Category Archives: Bloxwich

Concert for Bloxwich Royal British Legion

The newly-formed Bloxwich branch of the Royal British Legion has organised an evening of entertainment next month to raise funds.

Local vocalist Keir Edwards will be singing cabaret songs from the musicals and he will be joined by comedy duo Sean and Roger, aka ‘The Boz’s’, at the Bloxwich Memorial Club in Harrison Street, Bloxwich on Friday 12th August 2016.

Doors open at 7.30pm for an 8pm start.

Bloxwich RBL Concert

If anyone would like to buy tickets, which cost £10 each, for this Royal British Legion fundraising concert, or would like further information, they should contact  Ann Barnes on 01922 495214  or 07870487504.

Bloxwich Model Railway Club exhibition this Saturday

Part of the 2014 Bloxwich exhibition
Part of the 2014 Bloxwich exhibition

This Saturday 21st May sees the seventh annual exhibition of the  popular Bloxwich (St. Johns) Model Railway Club, which is based at St John’s Methodist Church in Victoria Avenue, Bloxwich,  WS3 3HS.

Every element of a layout is painstakingly built up
Every element of a layout is painstakingly built up

The exhibition offers fun and fascination for young and old alike, showcasing a variety of layouts by invited guests with demonstrations and trade support, and most of the exhibits are appearing at Bloxwich (St John’s) for the first time.

The modellers' attention to detail can be amazing
The modellers’ attention to detail can be amazing

The exhibition is always well attended by exhibitors and modelling fans alike, and is a popular event on the Bloxwich calendar for all ages.

The exhibition, which is taking over the church and hall for the day, opens 10.00am – 4.30pm and admission costs £4 for adults, with concessions £3.50 and children  just £1.50.

Railway fun for all ages
Railway fun for all ages
List of Traders Attending : List of Layouts Attending :
Keith’s Model Railways
J & J Sales
Hobbyrail
12 Volts DC
Elaine’s Trains
Buffers Books
Minimum Gauge Models
Derby Trees
Kevin’s Trains
Shirley Harper Crafts
Deesle Park (00)
Pemberton (N)
Birchills (New) Junction (00)
Heath Green (00)
Bewdley (N)
Wansbeck Road (N)
Llantwy (009)
Nearleigh Works (0-16.5)
Motley Sub Shed (0)
Bettws Road (N)
Greenacre Yard
Journeys End (009)
Birkberg (H0e)
Fowlers Lane (0n30)
Brandeight (009)
Vigo Junction (00)
Board Street Sidings (00)
Franwood TMG (00)
List of Demonstrations : List of Other Displays :
Severn Models
Stuart Brasier
David Griffin
Ron Peach
Bloxwich (ST John’s)m.R.C. Club Stand
009 Society (Midlands)

For further information, contact the organisers on  07970 390258.

Pictures of past exhibitions shown here were taken by Stuart Williams of The Bloxwich Telegraph

Bloxwich and Walsall election results

 

It was a quiet start to the day for the Little Bloxwich polling station at Holy Ascension Church
It was a quiet start to the day for the Little Bloxwich polling station at Holy Ascension Church

After a busy day and night for candidates and Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council staff, the results are now in for this year’s round of local government elections.

Council control

With a low voter turnout overall, and despite being the party with the largest number of elected Councillors, Labour have still not managed to achieve a majority across the Borough. However, Walsall’s Labour Leader Cllr Sean Coughlan has reportedly stated that the party will be meeting the two Liberal Democrat councillors this morning to discuss joining forces to run the council. We are awaiting an official announcement on this.

Whoever takes control will still have to implement massive cuts forced on them by the Conservative governments ‘austerity’ policies, although it is expected that Labour will have a differerent take on what public services and other areas will be cut, where and how.

