Category Archives: community action

Draycott St Margaret’s 2016 Summer Fayre

Time to get your diaries out – because the liveliest day of our summer is almost upon us…  Yes, the vibe around the Draycott Summer Fayre (which is now confirmed for Sunday July 10th), is already buzzing!

Welcome return

The big news is surely the return of Y-Ddraig .  This fantastic group re-enacts the Viking era, with authentic costumes and encampments. They were massive hits at the 2013 and 2014 fayres, and it was only other commitments that prevented them coming back last year.

Viking conflict

The ‘Vikings’ enjoyed themselves with a number of battles

The lads and ladies of the group also demonstrate, and teach, bloodcurdling Viking fighting skills – though they have had their come-uppance in previous years when they challenged the village’s children to battle… (!)

As befits the 25th year of the fayre, the rest of the line-up is incredibly strong too.
The organisers have pulled off a real coup to get the Staffordshire Youth Jazz Orchestra, twenty youngsters who really know how to play. They will be in the marquee.
In the arena, the North Staffordshire Pony Club will perform their fascinating ‘Musical Ride’ – twelve ponies and their riders that weave patterns to music; intriguing!
The Joliba African Drums are coming along too, and they do more than just perform. What they do is encourage children to join in by having some quick tuition – and the afternoon finishes off with a performance by and with the children.  That will be definitely worth staying for.
With the Dog Show, the Children’s Sports and Tug-of-War tournament also there, it is going to be a busy afternoon in the main ring.

Enjoying an ice-cream at Draycott Summer Fayre!

Enjoying an ice-cream at Draycott Fayre …

For younger children, instead of the usual Punch & Judy, there is the Coverdale Puppets experience (from Merseyside).  Check out their performances on YouTube, and you’ll agree that fun is the name of their game…

Relax, relax… as well

But the day is not just about ceaseless activity!
Thank goodness for the ‘Saint Margaret’s Bar’ and its cooling beers and ciders (and other drinks). A big thank-you to The Draycott Arms which will be running it this year.  Zara Hutson, from the Arms, has promised a proper ‘beer festival’, so if you enjoy a pint, it really will suit you.
The staff of Draycott Moor College has once again showed terrific willingness to join in community activities – they will be running the barbecue.  And don’t forget the wonderful Tea Shop run by Christine Wibberley & friends.
And you don’t even have to walk to the fayre! If you live in Tean, Cresswell, Blythe Bridge or Draycott, then jump on the special Fayre bus.  POPS, the Potteries Omnibus Preservation Society, will be running a vintage bus around the villages all day.

A proud owner of a vintage machine at Dracott Fayre

A proud owner of a vintage machine, at the 2015 fayre

And – all the familiar sights will be on show too…    The vintage car and machinery rally, the funfair, the stalls selling everything from ice-cream to plants, the local community groups’ charity stands, and even the popular family games will all be in evidence.
(If you or your local group wants a stand at the fayre, it is not too late to apply.  Just email the Fayre Organiser, and he will help you sort something out.)

Party, party on Saturday

For those that love to dance or just appreciate some live music, well, you will get your chance on the previous evening, ie the Saturday evening (9th July), when the marquee will be put to good use, hosting a band and disco.
The wonderful Jacque Rabbit band (featuring local lad Richard Ward) will be headlining the night; and Peter Wright, who is so well-known to all of us, will be running the disco.  It really is a fun summer’s night entertainment – so try to get your tickets early for that event – just email the Fayre Organiser.

Volunteers

Please remember that this is a local event, run voluntarily by local people for a local charitable cause (the ongoing, and expensive, maintenance of our 13th century village church, St Margaret’s).
So, thinking of that – do you think you can help, by volunteering?
On the Sunday (and even the Saturday evening) there is always a need.  People are required for all sorts of tasks – from the basic, like stewarding on the car-park, right through to ‘shepherding’ the main acts.
If you can spare even a little time, or have some expertise, please email the Fayre Organiser John Clarke.  He will be very happy to hear from you!

The fayre is held, as usual, right in the centre of the village, on Uttoxeter Road (ST11 9AE) – with gates open at 11am.    The day closes around 5.30pm with a church service in the marquee.
Entry is £5 but children of school-age come in free.
On-site car-parking is free.

Updates

This page will be kept constantly updated with news – but supporters will also want to keep an eye on the special Fayre Facebook page.

It looks like it’s going to be a good ‘un this year!

NEWS: broader-band! / community money / Izaak jobs / garden days / fly-tipping

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early March 2016
News of…:  superfast broadband in Cresswell / £2000 community grant / catering jobs / show off your garden / fly-tipping…
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a ‘Black & White Ball’… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Money for the community

As you drive on the A50 towards the Blythe Bridge roundabout from the Uttoxeter end, you’ll see what looks like fields of snow to your left. In fact, it’s the Lower Newton Farm ‘solar array’ with its nearly fifty thousand panels.

