Surrey Wildlife Trust: The Big Give

Round & About

Community & Charity

All donations to the Trust’s campaign to support conservation grazing will be matched by The Big Give from 28th November to 5th December   

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s fundraising appeal to help its team of four-footed conservation heroes preserve and protect precious habitats has received a big boost as match funding platform The Big Give has promised to match any donations received from members of the public – effectively doubling the impact your money can have on local wildlife.

All donations made between 28th November and 5th December will be matched by The Big Give as part of its Christmas Challenge, and the campaign has received backing of £9,800 thanks to Kia UK and a further £5,000 from The Reed Foundation.


SWT is urgently asking for donations to help maintain and extend conservation grazing using herds of Belted Galloway cows and specially-bred cross breed sheep in the county. This is an effective way to keep chalk grasslands and heathlands buzzing with life as the climate and nature crisis bites, and supports a huge number of species including Nightjars, Dartford Warblers, Silver-studded Blue butterflies, Sand Lizards and a multitude of pollinating bees and beetles as well as plant life including orchid species and Cut-leaved Germander. 

But the Trust is being hit by increasing costs for overwintering, feed and veterinary care. Additional funding is urgently needed to recruit more volunteers to help look after the herd.

SWT also wants to increase the use of  ‘no fence’ grazing, which uses specialized GPS collars, controlled using an app. This makes costly fencing unnecessary and enables herds to be moved to new grazing territory safely, quickly and easily.

Surrey Wildlife Trust’s farm and livestock manager James Stoyles says: “Our unique landscapes bring huge benefits to thousands of visitors and residents, but they need sensitive management to stay in good shape for people and nature. Our conservation grazers are the best possible team for the job – but they need help to keep carrying out their vital mission.

“Thanks to the wonderful generosity of our supporters, we’re already 30 per cent of the way towards meeting out overall fundraising target of £50,000. It’s great that The Big Give has offered us this opportunity, but to get over the line we’ll need help from everyone who can afford to make a donation, however small.  Every penny we raise will contribute to a healthier, more biodiverse and more beautiful Surrey.”

The fundraising campaign has four main aims:    

Expanding ‘no fence’ grazing in Surrey. Equipping more conservation grazing cattle with GPS collars will reduce the need for physical fences (thus reducing the costs of installation and maintenance) and allow more targeted grazing.

Increasing awareness of conservation grazing and engage with local communities to ensure that people, dogs and grazing animals can safely enjoy local reserves. 

Increasing the Trust’s conservation grazing team capacity by recruiting and training more volunteer ‘lookerers’. To ensure the day-to-day welfare of the grazing herds, SWT aims to have 15-20 weekend volunteer lookerers.


Breeding a flock of cross-breed sheep (combining traditional Wiltshire Horn and Boreray breeds) with wool-shedding qualities, resulting in improved welfare and low cost. These animals could be a vital resource for land managers and conservationists across the county and beyond.  

If you are able to support the appeal, please donate through to maximise your impact. 

What does Christmas mean to you?

Round & About

Community & Charity

Churches in Abingdon have a variety of services in Advent and Christmastide for you to attend

Well, the Christmas season is officially upon us. You may (or may not) have noticed the decorations already up in the shops by now. Personally, when I think of Christmas, I tend to remember my younger years and those exciting times of waiting until Christmas morning to open presents under the tree. Looking back, when I was a seven-year-old boy the Advent season and countdown to Christmas seemed to take forever.

But, what does Christmas mean to me now? For me, Christmas means far more than just physical gifts under a tree, but that the king of heaven and earth had left heaven to be with his people. The good news of Christmas is that Jesus came to save you and me.

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.   John 1:14 NIV

Let us remember this holiday season that the baby born in a manger is so much more than any ordinary baby. That baby born in a manger is God himself who came to be with his people. The king had come and through his coming, his life, his death and his resurrection, we too can find hope and peace not just during Christmas, but in and out of every season.

 Merry Christmas to you and yours.

