D-Day triumph 80 years on

A memorial service, a fundraising coffee morning, a special peal of bells, and to top it all a huge beacon – Shipston and the surrounding villages truly paid tribute to all those involved in the Second World War’s crucial turning point 80 years ago.

The lunchtime service in the Gyratory Memorial Garden was led by Sarah Bourne, chaplain to the Shipston Branch of the Royal British Legion. Branch President David Kernohan laid a wreath. Proceedings both here and at the beacon-lighting were accompanied by Alex Bloomfield on the cornet, Tom Lear playing the bagpipes and Connor Begley parading the standard, while Town Crier Marion Lowe and Mayor John Dinnie made addresses on both occasions.

Alex Black, chairman of the Shipston RBL, said: “We are grateful to everyone who came out on a glorious summer’s day for their kind donations and purchases to help the Poppy Appeal and the First Responders, and to Clare Cuthbert who raised £100 through the Low Furlong coffee morning. Thanks also go to the beacon builders led by beacon master Ron Scobie Edmunds, the Town Clerk for top organisation, to the Withers family for their generous hosting and to Keith Lane for providing the 1940s music and PA system.”

He added his thanks to other organisations involved such as the Shipston firefighters, the community First Responders, the Safer Neighbourhood team and the St Edmund’s bellringers.

Bringing past school days to life

A historic photograph is on display at Shipston Museum this summer – and you may find some familiar faces among the young pupils who gathered to be photographed in July 1954 outside what is now the Old School building on the Stratford Road.

This is all thanks to retired local commercial photographer Richard Sampson who recently discovered the picture among his files. ‘My ten-year-old son attended the school before it closed around 1980,’ he said. ‘I thought it might generate interest in the town, asking people to identify family or friends, sparking memories 70 years on.’

It seemed fitting to share this find in its anniversary year so Richard has donated the 4ft-long photo to the Museum where you can check it out for yourself. Maybe you will see some faces you recognise?

The discovery inspired the idea for a future exhibition about Shipston school – so start digging out those old photos to revive memories of past school days.

Of course, schooling in Shipston has a much longer history. Before the opening of this school in 1876, our town had two national schools: the girls and infants in New Street and boys in Sheep Street as well as smaller private establishments.

Those just about to start their summer holidays now may be thankful they are longer than in those early days when the Harvest Holiday was flexible depending on the weather and whether the crops were ready for reaping. There were additional leaves of absence for other rural reasons like acorn gathering, bark picking and hurdle making. This history is recorded in the 1986 Shipston-on-Stour from Old Photographs by Vivienne Griffin, librarian at Shipston for many years.

You can see the 1970 school photo at our Museum, weekends 12-4pm, Old Clark House, West Street, near the Council offices.

Thanks at the Riverside

The Riverside Project has turned a neglected area into an attractive, open and accessible space. Members of the Town Council’s Heritage, Amenities and Leisure Projects Committee, who planned the project, recently thanked the contractors who undertook the work.

Simon Healey (left, seated) was responsible for the groundwork, fencing, hedge planting and installation of the two new accessible picnic tables. Jacob Harvey of Ash Tree Care (next to Simon) carried out the crown lifting, thinning, coppicing and removal of about 20 dead trees, leaving the roots in place to help maintain stability of the bank.

The teams consulted with the Environment Agency to take flood risk into account throughout the planning and execution of the project, and had expert advice at all stages on creating a better environment for wildlife.

Simon and Jacob have made a welcoming and relaxing space with plenty of light, comfortable seating, and good views of the river and the bridge. Wildflower seeds and daffodil bulbs will be planted in the autumn, and the main hedge will be properly laid when it is big enough.

The scheme has attracted many favourable comments from residents and visitors. Simon says he had a vision of what they hoped to achieve from the start. ‘The final result will last a long time, so it had to be right for the town’s benefit. I’m very happy to have been involved in this project’.

Shipston to mark D-Day anniversary

It is 80 years snce D-Day, a key turning point in WW2. Shipston is marking it with two events.

There will be a D-Day 80 service of commemoration on Thursday 6th June 2024, 1pm at the gyratory.

A beacon to commemorate the 80th anniversary of D-Day will be lit on the evening of Thursday 6th June at Whaddon Farm, Darlingscote Road.

Gates open 7.30pm. The beacon will be lit at 9.15pm. Come along for 1940s music and Royal British Legion merchandise stall. There will be a collection for the First Responders. Please
bring some cash – and a torch!

