Rothley Post jan/feb 2021 (146)

Rothley award winners

ROTHLEY’S GOOD Neighbour Scheme was recognised at Charnwood’s Community Heroes Awards in December.

Pics: (above) some of the Rothley Good Neighbours team

Another local award winner was Rothley’s Tim Jackson for his work with the Soar Valley Food Project.

Pic: Tim Jackson from the Soar Valley Food Project

The annual awards, organised by the Borough Council, aim to celebrate the positive contributions made by people, businesses and groups.

Dozens of winners were recognised at a virtual event held on December 12.

Rothley Good Neighbours Scheme (RGNS) was started two years ago and had a dozen or so volunteers before Covid-19 arrived; now there are 25.

Spokesman Steve Mitchell said: “The normal jobs that the original RGNS volunteers carried out, mainly lifts to hospital and doctor appointments, some shopping, gardening and DIY tasks were very quickly added to by a deluge of requests to collect prescriptions from Rothley pharmacy and deliver to locations in Rothley and Mountsorrel and other nearby places.

“From an original client base of 30, since mid-March 2020 we now assist over 100 clients.

“The vast majority of the clients are elderly however our aim is to help those who may wish for some assistance which could include the disabled, single parents all those in temporary need due to illness, injury or bereavement - all those who feel vulnerable in some way.”

As RGNS approaches its second birthday, it has completed some 600 requests.

Recently RGNS was contacted by a young lady who had a serious leg injury and was unable to take her dog out for walks.

RGNS put the young lady concerned in touch with a couple of the volunteers who took Max out for his daily walk with their dog Romeo. The volunteers still keep in touch with the young lady now that her leg is better. Romeo can be seen in the photo with an official RGNS ID badge, as he accompanied his owners on prescription deliveries to Thurcaston.

Tim Jackson received an award for all the work he has done with the Soar Valley Food Project, providing food parcels for people in need. Tim and his colleagues work out of Rothley Baptist Church and also provide ongoing support to people in need by providing debt and money advice.

Plans back with70 homes

SURPRISE AND disappointment have been the reaction of some Rothley residents to a new planning application for 70 houses next to Rothley school, so soon after a plan for 80 houses at the same site was rejected by Charnwood.

Landowners Rothley Temple Estates have submitted plans for a new detached school building, additional staff parking and up to 70 dwellings.

Last autumn almost identical plans, but with 80 homes, were refused by Charnwood who said the site lay outside the limits to development in Rothley and that the development would negatively impact on the character and appearance of the Rothley Conservation Area.

That application received 161 objections from local residents and 420 petition letters.

Many residents were concerned about increased traffic, road safety, pollution, loss of separation between communities, lack of local facilities and the impact on wildlife.

Dozens of comments from residents objecting to the new plans have already been submitted to the new planning application (P/20/2140/2) – the deadline for comments is Jan 15, 2021.

As well as 70 new homes, the plans would see the construction of six new classrooms at Rothley school, needed to meet a growing demand for primary school places.

There is widespread community support for the school to be extended. Many of those objecting to the plans, including Rothley Parish Council, say Leicestershire County Council have the funds to build the new classrooms, without developers paying for it as part of a development linked to 70 new homes.

Any resident who wishes to comment on the application can do so via the planning section of Charnwood Borough Council's website.

Historic route restored for walkers

AN HISTORIC footpath in Rothley has been reinstated.

Pic: Lord Macauley's Walk

Lord Macaulay’s Walk follows part of the old carriageway laid out by Thomas Babington over 200 years ago; an oak tree lined route which originally ran from an old lodge (near what is now the slip road from the A6) to Rothley Temple, now part of Rothley Court Hotel.

Pic: Looking through the trees towards the old A6 through Thomas Babington's Carriageway

The work was carried out by Leicestershire County Council and paid for by Persimmon Homes.

The walk now has a number of ‘kissing’ gates and yellow way-marker posts indicating the route.

Access points to the route include the footpath at the end of Loughborough Road at the point where the slip road leaves the main A6, at the top of Farmers Way, and on the track leading from Town Green Street as it approaches the golf course.

It is hoped that an interpretation board will be installed in 2021 to give some historical background for the walkers who travel the route.

Thomas Babington’s Carriageway

Pic: Lord Macauley

This is the carriageway constructed by Thomas Babington (1758-1837) who spent his retirement from his parliamentary career on improving his estate at The Temple by planting trees, building a bridge and laying out a carriageway. It took him from his home, Rothley Temple (now the Rothley Court Hotel), over the fields to the main road (A6) then down the Bridle Road to Wanlip, which joined the main road to Syston. Lord Macauley (pictured above) was his nephew and his favourite walk was along the section of the carriageway from Rothley Temple to the old A6.

Parking at Bradgate Park

THE OVERFLOW areas of the Newtown Linford car park at Bradgate Park are to be made available all year round.

The grass parking areas are currently only opened in summer. Increased visitor numbers this winter has seen parking overflowing onto nearby roads.