 Pastor Michael Ivey

Abingdon Community Church

Churches in Abingdon: Services in Advent and Christmastide 2023

Abingdon Baptist Church (OX14 5AG)

17 December 2023, 6 pm – Carol service followed by mince pies and mulled wine

24 December 2023
     10.30 am – Interactive nativity service for All-Ages

     11.30 pm – Midnight Communion

25 December 2023, 10 am – Christmas morning celebration

Abingdon Community Church (Thameside Primary School, OX14 5NL)

24 December 2023, 10.30 am – Christingle service

Abingdon Vineyard Church (Preston Road Community Centre, OX14 5NR)

17 December 2023, 10.30 am – Christmas café with family Christmas craft activities

24 December 2023, 10.30 am – Family Christmas celebration with Carols and nativity

25 December 2023, 10.30 am – Christmas Day celebration

All Saints (OX14 2AQ)
3 December 2023, 10.30 am – Advent Communion
10 December 2023,3.30 pm – Family Carols
16 December 2023, 10.30 am – Christmas tree festival                        
17 December 2023, 3 pm – Carol service
24 December 2023, 10.30 am – Morning worship
25 December 2023, 10 am – Christmas Day service

Christ Church

17 December 2023 (Northcourt Road, OX14 1PL)

     4 pm – Carol service

     7 pm – Carol service

24 December 2023

     3 pm – Christingle service (Northcourt Road)

     4 pm – Christingle service (Long Furlong, OX14 1XP)

     4.30 pm – Christingle service (Northcourt Road)

     11 pm – Midnight Communion (Northcourt Road)

25 December 2023

     8 am – BCP Christmas Communion (Northcourt Road)

     10 am – Christmas Day services at Long Furlong and Northcourt Road

Parish of Our Lady and St Edmund (OX14 3PL)

24 December 2023

     8.45 am – Mass

    10.15 am – Mass
    6.30 pm – First Mass of Christmas

  8.30 pm – Christmas vigil with Carols
     9 pm – Mass

25 December 2023   
     8 am – Mass
     9.30 am – Mass
     11.30 am – Mass

     2 pm – Polish Mass
26 December 2023 – Feast of St Stephen

     10 am – Mass

     2 pm – Polish Mass

Peachcroft Christian Centre (OX14 2RT)

17 December 2023

     10 am – Nativity service

     7 pm – Carol service

24 December 2023

     10 am – Christmas worship

     3 pm – Christingle service

     5 pm – Christingle service

25 December 2023, 10 am – Christmas celebration

Salvation Army (OX14 5BL)
10 December 2023, 10.30 am– Toy service
17 December 2023, 10.30 am – Christingle service
20 December 2023, 11 am – Community Carol service
24 December 2023, 4 pm – Candle-lit Carol service
25 December 2023, 10.30 am – Christmas morning service

St Helen’s Church (OX14 5BS)
3 December 5.30 pm – Music and readings for Advent                                            
22 December 6.30 pm – Lessons and Carols for Christmas                                   
24 December 4.30 pm – Christingle 11 pm – First Eucharist of Christmas
25 December 2023
     8 am – Holy Communion (1662)
     10.30 am – Family service with address

St Michael’s Church (OX14 1DB)
17 December 2023, 9.30 am – Sung Mass
24 December 2023
     9.30 am – Sung Mass
     3 pm – Crib service
     6.30 pm – Carols and readings
25 December 2023, 10 am – Sung Mass

St Nicolas’ Church (OX14 3NZ)
10 December 2023

     11.15 am – Holy Communion
     5.30 pm – Patronal Evensong

17 December 2023

     11.15 am – Third Sunday service

     5.30 pm – Carol service       

24 December 2023

     11.15 am – Holy Communion

     4 pm – Crib service

 25 December 2023, 10 am – Holy Communion

Trinity Church (OX14 1DB)
3 December 2023, 10.30 am – Gift service and Baptism
10 December 2023, 10.30 am – Civic service
17 December 2023
     10.30 am – Advent Communion
     4 pm – Carol service
24 December 2023, 4 pm – Christingle service
25 December 2023, 10 am – Christmas Day service

Details of all the churches can be found on the Church in Abingdon website:

Round Table Santa Claus is back

Round & About

Community & Charity

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.

Spirit of Christmas comes to Fleet

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

As the Christmas season gets underway, Fleet is preparing to wrap itself up in the magic of the season with three heartwarming events that capture the essence of Christmas

Get ready for the annual Fleet Christmas Festival on Wednesday, 22nd November, from 2pm to 9pm. Organised by a passionate team of volunteers, the festival transforms Fleet into a festive hub, boasting 120 market stalls lining Fleet Road.

