Newbury Spring Festival piano competition winner

Round & About


The Sheepdrove Piano Competition is one of the highlights of the glorious fortnight of world class in Newbury and the surrounding villages

Now in its 15th year, the annual Sheepdrove Piano Competition – held during Newbury Spring Festival – has been won by Misha Kaploukhii, a student from the Royal College of Music.

Born in 2002, Misha is an alumnus of the Moscow Gnessin College of Music. He is currently studying at the Royal College of Music and is an ABRSM award holder generously supported by the Eileen Rowe Trust, Keyboard Trust, Drake Calleja Trust and The Robert Turnbull Foundation, studying for a Bachelor of Music with Professor Ian Jones. He was thrilled to receive a full scholarship from the Royal College of Music for two years of postgraduate studies.

Image: Milly March

Misha has gained inspiration from lessons and masterclasses with musicians such as Claudio Martínez Mehner,  Dmitri Bashkirov, Jerome Lowenthal, Konstantin Lifschitz and Dame Imogen Cooper. His performances with orchestras around the world include debuts in Cadogan Hall playing Rachmaninov’s First Concerto with YMSO and James Blair, Liszt’s Second Concerto with RCM Symphony Orchestra with Adrian Partington, and a very recent performance of Rachmaninov’s Fourth Concerto performed with the Albion Orchestra.

As a soloist he often performs across London in venues like St Mary’s Perivale, St James Piccadilly and Razumovsky Academy with a wide range of solo and chamber repertoire.

Misha’s recent prizes include RCM Concerto Competition, International Ettlingen Piano Competition, Sheepdrove Piano Competition and the Hopkinson Gold Medal at the Chappel Medal Competition.

The competition, which is open to current students at the UK’s eight major music colleges, does not charge an entry fee to participants and this year celebrated Chopin’s 150th anniversary. After a private first round with just the panel in attendance, the final happened before an audience on Sunday 19th May in the beautiful setting of Sheepdrove Eco Centre, in the rolling Lambourn hills.

Alongside the £3,000 prize money from the Kindersley Prize, Misha Kaploukhii also gave a recital at Newbury Corn Exchange, part of Newbury’s Spring Festival’s popular Young Artist Recital series. Misha also won the audience prize, of £250 (donated by an anonymous donor).

The second prize, of £1,500 (donated by the Greenham Trust), was won by Kasparas Mikuzis a student at the Royal Academy of Music.

The third prize, of £750 (donated by the Friends of Newbury Spring Festival), was won by Yuxuan Zhao, a student at the Royal Northern College of Music.

The fourth prize, of £500 (donated by an anonymous donor), was won by Max Artemenko a student a Trinity Laban Conservatoire.

The Robert Turnbull Piano Foundation winners are Angeliki Giannopoulou from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Xizong Chen from the Royal Northern College of Music.

Mark Eynon, Festival Director, said: “It has been an honour to host some of the best students from the UK’s conservatoires in such a beautiful space. As ever, we witnessed piano playing of incredible standard, and the judges felt that Misha’s performance was particularly impressive this year.

“We are proud to continue to policy of always providing travel, subsistence and accommodation expenses for all competitors, and all four finalists have left with a financial prize. I am forever grateful to the Sheepdrove Trust for their continued generous support for the competition as we celebrate its 15th year.””

Spring into Easter

Round & About


Easter comes early this year, March 29th – April 1st, which gives us an opportunity to enjoy the glories of spring as well of course, as eating chocolate!

There’s so much more to Easter than just choccy eggs, for many it has the deepest religious significance, for others it affords a long weekend of spending time with your loved ones hopefully with some bright cheery spring sunshine then and beyond.

This Easter pop along to a National Trust property near you for a family trail. Jam-packed with outdoor activities, games, riddles and crafts, every Easter celebration is different and ends with a chocolate egg.

Make your way along the trail at Avebury while taking part in 10 fun, creative, and playful activities inspired by our native wildlife for the whole family. The trail takes place between March 23rd and April 14th, so go along and explore the beautiful gardens of Avebury.

