Friday, 30 June 2017

The seriously vital Citizens Advice service

Last Monday, I had the great pleasure of attending my first BACAB meeting. BACAB stands for the "Buckingham Area Community Advice Bureau". 

Essentially this is a small local charity dedicated to raising money for the local Citizens Advice services. And they are doing some fabulous work at gaining donations from local businesses and individuals prepared to stump up some serious money for running what all of know to be the vital service that is the Citizens Advice service. (It used to be called the Citizens Advice Bureau - but they dropped the bureau bit a while ago.)

I sat round the kitchen table with a dozen great people who are resolutely focused on fundraising. I won't name them but you can find out who they are from their website. It was a fascinating discussion about their tactics and strategies over the coming months at raising money.

I hope to attend future meetings and add my three pennyworth.

Here is one pic that I downloaded from their album archive.


(Queen's Award for Voluntary Service CAB: CAB team October 2011)


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

The amazing Willen Hospice

Willen Hospice states that its vision is:
to be the lasting and thriving provider of free care to all people affected by life limiting illness in our community. This will be made possible by a community working together continually to share in the delivery of the most assuring, equally accessible and advanced care available.
And from the stories I heard last night at the Summer Reception, it is doing a very, very fine job of achieving this vision. We heard from a physiotherapist about how their programme of exercise had managed to give many extra months of precious life to some patients involved with the Hospice.

Other members of the 'chain gang' were out in force of course (Mayors of MK, Leighton Linslade and Olney) but also many people who have dedicated their lives to raising money for the service. One woman I spoke with had raised over £6m in the last ten years (from running corporate quiz nights it seems!)

I also met the Friends of Willen Hospice who told me how they had just raised over £4000 with Tesco Express in Buckingham. Brilliant efforts all round.

It was an honour to be there and support all that Willen Hospice does.

If you would like to help you can donate here or why not get involved in volunteering, maybe at the shop in town or one other numerous ways. Or just look for what you need at the Hospice shop in Cornwalls Meadow Walk. (Or as I do, partake in the weekly lottery)

Here's a pic of the people present last night being addressed by Paul Hinson, the Chief Executive

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Three cheers for Moretonville JFC!

On Saturday 17 June, Mortonville Junior Football Club celebrated the end of the season at a series of huge events at Buckingham School. I had the greatest of pleasure to attend the last session and gave out some of the awards to the players.

Frankly, I was blown away by the tremendous sporting and community spirit filling the sports hall. Apart from when my son played in a team about twenty years ago, I have never really been involved in football. And so to see all the dozens young players, their managers and coaches, and everyone else involved in making a success of this club was inspirational and delightful! And a new experience for me and my wife: I had no idea that so many people were part of this. And it's wonderful!

Phil Doran, the club Chairperson, said several times how much he enjoyed watching the boys and girls grow both as footballers but also as amazing, confident and respectful young people. By the end, I absolutely got what he was talking about.

And to top it all, Phil was able to report that the club has just been awarded the singular honour of not only being FA Charter Standard Community Club of the year for the county but also for the South East! This is a very high honour for the club.

So very, very well done from me to everyone who makes such a success of this club!!




Vintage Newport Pagnell

My wife and I were invited by the Mayor of Newport Pagnell, Cllr Derek Eastman, to attend their 1940's vintage weekend. And it was fabulous. Particularly impressive was the way in which all the shops, churches and other organisations had thrown themselves into the spirit of the day.

We enjoyed seeing some old cars, especially this one with a lady who used to drive such a vehicle during the war.



And later on we were taken to exhibitions of nursing memorabilia from the war, singing by the U3A choir and very pleasant lunch at the Brooklands Centre. This is a pic of Derek the Mayor getting everyone to sing happy 50th birthday to Milton Keynes (after several other wartime songs such as 'We'll meet again')


Well done to Newport Pagnell Town Council!

There are some more details here.

A truly civil Buckingham

On Saturday 17 June, I had the delightful experience of participating in the annual Civic Day organised by the Buckingham Society here in our town. Civic days are:
a national celebration of civic pride. It is a day when communities across the country say "we care about where we live"
The main part of the agenda was giving out awards to the Citizen of the Year and the Young Citizen of the year, which is administered by the local Rotary Club. (Winners, Harry and Ros, are in the centre of the picture, holding their citations.)


