Category Archives: News

Could you be a school governor?

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Would you be interested in helping your local school provide the best possible education for village children?

The Duke of Bedford Primary School has a vacancy for a governor from the community and the school would love to hear from people in the village willing to help.

The school’s governing body does a variety of things – it is responsible for setting the budget, it appoints the head-teacher and works with the teaching staff to ensure that pupils have the best-possible learning experience.

The school governing body comprises 12 governors, including the head-teacher. There are four Parent Governors (filled by parents or carers of children at the school); five Co-opted Governors (appointed from within the community), one Local Authority Governor and one Staff Governor.

There are no specific skills required, just an interest in helping the school be as good as it can be. Professional expertise or experience of business can be helpful, but governors are expected to attend training courses run by the local authority to provide all the skills and knowledge required.

Chair of governors, Pauline Coakley said: “This is an excellent way of helping in the community and it can be extremely satisfying. Don’t feel that you can’t do it or you’re not skilled enough, we are just ordinary people doing our best for the school.”

Anyone interested can contact:

Pauline Coakley on 270693 or e-mail p.mcoakley@yahoo.co.uk

Eric Rayner on 270137 or e-mail: eric.rayner@btinternet.com

Top-rated business is forced to close by planners

Battlefield Live logo

Battlefield Live, a war-games business based on French Drove, has been forced to close after losing a planning appeal.

The business, which is rated number one in Peterborough in the Fun and Games category on Trip Advisor, was started in 2011 and has been operating for the past couple of years on temporary planning permission.

Despite Peterborough City Council officers recommending the application, it was turned down by councillors following objections by residents concerned about noise.

Business owner, Nigel Simons, appealed against that decfision, but heard this week that the planning tribunal had upheld the original decision.

“We’ve no choice now but to close. I’m hoping that I might be able to buy or rent a couple of acres of land somewhere else in the village, but if not, we’ll have to move away,” he said.

“I don’t want to be bitter, I have to take it on the chin, but it’s a shame that facts have been distorted. I guess people are just worried that the business will affect their house prices.”

The planning inspector’s report said the business would have a detrimental impact on people’s well-being, but Nigel says the noise is no worse than a children’s football match.

“Sound engineers employed by objectors set up noise monitors and in a 12-day period they recorded just 85 seconds of noise,” he said.

Battlefield Live employs five people and is a war game, similar to paintball, but uses guns which fire bolts of infra-red light and can “hit” a target at much greater distances.

It is marketed as being suitable for ages seven to 70 and most business has been from children’s parties. The Duke of Bedford School had visited twice and Nigel has also hosted sessions for disadvantaged children.

“We always expected that we’d get planning permission, so we don’t have a plan B,” he told Thorney Post. He’s now hoping he can buy or lease some land (ideally near the bypass where noise wouldn’t be a problem) and keep the business going.

If anyone can help, he can be reached on 01733 270440 or nigel.simons@btinternet.com.

Keep Thorney Beating reaches target

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Keep Thorney Beating – the fund-raising campaign to buy a life-saving heart defibrillator for the village – has reached its initial target after only a few weeks.

Lyn Batterbee, one of the organisers, said they were delighted the campaign had been so successful so quickly. “The village has shown its true colours, it’s fantastic,” she said.

One of the key elements in the fund reaching its £2,500 target was the decision by the family of Morris Spridgeon to name Keep Thorney Beating for donations in lieu of flowers at his funeral. Well over £1,000 was given.

“Morris did so much for the village, while he was alive,” said Lynn. “It’s wonderful to think that he is still helping people even though he’s not here.”

The fund also raised £950 from a fashion show in March, plus a donation of £500 from Norwich and Peterborough Building Society. Lynn managed to get £200 from Lloyds Bank because of delays by the bank in setting up an account for the charity and people have also put donations through their door in St Botolph’s Way.

This means that the heart defibrillator will be ordered in the next week or so and should be installed at the doctors’ surgery in early summer. There are plans for an open night at Bedford Hall where people will be able to come along and hear how defibrillators work and how they’re used.

Two people have also come forward to volunteer as “first responders” who would be on call to help operate the machine in an emergency and Lynn would be pleased to hear from anyone else interested in this role.

