Tuesday, 02 June 2020

Your letters...

Grounds now out of bounds

Sir, — I have lived by the gates next to the Sue Ryder grounds in High Street, Nettlebed, for the past four years.

Twice a day I have walked the beautiful grounds with my dog. The grounds were a contributing factor to my family moving to the village and I know this was the case for others.

I am, therefore, so disappointed and distraught that at a time when open space is essential for the physical and mental health of the nation that Sue Ryder has locked the gates.

The building is still in use for community work and the grounds are still tended by a groundsman, so why is it necessary to lock the gates and deny the residents of Nettlebed, with their children at home in an unprecedented event, access to this much-loved and much-needed outdoor space?

We have seen stories from across the globe about communities coming together and supporting one another and this is the complete opposite. It is entirely mean-spirited and has let the residents of Nettlebed down at their time of need.

We have tolerated the huge inconvenience of Sue Ryder’s Saturday sales as it was for a good cause.

I have been blocked in, unable to leave home when needed. It was impossible for me to return and park anywhere remotely near my property if I left on a Saturday morning — far from ideal with shopping and two small children in tow.

Finally, on two occasions, I have had parcels stolen from outside my front door on Saturday sale days.

I have never once complained due to the incredible work done by Sue Ryder and the grounds that I utilised more than made up for it. — Yours faithfully,

Lorna Richardson

High Street, Nettlebed

Sue Ryder responds: “We have enjoyed sharing our grounds with the local community over the years. Unfortunately, the closure of our inpatient unit has changed the flow of staff to and from the site so we have had to take extra security measures in relation to the grounds and the building, as guided by our insurance company.”

Important questions

Sir, — It has certainly been an awful week and it is dreadful to realise that we are not yet at the peak of the destruction the coronavirus is inflicting on our country.

Last week, you quoted Dr Peter Sudbury, who was medical director of the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation, saying that the Government’s response to the crisis had been “inept”.

On Sunday, Sir Jeremy Farrar, a director of the Welcome Trust, stated on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that, given the number of deaths to date, the UK may end up with having the most destructive outbreak of covid-19 in Europe.

Marr then asked business and industry minister Alok Sharma three times to acknowledge this awful prospect. The minister was either incapable of understanding the interviewer’s questions or unprepared to acknowledge the situation.

Of course, if this horrible prospect turns out to be the case there is no use harping on about it but it could actually be useful to know why.

Are we islanders more susceptible to the virus than our continental cousins or has it been our Government’s response to the crisis that has put us in this position? Is it anything to do with the lack of testing? Is it due to our inability to provide frontline workers with the personal protective equipment they desperately need? Is it anything to do with the 10-year rundown of the health service in this country which occurred under austerity? Is it the result of slow implementation of the current lockdown?

It is interesting that in the time of crisis the Government seems unable to critically look at how it is performing, without which it is hard to see how it can improve.

We are ready enough in this country to talk about how lessons can be learned but this is always seen as what one does after the crisis. Really effective management learns lessons in real time and this requires critical assessment and reflection as the crisis proceeds.

The last general election has temporarily (one hopes) destroyed any political critique in this country and all politicians seem to be incapable of looking at our current situation.

It appears to have been left up to people like Andrew Marr, Dr Sudbury and Sir Jeremy Farrar to initiate important questions. — Yours faithfully,

Dan Remenyi

Kidmore End

Concentrate on positive

Sir, — There will be a time to question the Government’s response to the present health crisis but it is not now.

While understanding Dr Peter Sudbury’s concerns (Standard, April 10), I do not feel that these should have been highlighted on your front page.

I would also take issue with him on one point. The Second World War was not worse in its effect on those who lived through the one and are now suffering the effects of the other.

I was a child in Hull when war broke out. My first memories are of air raid shelters, sirens, the sight of Hull in flames.

But the enemy was at least identifiable and we still had the human contact necessary to make it all bearable.

A very trivial point, I concede, but since there were neither supermarkets nor toilet rolls we were at least spared the scenes of utter selfishness that have been seen recently.

What is so very different now is the awful isolation of so many of us, myself included. All we are fed is a diet of doom and death.

What we need now above all is something to raise morale — at least in the war they understood that.

