Holst’s The Planets Suite: 100 Years To The Day

Ely Cathedral to host centenary celebration of one of the UK’s best-loved musical works exactly 100 years to the day after the first performance.

One hundred years to the day after its first performance, Gustav Holst’s magnificent Planets Suite will ring out in Ely Cathedral, on Saturday 29th September 2018, when Ely Sinfonia takes to the stage under the baton of its conductor Steve Bingham.  Right from the moment of its world première, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult in the Queen’s Hall, London, The Planets has been Holst’s most popular, influential, widely performed and frequently recorded of all his works, with Jupiter and Mars among some of the most recognised of all English music.

Also on the programme is Holst’s first major orchestral work, his Cotswolds Symphony, described by Classic FM’s Anne-Marie Minhall as “a superb joyful piece with hints of greatness to come.”

The concert starts, fittingly, with the world première of a piece by a modern, local composer. Phil Toms’ Great War Overture will paint a picture of life in the trenches that will echo down the past hundred years:  fitting tribute in the wonderful surroundings of Ely Cathedral.

“We are very privileged to be playing one of the most loved of all British works on the precise day of its centenary,” says the orchestra’s conductor and artistic director, Steve Bingham.  “From the moment of its first performance in the Queen’s Hall, London, on 29th September 1918, the British people took Holst’s The Planets to their hearts.  Its melodies feature in music ranging from the scores of films such as Wallace and Grommit and The Lord of the Rings to the hymn “I Vow to Thee My Country”, played at both the wedding and the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the funeral of Baroness Thatcher, as well as many festivals of remembrance.”

“We are also thrilled, 100 years after the end of World War I, to be performing the world première of the Great War Overture by my great friend, local East Anglian composer Phil Toms.  This is going to be a historical and memorable evening.”

Tickets are available from Ely Cathedral Box Office and cost £25, £20 or £15 (reserved) or £8.00 (unreserved); concessions are £15 in the £20 seats.  They can be obtained by calling 01353 660349 or emailing box.office@elycathedral.org, or by booking online from www.elycathedral.org/events.

To find out more about Ely Sinfonia, visit www.elysinfonia.co.uk.  To ask about joining, call 01353 721007 or email publicity@elysinfonia.co.uk.


New staff members welcomed onto King’s Ely leadership team

King’s Ely has welcomed several new members of staff this September, including four new additions to positions of leadership.

Jonathan Shaw is the new Head of King’s Ely Senior. Born in Staffordshire, Jonathan is a History graduate of Nottingham University with an MA in Leadership from the Institute of Education in London. He has worked in a number of independent day and boarding schools, both in the UK and in Kenya, and most recently as Vice Principal of Elizabeth College in Guernsey. Jonathan has moved to Ely with his wife, Katherine, and two children.

New Head of King’s Ely Acremont, where the youngest pupils at King’s Ely are educated, is Faye Fenton-Stone. Born in Kent, Faye is a graduate of University College London and the Institute of Education. Faye, who is married with two children, has come to King’s Ely from the post of Deputy Head of the Pre-Prep of King’s College School in Cambridge. She has both Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) and Key Stage 1 experience.

Ben Pennington has joined the school as Deputy Head of King’s Ely Senior, moving south from Ampleforth College in York, where he was Deputy Head of Middle School and Housemaster of St Dunstan’s. Born in Worcester, Ben attended Bristol University before completing a PGCE at Oriel College, Oxford. He has taught in Sydney, London and more recently in Sherborne, Dorset. He served for five years in the British Army with the Irish Guards and has played professional rugby for Leicester and Bristol. Ben has moved to Ely with his wife and two children.

The fourth leadership post has been taken up by Celia Etchegoyen, who joined the King’s Ely family earlier this year as Interim Head of King’s Ely Acremont. Celia has now moved to the newly created post of Director of Outreach, and will be looking to extend and develop the school’s partnership work.

Principal of King’s Ely, Sue Freestone, said: “We are fortunate to have assembled a group of impressive individuals who have gelled exceptionally well with each other and the existing team. I sense the combined effect of the King’s Ely synergy is about to move up several gears.”

To find out more about opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org.

Press release from King’s Ely


Sunday Fun Day at Isle of Pets

Yesterday saw Isle of Pets hold an awesome fun day for pet lovers in Ely.

Local groups were there including Therapy Dogs Nationwide and the K9 Project provided refreshments with hot dogs and cookies for a donation.

Sian Ryan and Calum from Developing Dogs and Mel Thomason’s Rewarding Paws both gave demonstrations where you could join in with your dog and K9 Sports Agility were in action as well.

There was even a photo shoot for you to get your pet sat perfectly in front of the camera and if you fancied a bounce around there was bouncy castle fun, Mr Softee ice cream and games for kids. Isle Vets resident Shetland pony Thunder Pants was there for his adoring fans!