There’s a car boot sale and craft fair at Bedford Hall on May 10 and a coffee morning at 3 St Botolph’s Way on May 16. “It will be handy to keep some funds on deposit so we can pay for annual checks or for the machine to be recommissioned in the event that it’s used,” said Lynn.

If anyone wants to help, or to volunteer as a first responder, they can contact Lynn or Mick Batterbee on 270670.

Library opening times cut from May 1

Thorney library

Opening hours at Thorney library are being cut dramatically from the beginning of May.

The cut in manned hours was expected as part of a drive by Peterborough City Council to reduce costs, but villagers were promised that the library would be available as a self-service facility at other times.

Now it seems that this has been delayed and the library will be open for just 10 hours on three days each week.

The new opening hours – from May 1 – are:

Wednesday: 9am to 12 noon
Friday: 1.30pm to 5pm
Saturday: 2pm to 5.30pm

Librarian Jane Ward said that they were still working out when the various groups, such as Homework Club, Reading Group or the Wednesday Drop-in, would fit in with the new hours or if some may have to be dropped.

She has produced a number of bookmarks with the reduced opening hours printed on and these also have the opening hours of the library at Eye. People can borrow or return books at any library run by Vivacity (the city council) and Eye is open Mondays (9am to 12 noon), Wednesdays (1.30pm to 5pm) and Saturdays (9am to 12.30pm).

When the city council opened consultations about reducing the library’s manned hours, they promised it would be open on a self-service basis for a further 15 hours. However, it seems this idea, which is being tested in other parts of the city, has hit problems and so isn’t now being rolled out.

At present there isn’t a date for when the additional self-service hours will kick in.

Free wi-fi at Rose and Crown

The Rose & Crown

The arrival of fibre optic broadband in the village has enabled the Rose and Crown to offer free wi-fi to customers of the pub and cafe.

Landlord, Steve Shreeve told Thorney Post that lack of bandwidth on the old network would have made things grind to a halt if it had been offered to customers, but he’s having super-fast broadband installed which means everyone will be able to go online.

French Farm wind turbines – decision by July

Wind turbine

A decision on whether additional wind turbines can be built at French Farm will be issued by July 7, according to the Planning Inspectorate.

The proposed wind-farm was the subject of a planning inquiry in early March, including a public consultation in the village.

The Planning Inspectorate issued a notice this week to say the inspector is now preparing his report and recommendation which will be submitted to the Secretary of State for consideration.

The final decision will be made by the Secretary of State for Local Government and the Community. This was Eric Pickles, but a new secretary will not be appointed until after the general election.

There is already planning permission in place for two turbines at French Farm, French Drove (to the north of the village), but the developers – REG Windpower – applied for permission to build four more. The application was approved by Peterborough City Council, but “called in” by the Secretary of State following the intervention of Peterborough MP Stewart Jackson.

This meant that the city council’s decision was set aside and the application would be decided by a planning inspector, with the Secretary of State having the final decision.

Darren tackles world’s toughest race for charity

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A Thorney man is about to set off on a gruelling 156-mile race across the sweltering Sahara desert.

Darren Grigas (37) of Wisbech Road is taking part in the Marathon des Sables, which has been dubbed the toughest footrace on Earth.

He will be one of around 1,300 entrants from across the world, racing six back-to-back marathons, a total of 156 miles, across the Sahara in temperatures of up to 50 degrees Centigrade each day, sand dunes up to 300 feet high and climbs as big as England’s highest mountains. As many as 20 per cent of the competitors drop out or fail to make the cut-off times.

Darren, a web designer, took up running following a car accident when he suffered whiplash and a back injury. He thought it would be a way to stay more active. At first, he struggled to run two miles, but has gradually built up his stamina to tackle the Great Eastern Run, Burghley Rat Race and Man v Mountain race across Snowdonia. But the Marathon des Sables is on a completely different scale:

To prepare for the race, Darren has been running 50 to 70 miles per week, has three to four session in the gym each week doing high-intensity, full-body circuits and strength training.

He said: “It’s a massive challenge and finishing it at all is a challenge in itself as the drop-out rate is pretty high, but I will be pushing to actually race it rather than just complete it.”

Darren’s first big hurdle was securing an entry. The race is massively over-subscribed and he had to mount a careful plan to be poised at his computer as entries were opened.

They were snapped up in just four minutes, but Darren managed to secure one.

