Over the last few(?) years our long standing, but now retired, Editor of our monthly magazine, The Observer has tackled many long and arduous cycle rides which have raised a large sum towards the restoration of our village hall.
He is, by name, Ian Toulson and here he is yet again with his account of his latest venture.
To visit the land of the midge and the promise of both wind and rain, especially after giving your word not to tackle any more really long rides, is the act of a bounder and cad, and a fool - not necessarily in that order - but that is just what Ian - one-time maths teacher, uneducated sportsman, and ‘full-on’ ham thespian - decided to do. Whether it was to celebrate having recently resigned his position as editor of Walsham’s village magazine, reassure himself that he was not giving in to the ravages of time, or just to explore the beauty of a country seeking its independence, was for others to decide. Suffice to say he had the decency to let his wife, Mary Jane, ‘accompany’ him to the islands of Shetland and Orkney, before heading off to the more serious cycling terrain of the West Highlands and Hebrides. This small volume is the diary of his ride - copies of which he emailed back to his friends and relations (as if they were interested!) - detailing the people he met, the items he unwittingly shed and the battles against terrain and weather. Throw in the occasional flashback and some homespun philosophy and you have the recipe for reading ‘pleasure’.
Thankfully, this time, he managed to remain upright for the whole journey, eschewing the enticements of a ‘wee dram’ but occasionally tucking into a plate of the ‘chieftain of the pudding race’. Ian eventually returned home slimmer but still no wiser about what drives him on and being ‘sensible’ not to vow never to do it all over again. Copies of this book - which has been produced to raise more money for the continuing refurbishment of the Village Hall - as well as other diaries of his rides can be obtained from Ian himself. Visit www.iansbikerides.webplus.net for further details.
The annual competition took place in the Six Bells carpark where there was the usual barbeque kindly provided by Kathy and Gordon.
This annual competition is judged on the weight of the submitted pumpkins with, obviously, the heaviest being the winner !
This year the winner was Nick Foulger with an 81 lb. pumpkin, followed by a 49 1/4 lb. one from Bob Smart and the third one was Lucy Bakers 26 pound one.
We were blessed with a bright warm reasonably sunny day and we had a large number of enthusiastic young children carving away at their pumpkins, and they were extremely well done, very creative. One in particular was carved by Marley Browne but this was just one of the many excellent 'lanterns'.
This is still a popular event although the growing conditions this year have been rather strange, as everyone can testify!
Once again the annual Hanging Baskets competition was judged during the early part of August and it was obvious that there were several baskets that were of a standard that made it very difficult to choose between them, however there was one display that stood out from the rest.
It was once again the bungalow at the junction of Townhouse Road and Finningham Road, in other words Dennis and Pam Seeley had put on their usual outstanding display and they retained the trophy for yet another year. It was felt that it was too difficult to select any one hanging basket from those other competitors and therefore there was no second or third place awarded.
Perhaps 2015 will see someone else finally winning this competition, perhaps ! We will just have to wait and see.
Those others included, Red Brick Cottage Rickinghall Road; 2,Grove Road; Thatched Cottage Badwell Road; 9,Palmer Street; Well Cottage Palmer Street; 2, Townhouse Road; 22,Townhouse Road. Thanks to everyone who made and maintained their hanging baskets.
This year on the August bank holiday Sunday and Monday, we opened over 30 gardens in Walsham le Willows. This was an excellent day out with the opportunity to look around a variety of gardens, listen to live music, enjoy homemade food, view the floral display and art exhibition in St. Mary's Church
The Walsham le Willows Open Gardens Weekend claims to be one of the best, longest running and most successful Open Gardens events in East Anglia and probably the country!
The idea for the Open Gardens was suggested by the then vicar of Priory Room, the Rev. John Rutherford and blossomed under dedicated encouragement of the late Hillary Russell.
Half the amount raised is for the maintenance of St Mary the Virgin, which is a magnificent example of a 15th Century East Anglian Church; the other half is made available to support any village organisation making a bid for funding. Visitors do not only come for the gardens; they appreciate the calm, and welcoming atmosphere of our village. This year visitors listened to music by The Breckland Brass Band and The Gislingham Silver Band.