There are positive moves in finding a vaccine. Could you please for now concentrate on the positive? Another subject altogether would be even more welcome. — Yours faithfully,

Ann Law

Binfield Heath

Don’t attack pharmacies

Sir, — I am absolutely appalled and gobsmacked that you would allow criticism of a pharmacist and pharmacy to be published during a national pandemic, when they are at the forefront of medication supply and health advice (Standard, April 3).

At a time of national crisis during the covid-19 pandemic, I find it completely unacceptable for journalists to write such articles.

Healthcare workers, including pharmacists, are the heroes and heroines of this current time and this piece of “journalism” serves nothing more than to make our valued pharmacy staff feel browbeaten, stressed and unappreciated when they are risking their and their families’ health and potentially lives.

Many pharmacy staff are working prolonged hours for free, often with the inability to socially distance due to the small premise sizes of many pharmacies. You should be hanging your head in shame.

The staff in the pharmacy in question have already said they are short staffed with a massively increased workload. These people should be celebrated and appreciated, not trodden all over in public. — Yours faithfully,

Emma Jones


Meaningless comparisons

Sir, — Appreciation to Jim Ducker for wising me up to TV and other media outlets on the information available on the current dreadful pandemic (Standard April 10).

At the daily No 10 briefings I find it a little discourteous the way some (but not all) media people find it difficult to say “thank you”, when prefacing their question. Some even greet the panel with a familiar “hi”.

My main point, however, is on the actual numbers.

It seems to me that direct comparisons with other countries should be treated with caution. There may be gender, age, ethnicity and other factors which distort the figures.

We are frequently compared to Sweden with a population of 10 million compared with the UK population 67 million. But is this direct comparison reasonable? Surely each country plays the cards differently and decides how to allocate its resources according to choice.

For comparisons perhaps we should rather look at America, Italy or Spain.

For sure we were not prepared for an event like this, acknowledged by most medical people as a once-in-a-lifetime event (here’s hoping).

For sure the NHS was undervalued and unprepared.

For sure we should all have taken heed of the warning given by Bill Gates in his 2015 presentation on the danger of a pandemic hitting us.

It is sometimes overlooked that GPs are largely independent contractors to the NHS, not employees. Thus it is possible for them to make supply contracts with independent laboratories for viral tests on a fast turnaround basis.

This arrangement is practised by the Hart Surgery in Henley.

Finally, may I add that Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father, is quoted as saying his son “almost took one for the team”. I am sure I join most in saying let’s hope he soon hits it for a resounding six. — Yours faithfully,

William Fitzhugh


Now extend Brexit period

Editor, — I absolutely support the Government’s mantra that we will do “whatever it takes”, which is why I’m supporting Best for Britain’s campaign to extend the Brexit transition period.

It’s not reasonable to expect the Government to secure a new free trade deal with the EU while dealing with a deadly situation on our shores.

Extending gives us time to focus on the coronavirus pandemic now and work out a deal with Europe later.

We are facing a crisis that transcends traditional politics. Nearly half of Conservative voters agree that transition must be extended in the face of this pandemic according to recent polling by Best for Britain.

NHS England confirmed resources it put aside for a no deal have already been released to tackle the virus.

If we cannot get a comprehensive deal in time, how will we weather the double whammy of no deal and a global pandemic?

We cannot control the timing of the virus outbreak but we do have control of our transition timetable and we can be sure we did everything in our power to save lives. — Yours faithfuly,

Andrew Scott

Sonning Common

Thank you to everyone

Sir, — My thoughts are with all those who are ill with the coronavirus and their families.

In particular I have been thinking about Boris Johnson and his family at this difficult time. I hope the Prime Minister and all those who are ill make a speedy recovery.

We continue to face an unprecedented challenge and I am very proud of our community and the quiet and determined way in which people in Reading and Woodley have been continuing to follow the Government’s guidelines.

We have now been in lockdown for more than three weeks and there are some early signs that social distancing is working, with the number of cases having fallen on some days.

However, it is too early to tell how close we are to the peak of the epidemic and it is vital that we continue to follow the Government guidelines.

At this difficult time I believe it is important to support the Government’s efforts to tackle the epidemic and to highlight the need for more resources for the NHS and other vital services and to encourage the Government to go further where necessary.

Above all, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who work in the NHS, the care sector, key workers and volunteers who are playing such an important role.

Our NHS and the social care sector are being tested as never before and I am deeply impressed with the commitment of staff across the health service and in social care.

They have gone above and beyond what is expected of them and are doing their utmost to save lives in the most difficult of circumstances.