Victims of changes

There was dramatic change in Blakenall Ward this time around, with ‘independent’ incumbent Pete Smith being knocked out by Labour’s Matt Ward with a majority of 257.  Meanwhile in Bloxwich West, the Conservatives gained a surprise seat, with Brad Allen defeating Labour’s Patti Lane by just 109 votes.

Over in Birchills-Leamore and Bloxwich East, the song remained with same with Tina Jukes and Julie Fitzpatrick holding fast for the Labour Party with 1736 and 1168 votes respectively, the Tory candidates being beaten soundly by Labour majorities of 1229 and 690.

Polling Station banner

The detailed results for the Bloxwich and district wards are as follows:

Birchills-Leamore
Candidate Party Votes received
Ali Shaz The Conservative Party Candidate  507
Jukes Tina Joan Labour Party  1736**H

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Blakenall
Candidate Party Votes received
Derry Hilda The Conservative Party Candidate  228
Smith Pete  811
Ward Matt Labour Party Candidate  1068**G

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Bloxwich East
Candidate Party Votes received
Fitzpatrick Julie Labour Party  1168**H
Statham Mark Andrew The Conservative Party Candidate  682
Timmins Gary UK Independence Party (UKIP)  478

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Bloxwich West
Candidate Party Votes received
Allen Brad  The Conservative Party Candidate  1434**G
Lane Patti Labour Party  1325

** Elected
H or G: Hold or Gain

Borough results

Election results for the whole of Walsall Metropolitan Borough can be found via the following link:

http://webwalsall.com/elections/results2/

 

Results figures are provided here courtesy of Walsall Council

Bloxwich Carnival Royalty selection coming up soon

Bloxwich Carnival Selection Poster (click to enlarge)
Bloxwich Carnival Selection Poster (click to enlarge)

Next month will see a very special event in the Bloxwich calendar take place – the annual selection of the Bloxwich Carnival ‘royalty’.

The 2016 Bloxwich Carnival takes place on Saturday 6th August at King George V Playing Fields, from 12 noon.

This year’s Bloxwich Carnival Queen, Princess and Rosebud will be chosen live on stage on Thursday 14th April 2016 at Bloxwich Library Theatre, Elmore Row, Bloxwich, Walsall, WS3 2HR. The successful entrants on the night will be formally crowned at Bloxwich Carnival itself.

To enter

Application forms to enter are available via the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix website – www.bloxwichphoenix.net and also in jpeg format by clicking on the images below.

Entrance categories are:

ROSEBUD AGE 7-10 (must be 7 by selection day)
PRINCESS AGE 11-15 (must be 11 by selection day)
QUEEN AGE 16-24 (must be 16 by selection day)

Please note that there is a dress code – see the poster above and form below, and see the entry form for all other conditions of entry and attendance.

A copy of the application form is shown below – click to enlarge each image.

Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2016 Application page 1 (click to enlarge)
Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2016 Application page 1 (click to enlarge)
Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2016 Application page 2 (click to enlarge)
Bloxwich Carnival Royalty 2016 Application page 2 (click to enlarge)

Forms can be returned to Jeneve Bridal Wear, High Street, Bloxwich or to Bloxwich Library, Elmore Row.

Candidates should arrive on selection night at 6pm, ready to start selection at 6.30pm and must be available to attend Bloxwich Carnival day, Saturday 6th August 2016.

For more information contact Debbie Jones on 07809 605280.

Walsall Air Cadets receive ATC 75th anniversary torch in Bloxwich

Flt Lt Ian Averill (right) of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC with the cadet from 240 (Darlaston) Squadron ATC (left) who handed over the75th Anniversary Torch to a cadet from 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC, centre
Flt Lt Ian Averill (right) of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC with the cadet from 240 (Darlaston) Squadron ATC (left) who handed over the75th Anniversary Torch to a cadet from 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC, centre

A local branch of the Air Training Corps, the youth organisation that fits young people for life in the Royal Air Force as well as promoting and encouraging all the qualities that requires, enthusiastically celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the ATC (also known as the Air Cadets) in a special event at their Bloxwich headquarters last Sunday.

