Birstall celebrates with a party
THE PEOPLE of Birstall didn’t let a pandemic stop them celebrating the 75th anniversary of VE Day.
Taking into account social distancing, the village turned out in force to mark the event with parties, their front gardens and houses decorated with home-made flags and bunting.
Comments on Facebook included: “Great to see so many people out chatting and enjoying themselves and still social distancing. We will definitely organise one for the end of lockdown”
“A big thank you to Carol and Christine on Orchard Road for organising the VE Day party, a lovely time was had by all”
“The bingo and quiz were brilliant, so lovely for everyone to join in. Thank you all for a fantastic afternoon”
“It was a lovely shiny day in a year of dark days. Well done Allington Drive, you were amazing”
Birstall test centre
A DRIVE through Covid19 testing centre opened at Birstall Park and Ride on May 1.
It means people who work in the NHS, social care, education, food and drink production, transportation and many other essential services, as well as people in their households, can now be quickly tested to see if they have symptoms. If the test is negative for everyone in the household, workers will be able to get back to carrying out their critical roles as soon as possible.
The test consists of a swab to the mouth and nose, and people are being advised to get tested within the first three days of the onset of symptoms.
Appointments for testing must be made in advance. Some employers will choose to refer their employees for a test using an online portal or they may ask employees to refer themselves by visiting www.gov.uk/coronavirus.
Dr Nick Glover, who is the clinical lead for the testing programme for the clinical commissioning groups in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland said: “Essential workers in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland can now use the local test facility. We’d like any essential workers, who are already self-isolating because they, or someone they live with, are in the first three days of developing symptoms, to refer themselves for a test straight away. They can do this either through their employer or by referring themselves.”
Leicestershire County Council and Leicester City Council, who jointly operate the Birstall Park and Ride site, have been working with the three local clinical commissioning groups to get the local facility up and running as part of the Government’s plans announced on April 23 to extend testing to essential workers.
Nick Rushton, Leader of Leicestershire County Council, said: “The County Council owns the park and ride site, operated jointly with the City Council. We are pleased to be able to make it available to assist the response to the pandemic and to make it easier for our key frontline workers to get tested.”
The contractor operating the site is Sodexo.
• Anyone aged 5 or above can now ask for a test if they have symptoms of the virus. Go to www.gov.uk to apply, or call 119 (free call).
Birstall man home after virus fight
A BIRSTALL man who spent 13 days in an induced coma after contracting Covid-19 has thanked the NHS team who looked after him.
Darren Walker (42), of Allington Drive, first noticed symptoms on Monday March 16. Darren, who lives with wife Hayley and their four children, told the Birstall Post: “It began with a slight but regular cough on Monday morning which disappeared by the afternoon and I felt fine until Thursday when I experienced excruciating headaches and high temperatures up to 39.6°C.”
Darren sought help from 111 throughout the day as symptoms worsened but on Friday and during the weekend he felt fine and believed he was over it.
“I was walking, talking and doing all my usual activities as I would normally, although a little bit out of breath at times – I thought nothing of it” he said.
Then on Monday Darren’s breathing worsened throughout the day and after being advised by 111, he called 999 for an ambulance at midnight.
Paramedics found his oxygen levels were low and he was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary for assessment, and then moved the next day to Glenfield hospital where he tested positive for Covid-19 and pneumonia. It was March 24, eight days since the onset of symptoms.
On March 26 Darren was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) where doctors decided he needed to be placed in an induced coma and put on a ventilator.
Darren said: “In the lead up to being sedated, not knowing what would happen, I desperately wanted to see my family and talk to my loved ones.
“I remember texting my daughter and saying, ‘I’m scared’. During this time and being afraid, I still had faith in God that he would be with me, whatever was about to happen.”
Darren was not allowed any visitors during his entire stay in hospital.
“I don’t have any memories of my time in ICU” he said. “Just the knowledge now that over 1000 people across many churches, nations and homes were praying and Jesus heard their prayers.”
After being in an induced coma for 13 days Darren was woken on April 8 by doctors – it took him a few days to come round and realise how long he had been asleep for. He was told he was the first patient at Glenfield hospital to have been admitted and treated in ICU with Covid 19 and survived.