This solar farm was ‘energised’ as they call it (we would just say ‘started up’!) at the end of March last year, and if it meets its targets it will have supplied enough energy by now to have met the annual electricity demands of 3,400 households.  It’s all a very environmentally friendly site, as residents saw on the Open Day last year; and should have saved the UK 6000 tonnes of Co2 emissions in the last twelve months.
Recently, the builders of the site, Novus Energy, sold it to BlackRock, a major investment concern.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)

A photo of a typical solar farm array. The one at Newton has slightly lower frames

But what will probably be of most interest to most of us is that BlackRock has agreed to pay £2000 per year into a community fund for all Draycott-in-the-Moors area – to be administered by Draycott Parish Council .  And the first payment will be in April.

So – what do you think the money should be spent on? All ideas welcome, though they will have to be approved by the parish council.

– – –
Untidy Cresswell

When we wrote an article about ‘Untidy Draycott’ some months ago, there were mixed reactions.  Some people thought it was outrageous to say the village needed extra tidying effort, some said we weren’t critical enough.
A lot of the input came from you, the readers, who supplied us with photos and sightings.
Sad to say we keep getting more and more such photos, not fewer.

Fly-tipping at Railway Cottages

The latest photo we have received (above), from ‘Tricia T’, is of some fly-tipping near Railway Cottages, which are on a track just off Cresswell Old Lane.  It’s a shame.

Please keep your photos of sightings coming.

– – –
Izaak looking good

One site that has got a heck of a lot tidier in the last few weeks is the area around the Izaak Walton Pub.  Yes, someone has really got stuck in, cutting back overgrown greenery, and clearing away any litter, and doing minor repairs.

Weathervane at Izaak Walton

Weathervane at Izaak Walton. Which way does the wind blow for the pub now?

As you might have guessed, the reason for this is that the Izaak is re-opening shortly, under new management – after a year of being empty.
A sign outside the pub says that the management is recruiting bar and kitchen staff.

If you have been trained in catering, now is a good time for you, as the Draycott Arms is also advertising for staff!

– – –
Broad(er) band at last

Householders in Cresswell tell us that they’ve received a letter from ‘Superfast Staffordshire’ announcing that superfast broadband is now finally available in most of Cresswell.  Draycott Level up to the church has had it for a while. It’s not quite clear to us if Totmonslow has it yet. If you are not sure if you are ‘on the grid’ yet, try using the Broadband Availability Checker.

It’s been a while coming, but we should be grateful to the county council that they have sponsored this project.  If it had been left to the market, it would have been much longer in reaching us.

Cresswell broadband cabinet

Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s all plain sailing yet!
Yes, it is now a fibre-optic cable all the way up to the ‘green cabinet’ but it’s still a copper cable from there to individual homes.  And it isn’t an automatic fix; one still has to talk to one’s internet-provider about getting the faster speeds.
But it does mean that people in Cresswell and Draycott can now have a better, more reliable connection if they want one.

– – –
Open gardens

There was an interesting idea last year put about by some of our local community leaders that it would be good to have a ‘gardens competition’ for charity.
That idea didn’t work out, but we all agreed that there are some hard-working and skilful gardeners in our district.

Well, we’ve just had an email from the National Gardens Scheme (the NGS) asking if we’d mention on this website that the scheme is looking for local garden-proud householders to help them out.
The idea is that you open up your garden for a few hours (charging a small admission fee) and that the money goes to both the NGS’s chosen charities and also to your own chosen charities.

If you are interested contact Graham & Judy White, who will come along and advise you the best way to go about it.
Well, why not, when it is all for charity, show off your bloomers? (!)

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

The benches of Draycott in The Moors

See if you can remember…: how many public benches are there in Draycott & Cresswell & Totmonslow?  It’s probably more than you think – answer is at the bottom of this page. Have a guess!

We thought it might be an interesting mirror on our village to go out and find benches we have here and photograph them.
And this article is about what we found out.

Quiet places

When we conducted this mini-survey, it came as no surprise that many of our benches are to be found in the two church graveyards we have (at St Margaret’s in Draycott, and St Mary’s in Cresswell).  Obviously, they provide a quiet place to sit and remember loved ones.
Some of these graveyard benches have even been paid for by grieving families, who have dedicated the bench to a relative’s memory.

Interestingly, the local Women’s Institute have paid for two benches to be set up.  They installed the one at the top of Cresswell Bank – a good place for a bench, as you can have a breather there after walking up the rise! – and the one on the track outside St Margaret’s.  Both were erected to commemorate  the Queen’s Golden Jubilee in 1977.

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The one on the Cresswell lay-by was installed by the local community-action group, VVSM , which wanted to honour the memory of the former stalwart of the parish council, Ken Shelley. There was quite a moving ceremony in 2013 when two parish councillors and the Cresswell Catholic priest did the formal unveiling.