196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC, based in Bloxwich, is commanded by Flt Lt Ian Averill RAF VR (T), who has, with the help of ATC colleagues, built the unit up over a number of years, starting with just nine members and currently peaking at forty, an impressive number for such a hard-working and disciplined organisation.  Apart from their military training and participation in adventurous activities like the Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards, the Squadron are also well known for their community work, with the cadets often to be seen helping out at charitable events such as the annual Bloxwich Carnival Senior Citizens’ Party.

196 Squadron help out at Bloxwich Senior Citizens Party 2015 (pic Roy Peace).
196 Squadron help out at Bloxwich Senior Citizens Party 2015 (pic Roy Peace).

Based in a purpose-built headquarters in Stokes Street which they share with local Army Cadets, 196 Squadron were all smartly turned out and on parade by 12.30pm.  Sunday’s perfect weather made for the perfect occasion, and 196 Squadron also received a special guest, the Deputy Mayor of Walsall, Cllr Kath Phillips of Bloxwich, who together with her consort, was there to take part in the ceremonies, joining with the Squadron and with representatives of the Great Wyrley branch of the Royal British Legion, which has ‘adopted’ our local cadets, in making other presentations to cadets and members of the Legion.

Deputy Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips JP and her consort Maurice Phillips are greeted by 196 Squadron OC Flt Lt Ian Averill RAF VR (T).
Deputy Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips JP and her consort Maurice Phillips are greeted by 196 Squadron OC Flt Lt Ian Averill RAF VR (T).

The main event of the day was heralded by the arrival of a formal deputation of fellow ATC cadets of 240 (Darlaston) Squadron, who, with their OC (Officer Commanding) Flt Lt Steve Baker, turned up in style in a stretch limousine to present our local squadron with the very special  Staffordshire Wing ATC 75th Anniversary Torch.

Cadets from 240 (Darlaston) Squadron ATC arrive in style and prepare to ceremonially hand over the Torch.
Cadets from 240 (Darlaston) Squadron ATC arrive in style and prepare to ceremonially hand over the Torch.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Corps, the torch is being passed around the Staffordshire and Black Country ATC squadrons, each of whom is able to use it in their own events and for inspiration for just one week before formally passing it on to the next group – in this case 425 (Aldridge) Squadron ATC, who will be receiving the torch next Sunday.

Flt Lt Steve Baker (left) of 240 (Darlaston) Squadron ATC and Flt Lt Ian Averill (right) of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC with the two Cadets who handed over the Torch and Deputy Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips JP plus consort Maurice Phillips
Flt Lt Steve Baker (left) of 240 (Darlaston) Squadron ATC and Flt Lt Ian Averill (right) of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC with the two Cadets who handed over the Torch and Deputy Mayor of Walsall Cllr Kath Phillips JP plus consort Maurice Phillips

Despite a slight delay in the arrival of the torch, the event went off smartly and without a hitch as dignitaries, guests and rightly proud families of the cadets looked on as the Torch was formally passed from the Darlaston squadron to Walsall via two young cadets specially chosen to make the presentation.

Flt Lt Ian Averill, OC of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC shows guests the displays in the Drill Hall at the Stokes Street, Bloxwich HQ
Flt Lt Ian Averill, OC of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC shows guests the displays in the Drill Hall at the Stokes Street, Bloxwich HQ

The Deputy Mayor, guests and cadets’ families also had the opportunity to view displays of information and activities in the building’s Drill Hall and to partake of refreshments.

Flt Lt Ian Averill, OC of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC says a few words after the ceremonial handing-over of the Staffordshire Wing Air Training Corps 75th Anniversary Torch.
Flt Lt Ian Averill, OC of 196 (Walsall) Squadron ATC says a few words after the ceremonial handing-over of the Staffordshire Wing Air Training Corps 75th Anniversary Torch.

