire Service for 32 years, including two secondments to the Fire Service College in Moreton. Having had experience of planning, particularly in relation to fire safety and emergency planning, Gerry is keen to make use of his skills to benefit the local area. He is already a member of the Speedwatch Group.

Gerry Kelly commented: “I look forward to being more involved in local council activities, adding my expertise and experience to a knowledgeable and active group of local councillors.”

Gerry works part time and is married with two children.

The Town Council still has one vacancy and is keen to hear from anyone aged over 18 and living in the town that would like to get more involved with their local community. For more details and full criteria, please contact the Town Clerk on 01608 662180 or clerk@shipstononline.org

Keeping in touch with your local police

Warwickshire Police is encouraging residents to keep in touch with their local Safer Neighbourhood Team.

Warwickshirepolice.co.uk has a page for each SNT giving details on who is in the team, a monthly newsletter and reporting on good news or incidents of note. You can also sign up to alerts via the Community Messaging Service. More features are to be added, including a crime map, giving an overview of crimes in a specific area, down to street level.

Shipston’s SNT is active on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and is a great way to find out what they are doing to tackle crime in and around the town.

Instagram: SouthWarwickshireSNTs
Facebook: ShipstonSaferNeighbourhoodTeam
Twitter: @ShipstonCops

Warwickshire Rural Watch is a free scheme to help combat rural crime in Warwickshire. You can sign up to receive incident alerts and news for Shipston and the local area and access crime prevention advice and information.

Shipston SNT has an email address unique to them for non-emergency issues and advice -shipston.snt@warwickshire.pnn.police.uk. You should receive a response within 72 hours, although often replies are given sooner.
101 is the national phone number to contact your local police. 101 is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free. However, in an emergency - when someone is in danger, a crime is in progress or a suspect is nearby - always dial 999.

Shipston Town Council hears plans for the Ellen Badger Hospital

Shipston Town Council welcomed Sophie Gilkes, Director of Development at South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust (SWFT), to its August meeting to hear the latest plans for the Ellen Badger Hospital. Ms Gilkes explained that there has never been a better time to develop the EBH. The NHS Long Term Plan, which sets out the strategy for the NHS over the next ten years, focuses on providing more care for people within their communities and delivering services which help keep people well - preventing illness as well as treating it. This means strengthening the services at the EBH is in line with national policy.

In addition, a review of GP surgery buildings and capacity undertaken by NHS South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), the local body responsible for planning and funding different health care services locally (including GP services), identified Shipston Medical Centre (SMC)as a priority site. SMC has confirmed that the EBH is its preferred site for a new medical centre.

SWFT and SMC are now working together on proposals for expanding the EBH, making use of the new land which was recently acquired next to the hospital. They are looking at what services are needed now, as well as the anticipated needs in the future so that best use is made of the site in the short and long term. This was the approach taken when developing Stratford Hospital three years ago, which focuses on preventative care.

The two organisations are developing a joint business case which will be considered by the CCG later in the year and will need to consider various issues, including what benefits the project will offer for patients and local people and whether it represents good value for NHS money.

Sallie Green, former Matron at the EBH is the clinical lead for the project and has been looking at different sites and models of care. The intention is to retain existing services and work with partners and voluntary groups to add new provision such as mental health services, although nothing has been decided yet.

Ms Gilkes also made clear that the minor injuries unit would not be returning. Under new NHS policy, urgent treatment centres are replacing minor injuries units and must see a certain number of patients to be viable. The plan is to create an Urgent Care Centre in Stratford.

The expanded EBH site does have its challenges, including flooding. However, a feasibility study has assessed the limitations and confirmed that the site can accommodate all the activities SWFT is likely to put forward. The next step is to appoint an architect to develop designs which will hopefully be ready to share with SWFT, partners and the Patient Participation Group in mid-October. The business cases, which will set out what is being proposed and how it would be funded, are due to be completed by the end of the year.

The SWFT presentation followed a recent update from the League of Friends of the EBH and precedes a public event later this month. The event, on 17th September, takes place at the Townsend Hall and will include speakers from SWFT, Shipston Medical Centre, Warwickshire County Council and the League of Friends.

Shipston Town Council pays tribute to former Mayor, Alan Noyce

Everyone at Shipston Town Council was saddened to learn of the death of Alan Noyce early in the morning of 19th August.
Alan had a charismatic personality and was an active member of the town council for more than a dozen years, serving as Mayor for three terms in 2007, 2008 and 2009.

Alan worked tirelessly to improve the overall wellbeing of the town; he introduced the working party system, which has successfully spread the work-load between all councillors. Alan had a common sense approach and was a true ambassador for the town, raising the profile of Shipston all over Warwickshire and further afield.

Alan’s late wife Angela, who had been Mayor in 2004 and 2006, died of an illness very suddenly in 2009, two days before she was due to become Mayor. Alan stepped in to the breach to serve his third successive term.

Alan remarried in October 2012 to his wife Pat and resigned from the town council in 2014.

He was highly regarded throughout the town, and will be missed. Our thoughts are with his wife Pat, and all his family at this difficult time.Everyone at Shipston Town Council was saddened to learn of the death of Alan Noyce early in the morning of 19th August.


Council bids farewell to Jayne Potter

Council was the last meeting for Deputy Town Clerk, Jayne Potter, who left the council in August.

Jayne has been with Shipston Town Council for five years, joining initially as admin assistant. Having learnt the ropes from Town Clerk, Georgina Beaumont, Jayne went on to complete her CILCA Level 3 qualification in local government administration to enable her to take up the position of Deputy Town Clerk. Among her many responsibilities are managing the town’s allotments, bookkeeping and financial administration and she has made considerable improvements to the way the annual precept process is managed.

Jayne has been an enthusiastic member of the team from day one and will be sorely missed by everyone at the council.
Town Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “We are extremely sorry to see Jayne go – she has been a wonderful support to the council and her contributions will be greatly missed. We wish her every happiness with her next challenge.”

Shipston Proms 2019 brings another fortnight of fabulous music

A member of the Britpop Boys - one of the bands playing at the Last Night of the Proms - said how lucky Shipston was to have such a festival and what a privilege it was to be part of it. Judging by the packed crowd in the square on the Last Night, the audience agreed.

