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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.”

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.”

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.”

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!

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.