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News Index

Shirehampton's Historian Dies

Your Sea Cadet Unit Needs You

Remount Depot at Shirehampton, BBC Documentary

St Mary's News

From The Registers At St. Mary's - April 2014

Quiz Night at Shirehampton Methodist Church on Friday, June 20th at 7.30pm

Letters to the Editor

Evergreens Day Trips 2014

Avon and Somerset Constabulary Press Release

A True Family Anecdote

Spring Dawn Chorus Walk

Viking Vets Information

Nature Notes

Neighbourhood Policing Update

Press Release from Avon Fire and Rescue Service

Local Woman Nominated For National Award

Belly Dancing Arrives In Shirehampton


Shirehampton's Historian Dies

Picture of Ralph Hack with his dog

Ralph Hack

Ralph Hack in uniform

Taken at Halifax, three days later landed
from a tank-landing craft on beach near Ostend. January/February 1945.

RALPH ARTHUR HACK, well-known historian of life in Shirehampton, both past and present, died peacefully at home at the age of 87.

He was born on the 28th May, 1926 in the corner house, 11 Pembroke Road, Shirehampton, to Gladys and Arthur Hack, and grew up there with his sister Stephanie and brother Colin. Ralph was educated in Shirehampton and, upon leaving school at the age of 14, joined the Port of Bristol Authority until his conscription into the Royal Engineers Regiment during World War II.

Upon his safe return from Germany three years later, Ralph trained as a teacher and it was during his training that he met Winifred, whom he subsequently married and lived in Myrtle Hall, Shirehampton. He taught History at a number of local schools until his retirement and was a passionate local historian.

A Service of Thanksgiving for the Life of Ralph was held at St. Mary's Church, Shirehampton, where he worshipped regularly, serving as Church Warden from 1974 to 1983. The Service was attended by many of his friends and family. Thereafter, everyone was invited to The Tithe Barn on the High Street for refreshments and to look at the wonderful photograph albums collated by Ralph of his personal family life and the fascinating history of Shirehampton's past.

If any readers have special personal stories of Ralph as a teacher, a historian or even a dog walker, the Shire would be happy to print them in the July issue. He was, after all, Shirehampton's most well-known historian with a unique wealth of local knowledge and will be sadly missed by our community.

Your Sea Cadet Unit Needs You

Avonmouth Sea Cadets is your local unit, drawing its young cadets from Shirehampton, as well as the wider area, since 1942. Based at the bottom of Station Road, opposite the Lamplighters, we are an established part of the community. But like all voluntary organisations we rely on adults to take responsibility for keeping it running, and the management committee could do with some help.

Most immediately - we need a Treasurer now. We use a spreadsheet supplied by headquarters so it is not too challenging if you have computing basics! Training could be available. We could also do with some younger (or at least, less mature) volunteers to serve on our monthly committee meetings to help with all the varied tasks to keep things going. Some jobs do not involve committees – we need gardeners, who hate weeds and brambles, to cut grass and might even be a bit creative. We also need some people able to turn their hand to the many repair and maintenance matters our two buildings constantly produce and, yes, a health and safety person, to ensure we are operating safely. Everyone can work at times to suit him/herself.

This is all for the benefit of our young people, aged from ten to eighteen and, by helping the unit, you will be helping the youngsters of our community. Isn't this something worth doing?

If you're interested please contact the committee chairman, Captain Douglas Lindsay at, tel. 01934 822922 or mobile 07732 751544

Public Meeting

There will be a public meeting to discuss the possibility of a Biomass Power Station in Avonmouth, which may deposit cancer-causing dust in Shirehampton. If you would like to participate in this meeting, please come to the Men's Social Club, Shirehampton, from 7-8.30 p.m. on Monday, 9th June.

Junior Spiritual Empowerment

The programme will give young people, aged 11-15, the tools needed to recognise current social influences and make the right choices that will enable them to reach their true potential and become valuable members of society. Junior youth will come together in a friendly, open group that serves as an environment of mutual support. The programme will include the study of texts that introduce various fundamental moral concepts, enhanced by the use of creative arts, as well as having the opportunity to take an active role in the local community through service projects. They will be aided to sharpen their spiritual perception, to identify forces shaping society, and to enhance their powers of expression, enabling them to understand and describe the world around them. Through acts of service in their community, they will learn together to contribute to the well-being of society.

Taster Session For Junior Youth (ages 11-15)

Friday 20th JUNE 6pm-8pm at Cotswold Community Centre, Dursley Rd.

Any older youth/adults interested in volunteering are also welcome.

Remount Depot at Shirehampton, BBC Documentary

I've been contacted by the BBC, who want to make a documentary about the Remount Depot at Shirehampton. Part of their idea is to carry out a geophysics survey (Time Team style) of the Donkey Field and film members of the community doing the survey. This will be like a follow up to the All Our Stories project and hopefully find evidence for stable buildings that once stood close to the boundary with the Portway.

