Category Archives: community action

NEWS: new car park / holiday plans / scorer needed / Bear Withers / no play

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late April 2014 
We have news of…:  play-area plan abandoned / summer holiday planning / cricket season off to good start / Bear Withers regular slot / car-park improvement at hall…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Play-facilities now in the long grass

Following a well-attended public meeting in which residents and management at Draycott Moor College exchanged frank views, it seems that the chance for Draycott’s children to have their own play-area has now gone.

Some eighteen months ago, the college authorities offered the use of its small green space play-area (the one next to the college that fronts on to Draycott Old Road) to the parish council.

However the council has been unable to find anyone to take the responsibility for locking the area up at night. So, the college has now decided it may be better off converting the area into a car-park.

The meeting did also manage to resolve a number of other issues, including, ironically enough, the problem of the numbers of cars parking in the street outside the college.

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We’re all going on a …

Yes, it will be the summer holidays before we know it.  However, Chrissi Thompson, the youth worker who runs the Draycott youth club every Thursday at the church hall, is one who has definitely remembered that they are coming up.

Chrissi has organised a meeting for Wednesday 30th April at 7.30pm to discuss and plan for local children’s activities during the long days of July and August. She would welcome anyone interested in helping out and organising.
The meeting takes place at Blythe Methodist Church Hall – for more information please contact Chrissi.

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Play up, Blythe!

The first team at Blythe Cricket Club (which plays in Cresswell) has started the season well, winning their first two games.
The facilities for watching at the club are really very good – so if you find yourself at a loose end on a weekend, do stroll along and watch some good cricket. What’s more, this year, the first team is enhanced by the presence of a new professional, the Sri Lankan bowler Upul Indrasiri.
(See What’s On Page for forthcoming home games).

Blythe Cricket flag

The flag now flying at the club pays tribute to the Under-13 side, which had such a successful 2013 season

And… if you have a number of Saturdays or Sundays free, you could even be very useful to the club: as they are looking for volunteers to act as scorers. The duties are not arduous (!), and you get free cups of tea…
Email Blythe CC for details.

Incidentally, senior and junior practice nights are on Tuesday and Friday respectively at 6pm; while players are still required for the Sunday league team. The Sunday league team is not necessarily looking for the most skilled players…

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Bear with it

If watching cricket sounds too tiring (!), you may enjoy midweek nights at the Draycott Arms.   The Bear Withers group, which specialises in a combination of humour and covers of the better pop hits, practises there in the bar every Wednesday; and it’s a bit of fun to go along and hear what they are up to.

Bear Withers

Bear Withers – a pint and a tune

It’s a laid-back session, so if you don’t mind that it’s a more of a ‘jam’ than a finished set, you’ll always leave with a smile on your face.
There are no loud amplifiers, so your ears are quite safe. And it’s free, of course.

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Surface renovations

It has been a very good couple of years for the church hall, where the roof has been fixed, insulation installed, the heating system upgraded, and there has been all-round decoration. It’s all part of an effort to make the hall more attractive to anyone who wishes to hire it.

Church Hall car park

The new church hall car park – freshly tarmac-ed over

The latest improvement has seen the hall’s car-park re-surfaced – so no more crunching sounds as car-axles hit potholes.

Now, if someone can just fix bumpy ol’ Church Lane too…

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NEWS: road death / bus cuts / tea club / E eggs / new web

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid April 2014 
We have news of…:  young woman dies in traffic accident / cuts to the X50 service / news of regular tea clubs / local eggs for sale / new websites go online / trials for the Izaak…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Traffic death

The sad news is that there has been a death on the roads of Draycott.
Around half-past eight on Monday morning (14th April), a car and a lorry were involved in a crash, and the young woman driving the car was seriously injured. She died later in hospital.

Tributes

Local residents have already been laying tributes of flowers at the spot of the accident

The young lady, who was only 29 years old, has not been identified yet.
The causes of the crash, which took place on the main Uttoxeter Road (near New Avenue), are being investigated. If you can help with any information, you can call 01785 234094 or 101 – quoting ‘incident 123 of April 14’.

Update:  since this item was written, the young victim has been identified – as Christie Gallon, a hospital nurse from Cheadle

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Bus service depleted

It looks like we can expect only to see more cars on that length of Uttoxeter Road  – because Wardle’s, which operates the frequent X50 buses that come through Draycott along that stretch, have announced that they are severely cutting the service back.
The cuts might even leave just the one X50 service a day out of Draycott – in the early morning, to Hanley – and one service back to Draycott – in the early evening, from Hanley.

