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Countess Darnley, the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire was the Guest Speaker at the annual John Kyrle High School Prize Giving Evening last week and the Main Hall was packed with people applauding the achievements of students of the school. During the evening, Lady Darnley made a special presentation of a tree to Mrs. Joyce Thomas, MBE-DL in recognition of her hard work, having served the school as a governor for over thirty years.

Head Teacher, Nigel Griffiths is rightly proud of his school and in his speech paid tribute to the effort of parents, staff and students, which has made the school what it is today. In his speech, Mr. Griffiths said,

'Special guest Lady Darnley, Mr Mayor, staff, governors, supporters of the school, parents and, most importantly, students, I am delighted to stand here and present some thoughts at Prize Giving looking back upon an outstanding year in John Kyrle’s history. I want to begin, however, by reflecting upon the sadness we all felt at the loss of Josh Davies.

In the summer, Josh a member of our sixth form, lost his brave battle against the brain tumour that had developed so suddenly. Josh was an admirable and brave young man. I am very pleased that his family has agreed we name one of tonight’s awards in his honour and later Josh’s parents will present the first Josh Davies Memorial Prize for Year 12 Geology. The strength of our community is clear, especially at times of loss. We issued a whole school questionnaire – The Education Perceptions Monitor - this year and I am delighted to say that once again students placed Community Spirit as the key strength of the school.

Every statistic tells a story. We gained 60% % 5 A*-C including Maths and English – the gold standard. This was our best performance ever. Every pass grade tells a story of the interaction between a student and his or her home life. Parental support is vital for our success. It tells a story of students’ interaction with each other. We have improved attendance at school from well below the national average to well above the national average – we want students to enjoy school. We tell them that we want only three things for them – to be happy healthy and successful.

Another statistic that tells a story is our 55% A-B grades at A Level. This means that students gained the University of their First Choice; five into Oxford and Cambridge, and large numbers in every major university across the country. I am delighted to see so many of them back here tonight and later Mr Vinall will give details of their success and progress. The statistics overlie the true story of the success of this school. School effectiveness is not about leadership, it’s not even about schools; it’s about classrooms and the relationships in them between teachers and students. This is what we succeed at and it is this that fuels the data.

Continued. . .

Some of the students with their prizes.

Some of our success is literally beyond measure. We have fantastic individuals in this school, some of which have very interesting stories to tell such as joining us from another country. Some of the stories are closer to home and this year I am delighted to say that once again the school has earned a National Diana Award for one of our students here tonight for her inspiration, her compassion and her and contribution to her family and the school community. Tonight’s winner of the Diana Award, Samantha Burford is a credit to her family and her school. She is a caring, family member, a considerate friend and someone focused on her studies with high ambitions.

Further successes in the academic year 08-09 include the setting up of an Extended Services and Student Intervention Centres to be opened by the Minister of State before Christmas and on Monday, Clive and Sylvia Richards opened our £250,000 Music Technology Suite. Our ongoing excellence in music, drama and sport has seen wonderful concerts, Macbeth and victory on the sports field.

A unique measure of school success we use is opportunities for foreign travel. As I stand here tonight, there is a school trip en route to Aachen to see a German Christmas market. There are students here tonight who have been on or are planning the latest school trips to Paris, Betzdorf, Conde, Spain, skiing to Austria, a food technology trip to Northern Italy; an RE trip to Rome; Moscow, New York, Uganda, South Africa and Canada. In all of these places they have been and will continue to be excellent ambassadors for their families, their communities and their school. My thanks to my staff and Governors who give up their time accompanying students on trips. In this litigious age where students taking risks is considered too much for many schools with many schools abandoning trips we buck the trend by running more.

In regard to our success, I would like to commend the local community for their support, many of whom are here tonight: church groups, primary school partners, the local media, volunteer groups and those from local businesses. We would be unable to do what we do without your ongoing support. This evening is the culmination of a lot of work, a lot of sweat, a lot of tears, and a lot of money because none of you were beyond bribery from us or your parents. … But we are not finished. This is not final.