From hot and cold culinary delights to unique gifts and decorations, the Christmas Market is a celebration of Christmas and the warmth of community connections. There will also be entertainers and rides as well as a giant snow globe where you can immerse yourself in a magical winter wonderland.

Gurkha Square becomes a stage for the town’s talents, featuring school choirs, community groups and the cast of the year’s pantomime, Dick Whittington. The switching on of the Christmas tree lights at 6.30pm marks a moment of shared joy and anticipation. The square also includes community stalls, celebrating the people who make a difference locally. Father Christmas will be in his grotto in The Harlington which will also host the Harlington Bazaar.

Hart Shopping Centre are hosting the Hart of Craft Christmas market where you can pick a unique or handmade gift, and also enjoy a free glass of wine and mince pie. The Shopping Centre is also host to Autism Friendly Fleet’s Chill Zone offering a quiet space to rest and chill.

Santa’s Post Office: Where wishes take flight

Santa’s Post Office returns to the Hart Shopping Centre, delivered by the Fleet Business Improvement District (BID) and funded by local businesses. This is a charming experience for adults and children alike and children can meet Santa’s elves and write their letters to Santa. It is a true community event with volunteers from Fleet Guides manning the Post Office, raising awareness of the great work they do.

Opening hours:

Wednesday 22nd November, 4pm to 7pm

Saturdays 25th November, 2nd, 9th and 16th December, 10am to 4pm

Sundays 26th November, 3rd, 10th, 17th December, 10am to 4pm

School holidays, Monday 18th – Friday 22nd Dec, 10am to 4pm

Snow Windows: Artistry in every corner

Building on last year’s success, the Fleet Business Improvement District has again commissioned Snow Windows to create unique Christmas artwork in Fleet. Shop windows throughout the town have been transformed into unique pieces of art, each personally designed by renowned artist Tom.

This unique street exhibition showcases the individuality of these local businesses, making a perfect Christmas trail for families to spot the details that make each artwork so special.

For anyone wanting to see the artist at work, Tom from Snow Windows will be decorating the window of 217 Menswear at 217 Fleet Road during the Fleet Christmas Festival on 22nd November.

Tracey Shrimpton, Fleet BID Manager said “Fleet puts on some amazing events throughout the year, and Christmas is a really special time in the town.

“The Fleet Christmas Festival is organised by a dedicated group of volunteers who work so hard every year to organise this event which attracts people from far and wide. Through the contributions of local businesses, the Fleet Business Improvement District is able to provide additional free entertainment including the magical experience of Santa’s Post Office and the awe-inspiring artwork of world-famous Snow Windows.

“We recognise that families may find the pressure to spend money stressful this Christmas and we are delighted that we can offer something very special for families to enjoy that they can do completely free of charge.

“We are so lucky to have such a fabulous range of committed small business owners who open their doors every day to offer customers unique services and products, with local staff to provide help and advice. The High Street is facing many challenges right now and our mission is to support businesses in Fleet with a number of activities to improve the trading environment and this is a great opportunity for people to show their support for local businesses which are the lifeblood of our community.”

The Big Give Christmas Challenge

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

 One donation, twice the impact to help CPRE Oxfordshire campaign to protect our rural county

Do your bit for the CPRE Oxfordshire campaign to protect our rural county.  We are passionate about making the countryside, its villages and market towns, better places for everyone to live, work and enjoy.

Join us in making a real and lasting impact.  Your donation will be matched, doubling your contribution.  Help us launch the Oxfordshire Green Defenders Network and protect our natural heritage.

Every donation counts.

During this week (November 28th to December 5th) only, every donation, no matter what size, will be doubled – up to our target of £4,500 which will generate £9,000 in total.

What you need to do?

•           Add a calendar reminder for your diary for 28th November, including this link.

•           Have your debit or credit card details ready when you make your donation.

•           Tell others! Please pass on this message to anyone you think might be interested in supporting us and having their donation doubled.

The CPRE believes in countryside and green spaces that are accessible to all, rich in nature and playing a crucial role in responding to the climate emergency.

With a local CPRE group in every county in England, we’re advocating nationwide for the kind of countryside we all want: one with sustainable, healthy communities and available to more people than ever, including those who haven’t benefited before.