In what some have said was the best Proms yet, an eclectic mix of music was very much on show across the fortnight.

The Last Night party was opened by the Young Musicians Choir, followed by the winners of the Fame Contest, Kathryn Packer (solo) and the Shipston High Jazz Band. Mr. Blonde brought a mix of popular soulful and funky covers and Oliver Darling and the Living Legends had everyone dancing with their jumping rhythm and blues and rock ‘n roll. When 90’s tribute sensation, The Britpop Boys, came on everyone was ready for a sing a long to the likes of ‘Wonderwall’ and the finale ‘Don’t Look Back in Anger’.

This fabulous finale was preceded by about thirty acts designed to entertain everyone from young to old. Events included two dance parties, a sing- a-long Sound of Music night, the popular Helen Porter Chamberpot Pourri and organ recital, a Michael Jackson tribute night, jazz on a Sunday afternoon, an American blues troubadour, choirs, coffee morning concerts, an open mic night and more. This year, events were held in many venues across more local villages than before.

Some of the highlights included the Pub and Cafe Trail which saw venues packed as people followed the music round on Saturday night.

At St. Edmund’s Church, international guitarist Craig Ogden and Claire Bradshaw played to over a hundred people in an event organised by The Music Society.

The three DJ Dance Night at the Townsend Hall saw Tim Samsara, Mike Smythy and Benji bring their mix of club tracks and dance anthems to Shipston and impressing the audience with an amazing light show by Clearsound. The young crowd who went have asked for more of the same next year.

Giving young musicians a platform

Shipston Proms was set up in part to showcase local young talent and this year was a great example of this. Fifteen year old Kathryn Packer showed herself to be an accomplished musician as she sang and played the keyboard on the main stage, having won the double at the Fame Contest, both in the soloist and band category. Another local win in the Fame Contest was the Shipston High Jazz Band made up of talented students from Years 10 and 11.

Thanks to a number of talented music teachers, many of whom actively support the Proms, including David Hunt, Helen Porter and Emma Jane Roberts, local students have been encouraged to learn and perform music. This is showcased at the Young Musicians Concert at Barcheston, held every year on the second Wednesday of the Proms. Both the High School and Primary School also hold their own concerts during the Proms giving children of all ages the chance to perform.

Proms Chair, Charlotte Haines, said: “We are very fortunate to have access to some fine musicians in and around Warwickshire and that outstanding performers are willing to come and take part in this exciting annual tradition. The Proms Committee works hard to put on a successful fortnight of music every year and it is so rewarding to see residents and visitors of all ages enjoying themselves at our events.

“I would like to thank everyone who helped make this year’s Proms such a success - can’t wait for 2020!”

League of Friends share vision for Ellen Badger Hospital

League of Friends (LoF) Chair, Bryan Stoten, and Fundraising Manager, Hannah French, shared their vision for the redevelopment of the Ellen Badger Hospital with Shipston Town Councillors in July.

Thanks to fundraising from the League of Friends and investment from South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, there is potential to make the EBH a community hub to promote wellbeing rather than just a rehabilitation centre.

Bryan Stoten gave the example of the North Cotswold Hospital in Moreton which offers antenatal care, speech therapy and psychology services for adolescents. “We would like to see the Ellen Badger serving our community as a whole,” he said.

With the right support and funding, the LoF believes the EBH could play a role as part of a ‘healthy town’ initiative that promotes short walks, smoke cessation, food preparation classes and a cafe where people can catch up to help tackle social isolation.

To find out more, come along to the LoF public meeting on 17th September at the Townsend Hall. Full details to be published next month.

SAFAG sees a silver lining in June’s downpour

The heavy and persistent rainfall throughout June played havoc with the plans the Shipston Area Flood Action Group (SAFAG) had to introduce flood alleviation measures into the southern and eastern parts of the catchment area. But on the plus side, the downpours provided the severest test yet of the effectiveness of existing installations.

As a condition of the funding SAFAG receives, the interventions have to be monitored to ensure they are performing efficiently. Some monitoring is handled automatically with solar powered cameras feeding pictures directly to the Environment Agency. Group members are also allocated sites to visit and photograph at times of excessive rainfall. So important is this data that Kings College London have installed their own recording devices in the catchment as part of a worldwide study into rainfall and the impact upon flooding.

During the June downpour, it was extremely rewarding for the team to receive feedback from some of the Pigbrook landowners and farmers that interventions on their land were working and that Shoulderway Lane, which historically floods under a deluge of similar scale, remained unaffected.

So just maybe in these reported cases, the clouds did have a silver lining!

Well done and thank you to everyone involved for their hard work (see page 14 for more news about SAFAG).

Riverside proposals to be unveiled for consultation

Proposals that could see the river banks by Shipston Bridge transformed into a haven for wildlife and  recreation will be unveiled for public consultation on 2nd and 3rd August. The plans are the culmination of months of work led by Shipston Town Council’s Heritage and Leisure Projects working group, supported by local landscape architect, Emma Stolwood
from Stolwood Architects.

Town councillors were given a sneak preview of the plans at the June meeting, which cover new furniture, attractions and planting. If all goes to plan, on the Bridge Car Park side of the river, the main attraction will be a new viewing platform over the river. The platform would give residents and visitors a much clearer view of the river, with a chance to spot local wildlife both in the water and on the banks. 

HALP is also hoping to install a natural willow arch for children to run through as well as a willow seating area and new picnic benches on that side of the river. Information boards will be added to share information about the river, local wildlife, and flora and fauna.

On the Mill Street side, the team is hoping to replace the current metal crash barrier with a more attractive wooden one. The diseased willow tree will be cut back significantly and turned into a bug hotel and there are plans for a raised bed to add to the other striking floral displays around the town. The HALP team has also looked at various options for plants that will attract wildlife and provide year-round interest.

The proposals have been developed following careful consultation with a range of experts and take into consideration the potential impact of future flooding. The team is now inviting residents to view the proposals and share their views before the important work of seeking funding begins.

