Local articles featured in The Penkridge Advertiser

March 2016

It’s Smiles All Round For Gym At Awards Ceremony

A GET-FIT enthusiast has thanked the Cannock gym that helped her win an award.

Jackie Bayliss was presented with the Inspirational Member of The Year Award at the Gymophobics national awards ceremony. After an accident in 2010 resulted in serious knee damage she had surgery in June and September 2011 resulting in a complete knee replacement on February 14, 2012 – her 20th wedding anniversary. Jackie spent two years on crutches which caused her weight to increase followed by two further operations in 2014. It was then that Jackie decided her new year’s resolution was to lose weight and get fit.

The instructors at Gymophobcs in Cannock developed a specific programme for Jackie given her previous medical history geared to her achieving her goals and with Jackie’s determination she has achieved losses of 2st 12.5lb and 34in. Jackie praised the support that she had received, saying: “Without Gymophobics I don’t think this would have been possible, Gymophobics has become part of my life and routine.”

Jane Kenyon, owner of the Gymophobics Cannock, said: “We are all very proud of Jackie and her        well-deserved award and in addition the recognition for two other members and our gym instructor reaching their respective finals.”

The Cannock gym, which opened last February, was also presented with a special achievement award for its record-breaking year which has led to the recruitment of five instructors and a beauty therapist.



Local Penkridge Family Charity Fundraiser – In aid of The Daisy Garland Charity

I am Vikki Escritt (formerly Robins). Me and my family are organising a charity fund raising event in memory of my grandson, Teddy. The charity event will take place on the Saturday 26th March at The Church Hall/Reading Rooms, Market Street, Penkridge, ST19 5DH. We are hoping to raise money for The Daisy Garland foundation and also to raise awareness of the devastating condition which my grandson suffered from.

Teddy, my grandson was born October 12th 2014. He had been suffering from unexplained seizures but due to a history of epilepsy in our family, the doctors were investigating the possibility of Teddy inheriting this condition. However all of his tests came back clear. When he was very young, he had suffered from bronchiolitis and stopped breathing both times. Between being ill, he was a very lively and a happy chappy. In October 2015, he had just had his first birthday and went into a prolonged seizure which resulted in him going into cardiac arrest. He was moved to Stoke hospital where they were amazing with him and kept him on life support for 48 hrs. Talking to him as if he was still here. We had him christened in hospital surrounded by his family, but after 48 hrs two doctors confirmed that he was 100% brain dead and the decision was taken away from his parents and his machines were turned off. He slipped away peacefully in their arms. Teddy has a big brother, Finley who is now 4 years old. He didn’t understand when we explained that Teddy had gone to heaven and he wanted to get an aeroplane and go to visit him. Children are very good at accepting the truth.

After the death of Teddy my daughter Nikki and son-in-law Charlie decided to look for a charity that may prevent even one child losing their lives. After looking at several charities, they found The Daisy Garland Foundation. This was started up after Daisy died from an unexpected seizure, aged 6. She would now be 18. It raises money to provide alert monitors for babies and young children that suffer from seizures. Nikki and Charlie set up a just giving page and have already raised over £10,000.

The charity day will run from 11am-3 pm, there will be a tombola and raffle with lots of lovely prizes very generously donated from local people and businesses. Some of the prizes include a £40 photo shoot, 10” tablet and 7” tablet, 2 x clay pigeon shooting lessons for 2 people, vouchers from many local shops including Russells butchers, Jojo’s interiors, Kaffeine, Penkridge Hardware gift, a meal for 2 at The Bridge House Hotel, bottles of wine, a £40 Avon pamper hamper, a microdermabrasion facial, 3 aloe vera hampers plus many more! We also have name the teddy, cupcakes and refreshments, Reiki and Angel card readings taster sessions, a teddy stall, kids lucky dip (win every time), designer jams and preserves, name the porcelain doll and much more.

Thank you to Penkridge Football Club Under 21’s who recently held a charity football match. On Saturday 21st February 2016, they faced Bustleholme at Wolgarston High School in the Charity Cup Semi Final.

The team are kindly supporting The Daisy Garland children’s chairty throughout the rest of 2016.

For more information see facebook page: www.facebook.com/events/976752355732748/



Stafford Friends Group of Donna Louise Children’s Hospice say Thank You

Stafford Friends Group of Donna Louise Children’s Hospice would like to thank those who attended our charity concert and donated. We held a concert which was performed by Clive Barks and Friends along with the Churnet Male Voice Choir.

The event was held at Couture on the 22nd January 2016. It was attended by the Mayor Cllr Peter Jones and Mayoress Joy Jones and Jeremy Lefroy MP who said they had a thoroughly enjoyable night and gave their thanks to everyone concerned in organising the event.

I would like to thank everyone who came to support the event, the committee members and the volunteers who gave their time to help. The evening was a great success, it is a tremendous task to organise a show and a total of £1500 was made on the night through tickets sales and a raffle, people were very generous.

On the photograph shown, next to the Mayor Jenny Barron Press Officer for Stafford Friends and Ray Barron. Next to the Mayoress, Dorothy Broomhall, Treasurer and committee member Ann Dawson, Jeremy Lefroy MP back row on the right, next to Jeremy is Clive Barks and the rest in the photo are Clive Barks singers.

Our next event will be a Best of British evening which will be on the 8th July at The Conservative Hall, this will include a 3 course meal followed by traditional British puds, wine and live music costing £15.00. For tickets or further information please phone 01785 226788.



Celebrating Chinese New Year at Wolgarston High School

Wolgarston High School has been busy celebrating Chinese New Year. So far their students have been showing their support to Fairtrade with a bake sale.  Matthew Wright and Ellie Fletcher (Year 10 students)  helped with the sale on Friday 29th January.

“I think it is good that we have stuff like this going on around school,” said Charlie Knight ( Year 13 student), “The cakes were delightful.”

“We would like to thank our students and members of staff for their support,” said Miss Roberts (Learning Resources Centre Administrator).

On Monday 1st February Mrs Beach (Teacher of Design and Technology) and her Year 10 students learnt about Chinese cuisine  and the specific techniques used to create their dishes. Their lesson was that of a practical challenge to prepare, cook and present a batch of four Vegetable Spring rolls with some garnishes which would celebrate Chinese New Year. Students were asked to prepare ‘julienne’ vegetables so they were able to use and practice their knife skills. The class cooked their spring rolls with the aid of traditional Chinese woks.

“This is a great healthy method of cooking because it uses little fat, cooks quickly which helps to keep all of those important nutrients in the ingredients and – most importantly – it tastes fantastic,” said Mrs Beach, “A healthy, tasty fun time was had by all which is the perfect way to Celebrate the Chinese New year of the Monkey!

Mr Wood (Catering Manager) and his team created a Chinese Menu for students and staff at lunchtime.  On offer was sweet and sour chicken balls with steamed rise, Hoisin chicken skewers, Chinese chicken curry with five spice rice and prawn crackers. “On the day we sold out of everything,” said Mr Wood, “The staff and students loved the food.”

On Tuesday 9th February Wolgarston’s tutor groups competed to see who had the monkey mask factor. Tutor groups had the task of working together to create two monkey masks into the competition.  The winners were chosen by Mr Skinner (Head of Pyrenees and Teacher of PE) in the school’s library at lunchtime.

“The winners were carefully chosen,” said Mr Skinner, “The standards were that high I had to choose three masks as winners.”  The winners were Kiera Hope, Megan Thomas (Year 10 students) and Sammie Lambert (Year 11 student).

All of the entries were very different, in their tutor group chosen themes.  Some masks were decorated in diamantes and some were even done in fur. “I think it’s fun that students are able to get involved and learn about new cultures,” said Sammie Lambert (Year 11 student).

This year Chinese culture believe it to be the year of the Red Fire Monkey and also prophesise that there will be financial and political changes throughout the year.  It will be interesting to see what lies ahead.



It Happened In Brewood by local author Paul Robinson

Hot on the heels of his book ‘Crime & Chaos in Victorian Penkridge’, local author Paul Robinson has just published his fifth title, ‘It Happened In Brewood’.

This new book contains a large number of fascinating stories from the village during the 1800s, including accounts of crimes, accidents and matters of public health, as well as details about pubs, shops, properties and the workhouse.

These short excerpts give a flavour of some of the incidents included in the chapters dealing with crime and punishment:

Excerpt 1

“Joseph Lomas farmed at Brewood during the 1860s but he and his family lived an unhappy existence, with frequent verbal and physical assaults upon each other. In 1863, Mrs Lomas brought a charge of assault against her husband which was heard at Penkridge. The court were told that on April 1st, while in their kitchen, she had asked her husband if he could ‘live peaceably’ with her but received an offensive answer. When she retorted in a similar manner, he allegedly punched her and struck her with a poker. Mrs Lomas’ daughter corroborated her mother’s version of events but two male servants were called by Mr Lomas in his defence, both of whom said that his wife had started the row by calling her husband “a rogue and a vagabond”. They claimed that she tried to kick him and that he had taken up the poker to defend himself against his son, who was siding with Mrs Lomas. The Bench believed Mrs Lomas’ story and her husband was fined 1 shilling.

Francis Lomas, the 20-year-old son referred to, was a large and powerful man. On the Friday before the case, he had been apprehended on a warrant for threatening to do his father bodily harm. Not having the £25 surety to keep the peace towards his father, he had been committed to Stafford jail. When Joseph Lomas appeared in court, his arm and shoulder were said to be one mass of contusions as a result of an attack by his son. When Mr Lomas returned from Penkridge after pressing a charge against his son for the attack, he found his daughter had taken furniture and linen from his house. He intended to bring a charge of theft against her but withdrew it when advised that there appeared to be no felonious intent. It is not known what finally became of the family, except that by 1871 Francis Lomas had moved to Leek, where he was living alone as a farmer.”

Excerpt 2

It is all too easy to form a rose-tinted stereotypical view of people in the past – we might read the name of Mr Jones, the village baker, and instantly conjure up an image of a hearty fellow going about his daily business, dealing with customers and tending his ovens. It is a trap all too easy to fall into, forgetting that Mr Jones probably had good and bad sides to his character like any other person before or since. With this in mind, let us turn to Enoch Plant, a chimney-sweep who lived on Dean Street. Rather than the black-faced but happy-go-lucky character we might have been conditioned to envisage, this man and his son seem to have been most unpleasant characters.

On 17th November 1877, John Lilley a locksmith in his late 50s who lived at 2, Engleton Lane went to the Boat Inn. He took his beer into the ‘parlour’ where he saw Alfred Plant, Enoch’s 25-year-old son, dancing. The younger man made some obscene remark to which Mr Lilley replied, at which point Plant tried to attack him. The quick-witted Mr Lilley threw his beer glass at Plant in order to stave off the attack and it caught him a glancing blow on the check. Enraged, Plant set about the older man, knocking him over a chair and continuing to beat him while he was on the floor. At this point the landlord intervened, stopped the assault and sent Lilley off home.

On his way back home, Lilley was accosted by Enoch Plant, who grabbed him and blew twice on a whistle to attract his son. When Alfred Plant arrived he asked “Father, have you got him?”, to which his father replied “Yes, I have, now Alfred, kill the ___”. Alfred Plant hit Lilley violently over the head with a ‘knobble-stick’, knocking him to the ground, and then proceeded to pummel him in the face with his fists. In his rage the young man cried out “I will murder you, you ___. I will make you remember”. Mr Lilley’s son George, who was nearby, witnessed the event but was powerless to intervene.

John Lilley suffered a badly fractured skull and serious concussion following the attack, and for a while was thought to be so close to death that his dying depositions were taken. Fortunately for Enoch Plant and his son, Mr Lilley recovered – they were each sentenced to 4 months imprisonment with hard labour for felonious wounding but they could so easily have been facing a charge of murder.

Just two years later Enoch Plant was back in court, this time at Birmingham, where he was found guilty of allowing a boy of 13 to climb a chimney. On this occasion he was fined £5 plus costs. An Act preventing the use of child chimney sweeps had been in force for forty years but some, like Plant, were prepared to blatantly flout it. The occupation had resulted in many children losing their lives through suffocation or burning. Furthermore, a particular form of cancer caused by breathing soot, was the first such

disease that could be directly attributed to the workplace. Five years before Plant was prosecuted, another Bill had passed through Parliament, requiring that all sweeps be registered with the police in the area where they operated, thereby helping to enforce the applicable laws, so Plant could not even claim ignorance of the law. Finally, in 1884, Enoch Plant found himself in court once again, this time at Penkridge on a charge of being drunk in Dean Street. He was fined 13 shillings including costs.

‘It Happened In Brewood’ is available on-line now at www.lulu.com/spotlight/books_by_paul_robinson, or direct from the publisher (email penk.publishing@gmail.com) and will shortly be on sale at Penkridge Hardware at £9.99.



February 2016


2016 Resolution to be Stronger, Braver, Pinker with Race For Life Staffordshire

STAFFORDSHIRE women are being urged to get the New Year off to a great start by signing up now to Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life 2016.

The charity is calling on women of all shapes and sizes to show cancer who’s boss by choosing one of their events – Race for Life 5k, 10k or Pretty Muddy – and committing to take part in Pretty Muddy at Weston Park on April 30.

Although many see January as the perfect opportunity to start a new chapter in terms of health and fitness, motivation can slip as the cold weather drags on. That’s where Race for Life comes in. The 5k and 10k events in Telford take place on Sunday, May 22, the 5k event in Wolverhampton will be on Wednesday, June 8, and Pretty Muddy at Weston Park will take place on Saturday, April 30. So women who sign up now will be creating their own compelling goal to aim for later in the year, when the warmer weather makes staying on the sofa less tempting.

Emily Thompson, Cancer Research UK’s Staffordshire’s Event Manager, said: “Signing up to take part in Race for Life is a great way for women of all ages to commit to get a little more active.

“Race for Life events are non-competitive. Taking part is not about being fit or fast and participants can choose to walk, jog, or run around the course. The atmosphere is incredibly supportive.

“Pledging to take part, alongside thousands of like minded women, can be a great incentive to get fitter.  Planning to raise money for life-saving research could prove more of a goal to get up and get moving than the usual New Year’s resolution to shift the post-Christmas pounds.”

One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some stage in their lives, but the good news is more people are surviving the disease now than ever before. Survival rates have doubled since the early 1970s.

Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, in partnership with Tesco, is an inspiring women-only series of 5k, 10k, Pretty Muddy and marathon events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer sooner.

Emily continued: “We’re delighted to be able to bring Pretty Muddy back to Weston Park as it’s a fantastic addition to our Race for Life family of events.  It has all the fun and camaraderie of our much loved 5k and 10k events but with added obstacles and, of course, mud. Plus, Weston Park is still the country’s only venue to host a 10k Pretty Muddy event.

“Women can complete the Pretty Muddy course at their own pace, climbing, jumping, walking and laughing their way around. It’s about women of all ages, shapes and sizes tackling obstacles together.”

Last year, 5620 women took part in Race for Life across Stafford, Telford and Wolverhampton and raised a fantastic £351,483. This year, organisers hope to see the same level of support from local ladies.

Money raised through Race for Life allows Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists to advance research which is helping to save the lives of men, women and children across England.

Emily continued: “We’re calling on the brave ladies of Staffordshire to harness their fighting spirit once more and really show cancer whose boss.

“Race for Life is an amazing way to celebrate everyone we love who has survived cancer.  It’s also an emotional and moving way to pay tribute to those dear to us whose lives have been cut short by the disease.

“Our participants make Race for Life a truly uplifting, inspiring experience.  That’s why we’re calling on women of all ages to sign up now to their event in either Telford, Wolverhampton or at Weston Park and pledge to stand together, shoulder to shoulder, on the front line against cancer.  Together, we can unleash a powerful fighting spirit to stop cancer in its tracks.”

Women who sign up for 5k and 10k events in January can benefit from a specially reduced fee of £10.00.

To enter Race for Life today visit raceforlife.org or call 0300 123 0770.



Wolgarston Student Wins Place at Bowdoin College on Sutton Trust US University Programme 

Benjamin Hopkins, 17, from Wheaton Aston, Staffordshire, who is completing his A-Levels at Wolgarston High School has won a place and a financial aid package to study at Bowdoin College after participating in the Sutton Trust’s US Programme run in partnership with the US-UK Fulbright Commission.

Last summer, Ben was one of 150 students selected for a summer school in the US at either Yale University or the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). They competed with over 1,600 applicants to win a place on the programme and spent a week living on campus and visiting a number of other US universities. For over half of the students, this was their first trip to the US.

The students benefited from residential activities and received an intensive programme of support, delivered by the US-UK Fulbright Commission over a number of months before and after their US visit, which covered admission tests, college choices and the application process.

The aim of the Sutton Trust’s US Programme is to encourage academically talented, low and middle income British students to consider studying at American universities. The 2015 – 2016 programme cohort comes from across the UK and 86% of the students admitted early will be the first in their family to go to university. Of the 43 accepted students, 53% of participants are from households that earn less than £25,000 a year.

Benjamin Hopkins from Wolgarston High School in Penkridge, Staffordshire said, “I am so excited to be going to the United States this autumn to start studying at Bowdoin College. It is a huge honour to be admitted to such a prestigious institution with a generous financial aid package. An American education is extremely varied and flexible, and I am looking forward to all the opportunities it will bring. I am immensely grateful to the Sutton Trust and the US-UK Fulbright Commission for their comprehensive support in the application process, and thoroughly recommend the Programme to anyone interested in a US higher education.”

Ben is one of 43 students who have been selected under the early application deadline to US universities, and more students will be applying by the January deadline with results available later this spring.



Stafford Film Theatre gears up for their Spring Season

Make the short hop from Penkridge to Stafford and see the world on the big screen – that’s the promise Stafford Film Theatre is making as it gears up for the Spring season of 12 top-class movies.

SFT, which is now in its 67th year of bringing the best in British and international cinema to the county town, has welcomed an increasing number of enthusiasts from Penkridge and district to its Tuesday-night presentations during the Autumn/Winter schedule.

Now it is extending that invitation again to the new season, starting on February 9th with Dame Maggie Smith, of Downtown Abbey fame, in the film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s novel and play, The Lady in the Van (Certificate 12A).

There are more big names on February 16th when Charlotte Rampling and Tom Courtenay star in 45 Years (Cert 15), a wonderfully acted drama about a marriage that lurches into crisis as the 45th anniversary looms.

Rampling’s performance has seen her nominated for the Oscar for Best Actress. Up against her will be Cate Blanchett for her role in Carol (15), in which she appears with Rooney Mara, who has been nominated for the award for Best Supporting Actress. SFT is showing it on March 1st.

But SFT – an independently funded organisation run by a committee of volunteers – prides itself on its more exotic and left-field presentations. Marshland (15), a critically acclaimed Spanish detective thriller, comes to the Gatehouse on February 23rd, while the quirky Iranian drama Taxi Tehran follows on March 8th.

Later in the season there will be films from Estonia, Iceland and Italy.

Memberships for the season cost £48 – or £4 per film – with a concessionary rate of £36 (£3 per film). Admission on the night is £5.75 (Concessions £4.75). Free parking is available at North Walls and the Gatehouse bar opens before each film. A full list of the Spring season presentations can be found on www.filmsinstafford.com



Join in the fun this Easter with Dene Dance School

We have successfully held 8 dance workshops over the last 4 years with children aged from 6-14. They learn 4-5 new routines during the week consisting of Hip Hop, Cheerleading, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Break Dancing, culminating in a small showcase for parents at the end of the workshop week.

As well as dancing, the workshops also consist of dance based activities such as group choreography challenges. This enables the children to gain confidence and gives them the opportinity to make new friends amongst the group.

The workshops are a great opportunity for children to interact with different ages and bring out the best of their dancing abilities. We encourage the children to mix with unfamiliar faces throughout the workshop so that everyone has a chance to be involved. Our aim is for the children to have as much fun as possible whilst learning challenging but fun new dance routines.

All the staff here at Dene Dance School thoroughly enjoy getting to know the children’s different personalities and skills during our fun filled 6 hour days.

GPTD qualified teachers, DBS checked and first aid trained. If you wish to book your child a place on our upcoming workshop, please call Katy Bagguley on 07584 030520. You can also find Dene Dance School on Facebook and Twitter.



Builder’s donation to help Penkridge-based First Community Responders

A regional builder has donated £1,000 to the Penkridge & District Community First Responders (CFRS) to help with their vital life-saving work.

The charity, which operates in rural areas around Penkridge and Cannock, applied to Persimmon Homes West Midlands to become one of their monthly Community Champions.

The project was overjoyed when it was chosen to receive the money as it will go towards essential car and liability insurances. Local donations and community groups provide around £3,000 a year to keep the CFRS volunteers on the road.

The CFRS is the latest organisation to receive funding from the housebuilder. In total £24,000 will be donated by Persimmon Homes’ West Midlands region by March 2016. It is a slice of £750,000 that is being given away by the company nationally.

Mike Tym, spokesman for CFRS, said: “Our volunteers drop everything to provide emergency care within their community immediately after a heart attack or life-threatening situation before any ambulances arrive.

“Our volunteers regularly use CPR and defibrillators and the sooner resuscitation is available or a stroke identified the greater the chances of recovery.

“Because of patient confidentiality, it’s difficult to boast of success and people don’t necessarily realise the first people on scene may be volunteers so we don’t achieve a high profile that attracts funding. Therefore the support of companies such as Persimmon Homes is much needed and greatly appreciated.”

Tim Brickley, director in charge of Persimmon Homes West Midlands, said: “We all know that the ‘golden hour’ is essential and the work of the community first responders is vital. It was an easy decision to support them in their work.

“Persimmon Homes West Midlands has had a fantastic response to its Community Champions scheme and it is always a difficult choice from so many worthy causes.

“If people were unsuccessful last month, we urge them to visit the Persimmon Homes website and to try again and hopefully they will become our next Community Champion.”

Victoria Tufail, WMAS Community Response Manager for Staffordshire said: “This is great news and will undoubtedly help Penkridge and District CFRs continue to provide an excellent service to the local communities.

“West Midlands Ambulance Service prides itself on having excellent community schemes that are in place around the region. CFRs are vital in rural communities and it is without doubt that thanks to their efforts, dedication and actions, lives have been saved.”

CFRs can be called upon to attend to medical emergencies such as cardiac arrest, strokes, falls and breathing problems amongst others.

To find out more about the Community Champions scheme, visit www.persimmonhomes.com/charity



January 2016

A Long Slow Walk From The Station by Beryl Holt

In May 2014 Berkswich History Society published “Memories – Berkswich in the Great War. Whilst researching that book, it was discovered that Sir Arthur Grant was Commandant of Brocton Prisoner of War Camp and that he brought his family to live in Brocton. After much research, and assistance from Sir Arthur’s grandson Sir Archibald Grant, Beryl Holt, (Chairman of Berkswich History Society) has written a new book entitled “A Long, Slow, Walk from the Station”, which is the story of Brocton Prisoner of War Camp 1917 – 1919.

Using original documents from the Imperial War Museum, the National Records of Scotland and Staffordshire Record Office together with many letters, newspaper reports and the unpublished diary of the Camp Commandant, the book recounts tales of the everyday life of prisoners, staff and local people, together with stories of strikes, escape (and recapture!), shootings and death. It is not all gloom and doom – there are amusing anecdotes as well. It also describes the military background of the Commandant and tells how his family came to live at Brocton Hall, now Brocton Golf Club, and later at Brocton Leys just 10 minutes’ walk from Sir Arthur’s quarters on Cannock Chase.

The book gives a fascinating insight into the lives of several thousand men who were detained in Staffordshire almost 100 years ago. This previously untold story adds greatly to our knowledge of life on Cannock Chase during the Great War.

The book is available from Berkswich History Society Chairman, Beryl Holt. 53, Old Croft Road, Stafford, ST17 0NL. Tel 01785 665834. Cost £10 if collected, £12.50 to include package & postage.

ISBN* 9780952724797. Other books published by Berkswich History Society. Memories – Berkswich in the Great War They Pulled our House Down – The Story of Baswich House. The Story of Berkswich Retold. Police Experiences – First Published in 1884. Tales from one of the first Staffordshire Police Officers.


Plumbits Stafford – Your One Stop Shop for Bathrooms, Plumbing and Heating

Plumbits in Stafford have been trading as a supplier of bathroom, plumbing and heating products for over 30 years. We supply top quality products at the lowest prices – all supported by expert advice and a genuine commitment to our customers.

Conveniently located at the end of Stafford’s High Street, our showroom displays a wide range of bathroom suites, shower enclosures and accessories. We update our display on a regular basis so you’ll always be able to see the latest products and trends. Our showroom has been carefully designed and laid out so you can visualize everything in your own bathroom.

Our showroom staff Julie, Jackie, Steve, Jenny and Julie, have over 60 years of combined sales/showroom experience between them. All committed to ensuring that our customers, whether retail or trade, get the right product for the job.

To make the most of our expertise why not book an appointment for our Design and Measure Up service? First all the measurements are taken and a plan of your room is drawn up. Then you’ll be able to sit down with one of our experienced advisors and discuss layout options, the latest products and resolve any queries you might have.

Their impartial advice will ensure that you make the right choice at the design stage and achieve the bathroom of your dreams. To speak to one of our experienced bathroom advisors or to book a ‘Measure Up’ appointment call us on 01785 213800.

We’ve currently got some great offers available so why not pop in to our showroom today or visit the special offers page of our website, www.plumbits.net



Trefoil Guild Staffordshire Christmas Social Evening

Around 150 members of Trefoil Guild Staffordshire and Girlguiding members attended a Christmas Social evening to enjoy a musical performance by Stafford Military Wives Choir.

Twenty members of Stafford Military Wives Choir sang a melody of popular songs beginning with Amazing Grace – and their singing was certainly amazing as members listened in silence to their performance. In between songs members shared their experiences of not only being a member of the choir but also what it is like being a military wife and of the emotional and physical support and strength gained from being together.

During the interval choir members mingled with guests to chat and answer any questions. The second part of the programme was a Christmas section including popular carols. It was a wonderful evening of music and sharing which concluded with a surprise visit from Santa.



Charity offers free life saving lessons for classrooms across Staffordshire

St John Ambulance urges schools to take up funding to help create a nation of lifesavers.

The nation’s leading first aid charity, St John Ambulance, is offering primary and secondary schools in Staffordshire free first aid lessons and teaching resources after receiving funding from the Department for Education to help young people develop traits such confidence, grit and community spirit.

The Government’s Character Education grant will allow St John Ambulance to first aid train 100,000 young people in life saving skills, empowering them with the knowledge to help family, friends, or someone in the community when they need it the most.

St John Ambulance is aiming to engage 30 schools in the West Midlands region and 600 nationally through the funding. Wendy Human, Director of Charitable Initiatives and Training, St John Ambulance, said: ‘We know schools want their pupils to learn first aid but most of them don’t have the resource to teach it – this is the perfect opportunity for them to get life saving skills taught in the classroom. ‘First aid can boost confidence, develop integrity, encourage resilience, and inspire young people to be the difference in their communities.

We believe that all pupils should have the chance to learn first aid and develop these skills. Our vision is that no one should suffer for a lack of trained first aiders, and the Character Education grant will help us take a big step in that direction. Edward Timpson, Children and Families Minister, Department for Education said: ‘We are extending opportunity to all young people by equipping them, through a         high-quality, rigorous curriculum, with the core knowledge and skills most valued by employers.

‘We want young people to have the opportunity to develop a broader range of traits and skills, including first aid, so I’m delighted St John Ambulance are able to deliver training to thousands of young people with our £250,000 character grant.’

The Character Education grant is also being used by the charity to assist with its Big First Aid Lesson school resources – free termly first aid training videos available to schools with a live event in the summer term for schools to tune into. Last year the live event educated 198,000 students in classrooms up and down the country, learning skills such as how to treat an asthma attack or help someone with a severe bleed.

Schools are recommended to contact their local/regional St John Ambulance to find out how they can access the free schools training by calling 0121 237 3879 or emailing west-mids-training@sja.org.uk.


Codsall Community Arts Festival

One of the many prestigious speakers at Codsall Community Arts Festival in 2016 will be the much respected Shirley Williams. Originally a Labour MP, she became a founder member of the Social Democratic Party. Created a life peer in 1993, Baroness Williams of Crosby remains an active member of the House of Lords, speaking regularly from the floor of the House. After her talk, Shirley will be pleased to answer questions from the audience.

