May 2019

Here you can read about a few of the activities that I have been engaged with during the month. Please do contact me if you would like further information about any of these organisations or events

Wednesday 29th. Drinks with the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire at Burghl;ey House

Today we were hosted by the High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Mrs Jean Mc Kittrick to a delightful evening at Burghley House. We started with a brief tour of this wonderful Elizabethan House and then enjoyed drinks and canapes in the Orangery. This was a great chance to meet many involved in life in Cambridgeshire and to learn about their triumphs and challenges. Always a delight to meet those in our neighbouring counties. 

Sunday 26th. National Garden Scheme supporting Marie Curie

Delightful to visit the Gardens of the Old Vicarage, Burley this morning – very kindly hosted by Jonathon and Sandra Blaza. They opened their garden today as part of the National Garden Scheme. Their beautiful garden includes formal lawns and borders, a lime walk, rose gardens and a rill with an avenue of standard wisteria. There is also a wildlife garden and pond, two orchards and a walled garden producing fruit, herbs vegetables and cut flowers. It was a real treat to walk around and admire this delightful country garden and to take away a few ideas to ‘try at home’. Our visit was completed with a coffee and a slice of delicious home made cake( apparently the latter are thanks to Sandra and her chickens’ eggs).  Plenty of visitors were seen today at the Vicarage so I am sure some great funds were raised for Marie Curie, which helps to fund nurses to care for people night and day in their holes. Please do support these open gardens in Leicestershire and Rutland during the summer, as they in turn help support the very valuable Marie Curie charity. Booklets showing opening times of gardens in our locality are available in many shops or can be seen here

Sunday 26th May. EMICS East Midlands Immediate Care Scheme

Met with Dr Tim Gray this morning to learn about the work of EMICS – East Midlands Immediate Care Scheme. This scheme was set up by Tim over 30 years ago and together with 26 doctors, it provides emergency pre-hospital care at emergencies. All these doctors volunteer their time to attend these emergencies day or night, and their attendance can help patients to survive or reduce their injuries by being attended to within that first ‘golden hour’ after an accident. Additionally, their involvement can help to free up ambulance crews to operate elsewhere.  Their dedication and their time commitment (in addition to their own paid work) is incredibly admirable. EMICS last year attended over 1,400 incidents. EMICS Is run as a charity and funded solely by donations.  To fully equip and train each new volunteer emergency doctor costs around £6,000 – this covers the medical and clothing equipment that they must carry at all times as well as their specialised response driver training.  Their very poignant headline is: “You may need our help some day. We need yours now”. Definitely a charity to support by donations, fund-raising or arranging a talk to your organisation from one of their doctors to raise awareness.  

Saturday 25th May. Oakham School Speech Day

I attended Oakham School’s Speech day on a glorious sunny afternoon. There was a wide variety of school work/activities to enjoy in the morning including art displays, musical recitals, drama shows and a cricket match. Reflective and amusing speeches in the large marquee were given by the Headmaster, Mr Nigel Lashbrook, the Chair of Trustees, Prof Neil Gorman and the current Head boy, Bryn Davies and Head girl, Beth Whitlock. A number of prizes were presented covering all areas of the total curriculum – clearly a school that embraces and nurtures a very broad and extensive education. The formal part of proceedings concluded with a surprise rendition of the pop song “Mr Blue Sky”, sung by the whole school, to mark the retirement of the Headmaster after ten years at Oakham school. A delicious tea followed, to round off a most enjoyable and memorable occasion. 

Saturday 25th May Aqua Park at Rutland Water

Cut the ribbon this morning at Aqua Park to open its 4thsummer season at Rutland Water. It offers a really fun activity for those aged 6 years and above. It was great to meet the founder, Simon James and his team of staff who run an efficient and safety-conscious programme throughout the summer. They have designed a new obstacle course this year , which incorporates England’s highest obstacle, the Rutland Mammoth. Listed by trip advisor in 2017&2018, as Rutland’s Number One Attraction, it brought in 60,000 guests last year. It’s an excellent trip out for locals and visitors to Rutland and an opportunity for the latter to explore other places in Rutland too. 

Thursday 23rd. Fashion Show, Oakham

Well done to all those, who worked so hard in organising and running the Fashion Show in Victoria Hall in aid of Marie Curie Rutland. The Charity Fashion Show featured clothing from Oakham boutiques Snapdragon, Duo and Obsessions.  It provided many with an opportunity to view a wide range of fashions, make some purchases and enjoy a social occasion too. All proceeds from the evening went to supporting Marie Curie nurses caring for terminally ill patients in Rutland. Great to see so many supporting such a very worthy cause.

