Mad about the blooms

Karen Neville


Summer is on the horizon bringing with it warmer days, hopefully plenty of sun and the glorious sight and scent of roses blossoming and spreading their joy

Our most popular flower is rich in symbolism and history featuring in literature, music, heritage, as our national flower, in skin care products and as the emblem for many sports teams.

Classic and instantly recognisable, they are ideal for almost every style of garden, flowering abundantly from early summer in pastel shades of pink, peach, cream or snowy-white; vibrant yellow and gold; orange, crimson and red.

And as any gardener will tell you, there are a few essential rose rules to ensure ‘everything comes up roses’.

Round & About gardening expert Cathie Welch will tell you “It’s all in the pruning!” and advises “before you prune, know your rose type and sharpen your secateurs to avoid damage.”

She adds: “Make sure you cut correctly in the right place. Dead heading throughout the summer and winter pruning should all be cut to ideally pencil thickness growth to encourage more flowers. Cut out dead and weak growths as well as congested growth and don’t forget the suckers which come from the wild rootstock.”

Ramblers are in full bloom at this time of year and to ensure an attractive abundance in future, she says: “After flowering has finished prune out some of the flowered shoots and tie in the annoying long ones that you have wanted to cut off because these will produce next year’s flowers.”

And remember to dead head throughout the summer.

If you prefer to admire the beauty of roses and take in the rich fragrance from someone else’s handiwork there are plenty of gorgeous English gardens full of stately blooms.

There are more than a thousand Old English rose bushes to take in at Loseley Park, Guildford which can be seen at their best at this of year. Nearby at RHS Wisley, the Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden boasts a contemporary design combining roses with evergreen shrubs, herbaceous plants, bulbs and clipped yews. Look out for some spectacular blooms into autumn.

Visit The Six Quarters at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne and be greeted by summer beds containing different species of old rose planted in among lavender, geraniums, dianthus, foxglove and columbine.

You’d expect the National Trust to offer up some of the best gardens to wander through and these don’t disappoint. There’s A Celebration of Roses at Polesden Lacey, June 8th to July 14th, where the walled gardens hold more than 35 varieties and over 100 rambling roses form tunnels of petals over the pergola leading to the central wishing well. Bright yellow blooms mix with more subtle pale pinks. The celebration offers the opportunity to learn more about the blooms, the garden’s history and the work that goes into maintaining it. View metal rose installations made by charity the Camelia Botnar Foundation which provides residential training and work experience to young people. The roses in the installation are for sale and can be collected after the celebration has finished.

The Rose Garden at Nymans in Sussex boasts more than 600 bushes – their heady scent carries a long way, notably on a warm summer’s day, mingling with the lavendar.

The more than 100 varieties blooming at Hinton Ampner near Alresford are sure to feature in the Festival of Flowers from June 8th to 30th which celebrates the art of flower arranging as part of Hinton in Bloom: Summer where you can wind your way through the walled garden to the parterre, look for the rose motifs and breathe in their scent throughout the month.

The walled gardens at Mottisfont near Romsey are home to a collection of pre-1900 shrub roses. This year, Mottisfont is marking 50 years since the collection was brought to the grounds to be enjoyed by all and how they are preparing for climate challenges of the future. The gardens are open until 8pm through to June 29th affording longer for you to appreciate them and on 7th, 14th and 21st you can enjoy live jazz, wine tastings and wine for sale from award-winning Hampshire vineyard Black Chalk.

Take in the scent of the contemporary Rose Garden with its viewing platform overlooking the roses as well as the garden beyond at Savill Garden and immerse yourself in the old fashioned scented French musk roses inter-planted with a wide range of shrubs and perennials.

The start of July brings the glorious Hampton Court Palace Garden Festival, 2nd to 7th, where you can’t fail to be inspired by the beautiful show gardens and ‘get started’ gardens created by new designers with innovative ideas, beautiful plants and detailed landscaping.