The bench slap bang on Draycott crossroads is the most resplendent.  At first, because of the large lettering, it looks like Draycott Parish Council has erected it as a tribute to, erm, itself (!) but the smaller print will tell you that it is meant to remember the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

Responsibility

It’s not totally clear whose responsibility these public benches are.  The Parish Council clearly has to look after the Diamond Jubilee bench (and did carry out some maintenance on it last year in fact), but who looks after the rest?  If you know, please let us know too, using the Comments Box further down this page…

Mostly, they are placed on Highways land, so permission to put one up has to be sought from the County Council; and the parish council will also be asked if it wants to approve the request.
But neither the county nor the parish council has to be responsible for maintenance.

One bench that had to go – for safety reasons, as it was rotting away – was the one at the end of Brookside (off Cheadle Road).  It was demolished last year.
Wooden benches do need repair, and it is interesting to see that one of the newest ones – the one on Cresswell lay-by, put up by VVSM – is made of ‘new plastic’, meaning fewer repairs.  Though… not everybody likes the look of plastic. (What do you think? – use the Comments box).

Public space

We got to wondering though – what is the point of the benches?  Maybe you know different, but we rarely (if ever) see anybody sitting on one!   (And they can come expensive; Draycott Parish Council paid nearly £1000 for the one on the crossroads).

Admittedly, they can be lovely memorials, so that is a good purpose, but, being wooden, they do need a deal of maintenance…
Would it be better to plant a tree perhaps, or even establish a ‘natural’ sculpture?

However, when we talked about this in the pub, a good point was made.  In this country we do not have many ‘public spaces’ where people can just gather and gossip. (All we could think of was Trafalgar Square.)
So the theory is:  benches are ways of creating a ‘public space’.  That is, well-placed ones can become a focal point for local people to stand around and chat – and every community needs some of those.
Though… maybe not in winter…

The best benches for this ‘gathering’-type purpose are the ones at the cricket club.  There’s nothing better than sitting down on one, with a drink & sandwich, and admiring the view – and the cricket. And passing the time of day with someone.
One of the cricket club benches is on the public footpath that passes through the ground, so one can sit there anytime.

It was surprising to us that there is no bench on the green at Rookery Crescent (Cresswell).  It would work as a focal point in the way described.  If you live in Rookery Crescent, let us know – would a bench on your green be a good idea?

Answer

So – how many public benches are there in Draycott-in-the-Moors?
Well, including the one on the public footpath on the cricket club ground, we made it eleven.  Maybe we missed one or two, but we think that’s right…


This survey of local benches was put together by a volunteer who wanted to write something for this website.  If you fancy doing something similar, we have a lot of suggestions for interesting subjects; just contact us and we’ll let you have the list of subjects –or come up with one of your own.

Also, don’t worry about spelling&grammar; we have someone who sorts that out!

NEWS: school sale / flooded drains / sad death / community date

News-in-brief from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early February 2016
News of…:  Draycott Moor College property up for sale / rest in peace Doctor Dave / date for annual community meeting announced / are financial cuts to blame for flooding? …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Valentines dance… Check out the Events page)

– – –
Million pound property

If you have almost a million pounds, you might be interested in a desirable property in Draycott.  Yes, that’s the guide price for the land & buildings of Draycott Moor College (the old primary school) which goes to auction next week.
However, you’ll have to be the patient sort – as the present tenants, the Horizon Education Group, have a lease until 2023, and cannot be forced to leave until then…

The college, which cares for troubled youngsters, has been successful in attracting more pupils recently, and has been growing, even taking on some younger children. The roll-call now stands at around twenty-six students, some of whom come daily from quite some distances away.
The growth has been such that the college has now decided it needs to build its own car-park on the site.  The latest hope is that this will be completed by Easter – which will make the parking in Draycott Old Road less congested.

Interestingly enough, the whole college site was suggested last year as a possible development area for new houses.  (Draycott has been asked by the district council to find enough spare land on which to build twenty-five homes).  Perhaps any buyer will be aware of that, and see it as an investment?

– – –
Goodbye Doctor Dave

Doctor DaveIt’s not often that a resident of Draycott is the subject of a front-page splash in the local papers, but that is what happened when the sad news of the death of Dr Bhupendra Dave was reported. It shows how well-respected he was as a local figure.

Doctor Dave, who had served as a doctor in Cheadle for many years before retiring just over a decade ago, lived quite near to the Draycott Arms.
We send our condolences to his wife Devila.

– – –
Preventable (?) floods

A couple of weeks ago we reported on this website on all the flooding in Cresswell, which you might call flooding ‘due to natural circumstances’, as parts of Cresswell are in a flood-zone.
But… there was also flooding on the Uttoxeter Road just before Totmonslow, flooding in Draycott Old Road (where sandbags had to be used), flooding on the dual carriageway slip road, among a number of incidents where you could say the flooding was different – as it was quite preventable.