Basildon Park is going to the movies, March 23rd-April 14th, as children and families become director of their own Easter movie in the parkland. Basildon Park is often seen on screen as a location in films and the 10 action stations of the Easter trail will help families create their own movie. There’ll be plenty of walking, fun games and photo opportunities to be had along the way. There are also two pre-bookable Easter wreath-making workshops on March 19th and 21st.

Follow the trail through Highclere Castle’s gardens and woodland, finding clues en route to win a chocolate Easter egg at the end on Saturday, 6th April. Show off your creations in the Easter bonnet parade, meet some of the farm animals and take to the bouncy slide in a day of family fun for all ages. Please pre-book adult tickets and confirm how many children are coming with you so Highclere can ensure every child receives an Easter egg once they have completed the trail. Donations to the chosen charity on the day (suggested donation £5) are invited when collecting a map for the Easter Trail on arrival.

Explore Shaw House and follow the clues to find all the bunnies hidden around the historic rooms on Saturday, 13th April, 11am-1pm. Themed crafts will also be available in the Activity Room. Suitable for ages 4 – 8 years old, but younger and older visitors are welcome. Suggested donation £1.

Buscot Park house and gardens reopen for the summer season on Good Friday, 29th March, and will be open 2-6pm daily over the Easter bank holiday weekend. New for 2024 is a free sculpture trail around the gardens, featuring stunning glass sculptures by Gloucestershire artists Sally Fawkes and Richard Jackson. More here.

Hop into spring with a joyful Easter egg trail scavenger hunt at Town Gardens in Swindon on Saturday, 30th March. Children will crack the code, claim delicious treats, and create lasting memories. The trail starts at the bandstand by 10am.

Celebrate new life at Roves Farm near Swindon this spring with the birth of lambs and baby goats. Boer goat nannies will be kidding from 12th March and the kids will be included in the bottle feeding sessions once old enough from around early April, perfect timing for the Easter holidays! The second lambing takes place at the farm from April 6th to 23rd. Spend some time on the viewing walkway looking out over the barn as the day’s action unfolds. You may be lucky enough to see a lamb or two being born. And of course, there will be all the usual fun on the farm with daily activities, indoor and outdoor play, tractor rides, Rugrats & Rascals sessions, meet & feed the animals & lots more.

Crofton Beam Engines will be letting off steam on March 31st and April 1st when you can enjoy a look behind the scenes over the Easter weekend.

Easter fun awaits at Bowood House & Gardens from March 29th to April 14th where the Bowood Easter Bunny has hidden 10 large eggs through the Arboretum. Find the eggs, unscramble the letters and guess the word to win a prize. On Easter weekend, March 29th to April 1st, four golden eggs will be hidden within the grounds, along with one rainbow egg each day, (Friday –  Monday inclusive). Those that find a golden egg will win a chocolate Easter Egg and the rainbow egg winner will win a Season Ticket. Book here.

Meet rare breed ponies, pigs, sheep, rabbits, ducks, geese, goats, and more at Cholderton Charlie’s Rare Breeds Farm near Salisbury. Offering a range of events and activities during the Easter holidays, this is a fantastic place to take the children during Easter. Adults will also want to stop by the Farm Shop to browse gifts and locally produced food and drink and gifts before heading home. Visit

Instead of Easter bunnies how about Easter horses? Huntersfield Equestrian Centre near Faringdon hosts regular pony camps, days and rallies during holidays and mid-term breaks. Open to children between the ages of four and 16 years, no prior experience is needed, just a positive and eager attitude to learn more about horses and their care. And of course there’s loads of fun to the activities too. Find out more and book at

Image: National Trust/Paul Harris

Psycho Path pub trail in Newbury

Karen Neville


Newbury Business Improvement (BID), the organisation behind Visit Newbury, has unveiled the Psycho Path Pub Trail, a unique Halloween experience for adults only! On Friday 27th October, this immersive event will transform five central Newbury pubs into realms of fright and delight

Newbury’s answer to the famous Fright Night is free to attend and includes some of the town’s most popular watering holes, including Slug & Lettuce, The Newbury, The Catherine Wheel, The Old Waggon & Horses, and The Lock Stock & Barrel.

Expect a thrilling and eerie experience as you’re captivated by skilled actors portraying beloved characters such as Snow White, Belle, Jack and Sally, Alice in Wonderland, and the Mad Hatter. These performers will immerse you in a world filled with dramatic flair, spine-tingling moments, and much more.

