The evolution of the Shipston Forum

The Shipston Forum was first published 20 years ago and has evolved from its early roots into the publication we know and love today. Current circumstances mean that this August edition is quite different from previous years, which were full of reports about another fantastic fortnight of Proms, fun-packed school fetes and sports days, and the adventurous activities that the Scouts have been enjoying at camp. In the absence of summer events, I thought now might be a great opportunity to have a flick through the archive…


There have been several editors of the Shipston Forum since it first started landing on doormats across the town, who have all left their mark in different ways. This is now my fourth edition and I can confidently say I am still finding my bearings!

Before August 2007, the publication was editorially independent of Shipston Town Council, despite the council providing funding and serving as the publisher. The masthead proudly proclaimed “The editors of the Shipston Forum have been granted editorial independence by the Shipston Town Council and the views expressed may or may not reflect the opinions of the said council” – reading some of the firey editorials that occasionally appeared it is clear that the editors relished this freedom!

I found Bob Tolley’s first couple of editions in 2007 especially poignant. In August, he wrote an introductory column, expressing his view that the Forum should be a true community publication and that in addition to news about the Council, it should “recognise the tremendous work and successes that are achieved by the range of clubs, societies, associations, businesses, groups and individuals.” – perfectly encapsulating what the Forum still is to this day. The following month, in the wake of the epic floods that struck the town, he wrote: “Little did I realise when I agreed to take over as editor of the Forum, that within days I would be writing about one of the worst disasters in Shipston for a generation.”… little did I realise that in 2020, this new editor would also have to grapple with producing a publication in troubling times!

Youngsters taking control

For several years, there was a tradition of handing over control of the Shipston Forum to local young people for special “Youth Forum” editions. For example, 15 years ago, in the August 2005 edition, Alice Hunt and Michaela Moore documented their recent visit to the Stratford Herald. They discussed meeting renowned editor Chris Towner (now retired) and “a guy called Duncan Smith”, an alumnus of Shipston High School who has since established himself as a journalist and producer for the BBC.

I haven’t handed over the reins this month, but if any young people would like to submit a contribution for inclusion in a future edition it would be gratefully received. Although we don’t have any pieces penned by young people this month, we do have a brand new section - ‘The Little Shipstonites’ - kindly prepared for us by Nikki Turner and featuring activities for our youngest readers – I hope you enjoy it.

Whilst life remains far from “normal” it is good to see the town centre busier again, with people eager to shop and socialise while following the latest public health guidance. Fingers crossed that next month we may start to hear more about upcoming events, though I suspect they may be delivered in different ways.

Chris Rowland


SWFT Open Letter

In May we shared an update on the exciting development plans for Ellen Badger Hospital, please visit: https://www.swft.nhs. uk/our-hospitals/ellen-badger-hospital to access the update.

It has been great to hear from the local community in Shipston regarding these plans, so thank you for all your comments. Across eleven Facebook Posts there were over 600 interactions including nearly 400 comments from over 200 separate individuals. We really value input from the public on our proposals and will be using them to shape the project as it develops. It is especially helpful to have this feedback during a time when engaging with the community is particularly challenging due to Coronavirus.

Coronavirus has had a huge impact of all aspects of healthcare and it will continue to shape future developments. Ellen Badger Hospital has played a vital role in the fight against Covid-19 and is currently supporting all NHS organisations across Coventry and Warwickshire by providing inpatient beds to patients recovering from Coronavirus. The Trust, working alongside our GP colleagues, is currently looking into how this might impact the development plans for Ellen Badger Hospital.

Some of the feedback we’ve received has queried why we aren’t planning to develop the existing site. This has been a big consideration for the Trust and we have explored all options to see if this would be possible. Unfortunately due to the existing building’s age, general condition, infrastructure and compliance related risks the option to refurbish the existing current hospital facility was discounted in favour of developing a modern purpose designed healthcare facility, which could respond in an effective and timely manner to the constant changing demands in healthcare delivery.

However, the Trust, like the local community, recognises the rich history of Ellen Badger Hospital and the importance of retaining as much of the history of the building as possible. We have done a detailed evaluation of all the historical artefacts within the current building and will be working closely with designers to come up with a way to sensitively incorporate these items into the new hospital. This includes the Badger monuments, which thanks to the generosity of the League of Friends, are going to be restored.

We are currently working with the design team on developing a proposal that supports changes to healthcare delivery due to Coronavirus, creates a sustainable and affordable building that is sympathetic to the local landscape and history, whilst enhancing and integrating healthcare for residents in Shipston and the surrounding areas.