Rebecca Vaughan offers a completely different evening when she presents Austen’s Women. Using only Austen’s words, Rebecca’s accomplished solo performance moves seamlessly between some of Austen’s best known characters. With moments of high comedy and also pathos, the audience will be asking itself just how much has really changed for women since Austen wrote her books.

Humour and trauma will be in abundance as Eleanor Stewart tells us of her rather unusual life. As a young woman Eleanor entered a French convent where she trained as a midwife. However, delivering other women’s babies made her desperate to have children of her own and so she made the very difficult decision to give up the life of religious obedience and join the world of Liverpool’s swinging sixties. Eleanor eventually married and had two children.

For those that love wildlife photography, Himalayan Journeys is a must. Ben Osborne’s work has been published in such magazines as National Geographic while his images of Antarctica in the book of the BBC series Life in the Freezer are iconic. Ben’s illustrated talk promises to be one of the highlights of the Festival. Tickets for all events will be on sale to patrons from 1st February and will then go on general release from Tuesday 16th February.

For more details go to: www.codsallartsfestival.org.uk Or find us on Facebook, search: Codsallarts Box Offices open on Tuesday 16th February 2016 at: Codsall Crafts & Models, Ian Rigby, Jewellers, Birches Bridge. Contact The Arts Festival on: 07852 200421 Registered Charity 1127064.



An Evening With Adam Henson

Fans of the countryside will be absolutely delighted to hear that Adam Henson, the popular television presenter and farmer will be visiting Codsall in the spring.

He is one of the many high profile guests who will be presenting an evening of entertainment during the Codsall Community Arts Festival. The Festival will take place between 2nd March – 19th March 2016.

More details will be released in the next few weeks and tickets will be on sale from February. Please visit our website to find out more. www.codsallartsfestival.org.uk www.facebook.com/CodsallArts Contact The Arts Festival on: 07852 200421 Registered Charity 1127064.



December 2015

Rockstar Equestrian Show Breaks Fundraising Records

On August 22nd Kay Scott Jarvis of Rockstar Equestrian Centre held the biggest show at her premises to date, with fantastic results. The show had classes In Hand, Ridden and Working Hunter, as well as a Handy Pony obstacle type course for Mini Members and pony rides in the afternoon.

The idea came from Kay’s desire to raise funds for Alzhiemer’s Research UK, a cause close to her heart after she lost her own Mother to the disease in January. The Livery yard and Riding School had already raised some money through Members’ events and bake sales, but the show was designed to be bigger and raise even more. Kay has also been undertaking running events to raise money, and this was all added together for the days total.

The day was extremely successful. As well as the horse classes there were many stall holders to draw in spectators. Sponsors gave money for rosettes or their time to judge events. Guest of honor was Ricky Balshaw, a silver medal winning Paralympic rider. He enjoyed the day so much he plans to maintain links with the centre.

Kay was stunned at the total. “We stayed after the show to add it up and we raised over £850 on the day, after we had taken our costs out. Money carried on coming in from photos our photographer had taken, and when I added in my running money we have a total so far of £1695.20.

Kay has no intention of stopping though, and her members are behind her. Most of them have also been affected by Alzheimer’s in their family in some way and all are unanimous in the centre that they will be

maintaining the charity Alzheimer’s research UK as their adopted charity. Bake sales will continue to be run, and one member is even presenting a speech and handing out information at a local Parkrun event in Telford on 10th October.

Zoe Baggot, the Regional Charity Co Ordinator says, “It is the first time a horse show has been held for us and it was a fantastic day. Aside form the money raised the success was based on the competitors supporting each other and a really happy, friendly vibe. I truly hope they do another, it was something different and from our charity point of view we got lots of interest too.”

Recent media coverage has shown shocking statistics. By 2025 there will be 1 million people in the UK with dementia, due in part to an aging population. But there are 40,000 younger people in the UK with the disease too.

So, will it happen again? Kay and her committee members certainly think so. They are currently meeting again to de- brief and plan the next event. For Kay raising money to find a cure is one small way of making sense out of her Mother’s death, and many on her team feel the same way. So if you have a horse start thinking about the events at Rockstar and get that show tack dusted down. Watch this space!

Kay and her yard can be found at, www.rockstarequestriancentre.com, where all events are listed for the season ahead.


Tae Kwon Do Club Competition Success!

On Sunday 1st November members of NPTKD (Newport and Penkridge Tae Kwon Do) made the journey to Derby Arena for the 2015 TAGB North Midlands Championships.

With over 600 competitors from across the region entered into sparring, patterns and power test divisions, NPTKD students managed to bring home 4 gold, 2 silver and 3 bronze medals.

Special mention has to go to young Cameron Tarplee for gaining double silver in both boys individual sparring and the tag team event, and to Richard Bratby who fought his way into bronze medal position in a tough heavyweight division, but then smashed the mens colour belt power test; gaining a double gold in both hand and foot.

Instructor Daniel Moffat had this to say: “Competitions are never easy, and I have an immense amount of respect for my students that show the courage to test their skill in the ring. Everyone who participated in this championship should be proud of their performance!”

NPTKD continue to train in preparation for the TAGB British Championships at the end of November and also for the Tae Kwon Do International World Championships in 2016, where they hope to have similar success.

If you would like more information about the club you can reach instructor Daniel Moffat on 07783 690276 or dan@nptkd.co.uk.



Grassroots Boost

An £800,000 grassroots facilities boost for Staffordshire has officially opened on Wednesday 4th November at Wolgarston High School.

England international Laura Bassett was on hand to officially open the stat-of-the-art 3G artificial grass pitch.  Whose aims are to a give a shot in the arm to grassroots football provision in the local area.

The pitch development at Wolgarston High School is the culmination of three years planning and preparation after the school successfully secured a £300,000 grant from the Premier League and The FA Facilities Fund.  Additional funding from Staffordshire County Council and other sources enabled the project to some to life.

In addition to providing a big boost to students, the new facility will also boost coaching opportunities and playing time for community clubs- who can take advantage of the all weather, floodlight facilities.

Phil Tapp, Headteacher of Wolgarston said; “This has been a great team effort and the result is a fabulous facility for our school and our local community.  It will help us grow grass roots football for both girls and boys, and will inspire us all to perform at an ever higher level.”

Councillor Diane Holmes, Chairman of South Staffordshire Council said: “It is a great addition to Penkridge Leisure Centre Facilities, and I am delighted that South Staffordshire Council are able to continue to increase access into sports not just for the local children but for the wider community.”

FA Skills coaches are also set to take advantage of the new facility to provide sessions for 5-11 year-olds, while Staffordshire FA, which supported and oversaw the application, will run refereeing courses. Local teams including Penkridge Town and Stafford Rangers will also have access to the facility.

Laura Bassett, who met with local school children during her visit said:  “It’s great to be on hand at the official opening this fantastic in Penkridge. To be successful at your sport, it is extremely important to have good facilities, and the development here will make a huge difference for the local clubs and community.”

Brian Adshead, Chief Executive Staffordshire FA said  “We are delighted that another modern facility is available to footballers of all ages in South Staffordshire. We are grateful that the various funding agencies have worked together with the Staffordshire County Council and our Development Team to make this project a reality.”



RT Caricatures

Where I’ve been…

It all started back in the 80’s when I used to sketch caricatures of teachers at school instead of paying attention to what they were teaching me!  I left school straight into a job at an Art Studio and over the 22 years I completed a fine art apprenticeship and worked my way up to Senior Manager. In 2008, I decided to go on my own and since then business has gone strength to strength. My resume includes fine art paintings & illustration, portraits, marketing literature design, graphic design for print and for web, brochure & stationery design and print.  My customer base ranges far and wide from individual people through local councils, police forces to major blue chip companies.

Where I’m going…

Setting up on my own was a big step, but over the past years I have found my place within the market, especially in the caricature products line, and can now offer a very personal, unique and professional service to my customers. Each individual project is approached differently and with an attention to detail, that will provide you with a finished product that I can guarantee will be individual and to the highest of quality.

Caricatures are a main runner within the business with a proven track record of repeat orders over the past 30 years. From a basic A5 pencil piece to A3 full colour, framed or unframed through to one off large pieces for businesses and weddings. Weddings are my speciality ranging from groom and bride gifts through to individual table place settings and large bespoke table plans.

Due to increased requests for pet caricatures I have started a new line of caricatures to suit this customer base, please check on my Facebook over the next couple of months for an update on completed pieces.

Email me at:  rtcaricatures@gmail.com

Find me at: www.facebook.com/rtcaricatures.co.uk

Coming soon… www.rtcaricatures.co.uk



More Festive Fun than ever before at Winter Wonderfarm!

Kids – of all ages – will love getting into the festive spirit at Penkridge’s Lower Drayton Farm this year, with some exciting new additions to its Winter Wonderfarm attraction.

As well as visiting Father Christmas in his Grotto to tell him what they’d like to find under the tree this year – taking away a small gift and a photo as a token of their visit – children will be presented with a ‘passport’ on arrival. This will kick start their ‘Santa’s Little Helper’ experience; allowing them to take part in a host of

seasonal activities including icing a festive cookie, making a snow flake, taking part in a Christmas quiz, enjoying a festive farm trailer ride and penning their own letter to Santa – gaining a stamp in their passport for each activity they complete.

Those looking for an extra-special day out can book the ‘Super Santa Experience’ and make their very own ‘Teddytastic’ festive cuddly toy to take home with them at the end of the day, as well as enjoying all the other activities on offer through the ‘Santa’s Little Helper’ package. Alongside all the Christmas activities, visitors can meet the farm’s friendly animals and let off steam on the adventure playground during their visit. Attraction manager, Val James, says:

“The Winter Wonderfarm has proved a real success over the past two years, and we’re determined to make it even better for families this year. We’re now offering a full package of activities as well as the visit to Santa’s Grotto with the entry price, so visitors can look forward to a day packed with festive fun.”

The ‘Winter Wonderfarm’ at Lower Drayton Farm will open every Fri, Sat & Sun from 4th – 20th December, plus Mon 21st, Tue 22nd & Wed 23rd Dec. For times, prices and to book tickets in advance, visit www.lowerdraytonfarm.co.uk



Staying Safe, Healthy and Warm this Winter

Winter isn’t everyone’s favourite season and there’s no doubt that the cold weather can be a worry for those of us in later life. There are things we can do to make life a bit easier which help keep us healthy, safe, and as comfortable as possible.

Keep moving – Staying active is important for many reasons but it generates heat and helps keep you warm. When indoors try not to sit still for more than an hour – get up and make yourself a drink, spread any chores throughout the day. You could do some chair based exercises if walking is difficult, Age UK South Staffordshire run seated exercise classes across Southern Staffordshire – the first class is free www.ageuk.org.uk/southstaffs or phone 01785 788 472. The classes also encourage flexibility and develop falls awareness, a key issue in keeping well all year round.  You could also take part in a free guided group walk in many locations across the area.

Eat well – Hot meals and drinks help to keep you warm, and the advice from Age UK is to eat one hot meal per day, and have hot drinks during the day including a good range of foods and aim for five portions of fruit and veg per day. It is very important to eat enough, especially in Winter. The Eat Well Staffordshire project is a free service,  led by Age UK South Staffordshire, can support older people who may be a risk from under-nutrition for information about Eat Well telephone 01785 788 483 or www.ageuk.org.uk/southstaffs.

If you would like some recipes for Winter, please phone and leave a message on 01785 788 496.Have a seasonal flu jab – If you are over 65 the Government recommends that you have a seasonal flu jab – ideally every year. Flu can develop into pneumonia which can be serious.

Check you have had a ‘pneumo jab’ This jab is a one off injection that helps protect against pneumonia, meningitis and septicaemia. Ask your GP if you are over 65 and haven’t had one.

Keep Warm – Cold weather can make you vulnerable to some illnesses so its vital for your health that you stay warm during the cold winter months.

70F (21C) is the ideal temperature for your living room, check your thermostat or use a room thermometer to monitor temperature. 64F (18C)is the ideal temperature for your bedroom – the cold thickens blood and increases blood pressure, which is bad for your health.

Phone us on 01785 788 477 for your free copy of ‘Winter Wrapped Up’ guide with free thermometer.

Extra money you may be entitled to – Many of us worry about rising fuel costs so it is important to make sure you’re not missing out on any benefits or discounts you are entitled to that will help you keep your home warm. You  could get help to check your entitlement by phoning the Information and Advice service  at Age UK South Staffordshire 01785 788 499 or use the online benefits checker www.ageuk.org.uk/benefitscheck.

Try and connect with people – Loneliness threatens the health of 1 in 10 older people and 1 in 4 older people have no-one to turn to. If you are lonely and isolated and in need of support, we may be able to help you with a telephone or face to face befriender or care navigator.  Contact the Eat Well Staffordshire team on 01785 788 483 or Care Navigation on 01785 788 498.

If you feel you could support an older person as a volunteer befriender or care navigator, please get in touch, there is information on www.ageuk.org.uk/southstaffs 01785 788 483 or 498. We have lots of great volunteering opportunities, many of which include

training and all include ongoing support  –  opportunities can be found on the ‘jobs and volunteering’ section of our website www.ageuk.org.uk/southstaffs Need help in the home? We provide a wide range of flexible services to help you stay in your own home designed around your specific needs. This can include housework, companionship, food preparation and lots more besides. We can provide an escort for social trips and also nightsitting support. If you need help to get up, washed and dressed, we can also provide personal care. Phone 01785 788 477.

Day care support – Age UK South Staffordshire has four centres to support older people with dementia and complex needs – Penkridge, Cannock, Tamworth and Wombourne. If you would like to visit and see the facilities or find out more phone 01785 788 481.



October 2015

Local Window Company Clair’s Windows Helps Homeless Charity

Clairs windows at Pillaton will be accepting donations throughout October for the homeless charity, Socks and Chocs. Jassie Clair, owner of Clairs windows at Pillaton says the aims of Socks and Chocs charity are:

To relieve hardship and distress among homeless people and among those in need who are living in adverse housing conditions, in particular but not exclusively by:

• The provision of essential items such as bedding, toiletries and clothing.

• Funding essential health needs which is not already readily accessible such as foot care.

• By funding short term emergency accommodation particularly   (but not limited to) times of cold or otherwise inclement weather.

The team at Clair’s Windows are asking the local community to bring in any unwanted socks, toiletries or any other unwanted items throughout October to help the charity.

