A newsletter to members of the Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society
JUNE 2019
In this newsletter (click on each item to go to the full article)
‘More than a Pub’ programme

‘More than a Pub’ programme

Local walking maps

Local walking maps

Community engagement

Community engagement

Good Neighbour scheme

Good Neighbour scheme

Toilet construction

Toilet construction


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Cultural programme

This month we have two highly interesting sessions in prospect at The Abingdon Arms:

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On Monday 3rd June, 7.00–8.30pm - please note the unusual day - Evelyn Waugh returns… ‘Oxford, City of Inspiration in the life and work of Evelyn Waugh - and for new writing in 2019’: Dr Barbara Cooke (Co-Executive Editor of The Complete Works of Evelyn Waugh) returns to read from her highly evocative 2018 book Evelyn Waugh’s Oxford, copies of which will be available for signing and sale. She will be joined by two writers appointed to the first Waugh-inspired David Bradshaw Creative Writing Residency at Oxford University. Poet Dr Robert M Francis will read a selection of his new poems, and playwright Sophie Swithinbank will present a new work, performed by students from Cherwell School.

Biographies of the speakers are attached.

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On Sunday 30th June, 7.00-8.30pm - ‘The Pre-Raphaelites’: Art Historian Prof Jon Whiteley (Assistant Keeper at the Ashmolean Museum) will give an illustrated talk about the fascinating ‘brotherhood’ of English painters, poets and critics. Not to be missed!

For your diaries, future scheduled talks include:

‘Delarivier Manley (c1670-1724): A (local) favourite before The Favourite’ by Prof Ros Ballaster (29th September)

Edgar Allan Poe: poems and stories for Halloween’ by Dr Peter Malin (27th October)

Littlemore Hospital: from Pauper Lunatic Asylum (1840s) to Mental Health Facility (1990s)’ by Prof John Stewart (24th November)

The Otmoor Riots in Social Context’ by Dr Mavis Bayton (29th March 2020)

We are always on the lookout for future sessions.Do you have any suggestions for talks, or can you offer to speak about a subject close to your heart? Please email Mike Hobbs at

Community Walk

On Tuesday 11th June, departing at 6.00pm - again an unusual day and time – we will join forces with Wheatley Ramblers for a summer evening’s circular walk on Otmoor . We anticipate there will be lots in our lovely local natural world to see and hear! This 4 to 5 mile walk will leave The Abingdon Arms at 6pm, returning around 8pm for drinks and food – if you want to eat, we recommend reserving a table in advance. There will be some rough ground, short descents and ascents. Because we will enter the reserve, Wheatley Ramblers have specified Registered Guide Dogs only please.

Jazz at The Abingdon Arms

Regulars know that we have attracted some excellent musicians to play at our community pub. This month on Sunday 16th June, 6.30-8.30pm, we will welcome the Adrian Litvinoff Trio from Warwickshire – John O’Neill (saxophone), Neil Hunter (keyboard) and Adrian Litvinoff (bass). Expect some cool riffs!

Community coffee mornings, lunches, afternoon teas

These regular events at the pub are great ways to meet old friends and make new friends from Beckley and our wider community: coffee morning (2nd Friday of the month, 10-11.30am), Women and Men of Beckley lunches (first Tuesday & first Wednesday respectively, 12.30pm), afternoon tea (last Wednesday, 4-5.30pm). But attendance has fallen over recent months, especially from Beckley. Is there a reason for this? Can we do better? Please email Mike Hobbs with your suggestions at

June’s MtaP programme is attached.

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Local walking maps

The small, folding laminated maps of the Otmoor area, which we commissioned from Yellow Maps, are selling well. Our map identifies pubs, shops, commemorative plaques and – just in case – cardiac defibrillators. Perfect for local walking, and a great gift, the maps are on sale for £4.50 from The Abingdon Arms, Stanton St John and Islip shops, and other Otmoor pubs.

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Community Engagement

Sam Francis, with the help of a few engaging volunteers, is compiling a Welcome Pack for people moving into our community’s area. As well as offering a tangible welcome to newcomers, the pack will provide information about the area and its amenities – including, of course, our community pub The Abingdon Arms and its ‘More than a Pub’ programme. Sam would welcome help in identifying the amenities available in villages other than Beckley, and in identifying new arrivals across our area. Would you be a look-out? Please contact Sam at:

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Good Neighbour Scheme

Plans are progressing well for our Good Neighbour car transport scheme. Extending on the small Beckley scheme, this will initially provide lifts to the Islip Surgery for people living in Beckley, Elsfield, Stanton St John and Forest Hill who do not have their own transport. Several volunteer drivers are undergoing safeguarding checks and, when a coordinating system has been set up, the service will be publicised widely. A small mileage charge will be made to cover fuel costs. Our scheme will complement the Horton cum Studley GNS and the Three Parishes GNS providing for Noke, Woodeaton and Islip. Once established, we hope to be able to offer lifts to ‘More than a Pub’ events at The Abingdon Arms for people who could not otherwise participate, thereby ensuring our community pub can be accessed by everyone in our wider community.

Are you willing to contribute to the scheme, as a driver or in other ways? Please contact John Stradling:

Of course, it hardly needs to be stated, the GNS service will not be available to people who have their own transport but want to drink at The Abingdon Arms without the need to drive home. But we do promote responsible drinking, so we are talking with Aimee and Sam about stocking a wider range of non-alcoholic drinks. We also promote ‘Des’ (the designated driver arrangement) and encourage the use of local taxis.

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Toilet construction

The building work has progressed well, aided by some fine weather. The toilet block roof is on, and a doorway has been knocked through to the bar.

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The internal toilet area – divided into a fully accessible toilet with baby-changing facilities, women’s and men’s loos – is now being fitted out. In the next week or two, the pub’s front door will be widened and the entrance ramp partially levelled to make access easier for all who are infirm or in wheelchairs. A notice board and cycle racks will then be installed. We anticipate the grand opening of our beautiful new toilets will be held in late July.We thank everyone for their patience, customers and staff of the pub alike. The end is in sight!

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