The next stage for you, the next chapter in the story is that you become the leaders of the future: Student leaders at school; Leaders in industry; in the arts; in the private sector; in education; in health; the military and in Government. And so, future leaders and decisions makers and current Prize winners for the academic year 08-09 everyone involved in this outstanding, specialist, technology, modern foreign languages and applied learning college commends you. Thank you.

Governors Paul Deneen, Joyce Thomas MBE with Lady Darnley, Karen Frost - Chair of Governors and head teacher, Nigel Griffiths.

Photos of individual presentations:

Those who attended the event will have probably noticed that Alan photographed the prize presentations throughout. Rather than publish them all here as this would be extremely time consuming, he will be giving the photos to the school on a disc after the Christmas holiday. The school can then distribute them to those who require copies.


Police are appealing for information after substantial damage was caused to a wall and crash barrier in the village of St Owens Cross near Ross on Wye. The collision occurred when an unknown vehicle collided with a crash barrier and wall at the entrance to a private property a few hundred metres north of the St Owens Cross crossroads on the A4137 between 10pm on Sunday 20th and 7.30am on Monday, 21st December 2009. The vehicle responsible did not stop at the scene.

Left at the collision site was a small piece of bodywork that was dark metallic blue in colour, together with a broken orange flashing beacon cover and a Hella-make spotlight cover.

PC Mike Edwards, who is investigating the collision, said, 'Judging by the amount of damage to the wall and crash barrier, the vehicle responsible must have been pretty badly bashed-up as well. I would like to hear from anyone whose neighbour has a dark blue metallic vehicle which has recently acquired crash damage and lost part of an orange beacon and Hella spotlight cover.'

Anyone with information should contact PC Mike Edwards at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call the free Crimestoppers line anonymously on 0800 555111.


Christmas is almost upon us, with many getting into the spirit of the season already buying lots of presents, decorating trees and imbibing large quantities of 'Christmas' spirit. It's the fun season and a time for families and friends to spend time together to celebrate.

Bearing this in mind, you would do well to remember to take Des with you when you go to a party or out on the town with your friends. Des, your designated sober driver will ensure that you all arrive home safely after the get together and in return, you could volunteer to be Des next time.

Don't take a chance on drinking and driving over the holiday period (or any other time). You could end up with more than just a ruined Christmas.


Vernon Coaker, MP, Minister of State for Schools and Learners in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, visited John Kyrle High School to open the new Extended Services and Student Learning Centres. Extended Services operate on behalf of all schools in the Ross Partnership and provide access to varied activities, such as summer school, parenting support and community access to facilities. The Student Centre will engage students in their learning when required and give access to specialist support such as mentors, Teaching Assistants or medical support.

John Kyrle Headteacher, Nigel Griffiths, said he was delighted that the Minister could find the time to join the school in opening these excellent facilities which will benefit students, parents and carers. He paid tribute to Herefordshire Council who had worked with the school to access the funding for the projects which included the buildings and specialist staff to run them. The school has run competitions for the naming of the new facilities and the Extended Services Centre will be known as the Wye Pod and the Student Centre as the Wye Learn.

Mr. Griffiths added, 'The impact of the Specialist Schools' programme and community outreach has made a huge difference as far as the John Kyrle, partner primary school and the local community has been concerned. We are most grateful to the DCSF for their continued support of these important initiatives.'

Mr Coaker praised the school for its results, its innovation and its Ofsted grading of 'Outstanding'. He said it is a characteristic of excellent schools, such as John Kyrle, that they relentlessly focus upon further improvement and the development of Extended Services and the Student Learning Centres are examples of this. Having had a full tour of John Kyrle including the new £250 000 Music Technology Suite, Mr Coaker said he had been impressed with the learning atmosphere across the school and how friendly and approachable he found both students and staff.

Karen Frost, Chair of Governors, in thanking the Minister for his visit, was delighted that he has agreed to become a 'Friend of the school.'

Minister, Vernon Coaker MP shakes head teacher, Nigel Griffiths' hand after unveiling the plaque (below) to open the new facility.