He said: “This, for the healthcare professionals and for me, was a huge success and I cannot thank them enough for their dedication to me and communication with my family.
“Although I do not remember, the staff cheered and clapped as I was taken out of ICU and moved to Ward 20.”
During his time in a coma Darren lost a lot of muscle tone and needed the support of a physio twice a day, initially to help him sit up in bed and then to get back on his feet.
After a week Darren began to feel more like himself. “Working with the physios and the occupational therapist my confidence grew and by April 16 I was able to walk, aided with crutches and a stand” he said.
“I was overjoyed and filled with emotion when they said they were happy for me to be discharged the following day.”
Darren was clapped and cheered by staff as he walked out of the ward to be reunited with his family.
He said: “I can’t thank the staff team enough at Glenfield ICU & ward 20 for their expertise, resilience, hard work and dedication. Thank you to the hundreds of people who prayed and continue to pray for complete healing. Friends, family, work colleagues, people we don’t know across many nations.
“We had support from friends who cooked meals for my family while I was in hospital, financial gifts and support from volunteers in Birstall and Wanlip who did some shopping and collected prescriptions for us.
“As with many people in lockdown, I am more thankful for my family, for being able to spend time with them and for the privileges we have. I am eager to pray more, to read the bible and give thanks to God for healing me.
“I am not sure about full recovery, but we are believing for complete healing. As it stands today, I am able to walk over 10000 steps a day and have been cycling. My lungs feel better than ever and I am progressively becoming stronger and fitter. Mentally, I am recovering. My wife and I still talk about some of the events as we recall them to mind, and still at times get emotional about our journey, but still give thanks.”
THERE HAVE been six COVID-19 deaths in Birstall between March 1 – April 17.
In Thurmaston there were 4 deaths; Thurcaston, Woodhouse and Bradgate 4; Mountsorrel and Rothley 2, Quorn and Mountsorrel Castle 1.
In this period 36.2 per 100,000 people in England and Wales had died after testing positive for the virus.
In Charnwood it was 25 people per 100,000; in Leicester 39 and in London 85.7
Source: Office for National Statistics
A total of 310 patients at Leicester’s three hospitals who tested positive for COVID-19 have died between March 14 and May 18
Donated fabric made into NHS scrubs
TWO MILES of material gifted to a Birstall group are being cut and sewn into NHS scrubs by a team of volunteers.
Rosie Rollings from Helping Our Community LE4 Birstall explains: “We asked to help with scrubs for the local hospitals and were fortunate to be gifted 2 miles of material from digital dyers in Thurmaston. The material was perfect for us as it was intended for hospital scrubs. We realised we would need patterns that were easier to work with than 45 sheets of A4. These were ordered, paid for and gifted to us by Shreekant Raivadera. We had over 30 ladies cutting and sewing when we received an amazing offer of help from Queri Alexander and her team at Leicester College. They offered to help cut and make the rolls of material more manageable. Through Leicester College we were given a contact in DFS that laser cut all of the fabric making it much faster for the group to turn them around. We are very pleased that we have received requests for scrubs and the next day have received pictures of them being worn. We aim to produce 300 out of that donated material and are nearly halfway there. In addition to scrubs we have had sewers making scrub caps and head bands. Others have been making scrub bags.”
The group have now received another donation of 2500 m of fabric which has been cut and distributed to volunteers for sewing.
Rosie said: “We have been requested by Rainbows to provide scrubs and are doing uniform patterned scrubs for the team at the Fertility Clinic at the LRI. Without the help support guidance and contacts of Queri Alexander and her team at Leicester college we would not have evolved so fast.
We have provided scrubs caps and head bands directly to the hospital, to LOROS, to our local nurses on the front line, transplant recipient coordinator A&E, EDU and have a list of requests. Holly Van Geffen has made personalised scrubs for local nurses as a thank you for the care she received following a double lung transplant. Some people who don’t feel confident enough for scrubs have made scrub bags, and as we have so many we are making care bags for the homeless for the “Open Hands” charity. These will contain basic essentials such as toothpaste/brush deodorant, nail clippers, combs, sanitary wear, socks shower gel. Anyone that would like to donate can drop off in the boxes at admins’ houses around the village.”