Co-chair of the HALP Working Group, Sheelagh Saunders, said: “We are really excited about the plans to make the most of the river at Shipston Bridge and we’d really like to share where we’ve got to with local residents. The plans will be on view throughout the two day consultation event and we’ll be running guided visits to the river from Clark House to explain the proposals in detail.

“This is one of the priority projects that arose from the Neighbourhood Plan so it’s really important that our community is involved in the next steps and has the opportunity to make this a space we will all want to use. We hope to see as many of you at the open day as possible and look forward to hearing your views.”

Alongside the consultation, the working group is seeking a bid writer to support bids for funding. Further details about the public consultation will be published in the August issue of the Forum.

Photo: Bridge Car Park river bank

Wool Fair welcomes civic dignitaries to another successful event

Shipston’s Wool Fair Weekend was hailed a huge success, attracting civic dignitaries, residents and visitors from the region.

Totally Locally got the weekend off to a great start with another busy arts and crafts festival. This was followed by the Rotary Community Songs of Praise.

As for the Wool Fair itself, quite rightly, the sheep stole the show, with some particularly cute varieties proving extremely popular. Shearing was another draw, with many flocking round to see hand shearing in action.

As a first for this year, the Wool Fair weekend featured a wedding dress display from the Victorian era to the present day, alongside a stunning flower festival, organised by St Edmund's Church, which delighted the town’s special guests (see photo, right, by Chris Wright). The weekend was also the first opening for the pop-up photographic exhibition at former council offices, Clark House, on West Street. 

The main stage played host to numerous local musicians including the High School Band and Shipston Town Band. Craft stalls, competitions and games entertained everyone, while a variety of food and sweet treats kept energy levels up.

Feedback from Civic Dignitaries has been overwhelmingly positive, demonstrating what a positive impact the event has on Shipston’s reputation in the wider region.

Letters have been received from a number of people, including the High Sheriff of Warwickshire, Simon Miesegaes, who said: “Thank you for your hospitality at the Wool Fair... It was a great success and such a happy reflection on the wonderful town that is Shipston on Stour.”

Chairman of Warwick Town Council, commented: “We found it a most interesting and enjoyable morning in good company... The originators and organisers are to be congratulated. We were particularly impressed by the displays in the church which had clearly involved much effort.”

The event had a real buzz throughout the day, with something to occupy all ages. There was strong enthusiasm for soaking Young Farmers in the stocks, while many children enjoyed the challenge of finding the hoops around the town and answering the quiz for a chance to win a delightful sheep cushion.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “The Wool Fair is the first Shipston event in the new mayoral calendar and it’s a wonderful way to make our mark in the region. “I am well aware of how much work goes into The Wool Fair. I would like to thank the Wool Fair Committee, Totally Locally, St Edmund's Church and all the other volunteers who helped to put on such a great event.”

Rotary Community Songs of Praise showcases local talent

Over 100 people enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of music, song and poetry at St Edmund’s Church on Sunday May 26th, as part of Shipston ‘Woolly Weekend’.

The Mayor, Dan Scobie, and Rotary President, Graham Thomas, read poems. 

Catherine Packer from Shipston High School, Alec Banner from Shipston Junior Band, Aliya Bartlett, Caitlin Clemons and Chloe Spencer from Shipston Youth Club, along with Helen and Hannah Porter, Noel Nickerson and the Shipston Rotary Singers (Nigel Willis and Thomas Slinger) all gave some amazing musical and choral performances.

Shipston Community groups chose hymns and read poems to help make it such a memorable afternoon - which was rounded off with tea and delicious homemade cakes.

Lions serving the community in the Centenary Garden

The Lions have been out again planting up the Centenary Garden with sumer flowers to continue to present the site as a star attraction when entering the town. It is hoped the strong colours will make the Centenary Garden a fitting tribute to the D-Day commemorations. This year we have planted over 450 Antirrhinum Sonnetin in the flower beds and Begonia Tuberosa in the pots. Many people stop to admire the garden and read the Centenary Memorial on the site to reflect on the horror of war while taking a rest on the seating benches.

Working in conjunction with The Royal British Legion and Shipston Town Council, the Lions designed and organised the installation of this memorial to the 36 Shipston men who fell in the Great War. The name of each soldier has been engraved on individual tiles displayed in the centre of the garden as a permanent display. The whole garden, located in the centre of Shipston on the Gyratory, is planted and maintained by the Lions in conjunction with Shipston-in-Bloom who supply
the plants.


 Shipston Town Council welcomes new Mayor and Councillors

The Annual General Meeting of Shipston Town Council saw the election of a new Mayor and Deputy Mayor for the town. It was also the first meeting for the four new councillors elected in May.

Dan Scobie was unanimously elected Mayor for 2019/20 - his second term in the role having previously chaired the council in 2017/18. Sheelagh Saunders was unanimously elected Deputy Mayor.

Stepping down from his Mayoral role, Ian Cooper thanked all those who had supported him over the past 12 months.

Ian said: “It has been an honour and a privilege to serve Shipston as Mayor. We have a strong and unified council. Although we have our own say and opinions, we act together which stands us in good stead.”

Ian Cooper went on to thank fellow councillors and former mayors for their support and guidance, as well as Rev Sarah Edmonds for her help with town events and ensuring civic dignitaries received a warm welcome.

The Town Clerk and Deputy Town Clerk were presented with flowers as a thank you for their work for the Mayor over the past year.

Ian Cooper also recorded thanks to former district and county councillor, Chris Saint, for his hard work and support for Shipston over his many years in office. Chris stood down at the recent elections.

Dan Scobie congratulated Ian on a successful year as Mayor, which saw the town council strengthen links with young people in the town. 

 Shipston First Responders announced as 2019/20 Mayoral charity

Mayor, Dan Scobie, announced that his charity for the year will be Shipston First Responders (SFR).

SFR help West Midlands Ambulance Service get trained, experienced care to a patient very rapidly. SFR volunteers are based in and around the town and can usually respond to an emergency call within 5 minutes which can be vital considering the town’s rural location.

SFR, Tony Booth (pictured) explained that the team is often first on the scene, and has saved lives in cardiac arrest situations. The team aims to provide a service 24 hours, 7 days a week and is always looking for more volunteers.