At other times of day, it may have to be a matter of walking up to Blythe Bridge, for most of us, to catch the buses from there.

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Yes, there will be tea & cakes

The other week, we reported that it was a shame that there are no regular community drop-in sessions in Draycott-in-the-Moors. Around us, in other villages, there are weekly or monthly tea-&-cakes events.

Well, we now stand corrected – and we apologise.  Because, at Cresswell’s St Mary Church annexe, there is, yes, a monthly afternoon tea session – and all are welcome.
One of the organisers, Margaret Mountford, told us that about a dozen people go along, mostly older people, and they enjoy good conversation and excellent baking.
The next one is on April 24 (see our What’s On page).

And, we have also been told that we should really mention the luncheon club at Blythe Bridge, which meets every Wednesday between 9am–2pm. It is run by volunteers, and is primarily for people in their later years. A meal and activities are laid on.
This activity is run by three teams of volunteers, from the Moorlands Home Link organisation.
MHL tell us that more volunteers would be very welcome – you’d only be needed about once a month. Contact Moorlands Home Link by email, or on 01538 750511.

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Izaak tribulations

The poor old management at The Izaak Walton have been going through a torrid time over the last two weeks.
First, the cellar kept flooding, and then manager Kathy suffered an electric shock, and had to be taken to hospital (only for a short time, thank goodness).
Sudden necessary improvements have also meant that the pub has had to close at short notice for a few hours – so some folks have turned up only to find the place ‘dark’.

However, we are assured that all is well now – and that the Easter weekend & Monday will be one for all at the pub to enjoy.

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Easter eggs

Talking of Easter, the hens are again laying, so local chicken-keepers are again offering their free-range, home-produced eggs for sale.

Fresh eggs sign

Fresh eggs for sale at a house in Cresswell Lane

Local farmers too make a special effort at this time of year. We noticed that Lower Manor Farm (on Uttoxeter Road, almost opposite the church) is not just selling eggs but wilja potatoes too.

We even bought some goose eggs at the Draycott Arms pub. They had the biggest yolks we’ve ever seen…

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New sites on the block

Finally, two new local websites to be aware of…
The webmaster for the St Margaret’s Church site has completely rebuilt it; and it now has a fresher, less complicated feel.  However, most of the ‘URLs’ have changed, so you will find that you need to re-set your favourites.
See: new St Margaret’s website

Also, the recently-formed Cresswell Community Group decided that it needed a website for its launch, so it created one – and you’ll find news and views about Cresswell on there. See: new CCG website

This new community group was formed after a decision to make the local VVSM group concentrate more on planning issues and major campaigns, and less about resolving matters at the grassroots.
So, the Cresswell Community Group will fill the gap – looking at street-level neighbourhood issues and opinions in Cresswell. It will be having regular get-togethers too, we are told, so look out for dates of those on its new website.
Members of CCG will be also be present at the Police’s drop-in session tomorrow (Wednesday April 15, at 2pm) at the lay-by on Sandon Road.

***
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NEWS: burglary / planning policy / pic puzzle / evening classes

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early April 2014 
We have news of…:  unsolved burglary in Cresswell / latest Moorlands planning strategy / puzzle at Mango Tree / evening classes to come? / new gardening blog…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Spring has sprung

It looks like Spring is busting out all over!  The daffodils are in full bloom; and the primroses, croci and the like are giving a very colourful show.
The rains of January/February seem a long long way away.

Daffodils at Grange Farm

Daffodil bank at Grange Farm – on the Cheadle Road

By the way, if you happen to be interested in gardening and plants, it’s good to see that Draycott Plant Nurseries have now entered the blogging world. On their blog, they comment on the latest shrubs and flowers coming through at their place – some of which are surprisingly unexpected, even to them!

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Who stole it?

Police don’t seem to any closer to finding out who committed the burglary in Cresswell last month. You may remember that £10,000 worth of electronic equipment was stolen.

If you think you can help – perhaps you saw somebody suspicious hanging about? – You can easily report it these days, anonymously if you want to.
See: how to report something to Staffordshire Police.