All welcome.


On 13th May Shipston-onStour saw a regime change!

The traditional mayor-making ceremony saw Gerry Kelly complete his year as Mayor. John Dinnie has now put on the Mayor’s chain, having been voted in unanimously by members of the Town Council. Tony Booth has accepted the nomination to be deputy mayor.

The council gave a vote of thanks to Gerry Kelly for his year of service as Mayor. During his time, he has dealt with many issues and handled them all calmly.

The Council’s proactive working groups have been busy, putting the council in a stronger position as a result of his leadership. ‘It’s been an interesting year,’ mused Gerry, ‘But having worked in the fire service, I have always been resilient.’

Gerry will remain as town councillor.

Bookfest confirmed

Dates for the town’s new Bookfest have been confirmed as 21st-29th September. The community programme is currently being finalised, but will feature local and national authors, with events for all ages and interests. There will also be schools’ programmes at both Shipston Primary and the High School.

The committee is currently looking for local businesses as sponsors and say that this is an opportunity to help launch a fun and engaging community initiative in return for valuable promotion and marketing throughout the events. There are options for all businesses and budgets.

The Bookfest also has a JustGiving page for supporters:


More information from info@shipstonbookfest.org, or sign up to the mailing list to be first to hear about the events here: http://bit.ly/44a8Tg2

Phil Wragg, 1947-2024

When the River Stour rose to its highest ever recorded level on 20th July 2007, it flooded more than 80 homes and businesses in Shipston, including the house that Phil Wragg and his wife Liz had moved into only two months earlier. From that day onwards, Phil campaigned tirelessly to find ways of reducing the risk of flooding in the town.

Initially, this meant ensuring that all planning applications for new housing contained measures to prevent run-off flooding as concrete replaced fields. In many cases, he was able to get the developers to commit to ‘betterment’ with designs which improved on the status quo.

When the Shipston Area Flood Action Group (SAFAG) was formed in 2014 to address the ongoing risk of flooding caused by the river level rising, Phil became its Chairman. As little progress had been made since 2007, he immediately set about challenging the various agencies and authorities to come up with the solutions and funding needed. He and the SAFAG team also embraced the concept of Natural Flood Management (NFM), which relies on water being held back in the headwaters of the Stour through a range of measures such as ponds, bunds and leaky wooden dams to slow the flow and reduce the peak river level.

When the funding eventually started arriving in 2017, Phil systematically went about gaining the support of more than 60 landowners and farmers across the 180sqkm Stour catchment, enabling the SAFAG team to install over 860 NFM interventions between 2017 and 2022 - more than 20% of the total UK figure. This was a remarkable achievement for the only community led catchment-scale project in the country, and in 2021 SAFAG received the Environment Agency’s Community Group of the Year award.

Phil leaves a lasting legacy, and his great efforts have undoubtedly helped reduce the risk of flooding in Shipston and some nearby communities. He was an inspirational leader who will be greatly missed.

Geoff Smith and Mike McCarthy, SAFAG

Shipston shopping in the news

Shipston made the news when local media covered the launch of Love Shipston, an initiative by local businesses to promote the town. A marketing campaign and new website is encouraging visitors and families to spend more time exploring our small businesses and restaurants.

The project is supported by the Town Council and ties in with a wider Warwickshire County Council campaign encouraging people to Buy and Eat Local. Retail expert Kim Hulse told the Banbury Guardian: “It’s been brilliant to see so many people pulling in the same direction to shout about Shipston. Most businesses are run by local people with products curated by them which means the shopping experience feels incredibly personalised. The strong community spirit between business owners is helping to build on a recent influx of visitors who are realising what a great array of places to visit there are here.”

Town Councillor Ian Cooper said: “Shipston offers a warm community spirit and thriving centre to those who live here and those that move here, and with the arrival of new businesses, we look forward to seeing the town supported by residents and visitors.”

The Love Shipston website brings together a directory of the town’s shops and places to eat, drink and spend some time.


Fire service update

With the consultation period for the future of the fire service officially concluded, Gosia Zielinska from Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service sets out what happens now:

‘Warwickshire County Council Cabinet has authorised the Chief Fire Officer, Ben Brook, in consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Fire and Rescue Service, to consider the feedback from this public consultation together with the views of staff, partners and representative bodies, and to subsequently report back to the Cabinet. We expect that the Cabinet will consider the final analysis and recommendations in June 2024. This date may be subject to change.’

