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The linking of tourism and heritage facilities in Ross-on-Wye will see the reopening of the Market House as the Market House Visitor Centre on Monday, 31st January.

Work is currently underway to bring the best that the heritage and tourism services offer together in order to make the Market House a one stop destination for visitors to the town and county as well as for those with an interest in the history and heritage of the area. Two new counters will be put into the building and the present displays will be altered so they can accommodate both heritage and tourism displays. The building is also being decorated throughout.

Councillor Adrian Blackshaw, Herefordshire Council's cabinet member for economic development and community services said, 'This is an exciting opportunity for the town to combine the key elements of tourism and local history in a way that enables visitors and local people to experience the rich heritage of the area. I am sure it will also be good for local business as well.'

The supervisor of the new venture will be Claire O'Reilly who will be assisted by a team using the experience and knowledge of both the heritage and tourism teams. Claire is well known in Ross, having been a supervisor at Ross TIC over a period of time.

Ross Market House where both visitor and heritage services will soon be available.

12th January 2011 THE MIRACLE WORKERY.........................

Helen Keller was just a normal, healthy baby until, at eighteen months, she was struck by an 'acute congestion of the stomach.' At least, that's what they called it in 1880's Alabama, and it left the infant not only blind, but deaf and dumb as well. Unable to penetrate their daughter's world of dark silence, Helen's parents combined indulgence with despair as the uncontrollable child raged and stormed in frustration; until, having exhausted all other avenues, and as chaos reigned around them, her parents finally succumbed to the only alternative - to commit Helen to the horrors of a 19th century children's institution. But not until their final forlorn attempt to help Helen had been tried, and a teacher had been sent for.

Enter Annie Sullivan. A teacher? Helen's parents are aghast, for Annie is only 20 years old and is herself the half blind product of a children's institution. Helen can't stand to have Annie near her, and Annie is wilful to the point of arrogance but as a result of Annie Sullivan's intervention, Helen Keller became world famous for her work on behalf of the disabled and disadvantaged, met presidents and kings, and was the author of over a dozen books, until her death in 1968.

If you would like to watch the story of The Miracle Worker unfold, the young, local and very talented theatre group X-Entricity will be performing the play at the Phoenix Theatre, Ross on Wye, from Saturday, 15th until Saturday, 22nd January. Tickets for this inspirational and moving drama are available online; visit - or you may obtain them from Rossiter Books, 7 High Street , Ross on Wye (01989 564464).

For further information, contact Jane Hewson, on 01989 770777.


For those of you who enjoy a delicious cooked breakfast on a Sunday morning, why not go along to Benhall Farm on Sunday, 23rd January, where you will not only be served up a fantastic, traditional Full English breakfast, you will be helping two local charities at the same time.

Ten pounds will buy you a full cooked breakfast, including cereal, toast and tea or coffee and the proceeds will be split between the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute and Ross First Responders 4x4 appeal.

The big breakfasts which will be served from 9:00am until 1:30pm will be cooked using local produce as far as possible. If your mouth is watering already and you would like to take part in this event then please contact Carol Brewer on 01989 563900, Phil on 01989 730642 or Sue on 01989 730687. Booking is strongly advised.


A Police spokesman confirmed yesterday that a local man had been arrested and later released on bail after an incident involving a replica firearm took place in Hill Street, Ross-on-Wye.

The man is thought to be a Mr. Andrew Davies, known locally as 'Flash' however, Police did not confirm this, but did state that the man in question is known to them.

Police were called to Hill Street at 7pm on Monday, 10th January when it had been reported to them that a man was in possession of a gun and had threatened to kill somebody.


Herefordshire Council is encouraging local primary schools to bid to be part of a successful play project which encourages children to play with scrap, boosting positive behaviour, raising attainment and improving the school environment. Bristol Scrapstore has developed the concept of a PlayPod which is a container or 'pod' full of loose materials and equipment that can stimulate creative children's play.