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A little light reading

The latest Staffordshire Moorlands Core Strategy has now been adopted, and is available to be seen. You can either nip over to Blythe Bridge Library to read it, or peruse it online.

It’s a lengthy document (over 200 pages); and it barely mentions Draycott-in-the-Moors, which might be (actually) quite a good thing!
Draycott is identified in the Core Strategy as a ‘smaller village’ where only limited infill development will be allowed (see Policy SS6b, on page 95).
Also – the previous reference (from two years ago, which was in the ‘draft strategy’) supporting expansion of Blythe Business Park (which was in policy SS6c) has been removed – as recommended by the District Inspector.

As for that District Inspector’s Report, which was published in January this year, it was quite specific – and mentioned Blythe Business Park (in Cresswell) in particular.
This is the Inspector’s recommendation:
“The support for the expansion of the Blythe Business Park is not justified in the supporting text. The evidence indicates 70ha of employment land available in rural areas (over 56ha with planning permission) [doc MC(5)], and the location of the site is within a Special Landscape Area (Local Plan, Policy N8). There is no evidence before this Examination to indicate that account has been taken of the proximity and potential impact on the neighbouring settlement of Cresswell, or that questions regarding the possibility of contamination by industrial waste have been answered satisfactorily as part of the process of determining whether the principle of expansion is feasible or desirable. “ (Page 16)
And that simple statement makes the recent proposal to expand Blythe Business Park all the odder. The proposals to build 200 new homes here seem to fly in the face of the Inspector’s report…

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Puzzling pic

The Mango Tree Indian Restaurant gained a new management as of the end of last year, and it has been settling in.

Mango Tree poster

Mango Tree poster

Part of the new approach was a publicity campaign using a new logo (pictured right), in the midst of the colours of the Indian flag – orange, white and green.
But one thing completely puzzled us: what is the graphic supposed to be showing?
We mulled it over.
Could it be: strangely-shaped mangoes in a strangely shaped tree…(?)  Or perhaps a fish leaping into a pool…(?)

Anyway, it turns out that we couldn’t see for looking.
The graphic is – of course! – of a young lady with her hands in the folded prayer (or ‘namaste’) position – a gesture which means ‘welcome’ in South Asia. The lady also has a red dot (‘bindi’) on her forehead.
It’s simple when you know.

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Evening classes

One annoying thing about living here in Draycott is that the nearest evening classes are in Meir.   So it’s good to hear that William Amory Primary in Blythe Bridge – which is where many of our infants and juniors go to school – is thinking of hosting some.

On their latest newsletter, they say they are considering putting on classes in basic computing, languages, and crafts.
If you have views, they are asking you to let them know them – just email them.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
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NEWS: big invite / Mum’s Day / old furniture / photo show

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in late March 2014 
We have news of…:  annual-gathering reminder / Mother’s Day gifts, locally / how to spring-clean for charity / photo exhibition’s last week
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Everybody invited…

Here’s a reminder that the annual gathering of the people of Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow takes place this Monday (31st March, starts 7.30pm).
An annual assembly, as it’s called, is when the people of the electoral area can gather to discuss and raise any issues they like.
This year, the Draycott agenda also includes the annual reports of our district and counrty councillors, a plea for more reporting of irresponsible motorists speeding through the district, and a request to the parish council to publicise their decisions.

The first part of the meeting will however be given over to the guest speaker – Inspector Jonathan Ward, the new commander of local policing in the Moorlands.
The ‘Electors Forum’, when people can discuss local issues, follows the various reports.

All welcome – though only local residents can address the meeting.

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No excuse for Mother’s Day

It’s Mother’s Day this Sunday (30th March), and, even if you have no transport, you really do have no excuse for not getting Mum a present – because Draycott Plant Nurseries is walkable from virtually anywhere within our area!  (It’s at the back of the Draycott Arms).

Mother's Day presents at Draycott Nurseries

Just a few of the possible Mother’s Day presents at Draycott Nurseries

The nursery has planters, shrubs and baskets that will all make for presents, at a range of prices.  If you prefer something more permanent, there is also the gift-shop section, which has ornaments, bird feeders etc.

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Art photography

It’s too easy to forget that we have an ‘art gallery’ on our doorstep – at Blythe Bridge Library – and it’s always worth dropping in to look at the new exhibitions.