Particular mention must be made of the refreshments that were available, and enjoyed, at both the Village Memorial Hall and the Priory Room where light snacks, lunches, teas and cakes (and especially the meringues!) were provided by bakers from the village. There was also an excellent BBQ in the last garden going out of the village on the Badwell Ash Road. In the Church there was an art exhibition and a beautiful floral display. This year the theme was “An English Country Garden”. In Church Farm Barn, opposite the Church, there was a Village Market with traditional goods & Crafts from local people.
In spite of a very rainy day on the Monday this weekend once again showed how popular this annual event remains with many people revisiting the gardens for several years. There was a welcome amount raised that will benefit several village organisations and, as usual, the event was successful in no small part due to the enormous amount of work put in by the local residents and also by the work and dedication of the Open Gardens Committee.
Due to the research and dedication of Mr Herbert (‘Hubby’) Frost we are adding three more names to our WW1 war memorial which stands next to the porch of St Mary‘s Parish Church,
These are; ALLEN ROBATHAN R.N. 6–6–1915, 2nd LIEUTENANT LAWRENCE ROBATHAN 28–9–1917, PRIVATE WILLIAM OXBORROW 11–7–1918
Hubby also found another eight men who were born in Walsham but they had moved away before they died during their active service and their names are mainly recorded on other villahe memorials, and five of those men were members of The Suffolk Regiment.
Thank you Hubby.
On the evening of Wednesday 26th March the well-attended AGM of the Walsham History Group was held in the Priory Room. As usual there was a very good visiting speaker to inaugurate their year‘s programme. Mark Mitchels is known to the Group (Remember his ‘Dickens’?) and he did not disappoint with his ‘Oliver Cromwell’. He presented Oliver as a sternly principled character, though as a Shropshire member pointed out, the Protector is not acclaimed throughout the country. Mark did not flinch from giving the seamier side of the conflict. He showed Oliver, to quote the Protector‘s own words, with ‘all the ruffness, pimples, warts & everything as you see me ’. Well–chosen slides showed Cromwell’s transition from a Huntingdon tenant farmer to the effective Civil War general who created the New Model Army.
Local research confirms that he was supported by people from East Anglia, not least Raphe Margery pf Walsham, who farmed on the Summer Road. Cromwell wrote in 1643 to the Suffolk Committee of the Eastern Association: ‘ I beseeche you give countenance to Mr Margery. Help him in raising his Troop of Horse.’ And a few sentences later he wrote the famous words; ‘I had rather have a plain russet coated Captaine that knows what hee fights for, and loves what hee kmows than that which you call a Gentleman and is nothing else, I honour a Gentleman that is soe indeed.’ Raphe Margery fought as one of Cromwell‘s Ironsides at Naseby and throughout the British Isles. He died at Walsham in 1653 preparing, at 61, to go on campaign in Scotland, and is buried in an unmarked grave in St Mary‘s churchyard.
Mark pointed out that Oliver was so affected at the loss of a favourite daughter in 1658 that he went to pieces and died himself a few weeks later. A vengeful Restoration government tore up his grave and beheaded the corpse. Mark had some gruesome pictures of the embalmed head, now buried in the secrecy of Oliver‘s college, Sidney Sussex, Cambridge. Walsham History Reviews Nos 11 and 26 give further details of Raphe Margery.
Further down this 'page' we 'spoke' about the new toilets and that they were due to be finished by December 20th 2013 - well, they were! They were handed over by the builders during Friday the 20th and they are now complete, and looking very, very good! The old ones were really awful weren't they? There are a few photographs here to give you a flavour of these improved, updated and modern toilets.
But before adding these photographs it should be explained that the Gent's toilets are now accessed via the new door on the left as you come through the porch.
Three of the ladies toilets are in the old but rebuilt area and there is now an additional toilet in what was the old cleaning cupboard, which contained the cleaning equipment. The new facilities all include hand driers, mirrors etc. with all of the sinks built into vanity units, there are also adequate heaters installed and all of the door furniture is very up-to-date and modern in its design. All in all they are excellent!
Here are the Ladies new facilities.
And here are the Gents.
Don't they look good!
The annual judging of the Hanging Baskets Competition took place in August.