Herefordshire Police have issued a seasonal warning to youngsters to keep away from frozen lakes and ponds for fear of thin ice. Police had received several calls about youngsters skating on the Belmont Lakes, fishing pools off Haywood Lane, Belmont, during the day. When the police arrived the youngsters had gone but officers have expressed concern as lakes and pools are dangerous to walk or skate on when frozen.

Inspector Nick Semper, in charge of local policing in Hereford City and its environs, said, 'Though the temperatures have been subzero for some days now and the water surface appears frozen, we urge youngsters not to venture onto the ice, which can crack quickly and without warning. Young people may not appreciate the dangers. A child may be able to swim but if they fall through and under the ice, they can become trapped and unable to break through to the air. This is when tragedies occur.

Please stay away and have fun elsewhere, where there is no risk.'


If you were out doing your supermarket shop in Ross on Saturday 12th December, then it would have been hard to miss members of the Ross Scout Group who were out in force, helping busy shoppers pack their bags at both Morrisons and Sainsbury's.

The Beaver Scouts, Cub Scouts, Scouts and Explorer Scouts of Ross, who together make up the Ross on Wye Scout Group, raised a fantastic total of £741 and would like to say a huge 'thank you' to the people of Ross for their generosity. These valuable funds will go towards making some essential improvements to the Scout and Guide Headquarters in Ross, as well as helping fund outings for the young people. Everybody at Ross Scout Group would also like to thank the staff at both Sainsbury's and Morrisons for their support this year.

Ross Scout Group is a thriving community with over 65 young people regularly attending and enjoying the various activities. If you are interested in supporting any of these sections either as an adult leader, committee member or as a young leader (16 - 24) then please contact David Bennett on 01989 768062.

Alternatively, log in to, or email or phone 0845 300 1818 for further information.


An environmental gauntlet has been thrown down to schools, challenging them to come up with innovative ways to go car free, while also potentially winning some great prizes. The most innovative and successful school in Herefordshire will win £100 for their school and a chance to win the top prize of £500 for the best school campaign in the West Midlands.

Secondary schools all over the West Midlands are being asked to take part in the Car Free Challenge, encouraging more students and teachers to walk, cycle, or use public transport to get to school. The challenge highlights alternatives to using the car, while also helping students to become healthier, and making the roads less congested and safer. By 2050 almost 60 per cent of the population could be obese, with nearly 30 per cent of two to 15 year olds currently being classed as overweight or obese. Walking or cycling to and from school provides an easy, daily opportunity for exercise and gets students outdoors and more active. With the ever increasing petrol price, walking to school will also help parents save money. Reducing car use will also reduce school carbon emissions, 16 per cent of which result from school travel and transport.

Councillor Brian Wilcox said, 'This is a great campaign that not only helps the environment by reducing the number of cars on the road and combats the increasingly growing obesity problem, it also motivates students to become creative and organized about a real life issue that has to be tackled.'

The challenge, which is due to take place between 26th April and 7th May 2010 is for student groups who will need to be as innovative as possible to encourage people to go car free for the two week period. An awards event will be held next autumn to award the winners and the winning campaign will be turned into a new campaign for all secondary schools.

Any schools wishing to take part in the Car Free Challenge should visit the website: for further information.


Cameron receives his award from Akela, Robin Shaw.

Last Tuesday saw The Ross-on-Wye Cub Scout pack’s annual end of year Concert. The Cubs performed sketches they had been practising in the weeks before and two Cubs, Matthew Shaw and Lewis Fletcher, played solos on their violins. This was preceded by a slide show of pictures of the year’s activities.

After the refreshments, laid on by assistant leader Tina, had been consumed, the Top Cub of the year was announced. The Top Cub trophy was awarded to Cameron Terry. This is the first time ever that a Cub has won the trophy two years running.

Cameron also holds the record for the number of Cub meetings he has attended. Last year he attended every meeting and this year only missed one due to illness.

Next year the Cubs are looking forward to lots of exciting activities which, of course, will include a camp as well as indoor and outdoor activities with many chances to earn badges.