The Bloxwich Telegraph was delighted to be invited to attend and cover the ceremony, and here presents a few of the pictures taken, as well as a downloadable Flickr album covering the entire event, which may be found by clicking on the following link:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/bloxwichtelegraph/albums/72157665380056830

Bloxwich couple’s Diamond Anniversary is an ‘Affair to Remember’

1956 was a vintage year for Ronald and Beryl Beier!
1956 was a vintage year for Ronald and Beryl Beier!

Walsall Mayor, Councillor Angela Underhill welcomed another special couple to her parlour this week to share in their Diamond Wedding celebrations.  Ronald and Beryl Beier from Bloxwich were invited to the Town Hall along with family and friends to celebrate not only their 60th wedding anniversary, but Ron’s 83rd birthday, too.

The couple married on February 18th 1956 (pictured, above) at All Saints Church in Bloxwich and spent their honeymoon in London.   They are proud parents to daughter Jan, son Michael, grandchildren; Jennie, Helen, Amy and Alex as well as great grandparents to the youngest members of the party, Harrison, Isaac and Amelia.

Beryl, surrounded by her large loving family recalled their first afternoon out some 61 years earlier and a long shared history.

She said “I suppose you could day it was Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr that brought us together, because on our very first date in 1955 we travelled to Birmingham by bus to catch a matinee of ‘An Affair to Remember.’  It was on at the Odeon cinema – I don’t really remember too much about the film, but I do remember how special Ron made me feel that day and all the days since.”

Beryl and Ron met at ‘WR Wheway’ the chain making firm in Walsall where they both worked from the mid 1950’s.

Beryl said: “Actually it was Ron who approached me first in April of 1995, he asked me out but didn’t succeed at first, he was persistent though and in the end got the right response. That was the start of our courtship and love must have blossomed quickly because we got engaged during a summer holiday in Torquay, which was within three months of us meeting”

The happy couple and assorted guests enjoyed afternoon tea, cakes and were toasted with champagne.  They spent two hours with the Mayor and shared memories and photos of their years together in Walsall, as seen in the colour picture above.

Beryl said; “We feel so privileged, not only have we received congratulations from the Queen, but this the icing on the anniversary cake.   It was a lovely thing for the Mayor to have done for us and it’s been extra special as it was Ron’s 83rdth birthday, too.   On top of this our son whose been working in Bulgaria turned up to surprise us.  Our daughter Jan has been brilliant to organise all of this and keep everyone quiet about it.  Amazing! “

“Family is everything to us and it’s been such a wonderful l afternoon.  The Mayoral Parlour is lovely and to have our family and friends with us on a doubly special day and in such great surroundings makes us feel blessed. “

When asked what the recipe was for a long and happy marriage, Ron who had been listening intently to Beryl straightaway added;   “A lasting and loving marriage is all about mutual respect, talking things through and being content with each other and life.”

And in summing up their sixty year partnership Beryl’s final words on the matter were:

“Day to day we never tire of being together and are always at each other’s side. “

Walsall Mayor, Councillor Angela Underhill said; “I am delighted that Ron and Beryl could join me on their special diamond anniversary and on Ron’s birthday.   They are a delightful and devoted couple who have raised and supported a lovely family – who are here to celebrate with them.   I wish them many more happy years together.”

Is your 60th coming up?

If you’re approaching your 60th wedding anniversary, or know of a Walsall couple who will reach this marital milestone – the Mayoral Office is accepting nominations from diamond couples up until May 2016.

Please write, or email your request to;

Verity Edwards,

Mayor’s Personal Assistant

Legal and Democratic Services

Mayor’s Office

The Mayor’s Parlour

The Council House

Lichfield Street

Walsall WS1 1TP

Email:  verity.edwards@walsall.gov.uk

 

 

 

Project will sew a Silver Thread of arts and history

The project's sewing group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.
The project’s sewing group, left to right: Colette Mumford, Yvonne Thomas, Beth Porter, Eunice Kirby, Joyce Lilwall, Lynne Tandy & Sue Collingwood.