We will get as much information to you as we progress the development and really want to get your feedback at every stage. If you have any further comments or questions, we would encourage you to send them to EBHdevelopment@ swft.nhs.uk 


Concern over pedestrian safety on Shipston Bridge

Increasing concerns for the safety of pedestrians crossing the river were expressed during the Town Council meeting on 13th July. The General Purposes Working Group have been examining the issue and potential solutions, including the long preferred option of a new pedestrian bridge.

It was felt that the introduction of a curbed pathway to create a dedicated space for pedestrians would likely need to be paired with traffic signals, as the bridge is not wide enough to accommodate two flows of traffic and a pedestrian channel.

The council resolved to ask the Planning Committee to consider the matter and report at the next meeting in August.

Play Area Closures

The following play areas will remain closed until further notice: Angelas Meadow, Hawthorn Way, Queens Avenue, London Road Sports Club, Signal Road, Mayo Road, Darlingscott Road Skate Park.

Whilst the Government has recently announced that outdoor play areas may open from 4th July, those responsible for the safety of the play areas must ensure that they are 'COVID19 secure' as well as having general safety checks. Shipston Town Council are carrying out risk assessments of those play areas mentioned and will open them when it is considered safe to do so.  

COVID 19 remains a potentially fatal virus which can be transmitted from person to person via surfaces touched. STC ask that you respect the closures and do not use the play equipment.

Support in principle for Ellen Badger Hospital Development

The Town Council has agreed to write a letter expressing support for the principle of developing a new integrated Health and Wellbeing Hub. This was in response to a request from the Medical Centre, who were seeking to demonstrate the business case to the Clinical Commissioning Group. Councillors felt that a new facility was needed, however, they expressed some reservations about the design, though it was revealed that the badger statues will be kept and the new building will share the pitched roof shape of the current structure.

Several Councillors noted that as plans were currently in the pre-application phase, now was the time for the Council and members of the public to express their opinion to assist with “ironing out any rough edges”.

As reported in the June issue of the Forum, the plans are available for inspection on the South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust website for public comment: https://www.swft.nhs.uk/our-hospitals/ellen-badger-hospital

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor go to Town

On the morning of Monday 15th June, in glorious sunshine, Deputy Mayor Ian Cooper and I toured the town centre, calling on the shops and businesses who had finally been allowed to open their doors after the lockdown. We were eager to welcome them back with open arms (but no hugging!) after closing their doors all those months ago on 23rd March. The High Street was already noticeably busier with traffic, and many more people on the pavement, carefully socially distancing. Shipston is starting to feel more like itself again!

As we went from shop to shop meeting excited proprietors, each trader had a different story to tell. All of them have had to adapt their premises and devise strategies for dealing with the public. They are all very well prepared to welcome people through their doors while ensuring that the health and safety of everyone remains paramount. Many have installed screens and one-way systems, and all have sanitiser available. Some staff are wearing masks and visors and the dress shops have steamers to treat the clothes after people have tried them on. As ever, each business is individual and has had different problems to deal with. One shopkeeper, for example, decided to install new shelving which has arrived but, owing to current shortages, he is unable to buy the wood for battens to install it.

It was a nice surprise to discover that there are some new faces on the scene. At least one business has changed hands in the interim and it was also encouraging to discover at least two empty shops are being redecorated ready for their new occupants.

We are of course incredibly grateful to all those Shipston businesses who have traded throughout this coronavirus crisis, keeping us all supplied with the essentials. It is impressive how local traders have adapted, for example moving to online ordering and delivery services. We are also only too aware that there are still many who cannot yet open for a variety of reasons. So, we really look forward to also welcoming them back as soon as they are allowed or feel able to trade.

Sheelagh Saunders, Mayor of Shipston

Shipston Area Flood Action Group Update

Shipston Area Flood Action Group (SAFAG) has continued its programme of flood alleviation measures throughout the lockdown period with existing health and safety procedures augmented for social distancing and appropriate use of PPE for contractors where relevant.

As all our work is outside, and being blessed with good weather, our progress has barely slowed although the Environment Agency’s monitoring training sessions were cancelled causing the subsequent postponement of community team monitoring programmes.

It is worth reminding everyone that most works take place well upstream of Shipston as the aim is to slow the flow of water reaching the main river in heavy rainfall. I am pleased to report

that following 2018’s programme of more than 300 NFM (natural flood management) interventions and last years’s programme of more than 100 NFM interventions in and around the Upper Stour upstream of Stourton/Cherington, the 2020 programmes for Long Compton and Brailes are now well under way.