Do you or anyone in the community want to come along for the activity?

I haven't got any times yet, but I can forward these to you when I get them.

Best wishes,

Cotswold Community Association (CCA)

The ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING of the Association will be held on Thursday, June 5th at 6.30 p.m.Venue: CCA Hall, Dursley Road.

The Cotswold Community Association Hall is available for children's parties, birthday parties and celebrations at just £10 per hour.

Contact Richard 0777 9227107 or

Volunteer 'Bingo Caller' required for CCA.

Possible meetings will be on a Thursday afternoon.
If you are interested, contact Bobbie on 1781 1385385

Forthcoming 'SPECIAL EVENT'

June 27th'Fashion Show' at 7.30 p.m. at CCA Hall,£5 per ticket.Contact Daphne on 0755 4642440

(Many thanks for donation – Editor)

Dance Explosion Event

Dance Explosion, a display of dance by groups of local young people, will take place on Friday, 13th June at 5:00 pm at St Mary's Church, Shirehampton.

The event is free and all are welcome. Any donations will go to the Tithe Barn and St Peter's Hospice.

St Mary's News

Welcome to the June edition of St Mary's News.

Easter Day dawned to reveal an overcast morning for those of us who attended the Easter Sunrise Service on Shirehampton Park. Ray Smith accompanied our singing with his guitar and our Service lasted about 25 minutes. Afterwards we adjourned to The Tithe Barn where Julie and Adam Smith had prepared a superb Full English Breakfast - it was absolutely delicious! After our Easter Holy Communion Service, the result of the Cup Cake Competition was announced.

The winners - children 5 years & under - Grace Mwakijungu. 8-11years - Charlotte Stokes ; 11years plus - Bethany Neate. Adults - 1st Pat Davidson, 2nd - Lee Widdowfield and 3rd - Marjie Duddridge. Congratulations to the worthy winners!

On the last Sunday in April, before our Baptism & Family Service, we were entertained by children in the Stomp Dance Group. They were all very energetic, particularly the older group. Thank you "Stomp"; we enjoyed your performance!

At our recent Annual Parochial Church Meeting we welcomed four new members to serve on the Parochial Church Council and Roger Derrick & Julie Smith have agreed to serve as Churchwardens for the forthcoming year. All the new PCC members are to be dedicated at our 10.00 am Holy Communion Service on Sunday 11th May.

Our Open Church Day on May Day Bank Holiday was a resounding success. Dinner started at 12.00 noon; by 12.12 pm all the Pork Steaks had sold out and all the Pie was gone by 12.25 pm. Cream Teas also went like "hot-cakes" - resulting in a profit for St Mary's totalling £687.00. Thank you for your support and grateful thanks to Gill Sawyer for cooking and preparing all the food.

On Friday 6th June, you can enjoy another of our Social Evenings in the church. Starting at 7.00 pm we shall be entertained to an evening of Music & Melody by Rick Hennessy (a One-man Band). Supper will be included and tickets for this event are £8.00 and will be available from the Church Office.

On Sunday, 8th June, we are honoured to have Bishop Mike (Bishop of Bristol) to preside and preach at our 10.00 am Holy Communion Service. It is always a pleasure to welcome him to St Mary's! At 6.00 pm, Alan Gibson will be leading a service on the theme -A fresh encounter - a time of worship for Pentecost. Please come and hear what Alan has to say!

Now some advance notice of our forthcoming Patronal Festival on Saturday 5th July:
From 10.00 am to 12 noon we are holding our Summer Fayre;
from 2.00 - 4.00 pm, there will be a Special Flower Festival on the theme "Tell me a Story". Tea & Cakes will also be served at the same time;
At 7.30 pm the Shirehampton Area Choir will perform their Summer Concert - Tickets £5.00. Wine and a light Buffet will be served during the Interval;
Sunday, 6th July is our Patronal Festival Day commencing with Holy Communion at 10.00 am, ending the day with a service of Compline at 8.00 pm.

Did you know that the Rev Archibald Spooner once said at a Wedding Service - It is kistomary now to cuss the Bride!!!

Oh well - 'Bye for now. C.M.E.

From The Registers At St. Mary's - April 2014

BAPTISMS 'We welcome you'

27TH Taylor Jack Daniels

Ashton John Starkie

Andrew Philip Stephens

Chloe Elizabeth Julia Wilson

FUNERALS 'At rest and at peace'

2nd Paul Cash St Mary's

4th Joanne Giles St Mary's

10th Don Watkins Canford

15th Charles Phillips Canford

22nd Jeanette Britchford Canford

23rd Patricia Tarr St Mary's

25th Royston Edwards Canford

29th Ralph Hack St Mary's

30th Doris Dickens St Mary's

Quiz Night at Shirehampton Methodist Church on Friday, June 20th at 7.30pm

By popular request we are holding another Quiz Night. You don't need to be a 'Mastermind' or an 'Egghead' – just be prepared to have a bit of fun, share a social evening with your friends, or come alone and meet some new ones! As always, there will be a lovely Ploughman's supper served at half-time!