As well as the intense physical and mental challenge of running this unique race, Darren has also set himself the target of raising £10,000 for a charity called Anna’s Hope, which provides crucial help for children with brain tumours. In previous sponsored races, he has raised money for leukaemia research, but was drawn to this because it is locally based. He’s been able to get to know the founders Carole and Rob it (who lost their own daughter to a brain tumour) and has seen the difference they make to the lives of those children.

Darren also likes the fact that it is a small charity with low overheads — he knows that all the money he raises will go to good work and not on admin.

Darren flies into Morocco on April 3 and the race is to start two days later. During the race, he will have to carry 9kg of kit and food as well as water and essentials that include distress flares, medical kit and an anti-venom pump in case of snake bites or scorpion stings.

Some well-known people have tackled the Marathon des Sables including Helen Skelton, the all-action Blue Peter presenter, and rower James Cracknell. This year explorer and adventurer Sir Ranulph Fiennes is taking part and Darren has the honour of being in the same eight-man tent.

Anna’s Hope founder Carole Hughes said: “Darren is a remarkable person. I am amazed what he plans to do and I am so grateful that he has chosen to help our charity.

“Every penny he raises will go directly to helping children with brain tumours and will make a real difference. On behalf of Anna’s Hope I wish him the very best of luck.”

​If you think Darren’s efforts deserve a few quid, you can donate to Anna’s Hope through the Just Giving website: www.justgiving.com/darrengrigas. There’s also a fund-raiser for Anna’s Hope at the Rose & Crown on Saturday – see Events for more information.

Darren Grigas

Work starts soon to reduce flood risk – road will be closed

Work on improving drainage in the village will start next month (April) and run through into the summer.

The work will improve safety by filling in the open ditch known as the Stewards House Drain in front of the Duke of Bedford School, but also provide a new culvert under the old A47 and widen ditches to take water away to the north towards the bypass.

Ed Johnson, operations engineer for the North Level District IDB, said the scheme had been under consideration for some time. “In 2009, we had three inches of rain fall on the village in two hours and that caused some problems with high water levels in the drain close to adjacent properties. This would prevent a similar risk in the future even with heavy rainfall like that.”

The Stewards House Drain is situated in the North Level Cross Guns Pump Catchment and it provides important drainage infrastructure to the village of Thorney flowing north under the park to come out on the old A47 near the entrance to the doctors’ surgery and then flowing east alongside the old A47 .  The Stewards House Drain is approximately 1600 metres in length and provides drainage for both agricultural land and urban surface water run-off to approximately 300 houses. The flows in this drain are largely from agricultural and urban run-off and it is also assumed there is a small spring feed near the cemetery.

First stage is to culvert and fill in the drain in front of the school where there have been long-standing safety concerns about children falling into the open ditch. The Board hopes that work will start in April and should take a couple of weeks to complete. One lane of Wisbech Road will need to be closed, along with the footpath.

The rest of the plan involves putting a new, large culvert under the old A47 (now the B1167), just after the telephone exchange, which will run into a widened farm drain and carry water away to the north. This work is likely to take place in June and will involve closing the road for a period.

The open drain in front of the former council houses along Wisbech Road will be left as it is at present, although most water will be diverted through the new culvert. This section of drain will continue to receive annual maintenance from the Board.

“We’re not filling in that section because it will be useful as an overflow in times of high flow like the 2009 storm,” said Mr Johnson.

Work is being funded by a grant from government, contributions from the Thorney Parish Council and the school. The remainder of the costs will be financed by the Board.

Mr Johnson has apologised on behalf of the Board in advance for any delays or disturbance caused by these works.

Death of Morris Spridgeon

Morris Spridgeon

Morris Spridgeon, village shopkeeper for more than 50 years and a stalwart of the Thorney Volunteer Fire Brigade, died on March 13 aged 71.

Most people born in Thorney will have happy memories of the name Spridgeon’s, visiting the shop for sweets as a treat after school, but as a volunteer fireman for 35 years Morris was always ready to dash from behind the counter when the alarm sounded.

In 1976, he was part of the crew that was first on the scene when a US Air Force Starlifter transport plane crashed on land between Thorney Dyke and the River Nene with the loss of 18 lives.

