Buy a butterfly to celebrate memories!

Round & About

Hungerford

BBOWT wildlife charity launches new commemorative display

To mark Valentine’s Day, a local wildlife charity has opened two new butterfly memory walls to celebrate special occasions, declare your love for nature – or your sweetheart!

The ‘Your Wild Memories’ displays have been installed by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) at two of its visitor centres. They feature specially-designed butterfly plaques which can be personalised with messages to remember precious moments, people or wild times.

The butterflies are made of brushed stainless steel and fly above an eye-catching wildlife border. They have been put up at the Nature Discovery Centre near Thatcham and College Lake visitor centre near Tring.

Laura Pepper, BBOWT’s Head of Philanthropy, said: “If your Valentine sets your heart a-flutter or you’ve just got engaged or married, why not celebrate your love with a specially engraved butterfly? Or you might like to commemorate a special birthday, a retirement, a favourite family walk or perhaps remember a loved one.

“Butterflies hold all sorts of different meanings for people, as well as being beautiful to behold. Our new ‘Your Wild Memories’ wall is a lovely way to celebrate your special memories and help the vital work of BBOWT at the same time.”

The Your Wild Memories walls have got off to a flying start, with butterfly messages added by local MPs, writers and nature champions.

Estelle Bailey, BBOWT’s Chief Executive, wrote: This special place, with nature at its heart. Here for every community.

Laura Farris, MP for Newbury, left this message on her butterfly at the Nature Discovery Centre: Delighted to support the NDC, bringing the wild into the heart of Thatcham.

Buckingham MP Greg Smith’s butterfly at College Lake reads: Thank you BBOWT, our nature champions. Proud to support you and work with you.

Writer and butterfly lover Patrick Barkham left this beautiful message: Breathe in green, Breathe in blue, Soar soul! Thanks, nature.

Priced at £250 (inclusive of VAT), each butterfly can be engraved to order with the wording of your choice. Funds raised from the sale of the commemorative butterfly plaques will go towards BBOWT’s work creating more nature everywhere for everyone, to benefit wildlife, climate and people.

To order your personalised butterfly visit: www.bbowt.org.uk/support-us/your-wild-memories Order forms are also available from College Lake or the Nature Discovery Centre. For more information call 01865 775476 (Monday-Friday 9am to 5pm) and ask to speak to the Membership Team.

What’s new pussycat (doll)?

Round & About

Hungerford

Festival season isn’t far away, and Henley Festival has just announced its line up for 2024

2024 has only just got its feet under the table and we’re already looking forward to basking in the sun, having a few cheeky ones, and having a proper knees-up in a field. That’s right, festival season is looming on the horizon like a glitter-filled, good-time cloud; which is preferable to the rain-filled, dark and pendulous kind that we’re used to. Obviously.

Henley Festival have wasted no time in announcing their headliners for this year’s event, and we have to say, it’s looking impressive already. Opening the festival is Pussycat Doll, Masked Singer panellist and Sunset Boulevard star, Nicole Scherzinger.  

Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart is set to captivate the Floating Stage audience with ‘Dave Stewart’s Eurythmics Songbook’. It’s been a full 41 years since the release of Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This), so expect that particular tune to get an airing.

From one icon to another…the Empress of Soul, Gladys Knight will be heading to Henley on the Friday night, and sadly, it will be the final show of her UK Farewell Tour. At least we’ll have the chance to say goodbye to a genuine legend who, along with The Pips recorded some of the greatest music of the 20th Century.

As the sun goes down on Henley Festival’s Friday evening Rylan will be DJing and entertaining the crowd with a trademark larger-than-life performance! It doesn’t feel like 10 years since he lit up the ninth series of The X Factor, but apparently it is. He’s now one of the UK’s most loved broadcasters, and we’re always a bit partial to his appearances on Celebrity Goggle Box.

The House Gospel Choir is exactly what it sounds like: an exhilarating mix of Gospel and House. Worshipping at the altar of dance they find the place where spirituality and the euphoria of the dancefloor come together –  amped up further by a full house band and percussion from the one and only Dezy Bongo, creating an effortless live fusion of the biggest house and gospel tunes that never fails to raise the roof.