Tickets are £4 per person, and all proceeds will go to charity. Let us know if you have a favourite charity – we will place all suggestions in a hat and draw a winner at the end of the evening……but you have to be in it to win it! Come and join us – you will have fun, and your favourite charity could benefit too! Book your tickets by calling 0117 914 4099 – or just turn up on the night!

If you're looking for something to do before Quiz Night on June 20th, maybe you'd like to come to our Film Club which takes place on alternate Mondays – ring the above number for details. Our Coffee Mornings, on the first Saturday of each month, are also worth a visit. What could be more appetizing than coffee and a delicious bacon roll, with gorgeous bacon provided by our lovely local butcher?

Just in case you think Shirehampton Methodist Church is all about quizzing and eating, and watching films, we do also have a Sunday service each week at 10.30am! Whether you want to have fun at the quiz, enjoy a good film, or want to come to church, we look forward to seeing you!

Letters to the Editor

Children's Easter Colouring Competition

Dear Editor,

picture of competition winner

picture of competition winner

My Name is Tina Harpley, and I held a Children's Easter Colouring Competition at the Flower Shop in the High Street, Shirehampton. I ran 2 sections aged between 3 - 5 and 6 – 8.

The winner of the first section is Miss Layah Kellaway age 8 and the winner of the second is Miss Layla Warren age 5.

Their lovely photographs are attached.

Computer Myths

Dear Editor,

Computer Myth #1: "I'm sorry but Windows 7 is no longer available"

No doubt you may have read elsewhere that Microsoft® have ceased support for Windows XP® in so much that they will no longer maintain the operating system when flaws are discovered. Does this matter? In the short term no, especially if you don't do internet banking.

However, banks will become increasingly nervous about customers running an operating system which could compromise their own systems leading to a potential hack and possible theft. One bank, Triodos, has already advised customers that they will no longer provide internet banking to customers still running XP and I expect other banks to follow suit.

Since its launch in October 2012, Windows 8 has received a lot of bad press on account of the disappearance of the Start button which has been replaced by a touch screen interface called "Metro". Although the Start button was re-instated with the release of 8.1, most commercial users have dismissed Microsoft's latest operating system, due to retraining costs and possible complaints from staff who don't like the idea of using a screen which has remnants of someone else's lunch on it. If you pitch up at PC World and ask for Windows 7 you'll almost certainly be told that it's no longer available. This is complete rubbish of course – just say "my IT department hasn't approved Windows 8 yet" and watch their attitude change when sales staff believe they're talking to a commercial buyer.

Nearly all commercial users are migrating to Windows 7 from XP as the user interface is similar and it works with older versions of Office – Windows 8 is much more fussy about older applications. Manufacturers such as Fujitsu ship their PC's with both 32 and 64 bit W7 recovery CD's and include a W8 recovery CD in case you are overwhelmed by a strange desire to have the latest operating system.

PC Utilities in Westbury Lane still provide both laptops and desktops with Windows 7 Professional along with support for migrating from earlier versions of Windows even from computers which have crashed and refuse to start.

Hopefully, this information will be of use to all computer users.

Movement Control Football Team

Dear Editor,

Whilst on one of my many visits to my friend, I picked up a copy of the 'SHIRE'.In copy No 508-May 2014, I saw the photograph on page ten submitted by Mike Sperring of the 1943/44 Movement Control football Team.

All my RAF service was on Movement Control, and I was wondering if Mike could be contacted to see if he has further information about this unit.

I am a regular contributor to 3 RAF Air Movements websites. There are, I am sure, many of those members who would be interested to know of Bristol's contribution to the early years of this expanding trade. They are all non profit informative sites of both serving and retired members of the Movement/Air Movements trade.


Dear Editor,

Shire by Post, Sue Husher, would like to thank Marc at the Accountancy Advice Centre, Station Road, Shirehampton, for accounting the paperwork for end of year finances.

Volunteers Wanted For SHIRE Distribution

Dear Editor:

"We are seeking a volunteer to help with the distribution of the Shire newspaper. This role entails spending approximately one hour a month sorting the newspapers into individual bundles, so that our team of drivers can deliver on to our team of door-to-door distributors. This takes place on the last Friday of the month, at the Public Hall, between 4pm and 5pm.

If you are interested in volunteering as a "counter", please email or call 07525 267198."

Shirehampton Craft Exhibition 28th October - 1st November 2014

Dear Editor:

Now is the time to be thinking about what you might enter into the Craft Exhibition in October. Perhaps you have something half done that you could complete to put in.

