Post Office to Close for Refurbishment

Please note that the Post Office will be closed from Friday 10th April until 2.30pm on Tuesday 28th April. We are having a bit of a revamp as part of the Village Hall refurbishment.

Royal Mail usually put the cost of postage up at the beginning of their financial year, and as usual, it will be at the end of March or beginning of April, so buy 1st and 2nd class stamps before then, as they just revalue themselves!

We are looking to take on another part time counter clerk, (1 or 1½ days a week) full training will be given, if you are interested please pop in for a chat, or ring 851777. I would just like an extra day in the garden!

Karen and Maggie

Skittles Evening

Friends of St. Marys will be holding a skittles evening in the Village Hall on Saturday 22nd February, be there at 6.30pm for a 7.00pm start. This Fun Evening is open to all and includes a Fish and Chip Supper (Chicken alternative on request) and of course some scrumptious puds to finish .Tea and coffee will be provided, and you are welcome to bring your own drinks too. Brighten up a winter evening with friends and neighbours.

There will be prizes for the highest score in female and gents and under 16 categories.

Tickets priced £10 available  from  Paul 851251, Jessie 851206,  Gloria 850683, Celia  850684. Please let us know you’re coming in advance as the food order has to go in a week before.

Oh and there is sure to be a Raffle, donations for which would be much appreciated.

Jessie West

Charmian Whitmell (1938 – 2019)

Charmian passed away peacefully after a short illness on 3rd November. A Thanksgiving Service was held at St. Michael’s Church, Blewbury on 19th November.

Charmian and Derek Whitmell moved to Blewbury in 1965 as a young married couple with their baby Clare, who was their first child. They stayed there for 23 years, increasing their family with three more children (Nick, Andy and Anne) and then moved to Upton in 1988 where they have lived for the last 31 years. Charmian split her loyalties between the two villages. She sang in the St Michael’s Church Choir for 42 years right up until her short terminal illness prevented her from continuing a few weeks ago. In her earlier days in Blewbury her excellent soprano voice was put to good use in five community operas in St Michael’s Church. She also served as a foundation governor at Blewbury School for many years, was involved in the Churn Benefice Pastoral Care team, helped as a volunteer training young people at Style Acre Café, and in her Grahame Close years utilised her nursing skills to offer treatment for minor injuries for the children of the Close from her kitchen work-surface and washing machine. In Upton, she was known best for the annual play-readings and her support behind the book stall at the annual fete.

Charmian was originally an Essex girl, living in Brentwood and Wickford, before going off first to boarding school in Eastbourne after her parents divorced, and then later to train as a registered sick children’s nurse (RSCN) at the Children’s Hospital at Great Ormond Street in London. She remained there working as a staff nurse before moving to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, where she obtained her SRN qualification and met and married Derek. Years later after her children had all started school she returned to nursing ,working at Didcot Hospital for 16 years, and then at Winterbrook Nursing Home in Wallingford until her retirement in 1995. After her retirement she worked for 15 years as a volunteer at Basildon Park, where among other things she helped with the arrangements for the filming of Pride and Prejudice. One task she seemed to particularly enjoyed seems to have been showing Colin Firth around the National Trust property, and was quoted in the Oxford Mail as having said that he was just as gorgeous in real life as he was in the films!

Charmian was very well liked by a wide range of people, and was well known as a very caring, thoughtful, funny, gentle and sociable woman. She had a very deep Christian faith and her commitment to expressing that through her life and work was unstinting. She contributed a great deal to the wider community of Blewbury and Upton and will be sorely missed by many.

Derek and her family want to thank all the many people who have sent cards and letters of condolence to them in the period since her death.

Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Thank you so much to all the Poppy Appeal collectors and all who contributed to this year’s Poppy Appeal. We have raised £638.96 for the Royal British Legion.

Helen Weston ( Poppy Appeal Organiser for Upton.)

Carol Singing in Upton

We will be carol singing door-to-door in Upton on Tuesday 17th December, from 6pm – this will be festive, friendly and fun! We will be singing hopefully recognisable traditional carols – if you would like to take part in singing please email me at: john_haworth@hotmail.com. I suggest a get-together to agree and run through the music on Sunday 8th December at 5pm. Please also let me know if you particularly would like a visit from the carol singers on the 17th, so we can plan which houses we visit! Mince pies or mulled wine for particularly excellent singing will be appreciated!!

