Saturday, 31 July 2021

Your letters...

Misleading proponents

Misleading proponents

Sir — Could we please ensure that future contributions on these pages regarding possible development at Thames Farm are factually accurate and the authors declare their interests? The owner of this site has failed to achieve planning permission on multiple occasions in the past.

The last application was rejected by both the local parish councils, South Oxfordshire District Council and the Planning Inspectorate at appeal.

Thames Farm was excluded from the joint Harpsden and Henley neigbourhood plan in favour of several other more appropriate sites.

Finally, we have just heard that the communities minister has asked for a review of the recent High Court decision to overturn the appeal decision.

There has been a heavy volume of traffic on your letters page after the High Court ruling on the validity of the appeal decision.The sources and motives of these letters are worthy of investigation.

Rose Magill’s credibility on any local Henley issue is questionable. She kindly provides her address — in Ascot.

According to her own biography in the Maidenhead Advertiser as a Green Party candidate at this year’s general election, she has “lived and worked in Ascot for the last 25 years”.

Thus her confident remarks about road safety and pedestrian habits on the Reading road seem unlikely to be well informed by frequent observation (absent a large telescope).

The motivation of someone who lives 21 miles away, or 45 minutes by car, to write on a matter of local planning is elusive. Last week’s similar offering from Alison North living in Epsom (47 miles away) was even more amazing. Do the forces behind this most obvious PR campaign take the people of Henley to be naive fools? Are we to believe these long-distance writers are unaffiliated, altruistic warriors concerned about housing development in a town miles from where they live? There is clearly something else at work here. Other correspondents who actually live in Henley have also written in support of Thames Farm. Odette Moss certainly has the legitimacy of a local resident. Just read her passionate 2012 letter to the district council against development in Harpsden and most particularly the risk of Gillotts Lane becoming a “rat run”. Oddly, her stance on local development appears to have changed. Now it seems she believes there are compelling reasons to allow building. She is especially keen to emphasise the relative appeal of Thames Farm over Highlands Farm.

Her view is echoed by Rolf Richardson who encourages building at Thames Farm, especially in contrast to “the chaos” of development at Highlands Farm. Unsurprisingly, both of these people live very close to the potential site at Highlands Farm.

These supporting words have a thinly disguised ulterior agenda. Building 110 homes one mile away means less chance of any development in their immediate vicinity. I am happy to state upfront that I am not in favour of the Thames Farm development and that I live on Woodlands Road, directly on the borders of the site.

I have no problem with people having a different view to mine or hoping that local development will be away from their back yard. We are almost all Nimbys. However, blatant bias, phoney altruism and false objectivity must be exposed. Please can we just be honest about our position rather than disingenuous? Development and housing is the dominant community theme in Henley. The need to build new houses is well understood.Let’s end this series of self-serving views disguised as collective solutions. Surely we need to vote democratically on the most appropriate venues to fulfil our needs and responsibilities. A functional, community-endorsed neighbourhood plan is a necessity. Without it we will lose control of the local housing agenda and our area will be vulnerable to scattergun development. — Yours faithfully,

Ben Watson

Woodlands Road,


Respect local democracy

Sir, — Members of Sonning Common Parish Council’s planning committee wish to register their dismay at the recent decision by a Government planning inspector to allow a new three-storey detached house to be built in the former garden of 31 Woodlands Road, Sonning Common.

This is despite well- considered objections to the application by residents and this committee and South Oxfordshire District Council, which had refused the application.

The inspector’s decision to permit this unsuitable development is in spite of the Government’s own legislation, introduced in June 2010, to prevent the over-development of neighbourhoods by developing garden areas.

Regrettably, this decision has paved the way for a three-storey, three-bedroom house to be shoehorned between existing residential properties and for an ugly shared access with 31 Woodlands Road to be constructed, which will be out of character with the area.

Separation distances between adjacent properties will be minimal and the new dwelling will overlook neighbouring one-storey properties in Appletree Close, undermining the privacy of existing residents.Sadly, this is just the latest example in a series of cases in Sonning Common where planning applications — objected to by residents and the parish council and refused by the district council — were granted on appeal by an inspector.The decisions to allow 10 new houses to be built behind the Indian restaurant and the card/gift shop in Wood Lane are cases in point.