Please take any donations to Clairs Windows, Unit 33, Pillaton Hall Farm, Cannock Road, Penkridge, ST19 5RZ. If you would like further information call Jassie on 01785 714554.



Penkridge Award Winning Priors Dentist Celebrates 30 Years

Patients, staff, suppliers and friends of The Priors Dental Practice in Penkridge held an anniversary tea party to celebrate principal dentist Mark Emms’ 30th year as a dental surgeon.

Invited guests were served traditional afternoon tea at the event which was held at the Pinfold Lane Practice in Penkridge where Mark has been practicing for over 29 years.

30 years of award winning success Principal Dentist Mark Emms explains: “We wanted to host an event to celebrate how far the practice has come over the past 30 years – from a single dentist practitioner to a team of 20 including an associate dentist, two specialist orthodontists, an endodontist and a hygienist team. The event was a great way to share this success with those who have helped us to make it happen –

including patients, suppliers, referring dentists and of course, friends and family of the practice.”

He adds: “We have grown primarily through word of mouth and recommendation, winning national and regional dentistry awards year on year whilst investing heavily in our facilities and our people. We have held Silver Investors in People Status for the last six years.”

Worldwide reputation for implants and conservative dentistry Mark Emms joined the practice in 1989, having started his career as a dentist four years previously. He holds a Masters in conservative dentistry and has a special interest in implants where he has developed a worldwide reputation for his expertise. The practice’s team and specialist facilities provide all aspects of dental care under one roof, creating a centre of dental excellence much respected by patients and other dental professionals.

Mark says: “Over the years we’ve had clients coming to us from all over the world for preventative and restorative treatments. We are proud to have been recognised in The Private Dentistry Awards 2013 as the best orthodontic practice in the UK, the Dentistry Awards Best Practice in the Midlands region for 2013, and Best Patient care award in 2014.”

Family Values

Despite its worldwide success, the practice keeps family values at its core and offers a friendly, attentive and professional service, with Mark’s partner, practice manager Lindsey Edwards, being part of the  close-knit team.

Book an appointment. The Priors welcomes new patients. For more information or to book an appointment at The Priors Dental Practice, please call 01785 712388 or visit online at www.thepriorsdentalpractice.co.uk



Penkridge Girl Guiding Takes Part In Thrilling Paris Adventure

Girls from 2nd and 3rd Penkridge Guides joined hundreds of other Girlguiding members from across the Midlands on an action-packed, code cracking adventure through Paris.

The girls, all aged 11-13, travelled to the French capital on August 22nd for ‘Midlands Mayhem’ an international adventure trip organised by Girlguiding Midlands.

Once there, they embarked on an exhilarating challenge which saw them crack clues, locate hidden codes and complete challenges – all set against the clock.

The clues led them across the city – to famous landmarks including the Eiffel Tower and Notre-Dame Cathedral.

Molly Ayling, a guide that attended the trip mentioned: “I had such a fantastic time and I will never forget all the amazing sights I have seen! It was brilliant to explore the city and take part in fun challenges with my friends!”

Bekki Farmer, the leader in charge added: “This was the first time I had ever been to Paris and leading my own first international trip there was such a memorable and unforgettable experience, filled with lots of laughs.”

Among the other activities the girls chose to do during their 4 day trip to France, included going to the top of the Eiffel tower, visiting the Mona Lisa and watching Paris light up from the top of the Arc De Triomphe and Montparnasse Tower.

Over 500 girls and Leaders took part in Girlguiding Midlands’ Paris Mayhem event. The event was open to Guides, aged 10 to 14, and members of The Senior Section, aged 14 to 25.

Every year Girlguiding Midlands offers a host of exciting opportunities for girls and young women to go on an adventure – from international trips and art extravaganzas to sleepovers in zoos and theme parks and science investigation days. To find out more about Girlguiding, the UK’s leading charity for girls and young women visit www.girlguiding.org.uk

Girlguiding is the leading charity for girls and young women in the UK, with 553,633 members. Thanks to the dedication and support of 100,000 amazing volunteers, we are active in every part of the UK, giving girls and young women a space where they can be themselves, have fun, build brilliant friendships, gain valuable life skills and make a positive difference to their lives and their communities. We build girls’ confidence and raise their aspirations. We give them the chance to discover their full potential and encourage them to be a powerful force for good. We give them a space to have fun. We run Rainbows (5–7 years), Brownies (7–10 years), Guides (10–14 years) and The Senior Section (14–25 years).



Not just a Bike Shop, but a Coffee & Snack Bar too!

Bridgtown Cycles now have an in-store Coffee Bar…“The Coffee Hub” – A relaxed and friendly meeting place for customers, friends & family of both the cycling scene and local community.

Eat In or Take Out

A selection of Coffee is available including Espresso, Cappuccino or Latte, Speciality Teas, Chilled Drinks – cans of pop & juices, Cakes, Muffins, Flapjacks, Biscuits, Chocolate & Sweets. Perfect for a coffee stop when out for a bike ride, or for the whole family to choose a tasty treat when taking a break from local activities.

Bridgtown Cycles is one of the biggest independent bike shops in the U.K. providing a huge variety of bikes from children’s and general family bikes to high end specialist carbon race machines.

The store has excellent facilities including showrooms, professional workshop, specialist bike fit area along with changing rooms and shower. There is plenty of free parking outside, the Coffee Hub is always open to offer anyone visiting a wide range of drinks & snacks along with a comfy sofa to relax on whilst deciding on your perfect bike purchase. It’s not surprising that customers travel from far and wide to spend the day at the store!

The Workshop provides general servicing and repairs, help with any mechanical problems however big or small and they are always happy to supply a full quote before starting any work.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting into cycling or upgrading your current bike there is no better time to visit Bridgtown Cycles where you’ll be guaranteed to receive a warm welcome and plenty of help and advice from a team of enthusiastic cyclists.

You will find them open 7 days a week, Monday – Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm & Sundays 10.00am – 4.00pm.

Join Shoal Hill’s Expanding Team!

Due to the expansion of wine choices at Shoal Hill Tavern, they are currently seeking a Sommelier. Experience is essential and applicants must have a mature outlook. They also require a knowledgeable chef to assist the current team. All applicants must have all relevant qualifications and a minimum of five years experience. For more information on the job roles or to apply, contact Doug Wilkinson on 01543 503302.



Edgar’s Restaurant & Bar Receive 5 Star Hygiene Rating

Edgar’s Restaurant and Bar is situated within the Pencric complex, Tildesley Close, Penkridge. The restaurant is beautifully presented with a coffee corner, dining area and balcony, all of which are decorated to a high standard, offering a warm and welcoming feel.

Since July 2014, husband and wife team Paul and Sheila Tyler (formerly of Hedgerows Restaurant, Bradley), and their team, offer a wonderful selection of homemade meals and cakes at affordable prices. Catering for both residents and the public, Edgar’s Restaurant provides freshly prepared homemade meals to meet all their customers’ needs such as, All-day breakfasts, various filled jacket potatoes, Chef’s special dishes of the day and more. During the afternoon, you can indulge in a classic afternoon tea experience with a mouth watering selection of finger sandwiches, mini cakes and oven baked scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, served with a pot of tea or coffee.

Along with their team, Paul and Sheila offer everyone who visits a warm welcome and are pleased to announce that the restaurant has recently received a  Health & Hygiene rating of 5. This is the highest any restaurant can get and it goes to show that all food within the premises is prepared hygienically as possible.


Spooky Stalls at Penkridge Market

Penkridge Market will be looking spectacularly spooky on Saturday 31st October, as the Market Traders have been set a challenge to come in fancy dress. Customers on the day will be able to vote for their favourite costume and the stall holder with the most votes will win. Voting customers will also be entered into a prize drawer and the winner will be announced at 3pm on the day. The event will run from 9am to 3.30pm, and with free admission and free parking, it’s a fantastic free day out for all the family.

Matt Williams, Manager at Penkridge Market said: “We love to get the traders involved in things like Halloween, as it gives the Market a great atmosphere and makes it more fun for the children going around the Market. If any customers would like to dress up in fancy dress too, then that would be great, as it all adds to the fun.”

The winner of the ‘best dressed’ stall holder will be announced at 3pm on the day, outside The Old Deanery Farm Cafe. All the regular market stall holders will be there selling lots of ‘sweet treats’ for your ‘trick or treaters’ as well as handmade chocolates, fudge and toffees, for the adults.

There will also be stalls selling everything from fabulous food and drink to gifts, toys, handbags and hats – a great place to start your Christmas shopping.

The Old Deanery Farm Cafe, will be serving a wide range of hot and cold food from a bacon sandwich to delicious fish and chips, as well as a variety of refreshments stalls on site.

Penkridge Market is situated in the centre of Penkridge, and is signposted off the A449. For further information please telephone 01785 714221 or log onto the website www.penkridgemarket.co.uk


Church Eaton Village Markets

To access the feasibility of setting up a community marketplace in Church Eaton next year, three village markets are to be held in the Institute on 19th September, 17th October and 21st November 2015.

There will be a whole range of stalls selling jewellery, toys, haberdashery, furniture, baby clothes, Indian food, bric a brac, household goods, frozen fish, skincare products and local produce. Announcing this new initiative, Institute secretary Jenny Annis said,

“The idea of a community marketplace in the village will depend on whether these three markets are well supported both from inside and outside the village. A lot of work has gone into setting them up, so we’re hoping that families and friends will come along to see what’s on offer.”

The markets will run from 10am until 1pm on each day with a coffee and tea bar selling bacon rolls. There will be ample parking too.



Stafford Daredevils Freefall Abseil down Olympic Park Sculpture

Three staff from the Red Box Web Design company in Stafford have  raised nearly £1,000 for charity by inching their way by rope down the UK’s highest sculpture.

The iconic ArcelorMittal Orbit in London’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park stands at a nerve wracking 376ft high, with 360° views across the capital city for those brave enough to take on the challenge.

Goodluck Mboya had never abseiled before and admitted he was terrified: “I made the mistake of looking down, “ he recalled, “and that was it – I had to close my eyes for the rest of the way – it was so high up. I’m glad I managed to do it but I never want to do it again!”

Dan Lewis and Managing Director Rob Mackley had abseiled before but both admitted to being slightly anxious when they saw just how high they were. “I was a bit nervous when the guys went over the edge – that was the worst part, but it was well organised and so I knew everything would be alright.”

Dan used to be afraid of heights and seems to have conquered his fears by facing them – and this was his biggest challenge yet. “The testing part of this abseil was that there was nothing to bounce off so you had to freefall abseil down the structure. It was a bit scary but I’d do it again for sure.”

Red Box Web Design is celebrating 9 years in business in Stafford and the company is enjoying a busy period of expansion.

Rob says: “We try and do something for charity every year and are quite an active bunch. This was a great opportunity to challenge ourselves and to raise money for a great cause at the same time. Our clients have been extremely generous with their support.”

The money raised by the Stafford trio will go to Street Child Midlands’ Legacy of Ebola Appeal and help the 20,000 children left orphaned by the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

Visit the Red Box website, www.redboxweb.co.uk


September 2015

Penkridge Brownies Visit Animal Zone

1st and 6th Penkridge Brownies recently visited the Animal Zone at Rodbaston Campus – South Staffordshire College. The chosen package featured a mammal encounter. The Brownies were introduced to Don and Kiera who explained about the conservation work being undertaken at Rodbaston by raising awareness of visitors and the support of endangered species. The visit started with the opportunity to see three animals close up.

The first animal the Brownies encountered was a fancy rat which was quite large and which was taken around for the girls to stroke. The girls were very excited about this as none of them had seen a fancy rat before and some of them said it was their most memorable moment of the visit.

The next animal  was a guinea pig who the girls were allowed to hold. Dom explained all about the animals, informing the girls about their various habitats and what they ate, their likes and dislikes and how to handle and care for them.

Two rabbits were next.  Dom placed the giant one on the table and explained the differences between the two rabbits.  Kiera took round the smaller one, whose fur felt like velvet, and the girls were allowed the opportunity to hold it.  They were closely supervised by Kiera.

Dom encouraged participation and was continuously asked questions from the Brownies.  He even dealt with embarrassing and awkward questions with calm confidence.

The Brownies then had a craft session with Kiera and were supplied with all the necessary craft materials to make their own interpretation of birds. After they had eaten their packed lunches they continued their visit with a guided tour of the enclosures with Dom, where they saw other mammals, reptiles and birds.  The Brownies particularly liked seeing the tarantula and Eagle owls and being able to interact with the animals which was strongly encouraged.



Getting Children Gardening by Diarmuid Gavin

It isn’t difficult to get the kids out into the garden. Most children adore the outdoors for the fresh air and the freedom to run around and they rarely feel the cold. Open spaces for families are vital for our well being, particularly in built up areas where they are rare or often under threat from potential developers so that the areas that we do have should be utilised as effectively as

possible. Next to larger parks and public spaces, our own gardens are perfect playrooms for children. This doesn’t mean that they have to be specially designed around their requirements, but by factoring in a few ideas children can be introduced to a whole new world where they can grow their own vegetables, pick their own fruit and start to appreciate how wonderful nature is.

Plants are a great place to start. A great way to grab the interest of very young children is to think about plants that grow or take root really fast as they won’t want to wait too long for the results! Mustard and cress seeds are the most obvious things to grow and they are still the most magical as they will grow within a week. You will only need some wet cotton wool placed in a container to provide the perfect growing environment for the seeds. Sprinkle them on finely and leave in a warm light place. Use a stencil to create animals or stars for brilliant seedling shapes. Sunflower seeds are another good place to start, simply because of the scale of the mature flower in the summer; the fact that this massive flowering stem comes from that tiny seed is really amazing to kids.

Children love bright colours so spring and summer should be used to their full potential. For spring, you can’t get a greater injection of colour than Daffodils; the traditional Narcissus ‘February Gold’ variety is both beautiful and classic. They will brighten up the grey days and kids love to pick them. Chionodoxa bulbs grow into elegant clumps of foliage that produce tiny bright blue star shaped flowers, they are perfect for small pots on a patio and easy for kids to plant themselves.