The group also continues to collect prescriptions from local pharmacies and has sold over £1800 of flour, yeast and eggs to Birstall residents.
Rosie said: “The admin team wish to thank all the local residents who have made the group what it is, a community working together.”
Firearms buried in Birstall
A BIRSTALL man who stole firearms in a burglary and buried them in a field in the village has been sent to prison for nine years and six months.
At Leicester Crown Court on Monday May 4, Matthew Moore (40) of Wanlip Lane, Birstall, was sentenced to nine years and six months in prison and Brian Kemp (53) of Marwood Road, Leicester was sentenced to two years and five months in prison after pleading guilty in February.
Moore pleaded guilty to burglary dwelling, handling stolen goods and six counts of possession of a firearm. Kemp pleaded guilty to burglary dwelling.
Between July 6 – 9 last year, Kemp and Moore broke into a property in Humble Lane, Cossington while the owners were away on holiday.
A friend, who had been checking the property, found a window had been smashed and after a search found that five shotguns, two rifles and quantity of ammunition had been stolen.
Following a forensic examination carried out at the scene by crime scene investigators, a rubber glove was recovered which had a fingerprint that belonged to Kemp.
In the weeks after, a search of a field in Birstall by officers found two of the shotguns with ammunition stolen during this burglary.
Detective Constable Clare Moore, the investigating officer, said: “Fortunately for us, but not so for Kemp, the glove he left at the scene gave us an excellent starting point by placing him at the scene and featured heavily in building our case against him and linking Moore to the crime.
“As part of the significant detective work which followed we were able to arrest and charge Kemp and Moore and successfully retrieve three of the stolen guns removing them from the hands of criminals and off the streets to be used in potential offending.
“Leicestershire Police takes all firearms offences extremely seriously and will work tirelessly to investigate, gather evidence and put this before the courts as we have done on this occasion.”
Runner completes marathon for LOROS
A MEMBER of Birstall Running Club completed a run of 26 miles on local roads when her dream of running the London Marathon was quashed by the coronavirus.
Claire Burbidge has dreamt of running the London Marathon since she was a little girl and decided to run it in 2020 through local charity LOROS. She secured her place last October and started fundraising immediately. Training then began with other members of Birstall Running Club who were also training for marathons in London, Manchester, Edinburgh and Brighton. They formed a marathon group and once a week ran together on their long runs.
Then the news was announced that the marathon was cancelled due to Covid-19. The Running Club suspended all activities and with no weekly club runs and no social runs with her friends, it was hard to keep motivated, but she kept training.
Claire said: “If I cannot do the London Marathon this year, I will do the next best thing, my own virtual marathon and give something back to my supporters and sponsors.”
LOROS had several runners raising funds through running for them at the London Marathon and all the runners were disappointed with the news. This group decided to mark the occasion with a solo run from their homes to the LOROS Hospice for a socially distanced meet. Everyone would wear their LOROS vests and make their own race number, and after a quick photo they would run back home. This is a distance of 8 miles for Claire, so she decided to round it up to a half marathon - 13.1 miles. Then she thought why not try and do the full 26.2 miles. She only shared the plan with her husband in case the plan did not work out as Claire had never run farther than 20 miles before.
Claire’s route took her to Birstall. “I decided to run from home and then past family and friends’ houses as inspiration to keep going”. She left Birstall and headed towards LOROS via her son’s house in Astill Lodge. “Next I visited Gilroes Cemetery before arriving at LOROS just before 10am.”
By this point Claire had run 10 miles. When the other LOROS London Marathoners arrived, they had a quick catch up and a photo before heading their separate ways. Claire headed on to Anstey to run past more family members’ houses before heading back round past Thurcaston and back to Birstall. “One of my favourite routes is through Watermead Park and then along the canal path to Cossington. I had lots of support along the route from people I know and complete strangers. The first 20 miles were fine and then I hit ‘the wall’ but I had not ran all that way to give up”. Claire was determined to finish what she had started. “I kept ticking the miles off one by one through Rothley and Thurcaston, I kept going for my sponsors and supporters, I was not going to stop until I reached 26.2 miles”.