Each pub will be home to spooktakular scenes from infamous horror movies which will provide a fantastic different selfie opportunity in each participating venue, including the iconic Psycho shower scene by Alfred Hitchcock, a meticulously handcrafted electric chair reminiscent of The Green Mile, and a macabre assortment of likelike human body parts the butcher Sweeny Todd would be proud of.

These haunting locations are the perfect backdrop for visitor selfies, so be sure to dress to impress in your finest Halloween attire!

The Psycho Path Pub Trail is your local, cost-effective for a Halloween night out. There will be free shots available for those who sign up early on the Visit Newbury website. (1 x free shot per participant per venue)

Pub trail participants should make their way to Newbury town centre on 27th October, where the event kicks off at 7pm. Participating venues will be marked, so you can plot your spooky route with ease.

Visit Newbury’s Halloween events include the Ghost Town Shop Trail, a Halloween themed fright-night Psycho Path Pub Trail, and a Spooktakular Window Competition where town-centre businesses are encouraged to dress up their windows as part of the Halloween festivities.

Alison Drummond, Operations Manager at Newbury BID said: ” Halloween seems to be getting bigger every year, and we want to live up to expectations with our latest Psycho Path Pub Trail which we first launched last year and was a huge success. Alongside the Ghost Town Shop Trail for the little ones, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in Newbury this October. Dust off your costumes, gather your friends, and prepare for a night of screams and laughs at the Psycho Path Pub Trail!

“If you’re planning to host your own Halloween gathering, why not bring the festivities to the town centre instead? With a line-up of live performers, the Psycho Path Pub Trail is the perfect place to celebrate with friends and fellow Halloween enthusiasts.”

To find out more about the free Psycho Path Pub Trail and sign up for your free shots, head to the Visit Newbury website: Visit Newbury.

Festival of the moon in Newbury

Round & About


Image: Museum of the Moon by Luke Jerram. University of Bristol, UK, 2017. Photo (c) Carolyn Eaton

Newbury BID welcomes you to enjoy the festival of the moon for three weeks of moon-related events!

Newbury Business Improvement District (BID) are holding a three-week festival between 15th August and 2nd September with over 100 unique events! With such a large number of events there is something perfect for everyone.

The centre of the festival is the globally renowned museum of the moon, where a seven metre, lifelike installation of the moon’s surface is displayed, created by artist, Luke Jerram and captured through NASA images. Accompanied by a beautiful soundscape composed by BAFTA-winner Dan Jones, you will feel as if you are transported straight to the lunar realm.

However, the excitement does not end there, as there are plenty more events taking place. Feel soothed by the moon-themed wellness sessions, engaged by films and interactive storytelling or compelled by talks that will leave you thinking. With a grand number of events, it is easy to spend multiple days at the festival. Especially exciting events, to name a few, include an outdoor cinema, paddleboarding and live music! For the younger ones, and adults too, there are some free arts and crafts to try your hand at.

Operations manager, Alison Drummond, at Newbury BID expresses how the ‘lively community and commitment to arts and culture shine through in these events’, and encourages you to come and join in.

“lively community and commitment to arts and culture shine through in these events.”

When attending, entry to the museum of the moon is complementary, with a range of time slots available, including evening sessions for a beautiful night-time lunar experience.

For more information, please visit Visit Newbury.

To book, please visit Corn Exchange Newbury.

Author: Daisy Harwood

Vegan-friendly trail maps In Newbury

Karen Neville


Visit Newbury has launched an updated version of Its Vegan -friendly trail map ahead of World Vegan Month In November

An updated Newbury Vegan-Friendly Trail Map with a new design has been launched to support the many local independents and national brands across the town centre.

The handy pocket map has launched online in advance of World Vegan Month, which starts on November 1st aims to help raise the profile of Newbury as a vegan-friendly destination, while promoting the national and independently owned shops, salons, cafés, and eateries to a vast and growing audience of vegans, v-curious, or simply eco-conscious shoppers.

