Category Archives: Christmas

A Christmas Carol comes to Leamore!

Mr Scrooge reads A Christmas Carol (courtesy Pamela Raith Photography)
Mr Scrooge reads A Christmas Carol (courtesy Pamela Raith Photography)

A much-loved Victorian Christmas classic will be reminding people of a bygone era when it comes to Leamore this week – and it looks like being a real Christmas cracker!

The dramatic reading of A Christmas Carol will be staged at Forest Arts Centre in Hawbush Road on Wednesday 5 December as part of a “rural tour” by the popular New Perspectives Theatre Company.

Charles Dickens took to the stage in 1853 to read from his famous work and it became one of the most talked about theatrical experiences of the Victorian era.

His series of readings included extracts from many of his most famous works, and New Perspectives is marking the bicentenary of the literary great’s birth by recreating the magic of that first reading.

Julie Simmonds, Walsall Council operations officer, said:

“This is an opportunity to experience one of the most famous Christmas stories ever written.

“With a mixture of heart-warming and spine-tingling moments, it promises to be a very special evening.”

The 7.30pm show is recommended for adults and older children and tickets cost £5.

They are available from Forest Arts Centre or at the venue 30 minutes before the show, subject to availability.

Forest Arts Centre Box Office is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am-4.30pm and can be contacted on 0845 111 2898.

Dreaming of a Goscote Greenacres Christmas!

Goscote Greenacres (picture courtesy Walsall Council).

A winter wonderland awaits visitors to Goscote Greenacres this coming week with a seasonal market running over two days. The first ever Goscote at Christmas Market will run on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 December 2012.

On Friday, there will be craft stalls, festive foods, bric-a-brac, raffles and a school choir from 10am until 2pm.  On Saturday, from 11am until 2pm there will be festive music, jewellery, craft stalls, homemade pickles and handmade Christmas wreaths and yule logs.

And Santa Claus is due to pop in on Saturday 8 December between 11am and 2pm!

Paul Mason, Goscote Greenacres’ community development officer, said:

“This is our first Christmas market here at Goscote and we’re really looking forward to both days.

“There’s plenty to see and hear and it’s also a chance for people to have a look at the site and find out a bit more about the opportunities here.”

Admission is free and the Goscote Greenacres cafe will be open for visitors to buy refreshments.

“We look forward to welcoming people and spreading some festive cheer,” Paul concluded.

Goscote Greenacres is based at the Goscote Centre for adults with disabilities and is being driven by them, their carers and the wider community.

It is a partnership between Walsall Council’s Adult Social Care, Walsall Adult and Community College, North Walsall Area Partnership and others.

The wheelchair accessible site in Goscote Lane, has a community cabin, raised beds and community garden plots.

DOWNLOADS

Goscote Christmas Market Flyer (pdf)

Goscote Greenacres Xmas Veg Boxes (pdf)

Sparkling Christmas shop window contest winners announced

Christmas cracker - Bloxwich High Street
Christmas cracker – Bloxwich High Street

Proud prize-winners in a glittering Bloxwich shop window decorating contest have been announced.

Last weekend’s ‘Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas’ event organised by Bloxwich Business Partnership working with local organisations, schools and churches was full of festive fun and entertainment for all the family – but also offered a special opportunity for retailers to not only raise their game in promoting their businesses, but to also get into the spirit of Christmas.

Now in its third year, the contest produced some real Christmas crackers all along the High Street and beyond, but several shone out – with top first prize-winner the LIFE children and baby charity shop claiming the gold star at the top of the tree with a display combining both childhood nostalgia and a traditional nativity scene appropriate to the period style of their shop front.

The winning Christmas window by the LIFE charity shop
The winning Christmas window by the LIFE charity shop
The LIFE charity shop on High Street
The LIFE charity shop on High Street

Second place was won jointly by attractive efforts from regular entrants Sweet & Fancy in Park Road and Elizabethan/Majestic Travel in High Street.