Right now you can see a display of the work of local professional photographer Will Brown.  Will, who lives in Blythe, specialises in portraits, but his more creative work can be seen at this show; and some of it is really fascinating.

Nemesis-apocolyptco, by Will Brown

Will has captured the Nemesis ride at Alton Towers in its ‘apocalyptic’ aspect…

This is the final week of the exhibition – so try to make the show if you’re at all interested in photography.
(Blythe Bridge Library closes at certain odd times in the week – so do check their opening times before you set out).

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Spring clean with a conscience

Many of our neighbours seem to have been inspired by the sunnier weather to get on with their spring-cleaning.  Nearby charity shops will find they have a sudden influx of old woolly jumpers!

However, they’ve also told us that they’re puzzled over what to do about big items – like sofas, televisions etc, which are too big or heavy for them to deliver themselves.
Well, don’t despair…  In fact, there are some charities that will come fair distances to take away larger items, for free, even coming to Draycott.

In these days of food banks – the nearest one to us is the Cheadle Foodbank – it’s nice to know that someone is out there who will collect furniture, and then simply pass it on, free of charge, to people in need.  In North Staffordshire, ‘Furniture Mine’ fulfils that role.
(Be aware though that: if a Furniture Mine van turns up only to find the item is badly damaged, then they might charge a fee.  But, the way we look at it, it’s still a way to get rid of old stuff, and the fee does go to charity after all…)

The BHF charity warehouse in Stoke will also collect larger items.  They can take dressers, beds, you name it.  What’s more, they will also take electronic items, which is unusual. (They have specially-trained volunteers who will repair them if necessary). You can even book the collection of your items online!
The YMCA shop in Uttoxeter will also get its vans come to Draycott and collect large furniture items.

Of course, if you can manage to get your larger unwanted bits into your car and deliver it yourself, then, why not?  We think the nearest ‘warehouse’-type charity shop to us is the DMH store in Meir.  You can park outside the shop if you are unloading, or there is a municipal car-park just around the corner.

Finally, you may like your unwanted item to go to the ‘right’ person, and for free.  Well, you can use the Staffordshire Moorlands Freecycle Group, which is online only.  People can advertise any sort of items they no longer need, others reply via email, and then collect it from your home.
Also, people can advertise for items they require.
This is totally non-profit making and is done purely in the spirit of recycling.

However, if you have other suggestions – we’d love to hear them.  Just leave your thoughts in the comments box near the bottom of this page.

There you go – how to get a lovely, fresh–looking home, and help your conscience at the same time!

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NEWS: solar farm? / Izaak jobs / lost dog / wedding / no cafes…

News-in-brief of Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid March 2014 
We have news of…:  plans for large-scale solar energy hub locally / Izaak Walton pub job opportunities / Cresswell girl in ‘dream’ wedding / lack of drop-in clubs in Draycott / dog found in Cresswell Lane.
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Solar hub for Cresswell?

More interesting possible developments locally…!
This time, a large commercial company is expressing interest in building a solar energy site on farm land in Newton, which is a small area between Totmonslow and Cresswell.

We presume that the company in question Novus Solar Development will be wanting to lease the land there in order to build large solar panels on the fields.
However, in fact there’s no need to speculate – as such questions will all be answered at a one-day public exhibition this week (on Thursday March 13th) – which takes place at Draycott Church & Community Hall between 2pm and 8pm.  All are invited.

The company will have representatives there who will be taking questions, and noting comments from interested residents.
(This kind of consultation is required before the proposals can move on to any possible planning application).

These sorts of solar parks seem, on the surface, to be the most acceptable form of green energy – but, even so, there are still divided opinions. See the BBC report which discusses the pros and cons of solar farms.

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No place to go

The news that the family-oriented Hub Club has had to close (see our previous report) reminds us that there are no community drop-in clubs or cafes in Draycott.

Nearby Milwich has a community coffee-shop every Wednesday (see milwich.info);  Tean has an occasional one on Mondays at Greatwood Hall; and in Blythe Bridge, the Blythe Social Club meets every Thursday afternoon at the Scout Hut for tea, cakes, ad bingo (call 01782 398994 for details).
But Draycott has nothing similar.

These events may only be weekly, but they can be something of a lifeline for people who live on their own, or for people who just want to meet the neighbours around them in a convivial atmosphere.