Work at Long Compton should be finalised in July with the installation of over 140 interventions on and around Nethercote Brook and its feeder watercourses.

In Brailes we have already completed 50 interventions around Sutton Brook with a further 70 planned after the harvest period. Some finishing off work is also to be done in the Sibford area with another 15 features planned for July/August.

Last winter’s rain caused damage to several of our dams on Pigbrook, Paddlebrook and Kneebrook which need repair. This has also highlighted the opportunity for some augmentation with 25 additional dams and some water retention areas now planned within the 2018 scheme area around Kneebrook. This additional work and repairs will be done later this year.

The damage from last winter’s rain has also led to Long Compton and Brailes’ Parish Councils agreeing to include funding for long term NFM maintenance within their annual precepts. It now seems clear that climate change will continue to deliver extreme weather at increased frequencies, so the interventions we are doing will require maintenance. We are therefore now encouraging all Town and Parish Councils to allocate the necessary funding.

By the end of summer 2020 our programme should total around 800 interventions on the main watercourses feeding into the River Stour above Shipston. Considering only 50% of these were in place last November when we had the heaviest rainfall since 2007 and we know that they helped alleviate flood risk to the town and downstream villages, this further work can be reasonably expected to improve protection still further.

We are also scoping out further programmes elsewhere in the catchment, including further upgrades to existing schemes, and we are seeking additional funding to undertake such work later this year or in 2021. Besides Long Compton and Brailes, other community groups from Cherington/Stourton, Darlingscote and Sutton-under-Brailes have also joined with us so we really do have full catchment wide community involvement.

There is a need for a major upgrade of SAFAG’s website which we currently do ‘in house’ as best we can. We simply do not have the professional skills, time or money to undertake this properly and despite being one of the leading flood groups in the country in terms of results the presentation and promotion of our achievements, particularly via social media, is being left behind. We need a modern website to promote our work and secure new funding to build on our success. This will also help us attract the volunteers young and old which we will need to sustain the programme into the future. If anyone with experience in web design would be willing volunteer their help it would be much appreciated.

Meanwhile, and as ever, we would like to thank all our agency and local authority partners for their help but especially the approximately 40 farmers, landowners and others in the catchment community whose unstinting support has made and is making all this possible.

Phil Wragg, Chairman.

Shipston Area Flood Action Group

VE Day 75 commemorations

Restrictions on public gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic meant that long awaited plans to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day on 8th May with a series of street parties had to be altered at short notice.

Fortunately, the whole community, determined not to let the sacrifices of the wartime generation be forgotten, hosted a town-wide stay at home street party. There was a fantastic demonstration of community spirit as people sat in their front gardens, enjoying the sunshine and chatting to their neighbours, with many also decorating their houses to mark the occasion.

At the break of dawn, Dan Scobie, then Mayor of Shipston, Sheelagh Saunders, then Deputy Mayor, and David Kernohan, President of the Shipston-on-Stour branch of The Royal British Legion gathered in the Gyratory Garden. They placed bouquets of flowers on the memorial sundial that was erected in 1995 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of the Second World War.

Council goes virtual

The Town Council has continued to operate under a scheme of delegation that allows the Clerk to conduct business after consulting with Councillors. However, after several test sessions on Zoom to allow Councillors to experiment with the technology, future council meetings are now planned to be hosted on the platform until physical meetings can resume, allowing for democratic decisions.

The first ever virtual Annual Town Council Meeting in Shipston took place at 7pm 18th May, with Councillors gathering to conduct the election of a new Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Dan Scobie as the outgoing Mayor opened the meeting by requesting that all participants remain on mute until called to speak, and that all contributions should be addressed to the Chair as would be normal procedure. Voting took place through the raising of hands, which were then tallied.

Election of new Mayor and Deputy Mayor

Shipston’s new Mayor and Deputy Mayor were elected at the Annual Town Council Meeting on 18th May. The Mayor Making process was somewhat unconventional, being conducted on Zoom, however this important civic event was still able to take place. For example, Councillors voted to receive verbal acceptances of office, with the essential signed paper copies to follow later.

Cllr Sheelagh Saunders was the sole nomination for Mayor and received unanimous support. Dan Scobie, as the outgoing Mayor, then invited the new Mayor to recite the Declaration of Acceptance of Office. Following this he symbolically removed his chains of office, placing them out of shot of his webcam.

