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Thursday, 8 December 2011

Comrades in Arms

Winners of the National Memorial Arboretum’s photographic competition were announced at a special prize giving ceremony on November 6th - hosted by the NMA Friends, who organise the annual event in support of the Arboretum.  

This year’s competition attracted an impressive 135 entrants, of whom more than half were in the young person’s category - aged 17and under.  An exhibition of prize winning and other highly commended photographs is on display at the Arboretum – which is part of The Royal British Legion family of charities - until Sunday 27 November 2011.

The competition was launched back in April, with visitors to the Arboretum encouraged to capture images relating to the themes of ‘Lest We Forget’ and ‘The Natural World of the National Memorial Arboretum’.  Located in 150 acres of wooded parkland, which is rich in flora and fauna and has over 200 memorials, the Arboretum presents plentiful photographic possibilities.

The winners of the 2011 competition were named as follows:

Lest We Forget – Adult
1st        Howard Bagshaw – ‘Comrades in Arms’ (pictured)
2nd       Tony Cowdrill – ‘The Last Post’
3rd        Lesley Hextall – ‘Bleak Contemplation’

Lest We Forget – Under 18
1st        Sophie Donnelly – ‘We will remember them’
2nd       John Hardy – ‘Kneel’
3rd        Louis Crossley – ‘A place at rest’

Natural World – Adult
1st        Darren Fitzjohn – ‘Blossom over lost comrades’
2nd       Jayne Gilbert – ‘Stark Reality’
3rd        David Millington       - ‘Butterfly Feeding’

Natural World – Under 18
1st        Connor Charles – ‘Flora and Fauna’
2nd       Emma Cleall – ‘Searching for a Star’
3rd        David Law – ‘Flora and Fauna’

The organisers also created a special prize for children under the age of ten years, which was awarded to Lewis Ball, aged 5, for his photograph ‘My brother photographs the heroes’.  The best audio visual presentation went to David Morland for his short film ‘Inquisitive mind of a child’.

Competition organiser and NMA Friends committee member, David Faul, said: “This year’s competition has been especially well supported and we received some really outstanding photographic entries.  We were particularly impressed with the quantity and quality of entries in the young person’s categories, which included participation from two local schools.”

While young people were able to enter the competition for free, adults paid a small entry fee, the proceeds of which went directly to the Arboretum, which is a registered charity.  Details of prizes can be seen on the events section of the Arboretum’s web site:

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

By the Barn - November

Each month, we bring you a snippet of country life by Angela Sargent of Baldfields Farm. Angela sends us much more than we can possibly include in the magazine, so we are making her full articles available to read in their entirety online.

Now it’s November the trees, hedges and fields are looking more winterish by the day, as the remaining leaves are blown off and the frost weathers the grass. We are feeding our cows outside at the moment, because the grass hasn’t much nutritional value now and there isn’t so much of it. Our stock will be coming in soon, so we are busy readying the sheds- checking waterbowls aren’t leaking and that there are no sharp metal bits on doors and gates.

There will be some sorting to do as older calves will be weaned and they will have to get used to life without mum, but will have the company of others in the same situation. These will also be split into male and female groupings, to make life easier for us in their feeding regimen. Heifers tend to put fat on more quickly as they grow, so we will watch their ration.

The rams have been busy with their ladies and, hopefully, all are well on the way to producing strong lambs next year.

Over the summer we managed to collect a lot of firewood from trees that had lost branches because of the dry weather, or from trees that had fallen down, through wind or age. This time we are going into winter with a full log shed, but the good thing about logging is that it warms you twice- once when chopping it and again when burning it!

At this time of year, when all the leaves have fallen, you can still recognize the species of tree by its silhouette. The Horse chestnut is a large rounded shape, whereas the Sweet Chestnut is more of a tall blunted triangle, the Oak is big, spreading and rounded, the Scots Pine is red-barked and with domed branches.

Meg is now over a year old and has changed completely over this time, both in looks and behaviour. She is a very clever dog and very keen to work, so we must be careful not to work her too much. She is very energetic and loves to follow whenever I’m running or we’re going round stock and we make sure we carry on with teaching her basic ‘come here’, ‘sit’ and ‘stay’ commands during those runs.