Another stylish festive window by Sweet & Fancy, Park Road - joint 2nd.
Another stylish festive window by Sweet & Fancy, Park Road – joint 2nd.
A bit of Victorian Bloxwich High Street - Joint 2nd winners Elizabethan:Majestic Travel
A bit of Victorian Bloxwich High Street – Joint 2nd winners Elizabethan:Majestic Travel.

Third place was won with a worthy window presented by Elaine’s Tan & Tone in Samuel Street (photo to be added later).

Finally, the separate School and Shop Window Decorating Competition was won by last year’s main shop window contest, Jeneve Bridal Wear of High Street – working with pupils from the Little Bloxwich C of E Primary School.

Jeneve Bridal Wear and Little Bloxwich C of E Primary School's winning entry in the School and Shop Window Decorating Competition
Jeneve Bridal Wear and Little Bloxwich C of E Primary School’s winning entry in the School and Shop Window Decorating Competition

Announcing the winners, Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas organiser Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council/Bloxwich Business Partnership said:

“A BIG MASSIVE thank you to all entrants, your window displays truly added the sparkle to the town and event.

“Certificates will be sent to to the winners along with a update letter to all who entered.”

The Bloxwich Telegraph seconds that sentiment – our retailers have made a great effort in recent years despite harsh economic conditions, and we hope they continue to do Bloxwich proud!

It’s Sparkle not Splutter as Christmas in Bloxwich starts with a bang!

The Italian Market adds sparkle to All Saints grounds.

Saturday saw the third annual Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas spectacular take over the village centre, and despite the dismal weather in the afternoon, this annual kick-start to the festive season still managed to sparkle instead of splutter!

The event was organised by Bloxwich Business Partnership – local businesses and organisations working with Walsall Council and the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, churches and schools to bring together local people for yet another fantastic event for the people of Bloxwich and district.

Numerous charity and craft stalls were showcased in All Saints' grounds.
Numerous charity and craft stalls were showcased in All Saints’ grounds.

Today’s feast of festive fun was billed to take place 11am to 4pm, with a busy and jolly-looking Italian Market and a synthetic Ice Rink open between 9am – 5pm.  It was also planned to showcase Bloxwich’s local talent and history – it certainly did the latter by being centred on the grounds of the picturesque All Saints Church as well as the historic High Street this year!

Walsall Cats Protection volunteers Val Turner and Jacki Chilton do their bit for pussies in peril.
Walsall Cats Protection volunteers Val Turner and Jacki Chilton do their bit for pussies in peril.
National Elf Pat Till of the Sister Dora Friends of Walsall Hospice engages youngsters in Christmassy conversation.
National Elf Pat Till of the Sister Dora Friends of Walsall Hospice engages youngsters in Christmassy conversation.
Heidi Summersby - holding a Bloxwich Lion - had been amazingly busy on her craft stall
Heidi Summersby – holding a Bloxwich Lion – had been amazingly busy on her craft stall.
Tasty treats were all for the taking in the Mamma Mia Italian market.
Tasty treats were all for the taking in the Mamma Mia Italian market.

The former was undoubtedly well-represented too, by talented local school pupils and the young stars of Russon Dance Academy performing at various locations, as well as the Steel Pans Band and the Salvation Army band – though due to being unable to attend before 2pm as a result of work commitments, we were sadly only able to catch up with Steel Pans and some young ladies from the Mirus Academy, who were putting on an energetic performance in a shelter near the church and the ice rink.

The Steel Pans Band strikes up a tune as The Bloxwich Telegraph arrives!
The Steel Pans Band strikes up a tune as The Bloxwich Telegraph arrives!
Talented pupils from the Mirus Academy, Beechdale, with Baljit Dutfield, the Academy's Director of Creative Industries and Partnerships.
Talented pupils from the Mirus Academy, Beechdale, with Baljit Dutfield, the Academy’s Director of Creative Industries and Partnerships.

The lynchpin behind the event was as usual the remarkably energetic Nikki Rolls of Walsall Council, whose efforts on behalf of Bloxwich since re-launching the Business Parnership with local traders and groups a few years ago have been tireless.