The Bradgate Park Trust plan on making the 370 spaces available all year by providing gravel roads to assist vehicle movements and wooden bollards to identify the grass parking bays.

The green and paddock feel of the area will be retained. No additional car parking spaces will be created.

Rothley remembers in 2020

A SCALED back Remembrance event saw a small group gathering at Rothley’s War Memorial on Cross Green on Remembrance Sunday. A minute’s silence was observed and then wreaths were laid.

Parish Council notes

A FULL meeting of Rothley Parish Council was held on November 16.

Nathanial Bromwich was co-opted to fill a vacancy on the council.

A full meeting of Rothley Parish Council was held on December 21.

PC Greg Moore said that crime in Rothley was very low. There had been a theft of a motorbike – a man was arrested and the bike recovered. There have been reports of antisocial behaviour on Farmers Way. Scaffolding was reported stolen from a property on Barwell Drive in November.

In public participation, some members of the public commented they were disappointed that the developers had come back with a proposal for 70 new homes next to Rothley School, after having their application for 80 refused.

Chairman Percy Hartshorn said that the Parish Council would be objecting strongly to the plans and urged residents to send in their comments about the plans by the deadline of January 15.

As well as 70 homes, six new classrooms would be built at the school. Councillor Steve Mitchell said he didn’t think the school should be criticised in any way, the best interest of the children is their priority.

The clerk reported that the council has received a Freedom Of Information request about the installation and operation of the vehicle activated speed signs on Westfield Lane.

Borough Councillor Leon Hadji Nicolau said he was committed to the expansion of Rothley school. He said the County Council had £3 million in funding for the school extension and that he was not convinced the development of 70 new homes was necessary to provide the extra classrooms. He said he was also concerned about the gap between the development at the planned Broadnook estate which was only 200 yards in places.

Borough Councillor Mark Charles reported that the housing-need calculation in the new Charnwood Local Plan had been revised downwards when a new algorithm was applied, resulting in less pressure on the council to grant planning permission for housing development. He said the new local plan will be consulted on in February 2021 and is expected to be adopted in the summer of 2021. He said he expected the Rothley school application to be determined in February/March 2021.

Councillors considered a response to the Rothley School application and agreed to object.

The council agreed on a parish precept of £190,207 for the year 2021/22. In 2020/21 it was £138,000. Chairman Percy Hartshorn said the increase was necessary to offset the loss of income caused by Covid-19.

A FULL meeting of Thurcaston & Cropston Parish Council was held on October 15.

Chairman Councillor Mark Charles reported that he had been advised by Leicester City Council planning department that the draft Leicester Local Plan contained 80 sites for potential development and that this will be reduced to 40 potential sites following the first round of consultation.

The council agreed its response objecting to the Leicester Draft Local Plan.

In public participation, members of the public expressed their concerns about the plan.

County Councillor Deborah Taylor reported on the continuing Wildflower Verge Scheme. It encourages residents, with the support of a parish council, to manage and maintain verges to allow wildflowers to thrive.

She reported on the new parking charges at Bradgate Park.

Data from the vehicle activated speed signs in the parish show that the average speed is still above 30 mph, with speed on Mill Lane and Anstey Lane being the highest.

Two trees in the cemetery will be inspected by an arboriculturist due to branch shedding.

Fire in garage

FIREFIGHTERS WERE called to a Rothley garage when a van inside caught fire.

When firefighters arrived at the scene, at Lazarus Court on Sunday, December 13 at 1.30pm, the fire had spread to the building and was well alight. The building was a single-storey garage, 10m x 20m and contained paint thinners.

The incident was attended by two crews from the Fire Service’s Loughborough station, one from Birstall headquarters and a fourth from Leicester’s Western station in New Parks.

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service said in its incident report: “Upon arrival, the incident was confirmed as a commercial unit used as a garage that was involved in the fire, a van was inside the building as well as paints and thinners.”

The report stated two firefighters in breathing apparatus entered to put out the flames while a second hose was used on the building from outside.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing.

Donations to food hub

ROTHLEY’S AMY Borst decided that after such a tough year she wanted to try and give something back to the community.

Pics: Amy Borst, and (below) some of the food items she collected

So, she decided to donate food to the Soar Valley Food Project. Amy said: “I started to sort out food to donate and then asked around to see if anyone would like to join me. I asked parents at Rothley Primary school from my boys’ classes, Rothley Imps Football Club, where my little boys play football and the Primrose Hill estate where we live, to see if anyone else would like to join me in donating. I was blown away by the response of the local community and their generosity.

“We ended up collecting 29 large bags, and three boxes, all full of food, toiletries and gifts. Absolutely amazing.”


I've just returned from my Sunday afternoon walk (December 6).

Turning from West Cross Lane into The Ridings I noticed two empty beer cans in the long grass verges.

It became a bit of a game. I was both pleased and disappointed that by the time I reached the junction of The Ridings and Westfield Lane (about half a mile) I had counted 60 empty beer cans.

What on earth is going on along that road?