Now that the waters have gone down, people have been out to find out what went wrong, and a lot of it seems to be down to poor or infrequent clearing of the ditches and drains.

Blocked pipe on Uttoxeter Road

As you can see from the photo above, the pipe which should have taken any excess water off the Uttoxeter Road and siphoned it into the parallel ditch is simply so choked it couldn’t do its job.
Also, a number of drains are just silted up, as you can see in the photo below (also on the main road). However, some people also believe that the culverts under some roads have simply collapsed.

Silted up drain

Draycott Parish Council is so fed up about one incident near Draycott Old Road that it has written to the neighbouring Forsbrook Parish Council to ask them to help sort out the root causes, as the problem originated on Forsbrook’s side of the ‘border’.

But, at the end of the day, our guess is that the financial cuts have bitten so deep that the county council can no longer keep up its commitments to maintain smaller districts like ours.  Parish councillors at Kingsley (which is a village the other side of Cheadle) seem to think the same thing, and have written a strong letter to the Chief Executive of Staffordshire telling him not to ignore small villages.

– – –
The people’s meeting

A date has just been announced for the local ‘parish assembly’ – an annual event where Draycott & district residents are asked to come together to discuss the issues that bother them in the community.  By law this gathering must be held in the Spring, and is quite an old tradition, which applies only to villages and small towns – cities and larger towns are not entitled to hold an assembly in this way.

However, too often, these meetings are usurped by politicians… when in fact they are meant to be a meeting for the ordinary people of a district, when they can raise and discuss whatever questions they want.
If you’d like an issue discussed, Kate Bradshaw is putting together the agenda – contact her if you want something discussed or you have a query.
The Draycott Parish Assembly is scheduled for Monday April 25.

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

A year in the life of Draycott website

A lot of people ask us: how popular is this Draycott-in-the-Moors website?
Well, we asked the technicians at WordPress (the ‘platform’ that hosts this website) to provide us with the statistics for this website’s performance in 2015, and they have just got back to us with their report.


The headlines are: that there were 74 posts (about one every five days) in total; and that pages on the website were viewed on about 38,000 occasions in 2015, by about 14,000 visitors. Of course, many of those ‘visitors’ are the same people coming back time and time and again, but – when you think that there are only nine hundred adults in the Draycott parish area – that’s still pretty good!
However, not all the website’s visitors come from Draycott parish.  Amazingly, one in twenty visitors were listed as coming from the USA, Australia or Canada.  We suspect that these visitors are ‘ex-pats’ keeping an eye on their old home!

And visitors liked to comment.  There were 150 comments published on the website during last year (and we had double that amount in direct emails from people sending us their ‘private’ thoughts).
Anyone can ask for an email alert to be sent to them asking to be notified every time a new article is written; and there are 200 such ‘followers’ at the moment.

Most popular

The most popular page on the site was, not surprisingly, the ‘What’s On’ page with over 1200 views across the year.
However, the one single news page on this site to get the most hits was our report in February on the way that Staffs Moorlands Planning Committee approved the Blythe Park application (see ‘Shock Result over Cresswell Planning’). On the day it was published it got a massive 347 views, but it has since gone on to pick up over 600 views so far.

But – that is pretty much all the technicians can tell us.  There is no way to track which actual individuals visit the website or which UK districts they came from.
So, what is our guess about readership?  Well, we guess that about half of the population of Draycott/Creswell/Totmonslow regularly access the site.

Who, what, why

The other questions we get asked are usually about our motivation.

We often get asked: who’s behind the website?
Well, Mark is the guy who does most of the processing work, mostly because he’s retired and he’s got the time!  He also takes the responsibility, because he has the experience of life. (See: About this Site)
However, there are also around another twelve local regular people who submit snippets of info and photos.  Now and again, someone will write a whole piece; and, if they want to be credited, their name will be on the piece.
The fact is however we could do with some new blood; we’ve been doing this three years now, and it’s quite tiring! If you fancy chipping in and doing a bit, email us.

What’s the point?  Well, it’s not money! This site is done purely as a labour of love.
But we also all think like ‘democrats’ – the more a community talks to itself, even about things it disagrees about, the better it will be.
Surely, it is good to support the people doing good things, and to ‘nudge’ anyone who forgets that we owe certain duties to our neighbours…?

How do we choose things to write about?  Well, we don’t really choose in any particular way. Someone just suggests something, or mentions something that’s happened – and it goes on the list, and someone researches it. Or something is suggested in our letters-bag.
If you yourself want something mentioned, just drop us an email. It’s very easy.

And that’s all it is really.  Have a great 2016!