This could be the last chance that you have to take part in this popular show. As I announced last year, I am finishing organizing the exhibition when we close at the end of this year's show.

As yet, no one has come forward to take over the running of the show, but it would be a great shame if it had to finish. Please have a think if this is something that you would like to do or know of someone else who could run it.

I can be contacted on 0117 9823192.

More People In The Southwest Should Consider Fostering

Dear Editor,

My name is Katie and I am 16 years old. I have been in foster care since I was eight. I live with my foster carers and their own children, who are like a brother and sister to me. I love my foster family because they helped me to be healthy. They moved me to a lovely, better school and I have proven that I am clever and good at school work. I feel proud of myself now and I have lots of friends. I like to go to the cinema with my friends. My foster carers are friendly, kind, nice, reliable and responsible. They don't shout or hit. They do not make fun of people and never say anything bad about my family or why I cannot be at home. They have helped me a lot. In the South West there is a shortage of 575 foster families. My foster carers changed my life, and this Foster Care Fortnight (12-25 May) I would like to ask your readers to consider opening up their homes to help children and young people like me. To find out more about fostering with Action for Children, please visit

Yours sincerely, Katie Wright*, aged 16

For further information, please call news and media officer Sasha Mansworth on 07872 675688 or email

*This letter was written by a 16-year-old girl who is fostered by Action for Children. Her real name cannot be given.

Margaret Beavis

Dear Editor:

picture of Margaret Beavis

Margaret Beavis

On April 18, Margaret attended her last afternoon at Shirehampton Evergreens because, on April 22, she and her husband, Alan, were leaving Shirehampton to live permanently in Canada. Margaret has been a very active member since joining in 2001. She took on the role as Vice-Chairperson and Fund Raiser and replacing me when I was otherwise occupied with medical appointments. She will be greatly missed.Besides being a very good member and fund raiser, Margaret and Alan were very good friends and I treasured their friendship. She has passed on the role of Fund Raiser to Mrs. Jill King, another Shirehampton lady.

Margaret lived in Shirehampton all her life: her mother, Wyn Lydiard, lives in Avonmouth; her daughters and family live in Shirehampton, Sea Mills and Lawrence Weston. The last day trip taken by Margaret with the Evergreens was on January 2, 2014, going to the pantomime in Weston-super-Mare with her daughters and granddaughters. It was a sad day for the Evergreens Club to say goodbye to such a valuable member and friend. We all wish Margaret and Alan health and happiness for the years ahead in Canada.

The photo is of Margaret being presented with a photo of me and her successor Jill King.

Evergreens Day Trips 2014

July 15thMoreton-in-Marsh and Burton-on-Trent
August 12thDawlish

Avon and Somerset Constabulary Press Release

Do you recognise these men?

photograph of compressor

photograph of compressor

We have released images of two men we are keen to contact in connection with the theft of a large scrap compressor from Avonmouth.The 12-tonne compressor was taken from the King Lifting's Bristol depot in Third Way on Monday April 21. We think that the property was taken for its high scrap value – thought to be in excess of £6000.

The suspects are thought to have gained entry to the yard some time after 8pm. We believe that three men are to have been involved in the theft, which resulted in the compressor being lifted on to a Scania truck and being driven away. We believe the two men pictured could have useful information to help our enquiries. We would like them, or anyone recognising them to contact us.

Anyone able to help is asked to contact police at Southmead on the force number 101.
Alternatively you can contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111, or on-line

A True Family Anecdote

Mouse in and 'Pops' out

Poppy spends time in her kitchen
The focus of family house
For cooking, the laundry and chatting,
Until she caught sight of a mouse.

Her blood drained from head to the parquet
In a second, she turned into ice,
Then fled from the place in a panic
For the glimpse of that shape was not nice

Now frantic, a phone call to Judith
Brought sister-in-law to her aid
She gasped 'I can't enter my kitchen,
I'll need to employ a house-maid'

So Judith sent forth on safari
Armed with a long-handled brush
Ready to deal with the monster
Now scuttled away from the fuss

But creatures of garden and wainscot
Are smarter than humans in flight
For quickly, he sped to find shelter
And settled awhile, out of sight

Oh mouse, when you think floor is free
You may exit by way of a trap
So farewell to the tale of your tail
And an end to these lines of mouse crap.

Spring Dawn Chorus Walk

What a pleasure it was to get up at 4.30 a.m. to take part in KWAG's bird walk recently ! A large group (well, large for that time in the morning) was let by Ed Drewitt who gave expert guidance in identifying the various bird calls.

From the very first, single call to the final cacophony of sound, it was wonderful to hear how many different species still inhabit Penpole Woods. Especially for me, as the birds I see and hear in my garden are sadly depleted these days.