Before you ask: I didn't have a bin bag with me and in the present climate I'm not inclined to pick up other peoples' detritus. I'll let you know if I get round to it...

Chris Battye

* * *

You can help Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland spread some warmth this winter by donating your Winter Fuel Allowance. If you feel that you don't need your winter fuel payment to keep warm this winter, you can spread the warmth to local older people who will not get through this winter without it.

Last winter, there were 31,800 excess winter deaths among the over 65s from cold-related illnesses. Winter is always a tough time for older people; the dark nights, short days, and cold, wet and icy weather make it hard to get outside. These challenges combined with Leicestershire’s pandemic restrictions mean that many older people are on their own, feeling lonely and isolated, and with nowhere to turn when their pension does not stretch to cover basic necessities.

Whilst spending time at home in the warm is preferable at this time of year, many older people struggle to pay the bills through the colder months and will already be having to choose between turning on the heating or putting food on their table.

Your donation will ensure that they do not have to make that choice.

Many thousands of older people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland receive a winter fuel payment of between £100 and £300. For some, the payment is critical to keeping warm and well through winter but, for many, this benefit is less essential to their winter wellbeing.

Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland is encouraging anyone who does not need their winter fuel allowance to donate it to make winter warmer, safer and manageable for the very many older people already struggling to get by this year.

It has been such a hard year, please let them know they are not forgotten this winter.

Please make your donation – of all or part of your winter fuel allowance - online at Virgin Money Giving: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com and search for: not forgotten this winter.

Or send your cheque made payable to Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland. Please send for the attention of Tracey Pollard, Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, Lansdowne House, 113 Princess Road East, Leicester. LE1 7LA, and reference “spread your warmth” on the back of the cheque.

Nikky Miles

Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland

Woody’s run for the homeless

6-YEAR-OLD Woody Haddon, a pupil at Rothley Primary School, wanted to do something to help others, so he decided to raise money for homeless people.

Pic: Woody and his support team; brother Remy & cousins Cora & Lois

Sponsored by his family and friends, Woody ran 50 kilometres (30 miles) during the latest lockdown period. Despite getting wet, cold and exhausted, he ran every day. Often his brother Remi ran alongside for moral support joined by cousins Lois and Cora. Woody raised £408 which was divided equally between Shelter and a local charity supporting families and children in Beaumont Leys. Understandably Woody’s family are extremely proud of such a caring young boy.

Dedicated leaders keep Brownies going

THURCASTON BROWNIES had not held a meeting since March because of the Covid-19 restrictions, so in mid-September, it was good to see the girls again when Girl Guiding rules allowed us to ‘meet outside’, says Snowy Owl, Irene Marriott

Pics: (above) Brownies making a Guy Fawkes figure; (below) poppies made for Remembrance Sunday

We held a scavenger hunt for natural items such as oak and ivy leaves, stones, bark etc, as we walked across the fields from Thurcaston to the play equipment in Jubilee Park, Cropston.

For the following ‘outside meeting,’ we sheltered under the gazebo in the churchyard, while the Brownies cooked sausages on instant BBQs and made the ‘naughty but nice’ smores...melted marshmallows squashed between chocolate biscuits.

Pic: Brownies enjoying a bonfire and BBQ

With leaders wearing face masks, social distancing, temperature checks and hand sanitiser in the church rooms and the Brownies in their ‘Bubbles’, we were able to hold meetings inside again. We began work for the Painting Badge with games to help us identify different styles of painting; abstract, modern, impressionism, expressionism and realism.

Practical activities happened in the following weeks as we tried the monochrome style using shapes in just black and white. We were approaching November and used watercolour techniques to paint large and small poppies, that were transferred to a poster for display at Remembrance.

On October 31, Rev David McDonough organised a video of a ceremony at the war memorial in All Saint’s church with a much-reduced number of participants. Two Brownies, Holly and Fleur, were involved in lowering the flags for the two minutes silence. There was a similar ceremony at the war memorial in Anstey, which was also videoed. Rev David has been learning new skills to edit the two ceremonies in split-screen mode, and the final version was aired on National Remembrance Sunday for the congregations of St Mary’s and All Saints to watch at home due to the Covid restrictions on church services.

On November 4, the meeting near the Guide sheds began with tossing two Guy Fawkes that the Brownies had made onto our bonfire. Hot dogs and hot chocolate kept us warm, and the rain held off as we watched multi blocks of fireworks light up the night sky over the Thurcaston fields.

Many thanks to Mr and Mrs Crisswell for the fireworks, to Olly for lighting them and to Molly and Helen Dawson for help with the food. Rev David had sent boxes of chocolates to thank the two Brownies who took part in his Remembrance Day video. This was to be our last meeting as Charnwood went into new national restrictions on the next day, November 5.

We are currently waiting to restart meetings: the paperwork has been sent to Girl Guiding but their permission may not arrive in time for our final proposed get-together before Christmas.

Here’s hoping for a more normal 2021

Happy New Year everyone. Keep Safe.

From Snowy Owl, Irene Marriott.

We have some spaces for new Brownies, but girls need to be 7-10 years old.

