Book review – “The Shadowy Horses”

“The Shadowy Horses” by Susanna Kearsley

The shadowy horses of the title are the ghost horses which shadow disaster and which the main character is the only one to be aware of.  The story is set on an archaeological dig in an area around Berwick-on-Tweed where they are searching for signs of occupation by the 9th Roman Legion.  There are interesting characters including a young boy with extra-sensory perception, the only one who can see the ghost, but not the only one to be aware of its presence.  The story is part ghost story and part romance, all set around the archaeological dig, with a surprising twist in the tail.  

The general consensus of the group was that this book was well written and enjoyable, a good, light read with interesting archaeological detail. 


AGM Chairmen’s Report

It doesn’t seem long since our last AGM which had been moved into Jan 2021,after a lockdown from March 2020.

That last 12 months seemed endless, isolating and empty. Our main advantage was that the refurbishment of the hall was completed and with added generosity of the National Lottery we were awarded a further £16,000 to complete new fire doors, ramps and handrails on the right hand side of the hall, new automatic roller shutter in the kitchen, cupboard doors, toilet furniture, installation of Wi-Fi and furnishings.

We have had a very helpful and constant rapport with the National Lottery and at last been able to welcome them to see the final refurbishment and offer our thanks and replica copy of of the stages of building in photograph form provided by Paul Kemp.

Although we weren’t officially open for use until July 2021 we were determined to do our best with reaching out to the community and friends outside! We held coffee mornings outdoors serving in a totally safe covid way, few rambles took place using the walks in the new walk book from St Michaels and Mums and Tots outdoors as well as many group meeting on zoom.

Amazing how soon we started up with as many regular hirers as could manage as we, as committee led events which were fantastic. We began these with a most successful and happy Open Garden weekend in early June. The weather was generous and so were the visitors who visited and supported this event. Most faces present said it all- we were so glad to be back together and enjoying a welcoming atmosphere. Thank you to you all for such enthusiasm.

Following this event with a change of date due to the covid bump was the Beatlefest in august. This was a first but again enjoyable and an eclectic mix of locals and semi professionals. There were some great tributes.

On 17th July 2021 on the hottest day of the year! We finally opened the refurbished village hall. Aptly ribbon cut and opened by our Mayor, Mr. Eric Hudson and the Teme valley band played away in the heat. It was joyful and happy afternoon with a delightful tea served to a room of young and old, happy once more in the hub of the village.

In September we held probably one of the best Quiz nights we have had— the room filled with tables, the Quiz master, Ian Grafton, locally known as the curator of local National trust houses. At a later event in October we attempted yet another variety night with 8 performers singing, dancing, playing instruments and telling jokes. A thoroughly good night. We did however miss the presence of the college students who used to attend and perform with us as do Tenbury town. There is definitely an absence of smiling laughing students around town and the college site now for a good year on!

We have held 9 committee meetings since last AGM latterly in person in the new hall which was such an improvement to zoom call meetings. There are village affairs meetings attached to the hall and of course we have held numerous site meetings during the building work.

We were indebted to information and help from community firsts Worcestershire source, to which we decided to pay a subscription as support is instant and saves us a lot of time researching ‘acres’ lengthy jargon. They have advised throughout with covid instruction and advice on health and safety matters, issues and environment. We have just received 10 first class RSPB bird boxes for the community.

Apart from monthly events, that the committee present, we now have a good mix of regular hirers, as well as those who hire the hall for a party, wake, council and elections, exhibition and presentations. The committee have worked hard on preparing health and safety matters and hiring agreements .We can now provide excellent fire safety doors and exits and updated disabled facilities in doors, exits and toilets.

Our hirers include Jiggy wrigglers, Mums and Tots, Healthy fitness, Zumba, Pilates, Personal Fitness, W.I., Floral Arts, Gardening club, St. Michaels Singers, social dancing, Scottish dancing and an art class starting in the new year.

