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Pacer at Gobowen

Plans to link Oswestry and Gobowen by rail take another step forward

Cambrian Heritage Railways, with sites in Oswestry town centre and Llynclys, has taken delivery of two Pacer train carriages from Porterbrook, the rolling stock finance and asset management company and long-time supporter of community rail.

The acquisition was organised following discussions between the Chester Shrewsbury Community Rail Partnership and Porterbrook CEO Mary Grant.

A Pacer carriage at Gobowen Station
A Pacer carriage at Gobowen Station

Sheila Dee, Community Rail Officer for the Partnership, explained that during conversations some months ago Mary was interested in the range of projects we were involved in and the Partnership’s support of the reopening of the line between Gobowen and Oswestry that was being promoted by Cambrian Heritage Railways (CHR).

Sheila said: “Our work with Cambrian Heritage Railways has focused on assisting them on the bid to the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railways project earlier this year and introducing a community rail service.

“We have also discussed arranging a community rail working party involving Porterbrook and local volunteers interested on working on the Pacers when the conditions allow.”

Speaking about the donation Mary Grant said: “I was really excited when Sheila told me about the plans for the heritage railway linking Gobowen and Oswestry. Porterbrook is always keen to work with community rail groups and I am delighted that we have been able to make available some of our retired Pacer trains for this very worthwhile project.

“I very much look forward to visiting Cambrian Heritage Railways to see these trains as they embark on a new life serving both local people and visitors to this beautiful part of Shropshire.“

Cambrian Heritage Railways Chairman Roger Date said: “We are immensely grateful to Porterbrook for all their help in allowing us to acquire these units and to the Community Rail Partnership for making the introductions and working with us so positively over the past 12 months. Being a part of the Community Rail Partnership has assisted us with our aspiration to deliver a community rail service and bring economic benefits to the area.”

According to Cambrian Heritage Railways, timescales for a possible reopening of the line to Gobowen are hard to predict and are subject to government funding, but local people can support the proposals by keeping up pressure on their local and national politicians.

Local people are also being urged by CHR to become members to present a stronger voice to funding agencies. Here’s the link to their membership form: http://www.cambrianrailways.com/html/join_online.html

To see how you can help support the railway during the COVIS-19 pandemic, please visit https://www.cambrianrailways.com/html/covid-19.html

Whittington Castle

Can you help Whittington Castle?

Whittington Castle is an historic landmark which has welcomed the public through its doors free of charge for generations but is now facing imminent and permanent closure – thanks to coronavirus.

The voluntary and unpaid trustees of Whittington Castle, a 13th century border fortress visited annually by thousands of tourists and locals and an increasingly popular venue for major historical re-enactments, have issued a stark warning.

Whittington Castle, Shropshire

With its entire revenue axed to zero as a result of lockdown, plans are already afoot to seal the castle and its grounds to the public, posing a risk it will never re-open, unless funds can be raised to rescue it.

Chairman of the Trustees of the moated castle and its landscaped parkland, Jonjo Evans, explained: “I have a sinking feeling we are going down for good this time, after years of financial problems and this is tragic given that we started the new year with light at the end of a long tunnel.

For years now the Castle has been treading a financial tightrope, with no external funding whatever, relying on our tea room and car park for a regular modest income to pay wages. With free admission, we are heavily dependent on events such as weddings, re-enactments of landmarks in history and other popular activities to help cover the huge annual cost of keeping the place going. As a rule we do well to break even. People see the castle always bubbling with activity and life, swarming with tourists and assume finances are ticking over nicely. They should see the books.”

Our public liability and other insurance, for instance, cost more than £1,000 a month, so the maximum £10,000 grant we received from the Exchequer as a result of Corona virus will be gone on that and other running costs such as utility bills and other recurring and unavoidable overheads by the end of the summer. Long before that happens, leaving us in effect uninsured and with nothing left in the bank, we will need to take steps to seal the site off to stop people sneaking in. The law requires this and it is a bleak prospect.”

The gatehouse will still be visible from the road, but the moat bridge, along with the road approach to the rest of the castle and its grounds will have to be barricaded and in the absence of an injection of funds I can’t see any of it re-opening when the crisis is over. We need capital now to keep going and at the very least make the small improvements from we had planned to do from the income.”