Mayor Sheelagh Saunders then addressed the meeting, thanking Dan Scobie for his service as Mayor, praising his frequent willingness to “go above and beyond” and that he had proved to be a “steady hand on the tiller” during the challenges of recent months.

Cllr Ian Cooper was unanimously elected as Deputy Mayor.

Ellen Badger Hospital Development

South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust and Shipston Medical Centre have been progressing plans to develop Ellen Badger Hospital.

To ensure the hospital is the best it can be for residents of Shipston-on-Stour and the surrounding local communities we have been working closely with  the League of Friends of Ellen Badger Hospital, Patient Participation Groups, and South Warwickshire Clinical Commissioning Group, as well as Shipston Town Council, Warwickshire County Council, Shipston Care, Shipston Home Nursing and other local partners and organisations.

Please find click here to download a 2-page PDF which provides an update on the project.

‘Our Shining Light’ in tribute to the frontline

After hearing everyone ‘Clap for Carers’, the team at Clearsound Productions began to wonder if they could do something similar with light. Could they shine beacons over Shipston in a shimmering display, demonstrating their support for people working on the frontline? A test at their unit on Friday 27th March, with checks to ensure visibility from across the town, sparked a wave of support on social media, encouraging them to do a 40 minute light show that Sunday called ‘Our Shining Light’.

The following weekend, never keen to do the same show twice, the team positioned a couple of lights at five staff members’ houses, taking the time to programme the lights and set cues so that they would work in sequence. Again the show was well received and the town couldn’t wait to see what Clearsound Productions would do next weekend but unfortunately the moon conspired to make a show impractical, giving the team time to formulate their most ambitious plan yet.

It was now becoming apparent that this was likely to be the last show due to the spring nights getting lighter, so the team resolved to put on the biggest show they could. Clearsound Productions recruited fifty production companies up and down the UK to co-ordinate a light show synchronised with music from a live streamed guest DJ on Facebook. In Shipston they deployed moving head lights and extra flood lights to create a dazzling array of 85 lights to shine into the night sky, creating an illuminated extravaganza that could be seen for miles around and received rave reviews on social media.

Please be aware that social distancing was observed at all stages of the project

Uncovering  the story of Shipston’s WW1 heroes

A group of Shipston residents are keeping busy during the coronavirus pandemic by researching the men listed on the Shipston WW1 Roll of Honour in St Edmunds Church. The researchers, led by Richard Willis, are now collating information about the 267 men listed on the Roll of Honour, following Richard’s appeal for support on the Shipston Noticeboard Facebook page.

They also plan on exploring the story of the women who worked at the Voluntary Aid Detachment in Shipston which was led by Dr and Mrs Stein of Park House on Church Street.

Once the research has been compiled the team will share this trove of information with the new Shipston-on-Stour and District Local History Society.

Mike Wells, a member of the Shipston branch of the Royal British Legion, has already conducted extensive research into Shipston’s fallen soldiers but the group hope to fill a gap in the details about those that returned. Their efforts so far have identified both born and bred Shipston residents, as well as those that had only began to call the town their home shortly before the war. Many of the men who returned from the battlefield went on to live long and happy lives in Shipston with their families and still have descendants here today.

They are currently focusing on sourcing military records for the 267 men and identifying where they lived in Shipston and the surrounding villages. The group would be pleased to hear if you have any information about family who fought in WW1 that they could include in their research, or if you’d like to volunteer to help the project. Richard can be contacted by email: r.m.willis@btinternet.com

Local businesses continue to trade despite tough conditions

The current restrictions have forced many cherished local businesses to close their doors, however many of them are seizing the opportunity to continue serving customers in different ways. Across the town we’ve seen numerous pubs convert to takeaway outlets and many other businesses are now offering delivery services for a wide range of products.

In recent years Totally Locally have done a great job of highlighting the incredible array of businesses in Shipston and how by frequenting them we can create jobs and prosperity for the wider community. These enterprises, run by our friends and neighbours, are now facing an unprecedented challenge and need our support more than ever. Visit the Totally Locally Facebook page for updates about how local shops are serving customers and how you can make purchases: www.facebook.com/totallylocallyshipston

Shipston’s community rallies to help during the coronavirus pandemic

Just before the Forum went to press, the Government announced strict social distancing measures to help protect people from coronavirus. These are challenging times for us all, but once again, Shipston is already proving to be a resilient community.