NHS staff and those in the care sector deserve our help and support at this difficult time and I have been calling for more personal protective equipment to be provided and for the Government to speed up testing, both vital measures that will save lives.

I also want to thank key workers in public services, retail and many other sectors who are providing vital services at this difficult time. They have very important roles to play and they are managing in challenging circumstances.

Volunteers and charities are also carrying out vital work and the response from the public has been impressive.

I would like to thank everyone who is helping deliver food to a vulnerable person, phoning someone who is on their own or helping in any other way.

I want to particularly thank local charities and I have been lobbying the Government on their behalf for extra financial support, which is so important as they are under pressure providing more help but with falling incomes and donations.

I hope we will be through the worst of this dreadful epidemic in the near future.

Please contact me if you would like to discuss these or other issues ny email at mattroddampcasework@
parliament.uk — Yours faithfully,

Matt Rodda

Reading East MP

One rule for us, PM...

Sir, — The Prime Minister, on being discharged from St Thomas’ Hospital, was understandably taken into the country to his second home, Chequers.

Then his fiancée, who lives at No 11 Downing Street, also, officially it would seem, transferred there, a distance of about 40 miles. In his letter to everyone in the country a couple of weeks ago, Mr Johnson stated: “You must stay at home — if you break the rules, the police will issue fines.”

There must be many people, who for whatever reason, find themselves separated from their loved ones. Does this now mean that they, without penalty, can rejoin each other and is there any limit on distance? — Yours faithfully,

Enid Light

Wargrave Road, Henley

Let garden centres open

Sir, — Being an avid grower of vegetables and plants in my garden, I feel it is very unfair that garden centres have to be closed at such a crucial time of year for our gardens.

Waitrose is selling a few vegetable and flower plants and seeds but surely it would be much better for both the garden centres and we gardeners if we could frequent these facilities.

I am very aware that we all have to be vigilant at this time but surely if the supermarkets are open so could the garden centres be with a bit of common sense used in distancing ourselves from each other. — Yours faithfully,

Penny Gilbert

Lower Assendon

A poem for covidiots

Sir, — Here is a poem called Covid-19. It’s called A Poem for Covidiots) — Yours faithfully,

Louisa Tarling

Rotherfield Peppard

The warrior we’re fighting
could be passed by you or me
He’s hiding in the silence
so that nobody can see.
He’ll turn up on your doorstep
though you think that you are fine
It may not be tomorrow
but just wait, just give it time.
He’ll take away your loved ones
your friends and family.
He fights from in the shadows
from the dark we cannot see

The ones that try to save us
can only do their bit
They’re tired and they’re broken
without essential kit,
But we can try to help them
perhaps save each other too
By doing as we’re told,
is that so hard to do?

Imagine there’s a landmine
behind your garden wall
Would you poke it with a stick?
Would you be that total fool?
Just because this battle
is unlike those of yesteryear
It doesn’t mean that we should be
the ones with less to fear.
So try to keep your distance
and wash your hands a lot
To protect all of our medics
they’re the only ones we’ve got.

Don’t bemoan you’re stuck inside
with all your niceties;
Spare a thought instead for those
with no such luxuries.
The people in the townships,
the migrant camps and tribes,
They won’t see this one coming
his bombs don’t fall from skies.
Instead we cannot see him
but trust me he is here.
Be safe, be kind and stay inside
until the coast is clear.

Thank, don’t blame, God

Sir, — I’d like to respond to the sad letter from Rosemary Geake about her loss of faith (Standard, April 10).

She says, “Why does God do nothing to help all the terrible suffering?”

God has given us free will. He doesn’t control us or the world which He created for us. Instead he allows us to choose how we behave and act and he leaves it to us to care for each other and for our planet, which so far we don’t seem to have done very well.

It’s only recently through people like David Attenborough and others that we are finally realising how thoughtlessness, selfishness and greed have had a terrible effect on our environment and we are now at least trying to halt this process.

But God loves us — He longs to have a close relationship with us and through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ this is possible for us. Through Jesus we know the God of the New Testament to be a loving and compassionate God.

To have a relationship one must talk to each other and prayer is the way to communicate with God. I talk to God constantly in my head — when I’m walking, gardening, queuing (something that has become the norm now for the weekly shop), telling him all that is in my heart.

I spend time in church, on quiet days and retreats to spend longer in prayer with Him so I can listen to what He has to say to me — that’s how I pray but everyone has their own individual way of praying.