We meet at the Harrison Room of All Saints church, Anstey Lane, Thurcaston on Wednesday evenings 6-7.15pm. Contact Brown Owl for more details on how to apply through the Girl Guiding website or Louise Keran, phone 07711 422350 but please avoid office hours.

News from Sustainable Rothley

WISHING EVERYONE a happy new year. For the beginning of this new year, Sustainable Rothley will be picking up on Plastic Free initiatives in Rothley and extending our work as it becomes more possible.

Last year was difficult for everyone, and it was hard to keep a focus on the climate crisis, but the problem didn’t go away. Locally there were reports of masks and gloves dropped in the village, and while we couldn’t organise a group litter pick, members and others took responsibility for picking up litter on daily walks. Thanks to everyone who’s continued to look after the village during the winter months.

Plastic free Communities

Having gained the status of being a plastic free community in 2019, we now plan to keep that status active by engaging with all our friends and partners. There are objectives for events in the community, working with the Parish Council, with local businesses and organisations, and with our own steering group. Everyone has been under pressure, but taking account of the climate in decision-making needs to be part of our lives, and we hope to support groups and individuals who want to make changes.

Climate Coalition

Sustainable Rothley joined the Climate Coalition last year, and Alison and Heidi attended their first online meeting. The Climate Coalition gives us a way of connecting with national and international projects, and we hope to continue our membership this year. There are plans for events to take place throughout the UK in June or July, and we may be able to revive our Spring Festival, which had to be cancelled last year. This is part of the effort to bring attention to climate issues in the year when the UK is hosting the 26th Climate Change Conference, and encourage the UK to commit to strong objectives on reaching zero carbon.

The East Midlands region of Plastic free Communities has been active through Greg Hewitt of the Chesterfield group, and we have attended their meetings online to share experiences and resources.

Join in

The group will be meeting online on Sunday, January 17 from 5.30 to 6.30pm, and we’ll be making plans for the year. Contact sustainablerothley@gmail.com so that we can let you have the link to take part. If you would like to receive a copy of the notes from recent meetings, please email. You can also go to the Facebook page. Thanks to everyone who continues to keep sustainability in mind in everyday life.

From Sustainable Rothley

Broadnook: work starts this year

WORK ON site at the 1950 home Broadnook Garden suburb north of Birstall is expected to start in the fourth quarter of 20 21, say the developers.

Pic: map show location of the Broadnook Garden Suburb

Planning permission was granted in November 2020 for the development, which will include a 630 place primary school, a local centre with shops, supermarket, restaurant and takeaways, an assisted living retirement village, a 70-bed care home, a community centre with healthcare facilities, a sports pavilion, sports pitches, allotments and parkland.

Detailed planning permission has been granted for phase 1, this includes 193 dwellings, the sports facilities, parkland, internal access roads and the creation of the primary access from the A6.

The primary school must be ready to accommodate 300 pupils before the occupation of no more than 300 dwellings.

The developers are the Palmer-Tomkinson Trust, the Cooper family, Barwood homes and Davidson’s homes. Their land agent, Will Antill of WDA Planning, told the Birstall Post: “Work is underway on the design and specification of the Broadnook primary school and the community resource centre ‘Broadnook Hall’, in line with the approved Broadnook centre planning brief. It is hoped to hold some community consultation on these proposals in the spring, mindful of course of where we might be with the Covid-19 background and circumstances.”

He added: “The Broadnook consent includes a commitment to the pre-commencement establishment of a liaison group to be known as the Broadnook Foundation, which will include an invitation to the Parish Councils of Wanlip, Rothley, Birstall and Thurcaston & Cropston Parish Councils, to nominate representatives.”

The developers intend Broadnook to be managed on the garden suburb model; it will be a new community looked after by the Broadnook Garden suburb trust.

The planning application reference is P/16/1660/2

Prolific burglar jailed

A BURGLAR who admitted carrying out a number of offences in Leicestershire has been jailed.

Pic: Jailed for burglary: Raymond Abbott-Moore

Raymond Abbott-Moore (32), was arrested on 7 September after members of the public spotted him in Station Road, Glenfield. Officers called to the scene found him hiding in bushes nearby. He had with him items taken from a burglary at an address in Town Green Street, Rothley, earlier in the day.

Raymond Abbott-Moore, 32, appeared at Leicester Crown Court yesterday on Thursday 15 October where he was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment after pleading guilty to four charges of burglary and one count of handling stolen goods at an earlier hearing.

Abbott-Moore, of no fixed address, carried out the offences between 10 and 22 August at addresses in Western Boulevard, Leicester, Ferndale Road in Thurmaston and Scotland Road in Harborough.

The remaining burglary charge relates to an incident in Station Road, Glenfield on 7 September.

Items taken from the premises included laptops, a quantity of cash, watches and sunglasses.

Detective Sergeant Fraser Macintosh was the investigating officer. Speaking after the hearing, he said: “Abbott-Moore is a prolific burglar who showed no consideration for his victims.

