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ROSS DETECTIVE WINS POLICE AWARD

DC Philippa Johnson of Ross CID, was presented with an award at the Divisional Awards ceremony at Hereford Town Hall last week by Divisional Commander, Chief Superintendent Mark Turner. DC Johnson was commended along with another colleague for their part in bringing a burglar to justice, who had stolen from several rural homes in South Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Gwent and Thames Valley during August and September 2008. As a result of painstaking attention to detail and close liaison work with colleagues in other forces, Thomas Mochan was identified and subsequently charged, later receiving a four-year term of imprisonment at Crown Court.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, the Chief Constable, Mr Paul West, paid tribute to Herefordshire officers and staff. Regular police officers, support staff, community support officers and members of the public received a range of awards to mark the excellent, outstanding or courageous service that they have provided. He said, 'This award ceremony is all about what the force is trying to achieve - Quality People. The awards tonight represent just a small sample of what our staff achieve every day for West Mercia, displaying a range of skills and abilities. The awards clearly demonstrate the strong public service ethic that is evident in everything that West Mercia Police undertakes.' Councillor Richard Smith from West Mercia Police Authority added, 'We are here to celebrate and applaud examples of policing and connected activity which cannot be captured in pictures. The evening leaves me humbled and inspired - and convinced, yet again, that old fashioned values are alive and well in the police service.'

Divisional Commander Chief Superintendent Mark Turner said, 'In a county with low levels of crime and disorder, I am delighted that our officers and staff repeatedly show that they can respond professionally when serious incidents do occur. They constantly demonstrate they are proud to serve in the Police Service and proud to protect the people of Herefordshire.'

The following were among those who were commended at the ceremony: Divisional Commendations were awarded to:

CSO Cris Abel (Belmont LPT) for his prompt and determined actions on 7th October 2008, following a report of suspicious behaviour at a cash dispensing machine involving a skimming device. The suspect who had earlier placed the device on an ATM at The Oval snatched it from a woman who had found it on the machine. He ran off and a search was mounted by CSO Abel and Sgt Chris Payne along the Great Western Way and into nearby dense woodland. Using tracking skills he had acquired, CSO Abel managed to locate the suspect hiding in the woodland and the skimming device nearby. This significant arrest led to the arrest of other members of a well organized West Midlands gang who were all given substantial prison sentences at Court.

PC Andy Larkin (Hinton LPT) was commended for his actions on 10th February 2009 when he became involved in a search for four burglary suspects who had decamped from a car on the Callow near Hereford. During a fast developing, hectic incident, PC Larkin used his knowledge of the local terrain to seek a vantage point which allowed him to direct other officers towards the suspects. Furthermore, his calm, logical thinking, initiative and communications skills enabled him to close in with colleagues on two of the suspects without their knowledge and effect their arrests. Four men now await trial at Crown Court for burglary offences.

PS Tim Dugmore (Peterchurch) was commended for his excellence in the management of crime teams whilst a Detective Sergeant and for his commitment, enthusiasm, professionalism and investigative ability in the detection of crime, contributing to community reassurance in Herefordshire. DS Dugmore supervised a large investigation into a number of assaults in Hereford city centre between May and September 2007 which required 25 suspect interviews, 50 witness statements and 81 separate identification procedures, all of which he co-ordinated and managed to a positive result.

The Honourable Gilbert Greenall, High Sheriff of Herefordshire & Worcestershire, presented the following with High Sheriff's Awards:

Dave Harford (AA Patrol) was given a High Sheriff's Award for his quick thinking, professionalism and courage. Dave is an AA patrolman. On 27th November 2008, whilst travelling along the A4103, he witnessed a car losing control, ending up on its roof in a ditch and leaking fuel into a stream. Dave, being first on the scene, immediately protected it using the facilities on his vehicle and alerted the emergency services. He then proceeded to rescue the one adult and four children from the vehicle, knowing the vehicle could explode from the leaking fuel. On arrival of the other services, Dave provided a clear, thorough and concise account of events which further assisted the rescue effort - and showed that day he really was the fourth emergency service!