This is the final map in the Newbury Town Trail map series to launch in 2022. Physical copies of the map are due to be distributed in matching display boxes to all 39 independent businesses and some of the national brands featured, as well as the 20 independent businesses included on the recent Dog-Friendly Trail Map, and 48 brands featured on the Independent Retail Map. The maps will also be available to pick-up from Newbury Library, West Berkshire Museum, and Old Town Hall, as well as from market stall holders at the next seasonal Vegan Market, taking place on Sunday, 20th November in the Market Place.

Additionally, maps will be available to collect outside of the town centre from the gift shop at Shaw House.

"We anticipate that the trail maps will encourage visitors to shop in-store on the vegan market day and beyond"

The Vegan-Friendly Trail Map includes a brief description of each venue and is set to become a useful resource for visitors and local residents who attend Newbury’s popular quarterly Vegan Market, signposting them to other animal-friendly and plant-based venues in the town centre. You can view the Vegan-Friendly Trail Map online here.

The businesses featured on the map will be open to customers on market day, and we anticipate that the trail maps will encourage visitors to shop in-store on the vegan market day and beyond. The trail, spanning from London Road through to Newbury’s Southern Quarter (consisting of Inches Yard, Bartholomew Street and The Arcade), should also help visitors to discover other businesses along the route, as the trail takes shoppers down some of Newbury’s quieter streets, many of which are hidden gems.

Find out more

The themed maps produced at Newbury BID are the third in a series of town centre maps for Newbury under the umbrella term ‘Newbury Town Trail Maps’. Downloadable copies of the physical maps and interactive versions of the Town Trails can be found online here.

Makers & shakers!

Liz Nicholls


Local businesswomen Libby Witney & Chloe Blair tell us more about the RenARTgades Modern Makers Fair – the next one is Saturday 3rd September!

Libby & Chloe wanted to bring more attention to the amazing local makers and encourage people to shop small whenever they can.

They knew each other from going to markets with their individual businesses. Chloe, whose business is Peaches and Tea, is a polymer clay artist who makes jewellery, accessories, DIY kits and teaches workshops at various local locations. Bright and colourful earrings, focusing on bold shapes and designs are Chloe’s speciality.

I never have a plan of what I want to make, I just start making and follow the journey

She says: “I just make whatever makes me happy, what colours I’m drawn to at the time and go with the flow! I want to make things that make people happy – both the person wearing them and the people who notice them! I want to make art for your ears, I never have a plan of what I want to make, I just start making and follow the journey.” Everything is handmade in her Newbury studio and even her small children have shown an interest in clay, the colours, and the need for quality cookie cutters…

Libby is the owner of Magpie and the Mob, an online colourful shop of awesome things for your home and life, all 100% made and designed by independent UK makers. She also runs workshops with The Ugly Duckling Pottery Cafe where you can learn how to paint different styles of lettering on your pottery. The idea for Magpie and the Mob began during the 2021 lockdown, while Libby was teaching art remotely to her secondary school students. “I made it my mission to try and support all these makers who bring me such joy online, by buying from them and spreading the word in a time where physical markets weren’t allowed. When my husband said to me that I didn’t have the space or money to keep doing this, I turned it into a business! And it became Magpie and the Mob!”

RenARTgades attracted more than 700 visitors to their last event, with stall-holders saying it’s just what Newbury needs.

If we don't support local businesses, they disappear

We ask Libby (LW) & Chloe (CB) to share their love for local…

Q. What do you love about this area?
CB: “The people! There are so many people who appreciate the tiny businesses we showcase and understand the importance of shopping small to keep these brilliant businesses running.”

LW: “We’ve both lived here all our lives, we went to school here and grew up here. I love being this close to the canal and lovely places to walk, as well as some amazing local business where you will find me spending a lot of my time!”

Q. Why should we all support local?
LW: “People are always saying we need more independents but if we don’t support local businesses, they disappear. It’s so difficult for small businesses at the moment with the increasing prices, let alone having to compete with large companies, there are far too many billionaires in the world that don’t need our money!”

CB: “We have more bills and taxes to pay than Elon Musk! Your money to him is a drop in the insanely deep pond, to small businesses it’s dinner for tonight and fuel there and back to get the weekly shop – they need it and vastly appreciate it more than the bigger brands!”