Local residents Nicky Hill and Charlotte Haines have set up a self-isolation support group on Facebook - Shipston SOS. They are coordinating volunteer efforts to ensure those having to self-isolate are supported with deliveries of urgent supplies, phone calls and dog walking. The Town Council has provided a dedicated phone line for people to call to request help during self-isolation - see the advert on the back page for details.

Please be aware that this new group - Shipston SOS - is a work in progress and all those involved are doing their best to provide help where they can, within the limits set by the Government regarding social distancing. To help avoid them becoming overwhelmed, please continue to rely on your existing support and social networks where you can - Shipston SOS will help to plug the gaps.

If you would like to request help or volunteer, please call 01608 495010, email shipstonsos@gmail.com or search for ‘Shipston on Stour self-isolation support’ on Facebook.

Shipston Medical Centre has had plans in place to manage a pandemic for over ten years and is well prepared to continue operating. Most appointments are now being offered over the phone or online - see the update on page 14 of the Forum for details.

This is a rapidly changing situation, so please be aware some of the content in the Shipston Forum may be out of date by the time it reaches you. For the latest information and advice on the virus please visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ or www.gov.uk/coronavirus.

Town Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “We know that everyone in the town is being affected by the restrictions put in place to try and protect people from coronavirus. On behalf of everyone at Shipston Town Council, I would like to say a sincere thank you to all those who are doing their bit to try and help those most vulnerable. I’d also like to urge everyone to be considerate to those who are doing their best to keep supplies going and caring for those who are sick or need support.”

Supporting businesses, supporting you

The coronavirus is hitting businesses hard and that pressure is already being felt by our independent shops and businesses in Shipston, as well as some larger companies and industries. So what can we do to help - and how can our local traders help you?

First and foremost, please continue to shop local when you can - Totally Locally are encouraging people to add a comma followed by ‘Shipston’ when searching for something online to see if anyone locally has what you need in stock first.

Since the introduction of coronavirus social distancing measures, Facebook has been flooded with innovative new services as Shipston’s businesses find ways to stay open and support their customers. Many of the pubs and cafes in the town are now offering take-away and delivery services, and some independent food shops are now delivering to your door.

Some clothing and gift retailers in the town have started putting pictures of stock online or are using video calls to show what is available, as well as offering to wrap and post items, or deliver clothes so they can be tried on at home. Music teachers are switching to online lessons and the local schools are doing everything they can to keep children learning while they’re at home.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “It’s wonderful to see such a flood of creativity in response to this crisis - and equally encouraging to see so many people respond positively to these new services. We shouldn’t underestimate the challenge social distancing presents for many of our valued local businesses and I encourage everyone to continue to support local and independent businesses wherever possible. After all, the shelves have been more fully stocked in the town recently than some of the major supermarkets.”

With the situation changing on a daily basis, rather than publishing details within the Forum, residents can find out the latest information about local delivery and other services by visiting a new public group on Facebook - search for ‘The Shipston Takeaway & Delivery Group’. A number of businesses have also shared their updated services on the Shipston Noticeboard on Facebook and the Totally Locally page.

If in doubt, give your favourite shops and businesses a call and find out what they’re doing. You may not be able to pop into town for lunch, but that same delicious lunch might be able to arrive on your doorstep.

Keeping yourself well - tips from Shipston Medical Centre

The purpose of this column is to encourage you to take action to keep yourself well.

Wash your hands regularly - Washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as food poisoning and flu.

Stay hydrated - Drinking enough water each day is crucial for many reasons: to regulate body temperature, keep joints lubricated, prevent infections, deliver nutrients to cells, and keep organs functioning properly. Being well-hydrated also improves sleep quality, cognition, and mood. You should drink enough during the day so your pee is a pale clear colour.

Eat a balanced diet – we are what we eat and the better our diet the better we feel. Not only can eating well improve our sleep and our mood, it can also reduce our chances of getting diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and some cancers. The Eatwell guide offers advice and guidance about how to have a balanced diet, see www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/the-eatwell-guide/.

Keep active – try to do some physical activity. The amount we need depends on our age, but even doing light activity is beneficial. Please observe the latest government guidance on social distancing and self isolation.

Take medications as prescribed 

If you have a long term condition it is important to take medications as prescribed. Tips for doing this are to:

•  Incorporate your medications into your routine until it becomes a habit – e.g. take your morning and night tablets after brushing your teeth.

•  Use a pill box marked with days of the week.

•  Keep an up to date medication list with you at all times or a recent repeat prescription.