We also hold a monthly coffee morning, strollers group and a pub night.
Of course not only are you welcome to join or try any of these activities but maybe wish to suggest something new or maybe take the lead on an activity. Flexibility and new ideas are always welcome.

It is especially important to be able to include others not necessarily on the committee, Paul Kemp for his continued photography of the building project and events. Paul has helped fill local newspapers with records of our events. Peter, Eddie, Vernon, Gary and Brian Addis have helped often with staging, chairs, tables and acoustics. Ann Wallis has kept us going with posters at the drop of a hat and Julie has been a great help with advertising in the sword and the weekly blog.

With great heart I wish to say a huge thank you to a great team of individuals who help to make the hall run! I am delighted that all the committee wish to remain for a further year— it is because each and everyone takes part and time at meetings and are prepared to roll their sleeves up at an event or working party and jolly well work as a team! Pat, Geoff, Cherry, Robin, Jane, Mark, Angela, Simon, Ros and Di, Thank you, your support and teamwork is quite unique!!

The village hall is there for us all, please use it when you can. There’s still room for improvement and there are plans a foot to utilise the outside space, improve on kitchen facilities and provide updated performance items.

Thank you for listening, stay close, we need you very much.

Tenbury Gardeners Group

We are now meeting at St Michaels Village Hall, everyone welcome. Our programme for the next two months:

Wednesday November 10th – A talk on ‘Roses’ by Wayne Williams, head gardener at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. 7.30 for 8.00pm. Followed by AGM

Wednesday December 8th – Christmas Dinner catered by Phil Gibbs. 7.30 for 8.00pm

We have a full programme of events for 2022. Visitors £2 Annual membership £10. For further details please contact Pam & John 01584 819190 or Philippa 01584 812572

Opening of St Michaels Village Hall

And so — we are here again on a cherished occasion to celebrate the opening of the newly refurbished and updated village hall of St. Michaels, Tenbury Wells.

Some of you may remember the dear green corrugated hall which stood on the common in 1942 and then the new site here in 1966. In the late 90’s Eva Grovenor opened the hall with updated editions following in 2012 with added storage to the side of the hall and further refurbishments. And here today in 2021 we have a very updated top notch hall with a new foyer area and toilets, updated disabled facilities, new fire doors and exits, automatic doors, Wi-Fi, an excellent functional space, I hope you will agree.

Involvement and commitment are the two words Stuart and I always stuck by in our many lifetime projects together so hopefully this meaningful project carries this thread with the goodwill of people and a feel good spirit behind.
It was 5 years ago in 2017 when first plans were drawn up and discussed leading into 2018 when various grants were applied for. We needed to match fund and with the hard work and leadership of Stuart and a wonderful committee £30,000 was raised.We needed £96,000!

2019 was frustrating as there were delays with planning being submitted and we were unsure of funding. However on a cold covid miserable day in March, 2020 I received a call from the Lottery offering us £68,200! What a thrill! In more secure times in 2020 we went on to seek builders, sub contractors and awaited tenders. The building was able to start in July 2020. Throughout this 5 years we have had the support of an excellent team of committee members, all as the title says committed and involved. We have had a subcommittee of 4, Mark Brooks, Pat Mutton, Eric Hudson and myself who have regularly met for site meetings with builders, sub contractors and lottery members, once or twice a week.

At the end of 2020 we were concerned that the project had had an unexpected extra cost to rectify the roof and adjoining cavity wall on poorly constructed earlier building and we hadn’t finished the fire doors, exits, ramps and rails plus little extras. We spoke again to our friends in the Lottery, applied and waited. On 1st February this year another happy call came through with an offer of £16,191 to complete the safety requirements we needed to put in place.

I would like to introduce you to Mr. Eric Hudson our Architect and Project manager who has done an excellent job with daily problems and being in daily contact with us and contractors. He will then change his hat half time and turn into Mr. Mayor of Tenbury and will do us the honour of officially opening the new hall.

We are delighted to have Tenbury town band with us today, yourselves and the sunshine, a good memory, Thankyou. R.P.