Keeping the rave going will be no problem on Saturday evening as Ministry of Sound Ibiza Anthems with Ellie Sax take to the Floating Stage presenting the anthems that have sound-tracked everyone’s most iconic Ibiza moments.

Also confirmed for this year are classical music’s most famous Aston Villa fan Nigel Kennedy and the king of lockdown cover versions Sam Ryder. With some top names gracing the comedy stage (Mark Watson, Sara Pascoe, and Dara Ó Briain) Henley Festival is shaping up to be one of the highlights of the summer.

You can get tickets here.

WalkWithMe 2024

Round & About

Hungerford

If the start of a new year has prompted you to get out and do something about your fitness, then how about doing it while raising funds for a fabulous cause in 2024.

Come and join WalkWithMe, a charity fundraising 26-mile walk being held on Sunday, 5th May.
We start and finish in the beautiful grounds of Moulsford School, Moulsford-on-Thames. The route winds through some stunning South Oxfordshire and West Berkshire countryside, including a section of the historic Ridgeway and the River Thames. Registration is £65 per person plus sponsorship fundraising (enter before 15th January for a reduced registration of £55).

WalkWithMe was established in 2011 by a group of friends with the simple concept of ‘walking together to make a difference’. Over the last 12 years we have raised more than £520,000 for a variety of local and national charities. This year we are fundraising for Maggie’s Cancer Care Centre in Oxford which provides invaluable support for cancer patients and their families.

We hold organised training walks between February and May in the local area to get you ready for your challenge slowly building up the distance walked each session.

For all the information you need about the event and Maggie’s and to register visit the website here.

If you need to get in touch, email [email protected]. Come along and help raise loads of money for our fantastic charity and let’s get together, get fit, make a difference!

Sporting success at Crosfields

Karen Neville

Hungerford

Students are exceling in a range of sports, find out more about the facilities on offer for your child

There’s never a day without sporting success at Crosfields and the autumn term is no exception!

In hockey, ISA U9A Girls hockey team were undefeated and won their group with a very good record. The U13A and U11A girls hockey teams both won their respective ISA Plate Competition, a fantastic achievement for them all after all their hard work this season to improve their skills and tactics.

The U15A Girls hockey won the ISA Shield Competition which was another great achievement for this young team who have been developing their skills and tactics over recent months. They played some fantastic hockey in this tournament with some very close matches against some older teams!

There has also been much success in football as Crosfields teams continue to excel in their competitions. The U13A girls football won the ISA Cup at LVS whilst the U15A girls football won ISA Plate. The boys have also had a wealth of success with the U13A boys football reaching the last 16 of the ISFA cup and last 16 of the ISFA Shield competitions.  The U11A boys are off to the IAPS National Finals after winning the IAPS regional qualifier at Ashford Prep School. Congratulations to Oscar, Roman, Luke, Thomas, Zach, Heath, Jack and Keye! Their record at the regional qualifier read: 8 games played, 7 wins, 1 draw, 0 losses and, incredibly, 0 goals conceded. A magnificent achievement!

All our athletes performed brilliantly across several disciplines over the autumn term and with opportunities still to come in cross country, netball, basketball and swimming, we look forward to many more fantastic performances. To view our sporting facilities, and find out more about what sports at Crosfields can do for your child, book a personal tour here.

Round Table Santa Claus is back

Round & About

Hungerford

Catch Santa around Twyford and the surrounding area from December 1st to 17th

Once again, Santa and his enchanting sleigh, brought to you by the Twyford and District Round Table, will be spreading joy throughout the Twyford, Hurst, Wargrave and Ruscombe communities this holiday season.

Our cherished annual tradition of Santa’s sleigh gracing your streets, accompanied by festive tunes, opportunities to wave at Santa himself, and special treats for well-behaved kids, is set to continue between December 1st and 17th. We’ll be kicking-off Santa’s tour at the annual Twyford Together Christmas Fayre on the 1st.