From the forty-odd properties that were displaying their hanging baskets the judges had to choose the best three, in their opinion, who would then be narrowed down to the overall winner, second and third places.
The chosen winner was Dennis and Pam Seeley of 2, Townhouse Road, and for newcomers or 'outsiders', their bungalow is actually situated in Finningham Road ! This was a very deserving winner whose front garden, including their hanging baskets, are always outstanding. Second was Freddy Pollard of Well Cottage, Palmer Street where once again his display on the front of his garage was colourful and well maintained as indeed it is in every year. And then we have the third place going to Trevor Pollard of Millfield in Wattisfield Road, another worthy annual display.
These three were chosen from a short selection of eight displys all of which were of a very high standard especially when we remember that this years weather was rather 'different' ! By the way, the other 32 were also pretty good ! And just to remind everyone; this competition is not open to 'commercial premises', in case you were wondering...
The judges commented that "Everyone, from Pubs to sheds and cottages, deserves our thanks for excellent displays which not only look good but create a feel-good factor, a sense of village pride."
Thank you everyone.
Adam and Liz are the new owners of the Blue Boar and, after a rather difficult few years it is a great relief to have a young couple who are determined to turn the fortunes of this old pub around and to make it into a friendly family orientated public house.
Their latest improvement has been to introduce a menu of home cooked food with several special menus. Food will be served daily (except Mondays when the Blue Boar is closed), from noon until 9pm. In addition Tuesday night will be a Curry Night, open from 4pm until 9pm. On Wednesday there is an Over 60's Lunchtime offer followed on Thursday by a Steak Night, once again from 4pm until 9pm and then on Sunday there will be the Traditional Sunday Roasts. There are also Bar Meals available.
Children are not forgotten with main meals available daily including the Sunday Roasts when their meals will be charged at half price.
It is advised that you should book to avoid disappointment and you can make these bookings on 01359 259168.
On Sunday November 25th volunteers from the Wild Wood Group gathered in their 'field' behind the allotments off Wattisfield road to plant the saplings that had been given to them from the Woodland Trust.
These were actually 428 'whips', a large Hazel coppice, a circle of Birch trees and the Sandringham Oak, all part of the Jubilee pack of hedge and tree plants from the Woodland Trust.
The Jubilee pack included that Oak sapling which was from the Sandringham Estate to mark the Queen's Jubilee, and this young 'tree' was planted by young Luke !
This was a very successful, and enjoyable, day where the saplings were finally placed in their new home! And there will be much more planting fun at 10am on Sunday December the 16th. At last the wood is now finally becoming a reality !
On Monday June the 4th the extended Village Hall was officialy opened, along with the new Freeborn Garden. A commemorative plaque was unveiled by village resident Mrs. Joan Freeborn, whose late husband Ray Freeborn created and donated "The Freeborn Garden". Unfortunately Ray did not live to see the fruits of his labours but fortunately he was delighted to have seen the plaque earlier this year.
As you will be aware from other articles on this website the first stage of the Village Hall Restoration Project has been completed and Monday the 4th of June saw over 120 residents enjoying tea and cakes at this official opening. The day was blessed with a dry and sunny afternoon which showed the garden in all of its late Spring glory.
After an opening speech from the Community Council Chairman Rob Barber, he then called on the previous Chairman, Bob Bell to say a few words and Bob then explained some of the background to the building of the extension and then he listed the various organisations etc. that had helped with the funding of the project. He particularly mentioned the invaluable help given by Ian Bartholomew, and it is here relevant to tell everyone that although the decisions relating to the project were taken by the Community Council Committee, the detailed liason with the architect and the builder was undertaken by the executive committee which consisted of Bob Bell, Ian Bartholomew and Rob Barber. Bob then cut the tape at the point where the new extension joined onto the existing hall and the hall was officially opened!.
It was obvious to everyone that without the extension it would have been very difficult and very uncomfortable for this number of residents to have attended this opening, especially as there is now ample room for plenty of tables which enabled everyone to eat their cake and drink their tea in comfort ! The other reason for the increased area was accounted for by the removal of the old stage and the residents were also able to see the obvious advantage that this achieved enabling the whole area to be on one level - particularly appreciated by the people who were responsible for setting up and taking down the tables and chairs !
