Welcome to the sixth Bugle of the Covid-19 pandemic, reporting news and views relating to life in Bowsden and district in these days of restricted social activity. Published by the Editor every two months, the Bugle is an independent news-sheet seeking to inform its readers and reflect their opinions. Contributions are always welcome and should be sent to the Editor (phone 01289 388 543 or e-mail hgew13@gmail.com) by 25th March for inclusion in the April issue. n.b. whenever Berwick telephone numbers are quoted, the 01289 refix will be omitted.
What next for the Virus ? Perhaps at last we are beginning to get the message that people are dying and we all do need to follow the basic rules. These should be in everyone’s mind and are quite simple. We all should stay at home unless it is essential to go out, if we do have to go out, we must avoid others where possible. If not, we must wear a mask, maintain a social distance of 2m and wash our hands frequently.
Everyday when we turn on the News, we hear dramatic figures of increasing numbers of Covid cases and hospital admissions, of routine surgery being postponed and even cancer treatments being rescheduled. Some Covid patients have been discharged from the London hospitals to hospitals in other parts of the country to ease local pressures. Other patients are once again being discharged to care homes.
If anyone doubts the scale of the problem, they should read “Dispatches from the Front” by Peter Worlock, a Consultant Trauma Surgeon at the Newcastle RVI who lives in Lowick and is now dealing with the Covid situation for all the Newcastle Hospitals. Peter’s article can be found in the current edition of Lowick Live (simply Google “ Lowick Live”) and it is well worth a read.
Of course there is good news too, we have two vaccines available now (and a third and possible fourth on the way) and the NHS vaccination programme is well under way. Locally the Pfizer vaccine is being delivered through the GP Networks, patients registered with Well Close, Union Brae, Cheviot, Glendale and Belford (the Well Up North Network) being offered appointments at Well Close on a priority basis. Initially the over 80s and front line NHS and social care workers have been vaccinated, the first patient at Well Close being 96yr old Dr.James Mitchell who qualified in 1948 (the same year as the NHS was founded) and who worked for 36 years as a GP.
The Village Hall has been closed to all activities from the start of the first Lockdown as Bugle readers will know. The much delayed Annual General Meeting was eventually held on 19th December using Zoom technology. Six Trustees were present together with eight members of the public. The Chairman (Jacq Denham) and Treasurer (Chris Denham) reported on their tenure since the last AGM (29th April 2019). It was agreed that written copies of the reports would be sent to those present.
Four Trustees had indicated their wish to stand down (Chris and Jacq Denham, Nick Jones and Sandy Kerr) and Tom Brewis, Malcolm-Davies White and Harry Wilson were elected to join Pam Brewis and Graeme Reavley as Trustees. Draft minutes of the AGM will be available on the Village Notice Board and the BVH Website.
As usual, a meeting of the Trustees then took place. Pam Brewis was appointed Secretary, Tom Brewis Treasurer Malcolm Davies-White Fire & Safety Officer and Harry Wilson Chairman. Pam Brewis will continue as Webmaster and Katie Holt was co-opted to join the Committee where she will be Bookings Secretary.
The new Committee has met and is using the enforced closure of the Hall to review its aims and objectives and consider how best to fulfil these for the benefit of the whole community.
Bowsden Parish Council held a virtual meeting on Tuesday 19th January using Zoom software to link Councillors and members of the public. One councillor sent apologies but no members of the public took the opportunity to join in. Draft Minutes of the meeting are published on the Village Notice Board and on the Bowsden website www.bowsdenvillagehall.net
The meeting was saddened to learn the Parish Clerk had expressed his intention to retire no later than the forthcoming Local Elections in May and an advertisement was drafted for initial placement in the Bugle (see over).
Parish Clerk Vacancy
Bowsden Parish Council is seeking a Parish Clerk and Responsible Financial Officer from May 2021. The post is part-time, working from home approximately 20 hours per annum including 4 evening meetings per year in the Village Hall (7 p.m. until 8). Meeting dates are flexible. Duties include acting as procedural adviser to the Council, agenda setting, minute taking, dealing with correspondence and keeping the Council accounts. Previous experience is not essential as there are precedents to follow, people to ask and training courses are available. Candidates must own a computer and be comfortable with Microsoft Word and Excel.
If interested in the role, feel free to contact Councillor Ian Jackson (388 238) or the current Parish Clerk Mike Simpson (388 871) for an informal chat.
Good News for the Anglican Churches in Lowick, Ford & Etal and Ancroft which now have the Revd. Charlotte Osborn as their new Priest-in-Charge after a long interregnum. Charlotte comes to us with her husband Leo from the Oakham Team Ministry in Cambridgeshire and we wish them both well as they begin to make their home here in North Northumberland (temporarily in Branxton until Lowick Vicarage is available).
