Croeso i Gymru – Welcome to Wales

Calling all Welshmen (and women); anyone who has Welsh friends; anyone who’s ever been to Wales; anyone who hasn’t been to Wales but who enjoys a good night out!

On Saturday, March 2nd Peter and Sue Willis are hosting an evening in celebration of St. David, the Patron Saint of Wales, in the Church Hall at 7.30. There’ll be a quiz (with a Welsh slant) and a delicious supper consisting of Welsh Cawl (a hearty broth served with bread) followed by Welsh cakes, Bara Brith and fresh fruit, all washed down with wine and beer from the bar and, as usual, lots of fun and laughter!

Everybody welcome! Tickets 10.00 each from Sue 01908 371408, Alan 01908 647003.

As always, places are limited, so get your order in quickly, then pin on your daffodil and come and join this super early-Spring party! 

All money raised will be going to ASTRA Community Projects to help towards our Church Hall rebuild. 

Gweld chi yno! – See you there!

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Burns’ Supper raises £646 for Astra funds

What a fun evening! 42 people came along to the church hall on Saturday 26th January to celebrate Robert Burns’ birthday with a Burns’ Supper. Haggis, neeps and tatties with whisky gravy followed by cranachan were enjoyed by all and were washed down with offerings from the bar run by Hornes Brewery. We were entertained with poetry recitals, songs also some traditional music.
We had so many generous donations of raffle prizes and as a result many raffle tickets sold for which we are very grateful. And not forgetting those behind the scenes who helped out with decorations, setting up the hall, serving food and clearing away at the end of the night – a big thank you.
Special thanks to Hornes Brewery bar who generously donating money from each bottle sold.
An impressive £646 was raised between ticket sales, the bar and the raffle. Many thanks to each and every one of you who came along and supported Astra and the church hall renovations.
Until next time…keep calm and eat haggis!
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Bah Humbug auction raises £343 for Astra funds

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At Christmas, Santa can make a few mistakes with the gifts you get.
Each year, you share these with us and we auction these to raise funds for Astra.
This year, our Bah Humbug Auction raised £343!
That’s down to your generosity for the donations made and the gifts you bid for on the night.
On behalf of Astra, Mr Scrooge (aka Alan Preen) and Mrs Scratchit (aka Trish Wilby), we’d like to say a huge thanks.
All funds raised go to Astra towards our project to rebuild the Church Hall.
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Santa Parade raises £500 for Astra funds

The Santa Parade, held on Saturday 8 December, raised a fantastics £500 for Astra funds.
Special thanks to:

  • Bow Brickhill Parish Council – for use of the Pavilion and provision of Santa’s small gift to each child
  • Wyevale Garden Centre Woburn Sands (Oliver Hayes Manager and Tom ) for the generous loan of a `forest’ of natural Christmas Trees, a magical full size animated reindeer and a donation of Christmas trees which raised in excess of £100
  • Little Stars Nursery and their team without whom it would have been impossible to present the event.
  • Elspeth Clark  Pre-School and their team for their support and creativity
  • Duncan Summerfield, Matt Braddish, Mike Duff, Iain Sterry and the team for the preparation and towing of Santa’s Sleigh and traffic management of the Parade
  • CMG for provision of their illuminated breakdown truck
  • Little Stars Nursery for the illuminated mini –buses which provided transport to the Pavilion
  • The grotto build team; Megan & Jo Gadsby, Peter Willis, Nick Wagstaff, Stuart Leeming, Andy Malleson, Andy Wright, Gerald Crosby (Cleaning), Sally Pepper, Mary Preen (reindeer keepers)
  • Refreshments; Sally Pepper Sally Hawtin, Kay Leeming, and the team of servers, providers of wonderful cakes and refreshments
  • Those who helped clear away
  • Photographer Andy Walker
  • Finance and administration Andrea Spurdle, Nick Wagstaff
  • Door to door collection  Nick Wagstaff, Trish Wilby and Kay Leeming
  • Raffle Trish Wilby with special thanks to all those who gave prizes
  • Colette Morris for use of the yard and general support
  • Angela Fiddimore for the loan of her Reindeer (Willow)
  • Alan Ferguson who despite being on holiday maintained publicity coverage
  • Sue Malleson for social media coverage
  • Ann Sidgwick and Chris French Bow Brickhill Newsletter
  • Mary Christmas for all her support behind the scenes

Very Special thanks go to:

  • Santa’s Helpers: Samuel Horne, Rory, Maeve Gallacher, Dan, Ellie, Jess Archer (Theo and Rosie Summerfield) – very special thanks from Santa himself!
  • Finally the residents friends and families in and around the village of Bow Brickhill who support our work and our many social and fund raising events.