The pod is a large metal container accommodating a wealth of goodies that can be used to stimulate imaginations and encourage creative play. Materials are clean and safe and include scraps of material, netting, containers, bobbins, tyres, plastic and cardboard components, mostly from local manufacturing industries. They are regularly restocked every six weeks with new and interesting items of scrap.

Children don't need much encouragement to build or create interesting structures, games or fantasies; this is something that comes naturally to them. However, lunch time staff are fully trained to facilitate free, open and safe play during these breaks. Already successfully established across the South West and used to enhance lunch time activities, participating schools have reported noticeable changes in children's behaviour, their enjoyment of school and their willingness to learn. There is also evidence that suggests incidents and accidents within the lunch time period decrease almost immediately.

St Peter's Primary School in Bromyard was the first school in Herefordshire to get a PlayPod. Head Teacher, Kevin Wright has nothing but praise for the PlayPod. He said, 'We can already confidently state that the PlayPod concept has revolutionized lunch times at St Peter's. Our children's imaginations have been massively stimulated with their playtime instantly becoming more creative and collaborative.'

Now the council has managed to gain government funding for a further four schools, who are able to match fund the project, to acquire a PlayPod of their own. The deadline for applications is Friday, 21st January. Further information is available from Tobin Godfrey, play project co-ordinator on 01432 260636.

St Peter's School pupils having fun playing with some of the contents of their new PlayPod.


Jesse Norman, MP for Hereford and South Herefordshire was honoured to be the guest speaker at the Hereford Sixth Form College's 2010/11 Certificate Presentation Event, held at the Shire Hall in Hereford on 5th January. Some 400 people attended, including 200 students out of a graduating year of 700 students. They were addressed by Dr Ken Hopkins (Chair of Governors) and Dr Jonathan Godfrey (Principal).

In his speech, Jesse congratulated the College on its outstanding track record, and the students on their achievements, before exploring the idea and value of a liberal education more generally. Commenting afterwards, Jesse said, 'We are extremely lucky with our educational institutions in Herefordshire, and the Sixth Form College is no exception. I have visited it many times, and two things always strike me when I am there.

One is the energy and independence of mind of the students. The other is the core belief of the staff and governors that education is not just about getting excellent exam grades, important though those may be, but about bringing out all that is best in those who study there, and giving them a sense of themselves and of their direction in life. That is at the core of a great education.'


Three out of four pregnant women in Herefordshire have not taken up the offer of a flu jab this season and with swine flu back on the increase, local health chiefs are concerned that mums-to-be could be putting their health at risk.

Swine flu is back but NHS Herefordshire is well prepared and has robust plans to cope, with sufficient flu vaccines in stock. With the county hospital treating five confirmed cases overall, the primary care trust is urging people in the community who are 'at risk' to contact their GP and get their free seasonal flu vaccine, which includes protection against swine flu (H1N1).

Although there are no confirmed H1N1 cases among pregnant women in Herefordshire the primary care trust is concerned that only 26 per cent of pregnant women have taken up the vaccine offer to date, despite previous information campaigns. In pregnancy the immune system is naturally suppressed, which means they are more likely to catch flu and develop complications.

Sarah Aitkin, director for public health said, 'Swine flu is different from the seasonal flu we're used to. All pregnant women are vulnerable to it irrespective of how healthy they are or which stage of pregnancy they are in. The majority of pregnant women who get flu are likely to have mild symptoms and recover within a week. However there is evidence from previous flu pandemics that pregnant women are more likely to develop complications which can include pneumonia, difficulty breathing and dehydration.

The seasonal flu vaccine will not cause any harm to pregnant women or their unborn baby. Yet there is some evidence to suggest that if a pregnant woman develops a complication of H1N1 flu, there is a small chance this will lead to premature labour or miscarriage. It is therefore important to be well prepared and to take precautions as soon as possible. GP's have extended their vaccination programme so I would urge anyone who is pregnant to ring their GP now and make an appointment to get their jab.'

Most people who get the virus have mild flu symptoms and recover by drinking plenty of fluid, taking fever reducing remedies and getting plenty of rest. People aged over six months and under 65 years in current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups are urged to contact their GP now, as well as household contacts of people with compromised immune systems or with patients on treatment for cancer, and people aged 65 and over in the current seasonal flu vaccine clinical at-risk groups.