SFR is funded entirely from donations and grants. All of the people delivering this vital service are volunteers, helping others in their own time, and at their own cost.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “I was surprised to discover that SFR volunteers have to pay for everything out of money they raise or their own pocket. This includes their uniforms, their first aid supplies, and their heart defibrillators. If they use any equipment on a patient, they have to replace it at their own expense. This year the Town Council will be helping to raise funds to allow SFR to focus on delivering the care they do so well, and have to spend less time thinking about the money.”

Prepare for a packed Proms

After eight months of planning the 21st Shipston Proms Music Festival is ready to roll!

Whatever your taste in music, there will be something for you to enjoy during the two-week festival which runs from 14th-29th June. A mix of DJ’s and dance parties, jazz, folk, pop, rock, rhythm and blues, classical and show tunes will be performed in town and village halls, pubs, cafes and churches in and around Shipston on Stour.

Proms highlights

Our top picks include international artist David Boakes as Michael Jackson; a three DJ Dance Party with Tim Samara; International guitarist Craig Ogden and mezzo soprano Claire Bradshaw appearing at St. Edmund’s Church; and of course the headliners at our Last Night party in the Square - The Britpop Boys and local band, Oliver Darling and The Living Legends.

For younger members of Shipston there is musical adventure waiting for them at the Scout Hut hosted by Calypso Kids and a chance to join in a family dance party at Townsend Hall (with just one DJ this time).

New venues this year include Alderminster, Halford, and Long Compton Village Halls plus the Ebenezer Chapel at Long Compton, Talton Mill at Newbold and the Three Ewes in Shipston.

Advance tickets

Tickets for the Michael Jackson Tribute Launch Night and the Dance Party can be bought in advance via www.shipstonproms.org.

Over 40 advance tickets for the Friday Dance Party had been sold by 8 May so don’t delay!

Fame beckons

There is still time for soloists and bands to enter the Fame Contest on June 23rd as the deadline for entries is a week before. At the time of going to press, five entries had already been received – could this year be your year to shine?

Last year’s band category winners, ‘The Fortunes’ from Stratford, will be returning to play for the audience while the judges decide this year’s winners.

Supporting our community

Shipston Proms is supporting the community with both school workshops as well as an event on Thursday 27th June at Low Furlong to bring music to the home’s Senior Living’s FaNs (Friends and Neighbours).

Look out for the programmes that will be coming through your door and available to collect from some of the pubs and participating venues. Further details can be found on the Proms website www.shipstonproms.org or by emailing shipstonproms@gmail.com.


Shipston Town Council reflects on a busy 12 months for the town

Shipston Town Council took a new approach to its Annual Town Meeting in April 2019, which saw the event focus on the town’s many highlights across the year.

Annual Town Meetings are a legal requirement of all town councils and provide an opportunity to report on key activities over the past 12 months. Rather than focusing on detailed updates from council working groups, the town council decided to put the community at the heart of the event.

The meeting opened with a show reel of highlights from the last 12 months, featuring some of the town’s main events and achievements as well as some of the council services.

For the first time, the town council invited those community groups who have received grants from the council for 2019/20 to accept their cheques and say a few words about their group. As a result, residents heard from over ten groups ranging from sports and music clubs to transport and voluntary first aid services.

The meeting also welcomed back a number of past town mayors who were invited to receive their ‘Past Mayor’ medals. These medals can be worn at civic events and parades and will recognise the commitment made by individuals for their town.

Mayor, Ian Cooper, said: “I have been struck by the warm welcome I have received when representing Shipston at civic events across the region. That Shipston has such a strong reputation across Warwickshire and beyond is thanks in large part to previous mayors who have represented our community so well. These medals are our way of expressing thanks on behalf of the community for their work to support Shipston. It was an honour to present the medals and a delight to see so many past mayors in attendance.”

The meeting, which was held in the Townsend Hall, was well attended by residents, many of whom are directly involved in clubs and societies in the town.

“I was delighted to see so many people at the Annual Town Meeting. As a town, we have achieved a great deal in the past 12 months and marked many important anniversaries, including the 10th Wool Fair, 20th Proms and 21st Victorian Evening, as well as the largest Remembrance Parade in honour of the 100 year anniversary of WWI. Thanks to the strength of our community, we have much to be proud of and while we continue to face challenges, it is important to reflect on our successes as a town.”

Award for community service presented to dynamic Armstrong duo

The 2019 Shipston Award for community service was presented to Bob and Cath Armstrong at the Annual Town Meeting in April.

Bob and Cath are well known in Shipston for good reason - they work tirelessly to support local events and charities. They were nominated for the award principally because of their long standing commitment to the Shipston Wool Fair which they are heavily involved in every year.

But as Mayor, Ian Cooper, pointed out, this is just one of their many community achievements, which also include setting up and running the popular Tour d’Ilmington cycling fund raiser, many Rotary events and their efforts to tackle Polio which saw them helping out on the ground in India, administering the much needed vaccine to children.

On receiving the award, Bob Armstrong said: “We are overwhelmed to receive this award but must stress that everything we do is as part of a big team effort. Putting on community events is an act of faith and we’d like to thank the people of Shipston who have given us such support. There is a real community spirit in Shipston and it is a joy and a privilege to live here.”

Shipston Wool Fair promises eclectic mix of attractions

What do wedding dresses and sheep shearing have in common? They’ll both be featuring in this year’s Shipston Wool Fair!

With just a few weeks to go, the race is on to finalise a packed weekend of attractions, including the Totally Locally Arts & Crafts market on Saturday 25th May, a community Songs of Praise on the 26th, followed by the Wool Fair itself on bank holiday Monday, 27th May. The Woolly Weekend will bring a mix of traditional attractions such as sheep shearing, meet the rare breeds, and the woolly marquee showcasing traditional wool processes and crafts. There will also be stalls selling treats and gifts as well as charities running games and competitions to raise money for local causes.

New for this year will be the wedding dress exhibition to accompany the flower festival, hosted at St Edmund’s Church throughout the weekend. Both are free to enter but donations are welcome to support the upkeep of the church.

