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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 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.

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 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

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 ( or our Facebook page for more information.