If you would like to be part of our thriving Scout group, as a leader or helper, please contact Akela, Robin Shaw on 01981 541118.


Police are appealing for information after Ross officers arrested two men in possession of a van load of copper cabling which they could not account for.

At 1.56am on Saturday, 12th December, two officers stopped a white Transit van which was travelling south on the A40 at Goodrich near Ross. The two male occupants were subsequently on suspicion of theft after a load of copper cabling and a bicycle were found in the rear of the vehicle, for which they could give no satisfactory explanation. They are currently on police bail whilst further enquiries are made.

A trawl of police records reveals no theft in the county for these items. Police believe the items to have been recently stolen from a building site or similar as the cabling was covered in mud, as were the men arrested. Police believe there is a strong possibility that the theft has not been reported to police.

They would urge anyone who has recently lost an amount of copper cabling from their site to contact PC Mike Evans at Ross Police Station on 0300 333 3000 or call the free Crimestoppers line on 0800 555111.


Herefordshire Council and their service delivery partners Amey have been working hard during the recent spell of bad weather to keep the county's roads clear of ice and snow. The county's fleet of 18 gritters has salted roads on both primary and secondary gritting routes during the recent cold snap. The county has 3,291km of roads with 963kmn being priority gritting routes while 684km are secondary routes. Roadside grit heaps and bins are also provided where requested by parish councils to provide cover on minor roads which might not otherwise be treated.

A leaflet has been produced detailing the winter gritting routes which can be downloaded in .PDF format from the council's website at Leaflets for the major towns have also been made available in individual, more detailed files, which are also available on the website. Councillor Brian Wilcox said, 'Even though many people are now enjoying a much deserved Christmas break, it is still crucial that the county's roads are kept open as this helps to ensure the safety of commuters, people out shopping and those who are travelling to visit relatives. We will continue to keep a close eye on weather forecasts and ensure the appropriate action is taken to minimize the risk to the travelling public and keep the county's roads open throughout the winter period.'

Councillor Brian Wilcox with the team who are keeping the roads clear.


Full time mum of four, Susan Smithies from Llangrove, Ross-on-Wye put her foot firmly back on the career ladder thanks to a volunteering scheme at Goodrich Castle, which is managed by English Heritage. Susan, aged 47, decided to take the plunge and go back to work after 16 years of raising her four children. Her opportunity came when English Heritage introduced an innovative approach to childrens' educational activities at Goodrich, its Interactive Discover Visits.

For Susan, volunteering provided the perfect step to move back into full time work. Now, two years on from joining the team as a Discovery Visit volunteer, she works full time at the castle as the catering supervisor. She said, 'It gave me so much more confidence and renewed my grasp of the work environment.'

The success of the interactive visits means that the castle is now looking for more volunteers like Susan, who could benefit from the many opportunities volunteering offers, whilst giving something back to the community. Kate Davies of English Heritage explained, 'Since 2007, the interactive Discovery Visits have been a tremendous success. However, that in turn has created a demand for more great volunteers to get involved.'

Tailored for school children from Key Stages 1, 2 and 3, the Discovery Visits are led by enthusiastic volunteers who engage in role play and tours to illustrate the area's rich, medieval history. For Susan, volunteering to lead Discovery Visits meant she could draw on her experience as a mum. 'I was looking at ways of getting back into work,' she said. 'But I wasn't sure how I would find it after 16 years of domesticity as a full time mum! I wanted something which eased me back into working life gently, but didn't require a huge commitment of time, and of course, involved working with kids, an area I was more than familiar with.'

If you are interested in joining Goodrich as a Discovery Visit volunteer, please visit Volunteers are required to cover three-hour slots during term times, particularly during the busiest months of May, June, July, September and October.


Dennis Humble of EnviroAbiltiy with Ruth Meeke of Alupro.

EnviroAbility is supporting recycling scheme ‘Recycle for Africa’, which promises to grow a fruit tree in Malawi for every tonne of aluminium foil recycled over the next year. EnviroAbility provides employment opportunities for disadvantaged people and the group collects, sorts and bales the aluminium foil and sells it to help fund their community work.

The Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organization (Alupro) predicts that the sales of aluminium cans will increase by over 20% over the Christmas period, meaning more available to recycle! EnviroAbility will accept your aluminium foil in their marked container outside the old Coal yard in Station Approach, near Morrison's. The foil container is next to the distinctive large yellow textile bank and a book bank. Please feel free to drop off your clean foil, textiles and books at this site. Alternatively, you can drop your foil at the Book Swap-shop in Cantilupe Road near Ross Library. (Please note that the shop will be closed between 24th December and 4th January). Foil can also be dropped off at the St Owens Centre in Symonds Street, Hereford. Alternatively call EnviroAbility on: 01989 763388. Each piece of aluminium foil will count towards growing fruit trees in Malawi, helping tackle deforestation. You will also be helping support EnviroAbility as they sell on the aluminium, which helps to maintain their projects.

All aluminium foil such as takeaway and ready meal containers, pie cases, dairy lidding and wrapping foil can be recycled. The foil needs to be clean, but please watch out for packaging such as crisp packets, which are shiny but made out of plastic and not aluminium. If you are not sure, you can do the simple scrunch test – if it springs back when it is scrunched, it cannot be recycled.

There are big environmental benefits as aluminium can be recycled again and again with no loss of quality, saving over 95% of the energy used to make it from raw material. So when you are eating your mince pies, tucking into chocolate or having a drink, just remember to recycle the aluminium foil packaging and any beverages that are canned in aluminium by giving it to EnviroAbility and you will be not only helping your local environment, but supporting two worthy causes.


Local Conservative candidate Jesse Norman welcomed Shadow Tourism Minister, Tobias Ellwood to Hereford last week and highlighted the huge tourism potential of the county.

Mr Ellwood addressed a board meeting of Visit Herefordshire, the joint venture which manages tourism across Herefordshire, at the Left Bank. In his remarks he stressed how important it was for central and local government to take tourism more seriously, as a strategic priority. The tourism sector, worth £114 billion a year, was responsible for some 8% of UK GDP and employed over two million people. But there had not been a tourism act in this country for over 40 years, he said.

Jesse, who ran the countywide 'Support Our Small Shops' campaign this year, commented afterwards on the visit. He said, 'I am delighted to bring Tobias, who is a good friend and supporter, to Herefordshire so he can see the county and its huge potential for himself. Herefordshire could be a particular beneficiary of a greater national focus on tourism, given its beautiful landscape, traditions and heritage. But we need to take tourism far more seriously. That means getting rid of burdensome taxes and regulations that make it so hard to run small tourism businesses. And it means a more strategic approach to public investment. For example, the Wye Valley basin is crying out for more sensitive, strategic and ecologically friendly development.'


Sarah Carr with city Deputy Mayor Anna Toon and ESG Chair, Ted Willmott.

Hereford and South Herefordshire’s prospective Liberal Democrat MP Sarah Carr was on hand to open a temporary mini ice rink in Hereford on Friday 18th December. The ice rink, sponsored by the Edgar Street Grid Company and local businesses members of the Hereford City Centre Forum is raising funds for the mayoral charities, the Noah’s Ark Trust and the Little Princess Trust.

Sarah said, 'I am absolutely delighted that we have an ice rink in Hereford this Christmas. It was great fun to open and I’m glad I didn't slip over! I have been calling on the Edgar Street Grid company to include more leisure facilities in the 100 acre regeneration site which includes the cattle market area.

I hope that following the success of this mini ice rink, which was immediately packed with children, we will get an even bigger and better ice rink in High Town, Hereford next Christmas and that the ESG company will also consider a permanent ice rink as part of their plans for the future of Hereford!

I am sure that an ice rink in Hereford would be very popular. As a child I used to go ice-skating at the nearest ice rinks in Telford and Cardiff, so to have one here would be fantastic. Not only is ice skating great fun, but fantastic for health and fitness as well.'

Sarah Carr is a member of the Facebook group 'Hereford needs an ice rink who agrees?' which currently has 1694 members.

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