Claire has been overwhelmed by all the positive comments she has received. “I did not think I had done anything special, I just wanted to deliver what I promised I would do, a marathon on the 26th April 2020, to my sponsors. I am really hoping The Virgin London Marathon goes ahead in October, as it will be an honour to complete it for my chosen charity. Training will resume in June. Until then I am having a little rest.
“I have had so much love and support from family and friends and I have already raised over £1400 for LOROS”
Birstall baking in lockdown
BIRSTALL’S BAKERS have been kept supplied with flour, eggs, yeast and sugar thanks to the Helping Our Community LE4 group.
Pop-up shops from group members’ houses have sold over £1800 of ingredients and group admin Shona Rattray thought it would be nice to see what Birstall was baking. She said: “A bakers’ gallery was set up for members of the group to send in photos of their bakes. Three categories were set up, Best Showstopper, Best Savoury/Bread and Best Kids Baker.
“We were really thrilled with all the photos that were sent in and it was a hard job for us as the five admins to choose the winners. It was great to see so many people getting involved.”
The three winners were Erin Flower, Lucy Joyce and Sangita Sicotray. They each won a prize donated by local businesses: The White Horse Pub, Mowbray Foods and Filigree Heart.
My name is Bernadette Gibson and I live on Wanlip Lane.
As I write this on 15 May 2020 Chris and I will be nearly through our 9th week of shielding. We have four more weeks to go and we will have done 13 weeks shielding as we went in a week early. That will be a quarter of a year of our lives spent behind closed doors. All being well we are hoping to emerge into the outside world after that. Last month my letter and poem 'The need' was published in The Birstall Post. I would be grateful if you could publish two of my haiku, 'Watermead Country Park' and 'Birstall canal dance', that I wrote a few years back. Again they are nature poems, and I hope they will bring comfort to whoever reads them, especially those who like ourselves can't go out at present.
Birstall canal dance
Putting on a show -
damselflies mesmerise us
round and round they go
Watermead Country Park
Even adults like
splashing through mucky puddles
when wearing wellies
By Bernadette Gibson
Thank you to all friends and neighbours on Fielding Road who helped me celebrate my 90th birthday recently.
So many cards and gifts, most appreciated.
I loved being included in the VE Day celebrations.
This is to inform readers that my letter titled Draft Local Plan in the May issue was a copy of the letter I wrote to Sir Peter Soulsby on March 7 this year.
To date, May 12, I have not received a reply. This is not surprising as he has failed to respond to previous letters and to my letters published in the Leicester Mercury.
While he is happy to spend millions on some unnecessary projects, particularly in Leicester city centre, he seems to have a couldn’t care less attitude to the illogical (and dangerous for pedestrians) system of footpaths along the city length of Greengate Lane.
Health and safety issues for pedestrians on this city road are obviously being ignored by Leicester City Council and high spending Sir Peter Soulsby.
To go onto another subject I want to state my frustration and annoyance about an event which has happened to me. On May 8, VE Day, it had been arranged for me to have a box of food delivered to my house by a shop. Unfortunately the box did not arrive. On Monday May 11 I managed to contact the shop by phone. I was informed that on VE Day my box of food had been sent out with others to be delivered that day. It seems that the volunteer had delivered my box to another house. The person or family who received it wouldn’t have been expecting it and realised it wasn’t meant for them. The box would have had a piece of paper with my name and address attached to it or inside it so the recipient(s) would have known the box was meant for me.
Surely I could have been contacted in some way so that I could have arranged for the box to be transferred to my house but no, I received no message. I didn’t exactly go hungry for a few days but as an elderly, disabled person isolating myself it would have been nice to have been able to eat some food I wanted and needed. So someone or some people have no doubt enjoyed eating my food for free. This awful crisis we are having to endure obviously brings out the best in most people in that they care for others and try to help them but unfortunately a small minority become selfish and greedy and think only of themselves
Signs of an abusive relationship
You may be:
• in fear of your partner or family member
• controlled by your partner or family member
• constantly belittled
Where to get help
If you live in the city of Leicester, Leicestershire or Rutland and you think you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse or sexual violence, you can contact
United Against Violence and Abuse (UAVA)
Text only support: 07715 994 962
Phone advice line: 0808 802 0028
The advice line is open from 8am to 8pm Monday to Saturday.