If you would be able to financially support the castle, please visit https://www.gofundme.com/f/community-castle-in-crisis, where you can add your contribution.

Pant Memorial Hall with Amistice plaques

Village hall secures lifeline

Pant Memorial Hall has been awarded a grant of £10,000 as part of the Government’s Retail, Hospitality and Leisure grant fund.

This fund is being used to support those businesses and charities in the leisure and hospitality sectors which have been forced to close during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Speaking about the award, Sean from the Memorial Hall said: “Although the charity that runs the hall for the benefit of the local community does have reserves, we are very grateful to have been awarded these extra funds. During the lockdown we are obviously unable to take bookings for the hire of the hall, which is usually the main way we make money for its upkeep.

Pant Memorial Hall - main hall for hire
The main hall in Pant Memorial Hall

“We are expecting the lockdown to come to an end later this year, but it’s possible that bookings at the hall will suffer for some months to come, so this grant will mean we can be assured of keeping the hall at the heart of the community.”

This grant comes close on the tail of a Big Lottery award that has already been earmarked for a much-needed upgrade to the lighting at the hall. Obviously, this work cannot start until the lockdown has ended and a full specification for the works can be drawn up.

The trustees have invested consistently in the hall over the past few years to keep it in the best state of repair possible and they have managed to do this while increasing the number of visitors and bookings at the hall.
Added Sean: “Until this lockdown, the hall was booked almost every night of the week and most days, so it’s really sad to see it empty. We are continuing to keep the flower displays around the hall in tip top condition and it’s so pleasing when we hear local people say how nice they think it all looks.”

Find out more: www.pantmemorialhall.org.uk

Pant Memorial Hall with Armistice Artwork

Could you spare a few hours for Pant Memorial Hall?

As a charity, the oversight of Pant Memorial Hall is delegated to a small committee who keep the hall running for the benefit of the community.

Pant Memorial Hall with Armistice Artwork

The committee members are villagers, or people who live in the local area, and only meet three times a year to keep things running smoothly.

Next month sees the Annual Meeting at the hall, and the committee is seeking local people, who could attend just three meetings a year, to come along and stand for election.

Being a member of the committee doesn’t require any special skills, just an interest in making sure the hall is run in accordance with its charitable aims of providing a meeting place for various groups in the village.

Each of the committee meetings only lasts an hour or two, so the time commitment for new members is about six hours a year, especially as increasingly decisions are made by email or telephone where required.
The committee needs to have a minimum of seven members, but can accommodate more to ensure a wide range of views and opinions are considered.

According to hall chairperson Sean: “We aim to keep meetings to the minimum needed to ensure good governance of the charity and we also aim to keep them sociable too.”

Being a committee members is a great way to play your part in the community and would be really helpful in keeping the Memorial Hall as a vibrant asset for the village.

Committee meetings currently take place either at the hall or in the Cross Guns, usually in the early evening.

The AGM takes place on Saturday, 14 March 2020 at 2.30pm.

If you would like to find out more about being a committee member, then please email secretary@pantmemorialhall.org.uk or come along to the meeting.


Village Hall Photograph Competition

A national competition is looking for your photos on the theme of Village Life. There is a top prize of £500 for the photographer and £1,000 up for grabs for Pant Memorial Hall too.

According to organisers Allied Westminster, the competition will not focus on ‘pretty, pretty’ villages, but will celebrate village life and the role of village halls in their communities. Judges will be looking for photos that encapsulate the sense of village community.

Pant and the surrounding areas are great places to take photos – whether on Llanymynech Rocks, by the Montgomery Canal, on local farms or at community events – so you might already have the winning photograph ready to enter! And if not, why not get out and take some photos? It’s a great excuse to take a walk around the village and, with a closing date of midnight on 15 March 2020, there’s plenty of time.

Photos that include local people are encouraged
Wonderful Villages Photo Competition Rules

Our ‘Wonderful Villages’ photo competition is being run for the benefit of ALL RURAL village halls in the UK, large or small, rich or poor, connected to large social networks or serving tiny communities. So, the following rules are intended to make the competition as fair as possible.