The Government promotes the sustainability of town and village centres.Yet how can town and village centres become more sustainable by providing additional shops and services when potential space for this provision is given over to residential development? The village centre is becoming increasingly busy, leading to traffic concerns and more demand for car parking spaces. Where is the space for additional car parking provision now? The committee recognises the need for new housing but it is vital that development occurs in the right places. Finding the most suitable sites for development, in consultation with residents, is the purpose of our neighbourhood development plan.Please, John Howell, for the sake of our residents and our village character, listen to local views, respect local democracy and use your influence to uphold the principles of sustainable development and prevent further detrimental development from taking place in our village. — Yours faithfully,

Ros Varnes Deputy clerk,

Sonning Common Parish Council (on behalf of the planning committee)

Short-sighted approach

Sir, — You report that one of David Beck’s objections to the idea of generating power from the weir at Goring is that the amount of power generated would be very small when compared with the total UK demand (Standard, November 6).

The current means of powering our homes and industry is unsustainable and is causing huge environmental damage.

If we care anything at all about the world our children are going to live in then we have to make radical changes quickly.

This means harnessing all possible sustainable sources of energy while reducing waste and consumption. Every weir should be generating something.The River Thames has long been used as a steady source of energy for mills and power generation and the development at Goring is long overdue.

Mr Beck’s approach is short-sighted and foolish but I am confident that most of the people around Goring have a responsible attitude towards the future and that this project will receive the support that it needs. — Yours faithfully,

Paul Jenkins

South Stoke

Disappointing museum visit

Sir, — I am a pensioner. During the half-term holiday week I took three of my boisterous grandchildren to the River and Rowing Museum in Henley. I promised them that, among other exciting things, they would be able to row together and see the inside of a Viking row boat.

This was to be a special trip as, even though I live in Henley, my grandchildren do not.

The last trip I made to the museum with these children was during the Egyptian display, which was a great success.

Unfortunately, I had not checked the date of my ticket and it was pointed out by the cashier that it had expired two days earlier.

During the year I had made only two visits. I realise that this is entirely my choice but I was surprised that the concession ticket price had risen to £7.50. This is an increase of more than 15 per cent on last year’s cost. The children rushed upstairs to see the “rowing machine” and found that the gallery was closed to the public due to a private function. We all felt very disgruntled.

I believe that during half-term the museum should be fully open or there should have been a cheaper entry price at least. I wrote to Ludo Keston, chief executive of the museum, to complain.

He did respond promptly but only to defend his position, which was all very interesting but didn’t make me feel any less disgruntled. An apology for spoiling our day would have been welcome. I am writing to the Henley Standard to warn others to check carefully with the museum before promising grandchildren any sort of experience.The Edward Lear, Eduardo Paolozzi, David Hockney and photographic exhibitions, which Mr Keston was at pains to promote and use to justify the ticket prices, are not really what will interest my young grandchildren who were promised a rowing experience at the River and Rowing Museum! Perhaps a mention that the Rowing Gallery was closed before I bought the tickets would have been appropriate. — Yours faithfully,

Jean Meeghan (and  three very disappointed grandchildren)

Fair Mile,


Ludo Keston, chief executive of the River and Rowing Museum, responds: “We are, of course, sorry if Mrs Meeghan and her grandchildren were disappointed by the variety of exhibitions on offer on the day she visited.

“As an independent educational charity, on occasion we have to supplement our income by hiring out spaces within the museum for an array of private events that include conferences, weddings and private parties. However, we always ensure that advance notice of these events is posted on our website.“

While the Rowing Gallery was closed on the day of Mrs Meeghan’s visit, we still had available our three permanent galleries, and two temporary exhibitions, so that Mrs Meeghan had available specifically for children our dinosaur family day and the ever popular Wind in the Willows exhibition.“

Despite being a charity, the museum receives no regular statutory funding and therefore from time to time we have to increase the cost of our annual ticket, which is currently £9.50 for adults or £7.50 for children.“

We think this remains great value for year-round admission and even provide totally free admission for local children thanks to the generous support of Henley Town Council.“

Our next big family event is on December 21, when we celebrate Christmas with Mole and Toad and we hope that Mrs Meeghan and her grandchildren will join us.”

