A newsletter to members of the Beckley & Area Community Benefit Society
Our community pub has continued to buck the winter trend, aided by recent warm, sunny weather, and has remained remarkably busy through the often dark months of January and February. The restaurant has generally been fully-booked at weekends, and fine days have seen brisk trade outside on the terrace. Sam Courtney, our new Bar Manager, welcomed the busy days as a rehearsal for anticipated indoor and outdoor trade in the spring and summer
The project to construct new, fully accessible toilets is now well underway – aided, like the pub’s business, by the fine spell of weather. Classic Builders have demolished the old toilet block, put in the foundations, and constructed the inner shell of the block to floor height. This enables us all to appreciate the size and spaciousness of the new toilets. The block and beam floor is about 75% complete, and imminent delivery of stone quoins will make it possible to start building the outer, Cotswold stone walls. How exciting!
Meanwhile, we acknowledge and apologise for the inconvenience of outdoor ‘conveniences’. Joking apart, we do know that this has made it difficult for people who have restricted mobility. We guarantee better facilities to come!
Good Neighbour Scheme
As announced last month, BACBS is planning to build on the volunteer car transport schemes operating already for Noke, Woodeaton and Horton cum Studley to enable residents of all our seven villages to reach The Abingdon Arms for social and ‘More than a Pub’ events to which they might otherwise not have access because of restricted mobility. There is strong support also for the proposed Good Neighbour Scheme providing lifts to GP appointments at Islip Medical Practice, and possibly other surgeries. We need initially to recruit volunteers from Elsfield, Stanton St John and Forest Hill to join representatives of other villages in planning the scheme. Would you join us, even if you may not want to volunteer later as a driver? If you are interested and willing, please contact your BACBS village link person (Peter McCool for Elsfield, Fariba Battye for Stanton St John, Prue Leeding for Forest Hill) or Mike Hobbs at email@example.com. We’d love to hear from you!
The BACBS Community Engagement Programme is a new project initiated by Sam Francis. The plan is to put together a 'Welcome Pack' to, yes!, welcome new residents of Beckley and surrounding villages when they move into the area.
This pack will give vital information about life and facilities in the villages - for example location of amenities including shops, post boxes, pubs as well as offering an introduction to our fantastic community-owned pub, The Abingdon Arms, and our ‘More than a Pub’ programme. Sam would also like to include other articles of interest such as some history of the villages, information about our wonderful wildlife, and any other information which could add to newcomers’ enjoyment of their new home.
Sam is actively looking for volunteers to contribute to the pack or identify and distribute it to new arrivals. If you would like to be part of the programme please email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org or call no 07809 213874.
As many of you know, BACBS has commissioned a small, folding, laminated OS-based map of the Otmoor area with the aim of encouraging residents and visitors alike to walk, cycle, to enjoy our lovely countryside and its amenities – the pubs, shops, nature reserves and other points of interest. The maps are available for sale (£4.50) at The Abingdon Arms, Stanton St John and Islip Village Shops, and the Ampleforth Arms (Risinghurst), Talkhouse (Stanton St John), White Horse (Forest Hill), Nut Tree (Murcott) and Crown (Charlton on Otmoor) pubs. We want still to recruit more walk leaders, and volunteers to help us map local routes for an on-line collection of local walks and cycle rides. If you are interested, please contact Mike Hobbs - email@example.com
We have an exciting literary meeting this month, our own version of “With Great Pleasure”, on Sunday 24 March, 7.00-8.30pm. Mary Stuck and Robert Booth will read a varied selection of prose, poetry and memoir. This will include work by previous subjects of our literary programme - John Buchan, John Ruskin, Lewis Carroll, W B Yeats and David Attwooll - as well as contributions from authors who will feature in our future programmes – A E Coppard, Jenny Lewis, Kathleen Hale, and Robert Graves.
The many people who enjoyed Ursula Buchan’s excellent talk about her grandfather last October - and others who missed it - will be interested to know that her biography of John Buchan will be published in mid-April. Ursula has offered signed copies of the book at £20 (RRP £25). If you would like to order a copy, please email Mike Hobbs at firstname.lastname@example.org
And Mike still has two copies left of ‘Evelyn Waugh’s Oxford’ by Barbara Cooke, our speaker at the Waugh Feast last July, cost £15 (RRP £20).
We are always looking for new subjects for our literary and local interest talks. Do you have a suggestion, or a contact who could give a talk? Please contact Mike Hobbs - email@example.com.
MARCH ‘More than a Pub’ programme
In addition to “With Great Pleasure” on 24 March, this month’s programme includes our first jazz session to feature a vocalist (Brigitte Beraha, Sunday 17th) and our community favourites - coffee morning (Friday 8th), afternoon tea (Wednesday 27th), and walk (Sunday 17th). Please see details on the attached programme, and do join us if you can!
Evelyn Waugh Creative Writing Residency
As was discussed last year when a blue plaque was installed to commemorate Evelyn Waugh’s colourful association with The Abingdon Arms, a Creative Writing Residency has been established to draw on Waugh’s creativity and to inspire new literary creation – see https://www2.le.ac.uk/projects/evelyn-waugh/david-bradshaw-creative-writing-residency
It is hoped that the writer in residence will develop links with Beckley and The Abingdon Arms, possibly including delivery of a talk in our literary programme. But more immediately, would any resident of our community like to apply for the writing residency?
Anyone reading this newsletter who is interested in applying for the residency, please note that applications close at 5pm on Friday 15th March.
As approved at the BACBS Annual Members’ Meeting last November, we plan to sponsor 3 toilets once construction of the new toilet block has been completed. This will link our toilets with 3 communities in low-income countries that currently do not have access to clean water and sanitation – see https://www.toilettwinning.org/. After some initial reservations were raised about the non-secular origins of the Toilet Twinning charity, but following extensive research, the committee has confirmed that no other charity operates a similar programme.
Oxfordshire and National Community Pubs Networks
With at least 85 community-owned or community-run pubs now trading in England, nine of them in Oxfordshire, it is appropriate that both local and national networks have been formed.
Launched in February, the national network of community pubs is managed by the Plunkett Foundation. A new website provides a register of community pubs (in which The Abingdon Arms is an early entrant), tailored advice, and resources to increase each pub’s local social impact, create more formal opportunities for shared learning on top of Plunkett’s existing advisory services and to raise national awareness of the community-owned pub model. Plunkett Foundation members, including BACBS, have access to a restricted members’ zone for more detailed information and exchange. Do let us know if you are interested. The national Community Pubs Membership network can be accessed here – https://plunkettcommunity.co.uk/community-pubs/
The Oxfordshire Community Pubs Network was formed last year, and representatives of the county’s nine community pubs now meet every couple of months. The Network’s first act was to commission Oxbrew, a small brewery in West Oxfordshire, to brew an amber ale for sale in our community pubs. Community Endeavour, so named by a regular at The Abingdon Arms, was produced late last year. Although there were teething problems with our first cask, which rendered it cloudy and very frothy, the taste was good – and Community Endeavour has sold very well in other pubs. The second special brew for Oxfordshire’s community pubs, an IPA-style session ale, should be available in April. Other topics discussed at OPCN’s last meeting included collaboration on staff recruitment and retention, and an Oxfordshire Community Pubs Beer Festival. Watch this space!
Beckley and Area Community Benefit Society Ltd
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