Thursday 23rd. Knight School

Today I visited the Knight School in Oakham. Twelve youngsters (aged 8 – 10 years) were attending the second week of their six week course at the Knight School. They learn to show respect for themselves, others and the environment. It was great to see the youngsters learning through a variety of fun, yet informative activities and games. There is a wonderful team of enthusiastic volunteers who run this programme, ably lead by Mrs Janet Berridge.  I look forward to meeting everyone again when the youngsters should be ready for ‘knighting’ at Oakham Castle on 1stJuly. 

Thursday 23rd. Peppers, Oakham

Today I met with the founder of Peppers in Oakham. Peppers opened last year and is a ‘safe place’ for those who have a continuing mental health condition or who feel vulnerable, anxious or depressed. They offer a warm welcome, friendship, light refreshments and a chance to share experiences. Additionally there is a rolling programme of activities both on and off site. Currently they meet on Tuesdays 11am – 3 pm at the Congregational Church Hall, High Street in Oakham. This new organisation aims to support those in need on to their road to recovery or to help you maintain good mental health in a welcoming and relaxed environment. To find out more about this very commendable and supportive organisation please visit:  They are planning to move sites soon, in order to be able to offer more time, space and support. 

Saturday 18th May. Leics. & Rutland Young Farmers Club Annual County Rally

We spent an entertaining morning at the Leicestershire & Rutland YFC (Young Farmers Club) Annual County Rally in South Croxton. Hosted by the Alistair Hughes (County Chairman) and Aubrey Webb (County President) we toured several of the 84 competitions set for the 11 YFC in the Counties. They were fascinating and included: tractor& trailer reversing, hedgerow cocktails, floral art, best British afternoon tea, block paving, cross cut sawing, lamb, beef & pig stock judging etc etc..  Between the 11 clubs there are over 500 members, drawing on those living and working within the countryside to those living in towns but simply interested in rural activities. A really happy group of young people enjoying an annual social occasion and appreciating the challenges and skills of the countryside. We particularly liked the competition where competitors had to create something from a wooden pallet – I believe that an Oakham YFC member won 1stprize with a very impressive giant domino set in a box! My days as a member of a YFC in Kent didn’t seem to call on such creativity! Perhaps you could consider joining a local YFC (age 11 – 26 years) or book the date for the 2020 rally in your diary.

Friday 17th May. Brooksby Melton College, Brooksby

This afternoon we enjoyed a really fascinating visit to the specialist land-based campus of Brooksby Melton College at Brooksby. The college is set in beautiful countryside and offers  courses in Agriculture, Animal Care, Floristry and Sport to name just a few. The campus has recently benefited from a multi-million-pound investment in new and renovated facilities. It provides a wide range of programmes including level 1, 2,3 courses, apprenticeships and degree courses. The college is ‘moving with the times’ and remains ever-mindful of offering courses that lead to employment and meet the needs of today’s student. It is certainly a college to seriously consider for land-based studies or for creative and service industries study on their Melton campus.  Many thanks to Dawn Whitemore (Principal, since late 2018) ) and James Fryer (Head of Land-based Studies) who really helped us to understand and appreciate the great educational opportunities of this college. Why not go to their Open Farm Sunday (and plant sale) on Sunday 9thJune?

Friday 17th May. Wilds Lodge School, Empingham

School library

Wilds Lodge School is an independent therapeutic school for boys with social, emotional and mental health difficulties aged between 5 and 19. Students make great progress in this environment; the facilities are smart, inspiring and thoughtfully created. Students are nurtured by experienced and well-trained staff so that they believe they can achieve, and indeed they do.  Their recently built theatre is a fantastic venue for drama, dance and musical activities. They have even set up a small business within their site called Wilds Designs. It was a really interesting and informative visit to a very professional and focused educational organisation.  Thanks to the Principal, Robin Lee for taking the time to show and tell us about Wilds Lodge school. 

Wednesday 15th May Buckingham Palace Garden Party

A real privilege to be at The Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace today. Beautiful gardens, military bands and the Yeoman of the Guard to admire – and of course a delicious tea to enjoy. Prince Charles and Camilla, together with Princess Anne hosted the event, spending over an hour talking with guests as they headed towards the Royal Tent for tea. The whole day was bathed in glorious sunshine – we were so very lucky in every respect to enjoy such a special day. 