Frustrated by gym closure

Sir, — I was devastated when the LA Fitness gym and especially the pool closed in August.

Since then I have researched all the pools in the area (since Henley leisure centre is full and very crowded) and there is nowhere to swim within miles.

I have now joined a pool in Oxford, which is a huge distance to drive to.

I fully understand that care homes are needed but what about the people who are trying to keep fit in order to delay going into a home? It is outrageous to close a facility that has been widely used and cherished for so long by the local community.

This facility is an asset of community value and should be treated as such, not knocked down for the obvious financial gain of the new owners. — Yours faithfully,

Linda Seward

Cookley Green

Hotel should clear litter

Sir, — Your Hidden Henley item about the Red Lion Hotel (Standard, October 30) was most interesting but could the hotel do something for Henley? Everyone enjoys sitting on the riverside “lawn” but litter is a problem.

There is a bin — often overflowing — but many empty crisp packets etc. are left lying under the seats.Recently, a plastic bag blew into the river. Luckily, we were able to fish it out before it proved fatal to any of the nearby river animals but this is clearly an ongoing problem. The hotel presumably enjoys good business from this facility in summer, so could not the staff be delegated to spend just five minutes a day clearing up the rubbish? — Yours faithfully,

Mary Beckinsale

St Andrew’s Road,


Do something constructive

Sir, — Just occasionally, but not very often, even I am lost for words.

Just such an occasion was when I read about Rob Strike complaining about, and dobbing in to the national press, our lovely Mayor Lorraine Hillier, accused of being involved in some paltry parking incident in the reserved loading bay outside Sainsbury’s in Bell Street (Standard, October 30). Miss Hillier has served the people of Henley tirelessly, faithfully and with no charge for more years than Mr Strike has had hot dinners.I’ll wager, moreover, that there is not one car owner in Henley who has not “popped” into Sainsbury’s and momentarily parked in that loading bay, which as often as not is anyway half empty, just as Miss Hillier did.I certainly have and what is more, I intend to continue to do so, especially if people continue to illegally occupy the disabled parking spaces nearby, officially reserved for people like my wife, a blue badge holder.

If Mr Strike and his friends and accomplices are jealous of Miss Hillier’s still unblemished record as a public servant of the people of Henley of so very many years standing and someone who also has the amazing ability to simultaneously run two of the nicest visitor attractions in Henley (the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street and the Upstairs and Downstairs tea shop in Duke Street), I have a simple suggestion for them: Why don’t they get off their backsides and conquer their jealousy by emulating and learning from Cllr Hillier’s rich example of public and private service and do something constructive for the town? That way, the Henley Standard will be spared the temptation to waste expensive newsprint on tales like this pathetic story. — Yours faithfully,

David Silvester

Luker Avenue,


Malicious criticism

Sir, — We live in a frightening and worrying time when many hardworking, intelligent people (especially women) in public office and the media seem to be under attack from internet trolls.It is such a shame that the harmony and enjoyment of people sharing Henley nostalgia on the Henley Past and Present Facebook group page was shattered by an attack on our Mayor Lorraine Hillier by some group members.

I am sure many people who know Lorraine personally would be appalled by some of the thoughtless and nasty remarks put up on Facebook by obviously ill-informed people who don’t even know her.Lorraine is an extremely hardworking, generous woman who gives a lot to the town, the community and the youth of Henley.

It is very rare to see her in her car as she is usually rushing between her businesses, Hot Gossip and Upstairs and Downstairs. She mainly does her shopping on foot. Surely, the lorry driver who parked on the pavement had responsibility to ensure the loading bay was clear as it was him blocking the main road? I think it is likely that many local residents will have parked there when they are in a rush, to run into Sainsbury’s and nearby shops. Yet we all know we shouldn’t unless we are loading.