***
Want to comment?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of 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: Odd flooding / A-boards gone / Colours project / lengthsman update

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early December 2015
News of…:  why was a roadside drain filled in? / junction adverts removed / Blythe Colours reunion success / lengthsman saga goes on … and on …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Christmas Tree Festival. Check out the Events page)

– – –
Not draining

The recent weather of rain and high winds has caused some disruption, but the most obvious consequence is the pooling of water on the link-road just outside the Chandni Cottage restaurant (about one hundred yards from the A50 roundabout). This link-road connects the north-bound and south-bound sections of the dual carriageway.
This flooding effect is quite dangerous as cars turning into it off the dual carriageway can be doing a decent speed – and may not see the water – and can hit the water quite hard.  It lasted for some eight days.

Flooded drain

The mystery is: why is the water not running away through the drain there?
Well, oddly, it looks like someone has filled in and tarmaced over the drain….! Presumably this was done by the county highways team, though no one is sure. Our councillors are looking into the issue.

– – –
Adverts taken away

Another road issue that has raised some discussion is the question of the A-boards which sit on the main junction on Draycott Level.
Some people think they should be left there, as they help advertise local businesses. Other people think they are an eyesore and ugly-looking.
However, just to place them there is not illegal, as such, which is why they have been there for so long.

But you will notice that most of them have been taken away now.

Cresswell Lane junction adverts

What happened was that our Draycott in the Moors Parish Council recently had a complaint that they were dangerous – because they were blocking the view for some low-chassis cars trying to turn into Uttoxeter Road from Cresswell Lane. And… it turned out that it is “illegal to leave anything on verges or highway that obscures vision”.
So, the boards have now all been removed but one; the one that remains is chained to the signpost there, so it will need cutters.

– – –
Odd job

Taking of the parish council, the four-year saga to find and employ someone to do the odd-jobs about the area goes on.
For some reason, the council hasn’t wanted to place an advert in the local newspapers for the post; and councillors have instead just been recommending their own friends & neighbours for the role (officially known as the ‘lengthsman’). None of these recommendations turned out satisfactory, so, finally, two months ago it was decided enough was enough, and the post would be properly advertised.

But — last month, a couple of councillors each recommended one of their neighbours and their recommendations are now being considered.
Back to square one then.

– – –
Blythe Colours project expanding

The Blythe Colours Factory reunion last month saw an amazing turn-out, when some sixty people crowded into the Cheadle History Centre meeting room and swapped stories and reminiscences.
The main ambition of the meeting was to look through all the photos in the Blythe Colours archives and try to identify all the people and places in the pictures. However, there are probably two thousand photos to be labelled, so it will take another two or three sessions for that to be achieved.

The archives were donated to the Cheadle History Centre when the Cresswell factory closed its doors for the last time last year. Among the archives are not just photos, but artefacts (like enamels, commemorative plates and marketing items) and documents, including old works magazines and posters.

What’s great is that former employees are coming forward not just to attend the reunions but also to donate items they have. Bill & Jill Allen, who actually live in Scotland nowadays, have just sent us some lovely silk promotional calendars (see the 1950 one, below) – and we have been able to pass them on to the History Centre. A big thanks to them.

Blythe Colours calendar 1950

If you want to know more about the Blythe Colours project, drop an email to Mark Bentley. He is co-ordinating the project from the employees’ side of things.

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

Oak Tree Farm – a local charity

Coming up to Christmas, we all think about giving to charities, especially to local ones.  One of our most local charities is the Oak Tree Farm Rural Project, which gives adults with learning difficulties some realistic work-experience on a small-holding.
This coming Saturday (December 5th, 11am-2pm) you can even go along in person to its ‘seasonal open day’. Handmade wreathes and other gifts will be on sale, the plant nursery and pottery shop will be open, and of course you can drop in to the famous ‘Oak Leaf’ tearoom.

Anniversary

In fact this coming few months will be very busy ones for the project, because it celebrates its thirtieth birthday next year.  The idea is to make this birthday its biggest and best!
If you have never been to Oak-Tree, it is about four miles from Draycott.  Drive south from Draycott, go through Cresswell, go straight along, through Hilderstone, all the way to the crossroads on the main road.  Oak Tree is just the other side of this junction.

It was all started back in 1986, when the Sandon Hall Estate gave the use of a few acres to some volunteers who felt that their grown-up children – all of whom had learning difficulties – needed more than just bingo and cups of tea to exercise them.
Down the years 200 volunteers have given active support, with over one hundred ‘clients’ being able to come along and take part in the project’s activities.

Even today, there are around 25 regular volunteers, some of them being university students and some who have been coming for years.  There is a small paid staff who ensure day-to-day continuity.

Two people who are still helping to run the place after all these years are Monica Moreton and son David.  Monica was one of the founders, and, a year later, she persuaded David to come and do a stint – and he has been there ever since!
In 2014, the site won the Queens Award for Voluntary Service.