Tuesday 14th May. Twenty Twenty

Today we visited the charity Twenty Twenty, which helps disadvantaged and disengaged young people (from Leicestershire and Rutland) to develop confidence, succeed in education and find sustainable employment. This award-winning centre in Leicester runs a range of interactive courses to enable their students to re enter education or find employment. Nearly 90% of their young people achieve their planned outcomes, working with a team of dedicated staff who teach, coach and counsel individuals within a friendly, relaxed and open environment. We were hosted during our visit by Joanna Burrows (Community Fundraiser) and Mark Vyner (Chief Executive) who are rightly very proud of the achievements of so many of these young people.  This very personalised care, of course requires funding for the premises and the staff, so fund raising is a large part of their activities too, covering their two life skills centres in Leicester and Derby. 

The impact of their work has a lasting positive effect on society, including reducing youth unemployment, influencing government policy and creating safer communities. Their work has been positively recognised by Leicestershire County Council and the Police and Crime Commissioner. If you know, or are, a young person with minimal qualifications then take a look at this website – this charity genuinelybelieves in the worth, talent and potential of all young people; no matter what challenges a young person has faced or is still facing. A very worthwhile charity to support. Thank you to our hosts and the young people who talked to us about their experiences and hopes for the future. 

Monday 13th May. Rutland FoodBank

Rutland Foodbank is a wonderful caring organisation that supports those in crisis. They provide three days’ emergency food and support to local people referred to them. It is staffed by a great team of volunteers who provide a warm welcome to those who come through their doors. They spend time talking with the Foodbank visitors to ensure that the food they are given best matches their needs and to help provide signposts for further support. The Foodbank is run most efficiently with well-stocked and labelled shelves and careful monitoring of incoming and outgoing supplies. Last year 1113 three-day emergency food supplies were given to people in crisis in Rutland. This charity can only run with the fantastic support that many local people provide – generally donating tins and packets of food through supermarkets, schools and churches. The Foodbank volunteers (and the final recipients) are most grateful for your support and simply ask you to continue supporting those in need, in this way. Thank you to David Clark (Chair of Rutland Foodbank) and the team of about 70 volunteers who work here and at the Uppingham Foodbank. Further details can be seen here.

Monday 13th May. Men in Sheds

‘Men in sheds’ are busy designing, creating or even repairing some wonderful goods – lampshade bases, bird tables, plant holders, candle holders and many more useful and decorative items.  Three days each week, this impressively resourced ‘shed’ is open to men over 50 years of age. It is a wonderful place to not only be creative but in which to meet fellow men for a chat over a cup of tea or by the lathe. This charity is part of ageUK and funds need to be raised to pay for their premises and maintenance of equipment – they are very fortunate that much of their equipment is kindly donated to them.  The men love to take on ‘commission work’ too – so if you have an item that you would like building then these are the people to contact. Or perhaps you are holding a fair/fete at which they could sell their items?  I had a fascinating tour around the very well-ordered premises and chat with those in the shed on a Monday morning – what a great friendly group of men. I understand that a ‘women in sheds’ might be opening soon  – a fabulous way to learn new crafts and meet new people.  Your contact is Brian Lee, Rutland Shed Coordinator with details here.  Thanks to all for making my visit so informative and enjoyable. 

Saturday 11th May Run For Rutland

Real pleasure to watch the Run For Rutland runners at Rutland showground this morning. Young children (aged 4 – 11 years) sporting colourful trainers, took part in a warm-up session and then ran on a marshalled route around the grounds. A great way for them to start the day with some challenging exercise. Additionally the runners can be proud of raising funds, through sponsorship, for the very valuable local charity For Rutland. (This charity finances specialist advisers to support people of all ages, who are living with long term health conditions in and around Rutland). It was treat to be able to hand out medals at the finishing line to all competitors. A superbly well run event, kindly sponsored by Taylor & Baines and organised by an ever enthusiastic team from For Rutland volunteers. 

Thursday 9th May. Rutland Sailability

Took a visit to Rutland Sailability today. Met up with Pauline Harrison (Chairman) and other members – both sailors and volunteers. What a wonderful organisation. They adhere strongly to their mission set back in 1995 : “Sharing the sport of sailing with people with a wide range and degree of disability, through recreation, training and racing – towards the limits of individual aspirations”.  This club owns over 30 boats and can offer qualified instructors to help develop skills. Sailing takes place all day on Thursdays and Saturday mornings – open to all ages. As with so many activities, it relies heavily on a team of enthusiastic volunteers  – you can use your skills on the water or , if you prefer, be a land-based volunteer. A really rewarding experience for sailors and volunteers alike – as well as a great place to meet others. This is the largest Sailability group in England and attracts sailors from far and wide – today we met a lady who travelled up from Chlemsford to sail here.