The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

Nuri is a Beekeeper, his wife, Afra, an artist. They live a simple life rich in family and friends in the beautiful Syrian city of Aleppo until the unthinkable happens when all they care for is destroyed by war, they are forced to escape! The author has deeply researched the lives of this family who are fleeing as Syrian refugees. She has worked herself as a volunteer at such a refugee camp. The intimate novel  is both terrifying and touching. It reminds us of our capacity for love empathy and hope. From the beginning it is gripping and poignant, it reminds us we cannot turn away from what is there, a refugee crisis. There is a love story in the heart of the book which Lefteri writes it as deftly and gorgeously as she pens even the most devastating war scene. She writes lyrically and poetically using every word to its fullest extent. The book represents the greatest gift of fiction and inspires empathy in all directions.

Ros Plested, Book club


A strange year in everyway, could never have been forecast. The last village hall AGM was on 14th November 2019, I didn’t attend as I was by Stuarts side as he lay dying all too quickly. Although in such shock I knew his wish was for me to ask the committee to carry on in his name to see the refurbishment project of the hall through, and help take us into the next decade with new and old programmes full of activities for all ages and interests of community.

Alas, the committee did give me permission to take the reigns and I can only thank them for their wholehearted support both physically and mentally. But this year, like the rest of the world ,has been curtailed by the shadow of covid 19 epidemic. During this strange year we have held a committee meeting every month except for August, totalling 13 necessary and full on meetings, usually on zoom and all productive and full of hope!

Following the last AGM we held a convivial Christmas village meal after the annual carol concert from the Birmingham University singers,’a New Years day walk which was a lovely treat and a shared lunch.

Into 2020, we held a great Burns night supper and entertainment, which raised a lot of funds for the affairs group who used it to clear out the pond! In February a new and most entertaining group of sea faring chaps entertained us with a sea shanty night- a great atmosphere and significant memories to Stuart and Ken.

We managed a well organised skittles night evening on 14th march, but an air of gloom, doubt and anxiety was beginning to creep in as we had heard of a prescribed lock down. From then on activities were curtailed and so weekly activities did too! The hall was officially shutdown on the 16th march 2020.

At the end of March 2020 I had a call from Tamsin Davey, our lottery grant representative offering us £68,200 towards our refurbishment project of the village hall, WOW! We had been working on this application for the past 3 years! They were offering us 70% of the total cost of the project, we had raised 30% over past few years! Thankyou to all for this.

We thus started to prepare for the building to begin, clear the hall and plan the project with our almost live on site Architect, Eric Hudson and builders under great care of Ian Taylor.

Building began on 20th July2020 and the completion certificate was received in November 2020. Although the refurbishment wasn’t a huge addition, it involved a lot of sub contractors who were often held up due to lack of materials and sometimes delayed due to covid restrictions. It sometimes seemed like one step forward and two back. Overhanging trees needed to be cut down from adjoining property, asbestos needed checking and investigation into a large growing crack in the end wall. This turned out to be the once exterior wall, rainwater was seeping through and onto a flat roof, the wall had not been properly insulated when built and needed strengthening as well as the gable roof and sofits needed re clagging and retiling and reinforcing. This extra work slowed down the work planned and also increased our costs by further £7000, which was our contingency store!

Unfortunately our fire risk assessment confirmed that our present arrangements are only capable of accommodating up to 100 people. After a lot of deliberation and expertise our best way forward would be to reinstate the fire exits in the middle of the hall and side end through bar. These fire doors, exits and ramps are proposed in a new plan as well as a regulatory fire shutter to come down over the hatch automatically in the kitchen. Costings for this extended project as well as finishing items to the halls i.e. cupboard doors, toilet requisites, Wi-Fi, and furnishings have been requested further in an extended lottery grant. This grant application goes to panel today! 28th January 2021!