Mark Bowen and Ian Morris (Hereford Times) were given High Sheriff's Awards for journalistic professionalism, commitment and tenacity in maintaining a weekly media road safety campaign for more than a year for the good of all those using the roads of Herefordshire. Since January 2008, over 60 articles have been published as part of the Hereford Times' Safer Driving Campaign, which has not only given sound advice to all road users in the county but given many local motoring groups a platform on which to promote their activities.

Thank you to you all for keeping Herefordshire a safer place in which to live and work.

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Chief Superintendent Mark Turner presents DC Johnson with her award.

The Hon. Gilbert Greenall, High Sheriff and Dave Harford.

The Hon. Gilbert Greenall, High Sheriff and Ian Morris.

The Hon. Gilbert Greenall, High Sheriff and Mark Bowen.

Chief Superintendent Mark Turner and CSO Abel.

Chief Superintendent Mark Turner and DS Dugmore.

Chief Superintendent Mark Turner and PC Larkin.

BINGO NIGHT IN AID OF CINEMA FUND AT BRIDSTOW ON SATURDAY

After the success of their recent Bingo Night at the Noah's Ark in Tudorville, Ross Youth Forum are all set to host another one this coming Saturday at Bridstow Village Hall. There will be lots of prizes up for grabs and a raffle will be drawn.

These fund-raising events have been organized by the Ross Youth Forum who are trying to get funding for a cinema facility in Ross-on-Wye. This dedicated group of young people are not merely sitting around whilst trying to obtain substantial funding from various organizations and a series of fund-raising events is planned to take place.

If you would like to see a cinema facility back in Ross-on-Wye, why not do your bit and go along to the Bingo Night on Saturday? It's a lot of fun and you could win some great prizes. Eyes down at 7:30 pm.


COMPLETE TOWN PLAN QUESTIONNAIRE AND YOU COULD WIN £500

The Ross Town Plan questionnaire has now been printed and will soon be posted through your letter box. After analyzing information gathered at several Planning for Real events, RoWToP designed the questionnaire to find out what you, the people of Ross-on-Wye want for the town and it's future. Please take the time to fill in the form, for as well as making your views known, you could well end up being £500 richer. Once the questionnaires have all been returned, they will go into a draw and one lucky resident will win the cash, so watch out for it and fill it in. It won't cost you anything other than a few minutes of your time.

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Members of RoWToP packing the questionnaires ready to post through your letter box.

BETZDORF VISITORS TO GET A RECEPTION WITH A DIFFERENCE

This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of the Ross-Betzdorf Twinning Association and members in Ross-on-Wye are looking forward to greeting their 54 German guests on the evening of Friday, 29th May. Many of the friendships that were forged at the very beginning of the association are still going strong to this day.

Ross Town Council always host a Civic reception on the Saturday for the Betzdorf Visitors' biannual visits to the town, however, this year the welcome will take on a different form, that of a cricket match. This idea for this came during the Ross members' visit to Betzdorf in 2008, when Chairman of the Betzdorf Association, Herr Dominik Wichmann challenged Ross to a cricket match and the then Deputy Mayor of Ross-on-Wye, Mayor John Edwards thought that the challenge should be taken up. In view of this, the Committee of Ross Cricket Club have worked extremely hard to lay on a morning of cricket-based activities and demonstrations which will also include a super cricket tea. Just what the Betzdorf visitors will make of terms like 'silly-mid on', 'leg breaks' and 'maiden overs' will be interesting to say the least and the day promises to be a lot of fun. Why not go along and watch the very first England/Germany Test Match, beginning at 10:30am.

A dinner at the Chase Hotel has been organized for the visitors and their hosts for Sunday evening and as this will be the 30th anniversary of the first visits between participating families, a special cake, made and decorated by Mrs. Doreen Woolf will be served after the meal. Once the after dinner speeches are over, everybody will be able to enjoy some great live music from the Double Barrel Band.

On Monday 1st June members of both associations will travel to Dewstow Grottoes and Gardens at Caerwent, near Chepstow, which will be followed by lunch at Dewstow Golf Club. The venue was chosen to continue the relaxation theme as it is only one hour's drive from Ross, giving the visitors plenty of time upon their return to Ross to prepare for the long journey back to Betzdorf on Tuesday.