Of course she would be the first to say how much help she has had from Bloxwich Rotary, the schools, churches, Bloxwich Library, Council colleagues and other local organisations, as well as hard-working community-minded local councillors such as Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick, who joined Nikki’s daughter Amber and others as enthusiastic if rather damp event marshals!

Street entertainer Mad Dom pumps up a balloon hat for volunteer event marshal Amber Rolls.
Street entertainer Mad Dom pumps up a balloon hat for volunteer event marshal Amber Rolls.
Bloxwich East Labour councillors Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick also acted as volunteer marshals.
Bloxwich East Labour councillors Shaun and Julie Fitzpatrick also acted as volunteer marshals.

Nikki told The Bloxwich Telegraph that before the rain rolled in the grounds of the church had been jam-packed with revellers looking for festive fun and bargains, not to mention the ice rink and stalls, which had been equally busy – and she estimated that around a thousand visitors had passed through All Saints’ grounds in the morning – very impressive.  She hopes that the event will be even bigger and better next year – with hopefully better weather to boot!

A moment of festive fun as organiser Nikki Rolls gets a hug from a roller-skating Christmas bauble!
A moment of festive fun as organiser Nikki Rolls gets a hug from a roller-skating Christmas bauble!
Buddy can you spare a dime? Neil Bennett, Steve Antill and Stuart Fisher promote the annual Bloxwich Rotary Santa tour.
Buddy can you spare a dime? Neil Bennett, Steve Antill and Stuart Fisher promote the annual Bloxwich Rotary Santa tour.
Slip-sliding away on the synthetic ice rink!
Slip-sliding away on the synthetic ice rink!
Jeneve Bridal Wear's festive entry in the Best-dressed Shop Window competition.
Jeneve Bridal Wear’s festive entry in the Best-dressed Shop Window competition.

The nature of today’s weather, however, inevitably put a bit of a dampener on activities late in the afternoon, though hardy Bloxwich folk and youngsters were still skating away right till the end.

The Bloxwich Telegraph was only able to cover part of today’s events, but I hope you’ll agree that it was well worth us turning out to witness some of the festive fun, food and foolery later on!  If any of our readers have pictures of events up to 1pm that we could add to this picture feature, we’d be very grateful if you could get in touch!  Please email Stuart Williams: bloxwichtelegraph@gmail.com

MORE PICTURES from this afternoon can be viewed on our Flickr Album.

We will report on the winner of the Christmas shop window competition when the results are available.

For more details of what was scheduled to take place today, please see our previous report.

There is no doubt that events pulled together by Bloxwich Business Partnership have raised the profile of Bloxwich in the borough and beyond, and especially by linking groups together in co-operation have fostered a greater sense of community in Bloxwich.

Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas is also a great curtain-raiser for the rest of the festive season, and we can surely look forward to more local events from the churches, the Rotary and other groups.  Watch this space!

Best-ever Sparkle Into A Bloxwich Christmas is coming!

Sparkle Banner.

Now we’re heading on down the slippery (indeed, icy!) slope to Christmas, surely it must be time for a bit of sparkle in Bloxwich?

Yes – as is now traditional in the village, Bloxwich Business Partnership is all set to bring local people and organisations including the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, churches and schools together for another fantastic event to kick-start the festive season all along the High Street and beyond!

Back for the third year running, Sparkle Into A Bloxwich Christmas is taking place NEXT SATURDAY 24th November 2012, 11am to 4pm, and aims to showcase all of Bloxwich’s local talent.

Organisers say their plan is to create a greater sense of community in Bloxwich and district by raising the profile of local schools, community groups, churches, and key partners as well as the historical values of Bloxwich within the programme of activities. The event also promotes trade and retail in the village, by bringing in shopping families for a feast of festive fun and entertainment.

ITALIAN MARKET

A surprise addition to this year’s sparkling spectacular will be a taste-tastic three-day Mamma Mia Italian Food Market in the grounds of All Saints Church, Elmore Row, Bloxwich – starting on Thursday 22nd November, 9am – 5pm!