Biodiversity Fun

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This May half term, The Lexicon has teamed up with garden and nature specialists Little Muddy Boots, to demystify the meaning of biodiversity for children, in a fun and engaging way.

From Friday, May 24 to Sunday, June 2, 2024, visitors to Bracknell town centre can embark on the Little Things Count trail, where they will discover fascinating facts about bugs, bees, blooms, birds, and butterflies.

In addition to the educational experience, participants have the opportunity to win two fabulous hampers from The Lexicon. On Tuesday, May 28, Berkshire Birds of Prey will grace The Lexicon with their majestic presence, offering visitors an unforgettable close encounter with these magnificent birds. Furthermore, CBBC’s Blue Peter Gardener, Skinny Jean Gardener, will lead a day filled with wildflower seed sowing, education, music, and fun on both Friday, May 31, and Saturday, June 1, 2024.

Little Muddy Boots will host a series of engaging workshops from May 28 to June 1, 2024, providing children with the chance to discover how small actions can make a significant impact on local wildlife. These workshops offer various activities, including exploring, planting, and crafting items such as bug hotels, wildflower seed bombs, and bird snacks to take home.

Sue Boor, head of marketing at The Lexicon, expresses hope that this fun and educational initiative will help children comprehend the crucial roles played by different forms of life in maintaining environmental health. Additionally, a dedicated web page featuring short educational videos and downloadable activity sheets has been created to further children’s learning about bugs, bees, blooms, birds, and butterflies.

For more information about Little Things Count and details on how to book for the different workshops please visit

St George’s School Windsor Castle honoured

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Two nominations for the ‘Oscars of education’

St George’s School Windsor Castle is delighted to have been shortlisted for two national Tes Awards, dubbed the ‘Oscars of education’.

The school has been nominated in both the Independent School of the Year and Pupil Mental Health Initiative of the Year categories.

The Tes Schools Awards recognises the very best teachers and schools from both the state and independent sectors, across early years settings, primary and secondary.

St George’s School Windsor Castle is delighted to have been shortlisted for two national Tes Awards, dubbed the ‘Oscars of education’.

“In a truly exceptional few years, the school has become the first standalone prep school in the UK authorised to deliver the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme, in addition to becoming a Full Member of Round Square, achieving World Class School status in High Performance Learning and a Distinction in the Green Flag Award. The introduction of our Peer Listening programme has also paid significant dividends as part of an overarching strategy to ensure that while delivering our pioneering curriculum, we are also prioritising the positive mental health of our students.”

The shortlist was compiled by a panel of expert judges, including school leaders and experts. The schools and teachers they chose showcase the best of education across the sector within 21 award categories, covering all areas of school education.

Winners will be announced on 21st June at a gala awards night in London. To find the shortlist online, please visit

Further information about St George’s School Windsor Castle can be found at

Mercers Solicitors – Justine McCool

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Meet Justine McCool, head of the Litigation and the Contentious Trust and Estates team at Mercers Solicitors.

Justine, a Partner at Mercers Solicitors, based in Henley-on-Thames, specialises in the following areas:

Contentious Probate and Trusts, this includes the following:

• Any challenge to the validity of a Will for reasons of lack of testamentary capacity, the testator was unaware of the terms of the will or was unduly influenced, or a failure to follow the legal requirements.
• Claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975
• Claims against Executors or Trustees for breach of duty.
• Resolving disputes between Executors or Trustees.

Disputes between co-owners of property, this includes the following:

• Often these disputes are about whether and when a property should be sold and how the owners of the property should split the proceeds of the sale.
• Justine has extensive knowledge on the Trusts of Land and Appointment of Trustees Act 1996

Commercial and Residential Property disputes, this includes the following:

• Business lease renewals
• Breach of lease disputes, including rent arrears
• Forfeiture
• Residential repossession claims
• Dilapidation claims
• Rights of way and easements
• Residential lease renewals

Justine and her team regularly prepare articles and guidance on the above matters, but also key considerations such as how to avoid lengthy litigation and why alternative dispute resolution might be appropriate.