Sam Philips, Ross-on-Wye's secretary of the Ross-Betzdorf Twinning Association said that the Committee of the Ross Association will welcome any potential new members, especially those in the younger age bracket. He said that many people are put off joining because they think it is compulsory to be able to speak German. Apparently this is not the case as many members of long standing don't speak a word of German. It is also a myth that Germans have no sense of humour. They really know how to enjoy themselves and are great fun to be with.

If anybody is interested in joining the Association or finding out more about its activities, especially younger families, can contact the Secretary, Sam Phillips on 01989-563874.


BECKI AND THE BUCKET BAND TO PERFORM AT THE WHITE LION ON FRIDAY

Becki Neale.

Landlords of the White Lion, Dave and Jacqui Newman are pleased to be hosting a musical event, which will take place this coming Friday, 29th May. The event is being organized by young local musician Becki Neale who is raising money for Project Sri Lanka, a charity that is still working hard to help to rebuild the lives of Tsunami victims. Becki is trying to raise the necessary funds to go out to Sri Lanka herself to help with this valuable work.

Becki is a talented musician and will be performing at the White Lion with the Bucket Band, a fun and lively band who will keep you well entertained throughout the evening. The Bucket Band comprises several local musicians including Becki, her father, Jim Neale and the extremely talented blues harpist, Toby Lovell.

There is no entrance fee to pay, however there will be plenty of buckets available for you to donate to the charity.


POLICE TEAM BLOOMS IN SCHOOL

A Community Support Officer from South Herefordshire, keen to meet youngsters on his patch, has put his horticultural skills to good use and formed an after school gardening club at a local primary school.

CSO Paul Leighton, from the Ross Rural Local Policing Team, ably assisted by PC Wendy Powell and CSO Lisa Austin, started the club at Kings Caple Primary School a couple of weeks before Easter with the help of teacher Clare Jones. The club now has 19 members, aged between 5 and 11, who meet every Wednesday after school. The pupils are actively engaged in developing a wildlife garden, growing fruit and vegetables and planting a variety of shrubs for year-round colour. Plants for the scheme have been donated by local garden centres including Premier Plants, Symonds Yat Garden Centre and Focus DIY of Ross.

CSO Leighton said, 'The youngsters are a great group and really enjoying what they are doing. Their enthusiasm is exhausting and their input commendable. It has created a close and friendly relationship between police, children, parents and staff which can only have benefits all round.' Mrs Gill Thompson, Head Teacher at the school said, 'It is important that the children learn to look after their environment, know where food comes from and see the process from the soil to the table. This is a brilliant way of allowing the police to integrate with the younger community in a very relaxed and friendly way and build bridges. It's important that children see the police as being there to help and protect them, as should we all. Our pond area and school gardens are now looking lovely and we can't wait to sample the produce from our vegetable garden. This has been a wonderful initiative.'

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Photo by Serena Robinson: CSO Paul Leighton and PC Wendy Powell with the King Caple Primary School Gardening Club.

GOODRICH SCHOOL IS GETTING BETTER AND BETTER

A recent Ofsted Inspection of Goodrich C.of E. Primary School highlighted why 'many more parents wish to send their children there than there are places available.' The school was judged to be continually providing a good education with several outstanding features, as well as having the potential to soon achieve overall outstanding status.

Parents are full of praise for the school, pointing to the high quality pastoral care and strong ethos of making learning fun that leads to pupils' outstanding personal development. Indeed, one described it as offering 'more of an adventure than a standard education.' Achievement is good as a result of a curriculum and teaching that interests and motivates all pupils. Standards in English and Mathematics, for example, are well above the national average, whilst those in Science are also above average. Internal assessments are accurate and used effectively to provide excellent academic guidance e.g. in Year 6 English.

Leadership and management remains good with the school being able to provide an accurate picture of its strengths and weaknesses. The actions taken since its last inspection have been particularly successful, so that Goodrich School is well-placed to continue such improvement. Pupil behaviour is exemplary because they are taught to consider what effect their actions will have on others. They all enjoy learning, so they concentrate well and work hard. The curriculum is well-planned and stimulating.

Provision for pupils with special needs are well matched to the curriculum through the use of carefully thought out individual education plans. Provision for Early Years is also good. Staff and governors play an effective role in providing the best for pupils and ensuring that they all have an equal opportunity to achieve well. Ofsted's main recommendation is for the school to continue to make effective use of the information it gains from its assessment and tracking systems to ensure that each child maximizes his/her potential.