The National lottery have been extremely helpful as well as supportive, we have been in regular contact with them and cannot speak more highly of they service.Ian Taylor has been an excellent builder and our project manager,Eric Hudson has given us excellent daily input and update. Mark Brooks, Pat Mutton ,myself, along with Eric have held site meetings at least once a week. Such a project has presented questions and difficulties as well as being active in such difficult times.

In July 2020 we sadly saw the closure of St. Michaels college, in doing so we were invited along to literally help ourselves to any items awaiting clearance and closure. Pots and pans, lighting, projectors and screen, folding chairs, racking and cleaning equipment came down to us and we are very grateful.

We have spent a lot of time regularly communicating with Acre and community first who have been able to advise us about restrictions, covid regulations, risk assessments and preparations for re opening the hall.

We did manage to have some events during lockdown, we CLAPPED for our heroes of the NHS,the easter bunny visited. On the 8th may we enjoyed seeing one another and remembering VE Day with our virtual street parties.

The light festival was successful on one evening which remained dry! Lovely to see the new building lit up which of course in turn lit our faces. Carols and hand bellringing bought such joy and atmosphere! The angel of St. Michael looked down on us and your houses looked wonderful, such community spirit. Thankyou again to community first who sent us all 2 lights to adorn our windows and say hello.

We enjoyed the company at a distance on our New Years day walk good to walk and talk together and welcome the year in and our many newcomers! Welcome!!

With great heart I wish to say THANKYOU ,nothing happens in life without collective, community sharing and caring, so therefore many thanks to you all who have supported the hall in the past and certainly in the present being this year.

The committee have been so reliable and committed this year—attending regular meetings, offering advice and practical help and huge support in some scary decisions. We have worked as a team, a very good team!!!
Jane Yardley has been an excellent secretary, her advise always well researched, Mark Brooks, our guide and competent Treasurer and technician, not to mention enthusiastic in the building project. Pat and Geoff Mutton such hard workers and advisors, full of wisdom in all matters. Cherry and Robin Moore have done an excellent job at looking at the hirers, covid agreements, regulations not to mention spending a weekend cleaning the floor! (Stuarts favourite job) Ros and Angela such practical doers, always enthusiastic and practical in every way. Mary, Mike and Janet great supporters and advisers because they have years of experience!!

It is especially important to be able to ask people to help in all sorts of ways, whether or not they are on the committee— a great gang of chaps, Peter Crownshaw, Vernon Albert and Eddie Powis came and took down the iron girder in the hall— a marathon task. Ann Wallace has kindly helped design posters for events, Ann and Simon produced a wonderful nativity scene in our new window this year. Paul Kemp has taken and is editing a great collection of photos of the building project, can’t wait to see them all!

Now, you will use this hall when you can won’t you? We are starting to receive enquiries for use— but we do look forward to this new decade of new and old uses but most of all— its yours! ENJOY it.

This is an incredibly long report but I believe vital this year! David Livingston said simply “I’ll go anywhere, as long as its Forward”
I hope you can join me in doing so. THANKYOU

Ros Plested – January 28th 2021

Village Hall AGM


Charity Number 1023457






 AT 6.30 P.M.









If you wish to join this zoom meeting please contact Mark Brooks using the Contact Us page

Village Hall Refurbishment

And so it goes on….

Into November we now move quickly to pull everything together and work on the finishing touches to internal and external jobs. This week we are preparing the floor surfaces ready for covering in the new toilets and smart weather proof tiles in the new foyer area.

Ian, our builder will be starting on the ramp outside the automatic doors, this will have a disabled access one side and steps on the other. As soon as the walls are dry both in the new part and main adjoining wall on the hillside we can invite our decorator in to decorate it all!

Covid restrictions go on even in the construction business! We, Eric, Ian and team of workers, as well as Pat, Mark, Robin and I have all been in on a regular basis for site meetings and sorting minor problems and decisions out. A building project of this shape adjoining an original structure of the 60’s is not the easiest! Alas we have had an excellent conscientious team of workers and been most appreciative of the Lottery funding grant we were awarded in March 2020! We hope you will enjoy it also and the smaller items of furnishings we need to make it ‘home’ will be sourced with your help I’m sure. The outside and surrounding car park needs a spring project and working party, you may well like to join such a party? So now it will be a case now use it when we can!!