We stand for a countryside that enriches all of our lives, regenerating our wellbeing, and that we in turn regenerate, protect and celebrate.

Some people might remember us as ‘The Campaign to Protect Rural England’ – our previous name, and one of several in our long history. We’ve worked for almost a century to support and promote the countryside, and we’ll be doing this for generations to come. That’s why we call ourselves ‘the countryside charity’.

Rick Wakeman hosts charity dog concert

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

Actor Peter Egan stars at concert in aid of Saving Strays at Guildford Cathedral on November 24th

Christmas will come to Guildford early this year when keyboard maestro, composer and renowned raconteur Rick Wakeman CBE headlines a very special pre-Christmas concert.

The event at Guildford cathedral on Friday 24th November will raise funds for Saving Strays, the all-volunteer UK charity which rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes abandoned and abused dogs.

Get in the festive mood while raising money for a worthwhile cause with an evening of music and fun, as Rick plays old favourites from his own repertoire and those of other artists, plus seasonal tunes, all adapted for piano and keyboards and interspersed with hilarious anecdotes and stories that tickle his sense of humour.

Rick, who along with his wife Rachel has adopted Saving Strays’ rescue dogs, says: “Dogs have so much love to give and it upsets me that humans are not always reciprocal. If you let a dog into your life, then from first hand experience, I can guarantee that you will have a very special life.”

The bill for this exclusive evening will be completed by:

Musical comedy trio Triple Cream

Singer-songwriter Mim Grey

New vocal talent Nicola Olsen

Choir from Godalming-based music school, A Touch of Musicality

Peter Egan, screen star of Downton Abbey and Unforgotten, and co-chair of Saving Strays.

Join this wonderful evening while raising money to help lost and abused dogs around the world!

Co-chair Maria Slough says: “To be able to host this concert with Rick and Peter and everyone who is taking part is such an incredible way to close out the year. We will raise the roof for the dogs in need and it will be an experience to remember for everyone.”

Ticket prices: Standard £30-50. Meet & Greet and Premium Ticket £80. All tickets include souvenir programme.

Doors open: 6.15pm (for Meet & Greet Ticket holders), 6.50pm (for Standard Ticket holders), Showtime: 7.30pm

Box Office:

Can you help local hygiene bank?

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

Helena Vernon, Project Coordinator for Farnham and Aldershot Hygiene Bank needs your help to find a new storage location to continue helping people in need

At The Hygiene Bank, we believe it is not right that feeling clean should be a luxury or a privilege for anyone in our society, yet many are living in poverty and cannot afford to stay clean. That is why our network of projects exists – to give people access to the basics they need.

We are a grassroots, people-powered charity and social movement, grounded in community. Our passion stems from the injustice that people may be unable to fully participate in society due to hygiene poverty. This is why we work to inspire social change. 

What is hygiene poverty?

Many people locked in poverty or those who find themselves in times of crisis often experience restricted options. This leaves them caught between being able to heat their home, pay their rent, buy food or keep clean. Hygiene poverty can be shaming, humiliating and excluding and can result in social isolation.

It can lead to a lack of confidence and can negatively affect good health and mental well-being which can impact early childhood development, learning, employability and social interaction.

How we work:

Products are donated, collected, sorted and distributed to our network of community partners – a mix of organisations, charities and schools – who support those of us pulled into poverty.

Supporting The Hygiene Bank is a simple way to help not just one organisation, but multiple grassroots initiatives across the UK tackling a wide range of issues from poverty to domestic abuse and disability.

Our current problem:

We have, for some time, been using part of the garage of the Rev Crawley’s on the Upper Hale Road, Farnham as a store for our hygiene items. This arrangement has worked out very well and we’ve been very grateful for its use. However due to the Rev Crawley moving on, we have now been given notice to leave in January 2024. Without storage we will be unable to function and we are very worried for our future and for those hundreds of local families and individuals currently receiving our help. 

I visited a local storage facility recently and was quoted £34 per week for renting a 40ft unit and we just don’t have the funds to pay for this. We need a new location. Ideally, it needs to be local to the Farnham area, dry, ground floor, with vehicle access, and have electricity, but I will happily discuss any suggestions.