Because of the current restrictions, the Licensing of Charlotte by the Bishop of Newcastle on 27th January was conducted by Zoom with over a hundred members of the three churches taking part. Charlotte was introduced by Revd. Sarah Hills (acting Area Dean), lessons were read by two of the Churchwardens and Bishop Christine preached the sermon. After taking the Oaths, Charlotte was then Licensed by the Bishop. She was then welcomed on behalf of the Congregations by Lord Joicey (Patron of Ford & Etal), John Daniels for all the Churchwardens, the Head Teachers of Ford and Lowick C of E First Schools together with Archdeacon Catherine.
Charlotte has written a few words for The Bugle and we quote:
“As your new Vicar I am delighted to have this opportunity to introduce myself here until such time as I can do so in person. When my husband Leo retired we returned to our roots in North East Norfolk where we have a small cottage whilst I looked for a job. We are very much looking forward to living in North Northumberland, knowing the area a little after a 19-year stint whilst Leo was Chair of the Newcastle District of the Methodist Church and I was Chaplain to Newcastle Airport. I hope to increase my cycling fitness as we shall be living in Branxton initially, so please do call out to me if you see me puffing by! “
Keeping Lowick & District Connected organised two Christmas Competitions for residents of Bowsden, Kyloe and Lowick parishes. All residents were sent a beautiful card designed by pupils of Lowick School and invited to take part. Nine competitors submitted entries for homemade mince pies and there were thirteen entries for a decorated window. Mince pie winners were Ian Jackson (Bowsden) and Susanna Burn (Lowick) and winning window displays were by Diane Dacors (Kyloe) and Rosemary Hope (Lowick). Each winner received a Christmas hamper prepared by the Lowick Village Stores.
The Glendale Connect Book Box Scheme has begun with the siting of boxes in Wooler, Lowick and now Bowsden where the BVH Committee agreed the installation outside the Hall (adjacent to the Village Notice Board). Some 20 books will be kept in a weatherproof unit which will be unlocked and books will be available for readers to borrow and return in due course. Should readers wish to keep any of the titles they have enjoyed reading, they are asked to replace them with another book.
The box has just been installed and stocked initially with a selection of books provided by Alnwick Lions before being handed over to its first custodian, Eileen Wilson. Due to the current Lockdown, borrowers are advised to quarantine any books borrowed in a plastic bag for at least 24 hours.
The scheme is funded by monies from Glendale Gateway Trust and the North Northumberland Voluntary Forum. (which also provided the money to buy equipment for the Bowsden Ladies Keep Fit Group).
Northumberland County Council Bins for road salt are located for the use of residents in those villages where NCC does not clear footpaths. Bowsden has one situated beside the Village Hall. Residents are invited to take a bucket and spread salt on paths and pavements outside their properties. At present the Bowsden bin has a damaged lid which the Parish Clerk is attempting to have repaired.
The 464 Berwick-Wooler Bus Service into Bowsden had been interrupted for several weeks as buses were unable to reverse safely into the lane beside the former Black Bull. Thanks to Richard Cockcroft, temporary arrangements have been made for the buses to reverse into the yard at Bowsden Hall Farm. This is clearly not a long term solution and the Parish Clerk was asked at the January meeting to check again with the bus company whether the buses might now be able to reverse into “Black Bull Lane” as they did before.
The New Berwick Hospital is Another Step Nearer now that the NCC’s Strategic Planning Committee has approved the application. Warkworth resident David Smailes has been appointed as Project Manager with the difficult brief of maintaining hospital services whilst sequentially clearing the site in order to erect the new 2-storey buildings. Born in Alnwick and with many years’ experience in civil engineering and construction, David will report to Northumbria Healthcare Executive Director Marion Dickson who will lead the £25 million project, due to open in 2022. During construction some 295 jobs will be created.
The new Hospital will provide all the existing services now delivered at Berwick Infirmary together with a state-of-the-art endoscopy suite. Accommodation on the same site will be provided for Well Close Medical Group, thus offering opportunities for integration of GP and hospital services.
It is pleasing to note that the existing Bell Tower, a familiar feature in the front of the 1874 Infimary building will now be retained in the new hospital.
The Largest Vaccination Programme in British History is accelerating daily with current plans to vaccinate at least 2 million per week at 2700 sites across the UK. By the end of January everyone in the UK will be within 10 miles of a Vaccination Site (except for a small number of rural areas which will be covered by mobile teams).
Such sites include 206 hospitals, 50 vaccination centres (including the Centre for Life in Newcastle) and 1200 local vaccination sites (such as Well Close surgery in Berwick where staff from the 5 GP practices in the Well Up North Network have been working). These local sites have been using the Pfizer vaccine which is delivered in batches and must be kept below -70. GP practices are also being supplied with the Oxford vaccine which can be stored in a normal refrigerator and taken out by practice staff to patients who are unable to get to the surgery.