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Jobs on the doorstep

Meanwhile, along at the Izaak Walton Inn, it seems that the refurbishment is progressing nicely.   We’re told that, if everything continues on schedule, the formal re-opening of the pub/restaurant will be on 21st March.

Of course, the business will need staff, and Kathy says she is still looking for bar, kitchen and front of house staff, as well as part-time cleaners and a general gardener/handyman.
If you’re interested, email Kathy, telling her why you think you could do the job, and with a copy of your CV to date.

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Sam’s dreamy day

Finally, we were pleasantly surprised to turn the pages of the latest edition of Staffordshire Life, the county’s monthly magazine, only to see an article about the ‘dream wedding’ of Samantha Swinson, a girl from a well-known Cresswell family.
Sam married her beloved, Andy Sigley, last summer.

Sam is also Steve Swinson’s daughter; and she is well-known to many of us because of her charity fund-raising efforts for the Midlands Air Ambulance.  After her dad died a couple of years ago, Sam and the rest of her family decided to pay tribute to Steve’s memory by raising as much cash as they could for the Air Ambulance, which was Steve’s favourite charity.

The article in Staffordshire Life comes complete with photos of the reception, which was held at Heath House in Tean. The day itself was nice and sunny, making for some great images!

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Dog found

Are you missing a dog?  Well, one was found on Saturday morning (8th) wandering near the Draycott Sports Centre on Cresswell Lane.
Phone 01782 392164 for details.

***
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The state of policing in Draycott

Later this month, our annual get-together or ‘Assembly’ of Draycott residents takes place.  The usual thing is just for residents to openly talk and debate the things that concern them – but also to have a relevant guest speaker.

Insp. Jonathon Ward

Insp. Jonathon Ward

This year, the guest speaker is Inspector Jon Ward, the new head of policing in the Staffordshire Moorlands.   Inspector Ward was only recently appointed to his post, but he comes with a reputation as a straight-talking officer with a special interest in community policing.

As there will be a question-and-answer session following his talk at the Assembly, at which we can ask him anything we like, it should make for an interesting evening on March 31st!

Local police teams

But what exactly is the profile of local policing in Draycott and district?
The way it’s done now is that each neighbourhood is allocated some dedicated police officers.

And – which Staffordshire Police ‘neighbourhood’ do we fit into?
The answer is that Draycott-in-the-Moors falls into the so-called Forsbrook & Caverswall Team district.
Actually, the name is fairly misleading!  Because,  this district doesn’t just cover those two small villages: in fact, it goes as far as Werrington, and includes Meir Park, Catchems Corner, Cellarhead, Kingsley Moor, Forsbrook, Blythe Bridge and Tean – as well us as here in Draycott, Cresswell & Totmonslow – so it’s pretty big.
To see a map of the area, and check on local crime statistics, click on the Police UK F&C district map.

As for officers, we have two ‘Police Community Support Officers’ and a number of ‘Neighbourhood Officers (Crime)’ specifically allocated to us.
The PCSOs do a lot of the community liaison and crime prevention, while you’ll most often see the NOs at the scene of a crime, or investigating one.
The two PCSOs, Adam Charlesworth and Jonathan Staples, will be familiar to many of us, from seeing them at the regular community-police liaison events.

Our former PCSO, Daniel Peake, who did a fine job, has just moved on. After being a PCSO for more than three years, he was promoted to full Police Constable at the end of last year.  He was commended for his outstanding work in community and youth issues (see press report).

As for the Neighbourhood Police Officers, the one who will become most familiar to us is PC Dave Stubbs.  Dave is relatively new to us, being assigned to us after a reorganisation which took place last year.
Four other officers keep an eye on the Forsbrook & Caverswall district, but they are expected to be more flexible than Dave.

Keeping an eye on crime

The idea is that the PCSOs, Adam Charlesworth and Jonathan Staples, are the ones who are the ‘listening-ear’;  so if you have concerns about issues in your locality, you can approach them directly. They can either deal with your concerns themselves, or alert the relevant police section.
Details of the full team, and their ranks, can be accessed by checking on the Staffordshire Police F&C Local Policing Team webpage.    As you’ll see on the page, you can phone each of the officers directly, or even send them an email.

The officers should also be approaching you.  Staffordshire Police have a policy called Citizen Focus Toolkit, whereby officers should be proactively talking to residents and asking them their concerns.