She has also started to work sheep on her own, without the company of Ben and, as long as we take our time, she is responding very well. I also used her for protection when feeding our pigs as we had to keep two rams(our newly bought ones- Rocket and Rascal) in the same paddock for quarantine purposes and they were also keen to be fed. She kept them well clear without causing havoc.

But she is very vocal, when trying to get attention and playing with us or if she is shut outside and I can’t keep my footwear anywhere handy as several pairs of shoes have met their demise, particularly anything with laces!

Angela Sargent,

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Lights To Remember

This Christmas, dedicate a light to remember someone who is in your thoughts.

Marie Curie Cancer Care hopes to make the holiday season a little brighter with its annual Lights to Remember Appeal. By sponsoring a light on their Christmas Tree at the Octagon Shopping Centre in Burton on Trent in honour of someone dear to you, you can help them provide care to those who need it most.

Sponsor a light in memory of loved ones or simply in support of the local Marie Curie Nursing Service. Your support will enable Marie Curie Nurses to care for even more people with terminal cancer and other illnesses in their own homes this Christmas, helping them to leave their loved ones with memories to treasure.

Donations can be made throughout the festive season. For information call the fund-raising office on 0115 938 2626.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

By the Barn - October

Each month, we bring you a snippet of country life in our magazine by Angela Sargent of Baldfields Farm. Angela sends us much more than we can possibly include, so we are making her full articles available to read in their entirety online.

Autumn's here and don’t we know it. Luckily for us, we had just finished getting the barley straw in when the winds and rains came. What a change, at last we have green grass!

We are hoping to resume Megs training now- we’ve done a little bit of work with her and our older dog, Ben. They work well together- she does the running and he does the watching. Meg tries hard to do it right, even if the commands have to be repeated when she goes the wrong way. At the moment we use voice commands, but hubby is just starting to introduce the whistled instruction (I can’t, so I use a whistle if I have to!).

To send her to the right we use ‘away’, to the left ‘come-by’, ‘sit’ and ‘lay down’ as you would expect and ‘move’em on’, meaning to just walk them forward. At least that is the idea, but we also use hand signals to point out which way, to help her. When you use whistles, you have to get enough distinction between the different orders and you have to be consistent with the sounds. Soon we may work her on her own, occasionally. She won’t always have Ben to rely on when a sheep gets a bit bolshy!

Field work is carrying on, our field beans will be combined soon, if they haven’t already and then we will let that field overwinter with just the stubble. Pheasants, Partridge and other birds will be able to feed off the dropped seeds and we will work it down in the spring. Most of  our other fields have been ploughed and harrowed and sown with winter Barley and Oats.

Next year sees the end of one of our environmental schemes- Countryside Stewardship. We were paid to carry out environmental options, like changing arable fields to grass, taking 6m strips out of production all the way round our arable fields and allowing them to grow naturally etc. The payment was in return for income foregone (i.e not growing crops, that we could possibly have sold). As we are a tenanted farm, we have to replace that income by doing something else, so some land may have to  be ploughed up and put back into production or we might increase livestock numbers, but we’ll need more feed/bedding and more room for housing if we do that, so there are quite a few options and we must decide over the next few months which way we are going to go. Whatever we do we need to make a profit!

Many farmers are in the same predicament as us and are having to make hard choices, not least the dairy farmers who will be hit hard by the new regulations on nitrate vulnerable zones (water quality regulations) which mean extra storage for slurry, which means extra costs. These come in from the 1st of January and all farmers will have to comply.

Our Bees have had a reasonable summer and the summer honey has been taken off and now they are being fed sugar solution to help them survive any bad weather that comes along this winter. I’ve noticed quite a few rabbits hopping between the hives, so there isn’t much activity at times.

The cattle will be coming inside when the weather turns for the worst over the next few weeks and so we are also trying to finish any repair work on sheds, gates and inside water troughs before they do so it is a very busy month for us, not helped by the shortening of the days- it seems easier to work whilst it is still light- oh dear- I can feel SAD disorder coming on!

Angela Sargent,

Monday, 19 September 2011

By The Barn - September

Each month, we bring you a snippet of country life by Angela Sargent of Baldfields Farm. Angela sends us much more than we can possibly include in the magazine, so we are making her full articles available to read in their entirety online.

We’re into the last month of summer now and farmers are finishing the combining of the crops (just out of interest, the hop plant is grown in a ‘bine’, which uses a stout, hairy stem to help it climb, unlike ‘vines’, which use tendrils).