“The act of burglary is an invasion of privacy and leaves victims feeling vulnerable in the place they should feel safest. It can take some victims a long time to get over a burglary.

“I hope that today’s outcome will be of comfort to those affected by his crimes and help them move forward from their ordeal.”

News from Rothley library

OUR RESTRICTED timings have been operating since the last lockdown and will continue with the new Tier 4 restrictions.

We can only offer our Call and Collect service at the moment. You can call the library on Monday afternoon to request specific books or just put in a general request, which we will do our best to fulfil. The books will be prepared and set out ready for collection in the library foyer on Thursday afternoons. No browsing will be possible until further notice.

Two public computers are still available for use on Mondays and Thursdays. There are strict cleaning protocols in place so you can be confident in coming to use the computers.

We couldn't offer any service at all without our wonderful volunteers. Many of our regular volunteers are shielding at present, and we really are looking forward to seeing them again once the situation improves. As Trustees, we'd like to thank everyone involved for their help and support during this very difficult year.

We are open to take calls on Mondays between 2:30pm and 3:30pm. You can drop books off into the drop box at any time, and we'd encourage you to do this so that more books are available for the limited service that we can offer. Please do not worry about renewing books or incurring fines for overdue books, even if you get messages from the Library Service about them. We will waive/ cancel any fines that may have arisen.

Your requested books can be collected on Thursdays between 2:30pm and 3:30pm.

Library phone number: 0116 237 6162

Heritage Centre welcomes steam loco

THE MOUNTSORREL & Rothley Community Heritage Centre is thrilled to announce the arrival of its first operational steam locomotive!

Pic: the Heritage Centre’s new loco, Colin McAndrew 0-4-OST (PHOTO: PHIL THORNE)

One of the popular things to see and do at the Heritage Centre site is the shunting demonstrations the volunteers operate in the railway sidings. These are recreations of how in years gone by Mountsorrel Quarry and other industrial railway yards would have shunted wagons into trains, ready to take stone and other materials all around the country.

The shunts have been operated by the centre's resident diesel loco, but the addition of being able to shunt with steam power really will be something special for visitors to see.

Heritage Centre Director Steve Cramp said: “Visitors often comment that there always seems to be something new to see and do each time they come to the Heritage Centre. These additions and improvements are only possible thanks to the donations that our visitors and supporters make. It's with grateful thanks to a group of very generous project supporters who have come together to allow us to secure a working steam locomotive!”

“There aren't many steam locomotives that still survive, let alone ones that are fully restored. We also needed something small and typical of the locomotives that would have worked at quarries, mines and other industrial railways in Leicestershire. We were very fortunate indeed to be in the right place at the right time to be able to secure what is the perfect loco for the Heritage Centre."

Colin McAndrew was built in 1911 for a company called Colin McAndrew & Co who were railway construction contractors, hence the locomotive's name. Since arriving just before lockdown 2, the loco has become affectionately known as "Colin" amongst the Heritage Centre's younger visitors.

Colin requires a final visit from the boiler inspector before he is ready to steam. Visitors can expect to see Colin in action on the shunting demonstrations early in the new year.

Vaccination roll out

THE MAJORITY OF Charnwood residents will be vaccinated against Covid-19 in Loughborough, and not at their GP surgery.

The Southfields offices of Charnwood Borough Council is one of four mass vaccination centres in the county.

The others are at Leicester Racecourse in Oadby, Melton Sports Village in Melton and Rutland County Council offices in Oakham.

Vaccinations will begin with those aged 80 and over, NHS workers, care home workers and other priority groups.

Two doses of vaccine are required, three weeks apart. The vaccine is delivered by injection into the upper arm.

People will be contacted by their GP practice when their time comes to be vaccinated, and they will be advised where they need to go. They should not contact their GP about the vaccine before then.

Prize winning butcher

A MOUNTSORREL butcher has cleared up at the National Craft Butcher Awards.

Pic: Roberts’ prize winning products

Mountsorrel family butchers and herdsmen Roberts scooped four prestigious awards with everything that they entered into the competition placed, including their prime beef burgers and pork & leek sausages. The team make fresh sausages each week in a variety of regularly changing special flavours.

Roberts is well known nationally for its herd of British Longhorn cattle which the owner's family graze at Wanlip. They are a familiar sight in the field next to the church. The prestigious Longhorn beef is used at the shop to make beef, red wine and onion sausages and peppered steak kebabs which judges awarded a gold and silver certificate respectively.

“We are delighted to have the products we make recognised at these prestigious national awards,” said owner Phil Winterton.

“Now we're keeping our fingers crossed that we can bag a trophy or two when these four items go through to the category finals next month and perhaps come away with the title of Britain's best sausage or best barbecue!”

History Society news

FOR OUR final online meeting of the year, a brief AGM was followed by our member Jane Smith telling us the story of the Grey family of Bradgate Park from 1720 onwards.