It is very disturbing to see how an accusation such as this can get out of control.I hope the person who started this maliciousness is guilt-free in terms of parking.We are lucky we do not live in a police state as we now never know who is watching or photographing us. — Yours faithfully,

Sue Turner

Reading Road,


Doing the business

Sir, — Loading bays are for the benefit of businesses in the town for loading and unloading of goods.Our very busy Mayor was going just that. Why the fuss? — Yours faithfully,

Councillor Joan Bland

South Oxfordshire District Council,

New Street,


I want wheels like Mayor’s

Sir, — I returned from a business trip to Australia to find that the “braking” news in Henley revolves around a picture of Mayor Lorraine Hillier’s car reposing temporarily in Bell Street.

Has Nigel Wigmore missed a trick here? Can the Henley Standard please run a piece on this car as part of an ongoing series? Perhaps he could call it “Councillor in a reasonably priced car”.

Councillor Hillier evidently drives the most fetching of rarities and it even looks good in beige, a result that evidently only the East Europeans can achieve. That is the only interesting thing about this storm in a tea shop (excuse the pun, Lorraine).

What is this swinging chariot that cuts such a dash away from the uber-vulgar black on black Chelsea tractors that otherwise and regularly block the picturesque view and impede safe passage across our streets? I want a car like Lorraine’s. Where can I get one? When will Nigel be putting this boy racer’s dream beast through its paces? I, for one, think that our Mayor is Top Gear. — Yours faithfully,

Peter Burness-Smith

St Mark’s Road,


So what are the rules?

Sir, — You stated that the police had declined to comment on the row about parking in the Bell Street loading bay.

If the police won’t do so, please could someone else explain exactly what counts as “loading” and when exactly you are allowed to park in a loading bay? — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Moberly

St Mark’s Road,


Simple choice for residents

Sir, — I have recently moved back to Henley and read with interest the excitement caused by the misuse of loading bays.

By definition, a loading bay is for the delivery or collection of goods where the sales transaction has already been completed.

It is not for a shopping trip of any duration or for waiting to pick up friends or make a mobile phone call. Therefore some residents, led by the Mayor, are abusing the facility.I have experience of trying to deliver commercial goods to shops in Henley only to be frustrated by this abuse.

Ultimately, if retailers and their suppliers are unable to have goods delivered, they will choose to migrate to competitor towns such as Marlow.

So the choice for residents is simple: stop the abuse or be faced with a town centre that ultimately only includes coffee shops, estate agents and hairdressers.

The irony, of course, is that it would have been quicker for the Mayor to walk from her shop to Sainsbury’s and back rather than drive around the one-way system, negotiate at least two sets of traffic lights and repark at her shop.

It’s a course of action I’m sure she now wishes she had taken. — Yours faithfully,

Gary Hilder


Loading bays well named

Sir, — In all the fuss over the Mayor leaving her car in a loading bay in Bell Street, nobody seems to have mentioned one simple fact.

A loading bay is exactly what it says it is, i.e. an area at the side of the road where people can park temporarily in order to load and unload.

It is not some sort of additional inside lane and drivers cannot reasonably expect to use it as such.

I do not know the Mayor and have no idea whether or not she left her car there for more than the statutory few minutes.

What is perfectly apparent from the photograph on the front page of your issue of October 30, however, is that Bell Street is being partially blocked not by her car but by the lorry parked on a double yellow line opposite it.Not for the first time, the internet “trolls” appear to be directing their venom at the wrong target. One wonders why. — Yours faithfully,

Charles Priestley

Bolney Road,

Lower Shiplake

Betrayed over Townlands

Sir, — I think Dr Peter Ashby, Barry Wood and others really spelled it out (Standard, November 6), on how we the residents of Henley and outlying parishes have been totally deceived by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, David (hatchet man) Smith, Andrew (trust me, I’m a doctor) Burnett, our MP John (I will hold their feet to the fire) Howell and, to a lesser degree, our county councillor David Nimmo Smith. All have played their part in the demise of the Peppard ward at Townlands.

The Orders of St John are in the process of having a 64-bed home for the elderly built on the “health campus”. Once this is filled do we really think they are going to turn people out of their beds to make way for hospital patients? No, this is just a pipe dream of the commissioning group.