We start off with a “Festival of light”, 12th/13th Dec, 4pm to 7pm, when St. Michael will light your way! and you are invited to walk, stroll or ride up and down the lane and across the common viewing the lights in gardens ending up with a well lit village hall. Please walk around the OUTSIDE of the hall as covid won’t allow us inside just yet.

In the next few days you will have a couple of battery operated candles delivered to you, please show these in a window, that we can all see. These have been provided by community first, Worcester, promoting a project reminding us of isolation and loneliness. We hope you enjoy this visit —together with background music of carols and handbell ringers around the car park area.

We plan a village walk on January 1st around the village with hopefully and covid restricted, ending up in the village hall sharing lunch and drinks.

Hiring the hall for various activities and classes is planned from the beginning of January 2021 — again covid restricted.

Christmas blessings and new year wishes to you all.

Ros Plested and village hall committee.

An update on St. Michaels village hall refurbishment —September 2020

It seems quite a while now, when in 2017 we began applications for the lottery grant funds and plans for the refurbishment of the village hall. the footings and groundwork began on 20th July this year and whilst waiting the setting of the concrete, bricks and long awaited materials began to appear. (Another strange sign of our times.)

It was good to hold a coffee morning in July and many thanks for those who worked hard to make it possible and to all those who attended. If anything it helped prove we could re-open with all the relevant signage, risk assessments, sanitisers, perspex and exit and entrances, not to mention handling money.

The committee have met 4 times since lockdown, the building  sub committee meet almost weekly both on and off site, there have been  many issues to discuss. The village hall, kitchen, bar and cupboards have been cleaned thoroughly and regular checks on ventilation, flushing water and toilets in case of legionnaires have been carried out.

One week was spent visiting the college, before it totally closed down. We were there daily at the invitation of college administrator to view remaining kitchen and college items. We had previously purchased an Epson projector from them but at the end of their closure we were very fortunate to have over 50 fold up chairs, tables, lighting, screen, excellent storage racking and exceptional kitchen serving dishes, pans and storage. There was staging but we suggested the church take responsibility for this.

We hope the building plans continue well in such capable hands of Ian Taylor, the builder and Eric Hudson, the architect. It will be good to see its progress and in the meantime we are planning final stages for completion and towards re-opening ,this could be November! Long haul! We hope as many regular hirers will return and others will think of new uses as well as many community events as always has, many good memories I’m sure you will agree.

Changing times, existing times are always ready to shock and surprise us. Let us know your thoughts, suggestions, they are all valuable!

Our most recent update is that now we have arranged all those final niceties of completing a building or room! The decorating, flooring, windows and coverings, sanitary ware, colour schemes and automatic doors and easy access entrances and exits are now in final stages.
Winter may well come early this year following such a brilliant year of good weather. So the final stages of roofing are vital as soon as possible.

We propose re-opening the village hall with a “light festival”-seasonal and appropriate with the current situation surrounding us! We will inform you of more information re this event, 12th /13th December, when an outside visit of lighted symbols from an advent calendar idea can be seen ,ending in and around the village hall. There will be background carls heard, handbell ringing, Christmas stalls and crafts as well as kiosks of seasonal food and drink with festive cheer.

We also propose starting a Friday evening pub night for a couple of hours each week as well as the monthly coffee mornings. We also plan a new years day walk followed by a bring and share lunch in the village hall.

Our regular meetings and talks with community first plus information from Acre have updated us regularly with covid19 precautions ,and regulations, the hall will be well prepared and organised for forthcoming events. Most of all we look forward to seeing you and welcoming you all back with old and new activities and events and start to enjoy and encompass our new village hall in new times!

Best regards

Ros Plested (Chair of v. Hall)