Take a look at our most recent articles here… Latest News | Read Our Blog (

If you require assistance regarding a dispute, please contact Justine McCool, who will be happy to help.

From blow dry to AI

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Local college transforms hair studio into virtual reality immersive space for students

Nescot college in Elwell is investing £650,000 to transform a hair studio on campus into a virtual reality (VR), immersive space for its students.
The state-of-the-art technology, currently being installed, will be used across a wide range of courses on offer at Nescot and includes driving simulators and immersive learning spaces which work with a variety of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. This will allow students to gain specialist skills and experiences, like driving a forklift truck, or navigating a busy A&E ward, without even leaving the classroom.

Nescot will have a range of cutting-edge technology, including an Igloo, immersive room, and vehicle simulators. The Igloo is cylindrical, six metres in diameter and features a 360-degree projection system that can ‘transport’ groups of students around the world. It offers things like virtual field trips, design opportunities and gaming development. It can also recreate complex activities or hazardous environments so students can safely learn.

A suite of four advanced simulators will provide vehicle handling training for a wide range of machinery, from cranes to fire engines. These simulators, alongside virtual reality headsets, will mean students can work together to refine their driving or operation skills in a realistic scenario where multiple machines or vehicles are in use.

The immersive room has a projection system which equips all the walls with screens. Two of the screens are interactive and respond to touch, creating a hands-on learning experience. Two ultra-high-definition screens are also incorporated, and cameras enable instructors and students to magnify objects of interest and project them onto any of the four screens, facilitating discussion. The technology also brings remote learners into the classroom via a dedicated video call screen.

The facility further cements Nescot’s reputation as a hub of innovation, having recently opened robotics, AI and cyber security facilities as part of its Institute of Technology. The staff/student hair studio, which was a commercial salon and not a learning space for students, has already moved out of the space and has been relocated nearby. There is no impact at all on the Nescot hairdressing course, which is still a valued part of the curriculum.

Julie Kapsalis, CEO and Principal at Nescot said “We pride ourselves on innovation, and giving our students the best experience at Nescot, so we’re adopting this cutting-edge technology which will be a game changer. It can virtually transport students around the world to learn, allows them to safely practice dangerous scenarios, and is a fun and exciting way to boost motivation, creativity, and engagement. We can’t wait to get it installed.”

The funding to create the immersive space has been provided from the Government’s Local Skills Improvement Fund, a project which aims to support local people into work. Nescot is working with other local colleges and universities to better support the skills needs of the labour market in key areas identified by local businesses – CreaTech, Advance Manufacturing, Engineering and Construction, Digital, and Employability and Professional skills. As well as being beneficial for Nescot students, the college will be encouraging local businesses to get involved, by using the technology to train staff. Partnerships with business and enterprise are invaluable for both parties as organisations get to access cutting edge training and learning resources, plus a pool of talented, experienced students who can enter the workforce via apprenticeships, work placements and post-college recruitment.

Nescot offers college courses for school leavers and adults, with a wide range of career-focused vocational courses including Animal Care, Business, Computing and IT, Construction, Performing Arts, Childcare, Health & Social Care and Beauty Therapy. The college has two events coming up, where prospective students can see what’s on offer, and learn more about the immersive classroom as it’s being built.

Find out more at the open evening on Wednesday 22nd May, 4.30-7.30pm and the summer fair, Saturday 15th June 2024, 10.00am-2.00pm – call 020 8394 3038, visit or email [email protected]

Local businesses interested in using the immersive classroom for training, or working with the college on apprenticeships, work placements or recruitment should contact [email protected] or call 020 8394 8593.

Meet Crosfields’ Head of Early Years

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We are pleased to introduce you to Miss Hannah Saunders, the dedicated Head of Early Years at Crosfields School

Miss Saunders commitment to ensuring a transformative educational experience for children makes her a beacon in early childhood education.