Pic: Bradgate House

By 1720 the family had gained the title of Earl of Stamford and had abandoned court politics for life as landed gentry. In that year the 2nd Earl died and the title passed to a cousin who lived at Enville Hall in Staffordshire. He chose to remain there, so Bradgate ceased to be the main family seat, and the house fell into decay.

The 4th Earl’s marriage brought into the family an estate at Dunham Massey in Cheshire and the further title of Earl of Warrington.

In this period the Greys became wealthy by developing coal mines, canals and the mill town of Ashton-under-Lyne. They created fashionable landscape gardens at Enville, with follies, cascades and a Chinese-style boating lake.

Bradgate Park was not forgotten, and both the 4th and 5th Earls developed it as a shooting estate, creating the walled spinneys from which game birds could be driven into the path of the waiting guns. The 5th Earl also built Old John, originally in the form of a decorative ruin. The arch was part of a longer wall so it would not have had the appearance of a beer tankard that it does now. The 5th Earl and Countess seem to have had a long and happy marriage, apparently referring to each other as “Groby” and “Grobiana”.

When flat racing became popular in the late 18th century, the Grey family turned to breeding racehorses, and they laid out courses at Enville and Bradgate to mimic the one at Epsom.

They converted Old John into a building for viewing the course around it and you can still see the remains of rubbing-down stables nearby. The aim was to enter races with “unknown” horses trained in private on the Grey estates, which they could bet on to win at long odds, but they achieved only moderate success and never won the great prize of the Derby.

The 7th Earl was a colourful character who came into the title aged just 18. Despite being one of the most eligible men in England, he made two scandalous marriages: first to Bessie Billage, the daughter of his bedmaker at Cambridge, then to Kitty Cocks, a bare-back horse rider in a circus! He spent enormous sums to enlarge Enville Hall and develop the gardens there, adding spectacular fountains and a 160-foot-long glass conservatory with pinnacles and onion domes. The gardens received thousands of visitors each week in summer, and there were special festivals with multi-coloured illuminations and fireworks. At his Bradgate estate, the 7th Earl built a lavish new 46-bedroom house set in 80 acres of grounds near Field Head. Though not accepted in all circles of society, the Earl and Countess were honoured by a three-day visit of the Prince and Princess of Wales to the new Bradgate House in 1882. The carriages of people hoping to catch a glimpse of the future king caused a traffic jam all the way from Leicester.

The 7th Earl died in the following year, but the Countess lived for 22 years longer. On her death, the properties were divided up. The Stamford title went to the new owner of Dunham Massey but became extinct in 1976 and the hall passed to the National Trust. Enville Hall was given to a niece of the Countess, whose descendants still live there. The Bradgate estate was sold off in a series of auctions in the 1920s. The new Bradgate House was demolished and only the shell of its grand stable block now survives. And, as we all know, Bradgate Park was bought by Charles Bennion in order to be preserved and enjoyed by the people of Leicestershire, as so many of us do today.

From Thurcaston & Cropston Local History Society


Dedicated volunteers making a difference

CHRISTMAS 2020 was the fifth since a group of volunteers set up Thurcaston and Cropston Good Neighbours Scheme.

In those five years they have:

· driven neighbours thousands of miles to appointments on more than 150 occasions

· been shopping for neighbours on about the same number of trips

· completed about 20 gardening tasks and a similar number of DIY tasks

· made about 120 trips to pharmacies to collect prescriptions

· freely given hundreds of hours being a ‘buddy’ to housebound residents of our two villages.

A spokesperson for the group said: “No fewer than 192 of the tasks above have been completed since the start of the Covid-19 crisis when the number of regular ‘clients’ doubled. Fortunately, so too did the number of our volunteers. However, as some have been able to return to university and to work, the number has fallen back a little. Some of our volunteers have been unable to do much more than ‘phone buddying’ because they are in the ‘high risk’ groups.

“They, in particular, are looking forward to being able to resume normal duties as the pandemic restrictions are eased. They volunteer – many since the start of the Good Neighbours Scheme – because they want to help their neighbours and enjoy being appreciated by the people they help. All the Good Neighbours wish all residents of Thurcaston and Cropston a very happy Christmas and a healthy and ‘normal’ 2021.”

If you want help – or if you want to join the helpers – please e-mail goodneighboursLE7@gmail.com or call 0743 526 5397.

Donkey Field wildflowers

A TEAM of seven intrepid volunteers raked up all the dead wildflower growth at the Donkey Field on a cold and wet December afternoon in preparation for next season.

A spokesman for the group said: “Taking away the material is beneficial in that it distributes more seed from the heads of the old flowers and removes potential nourishment from the soil, as wildflowers generally thrive in poorer soil. In the spring more seed will be sewn, and the hope is that the flower coverage will be even better than this year.”

In addition, volunteers have installed a hibernaculum, a covered trench filled with rubble and logs, to allow amphibians to shelter and avoid predators during winter.

There are about a dozen volunteers who have been engaged in this project and other smaller sites across the village, and further work to improve and extend the sites is planned for 2021.

Contact the Parish Council Clerk (0116 237 4544) for further information or offers of help.