(Thank you to Cllr Warren Whyte for use of this group picture)

The Rotary Club also made awards to the some of the best Swimathon participants and donations to a number of worthy groups in the town. Rotary President Peter Bartlett (on the right of the picture) gave these awards & cheques with a little assistance from me.

But back to the citizen's of the year. This is what I told about the two people:
Ros Hutt
We received several nominations for Ros. She is clearly well liked and appreciated in the community, a lady who is known to “go the extra mile” to help others.
Ros was not only nominated in recognition of all the charity work she undertakes, she was also nominated for offering “outstanding support and friendship” to so many people, in our community, especially the more elderly members; either by sitting with them in times of need or by providing lifts in her car so that they can get to hospital appointments or visit sick relatives.
Ros is seen as someone who goes about things in a calm manner and always has a welcome smile on her face. She never seeks any recognition for the work that she does; clearly one of life’s “unsung heroes” and thoroughly deserving this year’s Rotary Citizen of the Year Award.
Harry Smith
Harry was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy as a baby. He was not expected to walk, talk or go to the local school yet today, despite numerous challenges, Harry attends Buckingham Primary School and has grown to be a happy, bright and popular 8 year old.
Rather than letting life get the better of him, Harry is constantly pushing himself, he loves sports and always is keen to compete in the school sports days and was chosen to play for the school basketball team recently. He also enjoys playing football for Winslow United pan disabled team, winning the Managers Player last week. His main aim in life is to be in the Paralympics!
Harry has achieved all this, despite spending all of last summer in plaster cast, his ability to bounce back is amazing. If someone says he can't do something he will do everything to prove them otherwise.
Harry is an inspiration to everyone who meets him and is thoroughly deserving of this year’s Rotary Young Citizen of the Year Award.
Two very worthy winners of this accolade!

More pictures: here is one of Ros responding to the award taken by John Cornwall (thank you for this and the other pics below)


and receiving her citation from me and Peter, Rotary President.


This one of the Mayoress, I particularly like


Here's Peter in full flow!


And how the day began, with Russell Cross, the Town Crier, in full epiglottal voice!


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Dog day morning

I had the great pleasure of opening the Great British Dog Walk at Stowe Gardens on Sunday 4 June. I was invited by Hearing Dogs for Deaf People to do this.

Dogs of all sizes, shapes and temperaments were present. It was a fine sight to see everyone lining up, having registered at the tent as they arrived



The organiser, Michelle Sapwell, has told me they had 362 walkers and 207 dogs! There is some more money to come in but at the moment approximately £3500 has been raised! Which is fantastic! (This is clearly a very well organised charity based near Princess Risborough which is providing about 800 dogs to people at the moment. It has a turnover, I was told, of around £8m)

There are more (and brilliant) pictures of the event here, thanks to David Moore. He also took the one below as well. Thanks!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

Our amazing university

Julie and I spent a delightful afternoon at the University yesterday beginning with a lunch kindly hosted by the new Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Jill Schofield and Beverley Kelly, Head of Development Services (who arranged this). It was great to see Dean Jones (erstwhile Deputy Town Clerk) also. Dean is now Development Coordinator for the University.

Our conversation ranged across a wide range of issues including, of course, the expansion plans for the University. Currently it has 2000 students and is planned to increase to 5000 over the next decade or so. This is a change to the town that we all need to manage. I know my colleagues on the Town Council are keen to work in partnership with the University to make sure this expansion results in a town that is better for all who live, study, work and play here.

We talked lots about Town and Gown integration and came up with a few ideas that could help make this happen more. As regular readers know, I am in touch with some of the university students about building my Buckingham Ambition Project. Again some actions were discussed and were put in train... watch this space.

And then Beverley took us on a short tour of the University which included the broadcast studios and the medical school. Great to see where the University radio is broadcast from, for example. Absolutely fascinating to see the models that the medical students practice on to learn (for example) about performing injections on people. The Communications and Marketing Officer, Anastasiya Ostapchuk was very helpful and informative. I was able to put her in touch with a woman I met a few months ago, who runs a company that hires out cadavers (yes, really!) for medical research and training.

There is lots of information here about the past and future of the University here. And if you want to become a friend of the University - click here.


The Mayor of Milton Keynes' Carol Service (Trefoil #2)

It was a joy to be part of the Christmas Carol Service hosted by the Mayor of MK Cllr Martin Petchey and his consort Ms Debbie Thomson. We s...