Some countries around the world have even started prescribing creative activities to help people with their mental health

Q. Do you think we all need more colour and creativity in our lives?
Both: “YES! Every single person has the ability to be creative, you just need to find your outlet. There are so many benefits to getting creative, some countries around the world have even started prescribing creative activities to help people with their mental health. The world can be so grey and miserable.”

Find out more

The next RenARTgades fairs at The Globe Garden, Newbury, RG14 5HB, are on Saturday, 3rd September, 29th October (a Halloween special), 19th November (Christmas lights switch-on) and Friday, 16th December (evening Christmas fair + live music).

Musical treats at The Watermill, Newbury

Round & About


From an enchanting folk-inspired musical to a sizzling Cuban inspired spy thriller The Watermill Theatre has a musical treat for everyone.

Highly anticipated musical The Wicker Husband returns to The Watermill Theatre from Friday 11th March to Saturday 26th March, after premature closure in 2020 due to the pandemic. A captivating show featuring ‘delightfully vivid’ Bunraku puppetry and ‘richly evocative’ music, The Wicker Husband tells the timeless tale of the outsider.

In a superficial world, meet the so-called ‘Ugly Girl’. Ostracised by the shallow townsfolk because she doesn’t fit in, the Ugly Girl becomes the envy of her neighbours when the mysterious Old Basketmaker makes her a strong and loving husband woven from living wicker. As bitter rivalry and jealousy threaten to tear the community apart, the townsfolk embark on a cruel and destructive plan. Will the Ugly Girl’s happiness be ruined forever?

Get 2 for 1 tickets to The Wicker Husband, with thanks to the National Lottery’s Love Your Local Theatre campaign. More information can be found on the theatre’s website. Tickets from £15.

The Watermill’s second musical of the season is Our Man In Havana running from Thursday 7th April to Saturday 21st May. A roller coaster comedy full of colourful characters and uplifting Cuban inspired songs. This new musical is based on Graham Greene’s iconic novel that cleverly satirises the fine line between truth and lies.

It’s 1958 and Havana is on the brink of revolution. All day and night, the streets are filled with dancing and the shadows are filled with criminals. In the midst of the warm tropical air, an English vacuum cleaner salesman lives a quiet life running a modest business, raising his teenage daughter Milly and collecting miniature whisky bottles.

Just as Milly’s love of shopping reaches new heights, James Wormold receives an offer from the British Secret Intelligence Service that is too good to refuse. What Wormold lacks in sleuthing experience, he makes up for with imagination. Nothing stays quiet for long in Havana and his life is soon turned upside down when the fictional events of his intelligence reports start to come true! Tickets from £15.

Fascinated to find out what happens behind the scenes? Join writing duo Ben Morales Frost and Richard Hough who will talk about bringing Our Man in Havana to the stage at a Creative Insights event on Tuesday 12th April. Tickets £24, includes lunch and a ticket for the talk.

Book tickets via The Watermill’s website or by call the box office on 01635 46044.

Principal Sponsor: Saica Pack

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St Bartholomew’s: ‘Outstanding’ in all areas

Round & About


High praise for Sixth Form as it prepares to welcome more students to join

At this time, many Year 11 students will be looking forward to Sixth Form and to the greater subject choice, independence and challenge this affords. St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury, has long attracted students from a wide area due to its well-established reputation for successful outcomes.

This application year, however, there will be particular excitement in the air for those joining the Sixth Form following the announcement that it was rated outstanding by Ofsted as part of an overall outstanding judgement for the school.

Ofsted inspectors praised ‘the rich variety of post 16 subjects on offer’ commenting that ‘Sixth Form students show real determination in their learning through focused study’ and are ‘well-prepared to continue their education on to university or to enter the world of work’.

Head of Sixth Form, Mr Cleary, said: “We are delighted with this result. Our Sixth Form prides itself on delivering outstanding academic and pastoral support. We take very seriously our responsibility to prepare students for their future, whether this is in higher education, apprenticeships or employment. I was particularly pleased that Ofsted picked up on the importance we place on our careers programme and the opportunities that students have to take on leadership roles.”