In the run up to the Wool Fair, the town centre will be decorated with hundreds of knitted and crocheted forget-me-nots to raise awareness of dementia. We’re also hoping for a return of last year’s giant knitted sheep on the gyratory – keep your eyes peeled. 

Live shearing demonstrations will take place throughout the day, led by a local shearer who will demonstrate both traditional ‘hand shearing’ and more modern electrical shearing. Thanks to Derek Webb from Armscote and John Peebles from Willington, visitors will also be able to see some old vintage tractors in the high street – a far cry from the tractors we see in our fields today. The Town Band and other local performers will also ensure there will be live music to enjoy throughout the day. 

Last but by no means least, the Wool Fair’s local shepherd will be back with his trusty dog by his side to tell you all about the life of a shepherd and to answer any questions you may have. Make sure you pop along to meet him and his dog, who loves a good fuss.

Events on our Borders

May is promising to be a busy month with plenty of events not only taking place in Shipston but in the surrounding villages as well.

On 2nd May stock up on some local delicacies at the North Cotswold Farmers Market at Cherington Village Hall. Held on the first Thursday each month from 6pm-8pm, the market features stalls selling local produce and a hot supper and bar.

The popular Three Hills Walk on Bank Holiday Monday starts from Brailes Village Hall between 9am and 11am. Enjoy the superb views and work up an appetite for the delicious bbq, teas and cakes that will be available.

Also in Brailes Village Hall, the Shipston Home Nursing plant and home produce sale will take place on Saturday 11th May between 10am-12pm. Plants and produce can be dropped off on Friday 10th between 10am-2pm.

On 23rd May why not indulge in some retail therapy at a Summer Shopping Evening at Stalls Lifestyle from 6.30-8.30pm. Proceeds will be donated to The Time Out Group, a children’s charity chosen by Shipston Rotary as their Tree of Life Charity in December. Tickets are £5 to include a glass of fizz and canapes. Contact Sally Keegan on 07710 252341 or sallykeegan19@gmail.com.

The Newbold Plant Sale at St David’s Church on Saturday 25th May from 10am-12.30pm includes a tombola, produce stall and refreshments as well as plants. Donations appreciated, contact Gilly Marsden 01789 459168 or deliver to the Church on Friday 24th May between 3–7 pm.

Policing takes centre stage in Shipston following Co-Op raid

Shipston Town Council invited Police and Crime Commissioner, Philip Seccombe, to its March meeting, following the theft of the cashpoint from the Co-Op store. Councillors and members of the public were given the opportunity to put questions to the Commissioner, Inspector Dave Kettle and PC Craig Purcell.

Philip Seccombe explained that he had raised the police element of the council tax precept to its maximum level to fund 100 additional officers and police staff in Warwickshire, to be recruited over the next 12 months. The additional funding and resources will support a wide range of policing activities including safer neighbourhood teams, road and motorway officers, crime investigation and patrols.

Warwickshire Police is also setting up a new Rural Crime Team dedicated to tackling issues such as hare coursing, theft and other crimes, with a focus on prevention. More funding is also being put into tackling domestic violence, modern slavery and child sexual exploitation.

Warwickshire Police has been working as part of a comprehensive alliance with West Mercia Police, which will end in October. Warwickshire Police is now in the process of looking at new ways of delivering services, including on a standalone basis, working with other forces and external organisations,  a new collaboration with West Mercia, or a combination of these options. Mr Seccombe said: “We are rebuilding how we deliver services from the bottom up. This is likely to mean we become more responsive to Warwickshire residents and deliver a strengthened service overall.”

Inspector Dave Kettle, who is responsible for 14 safer neighbourhood teams in South Warwickshire, provided a snapshot of the demands facing the force. In the 48 hours prior to the council meeting, the force had received over 800 calls, made nearly 60 arrests and recorded over 200 crimes across the county.

Officers work closely with neighbouring police authorities to share information and track criminals.

When asked whether we should expect more crimes of the type experienced by the Co-Op store, the Inspector’s view was that these sorts of crimes would most likely remain rare but that we can all help the police by sharing information, letting officers know when something doesn’t look right and by keeping each other informed to help prevent crime happening. Particular mention was made of the valuable role Neighbourhood Watch schemes can play in reducing the risk of crime.

Town Clerk, Georgina Beaumont, said: “The Town Council would like to thank Philip Seccombe and his officers for taking the time to talk to the town council and local residents. We are keen to work with the police to do what we can to reduce the risk of our residents becoming victims of crime.”


Watch your speed, warns community team

Shipston’s Community Speedwatch team has been out monitoring the speed of vehicles coming in and out of the town, using a speed gun which is shared with neighbouring villages.

The team has been monitoring speeds on Stratford Road and London Road, with a number of vehicles recorded travelling at speeds well over 40 miles per hour (62 mph in one case).  Although the team cannot issue penalties, the number plates of all those exceeding the limit are provided to the Traffic Police, who take the necessary follow up action. 

The community team is seeking to educate drivers about the importance of observing speed limits, and the data collected will provide evidence to press for other speed reduction measures.

Shipston’s Community Watch team will be monitoring speeds again in the summer.  To join the team or find out more, contact Jacey Jackson on 01608 661288.

Litter picking group still going strong eight years on

This year is the eighth anniversary of the Shipston Litter Picking group, which launched in March 2011 as part of the town council’s ‘Proud of My Town’ campaign.  Since then, the group has met monthly to give the town an extra tidy up, enhancing the cleansing work done by the town council’s contractors on weekdays.

The core group is still going strong and meets on the first Saturday each month at New Clark House (subject to weather conditions), often joined by other residents all keen to help keep Shipston looking its best.  Over the years the group has noticed a real reduction in litter and by enhancing the existing street cleaning services by the council contractors, they provide a valuable but often overlooked service to the town. 

The group’s organiser, Fay Ivens, said, “we are a friendly bunch and have met some lovely people during our litter picking mornings.  Equipment and refreshments are provided and it is a fun and rewarding way to do something for the community. We welcome anyone who would like to come along and join us at our next litter pick on Saturday 6th April at 10am”.


Shipston’s Calendar – key dates for your diary

Shipston hosts an impressive array of events throughout the year and 2019 is no exception.