The speeches also reiterated the ongoing fund raising that is essential to enable the Community Council to proceed with the next stage - the updating of the toilet facilities; again this has been covered in other parts of this website (See the KUMFEY KARSY KWEST below this article). All in all this was a very successful showcase of the first stage of the restoration, and everyone could see how the results of the money that had already been raised had been spent.
It was then the turn of Joan Freeborn to give her speech relating to the building of the new patio garden which is now officially known as "The Freeborn Garden" and everyone was invited to step outside to see Joan reveal the plaque in the traditional way by pulling back the custom made little curtain ! There were of course many residents who were now seeing the garden for the first time and it was very gratifying for Joan and everybody else to hear the complimentary remarks made by everyone. The garden looked magnificent - just as Ray visualised it ! Then back inside to partake in tea and a taste of some wonderful cakes, all made by our local residents ! And so ended a very pleasant afternoon...
Before closing this little article it is worth mentioning that the hall has now become much more suitable for wheelchair users by the addition of disabled toilet facilities in the extension and a user friendly path leading from the car park to the Freeborn Garden. And one other advantage of the extended area is that there is now a dedicated storage area for the Mother & Toddler Group equipment. And, there is the new small meeting room, and....!
To quote our Chairman Rob Barber; "This project brings Walsham village hall's facilities into the 21st century and has been achieved through the collective efforts of many local supporters and dedicated committee members." "The realisation of the Freeborn Garden on the sunny side of the hall has been a marvellous bonus and has created a facility which we are sure will be much used and appreciated by the whole community well into the future.!"
The good news is that the first stage of the restoration of the Memorial Hall is now completed. Our residents can now see the rear extension and it is now finally open, on time!. The new disabled toilet and shower room is complete along with the new smaller meeting room which, for some unknown reason is known as 'The Green Room' ! These areas are decorated, the floor in the actual hall is laid and the old, rotting fire doors on the North side of the hall have been replaced with new glazed doors and, along with the glazed section above the doors this had let in extra light to this part of the hall. All of this extra space looks huge! (It is!)
THIS WAS THE FIRST STAGE OF THE RESTORATION, BUT THE COMMUNITY COUNCIL STILL NEEDS TO RAISE A LOT MORE MONEY TO COMPLETE THE OTHER STAGES, PARTICULARLY THE TOILETS! So, please support the various events that are being staged to raise that much needed money – it's for you AND IT IS FOR YOUR CHILDREN!
And now here we are in November 2013 and those revamped toilets are well under way with the expected opening date being late December, hopefully, just before Christmas ! One of the main changes will be that the Mens Toilets will then be accessed via the new door located in the entrance hall. The Baby changing facilities will be relocated into the Disabled toilet in the 'new' extension. But the main difference will be that the Ladies will now have NEW toilets in much more acceptable surroundings.
And the restoration will continue.... And therefore so will the fundraising ! News of the next stage will follow in the New Year.
And there has been another addition in the Freeborn Garden. Due to the generosity of Joan Freeborn we now have a large Potting Shed just outside the garden. We are also very grateful for the help of R&D who supplied and laid the concrete base for the shed.
“It was a bad day in 2003 when Walsham le Willows Post Office closed, until eventually a Satellite Post Office was set up in the Village Memorial Hall on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Rob Barber then set up a Coffee Shop to run jointly with the Post Office from August 5th 2004..”
The Coffee Shop is run entirely by volunteers who take their favourite homebaked cakes, biscuits etc. to serve along with coffee, tea or a cold drink for a very modest £1.00. This booklet gives the public the opportunity to share those recipes and it is a very welcome addition to the various booklets published by the Community Council. Any profits accrued will help to fund the Village Memorial Hall Restoration Fund project.
Copies are available from the Coffee Shop or from Rob Barber on 01359 259689, at the cost of just £4.00
For only £20.00 per year anyone can become a "Friend of the Memorial Hall" and they then become eligible to be entered into the monthly draw to win:-
The first draw took place in January 2007. The number of Friends are strictly limited to 100, hence the "100 Club". Anyone wishing to join should contact Mike Wills on 01359 258982
All profits go towards the restoration of the Village Memorial Hall.