Shipston First Responders

Shipston First Responders have had a very busy year so far, and the team is continuing to grow. In February alone, they responded to 27 incidents, adding to the 49 in January.

Seven defibrillators were activated. The five additional team members will be most welcome. The new recruits are currently awaiting their training from the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Meanwhile, the First Responders have run three training sessions for the public on how to do CPR and use defibrillators. A session on paediatric resuscitation was oversubscribed, so a further session will be scheduled in due course. The team has checked that the town’s 31 defibrillators are functioning properly and are reviewing further sites where they could be usefully placed.

Fundraising for the new cars is proceeding thanks to the huge and much-appreciated support of the Stour Valley Lions Club, Shipston Rotary and the League of Friends of Ellen Badger Hospital. They are all working closely together as a community team to support the fundraising. A recent collection in the town square raised £2,000 and a pitchside collection at the Rugby club raised a magnificent £900.

Some local businesses have expressed determination to help, including the Thirst Edition who are collecting monies from their popular quiz and pie nights. There is still a long way to go before they reach their target. It is hoped they can acquire their new car in the next couple of months and the replacement for the existing vehicle later in the year. All donations are gratefully received and can be made via The Rotary or The Lions or online using JustGiving if you search for Shipston First Community Responders

Warm Hub Sessions

Rowena Webb from Stour Health and Wellbeing Partnership writes: We are very lucky that Warwickshire Rural County Council has put on a digital workshop course for people within Shipston. It’s an opportunity to learn some valuable digital skills. The course is running for six weeks and is open to all.

We are also extremely fortunate to have Citizens Advice bringing their expertise to the Warm Hub throughout April cost-of-living sessions. This will be a great opportunity for Shipston residents to speak to someone about any concerns they may have.

Both activities are happening at the Warm Hub, Thursdays 10-12pm at the Scout Hut.  Please see the Stour Health and Wellbeing Partnership website (www.shwp.org.uk) or our Facebook page for more information.

Fire service – book now and have your say!

Does Shipston need to have an on-call fire station? What is a surge station and how will that work for the town?

Come along to the Townsend Hall on 5th March to hear plans for the future of Shipston’s Fire Station.  This session, organised for Shipston, is hosted by Warwickshire County Council and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service. It is part of a public consultation into proposed changes to the Service’s delivery model.

The event starts at 6.30pm and will finish at 8pm. It is free, but places are limited, so anyone wanting to attend must book a ticket. These are allocated on a first come, first served basis. If the event is fully booked, there will be an opportunity to join a waiting list. Book on https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/warwickshire-fire-andrescue-76075908553/ or by telephone by calling 01926 410410.

If you can’t come along, please note that the public consultation period finishes very soon, on 10th March 2024. Until then, you can find out more and say what you think about Warwickshire Fire and Rescue’s Resourcing to Risk model on the consultation website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ask. It has details on the proposed changes, on-call availability data and response times.

Fast Response

Shipston’s First Responders were the busiest Community First Responders team in the whole of the Coventry & Warwickshire sector of the West Midlands Ambulance Service during February, responding to 49 serious callouts.

First Responders are trained by the Ambulance Service to attend lifethreatening 999 emergency calls. They aim to be on the scene of an incident in 10 minutes and keep patients stable, bridging the gap between the 999 call and the ambulance arriving.

The team predicts that callouts will continue to be high while the pressures on the NHS and ambulance service persist and says that waiting times for ambulances have increased in the past year.

Shipston’s First Responders are seeking a replacement vehicle, and fundraising is also underway for a second car to help them cover not just Shipston but a wide rural area, with donations gratefully accepted at www.justgiving.com/campaign/shipstonfirstresponders.

Could you be part of the team? They are recruiting both in Shipston and the villages in the area.

Contact stuart@shipstonfirstresponders.org

They are shortly to become a registered charity and continue to be grateful for all the support that they are given by the town.

New look for SAFE

SAFE – Stourvale Action for the Environment – has a new logo.

SAFE is a non-party political group of ordinary people from Shipston and the surrounding villages who are concerned about the climate and ecological emergency which faces us all.

Watch out for the logo appearing more frequently as SAFE gets ready for the events being planned for Great Big Green Week, which this year takes place between 8th and 16th June.

Great Big Green Week, according to the organisation’s website, is the UK’s biggest-ever celebration of community action to tackle climate change and protect nature. Every year it brings people together to unleash a wave of support for action to protect the planet. Tens of thousands of people in every corner of the country celebrate the heartfelt, brave, everyday actions being taken to stand up for nature and fight climate change.