An understandably proud Headteacher, Tony Griffiths commented, 'This report, I think is best encapsulated in the closing paragraph of the Lead Inspector's letter to pupils : ' Your school is getting better and better. Mr.Griffiths, and the others who help him run it, know what they can improve and how to do it. Most of all, though, they want to make the school a better place for you, so they listen to what you and your parents think about school and then set out about trying to make your wishes come true.' '


WELCOME TO HEREFORDSHIRE

Police in Hereford will be joining their agency partners in High Town, Hereford on Sunday, 31st May to stage their second 'Welcome To Herefordshire' event. The multi agency event has a wider scope than that of last year and is aimed at welcoming and informing anybody who lives and works or intends to live and work in the county, including those from overseas.

'Welcome to Herefordshire' is predominantly a public information day and on hand to supply all manner of information about living and working in Herefordshire will be Local Policing Teams from West Mercia Police, members of Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service, the Herefordshire Community Safety & Drugs Partnership and Herefordshire Council. There will also be representatives from the local NHS, the voluntary sector, local churches and unions present.

The event runs from 10am until 4pm. If you have anything you want to find out about in relation to local services or if you have an issue you wish to discuss with a representative of the agencies involved, please do go along.


SERIOUS UNDER STAFFING IN FIRE AND RESCUE SERVICES

Local campaigner Jesse Norman has highlighted new official figures which show a shortfall of 68 retained fire-fighters in the Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service at present. At the end of 2008 the Fire and Rescue Service had 383 posts for retained fire-fighters, but only 315 of these had been filled, leaving a a shortfall of nearly 20 per cent.

The under staffing comes at a time when the Service is being pushed through a process of regionalization which is already £400 million over its £1 billion national budget. The Fire Brigades Union has recently estimated that £278 million is being spent on management consultants, regional project directors, 'change co-ordinators', project assurance directors, PR staff, civil servants, and agency staff, to handle the restructuring. Moreover, the under staffing could increase if new EU rules on working time are pushed through after the Euro elections ‘On-call’ time in the workplace, even when inactive, would be counted as working time but retained fire-fighters often double up their fire work with other jobs, and are on emergency call. They could have their hours cut as a result.

Jesse said, 'Our fire-fighters do a superb job for our community, helping tackle fires, floods and road accidents. We in Herefordshire are especially reliant on them in our more remote rural communities. But there is a significant shortfall in staffing now. This may well get worse as the failing regionalization affects budgets, and worse still if the EU working time legislation is adopted. It is vital that the Government stands firm on this crucial issue.'

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Jesse Norman with Chris Fairley of Hereford Fire & Rescue Service.

TAKE A LITERARY PROMENADE IN A LOVELY LANDSCAPE

Writer and storyteller Fi Benson has a passion for words and a love of landscape and will be bringing the two together in a unique, creative writing event organized with the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) Unit. The Literary Promenade, organized for Sunday, 5th July, will be an inspirational day for aspiring writers of all levels.

Fi will be leading a walk through the Herefordshire landscape at Goodrich, an area once admired by Wordsworth and Thakeray, and encouraging people to respond to their surroundings in a creative way. The river landscape will be used to generate ideas and sensations which will be used in a practical writing workshop organized for the afternoon.

Lydbrook based Fi is a well known literary personality with an experienced background in writing across forms and genres. She has had considerable success with short stories, poems and plays, including two commissioned pieces for Cheltenham's Everyman Theatre. She has organized creative workshops for over twenty years, and is inspired by the sense of place and passionate about site specific responses. Fi has worked as community / outreach worker for the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trust with some of her workshops including performance writing. She has also recently been working on a multi partner project for a heritage trail within the Forest of Dean.

'This is a fantastic opportunity for the Wye Valley AONB to encourage creative writers into our beautiful landscape,' commented Sarah Sawyer, Community Links Officer. 'We are also lucky to have a professional, experienced writer lead this promenade, who is so committed to working with people at all levels.'

To unleash the writer within you or to gain inspiration and creative guidance please contact Sarah Sawyer Wye Valley AONB Community Links Officer on 01600 710844 to book your place. Email community@wyevalleyaonb.org.uk

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