The Government is working with the NHS, the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, local Councils and the armed forces to deliver the programme. Currently all those over 80 should have been invited to attend and the list is now being extended to include all over 70 and those classed as extremely vulnerable. The aim is to have offered vaccinations to all adults by the Autumn.
The Macmillan Northumberland Coast Mighty Hike is coming this Summer and involves walking either 13 or 26 miles between Alnwick and Bamburgh Castles on 17th July. Bugle readers won’t need to be told what a beautiful part of the country this is and there are similar Macmillan Mighty Hikes taking place in other parts of the UK on Saturdays throughout the Summer beginning with the South Coast on 5th June and ending in the Wye Valley on 11th September.
As usual with Macmillan fundraising events, Macmillan are providing clearly marked routes with medical assistance and food along the way and at the finish, together with Macmillan walking tops, finishers’ medals and bubbly. Registration fees are £20 or £25 per head with discounts of 10% for teams of 5 or more.
Macmillan are planning these hikes according to Government guidelines so that they can go ahead safely for all those involved. Why not look beyond Covid and plan a team entry? The Bugle Editor will sponsor a team of up to 5 for £5 a head (maximum £25). More information is now available from macmillan.org.uk/mightyhikes .
Keep A&E and 999 Free for serious or life-threatening emergencies is the plea from the NHS as pressure mounts on our hospitals due to the increase in Covid-19 cases. For advice on less serious cases use local Pharmacies or call 111.
Mrs. Kathleen Glen would like to thank all her friends and neighbours for their good wishes, beautiful cards and gifts on the occasion of her 80th Birthday. All were very much appreciated.
Redundant Community Facility to be Replaced ? The former Belford Community Club premises, disused for some years, are to be demolished and replaced by six residential units if recently submitted plans are approved. When the West Street building was forced to close “for structural reasons”, the site was sold and the funds retained by the Trustees pending identification of a possible site for a new Club. At present Belford does not have a Village Hall but many activities take place in other locations such as the Bell View Centre
The Power of Musical Memories is often used to stimulate responses in patients with dementia. One remarkable example was described on 18th January on BBC Radio Newcastle when Maisie, a carer from Boston, Mss, USA told of her experience with one of her patients. Now aged 89, the patient had been born on Tyneside and had emigrated to the US when she was 18. Maisie wondered if some songs from her childhood might trigger a response and had asked Radio Newcastle if listeners could suggest some suitable titles. By far the most popular choice was “Blaydon Races” and when the first few bars were played to the patient in Boston, the effect was dramatic and she immediately smiled and began to sing the words to the tune.
Plus ca Change….. a Bugle reader has drawn our attention to a quotation allegedly from the 17th century diaries of Samuel Pepys about the behaviour of London youth in their version of Lockdown
“On hearing ill rumours that Londoners may soon be forced inside their lodgings by His Majesty’s men, I looked upon the street to see a gaggle of striplings making fair merry, no doubt spreading the plague well about. Not a care had these rogues for the health of their elders”
More waste problems, this time linked to the Covid pandemic. An article in a recent copy of The Times newspaper has drawn attention to a new threat to the sea turtles off Kenya beaches. Much of the rubbish washed up has travelled many thousands of miles but this last year has seen a big increase in the deposition of plastic gloves and discarded face masks. Sea turtles are a big tourist attraction but their numbers have declined by 80% in three decades. Ingestion of plastic waste leads to blocking of their gastro-intestinal tract and evolution of gas in their stomachs so that they are no longer able to dive for food and starve. Please ensure that we always dispose of used gloves and masks properly and do not add to the problem.
Edinburgh Police have issued a warning that anyone leaving cars with catalytic converters unattended risks having their catalyst packs stolen. Apparently hybrid vehicles are particularly attractive to thieves as the catalysts will be less well-used for a given mileage. When parking on street, the police recommend choosing a well-lit area, parking as close to the kerb as possible and never partly on the pavement. In a public car park, drivers are asked to park beside other vehicles, especially those with less ground clearance than their own. .
Toby’s Tailpiece (a dog’s eye view of the world) is now written by us, Leo and Freya, two Dalmatians who live with Harry and Eileen Wilson here in Bowsden. This month we are concerned by the large increase in the number of puppies sold during the Lockdowns. Readers may remember a long-running campaign by the Dogs’ Trust with the slogan “A puppy is for life, not just for Christmas” when the Charity was concerned about the number of unwanted dogs given up when their novelty had worn off.
This time the potential problem is much worse as there has been a huge increase in dog ownership (estimated recently at over 250%) due in part to home working and the increased opportunities for dog walking as approved exercise. Many unscrupulous breeders have inflated puppy prices for popular breeds and a number of bitches have been stolen for breeding, only to be abandoned after having several litters.
What will happen when “normality” returns after the pandemic and the home workers go back to the office and have no time for walking their dogs? How many animals will be handed in to organisations like BARK (the Berwick Animal Rescue Kennels) ? Even worse, how many will simply be turned out onto the street ?

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