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Author: The Editor

alone in a window

When you heart is feeling sad

Jane saw this on BBC Breakfast Today. A Poem by Helen Smith called “When your heart is feeling sad” and wanted to have the words. So I thought you might like to have them as well.

When your heart is feeling sad and the tears fall from your eyes,
look outside your window and look up to the sky.
Their presence is all around you, they’re protecting you from above,
they’re watching over all of you and sending you their love.
They’ll visit you in your dreams to let you know there still around,
they’re the birdsong and the beauty and the feathers upon the ground.
So though you’ll miss them dearly please know this to be true that they will live on in other ways and forever be with you.

When you heart is feeling sad
by Helen Smith, who lost her dad to COVID-19.
BBC Breakfast

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EU Flag

Read the contract!

EU export threat

According to the BBC The EU is threatening to withhold vaccine supplies to other countries. Why should supplies of vaccines made in the EU be exported to other countries when those same companies can’t supply the EU?

The answer seems to be in the small print of the contracts.

The UK Contract

In the UK contracts, signed early on, mostly paid upfront, at a premium price, and to be paid even if the vaccine didn’t work, we specified delivery dates or schedule.

The EU Contract

In the EU contracts, signed at the last minute, to be paid on delivery, at a bargain price, but not if the order was taken up, they just specied a quantity to be delivered with no schedule.

So which contact is better

I know if I was a Supplier of vaccines, I know which customer I would rather support. Of course I am slightly simplifying the argument, but then so is the EU!


COVID-19 Diary Project

2021 is the year of hope.

2021, the year when the world will eventually start to recover from the threat of the COVID-19. The virus which blighted 2020. 2021, the year when the world’s population will start to be immunised against this deadly pandemic.


Vaccination is the medical technique which provides this immunity. The word “Vaccination” derives from the Latin for “cow” or “vacca.

Dr Jenner
Dr Jenner performing his first vaccination. This file comes from Wellcome Images, a website operated by Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation based in the United Kingdom.

Dr Edward Jenner, who was born in Berkeley, developed vaccination in 1749 . While investigating how a mild disease known as cowpox appeared to provide immunity against the deadly smallpox, he developed the technique of injecting small quantities of cowpox into the bloodstream, to protect against smallpox. Subsequently, he devoted his life to ensuring that this technique was practiced as widely as possible, and available to all.

The Temple of Vaccinia

The Temple of Vaccinia
The Temple of Vaccinia, a small thatched building in the garden of The Chantry. It is from this small building that Dr Edward Jenner vaccinated people against smallpox. © Copyright Philip Halling

The Temple of Vaccinia as Jenner called it was the world’s first vaccination clinic. It was his garden summerhouse, at his home in Berkeley. Vaccinations were soon being conducted world-wide as the practice spread. It is difficult to estimate how many lives have been, and continue to be saved by this medical breakthrough. However, following a world-wide effort, in 1979 the World Health Organisation declared smallpox eradicated. How prescient were the words of Thomas Jefferson, who in 1806 wrote of Dr Jenner :

“You have erased from the calendar of human afflictions one of its greatest. Yours is the comfortable reflection that mankind can never forget that you have lived”.

(1806) Thomas Jefferson to G. C. Edward Jenner
(1806) Thomas Jefferson to G. C. Edward Jenner. -05-14. Retrieved from the Library of Congress

The Jenner Museum

The “Birthplace of Vaccination”, in Church Lane Berkeley, is now preserved as a Museum. The Jenner Museum, House, and Gardens are (under normal circumstances) open to the public, lovingly cared for, and offer informative and educational displays and events about the science of vaccination and related topics.

COVID-19 Diary Project

The Museum is running its COVID-19 Diary Project, an opportunity for you to contribute to their repository of stories, observations, and memories from this pandemic for the benefit of future researchers. The Museum hope that you will join the project in keeping a diary of your experiences, from the mundane to the profound. Basically anything that sheds light on daily life during a pandemic. More details are on the museum website. Now, more than ever, the world needs to know about Dr Edward Jenner and his remarkable legacy.