It’s free, confidential and hidden from bills.
The police work closely with UAVA to make sure that victims receive the help and support they need
Birstall Food Hub
Food to last a few days for anyone on benefits or low wages.
During lockdown we are no longer able to open on Tuesdays.
Please phone or text your details (name and how many of you) to 07305 093791 or email email@example.com by Sunday evening. We will then arrange a delivery on the Monday (Birstall or Wanlip only).
If you’d like to support us, there is a trolley at the back door of the Co-op in Birstall for any donations – only non-perishable food items and toiletries please – no fresh produce – or contact us on the above phone no. or email address.
Birstall & District Art Society
Tuesday, 9th June
This meeting has been cancelled
Birstall Royal British Legion
As we are unable to give an opening date due to the Coronavirus we would just like to reassure all our Members that our Club will still be operating as normal once the Government gives their permission for us to open again.
We want all our members and their families to stay safe and look forward to seeing you all soon, from The Committee, Karen and all the staff
Anxious or feeling low?
Let’s Talk Wellbeing from the NHS can help
Let’s Talk – Wellbeing provides mental health support for people aged 16 and over who are suffering with anxiety, depression and other similar difficulties across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland.
It offers free talking therapies for common mental health problems, including depression, anxiety, panic, phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), trauma and stress all of which can be accessed online.
Support is on offer with one to one sessions via telephone or video conferencing with a therapist, and by accessing online support through our dedicated digital platform Silvercloud which enables patients to access a range of online programmes that can be used at any time on any device, it also allows patients to work at their own pace with regular reviews from a therapist.
Anyone can access the Let’s Talk – Wellbeing service by registering online here: www.letstalkwellbeing.co.uk and selecting the area you live in.
Alternatively you can register by calling the service directly:
If you’re registered with a GP practice in Leicestershire or Rutland call 01509 561100.
There are no church services at St James the Great and Our Lady & St Nicholas until further notice
For the 2nd year running on Saturday October 3 at 7.30pm start we are holding a
Last Night Of The Proms
at St James church Birstall
In aid of Birstall Scouts and St James church.
Once again we will be having the Bilton silver rugby band with all the usual last night of the proms music and fun.
Tickets will be £8 in advance or £10 on the door.
The price will include nibbles and light refreshments
If you would like tickets please contact buy phone or email on
0116 2674031 and leave a message firstname.lastname@example.org
Cedar Care Circle
Covid-19 means we are still restricted. When Ruth's Lambourne Cafe is given the green light to reopen we will have a clearer idea of what lies ahead. The group was started by myself to support carers of people affected by Alzheimers, Dementia and Parkinsons. My lovely husband Ken had vascular dementia. My sad news is that Ken passed away peacefully 19th April. The meetings will carry on when allowed. It will be affectionately known as KEN'S CLUB in his honour. Take care, keep safe. Barbara. Contact 07905760556
Veteran of World War II dies, aged 99
A NAVAL veteran of the Second World War has died aged 99.
Rupert Stant of Sibson Road had lived in Birstall since 1945, having seen active service in Singapore and in the Mediterranean aboard HMS Newcastle where he narrowly escaped with his life when the ship was badly damaged by a torpedo.
After the war he moved to Birstall, worked at Crowther in Thurmaston and with his first wife raised two sons, Simon and Andrew. After the death of his wife he remarried in 1981.
A keen engineer, Rupert built a 16 foot steamboat and a steam railway in his back garden.
Rupert’s grandson Adam Harrison recounts the story of how his grandfather joined the Navy:
At the age of 19, Rupert had never left the UK and when the war broke out he enlisted in the Royal Navy. He trained for several months in Chatham. A bout of sickness caused him to miss his first assignment, aboard a ship that later sank with its crew, he joined another boat that ended up in Singapore, Britain's main military base in South-East Asia. He spent some time there, working on naval vessels, having what he considered at the time an 'easy war'. He tried, and failed to get into Raffles- the historic hotel and bar, to drink their famous 'Singapore Sling' but was always refused entry... strictly officers only!