In six months’ time, when when Peppard ward has been closed, the commissioning group will come along and say, “look, we told you there was no need for eight or 14 beds for hospital patients at Townlands as there are plenty of hospital beds in Abingdon and Witney and you do not need them after all.” We have lost our hospital beds and there is an empty floor in the “new Townlands” (I was going to put hospital but that will soon be gone).

So who is coming to the rescue of the commissioning group? None other than our local doctors, the ones that have supported the Townlands Steering Group for the past 12 years.

I say to the doctors: this is a major mistake, stay where you are, your facilities are fine, in fact excellent, and it is not up to you to bail out the commissioning group.

Leave the floor empty. You never know, we may have a local MP (like Boris) and local councils in the future that will support a floor with 18 beds and we will then have a Townlands Hospital to be proud of.

No, Dr Peter Ashby, Barry Wood, Councillor Ian Reissmann and others who fought for 12 years for a Townlands Hospital, you have not let our town and parishes down.We have been cheated and betrayed by others. They should all be ashamed of themselves the way they have acted through this whole process. — Yours faithfully,

Ken Arlett

Elizabeth Road,


Out of touch with electors

Sir, — I note with interest that John Howell has been rewarded for his services to the Government by being appointed to the Council of Europe.

I wish I could say “well done” but the words stick in the throat when you look at the way he has consistently sat on the fence until he has worked out which is the winning side in any debate and then gone for it.Despite his much self-publicised involvement with the new Townlands Hospital, it would seem that very few Henley residents are satisfied by the outcome of the beds debacle and one cannot help thinking that the outcome would have been rather different if Boris Johnson was still our MP.As somebody who marched against the Oxfordshire Clinic Commissioning Group’s proposals, I can tell you that many people at the town hall steps were shouting, “What are you going to do, John?’” and got no satisfactory reply.

Now we find that not only will the new building not be finished on time but the old hospital will be closing the beds as scheduled, leaving Henley with no local cover at all.As someone whose father-in-law spent his last few weeks in Townlands, cared for fantastically well by the nursing staff, I question how people who may not have access to a car are going to be able to visit their loved ones in some distant part of the county.

The powers that be seem to imagine that everybody drives or has access to a car, which is very far from the truth.I’m sure Mr Howell’s new appointment will have him preening with self-satisfaction but his time would be better spent supporting the wishes and needs of the constituency to which he was elected.We are the ones paying his salary after all and the levels of voter satisfaction look very low. — Yours faithfully,

June Romans

Cromwell Road,


Sad farewell to ward staff

Sir, — It was a sad day last Friday when Peppard ward at Townlands Hospital closed. The doctors at the Bell and Hart Surgeries would like to thank all the wonderful staff who have helped the ward run so well over so many years. We will miss you all greatly. We have always been struck by how hardworking, cheerful and dedicated to providing excellent patient care you have been. Thank you all for the support that you have given us at the surgeries. We wish you good luck in your new roles over the coming months and very much hope to see many of you again soon in the new Townlands Hospital. — Yours faithfully,

The staff of the Bell and Hart Surgeries

York Road,


Sorry for no fireworks

Sir, — Henley Round Table is deeply disappointed and sorry that this year’s fireworks display did not happen. We take great pride in organising what is usually a fantastic evening for our local community. The event has been running for 42 years and this situation has never happened before. Our volunteers put a great deal of time and effort into organising the event and proceeds go to local charities and good causes. On Saturday evening the computer firing system failed and the professional fireworks company, which has been running the display successfully for many years, could not resolve the problem despite its best efforts. We took the difficult decision not to provide refunds as we felt this would be impractical to administer. Instead, we will waive next year’s entrance fee for all those who attended this year. Since this will also be challenging to administer, it will be based on trust. We are reviewing the plans for next year, paying particular attention to contingencies, to ensure this does not happen again. As ever, all proceeds from this event will go to local good causes. Next week we will be handing over a cheque for £10,000 to Bishopswood Special School towards a new fully accessible minibus for delivery in the spring. We are grateful to all those who have contacted us with words of support. — Yours faithfully,

George Thomas


Henley Round Table

The failure was our fault

Sir, — I am the director of Skyburst and solely responsible for providing the fireworks display organised by Henley Round Table. On Saturday my team arrived and set up the display ready for the evening’s show.The day had gone reasonably well given the wet conditions. However, on attempting to fire the display, the computerised firing system failed to respond. After running through various reset procedures our supervisor John Pitcher called me for advice and together we carried out a series of checks, including replacing the main control cables. As a last ditch attempt, we reset and tried to fire it manually but still there was no response. It was at this point we realised the display would have to be cancelled.