Activities

The activities are geared toward the abilities of the clients, but it still has to run as a working farmyard – with animals and plant nurseries and gardens – so everyone is called on to perform real tasks.  The project, charity though it is and with about half its money provided by Social Services, still has to make extra money from the farm products and tasks in order to survive.

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As one walks through the yard, one can see the well laid-out greenhouses & polytunnels and the stables… but also an equipped pottery, and some work-rooms.   Everything developed on the site is for sale – the ceramics, the flowers and the vegetables (and the Xmas wreaths!).

Some of the lads are even employed to be part of a commercial garden-services outfit, going out to cut grass and do gardening for organisations such as churches and public concerns.

But the most-visited part of the complex is of course the ‘Oak Leaf’ tea room, which is open to the public six days a week.   It is so popular that you have to book ahead if you want to be sure of a table at lunch-time!
In here, the learning-disabled serve tables and work in the kitchens, being encouraged to apply for food-hygiene certificates, so that they can really do the whole range of what is asked of them.

Giving

It all seems to work very well.   The volunteers are happy, and the ‘clients’ are so enthusiastic that they demand to come from as far away even as Great Wyrley in south Staffordshire.
As David Moreton told us: “Oak Tree grows confidence, it gives experience, and it provides occupation.  The fact that the place is run as a business makes it very real.”

Next year, you will be hearing a lot about Oak Tree.  Fund-raising is going to step up a gear because the current site is proving too small, and the desire is … if it is possible … to find a new bigger patch of land.

But, you don’t have to wait in order to donate.
If you want to put a local charity on your Christmas list, you could do worse than select Oak Tree. There is a Virginmoneygiving.com online site (charity no 1138396), or you can email Oak Tree for more details.

However… if you really fancy something special for your pound, you can always donate a brick (sort of!).
If and when you go along (the farm site is open week-days – check the website), you will notice that the path to the tea-room is made up of brick paving, and all the bricks are engraved with the names of their donors or their donors’ nominees.  Now…. there’s a nice Christmas gift to give!

James Goodis
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And … now that you have read this article … can you think of another charity in or around Draycott that deserves our attention?  Just use the comments box below (or email us) to let us know of your choice

NEWS: good Sport news / Draycott werewolf / community spirit / action funds needed

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid November 2015
News of…:  construction projects for tennis and cricket clubs / Emma’s happy Halloween at Huntley / a show of community spirit by the Arms / fund-raising drive launch from action group …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Star-Gazing Night. Check out the Events page)

– – –
Sporting good times

The best news we’ve heard in a while is the news coming out of our two big sports clubs.

At at Draycott Sports & Racquets Centre, it’s just been announced that tennis-courts 3 & 4 are about to be completely re-made with a new ‘astro turf’ surface. For those who like to know such things, the colours of the surfaces will be blue and green. The work starts at the end of this month.
The extra great thing about this is the belief shown in the club by the Lawn Tennis Association, which has put up an interest-free loan which will fund 75% of the project cost.  Obviously the LTA see a real future for the sport in Draycott.

And, just a hundred yards away, at Blythe Cricket Club, there is other good news. As you may well know, the club has been concerned about the state of their pavilion for some time. It’s almost ninety years since it was constructed, and the small building with its thin wooden walls simply doesn’t fit modern needs. So… way back in 2012, the club first set off down the track to planning and funding a replacement.

Blythe Cricket Club pavilion

Blythe Cricket Club’s pavilion is showing its age

Well, the latest is that the process of seeking a Lottery grant for the new pavilion, aka the ‘Community Hub’, has gone through its last stage – successfully!  So – the money is in place, and building can start.
Of course, this will mean some disruption at the ground next year whilst the works are carried out, but it will all be worth it…

And, as we are on this stretch of Cresswell Lane, I suppose we shouldn’t forget the third sports club there – the Checkley Bowls Club, which plays on the green at Blythe Business Park.  The club, which is in its winter recess, recently had its awards evening; and our congratulation go to Eric Worsdale, who picked up the Cowans Cup award for the best average score across the season.

– – –
Werewolves in Draycott Cross

Did you have a sighting of a werewolf on Halloween night? Well, we did – as the guests of the Haunted Huntley Halloween Event experience.

The spooky Halloween activity took the form of a walk through the (very dark) Huntley Woods – with all sorts of weird and …gulp… gory sights along the way (we were on the Adults-Only walk!). Bits of corpses were strewn across our walk; a very strange forester came to talk to us, as did a badly wounded scientist; and there was howling coming from the old quarry. Unnerving: to say the least!
And then this Scarefest culminated with a … yes … a werewolf, stumbling out of the trees toward us.

Huntley werewolf

One of the group managed to get a photo of the werewolf

Fortunately this hairy and snarling beast was eventually put down by the guides, using their special powers; and so Draycott’s Beast Of The Night was laid low.
Until next year that is, when, we are told, he will rise again….