The Jenner Trust

Dr Jenner’s House is owned and run by The Jenner Trust, an independent charity (number 1158316). Being a charity, they rely heavily on visitors to finance the upkeep of the House, Museum and Gardens. Sadly, forced to close for most of 2020 for the safety of visitors and staff, funding has been severely reduced.

If you would like to help by donating, volunteering, or registering your support, please check out their website or for more information email.

“No human being who has ever lived has saved more lives than the simple country doctor from Gloucestershire”.

Andrew Marr’s History of the World 2012

While we may dispute the description “simple” for such an astute and innovative mind, this tribute could prove especially true in 2021.

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Pitman Plaque

The Pitman Plaque

Found in Wotton

I was cycling through the backstreets of Wotton under Edge for my lockdown cycle ride and came across this plaque on the side of a house.

“Pitman invented his system of shorthand know as Phonography here”

I can remember well my sisters learning shorthand at college and I would assume that many people in Stinchcombe remember learning as well. But who uses it now? Does anyone still learn it? Does anyone under 30 know what it is?

First, what is Pitman?

It’s fair to say that Pitman shorthand was the first widely used method of shorthand. Invented by Sir Isaac Pitman, himself a fascinating character, It is a system of writing just using symbols using symbols to represent sounds. This allowed a much greater speed of writing.

Pitman Sample
From the 1897 book Eclectic Shorthand by Cross. Scanned by Marlow4 and placed in public domain. It shows shorthand method of Isaac Pitman Cropped

So, does anyone use Pitman now?

Good question. A quick search of the Internet says that according to the BBC website and the article “Is the art of shorthand dying?“, Pitman, or at least one of its newer variations, is alive and well. It is still used by journalists and court recorders. Well it was in 2016.

Comments and Retrospective Reminiscences are welcome for this article in the comments section of this post on the website. Look forward to reading them.

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Mobile Speed Camera outside the Village Hall

Results of the Survey on Funding Community Projects

Thank You

Many thanks to the 41 households that returned their forms – about a quarter of the households in the parish.

It is notoriously difficult to get a good response rate.  Coinciding with a lockdown certainly doesn’t help!  There are probably many reasons why people decide to opt out – it would be useful to learn more to improve future surveys. 

How much support for traffic calming?

Three-quarters (75.6%)  of responding households are in favour of funding traffic calming by an increase in their council tax.

We asked which street you live on for a good reason.  Highways will assess traffic calming proposals on various criteria, including the community support in the immediate vicinity.

The percentage of households in favour on those streets with more than one or two responses was:

Road% in FavourNo. Responses
The Street92%12 responses
Taits Hill Rd & Taits Hill70%10 responses
Wick Lane57%7 responses
Echo Lane100%4 responses
Responses to the Village Survey

Traffic calming funded by other means is supported by an additional 10% of responding households.  A further 10% say they would possibly support it.  This suggests that very few in the Parish are actively against doing something about speeding.

How much are responding households prepared to pay for traffic calming?

You were asked what increase in your annual council tax you would accept for this purpose.  We requested your council tax band so we could  calculate the corresponding increase in the parish precept.  The zero responses were taken into account as well as the non-zero ones.

The calculated increase in precept came out at just over £3,000.  This figure represents an average of what responding households wanted, taking account their different council tax bands. 

What has the Parish Council decided?

The Parish Council discussed the survey results at our meeting on 20 January.  It was essential to decide on the parish precept for 2021/22  to meet the budget deadline.  We voted unanimously for a increase of £2,000 for traffic calming purposes.  This is well within the amount calculated from the survey responses.

There will be a second instalment in 2022/23 to provide the balance needed for a traffic calming project.  The Speed Watch Group will do its best to minimise the balance by seeking other funding.  We will also get on with the other activities needed to support the project.  This will include resuming speed monitoring as soon as it is permitted.