•  Use an alarm – especially if you have time specific medications such as Parkinson’s disease medications.

•  Give yourself reminders – e.g. a sticky note on the mirror or kitchen cupboard to remind yourself to take your medications.

•  If you have a respiratory condition it is important that you regularly use your preventer inhaler as prescribed, only using the reliever if you suffer an exacerbation of your condition

Community grants announced for 2020/21

Shipston Town Council has agreed to award grants totalling £21,050 to support community groups and charities over the next financial year. This is an overall increase of £1,000 compared with last year.

The grants are designed to support a wide variety of local initiatives and this year’s recipients include:

  • Shipston in Bloom - for the provision of flower displays in Shipston
  • Shipston Wool Fair - to fund new and innovative attractions
  • Shipston Cricket Club - to provide a non- turf practice facility
  • Shipston Community First Responders – to help cover the response vehicle running costs, response equipment and public access defibrillator costs
  • Townsend Hall – to fund facilities for a portable wheelchair lift to enable disabled access to the stage
  • Shipston Proms – contribution towards the staging of the 2020 Proms (pictured)
  • Shipston Tennis Club – to resurface the practice court with all-weather tiger turf and new fencing
  • VASA - to support the recruitment and training of volunteer drivers and office volunteers, Sit & Get Fit, and core costs for the first year of The Caring Kind
  • Shipston Youth Club - to continue funding existing staff
  • Shipston Churches Holiday Club – covering the running costs of the holiday club
  • Town Band – to fund instrument mutes and equipment upgrades
  • Shipston Sports Bowls Club – towards a new sprinkler system for green watering
  • Citizens Advice South Warwickshire – a contribution to CASW’s outreach service

 In addition, the council has put aside nearly £40,000 towards identified Shipston projects, including support for the new Shipston Museum and the riverside amenity project which was identified in the Neighbourhood Plan.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “Supporting our community groups and voluntary organisations is one of the tasks we most enjoy as a town council. We are really pleased to be in a position to increase our grant funding this year and look forward to seeing the community benefit from these investments

Shipston welcomes new town councillor

Shipston Town Council has co-opted Peter Cowley as a new councillor, filling the one remaining vacancy on the council.
Peter moved into Shipston in December 2019, moving from Southport in Merseyside to be close to family. He spotted the advert in the Forum looking for new councillors and decided to put his name forward.

Although this is Peter’s first experience as a councillor, he is no stranger to local government, having worked as a lawyer for Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council for many years. “Although I’m new to Shipston, I’m keen to contribute to the town and my experience of working in local government means I’m able to offer up to date knowledge, particularly around legal matters.”

Peter intends to get involved in the Planning Committee but is also keen to support the Heritage and Leisure Projects Working Group. Having previously been a trustee of a charitable museum, art gallery and library, Peter is keen to maintain his interest in local history projects and bring his experience to bear.

Peter enjoys spending time with his two – soon to be three – grandchildren and in his spare time, is a speed sports enthusiast and lover of music. Peter has also joined Shipston Rotary and is looking forward to supporting local charitable initiatives.

Shipston’s litter pickers celebrate their 9th birthday

Shipston’s Proud of My Town litter picking team marks its ninth birthday this month!

The initiative was originally launched by Councillor Fay Ivens in 2011 in a bid to keep Shipston looking good for the enjoyment of residents and visitors alike. Since then, a regular band of litter pickers meet almost every month to give the town a once over and target litter hotspots.

Fay Ivens said: “When we first started the litter picks,we used to easily fill several bags. These days, thanks to Lawns2Mow, we find that there is less litter to collect in the town centre and so we focus on the out of the way areas.”

As well as a core team of regulars, many residents – including some children – have joined in at various times to support the litter picks, which take place on the first Saturday of the month, weather permitting. “We’re always keen to see new faces. All equipment is provided and we finish with coffee and biscuits. If you’d like to do your bit for the town, please consider coming along” Fay added.

Fiver Fest Fortnight brings bargains for local shoppers

Looking to bag a bargain? Then Shipston is the place to be, particularly during February’s Fiver Fest from 15-29 February.

The Shipston Totally Locally Fiver Fest is a big celebration of our town’s fantastic small businesses and shops, many run by families or individuals, but all contributing massively to the economy and the well-being of our town.

Along with other towns and High Streets across the UK, Shipston shops and businesses are putting on special £5 offers over the fortnight, to show the diversity and value of what they sell.