If you can spare some change to drop into our collection buckets when we visit, your generosity will be deeply appreciated. The Twyford and District Round Table relies on contributions from beloved community events like this one, which are then channelled to support local charities such as Daisy’s Dream, Age Concern, Alexander Devine Children’s Hospice, Understanding Dementia, Thames Valley Air Ambulance, and many others.

Stay tuned for updates closer to the event by visiting our Facebook page where we’ll be sharing routes and updates during the period.

We are always looking for volunteers to join us, if you are interested in getting involved just drop us a message on FB.

QueenMee Accessories supports Aylesbury Women’s Aid

Karen Neville

Hungerford

Celebrate kindness with QueenMee, shop local and support local women in need this Christmas

QueenMee Accessories, the boutique hair accessories and brooch company, is partnering with Aylesbury Women’s Aid for November and December with donations to women and children in the shelter.

For every £100 spent on QueenMee.com, a sparkling hair accessory or piece of jewellery from the collection will be donated to a woman or child resident of the shelter, to give them a Christmas boost.

April Benson, CEO of Aylesbury Women’s Aid said of the initiative: “We know the women and children here are going to love receiving the accessories. We do receive some donations already at Christmas for the children, but we don’t receive much for their mothers. That is why QueenMee’s support is so welcome, as it will give our residents a lovely pick-me-up.”

QueenMee founder, Amanda Waterstone Carthy, is the daughter of well-known Entrepreneur Sir Tim Waterstone, founder of Waterstone’s booksellers. She says: “QueenMee is about celebrating kindness – being kind to yourself, celebrating your own personal style, and giving back as you shop for yourself or others.

“We know that the Christmas period often brings with it an increase in the incidence of domestic abuse, with money worries, increased time spent at home, and alcohol all escalating domestic abuse incidents.

“As a mother myself, I know how important it feels to protect your child – and give them a magical Christmas. I often think of the pain women in abusive relationships experience, and of the impact on their children.

“I am so pleased to be able to do something small to lift survivors of domestic abuse and their children this Christmas.

“I hope the colour and sparkle of the jewellery will bring hope and cheer to the residents of Aylesbury Women’s Aid shelter; and that the mothers and children will enjoy celebrating Christmas in a safe environment together.”

QueenMee Accessories’ collection includes brooches, hair clips, headbands, silk scrunchies, and earrings, all of which make gorgeous gifts – with the bonus of giving back as you shop.

Beautiful, eco-friendly gift wrap is free of charge with every order.

The QueenMee Christmas collection is available to order online at QueenMee.com. Also at John Lewis, High Wycombe – 4th December to 10th December. Waddesdon Manor Christmas Fair – 22nd November to 17th December.

Youngsters’ wild photography project

Round & About

Hungerford

Exhibition of work by teenagers and children who have discovered a shared talent for wildlife photography on a BBOWT course.

The Youth Nature Photography Project was run by Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) at the charity’s Nature Discovery Centre (NDC) in Thatcham.

Now the budding snappers are holding an exhibition of their pictures at the centre this half term.

The youngsters on the course all have challenging personal circumstances, ranging from health conditions such as autism and anxiety to being in the care system or coming from a low-income family.

The course was designed to give them opportunities and learn skills they otherwise might not have discovered, and children and parents have said the effect was transformative.

Chris Harrison, whose nine-year-old daughter Sophia joined the course, said: “Thank you so much for including Sophia on the course, it’s given her so much more confidence and drive to get out of her comfort zone and explore the outside. It’s been great to see the transformation. I’m so proud of her for what she’s produced and her interest isn’t showing any sign of waning. Thank you for everything you taught her as well as giving her the opportunity. She’s loved it and it’s still all she wants to talk about.”

Gia Gomes’s15-year-old son Caleb also joined the course, she said: “Thanks so much for the opportunity. He’s really enjoyed it and learnt a lot and he loves the camera. He really wants you to know that he’s appreciated everyone’s time and input.”

The project was led by BBOWT officer Emma Gray and had three aims: improve participants’ wellbeing, teach them new skills and foster a new connection to the natural world.