One of the guides on the night was Emma King, one of the founders of the Huntley Wood Centre. Emma explained how, now the centre is up and running, she has decided to give up the actual management side; and has turned back to her first love, science.

Huntley Wood's Emma King

Emma King (left) explains the Huntley Wood concept to a visitor

So, Emma, who is a cosmologist with a PhD in physics, will be running science shows for children in Staffordshire schools next year. One of her shows is called “Explosive Food”; children will probably have much fun with that!

– – –
Building on Blythe Business Park ?

One of the odd things about the planning proposals for Blythe Park is that they are STILL not signed off.
Although the SMDC Planning Committee gave formal approval for the plans – to build an extra 168 homes in Cresswell, and double the size of industry in the hamlet – way back in August, the proposal is still listed as ‘Awaiting Decision’.   This is because the community-agreements are not yet in place, and presumably there are still negotiations rumbling on.
Which all means that there is still a chance to defeat the plans.

The local community action group, VVSM, has taken advantage of the situation and have been roaring ahead with their work – briefing their legal team, brushing up on the research, and generally keeping spirits high.
The group has a period of six weeks following any finalisation of the plans to make a legal objection, and this is what their thinking is at the moment.

Of course, that all needs money; and the group has launched a fund-raising drive. If you want to help, click here to find all the details.

– – –
Dangerous junction

Sad to say there was another crash on Uttoxeter Road a few days ago. Two vehicles collided on the Draycott Arms junction, just as one of them was pulling out of Cheadle Road.
Fortunately, no one was really hurt, though the car looked a write-off to us when we saw it.

Draycott Arms
Good to know there is some great Draycott community spirit around though…
The first volunteer on the scene was none other than the chairman of Draycott Parish Council, Roger Holdcroft, who busily cleared the road of crash-fragments, so that the waiting cars (which were by now in a long tail-back), could progress.
And what of the lady involved in the crash? Well our Zara, landlady at the Arms, rushed over, and was able to take the lady back to the pub and give her hot tea until the rescue services turned up.
Good to see.

Incidentally, Roger will be holding his first come-and-meet-your-councillors session this Monday (16th November) at the Draycott Church & Community Hall (in Church Lane), 6.45-7.15pm. If you fancy a chat about anything in the district, he says he will be all ears.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of 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: break-in / public spirit / solar arrays / tidy village

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in mid October 2015
News of…:  thieves strike in Draycott / latest on Blythe Park application / another solar farm on the way? / police thank residents / congratulations to Fulford …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Christmas Crafts Fair. Check out the Events page)

– – –
Yet another vehicle break-in

We’ve been mentioning on this website for a while now, on and off, that there seems to be a spate of petty thieving going on locally.  The police say it’s down to small gangs of thieves driving over from Stoke-on-Trent to look for opportunities to make off with ‘portable’ items.
They seem pretty brazen too.  One resident told us he went outside his home when he heard some banging in the street, around 9pm, only to see some lads trying to force open his van! They ran off of course.

But, last night (14th October) thieves did manage to actually break into a van – parked on the owner’s drive – in Draycott Old Road, taking power-tools. Anyone with information should call the police on 101 – quoting incident number 0113.
The moral of the story is of course: if you see something suspicious going on, try to get what details you can, and phone the police.

– – –
Public-spirited

Meanwhile, it’s good to know that the police were so impressed by the public spirit of some of the residents of Draycott that they have gone on record saying how grateful they are to them.
Some local people took part in the search to find a missing person, the unfortunate Michael Heath, whose body was eventually found last week in wooded areas at back of Draycott Old Road.  Mr Heath had enjoyed camping in the area when he was alive.

The death of Mr Heath, who came from Blythe Bridge, is not being seen as suspicious.

– – –
More solar planning planned

The success of the solar-panels array at the Lower Newton Solar-Panels Complex between Totmonslow and Cresswell has led other local land-owners to consider installing them.

Solar farm (on Creative Licence)

This is a photo of panels on a typical solar farm.

They use up otherwise under-developed land, create some income for the hard-pressed farmers,  provide more supply for the country’s electricity needs –  and it’s claimed they can even provide a little help in fending off climate change.
Just off Cheadle Road up at Draycott Cross, at Fields Farm, a planning application for one is under consideration at the moment.

The very latest move is a project proposed for Totmonslow; and it would be well-placed there, being close to the grid-lines that are supplied by the present one running at Newton.   However, it’s only in the early stages.

+++
Meanwhile, another planning application, the one at Blythe Business Park (Cresswell)– to build 168 homes and double the size of the industry in the hamlet – is now just over one year old.  Seems amazing to think that it was only a year ago that this giant proposal was first brought to our attention!