For summer, plant the brightest colours in the most interesting shapes for real inspiration. Deeply scented Monarda or Bergamot flowers look like messy mops of hair and come in deep red or pink. They look great when contrasted with the deep blue and towering Agapanthus flowers. Kids will love these huge flower heads as they appear like fireworks and last for months. The great Papaver poppy flowers are bright red and soft to the touch and when they go over, the kids are left with brilliant seed shakers. For real excitement, plant Cosmos atrosanguineus or Chocolate Cosmos, the chocolate vanilla aroma from its deep crimson coloured flowers is straight out of ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’.

Snapdragons or Antirrhinums are a real favourite; watch the bees go right into the flowers for nectar and see the ‘doors’ snap shut behind them. They also make fabulous finger puppets! A plant that you can’t leave out is Stachys byzantina or Rabbit’s Ears. This silvery grey plant has the softest, fluffiest leaves of all, it is really charming. You may decide to section off a children’s flower bed to give them a sense of ownership, but if you wish to keep all the plants together or if you have a smaller space all together, all these plants will not only stimulate kids, but they will be beautiful additions to any part if the garden.

If you have the space, planting a tree can be a memorable activity for children. And as the children grow up, so will the trees – lots to look forward to!

See our October edition for Diarmuid Gavin’s tips on pond plants.



Crime and Chaos in Victorian Penkridge

This collection of stories from nineteenth century Penkridge covers a diverse range of events, from drunken brawls to burglary, drownings, railway accidents, child neglect and animal cruelty.

It includes surprising revelations about poverty and neglect in the village, tragic loss of life and a number of gruesome and unexplained deaths. Read about the activities of the village fire-fighters and

policemen, and how the local courts and workhouse dealt with those who wouldn’t obey the law or couldn’t look after themselves. Meet brazen fraudsters, runaway husbands, feuding families and the foul-mouthed fighting women of Penkridge past!

Available to buy online at: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/books_by_paul_robinson or from ‘Penkridge Hardware’.



Memories are Made of This!

It really was an evening of memories as it began with three new Guild members, Janet, Liz and Pearl making their promise and being presented with their promise badges by Chairman of Staffordshire Trefoil Guild, Denise Healy who is also a member of Lapley Guild.

The meeting continued with members taking a trip down memory lane and sharing memories of a favourite item. These included items of jewellery, memorabilia from holidays, jungle toys, items of clothing, photographs and even tea cosies all with their own special stories.

Margaret gave an interesting insight into ‘Jungle Toys’ a company which was set up by Miss E.M. Daniels in 1914 and who was a relative of Margaret’s. She started the company with just two employees but soon became known worldwide. Examples of the small toys were passed round for members to examine including ‘Bingo Bear’ which was actually a koala bear.

Brenda shared her experience as a child on an exchange trip to France where, she was surprised to find, no one spoke very much English and her French was not too good so she spent most of the visit alone in her room.  The item reminding her of this was a highly decorated, small, blue jug which she purchased while she was there.

Some members gave quite moving and emotional explanations of why a particular item held special memories for them – and of course there were some very  amusing explanations of items too!

The evening concluded with indulging in a bring and share buffet table which gave members the opportunity to discuss more fully some of their memories.

Further meetings include: a cookout, harvest wreath making, skittles evening and a film night.

Lapley Trefoil Guild includes members from Penkridge, Lapley, Wheaton Aston, Gnosall, Stafford and surrounding areas.

For information on Lapley Trefoil Guild please contact the Secretary Sheila Wellsbury on 01785 713384.


June 2015

The Mottey Meadows National Nature Reserve

Hay  Festival, Saturday 20th June 2015

If you are a regular reader of the ‘Advertiser’ you will remember my April article, drawing attention to our fritillary walks on our National Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Wheaton Aston.These have successfully taken place and were very well supported by the local and wider community. I now want to draw your attention to our other main event, our HAY FESTIVAL on Saturday 20th June, to which you are cordially invited.

The previous article outlined why the Nature Reserve is so important nationally and internationally. It is run by Natural England (and has been since the 60’s) and is not only an SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) but is also protected by European law as a SAC

(Special Area of Conservation) It has been described by the Floodplain Meadows Partnership (Open University sponsored) as one of the five most important lowland floodplain meadows sites in the UK – 95% of these have already disappeared, so what we have here, is a very rare survival from medieval times. It is also the most northerly habitat for the nationally rare and stunningly beautiful snakeshead fritillary, still growing in the wild.

Although the fritillary walks have now taken place, you STILL have the opportunity to view the meadows at their most spectacular. This is because after the fritillaries fade, they are succeeded by the traditional flowers, that those who are fortunate to have lived in the countryside, remember so well – ladysmocks and marsh marigolds which dominate for a while, before disappearing amongst the taller growth that will become the summer haycrop. By mid June the

meadows reveal their full glory with a sea of dark crimson heads of the great burnet, rising above ragged robin, knapweed, and other hay meadow specialities such as orchids, pepper saxifrage, meadow rue, meadow thistle and saw wort. This, in turn, will provide the sweet-tasting hay for which the meadows were and still are famous. When horses were the main method of transport, their owners were keen to feed them the very best Wheaton Aston hay and this continues to this day, as it still provides fodder for horses, including local police horses.

As I stated at the beginning of this article, you will have the opportunity to participate in guided walks into the meadows on June 20th, these being led by Natural England’s senior reserves manager, Mel Brown and an expert botanist.These activities will form a part of our Hay Festival event (to be held on June 20th, 12pm-5pm)  on Weate’s Meadow. Entry is free and you can park at St Mary’s school, Wheaton

Aston, where you can take the free tractor ride from the school or walk (follow the arrows!).

We had 600 plus visitors last year and this years’ event will be even bigger and better! As well as the walks into the meadow (£3 per person, children free and free if you become a member of FOMM, see details below), we have numerous activities including wildlife displays (bats, hedgehog rescue, bee

keeping) birds of prey, ferret racing and the opportunity to get ’close and personal’ with the ferrets and learn more about them, scything displays, plant stall, pony rides, coconut shy and other stalls, cakes and other refreshments, raffle, sensory trails and much more.

Please note, entry onto the reserve is only usually allowed through the guided walks, this is to protect ground nesting birds and to protect farmers’ stock. If a permit is required, it can be obtained from site manager Mel Brown. There is a permissive path mown that you can follow between the end of June and the end of August. Dogs on leads please.

Friends of the Mottey Meadows

We are here to help raise awareness of this rare and special place on our doorsteps, not only in Wheaton Aston, but also the wider community at large. We occasionly undertake practical tasks to maintain the site. We are about to engage in a summer long butterfly monitoring survey as we did last year, this being part of the national survey, which will be ongoing for a number of years.

We raise funds to help Mel and Natural England stage our annual Hay Festival in June (see above!). We have bought and installed our attractive hand carved noticeboards on the village hall and by the Shropshire Union canal. We have bought gates and a bridge to provide better access to the site. We have applied for a variety of grants, including one to reinstate an ancient hedgerow.

We also run social and fund-raising events such as quizzes, ceilidhs and treasure hunts. We have been to the red kite centre in the Brecon Beacons and have very recently visited the great North Meadow at Cricklade. Here we were greeted by the town criers and the High Bailiff along with site manager Anita, and treated to a special guided tour to see fields full of fritillaries (they can get half a million!), followed by a cream tea. We are putting on a free barbecue on 15th August at the Sports Club in Wheaton Aston for all our members (80+) to meet and socialise.

Membership is £5 per person and £10 for a family annually.Benefits of joining are free guided walks (instead of the £3), badge or fridge magnet, newsletters, visits to other reserves such as Aqualate (Shropshire) and Chartley Moss. Also to attend social events.

If you need any further information on anything discussed in the article, please contact any of the following:- Mel Brown: 01952 812111, melbrown@naturalengland.org.uk, Wes Weate: 01785 840826, chris.weate@btopenworld.com, Phil Elson: 01785 841657, Ruth Green: 01785 840054

Look forward to seeing you on June 20th!



Lapley LiberTeas

Sunday 14th June 2015, 12.15pm – 5.00pm

We hold many events to this end, e.g. Harvest Lunches, Burns’ Nights, quizzes, marquee lunches, scarecrow trails, flower festivals, the list is endless.  We intend to celebrate the 800th Anniversary of the Magna Carta in the grounds of our beautiful ancient church – or inside if the weather dictates.

There will be lots of activities for children and adults.  The cost of entry will be £5 for adults and £3 for children between 5 and 14 years.  This will include a cream tea for adults and a cake and soft drink for children.  You can also being a picnic to eat alongside our refreshments.

Come and join our Family Fun Day with the opportunity of making a bishop’s mitre, a crown, knight’s helmet, colouring pictures, hobby horse jousting, brass rubbing, designing a shield.  There will also be a history trail around the village as well as side stalls.  The bell ringers will be in the tower giving demonstrations (at set times) for you to watch, and the Rector will be in the stocks cheerfully waiting for you to throw, from a distance, “warm wet sponges”!!! Come and join us, folks, pay at the gate.



Penkridge Rainbows

1st and 2nd Penkridge Rainbow guides have been having lots of fun this year. They didn’t think that they would be able to top our visit to see Santa at Ash End Farm at Christmas but we did with a Frozen sing along at the Haling Dene Centre.  The Rainbows got to dress up in their Princess outfits and met Olaf and Elsa, the adults helping out had just as much fun as the Rainbows.

They have also learnt about different countries and even learnt some French, then there was the annual Easter Egg hunt and now we’re learning all about pets.  As part of this the Rainbows held their own cuddly toy pet show and have just got back from a visit to Pets at Home in Cannock where they got to see and hold lots of animals and learnt about how to look after them –  that was great fun.

There are still lots of things to look forward to during the Summer term including their trip to Trentham Gardens for the County’s Rainbow World Tour, not to mention the outdoor games, crafts and a very special teddy bears picnic, let’s keep our finger crossed for some good weather!

Rainbows Look, Learn, Laugh and Love, but most of all they have fun! Rainbows are girls aged five to seven who follow a programmes called the Rainbow Jigsaw, through which they can take part in lots of different activities.

There are currently places available in the 1st Penkridge Rainbow Guide unit, which meets on a Friday at 5pm at the Haling Dene Centre, if you would like more information then please contact Sara Botham on 07896 713122 or Jackie Davis on 01785 714244.



Hospice’s BIG Summer Walk gathers pace

With the early bird discount for bookings at the brand new Katharine House Hospice BIG Summer Walk just over a week away, the registrations are coming in fast. Over 100 have already registered already for the walk taking place on Sunday 28th June.

Taking advantage of the great British summertime, there’s something for everyone at this brand new fundraising walk. With no Midnight Walk or Winter Walk this year, The BIG Summer Walk is hotting up to be the biggest event of the year.

The event, which is being held at Marquis Drive on Cannock Chase has two routes from 5 miles for fun to a 10 mile challenge and is anticipated to be the hospices biggest fundraising event of the year. The event is sponsored by Afsystems carpet and pressure cleaning, Angel Homecaring and Mercedes Benz Drayton Group.

James Lunney hospice Event Fundraiser says; “Over 100 supporters have already registered and we expect there will be hundreds more by the early bird deadline of 1st May. With it being our only walk this year we hope hospice supporters will come together to make this the biggest hospice event of the year to help us to continue to provide free care services at the hospice and in the community. It’s shaping up to be a fantastic social event and we’ll be hosting a BIG Cuppa at the event as well as having stalls and entertainment. Supporters can really make a day of it and go for an optional summer themed fancy dress and have a picnic at the end!”

The walk costs £12.50 to enter but if you register by 1st May it’s just £10. Children under 16 years old accompanied by an adult are just £2. Registrations close on 24th June – on the day registrations will be charged £15 per person.

James says “we encourage walkers to gain as many sponsors a possible – every penny raised really makes a difference to the lives of local people and this year there will be a prize for top fundraiser as well as a prize draw for anyone raising over £30. Interested walkers can book by phone on 01785 270808 or online at the Hospice website www.khhospice.org.uk follow the fun on Facebook – Katharine House Hospice, Stafford. If you would like to volunteer to help on the day call the Fundraising Team on 01785 270808 or email fundraising@khhospice.org.uk

Katharine House Hospice has been providing free care and support for adults and their families across Mid-Staffordshire coping with a progressive illness since 1989. 9000 local patients and their families have benefited from its care services over the last 25 years. The hospice relies upon the generosity of the local community to help generate 75% of funds needed to run its range of vital services.

For more information, interviews and/or photographs please contact James Lunney on 01785 270808 or alternatively e-mail jlunney@khhospice.org.uk



May 2015

BBC Bargain Hunt filming at Number One Events

Antiques fairs organisers Number One Events are pleased to announce that at the request of the BBC, they will once again be playing host to Bargain Hunt at their next event on the 16th and 17th May at Stafford Showground’s Prestwood Centre.

This will be presenter Tim Wonnacott’s fourth visit to the Showground, when another four programmes of the popular antiques show will be filmed.

The names of Tim’s experts leading the red and blue teams are yet to be confirmed, but with standholder bookings already nearing capacity for the fair, they are bound to be spoilt for choice when sniffing out those all-important bargains.




April 2015

Staffordshire Cycle Response Unit Presented with Life Saving Equipment by Knights Templar Fundraisers

First aiders in Staffordshire now have new wheels to help them reach people in a medical emergency plus £2,000 to put towards training and events equipment, thanks to a team of charity fundraisers from the Knights Templar.

St John Ambulance’s Cycle Response team took delivery of three new all-terrain medical response bicycles to use at events in the county, along with a cheque for £2,000 from the Knights Templar of Staffordshire & Shropshire Province, at a presentation on Monday 2nd February at the charity’s base in Stafford.

The Knights Templar donation has been welcomed by St John Ambulance District Manager Maureen Upton.

She said: ‘We are very grateful for this generous donation from the Knights Templar.  Our Cycle Responders play a vital role in delivering prompt first aid where it’s most needed at events across Staffordshire, so the extra bikes will strengthen our fleet while the funds will allow us to provide more training for volunteers and boost our equipment for events.’

Gary Read, Provincial Prior for Staffordshire and Shropshire Knights Templar said: ‘We are delighted to be raising funds and increasing the awareness of this hugely valuable service across both counties and as a part of the UK wide network of first responders.’

As part of the fundraising effort, a team of six members of the Province, one of the Orders within Freemasonry, cycled 157 miles from Whitehaven in Cumbria on the west coast, to Tynemouth on the east coast in May 2014 to raise more than £9,000 to add to funds already raised by the Knights Templar themselves.