Many thanks to KWAG and Ed for organising this walk (after which, I went home and back to bed !)

Viking Vets Information

My name is Maria Lowe. I am the owner and one of four vets at Viking Vets in Henbury. Viking Vets has been open for nearly 14 years. I live over the practice with my family consisting of my sons Jack 15 and Isak 14, my husband Andrew and our lovely Labrador Ruby.

I am very excited about having a small article in Shire Newspaper to offer some opinions and advice regarding pets. If you have any questions you would like answered please send them to

Some of the common questions we get asked are:

I have got a 13 year old cat with very smelly breath. I'm very worried about her having an anaesthetic, is there anything else I can do?

These day pets live a lot longer than in previous years, and are often fed only tinned food. This promotes tartar and gum infections which can also influence the general health of your pet. Absorption of bacteria from the mouth is transported via the blood stream to the heart and kidneys. The latter is especially important in cats, as they often suffer kidney problems in later life. Unfortunately, the only way to remove tartar properly is a dental scale and polish. Often we find that some teeth also have to be removed. The types of anaesthetic that are used today are very much safer than before; however we often recommend preanaesthetic blood samples prior to surgery to make sure that no subclinical illness is present. After the teeth have been cleaned it is important to prevent further problems. This can be done by brushing your cat's teeth. There are also many foods on the marked that can help prevent further tartar. Normally you will be given advice about this after the dental.

My two male rabbits have always lived together and keep each other company in the run. However recently the larger one has started to mount the smaller one, trying to climb onto his back as if to mate! This is causing a lot of confusion and discomfort for them both. Would neutering help?

Unfortunately there is not an easy answer to this question. This behaviour is not purely sexual but there is also a dominance issue going on here. In my opinion I would neuter both rabbits. This would then reduce the testosterone levels all round and might solve the problem. If they were dogs, I would not castrate the dominant dog but do the less dominant dog, thereby making a clearer pack order.

I have a healthy 7 year old Border Collie that hasn't been vaccinated since his puppy vaccines. Should I be having her vaccinated again- a friend informed me that hers is vaccinated every year?

I do advise that dogs are vaccinated annually. The vaccination appointment is an opportunity for an annual health check as well. Remember that one human year is about seven dog years so physiologically the dog is vaccinated every seven years. As dogs get older, the immune system gets a bit worn down like the rest of the body, so booster vaccinations are important to help fight infection. This is the same as in people. Old age pensioners are encouraged to have flu vaccinations during the winter.

Nature Notes

I was walking the dogs on the riverbank a couple of days ago and a beautiful pair of Canada geese flew just feet over our heads. It was a great moment.The young herons have grown fast, and there are plenty of them, thanks to the mild Spring.I watched a solitary baby starling on the fat-ball, hanging from our tree this morning. He had a good feed before he flew off. I really like the young starlings; they seem so confident from the start compared with some of the smaller birds.

The cherries on our tree won't be ready for a few weeks yet, so the starling families will need to be patient. They make a huge racket when they all arrive for the juiciest pickings.

Mrs. Blackbird was busy in our garden this week collecting dry grass for most of the afternoon. I love the young blackbirds, definitely another of my favourites.

This reminds me that I'd like to appeal to cat owners out there. Maybe you can find it in your hearts to keep your pets in for a couple of days when the fledgling is at its height. It would make such a difference if the youngsters had time to become strong enough to avoid capture after they leave the nest. I know it would make a difference to those of us who love watching them.

Neighbourhood Policing Update

I would like to update you regarding the ongoing organisational change for the police in Bristol, in particular relating to our buildings and the operational delivery of Neighbourhood Policing. As you may be aware, an estates review within the Constabulary has been ongoing for some time and recent announcements clarify plans and timescales for any moves. This detail is included in a news release from the Police and Crime Commissioner and a link is provided here; Archive/2014/Apr/Police-estate-to-be-reduced-to-move-buildings-and- officers-closer-to-local-People.aspx

The detail is in the 'full estate plan'. Please share this information with any colleagues you believe would be interested.
Regarding the delivery of Neighbourhood Policing, our Operating Model review continues, but the proposal to align Neighbourhood Teams to response teams has now been confirmed. With the exception of the Neighbourhood Inspectors post, there will be no reduction or change in posts for Neighbourhood Sergeants, Beat Managers or PCSOs.
Officers aligned to Beats will remain the same (barring routine staff turnover) and that is a vitally important message for partners and communities. There will be a minor change in the management of Neighbourhood Teams, with Bristol's six Neighbourhood Inspectors being replaced by three Neighbourhood Managers and this change will be implemented towards the end of this year / beginning of 2015. If given the opportunity, I intend to apply for the North West Bristol Neighbourhood Manager's role which would enable me to continue working in our local partnerships. If that doesn't happen, I will advise you as soon as I know who will have that post.
I hope this information (particularly that relating to our police stations and commitment to Neighbourhood Policing) is useful to you; please share it with colleagues as appropriate.