What form will traffic calming take?

The Speed Watch Group continues to research the options, but a vehicle-activated sign  (VAS)  has emerged as the favourite. 

The main reasons are:

  • significant and sustained speed reductions at moderate cost
  • can take action at more than one location
  • moving the VAS between locations avoids drivers becoming “desensitised”
  • education aspect – makes drivers more aware of their speed
  • choice of suppliers and plenty of operating experience

A detailed table comparing the options is available for anyone who is interested.

Playground Improvements

This aspect of the survey is not related to the Speed Watch Group, but for completeness here are the key findings.

  • 58.5% of responding households are in favour of funding playground improvement via an increase in council tax
  • The calculated increase in precept for this purpose came out at just under £1,500.

The Parish Council decided that rather than increase the precept they would allocate £500 towards the development of proposals.

Other community projects suggested

The following suggestions were received:

  • reinstatement and maintenance of public footpaths (3 households suggested this)
  • contribution towards cost of a village magazine
  • contribution towards the maintenance of the churchyard
  • village pub
  • new noticeboard next to the bench near the bridleway up the Hill
  • electric vehicle charging point

The Annual Parish Meeting in May (date not yet decided) will be an opportunity to discuss these ideas.  With any luck we will be able to meet in person by then.

And finally … privacy issues

All the responses have been put into a spreadsheet, which does not include any names, postal addresses or email addresses.

I have explained why we needed to know your street and council tax band.  This information does not identify an individual property except in a very small number of cases.  In such cases, it will be removed if the spreadsheet needs to be shared.

The unique reference number on each survey form has not been linked to your address.  Its purpose was to ensure that no household submitted more than one response.

Where people submitted their form electronically we unavoidably have email addresses.  The emails are stored in a dedicated, password protected account.  Copies of the forms themselves will be kept temporarily, but the emails will shortly be deleted. Where people have put their response in the email instead of using the form, it will be copied to a new document.  This document will not include their name or email address.

Paper and electronic copies of the completed forms will eventually be destroyed/deleted.  They are being kept for the time being in case the Parish Council wishes to check the accuracy of the spreadsheet. 

Kath Hudson

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An Oximeter could save your life

What is an Oximeter?

A pulse oximeter slips over your middle finger and shines a light into the body. It measures how much of the light is absorbed in order to calculate oxygen levels in the blood.

An Oximeter that clips onto your finger

Why it is important to have access to one.

One of the mysteries of Covid-19 is why oxygen levels in the blood can drop to dangerously low levels without the patient noticing. It is known as “silent hypoxia”.

As a result, patients have been arriving in hospital in far worse health than they realised and, in some cases, too late to treat effectively.

A normal oxygen level in the blood is between 95% and 100%. If oxygen levels drop to 93% or 94%, then people speak to their GP or call 111. If they go below 92%, people should go to A&E or call 999 for an ambulance.

Studies, which have not been reviewed by other scientists, have shown even small drops below 95% are linked to an increased risk of dying.

With Covid-19 still to be around for some time to come it is important that all families in Stinchcombe have access to one in case of catching the virus.
I have one at home – unused and in the box. So if you come down with the virus, just drop me an email. – Richard

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Dursley Rugby Club Logo

Rugby Club Car Park

Suspicious Activity

We had a report that on Tuesday 12 January a transit style panel van (possibly white) with a blue wings and bonnet was seen on the rugby club driveway up behind the clubhouse. 2 men were seen to be poking around in the car park and especially at our storage compound area where the containers and shed are. When challenged they became abusive and aggressive.

Nothing appears to have been taken, but some of us did attend the club on Saturday and improved some of our security measures on gates and the like, and also repaired what appeared to be gap in the hedge from the bridleway / lane.

None of these actions will impinge on footpath users, but I did think you may wish to know in case, whilst checking out our property, the same people also had a look around at the residential properties nearby.


Simon Bilous


Dursley Rugby Club

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