 No sailing for us today due to the very wet weather, but we will be returning on a calmer and drier day.  Take a look at their website here

Wednesday 8th May. HMP Stocken

Today we had a visit to HMP Stocken and met with Mr Neil Thomas, Governor. This is a Category C prison with just over 800 prisoners and around 400 staff. Stocken is a good prison with a very professional team of staff. They undertake interventions and give prisoners guidance and structure that perhaps they lacked outside. We saw classes for teaching English and Maths, Art and one of the bicycle repair centres. Here, broken bicycles are donated or retrieved from waste or recycling sites, and prisoners repair them and gift them back into the community. Staff work hard at HMP Stocken to introduce initiatives that will help prisoners to develop useful skills and to reduce reoffending. Neil Thomas takes real pride in his work and believes fervently in trying to help turn around the lives of those at HMP Stocken  – and they do succeed here in many cases. A very thought-provoking visit. 

Tuesday 7th May Uppingham bellringers and Rutland Lions

Uppingham bellringers:  I met with Sue Webster who is the lead bellringer at Uppingham. Church bellringing is a great ancient tradition – at Uppingham they ring on Sundays and at celebrations, weddings , civic events, December late night shopping and more. Sue tells me it is suitable for all ages (from 10 years  upwards) and they welcome new bellringers who they will teach. It could be an ideal D of E award skill or just a new activity to try or even to renew lapsed skills. If interested in developing this fascinating skill and sending great sounds across the town, then contact Sue Webster on  01572  821922.

Rutland Lions: I met with Julie and Gordon Rolland, President and Treasurer of Rutland Lions respectively.  Rutland Lions raises funds for local charities’. They help people in many ways: running BBQs and cake stalls at local charity events, running the huge annual firework display in November, stewarding at Rutland county show and International Bird Fair, to name just some of their activities. They enjoy meeting twice a month where they may have a speaker or social outing such as a Brewery visit or ten pin bowling. They would love to invite in new members. You can also join as a ‘supporter’, assisting as a volunteer at their activities as and when you can. A great way to ‘help others’ and enjoy meeting new people. See details on their website.

Monday 6th May Oakham Police

Enjoyed a really informative meeting with PC Laurie Appleton who is the beat officer for north Rutland. He talked to us about the many challenges and rewards of community policing. His key role is to identify community issues and focus on crime prevention. Methods and processes constantly evolve requiring a detailed understanding of the local community as well as training updates. Without doubt, it is PC Laurie’s care and compassion for creating a safe and caring community that drives his passion, dedication and professionalism for his work. Thanks for a really interesting visit to the police offices at Oakham.

Thursday 2nd May Service of Celebration for the Community of Rutland

This evening we celebrated the Community of Rutland in a service in St Peter and St Paul Church, Uppingham. Over 250 people attended the occasion representing many services and voluntary organisations that help to create our safe and vibrant community in Rutland. During the service we enjoyed a thought-provoking address from the Bishop of Peterborough, a poetry reading from Daisy Domanski and some great barbershop singing from the Haringtones of Harington School, Oakham. We also heard about the work of two local charities: Rutland Rotaract Family Support centre and Warning Zone. After the service the congregation enjoyed some refreshments in the magnificent Memorial Hall in Uppingham School. It gave us all the opportunity to celebrate all that is so good about Rutland and to meet new and familiar faces from the area. 

Wednesday 1st May. Lord Lieutenants’s Investiture and Chief Constable’s Awards

This afternoon I attended the Lord Lieutenant’s Investiture and Chief Constable’s Awards ceremony at Leicestershire Police headquarters. Police Officers and staff received awards for long service of 20 or 30 years. Others received Chief Constable’s awards for special service. During the ceremony we heard a synopsis of each winners’ career and experiences  –  they were all amazing and showed real dedication, sense of duty and often amazing bravery in difficult circumstances. A career in the Police offers variety and challenges in abundance. The ceremony was followed by tea, when I had an opportunity to talk with some of the winners and their families. It was a really interesting occasion and confirmation that our Police force really are working hard to make Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland a safe society for us all. Many thanks to the hosts Mr Mike Kapur OBE, Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire  and Chief Constable Simon Cole. 

Wednesday 1st May. Rutland Morris Men

Rutland Morris Men danced in the dawn today from 5.17 am in the Market place at Uppingham. It was great to witness this colourful and energetic annual ritual, as the daylight grew.  After a number of different dances, that have been rehearsed during the winter they danced until a well-earned breakfast in The Vaults at 6pm. It was a real treat to meet all these enthusiastic Morris men (both dancers and musicians), who have been ‘on the go’ since they were formed back in 1974.  Definitely worth getting up early to see – book it in your diary for next year. Later this month they travel to take part in a Folk Festival in Albania – we wish them well on this exciting new venture. Read more about Rutland Morris Men here.