Pictures from the event are on the Astra Facebook page.

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Weston Anniversary Fund

We have to share some disappointing news. Our bid to the Garfield Weston Foundation’s Anniversary Fund has been unsuccessful. We always knew that ASTRA faced a hard task in getting a result but we assembled a strong proposal and on the way secured support from Milton Keynes Council, but as it turned out we were among 2,300 applicants seeking a total of almost £200 million from the Foundation, which has cash in hand to satisfy but a handful of bids. Few charitable enterprises in the UK are willing to fund capital projects like ours, and we found ourselves lining up with 2,299 other applicants who had similar thoughts about tapping into the Weston Anniversary Fund.  Although the charity was unable to help us it reported that it was encouraged by the sheer number of great projects, like ours, under way.  
Obviously this is a setback for the Church Hall project, but we made a decent effort and in doing so we have polished up our proposal writing skills. We can use this experience to good effect in other applications. It’s a tough time trying to get funds from the public and voluntary sectors, so we have to accept the rising national level of demand and move on to examine other potential sources of funding. This reversal in no way diminishes the validity and common purpose of ASTRA’s work to save our village’s community asset. We are as determined as ever to save and renew the Church Hall.
ASTRA Community Projects Team
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Church working weekend

All Saints Church Bow Brickhill

All Saints Church Bow Brickhill

We already have a number of volunteers for our church working weekend but could do with some more helping hands!

We are looking help clean up the interior and exterior of the church, in particular we need painters and someone willing to get stuck in to cleaning the church bell frame.

This will be on Saturday, 29 and Sunday, 30 September from 9:30am to 4pm on each day. You will need to bring your own protective clothing.

Obviously if you can be available all times on both days great! But, we’re more than happy if you can chip in with some of your time.

We need help to:

  • Clean the church bell frame
  • Brush out the tower
  • Sort compost
  • Brass work and polishing
  • Cleaning the upper gate, loo, seats, porch and vestry
  • Painting the interior
  • Hedge trimming and grass cutting
  • Scraping and filling internal walls
  • Help with providing sandwiches / refreshments throughout both days

If you are interested, please email Alan Preen –

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History repeating itself

It is History repeating itself in so many ways.

Back in 1880’s it’s interesting to note that the initial sum required to build the hall was £650 which I guess like for like was around £1/2million today. By the following year it was clear that sum was out of reach and the village settled for a typical `Tin Building’ (very popular in Victorian times). In today’s terms these are the pre-fabricated timber lodges which are again popular. In cost terms the `Tin Halls’ at £223.00 in 1889  compare to today’s pre-fabricated highly insulated buildings at circa £230,000 erected on a base with services !

The villager’s early trawl for money brought in £66 equivalent today of £70,000, so again there are significant similarities. Our £60,000 is being drawn from a greater number of donors than at the turn of the 19th Century and includes an element of taxation `claw back’ in the form of S106 money levied by government on the Blind Pond Farm development here in the village.

Interestingly the architect’s cost of £2   2s 0d  (around £5,000 in today’s terms) is somewhat different today with all the legislation surveys and professional specialist advisers required to put a building up!   Back in 1895 there were no such thing as advising engineers, geo-technical reports, mechanical & engineering, foundation engineers, loading engineers,  design and access statements, planning costs, Arboriculture report, hazardous substance report quantity surveyors, landscaping, health & safety assessments, site security, site facilities etc. etc. etc.! In the late 1800 early 1900  the builder appears to have known exactly what they were doing and was expected to take care of all these issues as part of their price.  In talking to Fred O’Dell of Drakewell who built so much of Bletchley between the Wars (including the Wooden Huts at Bletchley Park) he often reminisced of his plans for a house being in his pocket book. Bricklayers would say “Fred measure out another house well be ready next week”!   Today we have to meet all these costs plus more and that adds an `eye watering’ £48,000  to our hall costs!  That is the price of progress!

In construction terms the foundations cost around £45,000 in today’s terms but that proved to be the buildings undoing when in the 1950’s the hall was rebuilt almost entirely in block thereby massively increasing the weight! Of further interest the `Iron Room’ as it was called cost £155,000 in today’s money and interestingly we have received a quotation for a pre-fabricated wooden hall (off the peg) at £166,000 but 30% larger than in 1890!

Finally, it was the case that the village could not raise the necessary funds and were forced to take out an 18month loan at 5% interest costing in today’s terms £4,500! Even more interesting (nothing changes) someone charged £2,000 to negotiate that loan! It’s not clear how the village raised the balance of circa £150,000 (in today’s money) 18 months after the hall was built – but they obviously did!

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