The new medical response bikes, complete with fully equipped medical kits and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), will be used at events like V festival, Stafford Show, the Tough Guy races near Wolverhampton, and Tamworth and Lichfield 10k races to quickly access areas that may be hard to reach by vehicles.

The three bikes will be added to the current St John Ambulance fleet of eight bikes that currently serve Staffordshire and Shropshire.



Monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group (MASE) visit 10 Downing Street

Daphne Sharp delighted to receive an invitation from Amanda Milling, prospective MP for Cannock, to visit The Houses of Parliament and 10 Downing Street as a representative of the Monthly Alzheimer’s Support Group (MASE). Amanda recently showed her support for the MASE when she attended the launch of a new MASE Group which opened in Hednesford in October 2014.

Daphne said ‘It was a real privilege to represent the MASE on the day and it was a wonderful experience to actually have a tour of 10 Downing Street. The day was made even more special when current MP Adian Burley and his new wife Jodie, took time out of their busy schedules to spend the afternoon with the group”.

Daphne and Elaine Dunlop, have both been touched by Alzheimer’s/Dementia, and started the MASE groups in 2009.  They now have groups in Cannock, Great Wyrley, Haughton, Hednesford, and Rugeley, and will be opening the sixth group in Stafford on 11th May this year.

The MASE brings together Carers and cared for enabling them to build up networks of support, and giving them two hours of “normality”, where they can mix with other people who are in the same situation. Sharing information, advice, experiences and support is the most powerful way to learn more about dementia.

There is no charge for the evening, which comprise of refreshments, a light buffet and musical entertainment.  However donation boxes on available should people wish to contribute to the evening.

The groups do not often have talks about dementia, but do have representatives from The Alzheimer’s Association who attend on a regular basis; Carers are then able to have informal discussions with then during the evenings. There are also many leaflets available covering a wide range of subjects ranging from benefits, healthy eating, to ‘who cares for the Carer’.

With a team of over 30 fantastic volunteers, which includes the four Trustees of the Charity, Daphne, Elaine and their respective husbands Richard and Jim, the MASE has gone from strength to strength and over the years has helped many people.  There are no paid personnel in the Charity and all money donated, goes back to the Carers and cared for attending the Groups.

If you would like more information on the MASE Groups, please contact Daphne on 01785 211140 or Elaine on 01785 832110. Our website www.themasegroup.com will also give more information on the Groups.



The Cannock Chase AONB First World War Project is now recruiting volunteers, why not join us!

In 1914, two large camps were constructed on Cannock Chase capable of holding up to 40,000 men and probably trained upwards of 500,000 during the First World War.

The camps had their own church, post offices, a bakery and even a theatre. One of the training trench systems still survives on the Chase, as well as extensive archaeological remains of both camps, including hut bases, former roads and railways that survive fossilised within the existing footpath network or as earthwork features. We are looking for friendly, enthusiastic volunteers who are willing to share this little-known history of Cannock Chase during the First World War with our visitors.

There are two volunteering opportunities, Guided Walk Leaders for those keen to keep fit, enjoy amazing views and enthuse people with information about the camps and their history. And for those who prefer to keep a little warmer, we are looking for Great War Hut Guides, to open up, welcome visitors and share information in one of the original huts used on the training camp during the War.

All volunteers will be given full training and support from the Cannock Chase AONB team.



Candlelit Walk for World Thinking Day

Guiding units in Penkridge commemorated World Thinking Day with an early evening candlelit walk.

World thinking Day is a day of friendship for Girl Guides and around 150 Rainbows, Brownies, Guides and Trefoil Guild  members formed  the procession on 23rd February  which started at 5.30p.m. from the Haling Dene Centre and  proceeded through the village arriving at the churchyard at approximately 6.00p.m.

There was a gathering at St. Michael’s Church for songs and speeches before the laying of a restored metal plaque which accompanies two trees which were planted in the churchyard by Girl Guides in May 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI.

Mrs. Eunice Phillips, who planted one of the trees as a Brownie in 1937,  met the procession at the church and joined in with the singing.



Mid Staffordshire Horticultural Society

The Mid Staffordshire Horticultural Society is a very friendly group of enthusiastic amateurs who enjoy gardening, visiting gardens, and learning more about all things horticultural.

During the winter, we have visiting speakers. Talks cover a variety of topics from information on a particular plant species or a particular garden; advice on propagation, taking cuttings and also garden design. Some speakers are from specialist nurseries so there are often choice plants for sale at meetings.Recent speakers have included Nick Hamilton on the subject of ‘Barnsdale after Geoff’, Chris Cox from the award winning Taylor’s Clematis nursery, Don Witton who holds the National Collection of Euphorbias (on an allotment in Sheffield!) and Vic Aspland who is an expert on Alpines. We meet at Stafford Hockey and Cricket Club, Riverway, Stafford at 7.30pm on the first

Monday of each month from October to April and there is a £2 entry fee for each talk.

During the summer months we organise coach outings to gardens large and small also a Spring Break holiday.Last year we spent 5 days visiting some wonderful gardens in N. Ireland and this year at the beginning of June we’re going to see some of the beautiful gardens of Kent and Essex (including RHS Hyde Hall, Beth Chato’s, and Sissinghurst). There are still one or two places available if you would like to join us.

The cost of annual membership is £5 for a single person and £9 for two people at the same address. If you would like to become a member please contact:- Ann Tooth  01785 259731 or Beryl Freeman  01889 582645. Whether you are a gardener or a non gardener you would be made very welcome.




The Bradford Arms Folk Club – Starts 10th April 2015

The Bradford Arms Folk Club, opening on Friday 10th April, is following in the footsteps of the Unicorn Folk Club which closed at the end of March.

A committee was formed shortly after Vicky announced the Unicorn closure as, for many, Friday night was folk club night so we just had to keep one going!  We are at the same venue on the same night every week and obviously lots of things will remain the same.  So it’s a new club based on the old one, with some tweaks!

The club will be hosted by a different person each week – but they may turn up with a band in tow, or perform as a duet with someone else – whatever suits each individual – which will give a great variety to the overall programme.

One thing we all agreed on was that we still wanted it to be a guest booking club and although it will take us some time to build up to a full programme of guests we are delighted to announce that our first artists will be Driftwood on 1st May.  With a great band like that to start us off we hope to be able to continue with the same quality in the future.  To that end we are looking for artists and would ask that you contact us through the website so that we can build up a database of possible guests.

Our first three nights in April will be performers nights so come along and let us see the talent in our area. Arrival before 9pm ensures a spot, otherwise see the hosts contact details on the website, www.bradfordarmsfolkclub.co.uk and let them know if you will arrive later. We look forward to seeing regular and new audience and all are welcome.


Specialized Cycling Challenge steps up a Gear for Katharine House Hospice

Local people will soon be pedalling like mad to help a local charity as Katharine House Hospice launches its annual Specialized Cycling Challenge. The Specialized Cycling Challenge takes place on Sunday 3rd May and riders can register now to take part in what promises to be a great fun day for serious cyclists and families alike.

Event fundraiser James Lunney says “This year we’ve kept four routes after adding in a celebration route for last year’s hospice jubilee. The 65 mile and 45 mile routes have been reversed this year which will change where those challenging climbs are! We’ve also got a new 20 mile route mostly on cycle paths from Stafford to Gnosall and a shorter family route at 8 miles. It’s thanks to the tireless work of the volunteer event committee including Ian Moss and Mick Dale that we are able to offer up an array of routes.”

The event has had an increased level of sponsorship from Specialized Concept Store on Eastgate Street in Stafford, who will help to protect the funds raised by the event, ensuring every penny goes toward the work of Katharine House Hospice in the community. James says “Last years’ Cycling Challenge featured 590 cyclists and raised over £22,500 for the Hospice and was enjoyed by families and Kings and Queens of the mountains alike – we were literally inundated by requests to host another one and this year the event is back by popular demand. We’ll once again be having food stalls at the end for cyclists to replenish their energy whilst resting at the finish.

“Not only is it a lot of fun, but every mile the entrants pedal for sponsorship brings support to local people in need of the services that Katharine House Hospice provides”. Katharine House Hospice provides free care and support for adults and their families across Mid-Staffordshire coping with a progressive illness. It relies upon the generosity of the local community to help generate 75% of funds needed to run its range of vital services..

Interested riders can register for the cycling challenge by calling the fundraising team on 01785 270808 or online
at www.khhospice.org.uk


February 2015

Extra Treats at the February Farmers Market

Young Enterprise Students Show Their New Products for The First Time On 7th Feb. Stone’s Farmer’s Market will have extra stalls to visit on 7th February as 8 Young Enterprise teams start selling their newly developed products to the public for the first time.

Each team has hired a stall as part of the Young Enterprise Programme and will be looking to sell as much as possible in order to help their team go through to the next level.  On the day, their stands will be judged on presentation and an award for the best trade stand will be given. Judges will also be looking for entrepreneurship from the teams as there is also a prize for the most innovative or enthusiastic sales person of the day.

Each team came together in September and in 4 short months, has dreamt up, developed, designed and packaged a completely new product.

Sarah White, chair of the Stone and Stafford Young Enterprise Board said, “I am in awe of the speed at which these young people come up with ideas and often within 2 months have  not only created their prototype but have recognised and designed out any problems so they have a real product that people want to buy.  They are quite amazing.  Experienced companies would have difficulty doing so much that fast.”

We shouldn’t forget that the students involved are also studying for A’levels and are running their newly formed companies in their spare time.

All the teams would love to see our readers at the February Farmer’s Market, so if you plan to attend, please do make the time to see what these young people have been doing over the last few months.

We wish all the teams the best of luck for their Trade Fair on 7th February.



Woodlands Restaurant Opens at The Chase Golf Health Club & Spa

Woodlands Restaurant is yet another string to the bow of the continually developing Chase Golf, Health Club & Spa. Woodlands is located in the main building of the club and is a brand new bespoke 80 cover restaurant offering a la carte fine dining Tuesday – Saturday as well as afternoon tea and lunch’s.

The new restaurant will be run by award winning head chef Philip Whittle, who has been at The Chase for 5 years. Phil has 20 years experience in the restaurant industry and carries with him a wealth of knowledge & experience. Some of Phil’s most recent achievements include being a finalist in Staffordshire’s Chef of the year and winning an intensive Master Class with Jean-Christophe Novelli.

‘’Woodlands is a very exciting new project for us here at The Chase, we will only be using locally sourced produce to create the very best in fine dining’’

Phil’s right hand man and Sous Chef is Dean Sawyer. Dean has been working with Phil for 3 years and boasts a very impressive CV including being a chocolatier and professional pastry chef.

‘’This opportunity is exactly what we needed in order to showcase our skills and push the business to the next level’’

The team at Woodlands, like the menu, has been handpicked to provide the very best in quality with service and attention to detail always the priority.

The fine details also flow into the impressive wine list. Sourcing the wine from a local distributer who only obtains their wine from small independent vineyards around the world means that Woodlands wine selection is unique and you will not be paying

for overpriced wine available from your local supermarket. Located near Penkridge Woodlands boast scenic views of the golf course & rural countryside, during the summer months alfresco dining will also be available on the terrace.

The Chase Golf, Health Club & Spa has changed dramatically over the 5 years ownership of local family The Simmons and judging by the improvements they have made to the rest of the facilities Woodlands restaurant is set to be 5 star dining experience.

Woodlands opens its doors for the first time on Valentine’s Day and the evening sold out in a matter of hours.

If you would like to make a reservation you can contact Woodlands restaurant on 01785 712191.



Senior Staffy Club Needs Your Help!

Many of us, when we reach that certain time of life, have learnt to appreciate the finer things like sitting in the sunshine, enjoying good company or a gentle stroll in the park – and so it is with the dogs in Senior Staffy Club care.

Senior Staffy Club rescues and rehomes Staffordshire Bull Terriers and Staffy Cross dogs aged 7yrs and over –senior dogs that simply enjoy all these things as well.

Senior Staffy Club was founded two years ago, by a Stafford lady, to help Senior Staffys in need, and has gone from strength to strength, becoming a Registered Charity in April 2014 No.1156723.

Now comprising of a small but growing group of dedicated volunteers, the charity has managed to rehome over 50 dogs since its launch! Some of them have been rescued from death row, and others have been taken in when their owners simply could no longer care for them. Each dog’s story is different, but what unites them is not only the trauma of being abandoned, but the blessing of a new start in life, at whatever age, thanks to Senior Staffy Club.

The Charity has recently taken on kennels in the ST15 Stafford area and currently has three residents there looking for homes – Zara 8yrs, Izzy 9yrs and Mr Spencer 9yrs. They also have kennels in the WR5 Worcester area with a further three residents, and four more dogs in foster homes around the country. If you could offer a home to any of the dogs the Charity would love to hear from you. You can see all the dogs in need of homes at www.seniorstaffyclub.co.uk.

However if you cannot adopt maybe you can volunteer to help in other ways?

We are looking for:

• Dog walkers  who would like to help walk the dogs waiting in kennels (ST15 or WR5 area)

• Fundraisers who would like to help out at events and collections

• Foster carers who could take a dog into their home until their forever home comes along.

• Kennel Sponsors – businesses / companies who may like to sponsor a kennel for a year.

• Individuals who would like to make a small monthly donation of just £10 and become a Kennel Crusader to help us continue helping Senior Staffys in need.

We welcome new volunteers, with all sorts of skills, who can help us to help more dogs.

If you would like to adopt or volunteer please email seniorstaffyclub@hotmail.co.uk, ring Kate on 07513 591784 or Norris on 07817 559886 to find out more.



Katharine House Hospice Snowball Lottery Winners Announced

Katharine House Hospice’s Christmas Snowball lottery has brought a great start to 2015 with winter windfall prize of £2500 for a local pensioner who has scooped the top prize. The second prize of £250 was also awarded to a local Stafford supporter.

The hospice is delighted that a local Stafford supporter Frederick Barnett, 93 of Stafford has won the big prize. “We have donated hundreds of pounds to various charities over the years, but we have never won a penny”. “When we got the news, I said to my husband somebody’s fooling us” said Mrs Barbara Barnett, 90. Mr Barnett said “I joined the Katharine House lottery because I thought I’d make a fortune!  When Katharine House was formed 25 years ago; we thought it was a fantastic facility to bring to Stafford as so many local people needed help. Right from the start we have supported the hospice in some way.”