Morris was delivering newspapers and groceries, when he saw the plane come down and dashed straight to the fire station.

He was born in the village, at 12 Parkside (now Wisbech Road) where his father Arthur ran a grocery shop and newsagent’s from a store in their back garden.

Morris went to the Duke of Bedford School from the age of five and left at 15 (in those days, the school served as both primary and secondary). On leaving school, he joined his dad full time in the family business, helping run the store and also making deliveries to farms and farm workers around the village. Each morning, they’d drive to Peterborough Station to pick up newspapers.

The business moved to 2 Sandpit Road when the council built a new shop and offered it to Arthur.

Morris met his wife Pat when he was 17 and they married three years later. They have two children – Marcia and Paul, also six grandchildren (Jemma, Jodie, Abigail, Will, Tyler and Megan) and one great-grandchild, Elsie, who is 18 months. Morris and Pat celebrated their golden wedding anniversary last year.

When Morris’s mother and father retired, Pat and Morris moved to Sandpit Road and ran the shop until he retired six years ago. In his retirement, Morris helped his son Paul with his scaffolding business, when a head for heights and ladder-work from his fireman’s training came in handy.

Morris joined Thorney Fire Service in 1964 and went on to become station commander in charge. He loved the work and was proud to serve his local community, retiring after 35 years.

He was also a trustee of the Ancient Order of Foresters Friendly Society, which he joined when he was 16.

Apart from family, his hobbies included an allotment and photography. He was a keen photographer and took many pictures around the village, including images on display in the Heritage Museum and also Open Farm Sunday events at Park Farm. Some of his images appear in the book Thorney in Focus.

The funeral is to take place at Thorney Abbey on Thursday, March 26 at 2.30pm. Family flowers only please, but donations in memory of Morris are being taken for Keep Thorney Beating, the campaign to buy a defibrillator for the village. Donations can be sent to Trudy Spridgeon (9 Topham Crescent) or Marcia Brown (2a Tavistock Close).

Wife Pat said her husband was born and bred in Thorney, a village he loved and never ever dreamt of leaving. Everyone is welcome to join the family at the Bedford Hall after the funeral ceremony.

Post office closes doors as Gill retires – now we’re off to the pub

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Thorney’s sub-post office closes its doors this week as postmistress Gill Taylor retires after 14 years.

She’s now looking forward to a nice holiday with husband John.

The post office is moving to the Rose & Crown (it opens there on Thursday, March 19) and the current premises will be converted into a cottage and sold.

“It’s a shame as it is the last shop to go in this part of the village, but I’m pleased that the pub has taken it on,” said Gill. “It would have been so sad if the village had lost the post office completely.”

She has enjoyed her time running the business and says she has met some lovely people. “I will miss them, but after running the place single-handed I’m really looking forward to a rest.”

She became postmistress just as the post office was being computerised and has seen the business branch out into lots of different areas. “There are now so many things you can do at the post office – we could offer credit cards, arrange mortgages, you could even book tickets for National Express coaches on the computer.”

Other changes were less welcome. The loss of TV licensing took away a chunk of revenue and other services have gone on-line, bypassing the need to go into the post office.

“It’s almost as if the government has been strangling small post offices; it’s become harder and harder. With everything now commission-based, I don’t think anyone would be able to buy a post office as a business and make it pay.

“It’s lucky Steve at the Rose & Crown can incorporate into that business. I hope people support him and it does well.”

Gill was born in Elstree, Hertfordshire and her first job was in a bank just across the road from the Elstree film studios. She and her colleagues were able to do a little celebrity spotting between customers and she saw Roger Moore when he was filming James Bond, also Cliff Richard making Summer Holiday.

She moved to Thorney 40 years ago when husband John came to work for an agricultural machinery specialist. They have three sons, one daughter and two grandchildren.

She and John were members of Thorney Abbey choir for many years.

Footnote:

Gill Taylor, says she has been absolutely “blown away” by the number of good wishes, cards, flowers and gifts she has received from individuals; as well as a large bouquet of flowers from the parish council.

“Through the Thorney Post, I’d like to thank everyone for their good wishes and kindness, it’s been really lovely. I didn’t expect anything like the response there has been, it’s been wonderful.”

“I’m not on Facebook, but my daughter showed me how many people had posted their good wishes on the page. Thank you everyone.”

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