Shipston Totally Locally Co-ordinator, Lou Harvey, said: “The principle behind the Fiver Fest is that if every adult in Shipston spent just five pounds a week in local independent shops and businesses rather than online or in big supermarkets, that would mean an extra £1.1 million a year going into our local economy. That’s quite a difference!

“A thriving town centre benefits us all. We’re extremely fortunate in Shipston to have so many independent shops, businesses and tradespeople and we all really value the support from our local residents. As well as encouraging everyone to think about spending a bit more locally, the special offers available during Fiver Fest are our way of saying thank you to our customers.”

There are lots of businesses taking part in Fiver Fest - look out for posters displayed in shop windows and see all the offers on the Totally Locally Facebook page www.facebook.com/totallylocallyshipston.

Shipston Town Centre has seen some exciting changes recently with the arrival of new and expanding businesses. After years based in Sheep Street, Greys Opticians has expanded to a bigger shop right in the heart of the High Street. On Market Place, Shipston welcomes its first tattoo parlour - Flamin’ B’s - which is now open for bookings.

Personal Training Shipston on Stour (PTSOS) has opened a new studio on Sheep Street. The studio runs Pink Belt Kickboxing for women and is about to start kick boxing classes for youngsters from four years old.

Church Street has also recently welcomed a new business, Harry’s Barbers.

Sadly, the High Street is about to bid farewell to popular boutique, Campden Couture due to the owner retiring. The good news, though, is that plans are afoot for a new ladies clothing store in Granville Court in March.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “It’s fantastic to start the new decade with positive news about local businesses opening in the town. The Totally Locally initiative is a great way to promote our fantastic local shops and businesses and I for one am looking forward to taking advantage of some of the Fiver Fest offers.”

A warm welcome to Sid Hammond, Shipston’s new PC

Councillors were pleased to extend an official welcome to PC Sid Hammond (pictured), Shipston’s new police officer, at the council meeting in January.

Sid took over from Craig Purcell a few weeks ago and already has a firm grip on what’s going on locally. “I’ve been a police officer for 19 years, and have previously worked at Southam and Stratford. I have connections with Shipston so I’m delighted to now be based here,” he said.

Sid is keen to keep the local police presence front of mind. He’s continuing to use social media to share updates and appeals for information and is happy for people to contact the Safer Neighbourhood Team if they have any concerns or queries. In addition to support from two PCSOs, Sid works closely with Craig and his colleagues on the Rural Crime Team.

Sid was pleased to reassure councillors that perception of crime in the area is greater than the reality. He went on to confirm there had been a couple of burglaries locally, and that people were already in custody as a result. Sid and his team are also looking into the recent vandalism at the Sports and Social Club which has caused concern.

Sid can be contacted on the normal phone number and email account for Shipston Safer Neighbourhood Team.

A very Merry Community Christmas thanks to local volunteers

The Townsend Hall was once again bustling with activity in the run up to Christmas, as preparations to host another community Christmas lunch were completed.

This year saw approximately 90 residents join the celebrations ranging from 21-99 years of age. The lunch is designed for people who would otherwise be on their own on Christmas Day – instead, they were part of the biggest party in town!

Shipston’s Community Christmas Lunch was originally started in 2016 and has gone from strength to strength thanks to the sterling efforts of volunteers, spearheaded this year by Tessa Hince, Kate King and Russell Critchlow. From the outset the plan was to make sure everyone who would otherwise be alone could take part, so the event is free to attend and made possible thanks to donations, be they money, time, or goods and services. Mayor, Dan Scobie, said “It’s a real community effort and one Shipston as a town should feel rightly proud of.”

Tessa Hince said: “It’s wonderful to see everyone coming together to enjoy Christmas. We simply couldn’t do it without the incredible support from volunteers and local businesses and we’d like to thank everyone involved for their help in making the 2019 Shipston Community Christmas a huge success”.

Shipston Forum celebrates 20 years!

January 2020 might be the start of a new decade, but more importantly – it’s the Shipston Forum’s birthday!

The Shipston Forum was founded by Shipston Town Council in 2000 following suggestions from members of the public. Residents had been keen to understand more about the town council and local activities, leading to a proposal for the town council to produce a newsletter. Initially, then town councillor, Gudrun Berry, took on the challenge of editing the magazine, having previously edited a popular newsletter for military wives. But getting the Forum off the ground was no mean feat.

“As with any new idea, not everyone was keen and we had precious little resource to help us.” Gudrun recalls. “What we did have, though, was a Millennium Grant from Stratford District Council which gave us the financial help we needed to get our project started.”