Staff and students joined in celebration in the school’s striking central Hub as it was judged to be outstanding in every category: Quality of education; Behaviour and attitudes; Personal development; Leadership and management and Sixth Form. St Bart’s is understood to be only the second non-selective secondary school in the country to receive an outstanding Ofsted Section 5 inspection in all categories this academic year.

On the Ofsted report, Headteacher Ms Mortimore says: “This is a result that reflects the very many strengths of our school, and one of which our school community and local area can be truly proud. At St Bart’s we always aspire to achieve the best in everything we do, and it is fantastic to gain recognition of this.”

Visit for more information on Sixth Form applications.

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Newbury Contemporary Art Fair

Round & About


Find work with the wow factor to suit all tastes at the Contemporary Art Fair at Newbury Racecourse

A rich array of contemporary art and artists are showcasing their work at Newbury Racecourse with something for every taste and budget.

More than 160 emerging and established artists are coming together at the Contemporary Art Fair in Newbury with many original pieces available at affordable prices.

Whatever you’re looking for you’re sure to be able to find that wow factor from the more than 5,000 curated artworks on display and if you just want to browse that’s fine too. You can enjoy work in various media from paintings, to fine arts and photography, print, ceramic, glass, sculpture and assemblage.

Seen something you like and want to know more about it or the artist who created it – there’s the chance to chat with them and find out about their inspiration.

The fair on Saturday, 11th and Sunday, 12th May, also offers interactive fun with free valuations, a children’s art activity trail and an outdoor sculpture trail.

Contemporary Art Fairs include every exhibitor creating an original collectible eight-inch square canvas in their own style, which are displayed and then sold for just £45 each with all money raised going to The Prince’s Trust, the total raised to date is £65,000.

The fairs, which also run in Surrey, Windsor and Berkshire, were set up to bring a variety of artists together to give art lovers the opportunity to enjoy everything from limited edition prints to more expensive original pieces.

There’s also a café and wine tasting to enjoy.

 For more information and to book tickets go to

Newbury Civic Awards

Round & About


Picture credit: Colin Lewis.  From left, last year’s winners Sandra Goodyear, Ellouise Greenall and Wendy Berkeley with last year’s Mayor David Fenn and town crier Brian Sylvester

It’s time to nominate who you think deserves to win a Newbury Town Council Civic Award 2019.

If you think someone deserves to be praised for their good work and contribution to the local community in Newbury now is the time to speak up about it. 

The town council has launched its annual civic awards and wants to hear from you with your nominations – but you’ll need to be quick, nominations must be submitted by Friday, 8th March. 

The categories are: 

Newbury Town Civic Award – now in its 22nd year 

Young Person’s Civic Award – now in its 11th year 

Newbury Town Business Civic Award – the second year 

Mayor of Newbury, councillor Margo Payne says: “Nominating someone for the civic awards is a wonderful way to thank them for the work they do. 

“We probably all know someone who volunteers or goes the extra mile for a neighbour, and while they don’t expect recognition it is an opportunity to let them know they are appreciated.” 

Leader of the council, cllr Adrian Edwards is particularly hoping to garner entries for the business category, now in its second year. 

He says: “After the successful launch of the Newbury Town Business Civic Award last year, we are hoping for even more applications in this category this year. 

“We now need you to tell us who deserves to be recognised for making a significant contribution to our community.” 

Last year’s winners, pictured, were Sandra Goodyear, Ellouise Greenall and Wendy Berkeley from Empire Café. 

Sandra was honoured for her service to the girlguides, the pre-schools learning alliance and CRUSE.  

Ellouise received her award for being a good neighbour – helping a sick neighbour and looking after the young children of a neighbour and helping with shopping and other chores for elderly neighbours. 

Wendy who runs Empire Café in Cheap Street, was given her award for the assistance, care and concern shown to members of the community. 

But you’ll need to be quick – nominations must be submitted by Friday, 8th March and winners will be presented with their awards on Monday, 18th March.

  Nomination forms are available from the website at or paper copies can be collected from the Town Hall or call the council on 01635 35486. 

Neighbouring Thatcham Town Council will be presenting its civic awards on Monday, 11th March. Each year a maximum of three gold awards are given to individuals or groups in recognition of the work they do for the benefit of the community. Nominations are now closed but we’ll tell you about the winners later in March.