Cresswell proposal

Blythe Park Cresswell proposal – the planned new build is in pink – housing on the left, industry on the right. The stuff in blue is what is already there. The railway is marked by the grey line along the top of this graphic

There were over 150 letters of objection at the time, and the local community action group VVSM took that on board – and so have been stalwart ever since in opposing the development.
They are still managing to hold it off, though they could, as always, do with more support and more volunteers.  You can check the latest updates of what they are up to by clicking here.

– – –
Community-minded

There has been a lot of talk in Draycott recently about whether we should all be more community-minded.  Well, one place that really has developed its sense of community is next-door Fulford; and it’s congratulations to the residents there who have worked so hard to keep their village beautiful and tidy – and, in so doing, picked up the Mid-Staffordshire Best Kept Village Award.

The Fulford Community Group – in partnership with their own parish council there – does a grand job of maintaining a community spirit.  Well done to them on their achievement.

***
Want to comment on any of the items on this page?
Just use the comments box – near the bottom of 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: missing post box / SMDC issues / darts back / Home Link

News-in-brief  from Draycott-In-The-Moors in early September 2015
News of…:  where is the missing Draycott post-box? / just days to go for SMDC deadline / darts is back at The Arms! / volunteering for Home Link …
(NB – There are also dozens of events in our locality – including a Star-Gazing & Astronomy Night. Check out the Events page)

– – –
Posted … large delivery

One of the strangest Draycott stories this week was about our local post-box that “went missing”.  Yes, it seemed that, right under our noses, the post-box was simply dug up, removed and taken elsewhere!
The phenomenon was first reported to police as a theft – the police said they can’t be sure when it was taken, but have narrowed down the time to sometime last weekend (4th-7th September).

(UPDATE  We’ve had a late notification on this item from Bev Reardon (who lives nearby).   She says it wasn’t stolen, but removed, quite quickly, by Royal Mail, after the box was knocked over in a road accident.  See her email)

If thieves had taken it, who’d have thought it would be worth their time and trouble?  However, it turns out that there is a trade in stolen post-boxes, most of which are shipped abroad to collectors.  These collectors will pay thousands of pounds for them.  Who would have thought it?
The Royal Mail is thinking of tagging its post-boxes now to prevent further thefts. 

– – –
Problems at SMDC

The Site Allocation Consultation organised by Staffordshire Moorlands District Council seems to be running into quicksand…
This consultation was the chance for the public of Draycott and other places to comment on where new housing, new gypsy sites and new industry should be sited in our district over the next fifteen years.  However, the forms are hard to understand (let alone fill in!); and some parish councils have been very angry about the lack of information. (Cheadle Town Council is even asking for a postponement of the deadline for that reason).

However, if you are finding the forms hard to understand, Draycott parish councillor Jacquie Leach has said she will willingly help anyone.
Jacquie wrote to us to say: “I am more than willing to help anyone who wishes to fill in the form. I have done it myself, and we need as many people as possible to fill one in. Call me on 01782 388077. If anyone is interested, I have some spare forms if you would like one, or you can fill one in electronically on the Staffordshire Moorlands website. Once this goes through there will be no turning back!

Jacquie is the only parish councillor to have filled in a response on the online site of the Consultations webpage, as far as we can see, so she must know what is what in that regard.
The deadline date is this Monday, September 14.

++

Sticking with SMDC, it seems like Councillor Mike Worthington (the chairman of the SMDC Planning Committee) has landed himself in hot water with some very silly and inappropriate remarks made at a recent meeting.
Apparently, VVSM (the residents’ action group here in Draycott) think that what he has done could possibly spell good news as far as Cresswell is concerned.  Click here for more details.

– – –
Bullseye!

Some of us mourned the loss of the dart-board when the new owners of the Draycott Arms moved in earlier this year.  They told us it had had to go, as part of the improvements.

Well, we are happy to say that … the darts-board is back!  Tara & Brayn relented when they heard how much people liked it.
What’s more, already there is a women’s darts team up and running at The Arms – which is still looking for members.  Hurry up and apply!

Wouldn’t it be good to see a ‘derby’ match between The Arms and The Hunter?

– – –
Volunteers needed

Many of us have heard of Moorlands Home Link, which provides companionship and help for older people in the region.  There isn’t a Draycott branch yet, so many of our older folk go along to the luncheons provided by the Blythe Bridge and the Tean groups.

The Tean session is every Tuesday afternoon at Gorsty Hill chapel in Tean, and is an opportunity for older people to get together for a home-cooked meal, and for entertainment and activities. Transport is provided.

However, such sessions don’t happen on their own; and Steph Chadwick contacted this website to remind us all that volunteers are needed to help out, on a rota, at the club.
If you can spare a few hours every month, please contact Steph on 07950 243 345, or call the Moorlands Home Link office on 01538 750511, or email cheadlehomelink

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