Key dates in the Shipston calendar for the rest of this year begin with the Annual Town Meeting on 9th April that will include the presentation of this year’s Shipston Award. On 28th April residents and visitors are invited to join a celebration of Shipston’s community at the Annual Civic Service in St Edmund’s, with a particular focus on the town’s younger generation.

In May, the 11th annual Wool Fair will take place on the Spring Bank Holiday Monday.  Over the years the Wool Fair has expanded to include a number of other events and this year includes a Flower Festival in St Edmund’s Church, featuring a display of wedding dresses from Victorian to Modern Day. On Saturday 25th May Sheep Street will be transformed into an Arts & Crafts Street Market. Talented local artists will be selling their wares and there will be children’s entertainment and busking musicians on hand to keep all the family amused. The Wool Fair itself on Monday 27th May begins at 10am in the square, featuring all the usual woolly activities including the Woolly Marquee, rare breed sheep on display and the ever-popular sheep shearing demonstrations.


As we move into Summer, we have the 21st Shipston Proms launching on Friday 14th June with internationally renowned Michael Jackson tribute sensation, David Boakes, on stage at the Townsend Hall. A huge number of musical events ranging from classical and opera to a DJ Set and Dance Party will be taking place over the following two weeks in Shipston and the surrounding villages, including some new venues that will be hosting Proms events for the very first time. The Final Night on Saturday 29th June features 90s tribute band Britpop Boys and our own local blues success story, Oliver Darling and the Living Legends.

In July the Fish N Frolics fishing event is due to make a comeback. The event takes place from 26-28th July and includes an angling competition and live music. All that’s needed is good weather!

The green-fingered and baking enthusiasts of the town will get their chance to shine on Sunday 18th August when the annual Flower and Produce Show takes place in the Townsend Hall.  There will prizes for all manner of vegetables, fruit, jams, chutneys, cakes, bread and even a scarecrow competition. Look out for details of the sunflower competition so you can get yours growing in plenty of time!

Autumn and Winter

As we move into the latter part of the year, November 10th sees the annual Remembrance Day Parade in the High Street when the Shipston Branch of the Royal British Legion and representatives from local councils, emergency services, Shipston High School and local youth and community groups all march to St Edmund’s for the Remembrance Service.

Rounding off the year will be the Victorian Evening on Friday 6th December, a chance to steel a march on your Christmas shopping and support the town’s local crafts people, community groups and charities.  Now in its 22nd year, it is a much-loved and traditional way to bring the Shipston calendar to a close. 

Book a free Safe and Well visit from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service is offering local residents a free ‘Safe and Well’ check to reduce the risk of fires in the home.

Safe and Well visits – previously called a home fire safety check – are an important part of the fire service’s role to raise awareness of potential fire hazards and other safety concerns. A fire officer will visit to assess the hazards in your home and provide advice on how to reduce your fire risk.

Imran Dean, Engagement Officer for Warwickshire Fire and Rescue said. “Our Safe and Well visits are about more than checking you have a working smoke alarm. Our firefighters will also check for trip hazards and provide tips on avoiding falls. They will also discuss health advice such as keeping warm in winter, as well as home security.”

Feedback from some members of Shipston’s Senior Citizen Action Network suggests the visits are really useful.

Imran Dean attended Shipston Town Council’s February meeting to talk more about the fire service’s community work. The service is working hard to improve access to becoming a firefighter and is about to embark on a recruitment drive. The team is particularly keen to hear from women who may be interested in a career as a firefighter.

A career in the fire service is very varied. As well as training and active duty fighting fires, officers now provide community services including a hospital transport service to ensure vulnerable patients are returned home with support to settle back in. This new service has been piloted in the last six months and has been well received by patients.

“We are keen to expand our work with local communities,” Imran continued. “We are also hoping to become more actively involved within Shipston, through open days and inviting community groups to use our facilities.”

To book your Safe and Well visit, contact 01926 466282 or visit https://www.warwickshire.gov.uk/safeandwellvisit.

Shock as Co-Op store is raided

As the Forum went to press, news emerged about the theft of the cashpoint from the larger Co-Op. Police have since recovered the stolen ATM - the thieves were unable to obtain any money from it.

Mayor, Ian Cooper, said “This raid shows that Shipston is not immune to the criminal activities we hear about elsewhere. I am grateful to the police for their swift response and hope the perpetrators will be brought to justice quickly.”

Police enquiries are ongoing and witnesses with information should call 101 quoting incident 18 of 18 February 2018.

Shipston Proms reveals headline acts for 2019

After signing on the dotted line, the Proms Committee has revealed who is playing at the 2019 Shipston Proms.

Get set for a thriller of a night when internationally renowned impersonator and top tribute sensation, David Boakes, conjures up all the moonwalking magic of Michael Jackson. Boakes will be performing his live singing, dancing, and show stopping moves on the Launch Night of the Shipston Proms on Friday 14th June.

The headliners on the last night will be tribute 90’s band Britpop Boys, who will bring their swagger and rousing 90’s anthems to the stage on Saturday 29th June. We’re promised all the popular songs from bands including Oasis, Blur and Pulp.  Also on the last night, one of the best – and local - blues bands on the UK music scene, Oliver Darling and the Living Legends, will be playing 50’s R & B, swing and rock and roll to add to the excitement.

Between the Launch Night and the Last Night the Proms will once again offer music for all tastes.  For lovers of classical music one of the world’s finest classical guitarists, Australian-born Craig Ogden and his opera-star wife mezzo soprano Claire Bradshaw will be appearing at St. Edmund’s on 20th June courtesy of the Music Society.  For a younger audience, on the middle Friday, there will be DJ set and Dance Party at the Townsend Hall hosted by legendary dance party promotor and DJ Tim Samsara.  And, of course there is the Fame Competition for all ages to enter.

More villages are set to take part in this year’s Proms. Amongst them, Halford Village Hall will be hosting a Sing a Long Sound of Music show and Long Compton will be host to the sounds of the Mississippi Delta from The Big Ginge Blues Band who are in the process of recording their first album.