Press Release from Avon Fire and Rescue Service

Don't become a victim of arson, say firefighters Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is supporting a national campaign to help people reduce the risk of being targeted by arsonists. Between April 2013 and March 2014 AF&RS dealt with 1,591 deliberate fires.
On Saturday 3 May, during a period of industrial action, AF&RS resilience crews dealt with 11 separate deliberate fires involving cars and property in the Southmead and Henbury areas of Bristol.
The Arson Prevention Forum has issued ten tips to help reduce the risk of arson. AF&RS Assistant Chief Fire Officer, Mick Dixon, said: "Arson can be extremely dangerous as fire can spread very quickly, destroying property and endangering lives. "When AF&RS is called to a deliberately set fire, it ties up our fire engines which could be needed to attend an emergency elsewhere.
There are a number of things you can do to reduce the risk of being targeted by arsonists, including only putting rubbish and recycling out on the day of collection, keeping waste stored outside or in wheelie bins away from property and making sure litter doesn't build up in shrubs and hedges. We work closely with the police to investigate deliberately set fires and anyone found guilty of arson-related behaviour could face a jail sentence of up to 10 years.
If you witness anyone deliberately lighting a fire you can report them anonymously through the Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111." Chairman of the Arson Prevention Forum, Lee Howell, said: "Every year there are too many deliberate fires, some of which result in serious injury as well as causing millions of pounds worth of damage to property. Arson is a crime and, whilst arson activity is falling, it causes untold misery to those it affects. By working together, police, fire services and insurers aim to reduce the level of arson still further but we need individuals and businesses to be aware of the risks and do something about them."

Reducing the risk of arson:

  • Ensure you include the impact of arson in your workplace fire risk assessment. A large percentage of businesses fail to return to trading following a fire.
  • Schools can be soft targets for arson. The impact on both the local community and pupils is potentially devastating. Speak to your local police crime prevention officer; they may be able to offer advice as to how you can protect your building.
  • Report accumulated or abandoned refuse to your local council. Don't let it become a target for arson.
  • Anti-social behaviour is often a precursor to arson. Report such behaviour through your local neighbourhood policing team, neighbourhood watch team or through Crimestoppers.
  • Protect your commercial property. Seek advice on security, good lighting and CCTV as these will often act as a deterrent to a criminal.
  • When closing down your business adopt a thorough closedown procedure making sure external doors are locked, internal doors are closed, no unauthorised persons are left on the premises, alarms are switched on and there is no rubbish or waste left lying around.
  • Take responsibility and think of ways in which someone could start a fire inside or outside your property. Act on any issues you find.
  • Arson attacks on farms and small holdings do happen. Take simple precautions to reduce the likelihood of this happening. Lighting around barns and outbuildings will deter the opportunist thief and the would-be arsonist.
  • If you are a parent or a guardian and you discover a child who has been playing with matches within the home, you can contact the AF&RS Firesetters Team.
  • Visit the AF&RS website or your local fire station for more advice.

Local Woman Nominated For National Award

picture of Sandra White

Sandra White

Sandra White has been nominated and selected as a finalist in the National Neighbourhood and Home Watch Awards 2014 for the category of Community Courage Award. She was originally nominated by Wendy Hull, Chair of the Bristol Neighbourhood Watch Network, and Sandra will attend the awards ceremony in London on June 20, along with 19 other finalists. The awards ceremony takes place at Church Home Conference Centre, Westminster and is being hosted by Chairman Jim Madden.

The awards are part of a programme of events taking place across the country as part of the annual National Neighbourhood and Home Watch Week, which runs from June 14 – 22, 2014.

Wendy Hull said "As well as her work with Neighbourhood Watch, Sandra sits on the Neighbourhood Partnership Board and the area Community Safety Group. She plays a massive part in promoting and delivering activities for older, disabled and vulnerable people in Shirehampton. Sandra is such an active member of the community – her work and contributions are too many to list here. Being a finalist in these awards is such a fantastic recognition of all her hard work. I am delighted for her and will keep everything crossed for the awards in the summer."

Neighbourhood beat manager for Shirehampton, PC Amanda Patterson, said: "Sandra is a real pillar of the community, putting everyone before herself and using money from her own pocket to fund community projects. Without Sandra's commitment to Neighbourhood Watch, Shirehampton would be a less cohesive and peaceful community. Her shortlisting for this award is thoroughly deserved – well done Sandra!"

Sandra has been a Neighbourhood Watch Co-ordinator in Shirehampton for over 12 years and said of her nomination: "I am overwhelmed by the nomination. I'd like to thank everyone who nominated me and all my volunteers without whom this would not be possible".