Please get in touch at [email protected]

QueenMee Accessories supports Aylesbury Women’s Aid

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

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, 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 Also at John Lewis, High Wycombe – 4th December to 10th December. Waddesdon Manor Christmas Fair – 22nd November to 17th December.

Shop for vintage and pre-loved fashion

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

Worth the Weight returns to Oxford Town Hall Saturday, 18th November, from 11am to 5pm

Stay cosy and shop with a clear conscience this November as Worth the Weight returns to Oxford Town Hall on Saturday, 18th November with nine tonnes of handpicked vintage and pre-owned stock to have a rummage through, including a great range of autumn coats and jackets to keep you cosy this season.

There will be 60 rails of clothing, where shoppers can pick and mix from the best denim, sports, ladies fashion, men’s fashion, outerwear and accessories and pay on the scales at the end. It costs £20 per kilo, with prices starting from as little as £1. It’s a cost-effective way of getting bulk sustainable clothing and helping the environment at the same time. Heavier items will be capped at £20. Even if it weighs over a kilo, you’ll never pay more than £20 for 1 item! Make sure to point out heavy items to your server at the till to redeem the discount.

Based in Sheffield, Worth the Weight was founded in 2018 as a way of fighting fast fashion. Since its inception, the company has taken the UK by storm travelling the length and breadth of the country with tonnes of amazing vintage stock every weekend.

Chris Davies, Worth the Weight organiser, said: “Oxford is always a great place to come this time of year, knitwear is always very popular, so we’ve made sure to stock up for all the sustainable fashion pioneers.”
Entry is £3 for early bird and £2 after.

For more details of future events follow the official Worth the Weight Facebook page on

Oxfordshire fen restored to snails’ delight

Karen Neville

Community & Charity

National Trust restores Pea Pits in West Oxfordshire, potential home to the Newbury bypass snail

A team of rangers and volunteers have been scything reeds in a plan to restore an area of alkaline fen at Pea Pits in West Oxfordshire.

Fenland is one of Britain’s most threatened and precious homes for rare plants and wildlife. The National Trust is working with Freshwater Habitats Trust who provided the tools and scythe training to protect this internationally important habitat. 

Most people associate fenland with the lowlands of East Anglia and are unaware that alkaline fens are also a special feature of the Oxfordshire countryside. The fens in Oxfordshire are fed by springs emerging from chalk or limestone in valleys and on hill slopes.

Alkaline fens support many wetland plants that are rare or endangered nationally or in the county such as the carnivorous butterwort, grass-of-Parnassus, marsh helleborine and marsh lousewort.

Endangered insects include species of soldier-fly, horsefly and damselfly, while molluscs include the Desmoulin’s whorl-snail. This is the tiny rare snail the size of a pinhead that almost stopped the Newbury Bypass being built in 1996 when the construction was set to destroy its habitat.

The work party cleared back trees and reeds at Pea Pits to give the rare plants some light. The cuttings were used to create dams to slow down water flow and create pools. The team also planted marsh lousewort to stop the dominant reeds taking up the majority of light. Marsh lousewort does this by finding another plant’s roots underground and extracting water and nutrients from the ‘host’ plant. This parasitic action weakens the reeds, allowing a diversity of other, more delicate plants to come through.

Whilst the marsh lousewort is establishing, the National Trust will continue to cut the reeds and scrub in late summer and, if funding and a suitable grazier can be found, may eventually fence the area and graze it with cattle. Rest assured, if the vanishingly rare Newbury bypass snail makes an appearance at Pea Pits, it will have a safe home.

Richard Watson, Countryside Manager, West Oxfordshire said: “It is great to see this quiet corner of the estate being brought back to life. It is the only fen site we look after in West Oxfordshire, so it’s a really important habitat. It’s been great to work with the Freshwater Habitats Trust on expertise and training for our staff and volunteers to take on the management of the site.”

Paola Perez, Fen Conservation Officer at Freshwater Habitats Trust said: “Along with other small freshwater habitats, alkaline fens have traditionally been overlooked, but they support a unique community of plant and animal species.

“Restoring and protecting these rare alkaline fen habitats is a vital part of our work to reverse the decline in freshwater biodiversity. We’re thrilled to be collaborating with the National Trust to restore the alkaline fen at Coleshill and are very grateful to their volunteers for all their hard work.”