There are some things which everyone can do to help mitigate the environmental problems. If you would like to be involved and find out more, please get in touch with Verity Richardson on email: verityrichardson@gmail.com or by phone 07929 889091

Fire consultation: your views matter

Plans for the future of Shipston’s Fire Station will now be heard in the town on 5th March, after Warwickshire County Council arranged an additional public consultation specially for Shipston.

As the Fire Authority, WCC has been running a public consultation and a series of events – initially only at Stratford, Kenilworth, Atherstone, Bedworth and Southam, with none in the south of the county – to give residents, businesses, community groups and public sector partners a say on Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Resourcing to Risk proposals.

The Shipston event was added after the Town Council made it clear that the town would like a voice on this hot topic. It will be held at Townsend Hall, from 6.30pm-8pm. Places are limited, so anyone wanting to attend must book a ticket. These are allocated on a first come, first served basis. If the event is fully booked, there will be an opportunity to join a waiting list.

Book on https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/warwickshire-fire-andrescue-76075908553/

The public consultation period runs until 10 March 2024. Find out more and respond to Warwickshire Fire and Rescue’s Resourcing to Risk on the consultation website: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/ask. It has detail on the proposed model, on-call availability data and response times.

WCC’s fire and rescue spokesman Cllr Andy Crump said: “This proposal [Resourcing to Risk] isn’t about cutting costs or closing fire stations. It’s about making sure that we’ve got our resource in the right place to make the best difference when an emergency happens.

“We’re keen to give people a chance to hear from us in person and to ask any questions they may have. No decisions will be made until the consultation is over, so we hope our residents will take this opportunity and join us at one of our information sessions to find out more.”

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Community Engagement spokesperson Gosia Zielinska says: “Everyone’s views matter! Take time to read all the information on the consultation website and complete the online survey. You can also email us on WFRSR2R@warwickshire.gov.uk if you have any questions about the consultation.”

New community orchard

An enthusiastic and willing band of 30 volunteers gathered early on a wintry but sunny Saturday morning in January to plant a new orchard at Cornmill Meadows, Shipston’s newest local wildlife site.

Cllr Hilary Kelly reported: “A mix of trees were planted to increase the biodiversity there. Thanks to Lawns2mow, the holes had already been dug, but compost had to be added to the soil, tree guards and tree ties had to be fitted and then a good helping of mulch added to help with moisture retention. Eventually apples, pears, plums, greengages and damsons will repay all our hard work.”

Revamp for Shipston Riverside

There has been good progress on the programme of work near the Bridge Car Park, designed to improve the riverside environment for wildlife and people.

Dead and dying trees have been taken out, along with thinning and coppicing done to help new growth. Lower branches have been removed from the large trees around the picnic area to let in more light. Two new octagonal picnic tables, one with a wheelchair accessible space, will be set in hard landscaping extending from the parking area. A new lowgrowing native hedge will be planted around the edge of the grassed area to define the boundary.

The next step is to plant young wildlife-friendly native trees at the top of the bank to establish a hedge alongside the new fence. In eight or ten years’ time, this hedge will be substantial enough to be laid in the traditional manner, and the fence will be removed, having done its job.

The work, due to be completed by the end of February in time for the nesting season, is being undertaken on behalf of the Town Council’s Heritage, Amenities and Leisure Projects working group (HALP), with the approval of the Environment Agency, Stratford District Council and Heart of England Forest.

HALP’s Verity Richardson said: “We have plans for an area of quiet reflection on the other side of the road, by The Old Mill, to include two new benches, some crab apple trees courtesy of Shipston Rotary Club, and a noticeboard with environmental information.

Meanwhile it is work in progress, so please bear with us. Thanks to years of wonderful work by Shipston Area Flood Action Group (SAFAG) and more recent water quality monitoring by volunteers led by Olivia Hatch, Stratford District Council’s Green Party member for Shipston North, our river and its environs are at last getting the attention they deserve.”

Museum’s successful first season

Nearly 500 visitors took the opportunity to see the story of Shipston and surrounding area, with a host of fascinating items and special display of the town’s former 29 pubs. Our young visitors especially found the chance to hold history in their hands in the Handling Room both fun and informative.

Echoing the praise from many, Mayor Gerry Kelly said: “The museum is a must for the people of Shipston to find out the history of the place in which they live.”