We encourage ALL rural halls to enter, so whether you’re a snap-happy amateur with a smartphone or a professional with a Leica, it’s all about community spirit and content. Theme: ‘Village Life – a photo which characterises the value of community in your village’.

Photos must have been taken from within the UK, in UK villages, and the village shown must be specified in the entry form. See below for definition of ‘village’. So, to qualify for judging, an eligible photo must be taken in a UK village and show content which encapsulates the value of community in that village. It’s not our role to be prescriptive but landscapes, nature shots, architectural shots, and photos without identifiable people doing identifiable things are unlikely to qualify, although each photo will be assessed on its merits.

Entry Details: When submitting your photo, you must supply/confirm the following:
• Your full name and a valid email address so we can contact you if you win.
• The name and address of the nominated village hall which will receive
its prize if you win. The hall must be a legitimate village hall (or community / memorial hall) within a UK village community as defined in Clause 12 below and you must have the hall’s permission to nominate it. If you win, we will ask for contact details for the hall so that funds can be sent directly to the treasurer or chairperson. The photographer’s own prize will be awarded once the village hall has confirmed receipt of its prize. Your nominated village hall does not have to be within the same village as shown in the photo.
• The name of the village shown in the photo, together with region, county and country.
• A short description of the content of the photo.

Entry Fee: There is no entry fee. No purchase is necessary.
Final Dates: Last photo entry – midnight 15/3/2020. Last votes – midnight 6/4/2020.
Late Entries: Entries submitted after last photo entry date will not be included in the judging. Allied Westminster will not be held responsible for any delays or submission failures caused by problems with uploading images using the software provided.

1st prize £1,000 to village hall and £500 to the photographer
2nd prize £500 to the village hall and £250 to the photographer
3rd prize £250 to the village hall and £125 to the photographer
4th prize £100 to the village hall and £50 to the photographer
5th prize £50 to the village hall and £25 to the photographer.

To enter follow this link and instructions: https://villagehallsurvey.com/survey/photo-competition/photo-gallery

Please help Pant Memorial Hall win the £1,000 by voting!

Five eligible photos with the most votes will automatically go on to the final ‘short list’ for judging. So your votes really do count.

It’s also important that as many people as possible vote for their favourite photo: Please do so by following this link: https://villagehallsurvey.com/survey/photo-competition/photo-gallery

BBC Children in Need & The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge to come through Pant

BBC Children in Need & The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge to come through Pant

Team Rickshaw returns for the ninth year and their challenging 400 mile route from Holyhead to London is due to pass through Pant and Llanymynech on Sunday 10 November.

BBC Children in Need & The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge to come through Pant
The new Rickshaw for 2019

The annual challenge, which is now in its ninth year, will see a team of six young people and The One Show’s Matt Baker take on the eight-day challenge.

It will begin on Friday 8th November in Holyhead and the team will travel across Wales for three days before crossing over into England in Llanymynech, and then eventually making their way down to the finish line at BBC Elstree Studios on Friday 15th November during the BBC Children in Need Appeal Show. The rickshaw will come through Llanymynech first and then Pant on day three of the challenge, which is the Machynlleth to Oswestry stage.

The team’s progress will be broadcast live on The One Show throughout the week, as Matt’s co-presenters back in the studio follow the team on their 400 mile journey. This year’s route will see the team tackle the highest village in the UK – Flash in the Peak District, and the steepest street in the world in Harlech, Wales.

Last year, a new custom rickshaw was built by a team of engineers at the McLaren Technology Centre to make the rickshaw accessible to a wider range of riders. An innovative seat-post system allowed team members with a range of mobilities to join the team. This year, McLaren has gone one step further and created an innovative solution that enables visually impaired and blind riders to take part in the challenge. A recumbent guide-trike, which fixes to the front of the Rickshaw allows steering and braking to be managed by a guide rider whilst a visually impaired rider pedals from the main driving seat of the Rickshaw.

The team taking on the challenge this year is made up of six young people, Adelle, 17, from Belfast, Emma, 18, from Nottingham, Josh, 17, from Carnforth, Lancashire, Kelsey, 17, from Watford, Thomas, 17, from Swindon and Uche, 20, from London.