This is the first time in our 33-year history that we have had to cancel a display due to a technical failure. The system we use is one of the best and most respected firing systems in the world and complete failures of this nature are unheard of. My team and I are all devastated to have disappointed so many people and to have let down the organisers who have worked so long and hard to stage the event. They are in no way responsible for the cancellation and I hope our failure does not tarnish their good reputation and future fund-raising events. I am in discussion with Henley Round Table and hope to have the opportunity to make amends. My sincere apologies to all the people of Henley. We are very sorry to have spoilt everyone’s bonfire night. — Yours faithfully,

Alan Christie

Director, Skyburst,



Well done to Round Table

Sir, — On Saturday morning a group of Henley Round Tablers were building a massive bonfire at the Swiss Farm field in the pouring rain. Others were shopping for wine and other goods for the event. Marquees were being set up to hold the bar and ox roast.

Everyone was hoping the rain would clear.Preparations continued during the afternoon and at dusk the sky had cleared and Round Tablers were ready on the muddy field to welcome their guests.Families arrived and the bonfire was lit, honouring a tradition started on November 5, 1605 to celebrate the safety of the King.

Round Tablers manned the bar, stood at the gate, maintained safety near the bonfire and generally worked hard all evening, knowing that on Sunday morning, when we would be all watching or taking part in Remembrance events, they would again be in the muddy field clearing up all the debris and packing everything away to return the field to normal. On November 5, 1605 the 36 barrels of gunpowder never exploded. Likewise in Henley the fireworks never went off.

The one thing Round Tablers did not do themselves was light and set the fireworks. This they paid “professionals” to do and, sadly, were spectacularly let down.Please remember, Round Table puts on this event for us and all money raised is given locally to charities and deserving causes.The members of Round Table put in a lot of time and effort to provide this lovely community event. I believe next year there will be no charge to those attending as a way of saying sorry. I would like to thank all the “Tablers” and their friends for doing so much for the Henley community and look forward to seeing them at Christmas when again they give up more than a week of evenings to provide our town with the Christmas float and Santa, come rain, snow or shine.

Well done, Round Table, and keep up the good work (sadly, I am now too old to be a member). — Yours faithfully,

Andrew Galletley

Grange Road,


Be happy with what we’ve got

Sir, — With reference to Suzanne Martell’s letter (Standard, October 30), I for one am glad that Henley differs from Marlow and that the towns have their own variety of shops.I grant you, it makes a change to pop over the border into Buckinghamshire to have a gander and to enjoy window shopping but it tends to cause dissatisfaction and it is surely better to support you own local shops.

There’s also the worry of adding to the traffic problems on our overcrowded roads. Do Henley people want to be reminded of what’s on offer over there? If only we had this store or that and so on if Miss Martell’s wishes were granted. Can’t we ever be satisfied with what we see and find in our own locality? — Yours faithfully,

Peter M Adams Ramshill,



Dad loved bowls club

Sir, — I was very sorry to read that Peppard Bowls Club had closed (Standard, November 6).

My father Clarence Cook (Clarie as they all called him) was a member for more than 40 years. He played regularly right up until his death in 1987.

He worked hard on the bowls green and had converted two unused grass tennis courts alongside the green into further rinks.

He took on the role of groundsman/greenkeeper, a position he held until his death. He had been captain, president and for the last few years of his life was the patron of the club, which I believe was the first time this honour had been bestowed on anyone.

I don’t know if any former members remember him but I know they played a competition for a trophy in his name.A sad time but I have happy memories of him on the green. — Yours faithfully,

Marian Turner

Newfield Road,

Sonning Common

Generosity appreciated

Sir, — On behalf of Chilterns End care home in Henley, we would like to thank the Stuart Turner Foundation for their generous donation of £1,000 towards our minibus fund.This financial support will be a great help in enabling the care home to continue to give residents the pleasure of enjoying outings and activities that might otherwise not be possible.

