Friday, 05 June 2020

Your letters...

What future for building?

Sir, — Clearly there are arguments in favour of the closure of the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed, not least the low occupancy rates and the high costs of running an old and non-purpose built unit.

The closure is a regrettable fact, which has to be faced despite the evident and justifiable goodwill that exists towards the hospice, frequently highlighted in these pages.

While being praiseworthy, the local fundraising efforts will be hard pressed to avoid the inevitable demise.

As far as selling the property, you reported on a planning application. Has this been progressed?

Other questions arise, such as what is the expected sale price of Joyce Grove and how much land is being sold with it?

Who is the proposed purchaser and is it an unconnected party?

These and similar questions could also be asked about the sale for £750,000 of Holme Hall, near York, in 2018.

Equally interesting is the sale of a property in upmarket Wimbledon for £750,000 in 2018. This property had been gifted to the charity the previous year.

Perhaps the answers to some of these questions will be given in the next year’s accounts. — Yours faithfully,

William Fitzhugh


Please help town shops

Sir, — These are unprecedented times for all of us.

Along with the many Henley shops, pubs, restaurants, hair salons and cafés, we are all suffering greatly and with the cancellation of the royal regatta and the festival this summer it’s going to be an almighty uphill climb for many of us just to survive.

I have been so impressed by all the positive attitude that so many people have.

Many businesses have used their initiative to think outside of their normal trading patterns.

Some of us have not been in a position to do that. Things are not helped by our South Oxfordshire District Council dragging its heels in making grant payments or the banks taking their time with loan applications.

It is therefore more important than ever that when this is over, our local community can support their local shops.

Please, please help us to help you and shop locally so that we can continue to bring the very best of what we do to our wonderful town and the surrounding areas.

Stay safe everyone. — Yours faithfully,

Laurence Morris

Owner, Laurence Menswear, Duke Street, Henley

Amazing act of kindness

Editor, — At this very difficult time, with coronavirus plus a husband very poorly in hospital, my head is not always in the right place.

But I experienced an amazing act of kindness by a stranger. While waiting in the queue to shop at Waitrose in Henley, I suddenly realised my purse wasn’t in my bag.

I was leaving when another lady who was also waiting to shop said “I will pay for your shopping.”

I did not know her or her mine but she paid for my shopping and I reimbursed her later.

Thank you once again, Louise. — Yours faithfully,

Doreen Longworth

Sonning Common

Honour our NHS heroes

Sir, — I have written to Boris Johnson to recognise the bravery and dedication of the NHS frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic by awarding an MBE to every one of the doctors and nurses who put themselves at risk to care for the sick and dying.

I have also urged the Prime Minister to give every exposed NHS employee a bonus of £1,000 for each day they put themselves in danger in order to combat the outbreak.

No words, no medals and no amount of money can settle the debt we owe to our NHS heroes but there is a clear sense that the British people need to see some tangible recognition of the selfless service they have given us during this terrifying ordeal.

Their bravery makes them the modern day equivalent of war heroes and just as eligible for honours.

Here is part of the text of my letter:

“I'm sure there will be myriad reasons why neither of the above is practicable but I want him to cut through all that and just do it. If the rest of us have to pay more tax to do it, so be it.

“I have no friends or family who work for the NHS and I have, fortunately, never had to stay in a hospital but we were all in their care during this pandemic and we marvelled at their bravery, as did you.

“Please do the right thing. You will be advised not to but just do it because it's right. The British people will applaud you for it, as will the NHS.

“Meanwhile, you are the right person to lead us out of this mess so get back to work ASAP.” — Yours faihfully,

Simon Chapman

Scarletts Lane, Kiln Green

Another ode to covid-19

Sir, — Here is another topical poem for you to consider for the letters page.

Thank you for publishing the poems to date. — Yours faithfully,

Lucas Jones


Parent or child, husband or wife,

Covid isolation is changing your life.

In a few short weeks, it’s amazing how

Things you never imagined are quite normal now.

You can’t leave the house, except for supplies

And if you do, don’t touch your face, mouth or eyes.

Your work is disrupted, your kids aren’t at school.

Imprisoned and impatient, but those are the rules.

No toilet rolls, no hand soap, pasta or meat.

Disinfecting all day from your head to your feet.

No hotels or holidays, no skiing or sun.

Just anxiety and frustration as dreams come undone.

Of course, we all know it’s in a good cause

Superhumans saving lives behind hospital doors.

But have you considered the other great things

That enforced isolation immediately brings?

No third-rate celebrities or reality shows.

Invading our airwaves with their trivial woes.

No flight paths or traffic polluting our streets

Clogging our clouds while nature depletes.

No smart phone zombies walking around

Oblivious to everything, heads bowed down.

No Brexiteer-Remainer endless debate,

So heated, harmful, tedious and irate.

No rush hour rat race, with self-induced stress

As we claw and clamber to get to our desks.

Without smiles or manners, hellos or goodbyes

All thinking only of our nine-to-fives.

Instead, simpler values now top our list.

With bands of new heroes now in our midst.

A focus on family rather than self

Is better for your soul as well as your health

Now nature and Netflix in front of our noses.

Conference calls and cooking in daily doses.

Looking after loved ones, with medicine or food.

Is our true sense of purpose and can only do good.

Yes, this virus is awful. But it gives us a chance

To reset society and learn a new dance.

So, find strength in adversity. But when this is through

Don’t lose sight of the opportunity it’s given you.

Please open gyms first

Sir, — Please could gyms be opened up first? Much as I admire all these people jogging and running, it is the constant huffing, puffing and panting that gets to me.

I walk my dog across a field with worn pathways and I thought I was quite sprightly and don’t feel my age but have been told so many times that I am elderly and vulnerable (I think I have morphed into one of the highway signs for the elderly).

