Thursday, 31 August 2017


I had the joy today of assisting the Vice Chancellor of our University, Sir Anthony Seldon, run the annual duck race at Tanlaw Mill.

We judged the ducks and I awarded the prizes to the best decorated ones and overall winner of the race. Such a lovely community event which was very well attended by University students and staff and some townsfolk. There was even a live band from South Africa playing called Red Tape Riot.

The winning duck, created by Ella (aged 9), was (what I am calling) the 'Angel Duck'. This duck impressed us with its three dimensional sparkling decorations! Well done Ella!

The winning duck created by an adult was Donald 'the Duck' Trump. A very worthy winner hand crafted by Justine Kibler. (This duck struggled to complete the race as it got stuck in the weeds somewhere...)

Here is Justine, Sir Anthony and me

And the duck that won the race was sponsored by Vi Russell whose duck was devoid of any decoration (which was probably one of the reasons it won!). Here is Martin, the University's Maintenance Foreman holding up her winning duck and a picture of Vi (sorry not one my most focused shots!) below.

There will be far, far better photos in the newspaper on Friday: all taken by the lesser spotted Steven Prouse!

All in all a fabulous event which I have not attended before. It was lovely to be there today.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

It's what market squares are for!!

Sunday brought beautiful weather, great community and sublime music to the middle of Buckingham again!

The Bandjam Big Bash was again a great success with a fabulous line up all supported by careful planning and back stage work by an army of people. Huge thanks to all who made this possible - volunteers, council officers (and the team of councillors who helped clear up all the rubbish afterwards...) And I hope the man who injured his foot rather badly is soon swiftly up and about.

Remember the events organised and sponsored by the Town Council are all advertised in the newsletter delivered to all homes and businesses in the town, four times a year. You can also read it all online - and here is the latest copy about to hit doormats in the next couple of weeks.


One of the top bands may well be returning to play at the Mayor's Charity Bop on 24 March 2018... watch this space!!! (please make a note in your diary now)

A typically English tea party

On Saturday afternoon (26/8/17), Julie and I had the delight to attend Afternoon Tea arranged by the Mayor of Leighton Linslade, Cllr Syed Rahman. We were greeted with a warm welcome, prosecco and a dazzling array of cakes & scones. Musical entertainment was provided by "Wind Power" playing some easy listening tunes on woodwind instruments.

We sat on a table with other Mayors, past Mayors and others. I was fascinated to learn more about Houghton Regis. I have never visited this town which has a population of over 17,000 and is set to triple in size over the next decade. The Town Council will have its work cut out to ensure the town retains its integrity and grows its community heart. But having talked with Mayor Cllr Joanna Hillyard (see pic below), I am sure they are engaged in this process well.

Altogether a lovely afternoon and very happy to help Mayor Syed raise money for his charities.

Mayor Syed with the Mayor of Houghton Regis, Julie and I.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

My Jo Cox journey #3

Yesterday morning, I had the enormous pleasure of donating my next Jo Cox book to the Mayor of Reading and the Reading Central Library. (You can read why I am doing this on the previous blog.)

Mayor Cllr Rose Williams was lovely and most welcoming. We exchanged stories of how Reading had changed since the time I left the town (1985). As readers will know, I went to the University there. Subsequently I had two jobs in the town: working for the Department of Employment, the Borough Council and the County Council as was. I used the library often.

Matt Rodda, the new Labour MP for Reading East, and a fellow ward councillor of Rose's still, was there too. It was with Matt that I originally made the contact as we know each other through "Labour Coast and Country". It was great to see him. Here we all are as I hand the book over to Rose.

and more informally:

The Mayor also gave me a copy of the "Reading Book of Days" which is a delightful book researched by the History of Reading Society with an 'on this day' story from the past about Reading, for each day of the year. Thank you! (Is that an idea for Buckingham...?)

And great thanks to Liz Grugeon from Matt's office and Kate Andrews who all helped to make this happen.

Here is the bookplate that will be placed in the book when it is added to the shelves of the Library.

Matt tweeted soon after we left the Library

And here is an official pic from Rachel Dennis, the Reading Council press officer who was also there. Thanks Rachel.

My Jo Cox journey #2

I placed a bet on the June 2017 General Election on how many seats the Conservative Party would win. At odds of seven to one, I bet £20 on them getting between 301 and 325 seats. And I won...!

I pondered for a long while what to do with the money: just pocket it, spend on an evening out or do something else? I decided to do something else: I bought 11 copies of the book written by Brendan Cox about the life and untimely death of his wife Jo.

Jo Cox MP was murdered by a right wing terrorist in the weeks running up to the EU Referendum in 2016. She was someone who stood proudly for democracy. And now we all know how much she also believed in all people having more in common than we have than divides us. And so it seemed a fitting way to spend my winnings. I resolved to donate most of the books to libraries that had featured in my life in some way.

Yesterday I went to my old University on stage two of my journey. (Stage one, blog to come but waiting for a picture, was my secondary school near Portsmouth). So it was a great pleasure to donate a book to the library of the University of Reading which I started at 40 years ago. I met the head Librarian Julia Munro and we talked about how the world and her library had changed in the last 40 years. It is currently having a refurbishment designed to create to more learning spaces for students whilst retaining good access to key texts. (Yes: university students do still read things in hard copy!)

That is a picture of the library when it was first built in the background. Julia kindly gave me copies of the last three annual reports on the Library which I will be reading soon. Thank you.

Later on, her colleague Sue Egleton took for me for a short tour around the Library as it is currently, albeit with lots of plastic sheeting and closed off areas. But I was delighted to discover some bookshelves featuring copies of the books that I referenced when studying psychology 40 years ago!

Sue revealed that her father is Trevor Eggleton who up until May this year had been a Buckinghamshire County Councillor for ten years. It is, as always, a small world!

Here is the bookplate that will be put in the book before it is added to the shelves of the University Library:

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Supporting Buckingham Young People

I have just come away from the meeting convened by Corrinna Martin which managed to get around 40 people crammed into one side of the King's Head. There were bucketfuls of energy, ideas, commitment, support and experience.

Firstly big thanks to Corrinna for making this happen! Thanks also to the management of the King's Head for making the space. And thanks to everyone who showed up and helped start something new.

I won't steal Corrinna's thunder and give my report on the actions and ideas agreed, but watch the social media space: things will be happening and soon!

And most of all, I was utterly blown away by how much and how many people just want to do (and indeed are doing) something positive for young people in the town.

And there is room for more people too... so if you interested, do contact Corrinna.

Some pics of the people present:

My last post on this blog

Last night I handed on the Buckingham Town Mayor's chain of office to my very worthy successor, Cllr Mark Cole. This marks the end of my...