Officially open!
Many months, indeed years, had gone into its planning and preparation before the official opening on 5th August 2023 when Dick Burge, who together with the late Mike Ashley had
dreamed of this day, cut the ribbon to Old Clark House, top of West Street car park. The occasion was marked by a troupe of Civil War soldiers, Lord Hopton’s Regiment of Foot, marching through Shipston streets to the sound of drums under suddenly sunny skies to welcome our town’s latest attraction.

Until closing for the winter season in early October, the Museum was open at weekends from 1pm–4pm. As well as locals, people came from Stratford, Buckinghamshire and Gloucestershire. Our furthest guest was from Australia visiting Shipston family who was surprised and delighted with its history. Further praise came from other visitors:

“ A really interesting set of displays and a credit to those who created it.”
“Wonderful resource for the town fascinating.”
“Beautifully laid out and presented.”

The end of the first season was an opportunity to review progress and recognise all those involved. “This was only possible due to the hard work and dedication of our trustees and other helpers”, said Trustee President Bekky Hillman, “And I would also thank our many visitors and all those involved for this historic achievement including Shipston Council for providing the premises.”

The museum has taken a first step of three on the path towards Museum Accreditation, the benchmark which aims for well-run museums to be ‘sustainable, focused and trusted organisations, which offer their visitors a great experience.’

Looking forward
Despite the closed doors for winter, work is still progressing towards the Easter opening. And fascinating finds are being made from items emerging from the unexplored collection, such as the old glass photographic plates showing Shipston people from the turn of the last century. A mysterious red diary – we don’t know who wrote it - reports “14 February
1900 deep snow about 12” deep,” while two days later “Thomas Harris, Tredington and Ernest Wise, Shipston - ice broke while skating on the river – very nearly drowned!”

Share your stories
Stories like this bring the Museum alive. If you have any tales, memories, pictures to share – or would like to know more about volunteering – please contact via the Shipston On Stour Local History Society Facebook page, email shipstonmuseum@outlook.com or drop a note into the Museum. And put the Easter opening in your diaries!

Fit and well for the New Year!

Focus on Stour Health and Wellbeing Partnership (SHWP)

What is SHWP?
Stour Health and Wellbeing Partnership (SHWP) has been running now for three years as a charity set up for the health and wellbeing of the Shipston and surrounding communities. It has had much success in creating a wealth of activities to help mobility and combat loneliness and it has been wonderful to see so many of you attend these.

Energetic – and sociable!
The Strictly Fitsteps in Newbold on Stour and the Townsend Hall are particularly popular with the more energetic members of the community. The seated and standing Tai Chi at the Townsend Hall, are both hugely successful, with over 30 people attending each week.

There are also Pilates classes on a Friday along with many more. If you haven’t tried a class yet, please do. They are all currently free to you and are a great way of helping your mental and physical health as well as being really fun and a great sociable activity.

Indoor curling
The Townsend Hall is also where we hold our weekly indoor curling sessions. These have been so popular that we also host a group in Ilmington, and there is some healthy rivalry between the two. Could we start a third group and have a league?

Surrounding villages
We are very pleased that due to funding secured through the Government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund with Stratford-on-Avon District Council as the lead authority, we can not only continue to hold the classes for free, but also offer activities in the surrounding villages. A dance and exercise class has been set up in Tysoe, along with Pickleball in Brailes.

For the young too!
The activities of SHWP are not limited to the older members of the community. Thanks to the funding secured, we have also been able to help fund the fantastic work of Lee Cooper and SEFC Pan-Disability Junior Football team, who run a weekly football session for the community. This is such a worthwhile and needed initiative, and we are proud to support them
with their great work.

Warm Hub
Did you know that SHWP also run the Shipston Community Warm Hub at the Scout Hut on a Thursday, 10am-12pm? Every week there is a different theme, from digital workshops to cooking; from a drop-in clinic with the frailty nurse for Shipston Medical Centre to the Shipston Home Nurses offering bereavement support and soup. We are always excited when new members of the community come along, and we look forward to meeting more of you.

Volunteers needed
SHWP is run by a board of trustees who are all volunteers. We are so grateful to all the volunteers who help make all these initiatives happen, but we are always looking for more people to help. Could that be you? Please email admin@shwp.org.uk if you would like to know more.

Testing the water

The Town Council has purchased three river testing kits which are now being put to use along the River Stour.

Volunteers are being trained by Cllr Olivia Hatch to monitor for changes in the river environment.

If you are interested in getting involved, contact olivia.hatch@stratford-dc.gov.uk