When asked how they will spend their winnings, Frederick and Barbara replied “We will share some with our daughter, and maybe when the weather gets a bit better we will buy a new scooter!”

The hospice lottery sees 150 local winners every week ranging from £5 to a £1000 top prize for a weekly fee of £1. The Snowball Lottery’s mammoth £2500 was a one off top prize to celebrate the culmination of Katharine House’s 25th anniversary year.                 In-keeping with the theme, the second prize was £250 and there were ten prizes of £25.

Lisa Hadley, Income Generation Manager at Katharine House Hospice said “We are delighted that a couple such as Fred and Barbara have won this year’s Snowball draw. They have supported the hospice for a very long time so it’s great that they have won such a wonderful prize. All of us at Katharine House would like to congratulate Fred & Barbara, and thank them for their continued support”.

“Simply by playing the Katharine House Lottery all our supporters are winners – thanks to them we can continue to provide free care for local people with progressive illnesses at Katharine House Hospice, in the community and provide support for their families”

Katharine House Hospice provides free care and support for adults and their families across Mid-Staffordshire coping with a progressive illness. It relies upon the generosity of the local community to help generate 75% of funds needed to run its range of vital services. For more information about the weekly lottery or to join today visit the website www.khhospice.org.uk/lottery or contact the Fundraising Department on 01785 270808 or email fundraising@khhospice.org.uk.



January 2015

Help Support Local Rider to International Paralympics Success

Emily Murdoch is a 17 year old young lady who on a daily basis deals with the effect of living with Multiple Sclerosis. However she is not one to let it hold her back and is rapidly turning into a very promising dressage rider. She has had a brief but impressive dressage career to date with both the Riding for the Disabled (RDA) representing Stafford and District Group and British Para Dressage Emily is currently a student at South Staffordshire College (Rodbaston Campus).

To compete in Para Dressage Emily was assessed by a Paralympic Classifying Physiotherapist as a Grade III rider in March 2013. Shortly after she qualified for the RDA National Championships where she won the Junior Section in her Grade and the Open section with her Dressage to Music scoring 70% and above. In addition Emily has been kept very busy qualifying for Able Bodied Dressage Championships and also attending Para Dressage Development classes and competitions where she has regularly achieved exceptional results. She has qualified to compete at the British Para Dressage Winter Dressage Finals at Hartpury College, Gloucestershire in March 2015.

Emily’s dream is to represent Great Britain in the next Paralympics at Rio 2016. To help her have the possibility of achieving this dream she needs support, both practical and financial. Such is her promise that she has on loan a fabulous dressage horse worth in the region of £18,000 plus support from her family and close friends. The successful Paralympic rider and Staffordshire man Lee Pearson CBE is coaching Emily.

This is an ideal opportunity for local companies to help support a local rider to international success. Please feel free to contact Doug Smith on 07771 915020 of email riwm2@hotmail.com if you need any more information.



Zoe Jumps 10,000 ft for Midlands Air Ambulance

Zoe Roberts (16), a sixth form pupil at Blessed William Howard Catholic High School, raised £645 for the Midlands Air Ambulance by completing a 10,000ft tandem sky dive from Tilstock Airfield in Whitchurch, North Shropshire.

Zoe completed the dive with her two brothers Ben (22) and John (20) to mark the 10 year anniversary of their father’s death.  The siblings named their campaign ‘Jump for John Ten Years On’ in memory of their father, John Roberts Snr, who was transported to hospital in the air ambulance following a fatal motorbike accident.

“It was a truly amazing experience to jump out of the plane, and I had to go first which was really scary! I am delighted with the money we raised and that we were able to mark the anniversary of our fathers’ passing with such a big event.  We were really touched by the level of support we got from so many people.” said Zoe.



What A Year For The Air Training Corps Penkridge Squadron!

Passed two training classifications, completed a gliding scholarship, went on an overseas camp, passed 2 BTEC’s, played drums in the band when on parade and got promoted, let me tell you about it.

I joined the cadets when I was 13 years old, due to new rules people can now join at 12, and have taken part in countless activities including studying and passing the classification training set out by the Air Cadet organisation. The training is not hard as it’s all done on the computer and there are plenty of other cadets and staff to help if you get stuck.  This year I passed the Master Cadet and Instructor Cadet course’s which is as high as I can go.

The gliding scholarship was at RAF Tern Hill and involved 10 hours of instruction. The gliders used by the cadets are powered by a small engine so that they can stay up for longer and glide when required. 10 hours of instruction is quite intense but the instructors are highly qualified and very capable. Having passed the course I now have “Glider Pilot” wings on my uniform.

Having already attended camps at UK based RAF stations as well as having passed the required classifications meant that I could put my name forward and apply for an overseas camp. In past years cadets from my squadron have been to Cyprus but I got selected and had a fantastic time for a week in Gibraltar.  As well as visiting all the various sites on the base we also got to go on a tour around a nuclear submarine that was in port. It wasn’t all work, we played sports virtually every day and also had trips into Spain.

If you were in Penkridge on Remembrance Sunday you will probably have seen/heard the Squadron leading the parade. This is an important event for us and we always prepare for it not just in practicing our drill but also the attention we give to our uniforms so that we are as smart as possible.

These opportunities are not exceptional, all recruits will have the chance to do similar exciting things providing they stay in the cadets and put the effort into activities.  Above is what I’ve done this year but other cadets have done other interesting activities;  radio, sport, DofE, modelling etc.

If you think that you would also like to join contact the squadron and come down to see if it’s for you. Sgt. A. Jones

See our website: www.2415sqnatc.btck.co.uk

2415 (Penkridge) Squadron, Air Training Corps, Grange Road, Penkridge, Staffordshire, ST19 5NJ.



Cannock Lions Club Upcoming Events

Cannock Lions are an active group of people from Cannock and the surrounding area who have united to raise funds and provide assistance for those in the area who need our help and support.

In the near future we have a very traditional Burns Night at the Chase Golf Club, Pottal Pool Road, ST19 5RN on Sunday 25th of January. The event is black tie with the wearing of the kilt encouraged and of course ladies always look radiant in their ‘posh frocks’. We are very fortunate in that we don’t have just a solo piper but the band of the Black Watch Association, so it is a very

stirring evening. The Pipe Major Steve Beattie addresses the Haggis with unbridled passion! Upon entry you will be given a ‘wee dram’ or a glass of wine which is followed by a wonderful 3 course meal cooked by Chef Phil Whittle and his staff. Tickets are £30. To book, email: kpg14@hotmail.co.uk or ring the ‘Burns Night Hotline’ on 07772 095349. Numbers are limited so book early.

Later in the year we are holding an ‘Auction Evening’ at The Moat House in Acton Trussell (ST17 0RJ) on Thursday 23rd of April, St Georges Day. The evening will have a strong patriotic ‘St Georges’ theme with red and white everywhere! All proceeds from the auction will be donated to The Midland Air Ambulance – an wonderful charity which provides an incredible service to our County. Tickets are £50 to include some ‘bubbly’ during the reception during which time you will be able to view items in the Silent Auction. There will follow a superb three course meal and then the live Auction. There will also be raffle tickets on sale throughout the evening with the draw being made at the end of the night.

To book, email:  cannocklionsclub@hotmail.co.uk or ring 0845 8334967 or 07708 662652.

We are still looking for Auction items for the evening, especially the experiences that money can’t buy. If you have anything you would like to donate to this very worthwhile charity please feel free to contact us as above.


December 2014

Family Lighting Business Goes From Strength to Strength

Lighting has been, not just a business, but also a way of life for the Hayes family for over forty years.

Initially started by Arthur and Shirley, sons Mark and Gary joined the family ‘production line’ after school hours in their Sutton Coldfield kitchen, as soon as all homework was done.

Later progressing into all aspects of light manufacturing and distribution, the family team has grown from strength to strength. The lighting industry really is a true family concern and one that has been made successful by total commitment, dedication and sheer hard work.

Gary is director of the Lighting Bug, Cannock. His brother Mark, having recently relocated from Rotherham, has successfully launched and is a director of Refined Lighting in Milton Keynes. Sister Brenda has been director of the Lighting Bug (Swindon) for the past ten years.

Closer to home, the Lighting Bug ltd has been trading in Cannock for over twenty years originally situated in Walkmill Business Park.

In 1995, the Lighting Bug relocated to the premises on Walsall Road, Bridgtown where it proudly sits and has been successfully trading for over twenty years.

Dedicated staff and sound product knowledge is paramount of importance to the Lighting Bug. Director Gary says,

“Our store is not a multi-national store where customers just walk in, choose a box from the shelves and pay for it. People shop and return to us from all areas, some literally miles away (even New Zealand!), specifically to receive the level of service and knowledge that we are proud to offer.”

“Our staff are all long term employees who take a great deal of pride in their jobs. They are a close-knit team whose aim is to provide good, sound advice with a high level of customer service.”

“Customers who use us, return to us. They even send their children and friends because we have the lighting background and knowledge that sometimes they not only want, but need and appreciate.”

“At the Lighting Bug, interaction with the public is very important. The customers have the satisfaction of seeing the goods they want. They can touch them, compare colours and hold them, all of which helps them to visualise the goods they want in situ. This is our biggest advantage over the internet, we physically exist and do our utmost to help.”

“However, we are not infallible and I have to be honest, there have been some rare occasions when even we have been stumped! But – in those instances, we have made it our business to research the required product or query, and give the  customer details of where to go and who to contact to resolve their problem. How’s that for dedication? You won’t get that level of service from the internet or a multi national!”

The Lighting Bug also offer a service whereby using the customers own fabric, they can tailor make bespoke soft shades to compliment individual décor and enhance their home.

You can view our showroom via Google maps using search postcode ‘WS11 0JH’. Visit your local showroom at 173 Walsall Road, Bridgtown, Cannock, WS11 0JH. Contact us on 01543 577776. Our opening hours are Monday-Sat, 9:30am-5:30pm. Free parking available.



Step Into Christmas at the Winter Walk

Katharine House Hospice’s Winter Walk starts and finishes on the Shugborough Estate on Sunday 7th December at 10am and will feature a festive warm up and a visit from Santa.

Members of the Fundraising Team at the hospice have already been thrilled with the response the event has received.

So far over 250 people have signed up to join the walk which promises to be a fun day for all the family.  Registration for the 4.5 mile sponsored walk, which is once again being generously supported by AF Systems Carpet and Pressure Cleaning, costs just £10 and includes a free Christmas dinner in a bap and commemorative badge at the finish line.  Kids go free!

James Lunney, Fundraiser at the hospice says:  ‘We have been really pleased by the response and so far we have over 250 supporters signed up but still have room for plenty more!  Better still, every penny raised from this sponsored by the walkers event will go towards supporting our patients and their families.’

James says “we have kept the registration fee at the same price as previous years, but we really want to encourage people to gain sponsorship from family, friends and colleagues to raise additional funds for the Hospice. Every year it costs £2.7m to provide our free care services and events like the Winter Walk really help towards this huge figure”

Over the last three years Lacey has taken part in the ‘Winter Walk’ and has raised an incredible £1,854.50, all in her own time. This year Lacey is walker number 1 and her father who walks with Lacey every year is number 2. It’s remarkable what Lacey has done for the hospice since she started the event at just 12 years old and we are truly grateful for all Lacey’s efforts.

Katharine House Hospice relies heavily on the generosity of the community it serves to continue to provide its range of care services.  Only 25% of the hospices running costs come from statutory sources, the rest it must raise itself.

There are still plenty of spaces available on the walk, so round up the family, wrap up warm and support your local hospice.

For more information about the Winter Walk please contact the Fundraising Team on 01785 270808, email fundraising@khhospice.org.uk or sign up online at  www.khhospice.org.uk



November 2014

Make a Date for Under a Tenner!

Robert Cartwright Photography can meet your needs!  A Stafford and District Calendar for 2015, illustrated with 36 colourful photographs, highlighting Stafford and its Victoria Park, Shugborough Hall, Cannock Chase, the local canal scene and countryside.

Every month is themed with a large photograph supported by two small ones, alongside the well proportioned calendar section, which is ideal for making a note of all those important appointments, birthdays and anniversaries that cannot be missed.  The calendar is printed locally to a very high standard by Jason Cornish, Managing Director of the Calendar Company of Brocton.

It is available in Stafford at Waterstones, the Ancient High House, Ye Olde Soup Kitchen, the Post Office at Bridle Road, Stafford, and the Spar Shop in Great Haywood.

Priced at under a Tenner the calendar also makes an ideal gift for friends both at home and abroad.A range of 16 designs of Christmas cards is also available.  Please contact Robert for your brochure illustrating the collection on 01785 254283. Or by email robertandrew.cartwright@virgin.net



Norton Bathrooms Open Morning Helps Three Local Youngsters Find Work

On Tuesday, 30th September, Norton Bathrooms, of Walsall Road, Norton Canes held an open morning aimed at educating local youths and members of the bathroom, plumbing and tiling industries on the benefits of apprenticeships. The morning resulted in three previously unemployed individuals being offered work experience with a view to an apprenticeship placement.

Present at the event, which was held at the region’s largest bathroom showroom, were representatives from South Staffs College, The Princes Trust and Central Construction training as well as wetroom and tiling specialists Schlüter Systems, adhesive manufacturer BAL and Manhattan Showers Managing Director, Gary Campbell.

Professionals from within the bathroom and tiling industries attended the morning to watch live demonstrations from Schlüter & BAL, showcasing the latest products on the market that help ensure their customers bathroom projects are finished to the highest standard and will last flawlessly for years to come. Everyone who attended was treated to free bacon sandwiches, refreshments and a selection of free products from BAL & Schlüter. In addition, a prize draw was held for over £500 worth of tiling products. Norton Bathrooms Managing Director, Alison Mennell commented “The purpose of the event was to bring together our experienced industry professionals and contractors with local young people looking to make a start within the construction and interiors industries. The result of our open morning has been fantastic and several of our contractors have expressed an interest in taking part”.

Alistair McVinnie of McVinnie Associates in Norton Canes has agreed to take on three individuals in partnership with Norton Bathrooms on a work experience placement. When asked about his decision to take on an apprentice Alistair commented “I believe that there are a lot of young people who deserve to be given a chance. I hope that by taking on these lads we will be able to give them a start in the industry and, in return, benefit from their hard working attitude and creativity”.