Of course, there are also other ways to keep across law and order issues in our district.  Cresswell has recently started up its own Neighbourhood Watch, which you can join.

But you don’t have to join a formal Neighbourhood Watch group – you can just sign up for personal alerts of NW news if you prefer that.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – further down this page.

(The form will ask if you wish to put in your email address.  You don’t have to, and it is always kept private anyway and never published, but, if you don’t add your email, that means you might miss any responses to your comment).

NEWS: beer contest / art needed / new websites / Hub Club

News-in-brief of Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2014 
We have news of…:  an Izaak beer competition / a call for artists – and collectors / closure of the Hub Club / new bowls and cricket club websites.
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Name that beer!

Repairs and refurbishments seem to be going ahead apace at The Izaak Walton Inn, ahead of its re-opening in mid-March.

Kathy has now announced a competition for us all to have a go at, should we wish.   She’s having an exclusive beer brewed for the Izaak – but it doesn’t have a name, so she’s decided to have a competition to get a suitable moniker!   We are all invited to make a nomination – so far, I like ‘The Owd Angler’ best.
The prize is not bad either – a three course meal for two with bottle of wine…

The Draycott Arms pub had a similar headache with their exclusive beer (brewed by Marstons).  Eventually they called it ‘Crusader’ – after the entombed figure that lies in the Draycott Chapel at St Margaret’s Church – and it has been extremely successful.

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Call for local artists – and organisations

The Cheadle Arts Festival, organised by Cheadle Arts Forum, gets under way in two weeks time, and, as usual will have an exhibition of artists’ work during the seven days of its existence.
The call is now out for artists who would like to see their works hung during the festival art-exhibition, which takes place on the 22nd March.
As far as the festival organisers are concerned ‘Cheadle & District’ includes Draycott, so – feel free to nominate something you’re proud of.

Draycott organisations are also being encouraged to take part in ‘Peeps into The Past’ display.  Groups (or individuals) are being asked to put together memorabilia and photos etc, profiling their own areas.
We know that some people in the village have some wonderful collections of old photos and artefacts – so, why not think about displaying your collection?

Email festival organiser Stella Heritage if you want more details.

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Hub is no more

Some sad news is that the family-oriented activities group The Hub Club has had to fold.  The Hub opened on Saturday mornings to offer parents & children a place to get together in a community atmosphere.  It also ran a small café at the same time.
Though it was based in Blythe Bridge it was used by families from Draycott too.

Chairman Mark Hammond said it was regrettable, but falling numbers meant it was better to quit while they were still ahead.
However, one of the other organisers, Chrissi Thompson, is not lost to us.  Chrissi still carries on her good work as the youth-worker at Draycott’s own weekly Mish-Mash Youth Club.

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New summer – new websites

In just a month’s time, we shall see the start of the summer sports season.

To make sure they are ready, both the local bowls club and the local cricket club have been busy constructing new websites.

Checkley Outdoor Bowls Club, which plays on the green at Blythe Business Park, has been particularly industrious. Their new website, www.checkleybowlsclub.esy.es, has some great photos and also includes a page on how to acquire membership (and thus to play for the club).
Spectating is still free of course – and the first match is on April 3rd.

Blythe Cricket Club’s website is still being tidied up – but the fixtures page is already complete.  From that we can tell that the first game of the season takes place on April 19th.  Let’s hope it’s a sunny day..

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of this page.

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A helping hand – from Draycott to Kenya

If all goes well, Jessica Rowe, a teenager from here in Draycott, will be plumbing, plastering and teaching in Kenya in eighteen months time.
Jessica, a girl-guide ranger, hopes to be volunteering on a project in a small, disadvantaged village called Kididema which is a few miles from the Kenyan city of Mombasa.

But first she and her fellow guides must raise over £20,000 to make the project happen.

Project Twinkle

Jess is a member of the Threapwood Guides Division, which covers most of the south Moorlands, including Draycott.  She told us that she became fascinated by the project when she heard a talk given last summer by someone who had been out there.
The project is called ‘Our Kenyan Story – Twinkle’.

Jess Rowe and Jessica Renshaw

Jess Rowe and Jessica Renshaw

Girl guides from Staffordshire have been involved with this project since 2005; and during that time have helped build schools and a children’s hospice, and the furniture to go in them.  Along the way, they have paid for, and helped install, electricity and water supplies. They paid for new school uniforms to be made by ladies locally. They have even arranged for supplies of donated books.