With such a strong programme, the Proms team is now seeking sponsorship from local businesses as well as entrants to the fame contest. To find out more, email: shipstonproms@gmail.com or visit www.shipstonproms.org

Masked Ball raises money for Youth Charities

Shipston’s first Masked Valentine Ball, hosted by the Mayor and Mayoress of the town, saw civic dignitaries and local residents party the night away while raising money for local youth charities.

The Townsend Hall was transformed into a 1920s-style ballroom, ready for approximately 70 guests to enjoy an evening of fine food, music and dancing. Dressed in black tie and a wide range of masks, guests were treated to a four course meal with wine, followed by the opportunity to work it all off on the dance floor.

Champagne Charlie & The Bubbly Boys provided a lively accompaniment to the party. These sharply dressed musicians brought to Shipston the thrilling live sound of the jazz age. Charlie’s cabaret soon had guests taking to the dance floor to Swing, Tango and Foxtrot. Dancing continued with a mammoth conga around the hall, and to Charlie’s renowned “Champagne” call outs to switch partners during the Charleston.

Amidst all the fun was the serious business of a fund raising raffle, kindly supported by local businesses. Thanks to generous donations ranging from bottles of gin to hampers and massage treatments, the raffle raised additional funds for Shipston youth charities.

Mayor, Ian Cooper, said: “It was wonderful to see so many people enjoying what I hope will be the inaugural masked ball in aid of youth charities. I’m very grateful to all those who supported the Ball and would like to say a particular thanks to Georgina Beaumont, Ali and Richard Henderson and the Mayoress, all of whom worked tirelessly to organise the event.”

Shipston Town Council agrees rise in precept

Shipston Town Council has voted unanimously to raise its share of the council tax precept to £243,000 in 2019/20 – an increase of £11,000 compared with the current year’s precept. However, the increase will be covered by the additional number of households now paying council tax, meaning residents will effectively pay the same as this year. As such, an average Band D home will continue to pay approximately £107.88.

Mayor and Chair of the Finance Working Group, Ian Cooper, said: “The Town Council has been working hard to develop a budget that will enable us to support many of Shipston’s community groups and voluntary services, while also putting money aside to progress some of our ‘wish list’ projects. These projects are designed to enhance the town and include some of the community-led schemes identified in the Neighbourhood Plan.

“I’m particularly pleased that we have been able to reach a solution which doesn’t put additional financial pressure on residents, but makes the most of the income to be received from additional homes in the town. I would like to thank Deputy Clerk, Jayne Potter, for all her efforts in helping the Finance Working Group pull together and analyse the figures, and  my fellow councillors for their considerable input.”

Shipston Town Council’s precept is just one element of the Council Tax bill which also covers costs for the district and county councils and the Police and Crime Commissioner. Indications are that modest increases in these other elements of the Council Tax are likely.

Community Grants awarded to support local projects in 2019/20

Shipston Town Council has voted to award grants to support a wide range of local projects, with the total contribution being £20,500 for the year. This is an increase of over £3,000 compared with last year.

The recipients of grants for the 2019/20 year are:

Shipston in Bloom - to fund flower displays in the town

Shipston Wool Fair - to help fund new, innovative attractions

Drugs Action Shipston (DASH) - to provide help for vulnerable people

Shipston Community First Responders - to purchase kit for new volunteers and maintain the response vehicle

Townsend Hall - to contribute towards ongoing maintenance

Shipston Sports Bowls Green - to contribute to maintaining the green

Shipston Link - to maintain and continue the Tuesday afternoon service in Shipston, linking the town and Medical Centre

Shipston Proms - to contribute towards the cost of staging the Proms

Shipston Youth Club - to support work to reach young people not currently attending the club and to help with costs for X-Fest.

VASA - to help with the provision of volunteer drivers

Town Band - for repair work at the Band Hall

London Road Sports Club - to contribute towards grounds maintenance

Hockey Club - to fund first aid and training

Norgren Bowling Club - for mowing equipment

Citizens’ Advice South Warwickshire - to contribute towards the Outreach service.

Mayor, Ian Cooper, said: “The range of grants awarded is indicative of the variety of events, clubs and voluntary services in Shipston. We are always keen to support these activities wherever possible and I’m delighted that the town council is in a position to increase its overall grant contribution, thanks in part to the council’s careful financial management.”

Tickets now on sale for the Mayor’s Ball  

This month will see Shipston host the Mayor’s Valentine Masked Ball in aid of local youth charities. The event takes place on Friday 15th February at the Townsend Hall.

The Ball is open to everyone and the Mayor is looking forward to seeing the Townsend Hall full of residents and visitors in their finery. Wearing masks is optional but adds a bit of fun and mystery to the evening – this could be your perfect chance to adopt a completely new persona!

Tickets cost £40, including a glass of fizz on arrival and a four course meal with wine. Entertainment will be provided by the brilliant Champagne Charlie and the Bubbly Boys.

To maximise the money raised, the Mayor is keen to hear from any local companies willing to sponsor the event or buy a table. There are also opportunities to donate to the charity raffle and auction. All proceeds will go to support the Mayor’s charities to support youth projects in the town.

Mayor, Ian Cooper, said: “It’s been a long time since the Town Council has organised a charity ball for Shipston. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes to make sure it’s an evening to remember which will also benefit the town’s younger residents.”

To book tickets or discuss sponsorship, please contact the Town Clerk on clerk@shipstononline.org


A great big thank you for the Shipston Community Christmas Lunch

Shipston once again hosted a Christmas party to remember for those who would otherwise be alone on Christmas Day. Now in its third year, volunteers were out in force once again to create a memorable day for everyone.

Approximately 150 joined the celebrations, 100 of whom would otherwise have been alone. The tables were laid for 90 people, with some eating on the go as they were busy getting stuck in to help. A winning combination of music from the Town Band, wonderful food and drink, a raffle, presents and Father Christmas resulted in a day of celebration.

The event has grown in popularity so much that it has been putting Shipston on the Midlands map. A few days before Christmas, BBC Midlands News features a piece about the Community Christmas, including an interview with lead organiser, Tessa Hince, recorded in the town centre. The lunch attracted people from Banbury, Chipping Campden and Stratford as well as residents from Shipston.

