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Never been happier to see road closures! Cow Lane bridges update

Lots of things make me happy.  My family and friends, a really good curry, prosecco, getting through a body pump class without having ...

30 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Reading Lions Fun Day

My final appointment this weekend was a visit to the Reading Lions Fun Day at Prospect Park.  This was the end of a fun packed day for them.

In the morning they held a fundraising Dads and Lads Fun Run to raise money for their prostate cancer testing programme.  In February this year they paid for around 350 men to have blood tests to check for prostate cancer.  If you were OK you got a green letter, if you need a bit of further investigation you got an amber letter and if you needed a urgent check, a red letter.  Several red letters were sent after this session and lives saved!  What a great thing to do.

I was also told about their message in a bottle scheme.  Basically they provide a bottle, some documents and stickers.  You fill in the document with anything a healthcare provider would need.  You pop it in the bottle in the fridge with a sticker on the fridge and your front door alerting people that you have a 'message in a bottle'.  If a paramedic attended they would see these stickers and be provided with potentially life saving informaiton they can use straight away.  Simple but so very effective!

Alongside the usual fair stalls selling food, bouncy castles and popcorn vendors ManiChem were providing free diabetes tests.  Being a curious sort I got tested. Another great service.


It was so interesting to hear about the things the Lions Club of Reading do in the community.  Everyone was clearly having a great time at the fun day and the sun was (mostly) shining.  I look forward to meeting up with the Lions during my year as Deputy Mayor.

The Army Cadets provided music!

With my excellent host, David Hitchins



29 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayors Diaries: Reading Buses Open Day

I do like Reading Buses, in fact they are my choice of commuter transport.  The 17 takes me nicely to and from work so we have been to Reading Buses Open Day before.  It's not until someone explains all the composite parts that you truly understand the work behind the scenes and that's what happened today.

James Freeman escorted the boys and me around the open day and was a delightful host.  It was clear walking around the site than James Freeman is hugely respected and will be sorely missed when he leaves Reading Buses later this year.

First off was a trip through the bus wash, something we hadn't done before.  I got to hear a wonderful tale of the first bus to do this trip.  They had no water softener so the bus got coated in limescale which took a week to remove!

We chatted to people running the various stalls.  Launchpad were there as they are Reading Buses' charity of the year.  I spoke to Eddie Winship of Blast1386 about Reading Buses special relationship with Reading and how important it is for local business to support local charities and groups within the town.

I got the chance to look around the  First Stop bus that can be found in Reading town centre Friday and Saturday night helping those in need of assistance.  They offer help, advice and first aid and have saved tens if not hundreds of ambulances being called and trips to an already busy A&E.  They will also be using the bus to reach groups that don't normally engage with health services.

We then had a look around one of the new buses and it was very impressive.  I rarely see anything other than the 17 so it was nice to have a look around the brand new single deck buses.  James left us to have a look around the various buses.  My boys wanted to visit one of every colour but I suggested we only look at a few, after all we know the inside of a 17 rather well!

We ended our visit with a look around the vintage buses including one that started work in 1938.  It was a great event and one I can recommend for 2015.












 I must also share that we got to meet some Stormtroopers from the UK Garrison.  We were taking a shortcut through the  headquarters so I could cut the ribbon and open the event and there they where, stood in a corridor at Reading buses.  My youngest recoiled and started shaking, clearly concerned there were Stormtroopers in Reading.  They are baddies after all!


28 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayors Diaries: Armed Forces Day

Today I was privileged to be invited to attend Armed Forces Day.  In the past I had attended the event to watch the bands, have a look at the stalls and watch the veterans.  This year I am proud to say I helped present 17 veterans with their Veterans Badges.

There was a real mix of veterans ranging from people who served in the 80's to veterans of World War II.  There were Gurkha's being presented  with their badges alongside women who served in the Armed Forces.

There were also stalls presenting information on the support services for veterans. 

The first group I spoke to were the Tilehurst Royal British Legion.They are very active in Reading and are celebrating their 80th year this year! 

I was delighted to hear from the Reading Ex-British Gurkha Association that they have nearly 500 members and that they find Reading a welcoming town.

I also had a friendly welcome from The Forgotten British Gurkha's and it was great to hear about the work they are doing in Reading.

I spoke to SSAFA about the work they do with veterans in Reading. They have 7 volunteers dealing with about 150 cases a year offering support to veterans and their families.  Their cases range from helping homeless veterans to providing visits to elderly veterans.  They work from Brock Barracks.