The project is now in its third phase, in which the guides will help re-build a community centre in a village called Kididema.  Kididema is home to around 5000 people; and is a 30-minute drive from Mombasa.
The refurbished community centre will double as a church too.

The people who live in Kididema are farmers.  They live in mud-made homes – without electricity, though they have built themselves a school.
However, funds coming from the guides meant that at least running water could be installed in the village; and that happened in 2012.

Skills

Jess is already planning ahead, working with her friend Jessica Renshaw (who lives in nearby Tean).

But what really can the pair of them do out there?  “As much as we can!!” said Jess. “First, we are now taking courses in practical building tasks, so we can plaster and paint and do carpentry when we get out there.  We will also be working in the school, teaching summer-school to little ones – and that too requires us to be trained.  We will need to speak some Swahili too.

“One really fun task will be to design and paint a mural for the community centre’s walls, so we’re even studying graphics.”

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Aren’t they scared at all?  “No,” says the other Jessica. “We are getting lots of preparation in; and we already know that the villagers there are looking forward to us coming.  The church leader there, Joshua, has been very encouraging and supportive.
“Also the guide leaders have allowed all of us to ask whatever questions we wanted, so I feel pretty happy about it.”

Fund-raising

Fourteen girls and eight leaders are hoping to go.   But, money is an issue.
As well as needing to raise funds for the work to be undertaken, the girls must pay for their own travel.
The group itself must raise £20,000 – and each girl must also raise a further £1200 by herself.

The two Jessicas are undaunted.   “We will do it!  Last month we went packing bags for shoppers at Cheadle B&M store, and people were very generous with donations.
“We’ve been busy setting up charity events – like fashion shows, music nights, cake-sales, and even a college pyjama day!
“We are also applying for grants where we can.  We even hope Draycott Parish Council might let us have a little money too.”

To see what events Jess & Jessica have coming up – see our What’s On page.

Summer 2015

The two girls have eighteen months to raise all this money, though they want to have it in the bank much earlier than that if they can.

But… why do they want to do it?  After all, it means two weeks of very hard work under a very intense sun, with only a few breaks.
“Why?  Well, because helping others who are less fortunate should be an aim for all of us I think.  Also, you never know, it might stop some people thinking bad of teenagers: it could help remove the stigma.”

And – at a personal level?  “Meeting people who live completely differently to us makes a big difference to your perceptions – I think that that is important for everyone… and … we are learning new skills!”

To contact the project with any query, email the pair at The Kididema Project – and help a girl from Draycott help youngsters in East Africa.

(For more about the ten years of the project see: ‘Our Kenyan Guiding Story’)

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PHOTO: Draycott’s world-record holders

Congratulations to all those who took part in The Big Promise Day at Draycott last weekend – you are all (officially) World Record Holders!

On Saturday 8th February 2014, twenty-eight local couples (supported by babies and families!) renewed their wedding vows at exactly 5-15 pm.   It was part of a huge attempt across the UK to break the Guinness Book of Records achievement for the largest number of people repeating their marriage promises all at one time.

Big Promise Day at Draycott

The couples who took part in the Big Promise Day at Draycott

And it was an incredibly successful attempt – beating the previous record by a factor of 40% !

Day to remember

The promise renewals took place at St Margaret’s Church, where the rector, David Bickersteth, oversaw the action – and made sure everything was above board…  Everyone got an official certificate of attendance too.

Jane and David Meller

Jane and David Meller with their certificates

David told us: “It was a very happy day!  We must say big thanks to organisers Angela Pretty, Pauline & John Clarke, Dave & Jane Meller and Barry Berks ( the organist) – plus of course the many who donated cake, mulled wine, and items for the fantastic display of wedding memorabilia!”
Those fortunate enough to have been there on Saturday would have seen the display of memorabilia, which consisted of wedding dresses and wedding photo albums and more.

The mulled wine was particularly welcome as it was such a horrendous weather for the eighty people who had made their way to church for the afternoon.
Couples taking part in the event ranged from those who had been married just two years to those who had been together for more than 60 years.

Bickersteths

Gillian & David Bickersteth renewed their vows too

It is even more of an achievement by Draycott folk when one thinks that only one other venue in the whole of Staffordshire took part.