After many months he felt relaxed but this was all about to dramatically change. In late 1941 the Japanese swept down the Malaya peninsula and by Valentine’s Day, 1942, had reached Singapore. Rupert thought the allied forces had superior numbers and that they could hold them off for weeks or even repel the advancing Japanese but this wasn't to be- The Japanese army struck with such ferocity that the city fell within days rather than weeks, causing absolute chaos. Amidst massacres and bombing, panic set in.
Rupert made his way onto a small navy boat but after leaving shore it was bombed, sinking the ship and killing many aboard. With a handful of survivors, he made his way to an uninhabited island, with no fresh water or food to be found. After a night on the island hope came in the form of a small civilian boat fleeing the carnage but the boat was small had engine problems. Rupert boarded the boat as the best and only option to keep it working and save those already on board, leaving survivors on the island behind to an unknown fate involving starvation or capture by the Japanese.
Later the same day, with the engine just about working, the small craft came across yet another sunken ship, this time with survivors in the water. Despite being over capacity, they decided to take aboard 2 badly injured nurses. As the boat continued its escape, both died. Through the night they made their way across the ocean and the following day found themselves approaching Sumatra.
Not knowing quite where he was, or the local language, with no possessions or identification, Rupert spent the next few weeks 'surviving'- he slept in the closed food markets at night and was fed handouts from the traders during the day. One day, out of the blue, someone approached him and relayed to him in English news of a British naval boat docked on the other side of the island. He spent the next days hitch hiking his way across to this ship. Upon 'reporting for duty', officers would not believe that he was who he said he was. Sunburnt, with long hair, a straggly beard and no proof of identity, his welcome back involved hours of interviews to establish his credentials!
A few years back I got the chance to travel to Singapore and it came with one request from my Granddad- to have the Singapore Sling that he could never have in Raffles. I made sure I did it in his honour, toasting him and marvelling at our fortunately different circumstances.
• Rupert died on April 15 and his funeral was held at Loughborough crematorium on April 22. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Birstall’s schools adapting to Covid-19
BIRSTALL’S SCHOOLS are all part of the Lionheart Academies Trust – they have been developing and enhancing their online learning and making preparations for a staged reopening.
Shreekant Raivadera, Chair of Governor’s at the Cedars Academy, reports:
The schools of the Lionheart Academies Trust, including the four in Birstall, have been developing the online learning for students with more ‘live’ video lessons, more resources available online and a more structured approach to the curriculum. Over 90% of secondary students have engaged with online learning in some way and 54% with all of English, Maths and Science, which is much higher than the national average.
A new approach is being piloted where students engage in shared reading. An article is posted by the teacher and students are invited to comment on the article or to respond to each others’ comments. This is sometimes done live and sometimes over several days. Research suggests that student engagement is enhanced when they work collectively with their peers and this is a safe and straightforward way of encouraging shared learning.
Primary levels of engagement are also high with measurements based on students having accessed the virtual learning environment and work is now being done to introduce quizzes at the end of pieces of work as a way of measuring how many students have engaged fully.
We are acutely aware of the impact covid-19 is having on students who don’t have access to the internet. The trust is expecting to receive a small number of laptops from the government in late June for passing onto students but this is a small proportion in relation to the number of students unable to access the internet. We are looking at creative ways of extending this to include some additional families.
The Board has agreed to invest in additional support, basic laptops and wireless broadband routers, for some of those most affected. As a trust we have always said that we are committed to equity and this is a concrete way in which our vision can be realised to support students who may otherwise be left behind.
Key Worker School
There have been 30-50 students each day at Cedars Academy as the local key worker school. Students are having a good time, accessing online learning and having opportunities for sports, arts, music, etc. including primary students at Cedars celebrating VE Day.