Matt Baker with Thomas

Matt Baker, Presenter of The One Show who will be joining the team on the road, said of the challenge: “I can’t believe that in just a few weeks’ time we’ll be heading back on the road again for the ninth year of the Rickshaw Challenge!

Emma with Pudsey

“We have a truly inspirational team joining us on the road, and we’re looking forward to seeing all those friendly faces who will be cheering us on from the roadside, as we battle the elements and complete the 400 mile journey from Wales to Elstree.”

Since 2011, The One Show’s Rickshaw Challenge has raised over £25 million for BBC Children in Need, with donations going on to make a difference to the lives of children and young people across the UK who need it most.

In an exciting first for the fundraising challenge, The Hunter Foundation (THF) has pledged to give 40p for every £1 donated by the general public to the Rickshaw Challenge, helping to make the public’s generous donations go even further in making a difference to young lives.

The One Show viewers will be able to follow Team Rickshaw’s progress on the show each day, but the full route – including a real-time update of the rickshaw’s progress once it sets off – is also available here.

Pant Autumn Bazaar deemed ‘Success

Pant Autumn Bazaar a success

This year’s Pant Autumn Bazaar, which took place on Saturday 5th October in Pant Memorial Hall, has been deemed a great success as it raised a record amount for the upkeep of the village hall and at the same time brought together a number of local traders.

Pant Autumn Bazaar has always had the dual aim of bringing the community together at an annual event as well as raising funds for the upkeep of the hall.

Locals and visitors enjoying Pant Autumn Bazaar.

This year, the bazaar was held between 2pm and 4pm and during that time locals and visitors came together to browse around the stalls and also to enjoy a cuppa and piece of cake along with a chat with friends and neighbours.

Stalls this year featured wood items turned from local wood, local honey, fresh produce and preserves as well as fundraising stalls for the hall.

Thanks to everyone’s hard work and donations the hall was able to raise over £600 which will be used by the hall to invest in the upkeep of the hall. The support of local businesses in Pant, Oswestry and Welshpool which donated items for the tombola, helped the committee raise such a magnificent amount.

Stallholders at Pant Autumn Bazaar offered a wide range of products.

Over the past few years, the committee that runs the hall has been keen to invest in improvements at the hall to ensure it can stay a vibrant and well used community asset.

According to Shaun, Treasurer at the hall, this year saw the highest amount raised at the bazaar. “We were delighted to raise over £600, which is a magnificent effort on the part of everyone who came along, donated items or had a stall. I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone on behalf of the committee.”

Visit www.pantmemorialhall.org.uk to find out more about the hall and if you use Facebook you can find the hall at @PantMemorialHall.

Pant Memorial Hall with Armistice Artwork

Countdown to Pant Autumn Bazaar starts

The countdown to this year’s Pant Autumn Bazaar, which takes place on Saturday 5th October in Pant Memorial Hall, aims to bring the community together and raise funds for the upkeep of the hall, which is a registered charity.

Pant Autumn Bazaar 2017
Pant Autumn Bazaar is back!

The bazaar is being held between 2pm and 4pm for locals and visitors alike and will feature stalls from a number of local organisations and charities, as well as refreshments and an opportunity to see the facilities offered in the Hall.

Once again, there will be a wide selection of local craft-makers and businesses offering unique and bespoke products, gifts and cards. The hall itself will be running a tombola, treasure hunt and bookstall, as well as selling bric-a-brac, to help raise funds.

Proceeds from the sale of teas, coffees and cake will also go towards the upkeep of Pant Memorial Hall, which is a registered charity and a valuable asset for the community.

Last year, thanks to the generosity of visitors and stallholders, Pant Autumn Bazaar raised over £600 and, just as importantly, villagers had the opportunity to meet up and enjoy a ‘cuppa’ and a chat.

Donation drop off for books, bric-a-brac and tombola prizes takes place on Friday 4th October from 7pm to 8pm and all contributions are appreciated.

Visit www.pantmemorialhall.org.uk to find out more about the Hall and if you use Facebook you can find the Hall at @PantMemorialHall.