AND ON 24TH NOVEMBER THERE’LL BE…

JINGLING JOLLITY IN THE SHOPS

Activities lined up for the retail sector include:

  • Best Dressed Window Competition for retailers.
  • A Christmas Trail for families to follow.
  • Special Offers from local businesses.
  • A Christmas Market.

‘The Best Dressed Window’ display this year is to be judged by St Giles Walsall Hospice and a teacher from the Mirus Academy. The winner will be notified on the day and with all entries will be notified by letter after the event. The winning displays will be immediately updated on Bloxwich Business Partnership’s Facebook page along with any photo’s taken of the day.

FESTIVE FAMILY FUN

Christmas

And yet more fun-packed festive family activities are set to Ho, ho, ho the High Street and beyond, including:

THE FUN OF THE FAYRES!

Christmas at St John's 27 Nov 2010.

  • A Christmas Fayre organised by St John’s Methodist Church (Victoria Avenue).
  • A Victorian Fayre organised by Parklands Court Nursing Home (Park Road).

PLUS a jam-packed Christmas-themed performance programme from:

  • St Peter’s Primary School.
  • Walsall Academy Choir.
  • The Mirus Academy.
  • Great Wyrley High School.
  • Jubilee Academy Mossley
  • A dance performance from Russon Dance Academy and the Mirus Academy.

There will also be Brass and Steel Band performances, street acts and more – see below.

A CHOIR AND DANCE PROGRAMME

Pupils from Walsall Academy performing on the 'Move' truck in 2010.

The choir and dance performances by local young people will be located at both High Street/Park Road on Walsall Council’s Move Bus and at Asda in a Marquee.  The performance programme for the day is as follows:

Time                Park Road / High Street                  All Saints Church

11.30am          Jubilee Academy Mossley                 Walsall Academy

12.00pm          Walsall Academy                               Jubilee Academy Mossley

12.30pm          Great Wyrley High School                 St Peters Primary

1.00pm            Great Wyrley High School                 Snow White Panto Promotion

1.15pm            St Peters Primary                              Great Wyrley High School

1.45pm            Snow White Panto Promotion            Great Wyrley High School

2.00pm            Russon Dance Academy                    The Mirus Academy Dance Group

2.30pm            The Mirus Academy Choir                  Russon Dance Academy

3.00pm            The Mirus Academy Dance Group     The Mirus Academy Choir

BRASS AND STEEL BANDS AT ST PETER’S

Salvation Army Band.

Located on the steps of St Peters Church the traditional Salvation Army Brass Band will perform outside the Church at 11.30am to 1.30pm, then Steel Pans Band from 1.30pm to 2.30pm

STREET ACTS

This year there will also be several walkabout Christmas acts including 10ft tall Snow Queen and the  Elf, Mad Dom the Stilt-walking Elf, and a Roller-skating Christmas Bauble that will be interacting with visitors and may pop in to see the traders in their shops!

ICE RINK

Children Ice Skating

This year’s first for Bloxwich is a special attraction –  a 12m x 12m ice rink to all visitors to use for free!  The Ice Rink will be open 10am – 5pm.

CHARITY/GROUP CHRISTMAS STALLS AT ALL SAINTS

Snowy All Saints Church, Bloxwich.

Christmas stalls are available for any charity or group raising money for their cause at NO CHARGE and will be located within All Saints Church grounds.  Anyone who is interested in having a stall should please contact Nikki Rolls at Walsall Council on 01922 654324.

ACTIVITIES AT ASDA, BOOKMARK BLOXWICH AND BLOXWICH MARKET

Bloxwich Library

There will also be activities and entertainment planned at Asda and Bookmark Bloxwich Library (where there will be Christmas storytelling)  and at Bloxwich Market including a visit from Father Christmas from 1pm at the Market handing out a free gift to all the children attending. Christmas cakes and festive drinks and a Hog Roast amongst other festive activities are planned for the day.

MORE INFORMATION

For more information about this event contact Nikki Rolls at Walsall Council on 01922 654324.

