Fancy a flutter?

Round & About


Love horses and racing? The Posh Pundit Racing Club is offering readers the chance to own a part share in Kingston Lisle-trained Thank You Ma’am

March brings one of the highlights of the racing calendar; Cheltenham Festival serving up the year’s biggest jump race meeting.

Excitement will be building among those lucky enough to go and even more so among those with horses preparing to take part.

If the sight of the majestic equines in full flight gives you a flutter then how about becoming a part owner?

Thank You Ma’am, named in tribute to the late Queen who was an enormous supporter of horse racing, is trained in Kingston Lisle by Georgina Nicholls, former wife of champion trainer Paul Nicholls.

Georgina started her yard following her divorce and now has 30 horses in training. When racing, ‘Leroy’ as he is affectionately known in the yard, is ridden by Olive, Georgina’s 18-year-old daughter who was recently crowned top amateur jockey at the McCoy awards.

Thank You Ma’am has already performed well and has the hallmarks of a potential champion, indeed when he was sourced by Georgina, Sir A P McCoy rode him, giving him a firm thumbs up.

With backing from racing royalty and his poignant name, Thank You Ma’am is one worth investing in with The Posh Pundit Racing Club who are selling memberships for a yearly one-off fee of £60.

Membership offers a certificate and photograph, a stable visit to meet Thank You Ma’am, see where he is trained and watch him work on the gallops. You’ll also enjoy entry into a ballot for exclusive Owners and Trainer tickets when he runs which grants free entry to the races, lunch, access to the parade ring before the race and the winners’ enclosure afterwards. Become an owner and you’ll enjoy access to an online forum of fellow owners to chat all things horse related, as well of course, as a share of any prize money.

In his last two outings, Thank You Ma’am finished third at Kempton against his odds of 125/1 and an impressive second at Fontwell on Boxing Day, so the future is looking bright.

The Racing Club is managed by Rupert Adams, a well-known figure in the racing and betting industries, who says: “We hope we are giving our members a genuine ownership experience without the costs or risks.”

Round & About readers who take up the offer of ownership can do so for a discounted cost of just £50. just quote the code ‘Olive’.

Find out more at and to see Thank You Ma’am for yourself head here.

Quasimodo comes to Wantage

Ellie Cox


AmEgos Theatre presents The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

AmEgos Theatre is the first company in Oxfordshire to stage the magnificent musical – The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The Victor Hugo classic tells the story of Quasimodo, who has been kept within the bell tower of Notre Dame for his whole life, but longs to be out there as part of the outside world.

When he summons the courage to attend the Feast of Fools, he meets Esmeralda, a compassionate gypsy who protects him from an angry mob.

At the same time, Quasimodo’s guardian, Archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, and the new Captain of the Guard, Phoebus de Martin, fall in love with Esmeralda.

Will Quasimodo be able to save Esmeralda from Frollo’s lust and anger? And who is the true monster of Notre Dame?

Using the magnificent surroundings of the medieval Wantage Parish Church as a backdrop to the story, and with a sweeping score and powerful story, audiences will be swept away by the magic of this truly unforgettable musical.

With some adult themes, this is not a show for very young children

All Performances will be held at Wantage Parish Church at 7.30pm from Thursday 4th April to Saturday 6th April with a Saturday matinee at 2.30pm.

There is a bar that opens at 6.45pm (and 1.45pm)

Seating is unreserved, and on church pews, so please bring cushions or blankets if required for your comfort.

Parking is in the nearby Market Square (limited spaces) and at The Portway car park – a five minute walk.

Tickets are available here

Volunteers help maintain Betjeman Millennium Park

Round & About


James Kent, a year 12 pupil at King Alfred’s, spends a day with the army of volunteers who help maintain the Betjeman Millennium Park in Wantage, which has just marked its 20th anniversary

Just a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of Wantage Marketplace is a haven of wildlife, poetry, and relaxation – the Betjeman Millennium Park.

This month, the park enters its 20th year of providing for the local community but why is the park here in the first place? How was the land transformed from an empty derelict wasteland to the vibrant hub it is today? And why is it still so important?

You could be mistaken for wandering down from the parish church or along by the mill and assuming the wild plot of land on the outskirts of Wantage is just a normal park or nature reserve, but this is far from the truth…

You can feel a sense of magic and myth as you wander around the trails

Named after local poet and former poet laureate Sir John Betjeman (who lived in Wantage 1951-72) and dedicated to the start of the new millennium, the park is certainly not your ordinary piece of flat and neatly squared out urban greenery.

Being host to semi-wild woodland, engraved sculptures, a circle of ancient sarsen stones (the same as in Stonehenge) and even a performance area this is less of a park and more of a centre of life. You can feel a sense of magic and myth as you wander around the trails and get lost within the sprawling trees and running rhythms of word.

The freedom and wonder are infectious and not exclusive to humans – wildflowers pop up and enthusiastically cover the ground all around and birds call out from their leafy abodes.

In most places it is us or nature. Houses, pavements, fences keeping us tucked away from wildlife like it’s our enemy, the unkempt sprawling mass that we can’t control. However, here it is (to an extent) beautifully uncontrolled and thriving and a poignant reminder that we can all be here and coexist happily.

To many (myself included) it seems like Betjeman Park has always been there – a permanent feature of Wantage – but, as I’ve learnt, the fight for this park has been hard, the upkeep crucial but most importantly the transformation incredible. The two-acre site of land on which the park lies was once a piece of derelict wasteland that was close to being developed on with property.