John Haworth

Hagbourne’s Treefest

The Annual Christmas Tree Festival will light up St Andrew’s Church,  East Hagbourne,  from 7th – 20th December.  Over 30 real Christmas Trees will be beautifully decorated by local clubs, businesses, groups and individuals.  Come and enjoy the trees, mull over your favourite whilst enjoying refreshments from the Christmas church café and then vote for your favourite tree.  The festival runs until 20th December and is open daily from 10.00 – 5.00 p.m, except on Sundays when it opens immediately after the church service at 12.00 noon.  Entry is free but donations are welcome.   Monies raised will be divided between Didcot Emergency Foodbank and St Andrew’s Church.  The festival is sponsored by AYR Landscaping & Construction, the Fleur de Lys and Larkmead Vets.  More information and programme of festival events can be found at www.easthagbourne.net and  Hagbourne St. Andrew’s Events page on Facebook.

Helen Stutley

Chair, St Andrews Christmas Tree Festival

Notes from Blewbury Post Office including Last Posting Dates.

We have lots of Christmas stamps in stock, and some very pretty alternative 1st class ones too, Gruffallo, Forestry Commission, plus the new Star Wars ones. Please remember to have your letters and parcels already addressed, a return address, airmail stickers and customs label already written before you get to the counter, we also need to know what’s in the parcels.
Last posting dates for abroad start on the 9th December for the Far East and Hong Kong, Australia and New Zealand are the 10th, USA and Canada are the 12th, with Europe a couple of days later. For this country 2nd class mail is the 18th and 1st class is the 20th.
Our posties are not on strike, but they are working to rule, as are we. Post Office Ltd was described last week as behaving like a Victorian factory owner towards us sub postmasters, we are not happy bunnies!
Christmas opening times are as usual, Christmas Eve is the morning only, closed for the 25th and 26th, and open mornings only until Monday 6th. Emergency electric, gas, mobile top-ups, or if you’ve got a parcel sitting here, then ring or text my mobile 07825154842 and I’ll pop round. It’s so quiet on those days.
Don’t forget the Blewbury and Upton village post, just 25p to either village, last post is Friday 15th, post boxes in the church and the George and Dragon, thanks to Jessie and Clare for organising the Upton deliveries, money going to the church projects.
Happy Christmas and Seasonal Greetings to you all.
Karen and Maggie

Annual Carol Service Coming Up

The Friends of St Mary’s annual Carols and Readings will be held in St Mary’s at 4.00 pm on Saturday 14th  December. This is always a very popular event; walking in the dusk up the lantern-lit path into a cosy and welcoming church always seems like the real start to the real start of the Christmas season, helped by the mulled wind and mince pies which will be served afterwards!

All are welcome, whether or not you’re a signed-up Friend of St Mary’s. We would love to see a great turn-out of Uptonians on the 14th to welcome the start of Christmas 2019.

News from St. Mary’s Church

Fundraising update

We would like to thank all those who have contributed so far to the vestry alteration and new toilet project. We are well on our way to achieving half of the total amount which will allow us to start applying for grants. We would welcome any further contributions which can be made by cash or cheque made out to Upton Parochial Council and given to Paul Batho or Ann Parham. Fundraising events are being planned for next year. These will be separate from the activities of the Friends of St Mary’s.

We would also like to thank the Friends for all the support they continue to give us which pays for the upkeep of the church building.

Christmas card competition

In the past we have given a Christmas card to every house in the parish and we are intending to do this again this year. However, we would like the design of the card to be made by a child in the parish so if you are under 16 years of age get out your pens, pencils, paints and crayons and design us a card. One will be chosen and printed for Christmas 2019. Your entries may be given to Paul Batho, Ann Parham, Clare Lightfoot, Jessie West or left in the church in an envelope clearly marked Christmas card competition. The closing date of the competition is November 15th 2019

United Charities Offer Goodwill for Christmas

Christmas is coming and The United Charities can share some goodwill this season

Do you know anyone who might need some help this Christmas? Anyone having difficulty making ends meet or who knows of someone in need, be they an elderly neighbour or a struggling young family, someone on pension or universal credit – please contact us. All applications are treated in confidence and are discretionary. As well as small monetary gifts, we are able to help in other circumstances such as assisting with transport costs for frequent hospital visits, breaks for carers, items to help cope with disabilities and many other instances where people are having difficulties paying for essential items such as school uniforms as well as unexpected events. Amounts will vary depending on levels of need.

Remember we cannot help if we don’t know.

For self-referrals or nominations, contact the Clerk: Sarah Donne sarahdonne@btinternet.com