Reopening of schools
The situation around lockdown measures in the UK is changing very quickly, so this update is based on the best information available at the time of writing. With that disclaimer made, the government’s position is that primary schools should begin to open from June 1 to foundation/reception, and years 1 and 6 – not simply open to all students in Year 1 & 6 on that date. This is still dependent on the 5 checks which would need to be in place linked to the country’s capacity to manage covid-19 and the emerging signs of reduced risk.
Clearly opening to all students in Year 1 & 6 on June 1, immediately after half term, without the opportunity for training and ensuring safe working is in place, isn’t possible so we’re looking at how best to manage a staged return. We’re very mindful of the challenge of staffing a large number of small classes when we have staff needing to stay at home for health reasons. There’s also a challenge in having enough rooms to split classes into.
We are engaging with the government, several school trust forums and the unions to discuss how and when a return to school can happen. We also need to factor in the continuing provision for children of key workers, who will be across all ages and will need additional space. The safety of our pupils and staff has to be of paramount importance.
When our children do return to school it will not mean a return to the normal school life they left in March. It is important that you read the Government’s Guide for Parents to enable you to see what measures they are asking us to put in place to try to reduce risk. It will also enable you to see what the experience of your child could be like when they return. These measures may include: smaller classes, children in different classrooms to their usual room and remaining in the same room all day, staggered starts and finishes, part time timetables, teachers who are not their usual teachers and staggered breaks and lunches which won’t be based on friendship groups.
Meanwhile, the trust’s estates team are doing amazing work in partnership with the heads to prepare the buildings on the assumption we’ll be returning in some form with some students before the end of the year.
We’re taking advice from a wide range of experienced sources to make sure we have robust systems in place. We are, for instance, buying in portable hand washing systems to install in the primary playgrounds and planning one-way routes and new signage through the schools. These are just examples of the measures being discussed.
Primary heads are planning the curriculum offer to include as much outdoor learning as possible and are working through the practicalities of running the schools in a very different way.
All the support teams, including IT and finance are looking at how their functions need to prepare for this different way of running schools.
Yet again, the benefit of being in a trust where a highly experienced team can carry much of the burden by sharing skills, tasks and planning together is paying dividends for everyone.
However, we do understand that even with these additional measures being put in place you may have concerns about sending your child back to school. If you feel that sending your child back to school is not in their best interests we will work with you to reach an informed decision regarding the best solution for your son/daughter. There will be no prosecutions for non-attendance during the remainder of the Summer Term.
We have sent questionnaires to staff and students, and a focus group of parents, to ask a range of questions linked to their experience during the lockdown, their feelings about returning to school and well being issues.
The new build science block at Cedars is slipping behind but we hope this will still be completed by the end of term and definitely ready for the new academic year. Block A is planned for demolition in December.
On behalf of the Trust, I thank you for your support, patience and positivity. We appreciate all the hard work from parents and carers juggling supporting online learning and normal home life in these unpredictable times.
• All parents will be contacted by their school about the staged re opening. Details can also be found on the school’s website and social media pages.
LEICESTER City Council is due to approve investment of almost £7million as part of a major programme of improvements to public transport, cycling and walking across the city.
The new programme of work will focus on major sustainable transport improvements to provide attractive choices for people to get to work, supporting the city’s growth and delivering on the council’s climate emergency, air quality and healthy living commitments.
The council has entered into a contract with Leeds-based provider Pelican Yutong to provide electric buses for the Park and Ride. Five buses are already on order for the Birstall service at a cost of £1.9million, and eight more are due to be ordered. The 13-strong fleet of electric buses is expected to be in operation by early 2021.
New bus lanes and safer cycling and walking routes are planned for a number of key routes including St Margaret’s Bus Station to the Park and Ride hub at Birstall; Anstey Lane; Highcross Street to Groby Road adjacent to the Waterside regeneration area and Aylestone Road to Saffron Lane, where a temporary cycle lane has recently been installed to support key workers travelling to and from Leicester Royal Infirmary.
New park and ride services for Glenfield Hospital and Beaumont Leys will also be developed as part of the Transforming Cities programme.
A city centre electric link bus service will also be developed to connect the railway and bus stations with the city centre shopping and other key employment areas.