Heritage Open Days

Heritage Open Days Celebrates 25th Anniversary

With a dynamic programme of over 5,000 events, Heritage Open Days is England’s largest annual festival of history and culture.

Every September, doors are flung open at some of the country’s best-known attractions, as well as private and community spaces, thanks to support from the National Trust and players of People’s Postcode Lottery.

Locally, there are dozens of events to choose from including boat trips at Llanymynech Wharf Visitor Centre and steam trains at the Cambrian Heritage Railway, with a bus from Llynclys to Oswestry station. There will also be plenty going on at The Tanat Valley Light Railway at the Nant Mawr visitor centre

Speaking about the activities at Llanymynech, Joan Zorn said: “We have a number of events for visitors including guided walks of the Limeworks Heritage Area with Tony and Martyn (meet at Stables Building) on 14, 15, 21 and 22 September, 1.00 – 4.30pm.

Llanymynech Wharf on the Montgomery Canal
Boat trips will start at the Llanymynech Wharf

“On the 22 September, 1.00 – 4.30 we have our demo kiln firing and lime slaking demonstrations showing the process used to process the limestone quarried on Llanymynech Hill.

“And we even have FREE 30 minute Boat Trips on the beautiful Montgomery Canal on 15 and 22 September at 1.00 – 4.30. So why not come down and enjoy our local heritage?”

Nationally, to celebrate the festival’s 25th anniversary, 25 new places are opening their doors, from country houses, museum archives and gardens, to theatres, wildlife reserves, distilleries and even a solar farm.

“It’s always exciting when new places join Heritage Open Days,” says National Manager, Annabelle Thorpe. And this year we have a bumper crop of first-timers. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate our 25th anniversary than by sharing it with these iconic places.”

The 25 new places cover a wide range of topics; natural heritage will be celebrated at the home of World Wildlife Fund founder, Sir Peter Scott, while the country’s manufacturing and industrial heritage will be on show at working sites, such as the Bombay Sapphire Distillery.

Visitors can also explore the restored Wentworth Castle Gardens, newly reopened and launched this year as part of the National Trust. And, at places like these which normally charge, festival visitors get free entry, making it a great opportunity to experience local destinations on a

Find Heritage Open Day events using this interactive map – https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/map

Llanymynech Wharf on the Montgomery Canal

Llanymynech Wharf Visitor Centre needs you!

Llanymynech Wharf Visitor Centre will be opening for the 2019 season on Easter Sunday, 21 April and is looking to recruit new volunteers to help out at this popular local tourist attraction.

Visitors to the centre can look forward to half-hour boat trips along a beautiful stretch of the Montgomery Canal on a 12-seater trip boat, the ‘George Watson Buck’. (The boat is named after the engineer who rescued and repaired the Vyrnwy aqueduct after it was threatened with collapse in the early 1800s). The boat is accessible to people who use wheelchairs. In the Visitor Centre light refreshments are served and there are canal-related gifts and books for sale as well as a selection of plants.

The centre will be open every Sunday and Bank Holiday until the end of September from 1.30 to 4.30. During August the centre will also be open at the same times each Friday. Children go free on the boat on Bank Holidays and on August Fridays. The Centre and the boat are all run by a team of volunteers.

“We always welcome new volunteers,” says Joan Zorn from the centre. “We would like to see more local people getting involved with the centre and if you would like to help, come and talk to us one Sunday afternoon or contact Liz on 01691 828165. You’d only have to commit to one or two Sunday afternoons as a minimum. We do have a lot of fun!”

During the year, there are a number of special events which take place on Bank Holidays such as Strawberry Cream Teas in August. Keep an eye on Pant.Today for information about other events.

The Visitor Centre is housed in the former stables of the Sun Inn which once stood just to the North of the canal bridge carrying the A483. The stables were restored by British Waterways (now Canal & River Trust) around 2003/4. This was at the same time as the 600m stretch of canal in Llanymynech was cleared, restored and reopened.

For further information, why not visit www.llanylime.co.uk

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Pant.Today is published by Ethos public relations Ltd. The site is designed to be an asset for the community in the village of Pant in Shropshire as well as visitors and others.

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