Studies have shown that spending time in nature can lower blood pressure and heart rate, reduce anxiety, and improve mood. The Wildlife Trust also encourages all people to spend time in nature to build a sense of connection that can inspire action for wildlife and climate.

The photography workshops at the NDC were led by professional photographer Toni Cross and the young students used professional-quality cameras supplied by BBOWT which they have been allowed to take home on a long-term loan to keep practicing. The whole project was funded by the Robert Pilgrim Photographic Trust.

Commenting on the success of the course, Emma said: “This has been such a rewarding project to work on. All the participants came with various challenges in their lives but they have engaged brilliantly with all of the workshops and it has been fantastic to see how much they have developed. As well as improving their photography skills and connecting with nature, they have all increased in confidence and developed skills such as listening and patience.

“During one session they were practising their fieldcraft skills, getting down low and moving slowly and quietly so as not to disturb the wildlife they were trying to photograph. They crawled into a thick mass of bushes to try to get a good shot of a deer, and were doing such a good job of being still and quiet that at one point I thought I had lost them all! In another session, one of the participants brought her therapy dog River along so they could practise getting shots of a moving animal. They all had a lot of fun doing this, but I don’t think any of us expected she would run so fast.”

The Youth Nature Photography Project Exhibition will open in the visitor centre at the NDC on Saturday, 21st October, with a small ceremony at 11am, and will run to the following Saturday. The centre is open every day in half term 10am to 5pm. Full details at bbowt.org.uk/events

Join The Big Wild Walk

Round & About

Hungerford

Get active for nature: walk, run, cycle, wheel or swim for wildlife!

The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Walk is set to be the most exciting yet with its new ambassador Rhiane Fatinikun backing this year’s challenge.

Rhiane is an award-winning outdoors advocate and community organiser. She founded Black Girls Hike (BGH UK) in 2019 to challenge the stereotypes and lack of representation in the outdoors.

This year Big Wild Walk participants can create their own adventure, whether that’s by walking, running, cycling, wheeling, or swimming, offering flexibility for getting involved. Funds raised will help wildlife recover and contribute towards The Wildlife Trusts’ goal of protecting 30% of UK’s land and sea for nature by 2030.

Liz Shearer, Community Engagement Director at Berkshire, Buckinghamshire & Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, said: “The Big Wild Walk enables all of us to get involved, however we like, while having fun and feeling good about doing something for wildlife. I love nothing more than putting my boots on and exploring the outdoors, and there are some wonderful places across our counties to do this, including our 80+ nature reserves.

“The brilliant part about this challenge is that you can take it at your own pace and plan your own adventure. It’s also a great opportunity to raise money for The Wildlife Trusts, including BBOWT, to help us create more nature everywhere. What are you waiting for?”

The Wildlife Trusts are leading a swathe of projects across the UK to reintroduce keystone species such as beavers, revive marine habitats such as kelp forests and create more space for nature by rewilding larger areas.

This autumn, the Wildlife Trusts also team up with Aardman Animations to co-create Timmy Time materials to encourage families with young children to take part.

The specially-created Hedgehog Walk is designed for pre-school and Key Stage 1 pupils who can choose their own Timmy Time-themed character fundraising pack, including Apricot the hedgehog and Stripey the badger, to complete the challenge with. The challenge is to walk 3km in a week, the same distance a hedgehog travels each night.

The Big Wild Walk takes place during half term from Monday 16 to Monday 30 October 2023. Sign up at wildlifetrusts.org/bigwildwalk

Rhiane Fatinikun, founder of Black Girls Hike and ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts, says: “Spending time hiking in nature is incredibly special and I love sharing my experiences of the outdoors with others. I’m absolutely delighted to become an ambassador for The Wildlife Trusts as the Big Wild Walk gets underway. I started my journey into the great outdoors with no hiking experience so I’m keen to encourage everyone, no matter their ability or background, to take that first step. Signing up to the Big Wild Walk is a fantastic way to support nature and wild places whilst doing something you love. Or mix it up and turn it into a run, swim or bike ride – the choice is yours! I hope lots of you join us this October to champion nature by having a wild adventure no matter how big or small.”