As part of a celebration of a quarter of a century working in community arts, Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team are now set to deliver a unique year long community arts project for Walsall Borough.

The scheme is being funded through a successful application for £73,400 from Arts Council England Lottery Funding.

Involving an army of local people, the ‘Silver Thread’ project will see 11 unique tapestries created, representing the six towns and other areas in Walsall Borough. The tapestries will reflect the borough’s living history, diversity and commonality; acknowledge the past, reflect the present and embrace the future.

A common thread

Creating the tapestries will provide the common thread to produce a commemorative book featuring 25 of Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team projects, which include the Bloxwich Tardis monument, the Brownhills Miner, festivals and a host of other projects from the 25 year history of the team’s work.

The book will tell the story of the engaging creative processes and the impact participatory arts have made in Walsall’s communities across an area so diverse in history, heritage and geography.

The Silver Thread Tapestries and the book project will demonstrate how the Creative Development Team is a thread linking people, places and policies and instigating positive change in communities. The aim of the project is to celebrate and bring to life the thread sewn over the life of the teams work in community arts.

Meetings across the borough

Throughout February and March organisers will be hosting meetings in 11 different areas of Walsall to plan the content for the tapestries and they are inviting local community groups, history groups, and individuals to help decide what to feature on the tapestries. If you would like to help tell Walsall’s story or you would like to attend a meeting in your local area please contact 01922 653114.

Awl blades of Bloxwich repute

Local historian Billy Meikle took this picture of a typical Sandbank awl blade maker’s workshop in 1915 (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre)
Local historian Billy Meikle took this picture of a typical Sandbank awl blade maker’s workshop in 1915 (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre)

Included on the tapestries will be leather work to show the rich history associated with the leather industry in Walsall.  An example of this link can be seen with the famed association Bloxwich had for centuries with needle and awl blade making through local people in tiny home workshops and firms like Somerfields of Clarendon Street, who operated for over 200 years until around 1992.

During their time in Bloxwich, Somerfields made it into the Guinness book of records for the world’s largest needle measuring more than 6ft long for sewing mattresses, made by Mr George Davies, master forger.

Letterhead of Somerfields of Bloxwich, circa 1930’s, (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre).
Letterhead of Somerfields of Bloxwich, circa 1930’s, (courtesy Walsall Local History Centre).

A tribute

The Mayor of Walsall, Councillor Underhill, when talking about the project stated:“This project is a fitting tribute to the work the team has carried out over the last 25 years and reflects the creative energy that the people of Walsall exhibit in not only the industry of the borough but also throughout the region’s history and culture.”

Content and sewing

Once the content for the tapestries has been decided, Midlands Artist Hunt Emerson famous for being an artist on the Beano comic will create the designs for the 11 tapestries. Once the designs are completed organisers will be recruiting an army of volunteers through sewing groups and individuals to help sew the images.

Starting after Easter sewing will continue until the autumn to create the unique set of tapestries to be exhibited together and toured around the borough in January 2017. If you or your sewing group or community group would like to take part in the sewing we call 01922 653114.  As well as sewing volunteers project organisers are also keen to hear from sewing experts able to lead groups and look after a tapestry as part of the delivery team.

Past projects included

Over the past 25 years Walsall Council’s Creative Development Team (Formerly known as Walsall Council Community Arts Team) delivered hundreds of participatory arts projects involving thousands of local people.

Of the best projects 25 of the best will feature as examples in the ‘Silver Thread’ book and the team are eager to hear from anyone who remembers participating in past projects to help tell the story of local communities and the impact these had for participants. If you remember taking part in any of the theatre projects, exhibitions, events, projects or festivals thye want to hear from you. Contact the team on 01922 65311.

Christmas fun begins in Bloxwich this Saturday!