What is your philosophy on early childhood education?

‘’Our philosophy on Early Years at Crosfields School is to deliver the richest early educational experiences for our children, ensuring that we are keeping up to date with the evolving changes, latest research, and any recommendations about Early Years Development, in order to offer a high level of quality learning.’’

How do you ensure the well-being and safety of the children in your care?

‘’Children’s well-being and safety is fundamentally one of the most important aspects. In the school day we ensure we have a good level of structure and regular routines; we ensure children have a good understanding about healthy eating, and ensure children are exposed to a balanced diet.  Alongside the EYFS statutory guidelines, we also give children the knowledge, understanding and opportunity to be able to grow, develop, and take appropriate risks through physical play.’’

Can you describe your approach to fostering a supportive and inclusive learning environment?

‘’In every classroom we create opportunities to ensure every child has a voice. Every teacher is aware of specific needs of each individual child. We understand that children have different learning styles and, through effective planning, we ensure we are meeting every child’s need.’’

How do you engage with parents and families to create a strong partnership in the child’s early development?

‘’Parents are their child’s first and more enduring educators so, as an Early Years department, we ensure we create strong relationships with parents.

“We work together to support parents with their child’s learning by offering parents’ evenings as well as inviting parents into Crosfields for presentations and events throughout the year. We also have an open door policy and parents can talk to their child’s teacher every day. We use an online platform where both parents and teachers can upload important milestones and share a child’s interest, which enables the adults to engage on these topics with the child and offer similar experiences which will help further a child’s development.’’

Cosmic Cats connects across continents

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New book celebrates collaboration between Kennington and Kenya

Abingdon-based The Nasio Trust has been chosen as the beneficiary of a new project which brings together an anthology of work by children from two schools, one in Kennington and one in Kenya.

St Swithun’s School, Kennington and The Nasio Trust are launching Cosmic Cats, an collection of stories written by children from Kennington and Mumias, Kenya. Their work was chosen by authors Julia Golding and Sylvia Vetta and teachers Lesley Maskell and paul gamble to be published in Cosmic Cats. The illustrator Korky Paul designed the cover and it’s published by Oxford eBooks, a Kennington based company.

The schools launch with a presentation from Korky Paul, will be on Wednesday, 6th March at St Swithun’s ready for its release on Amazon and other platforms on World Book Day. On the same day there will also be a live zoom link with the children from Kenya.

The public launch and book sales will be from 11am to 12pm on March 9th in Kennington Village Centre.

The book celebrates the collaboration between the two communities to help set-up the first community library in Mumias with profits from the sale of the book (£8 each) going to the Nasio Trust’s Library Appeal.

A library in Mumias will empower a diverse group of students, youths, farmers, women, and social entrepreneurs by providing access to books they need to expand their horizons in a region where such resources are scarce.

The Nasio Trust is working to empower communities in western Kenya to break the cycle of poverty by providing educationhealthcare, and opportunities for income-generation to create sustainable communities.  

Find out more about its work at

(Image credits: Children from Mumias School, Kenya; Children from St Swithun’s School; Author Sylvia Vetta with Nasio Trust founder, Nancy Mudenyo Hunt.)

Sporting success at Crosfields

Karen Neville


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.

Taking an all-round approach

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Local charity Inside Out has been celebrating 10 years of improving the wellbeing of children

When a group of children declared a day spent at an equestrian centre to be the ‘best ever’, Inside Out knew they were on to something.

Over the last decade the charity has been responding to the growing children’s mental health crisis by helping schools tackle challenges posed by mental health problems, exam stress and anxiety.

Launched in November 2013 with a Magical Day Out of mindfulness, nature and horses based around the 5 Keys to Happiness for just 10 children from Thameside Primary School, Caversham, it has since supported more than 5,000 children across 20 schools in Reading and Oxfordshire.