NHS Herefordshire advises all residents to minimize the risk of catching or spreading H1N1 flu by:

Always covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing
Throwing away dirty tissues promptly and carefully
Maintaining good basic hygiene, for example washing hands frequently with soap and warm water to reduce the spread of the virus from your hands to your face or to other people
Cleaning hard surfaces such as door handles, frequently using a normal cleaning product.

12h January 2011


Police have released CCTV images of a man they want to question in connection with the theft of jewellery worth thousands of pounds from a shop in Herefordshire.

On Sunday, 5th December, five rings were stolen from the Oakchurch Farm Shop at Staunton on Wye. They were designed by the well known Welsh jewellery maker, Clogau and were worth approximately 1,000 each.

A man was caught on the shop's CCTV at the time of the theft whom police would like to speak to about the incident. He is 6ft tall, in his late 20s, is well built and at the time was wearing a quilted jacket and a deer stalker type hat.

PC Sara Miles, who is investigating the incident said, 'If anyone recognizes this man, I would very much like to know who he is, so please contact me. I would also be interested if anyone has been offered these rings for sale. They are quite distinctive and bear the word 'Cariad' on the inside of each one. They were all stolen in their boxes.'

Anyone with information is asked to contact PC Miles via the West Mercia Police non-emergency number, 0300 333 3000. Alternatively, please call the Crimestoppers number, anonymously on 0800 555 111.


The unique partnership between Herefordshire Council and NHS Herefordshire has been discussed and welcomed by 10 Downing Street. Councillor Roger Phillips, leader of the council, shared the good news when he met Prime Minister David Cameron and Secretary of State Eric Pickles on Monday.

The reception was held to discuss the government's proposals to give more power to councillors and local residents in Herefordshire. The partnership between the council and the primary care trust has been established for three years and Herefordshire was the first place where two organizations worked as one, sharing a chief executive, joint management team, and one vision to achieve efficient, excellent and value for money services to improve the life chances, quality of life, health and well-being of people in Herefordshire. The county will also be setting up a ground breaking joint venture in April to share key corporate functions and save 33 million over the next ten years in order to support essential public services for vulnerable members of the community.

The government's Localism Bill will lay the foundations for the Big Society by transforming the relationships between Central Government, Local Government, communities and individuals. Local councils will be freed from bureaucratic constraints with new freedoms and flexibilities to work in partnership and act in the best interests of their area. The bill aims to strengthen local democracy by handing new powers down to councils, establishing powerful new rights for local people.

Following the meeting, Councillor Phillips said, 'It was an honour to promote the interests of Herefordshire during my visit to Downing Street and to meet with the Prime Minister and Eric Pickles to discuss the positive changes the government are making to the way local councils are run. They were particularly interested in what we have achieved here in Herefordshire and welcomed the partnership working between the council and the health service in the county.'


The Library service is celebrating the joy of children's books this spring by launching a special competition with lots of lovely Gruffalo goodies to be won. As part of celebrations for World Book Day, the competition is to draw a picture of something from your favourite children's book.

Emma Stevens, Herefordshire Council's library learning officer said, 'The competition is open to all ages so we're hoping this will capture the imaginations of the young and old, and everyone in between. Herefordshire libraries are trying to get every baby and young child to enjoy the benefits of free library membership this spring as part of a nation-wide campaign.

'Every Child a Talker' (ECAT) is a national strategy which highlights how by talking to your child you're helping to develop their speech and communication skills, as well as helping their imagination grow too. Sharing books can play a big part in this, so Herefordshire Libraries are reminding parents of what they offer.

In addition to our regular Bounce and Rhyme and Story Time sessions each week, we are also launching a new library card designed for young children, and you are never too young to enjoy the benefits of being a library member. There are no fines or charges for damaged or lost books for under 5s, and we have a huge choice of picture and board books to borrow for free.'

Details of the competition, further events and how to join the library are available from any local library or on the website

The closing date for the competition is 11th March.

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