Christmas

A glittering slide into Christmas for Bloxwich and district begins this Saturday 28th November with the annual ‘Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas’ event in the village centre.

Organised by Walsall Council in co-operation with the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, local businesses and more, the popular annual event is now a firm fixture on the festive calendar, and offers family fun – and shopping opportunities – for all!

This Saturday’s activities, which are focused on Bloxwich Park,  High Street and All Saints Church, Elmore Row, run from 10am-4pm.

Fun for all!

There’ll be all the following:

  • A Christmas Trail
  • Santa on his sleigh handing out a FREE gift
  • Local Bloxwich choir performances
  • Christmas drinks and cakes
  • Christmas entertainment acts
  • Christmas donkeys!
  • Christmas shop window displays
  • Children’s rides
  • Christmas stalls

And at All Saints Church

  • Stalls
  • Rides
  • And a Christmas Concert from 4pm onwards!

Anyone looking for further information can contact Sharan at Walsall Council District Centre Management on 01922 654324.

Click on the image below for a larger version to print!

Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas - Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge

A Sunday to Remember in Bloxwich

Veterans, cadets and local groups march behind the standards to All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Veterans, cadets and local groups march behind the standards to All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)

This year’s Remembrance Sunday in Bloxwich was indeed one to remember, mostly for all the right reasons – but was also an event dogged by confusion and controversy.

Most importantly, the local community came together in their hundreds once again as they have done since the 1920s, to remember and honour in silence and in song those fallen in war and conflict, especially local servicemen and women and the other victims of war – and to hope for that peace which is the right of all but which is so rarely found in this world.

It has to be said, however, that the day was sadly somewhat tarnished by the controversy over the cancellation of the traditional High Street parade of veterans and local groups, including youth groups, who enthusiastically but thoughtfully gather to march each year.

The band leads the somewhat curtailed Bloxwich Remembrance parade past the grave of Bloxwich rebel Samuel Wilks (pic Stuart Williams)
The band leads the somewhat curtailed Bloxwich Remembrance parade past the grave of Bloxwich rebel Samuel Wilks (pic Stuart Williams)
Conspiracy theories and confusion

Confusion over the reasons behind the parade’s cancellation resulted in understandably angry but sometimes, it has to be said, ill-informed mutterings on local social media and on the streets of Bloxwich and district. Some of that was to be expected, as information was at first scarce and communication from organisers who were desperately trying to rescue the event and other official channels was sometimes confused. But then the publicising of the Bloxwich event has never been very good and always last minute, something which needs to be rectified in future.

No Legion, no parade

Variously blaming Walsall Council, local councilors, Walsall Police and others, these stirrings mostly missed the main reason why the parade was cancelled and re-scheduled as a short march through the grounds of All Saints Church. This was, as was widely reported in the Bloxwich Telegraph, primarily down to the demise of the Bloxwich branch of the Royal British Legion, presumably due to insufficient local support, in 2013.  This meant that, due to a combination of health and safety law and official red tape, as well as perfectly reasonable safety concerns, together with the unwillingness of the Royal British Legion to extend insurance for the march without a local branch, the usual parade could not go ahead.

Veterans and cadets march behind the standards to enter All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Veterans and cadets march behind the standards to enter All Saints Church (pic Stuart Williams)
Police cuts

Overshadowing this primary problem was the issue of nationwide police cuts due to our national Conservative government’s ‘austerity’ policies, something which has received a massive amount of media coverage in recent weeks. Even had there been a branch of the Legion to insure and organise a parade, our sources informed us,  it would almost certainly have been cut back due to there being half as many police available to marshal road closures as last year. This is a situation likely to get worse next year.

All Saints Church was packed to the rafters for the reading of names and service of Remembrance (pic Stuart Williams)
All Saints Church was packed to the rafters for the reading of names and service of Remembrance (pic Stuart Williams)
The Bloxwich Royal British Legion must be reformed

So, it is absolutely essential that a new branch of the Royal British Legion be formed in Bloxwich, so that local veterans may be supported locally, so that funds may contnue to be raised for the charity, and  so that Bloxwich people may see the return of their traditional Remembrance Sunday parade.