Once again – congratulations to you all!

Thanks to John Clarke for the photos.

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NEWS: vandalism / highways chief / bowls cash / church mag

News-in-brief of Draycott-In-The-Moors in early February 2014
We have news of…:  attack on kiosk  / county highways chief coming / grant for bowls club / advertising in church mag  / Bethlehem carvings for sale.
(NB – There are also dozens of events in the area. Check out the Events page!)

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Stupid vandalism

Depressing to say: we’ve been told of another piece of vandalism in Cresswell.  Someone tried to break into the decommissioned telephone kiosk (which is now the Cresswell Information Point) on Sunday night by smashing in a couple of its glass panes.

Damaged kiosk

Two panes were smashed

It seems to be sheer stupidity, as there is nothing in the kiosk of value, though it is kept locked overnight ‘just in case’.  The VVSM community group, which maintains the kiosk, is understandably saddened by the act.

Also, whoever did it doesn’t seem to know what they were doing, as during the attack, the mallet employed– the type with a rubber head – snapped off at the handle and landed inside the kiosk!  Police have taken it away to carry out forensic tests.

If you have information, let VVSM know, or phone 101, the police information number.
VVSM say they are trying to find funds to cover the cost of the repair, and to get the kiosk back in working order as soon as possible.

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Highways chief comes to Draycott

No doubt Draycott Parish Council will be discussing at their next meeting this spate of vandal attacks in Cresswell, which also include an incident of theft, destruction to signage, graffiti, and damage to the BT box there.

Simon Tagg

Simon Tagg

However, there are other good reasons why you might want to attend the council meeting on Monday (Feb 17th).
The council has promised that the county councillor who is chiefly responsible for Staffordshire’s highways will be turning up as the special guest for the evening.
Cllr Simon Tagg will be answering questions about how Speedwatch works across the village, about the local need for speed-checks and extra speed-signs, and about a request for a drop in the speed limit, on parts of Uttoxeter Road, from 40mph to 30mph.

We know that the way that cars and lorries come tearing through Draycott, Cresswell & Totmonslow bothers many people, so you may want to see what Cllr Tagg has to say on the matter.  

Also, a representative from the pub company that manages the (still-closed) Izaak Walton Inn will be attending the meeting – which starts at 7.15pm.

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Bowls club in funds

Our own county councillor, Mark Deaville, will be getting a special cheer in ten days time.
Mark has taken £600 from his ‘Community Fund’ to grant to the Checkley Bowls Club.  Despite its name, in fact Checkley Bowls Club plays its home matches on the green at Blythe Business Park in Cresswell.
The money will be used to buy sets of bowls.

To celebrate the award, and acting as a back-drop to the presentation of the cheque, the club is holding a one-off indoor match at Checkley Community Centre on Feb 19th at 1.30pm.

The club is always on the look-out for players, so – if you are interested in playing for one of its many teams – you are welcome to go along and find out more about them.
The bowls season starts in April – contact the secretary for more details.

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Promote local business in magazine

Ever wanted to advertise a small business or project here in Draycott, but thought that newspaper rates were too high?
Well, why not try advertising in the church magazine…?

After all, the most local print-magazine in Draycott & Blythe Bridge has to be the monthly Church Parish Magazine.  We like it because it not only has news of activities in this district, but some good jokes (!), some interesting articles and even the occasional poem.
If you’re not a church-goer at St Margaret’s or St Peter’s, you can also buy it at The Draycott Arms pub where it retails at 40p a copy.

Of course, to pay its way, the magazine also has adverts, which also act as a sort of local trades directory.  A local business or project may well benefit from exposure here.  The cost for a year of advertising is now £30 for the year – which is not bad value!   For more info, contact the church treasurer.

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Bethlehem carvings on sale

Meanwhile, at Draycott’s other church, St Mary Catholic Church in Cresswell, there will be a special sale this weekend of traditional olive wood carvings from Bethlehem.  The pieces are being sold on behalf of  the carvers. Their livelihood is much harder these days, as fewer pilgrims are going to Palestine because of the tense situation there.

The carvings will be on sale on Feb Sun 16th, after the 11am mass.  (There is also a chance to see them after the 6pm mass on Saturday at St Augustine’s in Meir, and the 9am mass at Caverswall on Sunday).
You don’t have to be a Catholic to go along and make an enquiry!

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