Belly Dancing Arrives In Shirehampton

photograph of dancing

Belly Dancing

photograph of dancing

Belly Dancing

On the 2nd May, Belly Dancing took place at The Tithe Barn in Shirehampton. This was an activity organised by LinkAge at the request of several local women who were interested in doing Belly Dancing. This taster afternoon saw an hour of Natalie teaching the class the basic moves and it was easier than you think!

Belly Dancing is also known as Oriental Dance, Arabic Dance, Middle Eastern Dance and Egyptian Dance. It involves movement of the torso or tummy area and the hips mainly, although movement of every part of the body is also apparent to enable the flow of the dance. It is also a low impact form of exercise which is gentle on the spine and lower back and also strengthens your core muscles. It is classed as a form of folk or social dance as well as a performance art.

Natalie took the class step by step through each move, demonstrating each one and then getting the class members to copy her. Each 'dancer' wore a brightly coloured decorative tie on hip belt decorated with beads, sequins, crystals, coins, beaded fringe and embroidery which was provided by Natalie. The idea was that, if you were doing the moves correctly, the hip belt would jangle and there was plenty of noise in the hall to prove it! If you got the dance moves wrong, it didn't matter as you all laughed together and it proved to be such good fun. There were a couple of warm-up exercises beforehand and a couple of cool down ones at the end, but everyone who took part seemed energised and joints were loosened. The ease of movement with the Belly Dancing was simpler than it looked. Natalie also gave a short demonstration of a Belly Dance to show what the class could achieve in the future and the next question asked by all, 'When would the next Belly Dancing Class be?'

Jean summed it up for everyone that afternoon "It was really good fun and made you feel alive. I'll be going back again when regular classes start."

For more information on future Belly Dancing classes, please contact
Laura Burchette at LinkAge on: 07930559293

A Close Call – True Story

Some readers may be wondering who the Shire Editors are and what they do or did before they undertook to edit the paper. Therefore it seemed a good idea to acquaint the community's readers with 'past lives of present editors'.
Since I am this month's Editor, below is a story which I told my class in Zimbabwe, where I lived for many years before coming to Bristol twelve years ago.

Mofuta-one hour old

This is a tale of hope and optimism which could have been a very different story but for a rare show of human kindness in the harsh climate of the African bush. But let me begin at the beginning.

My name is Baba Mafuta, which means Mr. Big in the Shona language of Zimbabwe; I am well-named as I am indeed a large hippopotamus, battled scarred with cracked skin, but I wasn't always like this. Many moons ago, I was born on a sand bank in the waters of the Great Zambezi just before the sun was setting, when many animals come down to the river to drink. My mother had a difficult birth on account of my 'mafuta'size and, now exhausted, she fell into a deep sleep.

There were other new-born babies in our school of hippos but their mothers had recovered more quickly than mine and they were already able to take care of themselves.

I couldn't wake my weary mother to tell her that the waters of the Great Zambezi were rising as evening approached and that, soon, our sand bank would be engulfed by the rising tide; but alas she remained sound asleep. Then to my dismay, I felt myself being buoyed up by the water and drifting off the sand bank into the strong current of the great river.

Having just been born, I was unaware of the horrors that a fast- flowing river can hold for inexperienced swimmers like me and, before I knew it, I was paddling furiously along the Great Zambezi, totally out of control. On and on I paddled past grazing elephants and startled bushbuck by the riverside until, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a huge set of jaws and a wicked pair of eyes watching me from a sand bank; young though I was, I instinctively knew that something terrible was going to happen to me and about which I could do nothing. The current was too strong and I was too weak.

Suddenly I heard voices on the river bank and saw two people standing at the water's edge. 'You've got to do something, Rob, otherwise the croc's going to have that baby hippo !' 'What do you expect me to do … jump in and rescue him within a few feet of a croc ? You've got to be joking !' he replied. But we can't let the little chap get eaten', said the woman plaintively. With that I heard a splash, something grabbed me round the middle and I prayed it wasn't the crocodile. Next thing I knew, I was sitting on this man's lap at the edge of the river bank, cold and shivering with fright at my near death experience. Wow, that was a close call and, this, my first attempt at swimming ! The woman sat by the man, making a great fuss of me and saying how beautiful I was; next thing I knew, I was sitting propped up on her lap in the Land Rover as she tried to make me feel comfortable. Mind you, even though I was only an hour old, I weighed about as much as two sacks of maize meal and the woman wasn't very big; but with my solid bulk balanced precariously on her knees, I tried to keep quite still as we slowly set off towards a lagoon.