Thankfully, local interest in forming such a branch is already taking shape, and anyone who is interested in helping and taking part is invited to contact the Legion’s local contact, Mr Bill Griffiths, by telephoning  07944869687 or 01922 492064.

The future

The present police cuts and the prospect of more of the same next year may call the parade’s future  into question again, even if, as is hoped, a new branch of the Legion rises phoenix-like in Bloxwich in time for Remembrance Sunday 2016. It looks like any future organisers will have to fund and organise at least part of the traffic management themselves, due to reduced numbers of police available.

Between now and then, Bloxwich people will really have to ‘step up to the plate’ and help.  After all, Remembrance is for life, not just Remembrance Sunday.

The reading of the names of the Fallen (pic Stuart Williams)
The reading of the names of the Fallen (pic Stuart Williams)
Bloxwich can still be proud

But whatever happens next year, Bloxwich can at least be proud that disaster was largely averted this year by the hard work of public-spirited local councillors, All Saints Church and representatives of other churches, many local groups and police – and not least the veterans themselves – who came together with other local people to organise a shortened march through the church grounds and a massively well-supported Service of Remembrance within the church itself.

Not only that, thanks should also be offered to those many local people who, whether unable to get into the church or determined, as Bloxwich folk often are, to stand up for Bloxwich and for tradition, still gathered round the Bloxwich War Memorial to pay their respects as in days gone by.

Hopefully, everyone who turned out in church or on the streets of Bloxwich on Sunday last will actively support the future of the Royal British Legion and Remembrance in Bloxwich as well as looking to the past  – otherwise it may have no future!

Paying tribute at Bloxwich War Memorial -- lest we forget... (pic Stuart Williams)
Paying tribute at Bloxwich War Memorial — lest we forget… (pic Stuart Williams)

 

To view larger versions of the above photographs, and for more pictures of the day by Stuart Williams, follow this link to a Flickr photo album.

For more background to this event, see our previous reports.

Bloxwich Remembrance parade replaced with church service

Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012. Will this poignant scene become a thing of the past? (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)
Remembrance in Bloxwich, 2012. Will this poignant scene become a thing of the past? (pic Stuart Williams, click to enlarge)

Bloxwich is to lose its popular Remembrance Sunday parade this weekend, amid a storm of media reports highlighting government police cuts as the cause of reduced road closure support for such events this year. Officially, the cancellation of the cherished Bloxwich parade has been blamed on the closure of the village’s local branch of the Royal British Legion in 2013.

However, even though there will be no Bloxwich High Street parade, a Service of Remembrance organised to partially rescue the much-loved event at the last minute will still take place, at a new venue – All Saints Church, Bloxwich – this Sunday 8th November, beginning at 10.30am, and all are welcome. Following the service, wreaths will be laid at the nearby Bloxwich War Memorial.

A perfect storm

Austerity-driven cuts in public services nationwide and the confusion surrounding the loss of one of Bloxwich’s most important annual events, as well as reported policing issues with other such events boroughwide, have combined to create a perfect storm  of angry public opinion, both on social media and amongst local people in person, blaming the police, the council and the government, but official messages have been vague till now.

Reliable sources have told the Bloxwich Telegraph that the reason for there being no parade in Bloxwich this year – and possibly in future years – is due to the closure of the Bloxwich Branch of the Royal British Legion in 2013, which has resulted in there being no official organiser for the event in 2015.

Had there been a Legion branch in charge of the event, we are informed, Walsall Police would have been happy to work with event organisers and deploy what  police numbers they had available on the day.  However, according to Bloxwich East Councillor Julie Fitzpatrick, it would not have been possible to have a parade down Bloxwich High Street with the small numbers of police expected to be available anyway.