DOWNLOADS

Sparkle into Bloxwich Christmas 2012 Poster. (PDF)

IT’S CHRISTMAAAS!

The Bloxwich Telegraph is proud to support Sparkle into a Bloxwich Christmas, all those involved – and the people of Bloxwich and district!  See you there!

Festive Felicitations from The Bloxwich Telegraph

Bloxwich Telegraph Christmas Card 2011EDITORIAL

It is my usual practice at this time of year to ramble on at length about what has gone before, and to look to a better future.  But despite the fact that I would rather spend Christmas in a positive frame of mind, I have found that difficult this time because there are so many negative things going on in the world, in the United Kingdom and locally. 

Our financial systems and our national and international politicians in particular have failed us dismally, many would say criminally, in recent years, and the return of “Victorian values” in the parlance of the powers that be seems only to herald the return of the spirit of Scrooge’s England (“Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?”) and seemingly unchecked mass unemployment, rioting, ill-considered government cuts, urban poverty, homelessness and greed on the part of those who have. 

And class war, many would say, is a reality once more, if it ever truly went away; union-bashing by politicians who should know better and by the gutter press is the norm again. There has even been a flurry of a ‘winter of discontent’ to bring back fond memories of the 70s and 80s, and many have been made dependent on food parcels and other charitable assistance.  We the people are watched over at every street corner by systems allegedly designed to protect us, and officials have their beady eyes on our internet traffic 24/7 – but who watches the watchmen, and are they ever really held accountable?   Small wonder then that the world-wide modern symbol of revolution is now no longer the hammer and sickle, the red flag or Che Guevara, but a mask of Guy Fawkes…

With employment uncertain, government incompetence guaranteed and finances failing all around in the coming year, then, what is there that could possibly be positive to look forward to?

Well, there is still good in the world, and what it comes down to, in my experience, is this.  If we have anything at all to look forward to in this once-great nation, it is that the spirit of home, of place, of charity and of community is not dead, and that, especially in Bloxwich, but also in many other villages and towns across the borough and the nation, we are surrounded by people of goodwill who are ready to get off their sofas, turn off their tellies, go out into the cold and do good works, whether they be for charity, for community, for vulnerable neighbours or for friends and family.

Despite the fact that we have been continually told ever since the last war that “the good old days are gone” and “there’s no more community spirit”, that’s not really true if you take the time to look around you, find out what’s going on and, dare I say it, join in yourself.  Even though voluntary and community work has been in real danger of being tainted by the hypocritical spoutings of politicians espousing the so-called ‘big society’ while swinging the machete at those least able to defend themselves, the fact is that many thousands of people are out there, as they have always been, putting others before themselves, and long may it continue.

Since 2006 The Bloxwich Telegraph and its predecessor The Bloxidge Tallygraph, have tried to highlight some of the wonderful work that is going on in our own community.  Lord knows we have only managed to touch the tip of the iceberg in Bloxwich, Little Bloxwich, Leamore, Blakenall Heath and Birchills, but it never ceases to amaze me how much good is being done out there, and I know there is more to be revealed, as 2012 will surely show.

I have had the privilege of meeting and doing what little I can to help raise the profile of some fine groups such as the Rotary Club of Bloxwich Phoenix, Bloxwich Carnival Committee, Benton’s Sons of Rest, Bloxwich Scouts, Bloxwich Business Partnership, Friends of Bloxwich Parks, St Giles Walsall Hospice and others. As well as other important community organisations such as All Saints Church, St John’s Church, St Peter’s Church, Bloxwich Community Partnership, Blakenall Community Centre, the Royal British Legion and the Stan Ball Centre, to name but a few. 

Our local libraries and their staff, who do so much for the community in their quietly enthusiastic and highly professional way, also deserve a mention, especially Bloxwich Library and Theatre, which has become a fine cultural centre for the village and for the borough once again since the refurbishment. Indeed, my friends and colleagues volunteering on Bloxwich Library Forum have also made a substantial contribution to this great revival.