One guest wrote to say “Thank you very much for making a cloudy day a sunny day, I really enjoyed myself and the company”.

Another said “This was my first Christmas without my husband and I wanted to say how amazing it was and how much of a great time I had.”

One guest was seen leaving with another -  they actually live close to each other in Shipston but had never met.

Tessa Hince, said: “I would love to thank the members of our committee, Kate King and Russell Critchlow who put so much work into the organisation in the run up to the day. Alex Clarke spent four days in the hall decorating it and making it look absolute fantastic! A special mention must go to Nicola Hazleton who baked some sausage rolls for the team setting up and brought them down for us!

“Chefs June Empson, Andy Lipp and Dan Scobie made sure the three course traditional dinner went out without a hitch. One lady told me it was to the standard of high-end restaurant food!”

But the thank yous don’t end there.

“I would really like to say a huge thank you to the community of Shipston that rallied around and made the event possible.” Tessa added.

Particular thanks go to:

Kate Judd for providing many items from the event’s shopping list and Mark Davies for providing the turkeys.

Local businesses for their donations: Taste of the Country (soup),) Turners (vegetables) and Meg Rivers Artisan Bakery (cake for dessert).

Huge thank you to Shipston Primary School for making Christmas cards for the guests.

Lots of members of the community also baked fresh cakes and many donated raffle prizes and presents as well as decorations and Christmas trees!

The event was also supported by the Townsend Hall, Shipston Rotary Club, St George’s Church in Darlingscote, Shipston High School, Hillers Farm Shop, Bookers in Warwick, Ivy Heart, E H Spencer, Venture 4x4, Station Road Garage, North Cotswold Brewery, Wendy Betteridge, Fosseway Hire and Hilary Bryan Catering.

Mayor, Ian Cooper, said: “The extensive list of thank yous just shows how many people and businesses in our community are prepared to do their bit to help others. I thoroughly enjoyed joining the celebrations and I would like to add my thanks to everyone who contributed to making Shipston’s Community Christmas Lunch another success – particularly Tessa and the organising committee.”

Shipston’s Safer Neighbourhood Team takes action to tackle local crime

Shipston’s Safer Neighbourhood Team has been working hard to investigate rural crime, with many notable successes.

PC Craig Purcell and Shipston’s team of police community support officers have been taking a proactive approach to tracking down stolen property and arresting offenders. Using a mixture of established policing techniques, supported by new technology such as drones, the team has managed to return stolen goods to the rightful owners, prevented drugs from being distributed and tracked down some of the area’s “most wanted.”

The team shared its latest video with Shipston Town Council to highlight what has been going on. PC Craig Purcell describes some of the cases:

“We invited ourselves along to two operations in Cleeve Prior, knowing we have previously imprisoned people for dealing Class A drugs in Shipston that were linked to supply from that area. Using the drone, PCSO Andy Steventon guided other officers to find the male wanted under a court warrant. Acting on our own research, I then looked for evidence of drugs and soon spotted some cleared ground in woodland which had been missed in an earlier search. Officers subsequently unearthed a significant amount of Class A drugs buried underground, together with jewellery from a burglary in Ilmington.”

The team has also recovered a stolen dumper truck and caravan in Shipston as well as trailers, quad bikes, a horse trailer, and medals from other locations. These successes have largely been down to Shipston SNT’s determination to get involved in various operations, sometimes as the only Warwickshire officers present.

“We take all reported crime seriously and do our best to take action wherever possible. It’s really important that all crimes are reported to the police so that we can build an accurate picture of what is happening in and around the local area.” Craig added.

Deputy Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “On behalf of the town, I would like to thank the Safer Neighbourhood Team for all their hard work and for taking the time to share some of their recent activities with the Town Council”.


Who's your hero volunteer?

As we start the New Year, the town council is asking residents to think about who should be the 2019 recipient of the Shipston Award.

The Shipston Award recognises an individual for the voluntary work they have done for the local community. Past winners have included people who support the town in a variety of ways, from running events to supporting young people and providing emergency care.

Last year’s winner was Phil Wragg for his work running the Shipston Area Flood Action Group - you can read more about their successes on page 6.

Look out for the nomination form for this year which will be printed in next month’s Forum. Alternatively, you can email your nomination to clerk@shipstontowncouncil.org


Do you have what it takes to become a town councillor?

In May 2019, elections will take place for Shipston Town Council. This presents an ideal opportunity for those interested in local democracy to put themselves forward for election. With at least two current councillors due to stand down, we’re calling on local residents to consider throwing their hat into the ring. To help you decide whether becoming a town councillor would be right for you, we will be interviewing councillors over the next few issues to find out what they think are the best things about being a councillor, as well as the challenges to be aware of.

Councillor Marianne Westwood has been serving on the town council for five years.

What prompted you to put yourself forward?The Portabello campaign made me attend council meetings. I found them interesting and decided I might be useful.

How easy did you find it adjusting to your role?At the start I felt I knew very little and was always asking questions. The courses I attended were all essential to understanding my role. It took time and I’m still learning.

What aspects of being a councillor do you find most rewarding? I find it all rewarding. I love being able to help people and being part of the decisions that affect our town.

Why should residents put themselves forward for nomination?Shipston is a special place to live and deserves people that care about it to serve. The council needs people from all backgrounds and with different life experiences. It’s not always easy. Things take much longer than you think, but as long as you care about Shipston and are willing to learn and listen, you will find being a Councillor a rewarding and interesting experience. 

Councillor Brian Cooper joined the council just under four years ago. He will be standing down at the next election. 

What prompted you to put yourself forward?I wanted to do something for  the community, and contribute to the work being done by the other  volunteer councillors. 

What aspects of being a councillor do you find most rewarding? Being able to influence matters of relevance to the community, and being able to contribute, in a supporting role, to the preparation and adoption of the Shipston Neighbourhood Plan. 

What advice would you give future nominees? Attend a town council meeting before you decide to  stand for election to understand the range of activities covered. 

Why are you standing down? I can no longer devote the time needed to handle the volume and complexity of planning application consultations. 

Why should other residents stand? If you have the time available, it can be a very satisfying way of helping to influence the future of Shipston.