The 7th Battalion The Rifles were also present.  They also have their base at Brock Barracks and my boys had a great time trying on their kit.

So many people turned out to honour the veterans of Reading despite the pouring rain which just shows the level of support our town offers.

Presenting Veterans Badges


Having a look at the 7th Battalion The Rifles kit (replica of course)
Deputy Lord Leftenant also presented badges




26 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Age UK Zumba Party!

Today I went to a party!  A fundraising Zumba Gold party in fact.

Age UK Berkshire had organised a fundraising Zumba Party to raise money for its Active Living activites which include Zumba Gold, Tai Chi, badminton, archery and health walks.  The ladies, and gent, taking part Zumba'd for 1 1/2 hours!

Put to shame by those taking part, I was pursuaded to join in for a few songs.  Lesson learned on Sunday so this time I took my chain of office off!

I was also given their 50 Plus guide which is filled with information and I shall find useful in my role as a councillor.

Age UK Berkshire have a full timetable of activities and their current timetable can be viewed here.

The ladies who did the sponsored fundraiser told me how much they enjoyed their classes and how important it was to keep fit.  I couldn't agree more.


This is a great statement
Throwing some shapes



The event was lead by Bella....

.....and Des who leads the weekly class.

22 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Friends of Reading Museum Garden Party & Moreys Dauncing

My cultural weekend was nicely rounded off with the Friends of Reading Museums Garden Party at Caversham Court Gardens.

The event has been held for the last three years by Friends of Reading Museums, Friends of Reading Abbey and Friends of Caversham Court.  It was an opportunity for visitors to find out about the three groups holding the event and become supporters.  With a good few exciting years ahead it's something I would encourage people to do!

I was delighted to open event which was at the end of an exciting week where it was announced that the Abbey Quarter bid has passed the first round in the Heritage Lottery Funding process.  There was lots to see and do including Pangbourne Silver Band, lovely recorder playing from Caversham Primary, Reading Accordion Group and Tapestry Choir. Progress Theatre and Redding Moreys also entertained the crowds.

Other activities were a children's trail, story telling, colouring and drawing courtesy of Caversham Artists and some wonderful cream teas provided by the RBH League of Friends, Sue Ryder, The Ways & Means Trust and The Women's Institute.

The tea kiosk at Caversham Court Gardens is open March to October and is run as a fund raising initiative by the above charities and Compass Opportunities.  Prices are very competitive and in wonderful surroundings.  You can find more about the kiosk here: www.theteakiosk.org.uk

One of my highlights of the day was being asked to join in with Redding Moreys Dauncers.  The first dance I judged and the boys and I joined in the second.  I can tell you it's tricky gallopping in the Deputy Mayors chain!  I did not know that there has been Morris dancing in Reading for 500 years and there's an entry in the accounts of St Laurence's Church from 1513 mentioning Morris dancing.  What a long and varied history Reading has.

Once again volunteers powered this event and a big thank you to everyone.

A great event attended by lots of people!

The beautiful border

Reading Moreys
Beware the dragon!


I had to pick the best dancer!
I had a great time joining in.






20 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Reading Arts & Music Week

Wow - what a brilliant evening.

I was privileged to open Reading Music & Arts Week today.  Reading has a large and vibrant Arts community.  It's not just paintings but sculpture, fashion and music.

The exhibition at Novotel Reading this weekend is full of beautiful and thought provoking works of art from Reading artists.  Not only were there contributions from residents but also from groups like Launchpad and children in care.

Alongside local art are some wonderful pieces from Reading Gallery's collection including Van Gogh, Gainsborough and Henry Moore.

None of this could happen without the volunteers and sponsors of Reading Arts & Music Week and they must be thanked.

The exhibition if free to view so this weekend get along!  Maybe you'll be inspired to enter a piece of work next year.

My husband checking out a pice by local artist Hubert Bowers
Hubert's entry
The bird is my contribution to Arts Week
A pice from Reading Gallery's collection
A piece from Launchpad
With a Van Gogh!







15 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Reading Amateur Regatta

My watery weekend was rounded off with a fascinating trip to Reading Amateur Regatta on Thameside Promenade.

I saw a range of races on the water but what was most interesting was the fact people come from far and wide to take part.  I met a team from the USA who attend Reading Amateur Regatta ahead of Henley's womens regatta next week.  How many people know we are hosting a truly international regatta in Reading?