Regarding Rosemary’s cousin who, sadly, has bipolar and other health issues — Rosemary was disillusioned that in spite of asking for healing at a healing service for her, her cousin’s health actually deteriorated.

Rosemary was expecting her to be cured and this did not happen but I would say that perhaps instead she had received healing because she started going to church and received support and comfort from that. Healing is totally different from being cured.

Until a couple of weeks ago, I worked at the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed as a complementary therapist. This is a place of great peace and healing and it is a travesty that it has been closed. You cannot put a price on the comfort and support it has brought to so many suffering people and their loved ones.

Over the years of working there I have had to experience many deaths of my beloved patients which has been the hardest thing about the job.

But without a doubt one of the most rewarding things has been seeing the amazing strength of character and positive attitudes of them. They have been given the worst news and yet they can still come every week and chat, laugh, knit, paint etc and share with each other — this is healing.

There is much misery and unfairness in the world but it’s how you deal with it that’s the important thing.

The covid-19 disease is possibly the worst thing that has ever happened to the world with so many thousands dying daily. There may be many who will ask “Why has God allowed this suffering and why doesn’t He stop it?” I don’t believe God causes suffering and I don’t believe He stops it but I do believe He is within it.

He is with all those amazing NHS staff who are risking their lives to save so many. He is with the key workers who are working to keep some normality in our lives. He is with the dying. I do believe that out of the horror of it all there will be good. Already we can see some positive effects of the lockdown. Who could have possibly imagined in their wildest thoughts six months ago that:

•Our skies would become empty.

• There would be no massive cruise ships polluting our waters.

• We would all start to obey the greatest commandment of Jesus’ “Love your neighbour” in ways we never would have considered.

We are learning to enjoy our gardens if we are lucky enough to have one, taking a daily walk in the fresh air and lovely sunshine — simple pleasures which cost nothing.

We are having to relax rather than race here and there trying to get so many things done.

I believe God is teaching us some important lessons through this — to be more caring towards each other, to be content with less.

We have become a world where we feel we should be able to have everything we want whether we can afford it or not — we buy more food than we really need and consequently waste it.

It’s time to stop and to listen to what God is telling us through all this.

I cannot not believe in God — I have to pray because for me there is no other option. I have to believe that God has a master plan and I have to try to live my life the best way I can by following what Jesus preached in the Gospels and try to live by His commandments and to do God’s will.

I’ll often fail as I’m only human but because God is a loving God he forgives us and carries on loving us. In spite of everything, when I go for my daily walk, I look around me at the beautiful countryside with everything bursting into life. I can hear the birds singing because it is so quiet with no planes and very few cars about and I have to thank God — who else is there to thank? — Yours faithfully,

Leslie Maynerd


Take your mess home

Sir, — I saw a dog poo bag on my walk along Fawley Bottom Lane the other morning.

I couldn’t even pick it up to dispose of it because it might have been infected by the owner.

The culprit knows who he/she is. Take it home! — Yours faithfully,

Alyson Warren

Middle Assendon

Thank you to publicans

Sir, — Through your letters page, I would like to pass on my thanks and best wishes to the pub landlords/ladies and staff who run the venues for the Henley and District Darts League.

I know times are very difficult at the moment but hopefully when this crisis is over you will be making us welcome again.

This is not only from myself but from all concerned. — Yours faithfully,

Jeff and Jan Harris

Emmer Green

Still plenty of news then

Sir, — Thank you to the Henley Standard team also.

It passed my mind to make a throwaway remark about “reporting on nothing happening in Henley” but, apparently, that could not be further from the truth.

Stay safe too and bon chance/santé. — Yours faithfully,

Jim Munro

Blandy Road, Henley

Community spirit’s alive

Sir, — I wanted to write to your wonderful readers to say a huge thank-you from all of the residents at Thamesfield.

The response to my letter published in the Henley Standard on March 27 was fantastic.

We received lots of letters, postcards and pictures. They were inspiring and very positive and have helped the residents enormously.

Some of the residents have already written back to say thank-you and I will be writing to some to say a personal thank-you as well.

It is so great to have something positive happen in this difficult time — the community spirit is truly alive and well in Henley.

Thanks again. — Yours faithfully,

Valerie Woodill

Well Being co-ordinator, Thamesfield, Henley

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death

POLL: Have your say