Covid-19 rules for businesses

LOCAL SHOPS and businesses need support from their communities to remain solvent during the Covid-19 pandemic but have to comply with safety regulations to protect both customers and staff.

Readers have contacted this paper to report instances of non-compliance with Covid-19 rules.

Anyone with concerns can report them to Charnwood Borough Council’s Regulatory Services, Food Hygiene & Safety team who, together with Leicestershire police, are responsible for enforcing the rules.

A spokesman said: “We have issued warning letters and prohibition notices where we have found businesses who are not following the regulations.”

He added: “Please be aware that there are some exemptions on the wearing of face coverings for the public and certain staff.”

Shop staff are not required to wear a mask if they are behind a perspex screen. Face covering rules in shops are enforced by the police.

Anyone with concerns about Covid-19 rules at business premises can report it at www.charnwood.gov.uk and search for coronavirus complaint.

The types of issue you can report include: social distancing, queue management, toilet facilities, hygiene of premises, other (you will be asked to specify).

The police website also has a report section.

The Charnwood team have also offered advice and guidance to businesses in the borough, helping them to be Covid-19 compliant.

• Police and council officials visited 64 businesses in Leicester and Beaumont Leys between December 9–11, to monitor compliance with Covid-19 rules.

25 people were warned for not wearing face coverings correctly and 45 premises needed additional posters about face coverings.

At the 26 food outlets visited, there were 18 cases of staff not wearing face coverings correctly, and seven customers.

No fines were issued during the operation, but the police can take action against people who do not comply with the law without a valid exemption, including fines of up to £200 for the first offence.

Get help with tech

SINCE JUNE 2020, Volunteer Digital Champions from Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland have supported over 160 residents over the age of 50 with their technology needs via the phone, online and with extra support by post.

If you got a technology gift for Christmas, they can also help you gain confidence in using the equipment.

After the success of the recent Tablet Loan Scheme, they also have a limited amount of tablets with connectivity left to allocate. Spokesperson Jeanette Silver said: “We appreciate many do not have the equipment or even broadband and need some support to get started with technology. So let us know if this is something you are interested in, as we have found it is beginning to dawn on most people that this topic is not going to go away.”

Feedback from participants has included: “I can’t believe what I have done in such a short time, considering I knew nothing in July of this year"; “I was on a bit of a desert island before all this”, and “It has built my confidence to such a degree that I no longer feel I have been left behind in my IT knowledge and could now really consider going to a group. Before this, I would not have been able to go to a class or even a library to learn how to do the things I have learned. It has been life-changing. I’m really grateful to the Volunteer Digital Champions who helped me.”

Supporting you on a one-to-one basis with smartphones (both Android and iPhones) Android tablets, iPads, laptops and desktops – from “How do I switch this thing on?” to problem-solving - all it takes is a call to their dedicated phone line: 0116 223 7371 or email them on thinkdigital@ageukleics.org.uk and they will do their very best to help. Please make sure to leave your name and contact number clearly.

Foster carers for refugees needed

PEOPLE ACROSS the East Midlands are being invited to attend a virtual information event and find out how they can help offer refugees a new start in life.

Led by Leicestershire County Council, Place to Call Home is a partnership between councils across the East Midlands which works to recruit foster carers and supported lodgings providers for young people arriving in the region without their parents, or a trusted adult.

The event will take place at 10am on Wednesday, January 6, on the project’s Facebook page (www.facebook.com/homeeastmidlands) and is for anyone considering helping by becoming a foster carer or supported lodgings provider. The video will remain available to view.

The event will include details of the rewarding nature of fostering, the application process and the training and support available, as well as the payments and allowances carers receive.

Regis (17) arrived in the East Midlands from Albania when he was 15 years old and was placed with a foster carer. He features in the virtual event talking about the difference fostering has made to him and his desire to be part of a happy family, just like his foster carers, when he grows up.

Pat (65) is a foster carer for unaccompanied young refugees and currently has two young people staying with her. She said: “It’s opened up a whole different world to me. There are challenges but nothing is impossible to overcome, and we get by.

“Through getting involved in the local refugee forum with the first young person I fostered, I’m now a volunteer there with the youth group and have had fantastic times with all these young people from all over the world who come along, and you just see them settle and blossom. It’s just great, it really is.”

Deborah Taylor, Leicestershire County Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “It’s incredibly important that we find kind-hearted individuals and families to support these young people, provide safety, security and a much-needed family environment to help them settle into a new life and improve their lives and futures.

“I would encourage anyone who feels they have the necessary skills or experience to foster to register an interest and attend the virtual event in January or get in touch with the team to find out more.”

For more information about fostering young refugees, visit www.placetocallhome.org.uk, call 0116 305 5898 or email info@placetocallhome.org.uk

Building society donation to food bank

THE NOTTINGHAM’S Rothley branch has made a donation that helped put food on the tables of struggling local families at Christmas.

Pic: (l-r): Foodbank representative Tim Jackson receives a £100 cheque from The Nottingham’s Heather Graham

When the building society made charitable funds available and asked its branches to nominate projects that help the most vulnerable in their communities, the team in Rothley decided to support the Soar Valley Community Food Project.