The combine harvester is so called because it ‘combines’ the three actions of reaping the crop, threshing the grain from the heads of corn and winnowing the chaff from the seed and then expelling the waste straw into rows. This can be chopped and incorporated into the soil to increase the fibrous content (a bit like the gardener adding compost), or, particularly in livestock areas, it is baled and saved to be used as feed and bedding. This year, livestock farmers are going to be desperate for silage/hay and straw because of the previous weather conditions, which has meant many are already using this years crop, instead of being able to save it for the winter.

The dry weather over the last couple of months has meant that  trees have also been suffering from the lack of meaningful amounts of rain. Ash trees, in particular, have reacted to this stress by shedding branches in an effort to survive- at least we have firewood for the winter!

Occasionally the land is left as stubble over the winter and this provides feeding grounds for birds, such as the partridge and pheasant, or it is prepared for the next years crop. The ground needs to be broken up to enable the weeds to grow, so that you can then plough them under. This is done with a chisel plough and is one way of cutting down on the need for sprays. It also allows the weather to attack the ground and make it easier for working.

Wandering around our harvested fields at this time of year, you are likely to see the red berries of the woody nightshade and the black berries of the black nightshade, both of which are highly poisonous! You’ll also see the woolly, grey ’beards’ of travellers joy streaming over the hedges and this, along with the flowering ivy, attracts birds and insects.

The sheep sales start this month and we will be in the market for some new tups (rams), as ours have been used enough times now and we don’t want to use them on their daughters. The tups and bulls are half of the value of our youngstock, so we cannot skimp on the quality of them. Our ewes will be checked for the condition of their udders and feet and mouths, getting rid of any that don’t meet our standard (having weaned their lambs off them last month).

It has been a pleasure getting round the summer shows and seeing the prize specimens put forward, whether in serious competition or for a bit of fun. I can recommend you visit them, especially the smaller ones, if you want a good day out in the Great British countryside or look out for the ploughing matches which are starting soon!

Angela Sargent,

Friday, 5 August 2011

Grant for New Boat

More youngsters in Burton and South Derbyshire are now enjoying learning to row on the River Trent thanks to a £1,000 grant from the Burton Breweries Charitable Trust towards a new double scull boat at Burton’s Trent Rowing Club.

Founded in 1847 and one of the oldest rowing clubs in the country, Trent Rowing Club sits alongside the River Trent at Stapenhill Road in Burton attracting rowers from all walks of life and sectors of society.  With a proud history of developing junior rowers from their introduction to the sport right up to the highest level of competition Trent Rowing Club members took gold and bronze medals at this year’s National School Championships.
Richard Gipson, club secretary, said “We’re extremely grateful to the Burton Breweries Charitable Trust for their substantial grant towards the purchase of one of our new double scull boats that’ll enable more of our budding Redgraves & Pinsents to improve their rowing skills and allow more young people to enjoy the delights of this great sport”.

Burton Breweries Charitable Trust chairman, Keith Norris, commented “We’re pleased to support Trent Rowing Club’s drive to enable young people from all backgrounds to enter a sport that is frequently associated with the more privileged elements of society”. “The Club’s coaching programmes help youngsters focus on second targets and achieving success at a very influential stage of their development” he added.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

The Staffordshire Hoard

Due to the high demand to obtain tickets for the ‘Anglo Saxon Footsteps’ daytime tours at Lichfield Cathedral, a further 92 tickets have been released and are now available through the Lichfield Garrick.

These twice daily forty five minute tours are ideal for young and old (suitable for visitors aged 5 and upwards) and a perfect day out for the grandchildren. Visitors will walk in the footsteps of the Anglo-Saxons to discover the origins of the Cathedral and enjoy its stories this summer holiday. You also get an opportunity to take the free Staffordshire Hoard tour.

Canon Pete Wilcox, Chancellor of Lichfield Cathedral commented: “We have been overwhelmed with the very positive and enthusiastic response to the Staffordshire Hoard on Tour coming to the City of Lichfield and we have taken the decision to offer more tickets for the ‘Anglo Saxon Footsteps’ tours, which have proved particularly popular for the summer break”.

Tickets for the Evening Experience Tours (£15 per person) and the free 40 minute timed entry tours are also still available from the Garrick Box Office  - 01543 412121 or For latest news please visit or