Of course I cannot fail to mention some of our fine local schools such as Bloxwich CE Primary School (The National!) and Elmore Green Primary School, as well as Lower Farm, Leamore, St Peter’s and Little Bloxwich Primary Schools plus Walsall (or should it be Bloxwich?) Academy.  I hope to have more to do with these and other local schools in the new year.

All of the above have been very welcoming and, not to put too fine a point on it, inspiring to me and to the work of The Bloxwich Telegraph.

Last but certainly not least, the good-hearted and hard-working individuals of which there have been many, too numerous to list here, but including not just community-minded members of the public and Walsall Council officers (you know who you are!) but local councillors of both main parties, and several Mayors and Mayoresses of Walsall, all of whom have enthusiastically made themselves a part of life in Bloxwich and district, giving of their time and energy without stint, and they have been made very welcome by Bloxwich and district folk in return.

So while I look forward to 2012 with some trepidation, especially for the future of this country, I have to feel positive about its people and the good that they do, whether they be religious or not, and of whichever political persuasion they may be, at the local level.  You see I’ve gotten to know so many of them, and respect them for what they do, not for what others just talk about. 

If nothing else, surely that at least must bode well for the future, and the spirit of Christmas.

May I take this opportunity to wish all our readers and friends a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy New Year.  I hope you will continue to follow The Bloxwich Telegraph in 2012. After all, we live in interesting times…

Sincerely,

Stuart Williams

Editor & Publisher

The Bloxwich Telegraph

 

Criminals get Christmas card with a difference

WMP Christmas Card
West Midlands Police is distributing Christmas cards to repeat offenders encouraging them to stay away from crime over the festive period.

Prolific priority offenders (PPOs) are people who are known to commit large volumes of crime across the force area.  Local offender manager teams closely supervise PPOs in the community on a day to day basis and it is these teams who will be personally hand delivering the Christmas cards over the next week.

This year’s card draws a contrast between Christmas in the cells and Christmas at home surrounded by family and friends.

The back of the card asks offenders not to miss out on Christmas and urges them to ask for help to move away from crime if they need it.  The overall message is to move away from crime and get help to start a fresh.

Superintendent Manjit Thandi from Birmingham North said: “Christmas is a time when crime traditionally rises because people have often bought new high value items and are probably not thinking about crime prevention, whether it be while out shopping or in the home.

“Prolific offenders can be tempted to seize on this opportunity, so these cards are a reminder to them that we are here to support them in their efforts to move away from crime, whether that is by helping them find housing or get help with a drug addiction.

“If they do not seek to change their ways and take the help offered to them they could face Christmas in custody.”

Christmas competition takes health messages online

Black Country NHS

A new online campaign will offer Black Country people a chance to improve their health – and boost their wealth – by finding out how to get the right treatment this winter.

The Black Country Cluster of Primary Care Trusts is promoting its recently launched Facebook page with a health awareness competition. People taking part will be asked to ‘like’ the page then guess the common word in a series of daily messages which will be posted in the run up to Christmas.

Michelle Beddow, from the Cluster’s communications team, came up with the idea. She explains: “We hope this will be a fun way of getting some important health messages across as well as encouraging more people to follow us on Facebook. We’re offering three prizes of high street vouchers, with £100 for the winner and £25 each for two runners up.

“Our Cluster covers Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall and Wolverhampton, but anyone who wants to follow us is welcome to do so and take part in the competition, which started on Monday. (19 December) If you miss the start, you can always join in and catch up as long as you find our page and ‘like’ us before Christmas Eve.”

To enter the competition residents just need to visit www.facebook.com and search for Black Country NHS. Once they have found the page they need to ‘like’ it. Each day a new message will be posted with a common word.

The last message posted on Christmas Eve will contain details of where to send answers and contact details to. Anyone who has sent in the correct answer and ‘liked’ the Black Country NHS facebook page will be entered into a prize draw.

The first prize is £100 high street vouchers with two runner up prizes of £25 high street vouchers each. The deadline for entries is Thursday 12 January 2012 with the draw taking place on Friday 13 January 2012.