Steve Brown, television presenter and athlete mentor, says: “All my life, I’ve found the greatest pleasure in exploring the countryside and championing our wild places. I believe nothing should hold you back from enjoying the great outdoors and it’s so exciting that The Wildlife Trusts’ Big Wild Walk this year invites participants to take up the challenge in whatever way that works for them. Whether you choose to walk, run, cycle, wheel, or swim, I’d encourage everyone to sign up and invite their family and friends to join in the fun too. However big or small your adventure, all funds raised by taking part in the Big Wild Walk will contribute towards The Wildlife Trusts’ goal of protecting and connecting 30% of UK’s land and sea for nature by 2030. Feeling inspired, start planning your challenge now?!”

Kate Cook, brand manager at Aardman says: “We are delighted to champion this fantastic challenge through our Timmy Time characters, specifically engaging younger participants through the Hedgehog Walk. We hope families love our character packs and learn something new about the incredible wildlife around them along the way.”

The Big Wild Walk takes place during half term from Monday 16th to Monday 30th October. Sign up at wildlifetrusts.org/bigwildwalk

Garden Invaders

Round & About

Hungerford

There are many plants that can inadvertently take over our gardens, particularly weeds, but there are some beautiful plants on sale that you can wonder why you ever planted. These are my own experiences and everyone will have a different gripe, says R&A gardener Cathie Welch

Houttuynia cordata ‘Chamaeleon’ (pictured)

A beautiful plant often sold for ponds and waterside planting now rampaging in my edible border. It is edible but not very nice. It spreads underground by rhizomes and pops up everywhere gathering momentum after its winter sleep.

Bamboo

This is where it is essential to do your homework. There are bamboos and there are bamboos. Avoid at all costs the running away ones that can colonise gardens and invade those of your neighbours as well as lift up paths, destroy foundations and puncture pond liners. I tend to choose Phylostachys aurea and nigra which are clump forming with beautiful stems but they are quite high maintenance needing to be thinned and trimmed constantly. Occasionally an unwanted shoot pops up but it is important to cut it off. You are in charge of your plants and not vice versa.

Helianthus

Helianthus is the Genus which includes the annual sunflower. There are several perennial varieties that spread indefinitely if you don’t keep them in check. They also spread by underground tubers and as anyone who has grown Jerusalem artichokes on their allotment will know.

Sorbaria

This is a very pretty fern-like spreading shrub colonising the whole of Thursley common and the surrounding gardens. It is readily on sale in garden centres but never plant it in your garden unless you have the room.

Anemone japonica

I mentioned these in my last article and have battled with them in many a small garden. There are tall invasive varieties but also delightful cultivars like ‘Frilly Knickers’ which I can’t grow at all. They need a regular cull so just choose carefully.

Others

There are many other invasive garden plants like Hypericum calycinum which spreads like mad but is great for banks as is Vinca major or periwinkle. There are many Buddleias and Ivies that do not seed and are not invasive. All plants have their right place. Choose your plants and their location carefully and do a little research on your soil type as one person’s thug plant may not even thrive in your garden.

CGS Courses

Please ask for details as I am now meeting potential students for Spring Courses as well as bespoke workshops and volunteering. I can also come and teach you in your own garden and am happy to chat over a coffee at Ashdene.

Consultancy gift vouchers available too.

Website Cathie’s Gardening School: Surrey’s Garden School

Email [email protected]

A new lease of life

Karen Neville

Hungerford

Second Hand September, upcycling furniture and repair cafes are all fabulous ways to fall in love again with something you once cherished, not only will it save you money but you’ll be doing your bit to help save the planet too!

How often have you bought something (often on impulse) got it back home only for it to loiter in the back of your wardrobe unworn for years? It’s probably something we’ve all been guilty of at one time, so this month rather than a) buy it at all or b) leave it lurking unloved, why not get involved in Second Hand September?

Find out how to get involved where you live