The vision for the Forum was clear – to create a community newsletter with a mix of content from the town council, contributions from local clubs and schools, and input from the county and district councils. While the design has had a few updates over the years, the approach to content remains very similar today. In 2001, the Shipston Forum was Highly Commended in the Village Venture Competition run by Warwickshire Rural Community Council - and it continues to be valued by local residents twenty years on.

When asked what the main issues of the day were back in 2000, Gudrun replied: “Dog fouling kept coming up as an issue”. No change there, then! But the need to provide services for young people was also a major priority and continues to be so now.

Producing the Shipston Forum today is a bit easier than it used to be. Whereas Gudrun had to physically cut and paste articles into the right places, we have the benefit of design software that makes laying pages out much easier. One of the biggest challenges in the early days, though, was getting people to submit information, particularly within the deadline. It’s fair to say this can still be a challenge today, although we’re pleased to say we do receive a lot of useful and timely contributions every month.

Despite enjoying editing the Forum, Gudrun had to hand over the reins when it became too challenging to manage while also being an active member of the town council. “It was very difficult to actively participate in discussions while also taking copious notes for the Forum - and it was also important to avoid any conflict of interest,” Gudrun added. Since then the Forum has been edited independently, although the town council still oversees every issue.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “As a Town Council we are extremely proud of the Shipston Forum. The newsletter not only allows us to keep residents informed about council news, but is an essential source of information about the vast array of events, clubs, charities and good deeds that happen around the town. Gudrun should feel especially pleased to see the Forum, which she was so instrumental in launching, reach this 20 year milestone.”

Gudrun stepped down as editor when she became Mayor in 2001. Since then, there have been a handful of different editors, all bringing their own style. 2020 will see a new face at the Forum as Catherine Martin hands the baton on to a new editor from April.

Catherine said: “After nearly nine years as editor, I feel it’s the right time for me to step down, but I will be sad to say goodbye to the Forum. It’s a great publication to work on and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the town and the many different clubs, events and charities that generate so much positive news. I look forward to seeing how the Forum develops - who knows what will be making the news in Shipston in twenty years’ time?”

Shipston’s Town Clerk retires after more than a decade

Shipston Town Council bid a reluctant farewell to Town Clerk, Georgina Beaumont, who retired in December.

Georgina has led the Clerk’s Office for over ten years, during which time she has become a fount of all knowledge to do with local services, events and activities. Having successfully acquired her Certificate in Local Government Administration, Georgina has been able to guide and support the town council, serving eight different mayors and seeing the town council through elections as well as a local referendum and a Neighbourhood Plan referendum.

In addition to her considerable responsibilities as Clerk, Georgina has contributed a significant amount of her own time to support local activities, including the Wool Fair and other Civic events over the years.

Mayor, Dan Scobie, said: “We are very sad to see Georgina go after over ten years of very dedicated service. Georgina works extremely hard and has an encyclopaedic knowledge of the town and our responsibilities as a town council. On behalf of the town and my fellow councillors, I would like to sincerely thank Georgina for all her hard work. We wish her a long, happy and healthy retirement.”

Welcome to the new team at New Clark House

It’s all change in the Clerk’s Office for 2020. Alison Packer has taken on the role of Town Clerk following Georgina’s retirement. Alison will be working closely with assistant, Diane Neath, who joined the Town Council in August 2019.

Alison is already well known locally, both as a local business owner and for her creation of the popular 'War on Waste Shipston Area' Facebook page. As a community-minded individual who has lived in the area for over 25 years, when Alison saw the Clerk’s post advertised, she jumped at the opportunity to become more involved with the town. “I appreciate the importance of the town council, particularly in supporting local groups and initiatives - working closely with local communities was something I had previously enjoyed during my career in public service and although this is a unique role with plenty to learn, I am looking forward to sharing my experience and supporting the town.”

Diane moved to Shipston approximately ten years ago and was immediately struck by the amount of events that take place in the town. “My background is in education so I am used to following policies and procedures and dealing with all sorts of unexpected situations which may arise. In the short time I’ve been here, I’ve been amazed at how much work goes in to running a town council. The work is extremely varied – from administering the Council’s finances to liaising with allotment holders and contractors and helping with the organisation of events in the town.

The Clerk’s office is also open for public enquiries and a lot of time is spent signposting people to the right places for services provided by other authorities.

Alison added: “I can already see that no two days are the same, and whilst I’ve no doubt this will be a challenge, I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to follow in Georgina's footsteps and do my best for Shipston.”