The home’s activities co-ordinator Helen Middleton is organising the fund-raising efforts to achieve the purchase of the minibus.This is a big challenge and the home is particularly grateful to the volunteers at the home for their help in working towards this goal.

The minibus will make it possible for both current and future residents to enjoy regular outings and will also be used in the local community to help transport people who would like to attend our events and activities. — Yours faithfully,

The residents and staff Chilterns End care home,

Greys Road,


Thanks for the support

Sir, — A very big thank-you to all those lovely people who came along to Crazies Hill village hall for the Cockpole Green WI bridge drive.

We hope you all enjoyed yourselves and particularly the delicious tea, prepared and served by an amazing WI team.Thanks to you, we will be able to have some excellent speakers next year.

Your generosity in supporting our raffle raised nearly £200 for Help for Heroes.We look forward to seeing you all again in October 2016. — Yours faithfully,

Selina Avent

Crazies Hill

Do you know Joyce Grant?

Sir, — I am writing with reference to Joyce Grant, originally of Broad Lane, Coventry, and then employed as secretary at the city council in the years 1954-1960.

She was an active member of the Royal Observer Corps in her leisure hours.I am intent on finding her now for renewals of yesterday times and this letter is to ask if anyone knows her present address.

Joyce and I enjoyed ballroom dancing at the Matrix in Fletchamstead Highway, Coventry, and a recent Strictly Come Dancing programme brought back memories of yesteryear.

The last time I spoke to Joyce she had moved and lived in Oxfordshire mainly, I think, in Henley. I did have a photograph of her, which was taken in about 1956, but this was lost in a fire.

I would be very grateful if you could help me to find Joyce — just for the memory. — Yours faithfully,

Michael Jones

Tanners Lane,

Coventry (Tel. 02476 473959)

Why I wear the poppy

Sir, — Almost every year I am asked why I, as a Dane, wear the poppy — after all, the fallen were not from my country.

I always give the same answer. Pointing to my poppy, I say: “If it wasn’t for these guys I’d be speaking German.” — Yours faithfully,

Soren Nielsen

Belle Vue Road,


Thank you for the bus shelter but...

Sir, — On Monday last week there was the noise of grinding coming from the road when we left Swiss Farm, Henley.

To my delight, I saw that Oxfordshire County Council had eventually got a bus shelter organised for one side of Marlow Road.

I asked for this more than two years ago and others have done so before and after me.

Thank you to everyone who organised the bus shelter, which is pictured here on the back of the lorry pending installation. On the way back from town I saw it in situ, complete with two small seats. May we now have the pedestrian crossing, which is long overdue, and a bus shelter where you have put an asphalt foundation on the other side of the road?

Thank you so much on behalf of the residents and visitors to Swiss Farm who do not own cars. — Yours faithfully,

Keith Knight

Swiss Farm,


Sir, — This summer the Government announced plans to water down regulations on fracking in protected areas — drinking water protection zones, national parks, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, nature reserves, RSPB reserves and World Heritage sites.

This exposes some of the UK’s most beautiful landscapes to devastating noise, air and light pollution as well as biodiversity loss. It also poses serious public health risks through possible groundwater contamination.

A vote on these weakened regulations is now imminent.

I have been walking the Chiltern Hills for many years. If this vote is passed it could mean even this lovely area surrounded by fracking rigs. Nowhere is safe. — Yours faithfully,

Caroline Smith

Berkshire Greenpeace,

Waverley Road,


Sir, — I took this photograph on October 31 of the River Thames from the towpath just above Shiplake lock and below Phillimore Island. — Yours faithfully,

Roger Lightfoot

Odiham Avenue,

Caversham Park Village

Sir, — For some reason, which I hope another reader will explain, winter is the sunrise and sunset season, starting with Monday’s sunrise at 7am.

Such sunrises, brief though they are, help compensate for the longer nights, shorter days and colder weather ahead of us. — Yours faithfully,

Ron White

Milton Close,


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