Seeing the opportunity for protecting wildlife and how devastating it would be to see this land become swallowed up by more infrastructure, a local group came together to make a charitable trust. Through hard work, they saved the land and bought the plot with help from a council grant in the mid-1990s.

Chelsea Flower Show gold medalist Gabriella Pape was commissioned to design the space and came up with the idea of planting native tree species to increase biodiversity.

Local sculptor and artist Alec Peever was then chosen to engrave and install six sculptures to immortalise Sir John Betjeman’s words and poetry in stone which now make up the poetry trail. Finally, in May 2002 (after seven years of dedication) the ribbon was cut and the park opened to the jazzy sounds of The Wantage Silver Band.

It’s just so lovely to have this place in the centre of town

Today, the park is as relevant as ever in the local community and holds annual events like Art in the Park and the Betjeman Bike Ride and is used by many schools, cub groups and brownies for both education and adventure. It is also loved by locals (young and old) as a calm and relaxing sanctuary which transports you far away from the humdrum of the town.

One local resident told me it’s “just so lovely to have this place in the centre of town” and “it’s a wonderful asset” which has bloomed out of the “rough, unloved ground” she once remembers.

The Park has also been especially helpful to locals during the lockdowns as it provided many with the opportunity to get out of the house and spend some time in nature during those precious windows of exercise.

The essential role it plays in the community has also been acknowledged as it is now recognised as a Local Green Space in the draft Wantage Neighbourhood Plan, which protects it from all future development.

As a park for both people and nature to coexist happily, the upkeep is essential and many dedicated local volunteers help out at monthly work parties. I went down to see what was going on at the April work party and met some of the volunteers and trustees.

From the moment I joined them during their well earnt tea break I could really feel the deep sense of unity between them and the nature they care for. One enthusiastic volunteer, who has been involved for eight years and is one of the current trustees, told me how as a child she had quite self-sufficient parents and grew up “in the middle of nowhere” so it’s quite “a revelation to be in such a community”.

However, it’s not always a walk in the park (!) as she tells me it can be challenging to juggle her job and other responsibilities with the time needed as a trustee but there is such a great “feeling of achievement” and so much social connection.

Not only do those working inside the park’s perimeters feel the connection but I was told how often passersby stop to say how much they appreciate the work being done on the park and how much the park means to them which is “reason enough to do it” for lots of them.

One elderly lady, although unable to do any physical work, regularly pops by to bring home-made biscuits for all the hard workers- not only is the park there for the community to enjoy but also for the community to care for in all the different ways they can.

Not only is the park there for the community to enjoy but also for the community to care for

One student volunteer who got involved just about nine months ago originally to be part of his Duke Of Edinburgh award is now the park’s youngest ever trustee and has spent six months on an ambitious project identifying and mapping out all the trees in the park alongside one of the more experienced and knowledgeable volunteers.

He tells me the yew tree is his favourite in the park with its reddish and purple bark and evergreen spines and how they are very slow to grow but can live for thousands of years. What I really came away feeling like at the end of the work party was that this is no begrudging task or tedious responsibility for those involved but really a great pleasure.

As the chairman John Vandore said it is a real “privilege” to be able to ensure the survival of the magical space the original founding trustees fought so hard to gain.

To find out more about Betjeman Millenium Park or get in touch check out the Facebook page

Tell us your local news here

Alzheimer’s memory walk

Round & About


Tony Kershaw tells us more about Wantage Life Savers who are based at Wantage Leisure Centre where they train and help others become Water Smart

Wantage Life Savers is a small club but continues to have big ambitions. For over 25 years we have competed at local, regional and national life-saving competitions. This year we are planning to compete on the Commonwealth stage.

Many members have been reaping the rewards of their twice-weekly training sessions by successful medalling at the Royal Life Saving Society’s (RLSS) UK National Life Saving Championships year after year.

As a club, affiliated to the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS), Wantage Life Savers are committed to provide volunteer-led, community-based training to raise awareness of water safety to work to prevent drowning and encourage the education of water safety. Here in the Thames Valley alone, between 2012-2016, some 66 people have died through drowning – the highest number of which have been young men aged 20-29.

Our club works to deliver training and education for the public, schools, clubs and a range of organisations to seek to reduce this number of fatalities. We have been successful in providing tuition to our members and the public in the theoretical and practical skills required to be safe in and around water such as swimming pools, rivers, reservoirs, lakes, flooded gravel pits and canals – all of which are prevalent locally.

Wantage Life Savers train at Wantage Leisure Centre on a Sunday morning, 8-9am (in the pool) and on Mondays, 8-10pm (an hour theory/life support/CPR training prior to an hour in the pool).

As well as training for competitions, club members are RLSS qualified instructors who are able to teach and assess RLSS Life Saving qualification, NRASTC qualifications and Duke of Edinburgh modules. However, our primary aim is to provide our expertise in helping children and adults to gain confidence in, on or around water, to understand the risks and to know how to cope if you (or anyone else) gets in to difficulty in the water.

On a Monday evening we work toward lifesaving or life support qualifications. Summer Sunday will be run as drop-in sessions for the general public and prospective new club members to come and learn how to be Water Smart. Our nominal club rates are adults £5 / juniors £3 per session – which helps to cover the cost of hiring the pool. The first session is free for new/prospective members

For more information

email: [email protected]