Children gain a ‘toolkit’ of fun and practical life skills and strategies they can use in everyday life to reduce stress, find focus, increase confidence and resilience to feel better, learn better and flourish. The impact of their work has been significant, with schools seeing an improvement in children’s mental wellbeing, a development in essential social and emotional skills, and increased engagement.

The initial spark for Inside Out came when Founder and CEO, Stephanie Weissman, became convinced, from personal experience, of a well-proven concept – happiness fuels success, not the other way around. The charity’s underlying belief that ‘happy children learn better’ has never changed. Their 5 Keys to Happiness evidence-based framework has made it easy for busy teachers to promote positive mental wellbeing and has been the foundation for all their work.

When the pandemic hit, free weekly Wellbeing Guides full of simple, fun wellbeing boosts were created and used at home and in school to support children, some of whom were experiencing trauma.

The overwhelmingly positive response to these Guides galvanised the charity to accelerate the completion of a free, digitised ‘Activity Library’ and ‘Wellbeing Programme’. Schools now use these to work towards the charity’s coveted Inside Out Award, which helps them build a whole-school culture to wellbeing. 

Inside Out marked their 10-year anniversary with a new ‘Wellbeing Ambassadors’ pilot, putting children at the centre of leading peer-to-peer support and promoting conversations about mental health and positive wellbeing.

Stephanie added: “We are extremely proud to reach this milestone. The best predictor of an adult’s life satisfaction is their emotional health as a child. We look to the future with an unwavering commitment to inspire children to develop ways to look after their mental wellbeing, so they have the best chance to reach their full potential.”

Find out more at

Reading made easy

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Could you help change lives by volunteering with the local charity which helped Jay Blades MBE

Read Easy offers free and confidential, one-to-one coaching, from trained volunteers. The charity encourages adults to come forward and make the phone call that could transform their lives.

Coaches and learners meet twice a week at approved local venues, or online, to work for just half an hour at a time through a structured, phonics-based reading programme.

There are many adults who struggle to read. For them, everyday tasks such as booking a doctor’s appointment, reading road signs or doing the food shopping can be incredibly challenging.

Parents and grandparents, who cannot read, are not able to provide this support for their children and their learning, with many missing out on the important bonding time that comes with sharing a bedtime story.

The BBC1 documentary Jay Blades: Learning to Read at 51 followed Jay, The Repair Shop presenter and Chancellor at Bucks New University, as he learnt to read with Read Easy. Like many other parents who struggle to read, Jay had never been able to read his children bedtime stories. The highlight of the documentary was when Jay reached his goal of being able to read his teenage daughter one of her favourite childhood books.

Those who struggle to read should not feel embarrassed about coming forward and asking for help. The charity team say: “There are lots of different reasons why people don’t learn to read in childhood. For some it may have been a lack of support from their own family or school, for others it may have been undiagnosed dyslexia. But people should not feel ashamed or embarrassed about it. We’re friendly, welcoming and here to help, whatever your age.”

Here is a comment from one of Read Easy’s recent success stories: “I started the Read Easy programme in 2020 when the country went into lockdown. I found it frustrating not being able to help my children with home schooling. Now, I can read with my family, enjoy reading novels and have a new-found confidence in myself and in the future. More than anything I want to show my kids that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. I want to see the smiles on their faces when I read to them. It’s such a massive achievement and nothing makes me happier.”

The Read Easy Chilterns team cover Wycombe, Aylesbury, Amersham, Chesham, Beaconsfield, Gerrards Cross, The Chalfonts, Wendover and surrounding areas. To find out more about the team please visit For more information about seeking help learning to read you’re welcome to call Andy Gaze on 07810 184 371.

For help with reading and to volunteer in the West Berkshire area please contact the West Berkshire group at

To get involved in the Reading area, please get in touch with the Read Easy Regional Advisor Michelle Baker at [email protected] and in the Oxford area at