A past Remembrance parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
A past Remembrance parade in Bloxwich (pic Stuart Williams)
Council clarification

The Walsall Advertiser newspaper recently published a news item about the parade cancellation, quoting Councillors Julie and Shaun Fitzpatrick on the matter. They were approached by Walsall Police to see if they could help because of their well-known community work, and they did their level best to try and rescue the parade, sadly without success.

We subsequently published an outline of why the parade was unlikely to go ahead, based on information received from Mrs Fitzpatrick and a local representative of the Royal British Legion, Mr Bill Griffiths:

https://thebloxwichtelegraph.com/2015/10/25/bloxwich-remembrance-parade-expected-to-be-cancelled/

Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick said at the time:

“Due to cuts to the police budgets, last year in Bloxwich we had 12 police to maintain public safety during the parade, this year we have 5. Due to this the High Street cannot be used and we are looking at alternative options at this time which have yet to be confirmed.”

Police statement

Inspector Keeley Bevington of Walsall Police has since issued a statement to the Bloxwich Telegraph via Kevin Pitt of the force’s Walsall Partnerships Team:

“Please contact Cllr Julie Fitzpatrick who is fully aware of the issues in Bloxwich and who has worked hard on this. In short there is no Royal British Legion Branch in Bloxwich and no organiser for the parade. The Council and Police legally need the details of an organiser with liability cover to allow the event to go ahead but due to the RBL not supporting activity in this area then there is no-one that can take on this responsibility which leaves issues around health and safety and organiser liability.

“All other areas where the events are taking place have an RBL organiser supporting the event with the appropriate liability cover. The church and individuals do not feel that the public liability would be covered by their own insurances so cannot volunteer as organisers. The only event taking place is at the church service and then after in the church grounds.

“I know this is disappointing but without RBL support this cannot be progressed. Please be assured a lot of work has been undertaken by police, council and councillors to try and find an RBL member with liability to support this but they do not have a branch in this area. There are around 9 other events taking place where RBL branches exist with an organiser across Walsall. I can confirm it is not the police or council stopping the parade but that the RBL have not asked for an event and are not supporting one in this area as there is no branch.”

New arrangements for Sunday

All Saints Church have thankfully stepped in to provide the venue for the now curtailed event, as it was necessary for there to be public liability cover, and this already applies to events within the church and grounds.

Groups traditionally involved in the Bloxwich event attended a meeting to discuss the new arrangements at the church on Monday evening, to discuss how the service should go and how they could take part.

The marching band and groups will now march within the church grounds then go into the church at 10.30am. The service of Remembrance will take place in the church and Rev Roger Williams, Rector of Bloxwich, is organising loudspeakers so that anyone outside the church can hear it. The aim is to get as many people in the church as possible.

After the national anthem the usual representatives will leave and place their wreaths around the War Memorial.

We Will Remember Them... (pic Stuart Williams)
We Will Remember Them… (pic Stuart Williams)
Across the borough

This problem is not unique to Bloxwich, by the way.  Police numbers are apparently down across Walsall Metropolitan Borough, and a similar situation seems to have unfolded in Walsall Wood, as was well described in Brownhills Bob’s popular Brownhills Blog earlier this month.

What’s more, we understand from Brownhills Bob that the Walsall Wood parade has never had an organiser, which calls into question at least some of the official reasoning behind the cancellation of the Bloxwich event.

Next year

There will likely be no Bloxwich Remembrance parade next year also, if as seems probable there continues to be no official organiser for the Bloxwich Remembrance Sunday.  Sources have also implied that there will probably be even fewer police available by then, and this is supported by national news stories about police cuts this past week.

Please share

Because of the confusion, the Bloxwich Telegraph has done its best to help clarify the matter for local people, and we would be grateful if our readers would share this post with their friends and others to help spread the word.

Needless to say, our editor Stuart Williams will be attending the service as always.

Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)
Words on the Bloxwich War Memorial (pic Stuart Williams)