The £100 donation will go towards the cost of providing food parcels for families from Rothley and surrounding areas that access the invaluable service.

Customer Services Assistant Heather Graham said: “We’re really happy to be able to donate to Soar Valley Community Food Project to help out local families requiring their help this Christmas.

“As a branch team, we are also really proud to work for an organisation that continues, even at a time when everyone is facing extra challenges due to the Covid-19 pandemic, to play a key role in supporting those who are most at need or vulnerable.”

GCR’s festive trains

THE GREAT Central Railway’s Christmas services proved popular with visitors, even getting reviewed in the Sun newspaper.

The GCR’s Santa express was described as “brilliant” by the Prince family from the West Midlands, who said they were really in the Christmas mood after the trip.

The children met Santa, received a gift, spotted reindeers from the carriage windows and had mince pies at a model village.

The Winter Wonderlight service has also run to Leicester North Station with the loco and carriages wrapped in colourful Christmas lights.

GCR spokesman Michael Stokes said: “We worked with Charnwood Borough Council to make sure the events could happen, they have been very helpful, inspected us twice and were pleased with the way we covid controlled visitors from arrival until departure.

“As you can imagine, Santa and Winter Wonderlights are a major source of income to the railway and it has been an absolute blessing we were allowed to continue.”

The GCR launched an emergency appeal to keep them going until spring 2021 – to find out more go to www.gcrailway.co.uk

Club looking forward

2020 WAS a year that promised so much with three top-quality speakers in the first three months, and high expectations for the rest of the year.

We can only reflect on what might have been.

After the terrific standard of Club activities throughout 2019, we had carried that quality forward into the New Year, and everything was looking ‘rosy’. The Club was flourishing, and then the virus struck.

Everything came to a shuddering halt and sadly, nine months later, the end of year report looks back on twelve months that offered so much but allowed so little.

We have been keeping in touch with club members through a monthly newsletter. These have been kindly printed in the Parish magazine, and we hope you’ve enjoyed reading them.

We shouldn’t dwell on the past, so we look forward to fulfilling some of our programme in the coming months. It’s impossible to speculate, but we will be up and running as quickly as possible as restrictions are lifted. Things will be different, we know, with so many unknown’s facing us. But the signs are promising for a return to ‘some sort of activity’ during 2021. Fingers crossed.

The programme of visiting speakers for 2021 was completed before the beginning of lockdown. And a ‘cracking’ programme it was! Sadly, the early part of this programme won’t run as planned. But we must look forward with optimism as we strive to get back to the lively, vibrant club we know and love. We look forward to welcoming back members and dare I say, new members and visitors over the coming months.

In the meantime, be careful out there and stay safe.

We leave you with some of the images from the Gardening Club’s last talk before lockdown, ‘Spring Has Sprung’. We hope these will help lift spirits and give us all optimism of better times to come.

From Thurcaston and Cropston Gardening Club

Quiz raises cash

AN ONLINE charity quiz organised by Vehicle Consulting, Leicester has raised over £700 for Rothley charity Alex’s Wish.

Jayne Stephenson of Vehicle Consulting said: “We first heard about Alex’s Wish two years ago when I joined a networking group with Emma – the founder of Alex’s Wish and Mum to Alex, after whom the charity is named. I was driven to tears when I first saw Emma’s 10-minute presentation about Alex’s Wish. I was, and continue to be, amazed at how hard Emma and her team work, and her positivity and drive.

“I’ve run a quiz every Christmas for the last two years for different charities. I decided to run the one I had lined up for this Christmas early this year as I felt people might appreciate having something to do during lockdown. The response was fantastic, especially the number of people who donated even though they didn’t do the quiz. I had friends buy quizzes for their friends and then their friends donated as well because they enjoyed it so much. The most heart-warming part was when all three winners donated their prize money back to Alex’s Wish. That was £100 in total which was donated originally to the quiz by Vehicle Consulting.”

Emma Hallam (pictured above) of Alex’s Wish said: “I can’t thank Jayne and Vehicle Consulting enough for all they have done. Lockdown has been hard for a lot of people and to think that Jayne and Vehicle Consulting were thinking about how they could help Alex’s Wish is humbling. I’d like to thank Jayne, the team at Vehicle Consulting and everyone who took part in the online quiz for their kindness and generosity – particularly the three winners who donated their prizes back to Alex’s Wish. It’s incredible to know what people will do for others and I’m so very, very grateful.”

Alex’s Wish continues to fundraise to find treatments and a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a life-limiting disease with, currently, few treatments and no cure which mainly affects boys.

Emma said: “Despite the challenging times we’re all going through we keep pushing forward. We have to because diseases like this don’t ever take a break and with, literally, every day that passes boys become weaker and weaker. We’ve had to think on our feet and react quickly as COVID-19 hit and lockdown took place but our supporters have been amazing and we’re still here and raising money to beat this cruel disease.”