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 – alan.preen@electric-help.co.uk.

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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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St. George’s Night raises £784

St. George's Night

St. George’s Night

St. George’s day was celebrated in the village last Saturday night, this was a couple of days early, but that did not deter a room full of revellers enjoying traditional English fayre, beer brewed by Bow Brickhill’s very own Horne’s brewery and an hilarious rendition of the Mummers Play.

Thanks to our guests generosity a staggering £784 was raised in aid of the ASTRA Community Projects hall rebuild.

Our thanks to all who attended and helped out on the night; the donation of your time and money is much appreciated. Special thanks to Collette and Ryan Horne for donating the beer and manning the bar. The support from Hornes Brewery is invaluable as always.

And to the main organisers, Sue and Mary – these events don’t happen without some fabulous people in the village behind them.

If anyone has pics of the event, please share these, in the meantime here is a nice montage courtesy of Pam Walkington.

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Paella Night raises £525 for Astra

Paella Night

Señorita Sally and Señor Alistair pulled off an absolutely fantastic evening on Saturday night at their Spanish themed Paella Night.

This event was a sell out, which wasn’t surprising as we all needed some Flamenco flair to brighten up what’s turning into one cold winter!

The Paella was cooked on two huge pans in the hall by The Paella Pan guys – with a meat and fish option available. Some (not naming any names) i.e. me, had a bit of both and some (not naming any names) i.e. me, might just have washed it down with a bit too much Rioja.

Ah well, it was all in a good cause, as we raised an amazing £525 for Astra in the process.

Good food, good company, good wine and a great amount raised – what more can you ask for on a cold February night?

So, sombreros off to Señorita Sally and Señor Alistair for what was a really top night – olé olé olé…

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Bah Humbug Auction raises £678!

Mr Ebenzer Scrooge has presided over the Bah Humbug auctions for several years and has given us plenty of merriment. On the 27th January villagers turned out in good numbers to enjoy another such occasion. This year he introduced a new apprentice, young Luke Scratchit – clearly someone we would call these days an ‘unpaid intern’ – who had to operate in the dim lighting provided by two candles in an almost unheated hall where a single smouldering log added to the evening’s entertainment. A cool and smokey prospect, but everyone there huddled round the candles enjoyed the night.

You never know what will come up at Bah Humbug. Boxes of chocolates, a Republican Party mug of Donald Trump, vases and knick-knacks, a sat-nav system (thank goodness young Scratchit was able to explain that one to Mr Scrooge) and collector’s items such as a book of stunning photos of Formula 1 star Max Verstappen, donated by Red Bull Racing. All that was missing was a spare Christmas Pudding to auction off, maybe there will be one next year.

All proceeds went to ASTRA for the Church Hall re-build project. A fantastic sum of £360 was raised on the night and in following days this increased to a total of £678 through donations by people who were unable to attend the event itself and from other generous contributions.


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Bah Humbug Auction – 27 January

Bah Humbug

Bah Humbug Auction 27 January

Astra’s first fundraising event of the year is the world famous Bah Humbug Auction.

At a loose end tonight? Fed up watching wannabe singers on TV reality shows?

Then fear not – we’ve got an event which is right up your street! It is the annual Bah Humbug auction were we aim to raise lots of money towards rebuilding the Church Hall.

I’ve just had an update from Mr Scrooge regarding some of the items up for auction. Tonight we have:

  • a signed Red Bull Race team cap. Both current drivers with letter of authenticity signed by Mr Horner – new! (can I get an ooooohhhh!)
  • Max Verstappen’s absolutely wonderful perspective on the 2016 Grand Prix season with terrific unique Red Bull Team photographs. Great coffee table book – new! (can I get an aaaaahhhh!)
  • a typewriter…yes, these things were used to communicate. Think iPad without the need to charge batteries. True eco warrior equipment!
  • low cost hearing aid, no batteries required (say that again) I said a low cost HEARING AID
  • unique collectors item from the States but dare you display this to friends (no idea what this is Mr Scrooge but got to be there to find out!)

We can still take more interesting items / unwanted Christmas gifts to auction, but come along, bring your favourite tipple, sit back, have a laugh and help support the new Community Hall rebuild!

Bah Humbug kicks off at 7:30pm Church Hall tonight.

See you then!

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