Both Alison and Alistair believe that their efforts should inspire other local businesses and tradespeople to follow suit and encourage fresh blood into their industries. Alison stated, “As a profession, bathroom installation is extremely complex and there are fewer and fewer new experts emerging. There are also many young people in this area that deserve the chance to learn a trade that they will enjoy. With the recent economic upturn, now is an ideal time to be passing on skills & knowledge to the next generation of professional skilled tradesmen. Our aim at Norton Bathrooms is to give these young people a helping hand and to keep a valuable skillset within our community”.

Kieron Rose, Cameron Stretton & Ben Smith who are all students of Central Construction Training, an independent private training provider offering funded NVQ opportunities, will be joining Norton Bathrooms and McVinnie associates on a work experience placement, with a view to gaining an apprenticeship. Brett Wall, Managing Director of Central Construction Training is delighted with the opportunities that have arisen from the Norton Bathrooms open morning; he commented “It’s not always easy for me to find a business willing to offer our young people a chance. In Alison I have met a likeminded individual who is passionate not only about Norton Bathrooms but also about helping the local community thrive”.

Following the success of the event, Norton Bathrooms are already planning an open evening aimed at consumers as well as industry professionals and another of their subcontractors is already in talks with South Staffs College about future apprenticeship opportunities he could offer.

Norton Bathrooms and Sister Company Stafford Bathrooms are the West Midlands largest independent family run bathroom retailer, offering bathroom excellence since 1975. For further information please visit www.nortonbathrooms.co.uk or www.staffordbathrooms.co.uk or call Cannock 01543 270 800 Stafford 01785 254 377.



Penny For Your Thoughts: A Musical Biography Concert Produced by George Stuart 

“How much can one Penny change your life?”

You can’t put a price on life. You can’t give a person a cash value, nor can you sum up their worth in money. But this Penny…Penny Forster…well, she truly was priceless.

From Lye in Stourbridge, Penny was a devoted mother, wonderful daughter, respected  Headteacher, one-of-a-kind friend and a simply unforgettable person. It is hard to say just how loved Penny was by so many people, and how much of a positive influence she had on the lives of others. The undying love she had for her family who, even before her passing, had not had an easy life by any means. And the countless circles of friends she kept and cared for, be they work colleagues, new-found friendships or lifelong “pals”. Penny touched the lives of so many with her never-ending kindness and love.

On 6th September 2013, after a long and gruelling battle, Penny lost her life to the cruel and terrible disease that is cancer.

And so, 12 months after her passing, ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’ is born. Having being involved in musical theatre for 10 years myself, and knowing Penny’s love for all things musical, it seemed a fitting way to celebrate the life of a truly inspirational lady. After gathering some close (and extremely talented) friends together and getting them on board, the ball is finally rolling.

The basic idea? To put on a concert that tells Penny’s story, from start to finish, using songs that we all love to perform from the world of musical theatre and raise money for a charity that works so hard to prevent even more people from falling victim to this awful disease, Cancer Research UK.

With an incredible cast, a brilliant band, and music that is bound to make you both laugh and cry, ‘Penny For Your Thoughts’ promises to be a night that you won’t want to miss.


‘Penny For Your Thoughts: A Musical Biography Concert’ is for ONE NIGHT ONLY on Friday 9th January 2015 at 7:30pm at the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham Conservatoire. Tickets are £12 (£9 concession and £5 student tickets) and are available by calling George Stuart on 07939 029160.

All proceeds go to Cancer Research UK. Any donations welcome on our website www.justgiving.co.uk/penniesforpenny



Bridgtown Cycles: Join Our Christmas Club!

Bridgtown Cycles is one of the biggest independent bike shops in the U.K. providing a huge variety of bikes from children’s and general family bikes to high end specialist carbon race machines.

With Christmas just around the corner the store runs a “Christmas Club” for customers who want to spread the cost of their Christmas purchase, please contact the store for more details on 01922 411180.

A new bike still remains in the top 5 most wanted items on any child’s Christmas Wish List, along with all the latest computer games and gadgets. As well as traditional children’s bikes, they also sell balance bikes, BMX and the very latest Ministry Mini BMX.

The store has excellent facilities including showrooms, professional workshop, specialist bike fit area along with changing rooms and shower. There is plenty of free parking outside, tea and coffee is always on offer to anyone visiting the shop along with a comfy sofa to relax on whilst deciding on your perfect bike purchase. It’s not surprising that customers travel from far and wide to spend the day at the store!

The Workshop provides general servicing and repairs, help with any mechanical problems however big or small and they are always happy to supply a full quote before starting any work.

So if you’ve been thinking about getting into cycling or upgrading your current bike there is no better time to visit Bridgtown Cycles where you’ll be guaranteed to receive a warm welcome and plenty of help and advice from a team of enthusiastic cyclists.

You will find them open 6 days a week, Monday – Saturday 9.30am – 5.30pm at Lakeside Plaza, Walkmill Lane, Bridgtown, Cannock (next door to Silver Blades Ice Skating) or visit www.btownbikes.com for further information.



Mere Park Garden Centre Open Christmas Barn!

Christmas has come early for Mere Park Garden Centre in Newport! With not long now until the big day, Mere Park Garden Centre (just off the A41) has recently opened their new Christmas Barn!

A winter wonderland offering everything you could possibly want and more for the festive period.

The centres festive sales area is now open! The Christmas Barn showcases a number of enchanting displays, giving you the perfect idea of how to decorate your home this Christmas.

Manager Pam Shaw said “We want to give people ideas and inspiration about how their own homes could look.”

For Mrs Shaw and her team at Mere Park, Christmas started months ago. She explained, “We go over to Holland in January each year to buy for the following Christmas.”

“All of the plans for this year have been drawn up since about February. All of the areas and displays are designed by the staff.”

Father Christmas’ Grotto is all ready for his arrival on Saturday 22nd November. You can see Santa arrive by fire engine at 1pm and the Grotto will be open from 1:30pm-5pm. The Grotto will also be open every weekend leading upto Christmas from 11:15am-5pm on Saturdays and 10:30m-4:15pm on Sundays. For a full itinerary of festive events throughout November and December see the programme of events listed below.

There are a large selection of Christmas trees available as well as Christmas lunch to get you in the festive spirit. Christmas lunch will be available from Monday 1st December.

A FREE local bus service available Monday to Saturday, 9:30am-3:30pm and all day Sunday during Mere Park Garden Centre’s opening hours.


Penkridge Victorian Christmas Market

With over 100 stalls of fabulous food and local crafts, as well as plenty of entertainment, it’s no wonder Penkridge Victorian Christmas Market is the event that truly marks the start of the Festive Season!

This year it will be taking place on Friday 28th November from 5pm to 9pm on the site of Penkridge Market, and admission to the event is free!

The Market will be brimming with local produce selling everything you need for your Festive Feast; with the chance to sample local delicacies such as savoury scotch eggs, speciality cheeses, jams, chutneys and preserves.

And if that’s not enough to satisfy your appetite there will be a wide variety of refreshments available, including a hog roast; jacket potatoes, pizza and doughnuts to name but a few!

The Old Deanery Farm Cafe will also be open serving hot drinks and festive food, including a traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings!

In addition to all this fabulous food, there will be Craft Stalls selling everything from handmade jewellery, gifts and handbags to wooden toys, making it easy to find unique presents for all your friends and family.

There will also be plenty to keep the children entertained. Father Christmas will of course be making an extra-special guest appearance, as well as Arthur’s Fun Fair, a fire eater and stilt walker!

Penkridge Market is located in the centre of Penkridge, which is just 7 miles from Stafford; 7 miles from Cannock and 10 miles from Wolverhampton and is easily accessible from the A449, A5 and M6 (junction 12). Parking and admission is free.

For further information on the event, please telephone 01785 713419 or log onto the website www.penkridgemarket.co.uk



New Season Starts On A High Note For Number One Events

Local organisers Number One Events got their 2014/15 programme of antiques and collectors’ fairs under way in fine form in September at the Staffordshire County Showground, when they once more played host to the BBC’s Bargain Hunt, who filmed five programmes rather than the usual four over the two days of the event.  This time it was the turn of experts Thomas Plant and Christina Trevanion to help steer their respective teams towards success in the auction room.

It is hoped that the first of these programmes may be televised at around Christmas or early in the New Year.  As one of the contestants in the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, presenter Tim Wonnacott was kept well and truly on his toes too, since the BBC also used the fair as the location for filming Tim’s Strictly profile along with his dancing partner, Natalie Lowe.

With stand bookings for their next antiques and collectors’ fair on 8th and 9th November already nearing capacity, and early enquiries about their Christmas/New Year fair on 27th and 28th December fast mounting up, organisers are confidently looking forward to another busy season for this popular event.



Friends of Penkridge Library

Friends of Penkridge Library is a recently formed group that is committed to promoting the future of Penkridge library for the benefit of all members of our community. Whether  you are a library user, or simply believe that this public service should remain in your village, we need your help.

Recent proposals by Staffordshire County Council aim to place all Staffordshire libraries into one of three categories. The top category, or Library Extra, will have improved facilities, and be located in Newcastle, Burton, Tamworth and Lichfield – proposing none in South Staffordshire. The middle category, or Library Core, will remain similar to the current service, with the closest in Stafford, Cannock and Codsall. The final category, or Library Local, is proposed for 24 libraries in Staffordshire, including Penkridge and Brewood. These will no longer by led or managed by Staffordshire County Council, and will have no full-time staff or visiting professional librarians.

In order to keep the library running, each community will have to find skilled volunteers to run the legal, financial and customer service aspects of the library, as well as maintain opening hours and fund the costs of building maintenance, water, electricity, cleaning, waste disposal and other basics. Similar schemes elsewhere in the UK have resulted in very restricted services due to the poor capacity of volunteers to take on such a large undertaking. Issues include complying with legal restrictions when accessing public service and user databases, resulting in many libraries becoming little more than a room with books.

During the recent consultation process, which ended on 7th October, Friends of Penkridge Library have been campaigning against these changes, while encouraging members of the public and community to voice their opinion. We are proud to say that through workshops with Pencric and Riverside House, together with support from Penkridge Parish Council, all village schools, and many village NGO and professional organisations, a strong response has been returned to SCC. Over 3,200 people have signed our petition in favour of keeping Penkridge a full-time service, operated by SCC, with trained professional staff.

We believe this public service is at the heart of our community, so please consider showing your support and signing the petition before 30th November, available in Penkridge library, or for download from our Facebook Page, Friends of Penkridge Library Community.

For further information, or to let us know what has been happening in your library, please contact us at friendsofpenkridgelibrary@gmail.com or telephone 01785 713419. Or, come along to our meetings, held in Penkridge Library on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays of every month from 5pm–6:30pm.

We would love to hear your ideas regarding how we can improve and support our library, organise new events or expand our membership.

Activities planned in November: 

Penkridge Reading Group

6th November, 2:30-3:30pm. Members will be discussing ‘The Scandal of the Season’ by Sophie Gee. A new book is chosen every month, and discussed on the first Thursday. Please contact the library for details.

Friends of Penkridge Library

11th & 25th November, 5–6:30pm. New members welcome. We will be discussing plans for Christmas related activities and events in the library.

Staffordshire Shakespeare Society

18th November, 5:30–6:30pm. Members alternate between reading works of Shakespeare and discussing themes within his work. Please contact the library for details.

Penkridge and South Staffordshire Runners

Every Saturday, 9am. Meet outside the library for an informal 3 mile run. Refreshments provided.

Did you know!

Members of Penkridge library now have access to free Wi-Fi. It’s free to join, so bring along your gadgets and have a go. Computers with access to the internet can also be booked free of charge for up to two hours every day, so we hope to see you soon.

Using your library is the best way to show that you care. Our user numbers are being monitored, so please pop in, borrow a book, get a bus pass, or use the computers. It all counts!

Tel: 01785 713419

Email: friendsofpenkridgelibrary@gmail.com

Facebook: Friends of Penkridge Library Community



Learn How to Play Chess at Penkridge Chess

Alan Ruffle, English Chess Federation Arbiter and Coach is due to start a new local Chess Club in Penkridge on  Saturday 8th November 2014. The course will take place in Room 24 of the Haling Dene Centre, Penkridge. Starting at 10am until 12pm on Saturday 8th November 2014.

The objective of the introductory chess course is to raise the standard of play of the beginner player to ‘improver’, capable of holding their own on bottom board of a team playing in the bottom division of one of our local leagues.

For more information or to join contact Alan Ruffle English Chess Federation Arbiter/Coach. Tel: 01785 711095.                                    Email: aa.chess@btopenworld.com


Robin Hood, Maid Marion and Little John. 

Richard the Lion Heart. 

Crusades 1090 to 1290………. Third Crusade 1190.


Meeting of Richard and Saladin. 

The value of the pieces and how they move.


En Passant. 

Strategic Opening Moves

HedgeHog- Notation, Use of Clocks, Tournament Rules 

Laws of Chess

Supervised Tournament



Brewood Woggle

Runners came from as far afield as Scotland and Surrey to run the second “Brewood Woggle”, a 10km race around the beautiful South Staffordshire village of Brewood and the Chillington Estate.

Hosted by St Dominic’s High School for Girls, this annual charity fun run was organised on behalf of Brewood Scouts as part of their fundraising activities to build a new Scout hut and attracted over 80 runners.  The run attracted all standards of runners, who competed for the coveted Brewood Woggle trophies for fastest woman and fastest man. The race was eventually won by Robin Sedgemore Smith from Newport Running Club in 35 minutes and Claire Martin from Telford AC in an amazing 37 minutes.

St Dominics also played host to the inaugural Mini Woggle and Junior Woggle designed for the champions of tomorrow. The competition was fierce with some very good performances from local youngsters whose prize was a bespoke handmade shield. The winners of the Mini Woggle were: Alistair Morrice from St Mary and St Chad’s First School, Brewood and Kirsty Kellhar from Brewood Middle School.  Alex Fitton from Adams Grammar and Natasha Wake from Brewood Middle School took the Junior Titles.

The Woggle was well supported by the community as well wishers turned out to support the runners, together with an army of volunteers from Lloyds Bank and the local Co-op, who gave up their Sunday morning lie-in to marshal and serve tea and coffee to the tired runners. Without them no race could have taken place so the Scouts would like to say a huge thank you.

The event successfully raised over £1000 and next year’s event has already been booked for 27th September 2015.

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