It was great to hear the club is growing with people joining from throughout Reading.  They are growing as fast as they can but, as with many organisations, need more adult volunteers to help with the hundreds of youngsters who want to get rowing and sculling.

My hosts were packed full of information and made my visit a joy.  They were Nigel Smith, President of Reading Amateur Regatta, Peter Oldfirld Trustee of Reading Rowing Club, Andrew Wilby, Chair of Reading Amateur Regatta and Jane Parker, Honorary Secretary.

We talked about how the wet weather over winter meant they were unable to get back onto the river until March this year.  We also discussed how they were getting local people involved in the club.  I was pleasently surprised to hear membership of Reading Rowing Club is cheaper than the gym, dispelling some myths about rowing.  I can tell you I'd prefer rowing to the gym!

The afternoon ended when I presented some junior medals and the Radley Cup. This cup is presented to the most successful team at the mini regatta (13 and under).  This year the joint winners were Henley Rowing Club and City of Bristol Rowing Club.

Many thanks to everyone for making the afternoon enjoyable and interesting!

14 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Reading Water Fest

Well after last nights storms it was a relief to see Reading in one piece!

A few rain showers didn't stop people enjoying the Water Fest though.  We were taken to the Water Fest in a lovely little steam boat. 


We got to see the all the stalls, a brilliant Aslan made for The Abbey School and we then judged the best dressed boat competition.  I was particularly impressed by the Dragon Boat team.  Wow - could they shift!


In amongst the music and entertainment were some lovely works of art and I am very privileged to be attending the  Reading Arts & Music Week opening event next Friday.

Events like this prove what an exciting and vibrant town Reading is.





13 Jun 2014

Deputy Mayor Diaries: Norcot Early Years Centre 10th Birthday!

Today was my first ever engagement as Deputy Mayor.  I was delighted to be invited to Norcot Early Years Centre to help celebrate their 10th birthday.  This was all the more special as my mother was intrumental in setting the centre up!

The boys, henceforth know as the Deputy Mayorettes, and I received a warm welcome.  I had a good look round the centre, chatted with staff and parents, cut the cake and ended my visit with a little boogie.

A lovely afternoon!




4 Jun 2014

Chair of the Arts Forum again and Have Your Say on Reading Arts, Heritage & Sport

I am delighted to be chair of the Arts Forum again.  It is something I really enjoy and I hope benefits the Arts community of Reading.

Our next meeting is Wednesday 2 July at the Civic Office from 6.

Members of the forum have set up a Facebook group which interested folks can join:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/836453313036092/?fref=ts

I am also pleased to say Reading Borough Council are launching a consultation on Reading Arts, Heritage and Sports.  Once the consultaion is online I will provide a link from this blog.

The full press release is here:

'Have Your Say on Reading Arts, Heritage and Sport 

Press Release
04/06/2014 

RESIDENTS, visitors and businesses are being asked their views on sport and culture in Reading as part of the ‘Your Say: Arts, Heritage and Sport’ consultation.

Running from 9th June until 30th September, ‘Your Say: Arts, Heritage and Sport’ will help to shape Reading’s new culture and heritage strategy, and is being developed by Reading Borough Council with community groups and partners including The Cultural Partnership, Reading UK CIC, Reading College and creative arts charity, jelly.

There’s loads going on already in Reading and real potential to further develop this into the future. Responses will be used to shape the strategy and generate ideas on how sport and culture can play an even bigger role in promoting wellbeing and be an integral part of an even more vibrant and economically successful town. 

Lead Member for Culture, Sport and Consumer Services, Cllr Paul Gittings said:

“Reading is a vibrant town with a rich history of arts and culture and sporting achievement.

“We know that there is a lot going on in the Borough, both through council-run programmes and through voluntary sector and community groups. We would like to get a more complete picture of what people think of the town’s sport and culture provision and opportunities; what people get involved in and excited about; and how we can build on what we’ve got to enhance the quality of life for everyone in Reading.

“I would encourage residents, visitors and businesses to let us know what culture means to them and their aspirations for the future by completing the ‘Your Say: Arts, Heritage and Sport’ survey.

Short questionnaires are available at venues throughout the town including libraries, sports and leisure centres and the Civic Offices. A more detailed survey will be online at www.reading.gov.uk/yoursay from Monday 9th June. The consultation is open until 30th September and initial findings are due at the end of the year.'