By now, there was a beautiful orange sunset over the silver waters of the Great Zambezi and the man stopped the car on the river bank. 'Let's get out and look for his mother', he said. 'She must be over there somewhere in that school of hippos but, even if she's not, one of them will look after the little chap until they find her.' The man and the woman each gave me a kiss on my cold nose and set me down at the water's edge. 'Go well, little man,' they urged, and, with only a moment's hesitation, I took to the water. I could hear family noises in the distance, the curious grunting and barking that hippos make, so I knew I was swimming in the right direction. The river was now calm, the moon had begun to rise far above the blazing sunset and I began to feel safe at last; I looked round to see my friends standing on the river bank willing me on to the waiting family with shouts of encouragement and I knew I would reach my destination.

'Yes, yes, he's got there. He's going to be okay,' I heard the man say, whooping with joy. What a start to a hippopotamus's life I thought. It can only get better from now on, especially if I can find my mother in this crowd.

I saw the man and woman standing on the edge of the lagoon the next morning with binoculars trying to spot me in the water. 'I'm sure that's him over there, look, beside that big hippo. That must be his mother !' the man said excitedly and, you know what ? It was, and I thank them both for saving my young life from the jaws of a crocodile and giving me a second chance in life.

And now, many, many sunsets later, as I, Baba Mafuta, swim around contentedly in the waters of the Great Zambezi with my own wife and children, I think very fondly of that brave man and woman and wonder if they too are enjoying a happy life. I do hope so.

Bees in Your Garden

A swarm of what we think are bumble bees has recently taken up residence in a disused bird box in our garden. Since we know very little about bees we contacted Caroline Penny at Tynings Field Community Farm. There are beekeepers on the Field and Caroline was able to advise us about how to behave around the bees and about what they might need.

The Field is a member of the Bumble Bee Trust, which trust sends them information on bees. Tynings Field offers a recovery service for bumble bees for those who do not want them in their gardens. However, Caroline assures us that "bumble bees are fine in gardens.

They rarely sting or swarm. They don't produce much honey but are a good thing to have. Even if they are honeybees you have no real concerns until next year when the colony increases.'

If you feel unsure around bees, Caroline says "behave normally, wear plain clothes with sleeves, no floral print. Don't look or smell like a flower. No strong perfume. Give them space in front of the hive to come and go. There should be plenty of blooms to feed on and you can give them a shallow dish with a little water placed a few feet from the hive so they can have a drink. When they drink, they all gather round the saucer.

Bees send out a scout for an orientation flight in the early hours of the morning then the rest follow. The guard bees will follow you around. Don't panic! they can tell if you are scared. They sense adrenaline and pheromones. Be relaxed and you can get close. Don't put sugary sweet stuff out as they'll eat it. Do not use sprays. Bonfire smoke can make them act dopey and confused as can barbecues and they can leave in a swarm. Swarms calm down next month. When the sun is high at noon they swarm from around Mayday till midsummer. Enjoy."

Tynings Field is holding a Bumble Bee walk in the field on the last Sunday afternoon of June. There is a donation for the study day which is £2 each. You will have the chance to look for carder and tree bees and talk with our beekeeper about keeping honey bees.

Shirehampton Greens are taking part in the Bristol Community Plant Collection's growing project.

photograph of a flower

We are growing Calendula eckerleinii from seeds collected from Morocco by the United States Department of Agriculture Germplasm facility. Bristol Zoo, which is running the project, sent us 30 seeds, and all the equipment we might need. As the seed comes from a dry environment they even included some sand in the growing pack to mix in with the compost. We germinated the seed In a window sill in the Public Hall, and Barbara Franco took the seedlings home to her warm attic. You can see in the photos how well the seedlings are doing! And Bristol Zoo sent us a photo of the Calendula in full bloom so we'd know what to expect.

Ash Bearman of Shirehampton Community Action Forum is also a Shire Green.

Ash was one of the 50 winners of this year's Bristol Happiness awards.

Her story:

Years ago, people used to get together to complain and these days it's hard to find things to complain about! Ash is always keen, enthusiastic and able to see the bright spots in things. She arranges everything from the community safety groups to making local open spaces nicer.

Ash took care of the seedlings in the Public Hall, and she'll organize the planting out in the garden there. The best plants will travel to the Hampton Court Flower show later this year.

'SHIRE' Annual General Meeting

The AGM of the 'Shire' Paper will be held on Monday 7th July commencing at 5.30pm in the Tithe Barn, High Street. This meeting is open to all members of the public and we would particularly urge anyone who would like to know more about becoming involved in any aspect of the production process, to come along, meet the team and find out more. We are always looking for people to join us and contribute to this long running and very successful local newspaper.

Spirit of Life

Dear Editor,

I realise that I am very late for the June edition but I was wondering if you could extend a special grace to us for the June edition. We have just received news today that we will no longer be allowed (as a religious organisation) to use the Oasis Academy for our church services. They have asked us to vacate by the end of June. We have made promises to the community in our various newspaper articles and adverts and wondered if it would be possible to get an article in for the June edition.

We seek through the article to explain our situation to the community, and the difficult position we are in. Would it be possible please ?