So how come it is me who has to jump off the track into long clumps of grass to get out of the way of huffing, puffing and panting joggers and runners? Social distancing seems to have jogged passed them!

Not true of all joggers I hasten to add. — Yours faithfully,

Minnie Wilson

Nicholas Road, Henley

Morphing mantra

Sir, — I foresee the current covid-19 mantra soon morphing into: “Return to work; Protect the Economy; Save livelihoods”. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Fairweather

Rotherfield Greys

Grateful for delivery

Sir, — Three cheers for the Royal Mail. With a dearth of barbers who can approach my thatch within two metres, I have found the daily supply of elastic bands in my driveway an excellent source of fresh material to train my ever lengthening ponytail. — Yours faithfully,

Dirk Jones

Kennylands Road,

Sonning Common

Unwelcome sanctimony

Sir, — I have noticed a most disturbing trend over the last few weeks. It is called snooping. Some individuals seem to be embracing behaviour that was once common in the former East Germany.

My fiancée and I are currently staying at home. Previously, when we were not commanded to self-isolate, we visited some of my, and now our, most treasured woodlands. We met no-one where we went.

Initially, we would travel by car, bicycle and afterwards on foot. Today, if we look out through our front windows on to the street outside, we lose count of the amount of people huffing, puffing and coughing as they jog, run and cycle past our front garden, a rough estimate would suggest 72 per hour.

Would it be safe to take “exercise” on the overcrowded pavement or better to protect ourselves in a motor vehicle and visit nature far apart from other humans?

Sniping and official hypocrisy has become the norm. Welcome to our new “police state”. This may be the start of a dreadful new order. — Yours faithfully,

Vincent Ruane

Henley Road, Caversham

Pointless criticism

Oh Mr Remenyi, yes you are entitled to your opinions (Standard, April 17), but your weekly correspondence is driving me insane.

A terrible virus is amongst us and independent biologists, scientists plus government experts are doing their utmost to find a cure and solution to the present situation.

Your negative and very critical remarks do not help the crisis.

As for Andrew Marr (or Andrew Neil, Laura Kuenssberg, Robert Peston and others, for that matter), conducting a sensible, unbiased interview with any party leader or representative is beyond their capability.

The aggression and almost slandering questioning of their guests is intolerable.

By all means pose a sensible non-repetitive question and await the guests reply. Not continually interrupt and what l would term, “go for the jugular”, as Mr Remenyi says in his letter.

There are many different ideas and suggestions from around the globe, maybe not all to our liking or possibly correct for that matter, who knows at this stage the right decision? This is an unprecedented situation.

May l suggest that if you are not happy with the UK way of thinking, (or Brexit for that matter), you consider moving abroad, when permitted to do so, of course.

You seem to have lost faith in our government which l am sure will not be sitting on their derrière doing very little as you seem to imply.

Together our wonderful nation can pull through this. We’ve overcome adversity in the past, we can do it again. — Yours faithfully,

James Watkins

Sonning Common

Badgers don’t kill lambs

Sir, — With reference to your report of Whitchurch sheep farmer Jonathan Steward losing five of his animals to predators this year (Standard, March 10), since when were badgers known for killing lambs or sheep?

As a “farmer”, I think Mr Steward should be more careful in order not to make such misinformed statements and not to display such a surprising and potentially dangerous ignorance of his own local wildlife. — Yours faithfully,

James Munn

Queen Street, Henley

American influence

Sir, — Since we began the terrace house signage project we have been asked numerous times as to the significance of the North American influence regarding road and terrace names in Henley.

Many of the properties around the junction of Harpsden Road and Reading Road, near to the Three Horseshoes pub, were built by two brothers Thomas and William Hamilton around the late 1890s early 1900 period.

The simple answer to the question is that the brothers visited North America for a holiday and on their return thought to name the roads and houses after places they had visited.

Hence, we have Boston, Niagara and Quebec roads and terraces named Canadian, Montreal, New York, Brooklyn, Columbia, Cleveland and Manitoba.

Many of these terrace house name signs have been reinstated as part of our 2019 project, which has now extended into 2020 due to the very wet autumn and winter when our master sign writer could not work on wet masonry. I trust that this is of interest to your readers. — Yours faithfully,

Geoff Luckett

Vice-chairman, the Henley Society

The case for Christ

Editor, — In response to Douglas Kedge’s request for proof that the claims of Christianity are true (Standard, March 20), please could I encourage him to read the book The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel?

The author was the legal editor of a newspaper and an atheist who spent two years investigating whether the New Testament accounts and the claims of Christianity are true.

He speaks to leading scholars and experts in their fields to answer his questions: How reliable is the New Testament? Does evidence exist for Jesus outside of the Bible? Is there any reason to believe the resurrection was an actual event?

If you (or any other reader) is genuinely seeking proof, I would urge you to set a few hours aside to read this book with a sincere heart. Weigh the evidence before you and then make a judgement.

Alternatively, a YouTube clip of Mr Strobel provides an overview of the evidence that convinced him of the claims of Christianity — see  — Yours faithfully,

Emma Richards

Solihull, West Midlands

P.S. A family friend has shared with me a number of the letters that have been sent in over recent weeks and I felt compelled to respond.

Apologies for any confusion

Sir, — I should like to confirm that the views I expressed in my letter published in Henley Standard on April 10 regarding the unused top floor of Townlands Memorial Hospital in Henley were entirely personal and not those held by, nor should be attributed to, members of the committees on behalf of whom I sit on the Townlands Steering Group, i.e. Peppard Parish Council and the Friends of Townlands Hospital. — Yours faithfully,

Jeni Wood

Stoke Row Road, Peppard

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