Mayor of Ely, Mike Rouse came along to support the event as well.

Jarl Ford from Isle of Pets said “We’re so pleased at how the day went. It was brilliant to share with our customers and visitors. All of the wonderful trainers who delivered the sessions are customers of ours so it was great to be on the other side of the fence and to see them doing what they do! We are very lucky in Ely to have so many good pet professionals around us. Finally we are delighted with how the business has developed in less than two years and equally excited with our plans for the years ahead.”

1000 Origami Cranes Exhibition

In October a fundraising exhibition to raise awareness of World Mental Health Day, and a celebration of a full recovery story from Postnatal Depression, will be in Ely.

Ely resident and charity worker, Laura Pearson-Clark will be holding a two day fundraising exhibition on Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 October at Chequer Studio, in the heart of the city centre.

After the birth of her daughter in 2014, Laura battled with postnatal depression for the first two years of her daughter’s life and was referred to an Art Therapist in 2016. The 12 week art therapy course provided by the NHS was a turning point and marked the beginning of a full recovery journey:

Laura said: “It was in my penultimate art therapy session that I discussed an idea I had for a new art piece. After visiting Newhall College’s Japan Day, I read up about the Japanese legend that if you make 1000 paper origami cranes you will receive eternal good luck. The cranes are also known for symbolising resilience and well-being. I wrote to patient liaison services and gained permission and full access to copies of my patient notes to make my cranes and a year later I had a spare room full of them!”

On the exhibition days you’ll be able to see all 1000 cranes hanging, learn the art of ‘Mindfoldness’ and how to make an origami crane yourself. You’ll also be able to find further information about all the charities and organisations who provided support and ways you can get involved in the amazing work they do.

There will also be a ‘name a crane’ fundraising game to help Laura reach her fundraising target of £1000 to support all the great work of the Friends of St John’s School Ely.

Further information can be found in the events section on the Chequer Studio Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/chequerstudio

1000 Origami Cranes Exhibition, Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 October, 10.30am-4pm, Chequer Studio, 1a Chequer Lane, Ely, CB7 4LN. https://www.facebook.com/chequerstudio


Ely Cathedral roses are a welcome addition to King’s Ely gardens

King’s Ely has taken delivery of three stunning Ely Cathedral roses.

The Dean of Ely, Mark Bonney, visited the school to present Principal, Sue Freestone, with the roses, which are a welcome addition to the gardens of the Old Palace and a reminder of the close links between the cathedral and King’s Ely.

The Ely Cathedral rose has been produced by East Anglian rose growers, Peter Beales Roses, who are specialist propagators of new blooms and have won many prestigious awards, including 24 Gold Medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, where the rose was officially unveiled by celebrity garden designer, Diarmuid Gavin.

Mr Bonney said: “We had our inspiration for an Ely Cathedral rose from our highly successful flower festival in 2013, and were very excited to have an opportunity to work with Peter Beales Roses. The rose they have cultivated for the cathedral produces a classic and elegant, yet vibrant flower, and fulfills all that we hoped for.”  

Ely Cathedral roses can be purchased from the cathedral gift shop, or by visiting www.elycathedral.org.

Press release form King’s Ely

New Heads of School, Deputy Heads, Prefects and Heads of Houses appointed

Felix Hawes and Maria Campbell have been formally installed as King’s Ely’s new Heads of School.

Over a thousand people gathered inside Ely Cathedral on September 3rd for the school’s Beginning of Year Service, which includes the robing of incoming Heads of School in their prefects’ gowns. The new Heads of School then robe the Deputy Heads of School, after which all then assist in robing the other Prefects.

Speaking about her headship, Maria, 17, who has been at King’s Ely since joining King’s Ely Junior in Year 5, said: “I feel very lucky to have been selected to be Head of School out of such a strong group of candidates. Although I am a bit nervous about some of the speeches, I am very much looking forward to being at the head of such a strong community.”

Felix, 17, has been at King’s Ely since joining Reception at King’s Ely Acremont. He said: “I feel incredibly honoured to have been made Head of School. King’s Ely is so much of a community that to call it a large family is fitting, and to be a leading figure in this family is a huge privilege for me. The school has served me well, and now I am serving it too.”

This year’s Deputy Heads of School are Tristan Harding, Alex Layfield, Ashley Lian and Jenna Richards.

School Prefect status has been awarded to John-Paul Gilbey, Ben Clubb, Boris Choi, Sam Freeze, Tom Stiff, Phoebe Plumb, Arshdeep Hayer, Benita Bausbacher, Rebecca Keene, Honor Whitehead, Stephanie Segall and Rebecca Daniel.

The Beginning of Year Service also sees Heads of Houses for both King’s Ely Junior and King’s Ely Senior being welcomed into their posts.

In King’s Ely Junior, Queen Emma is being headed up by Lauren Booth and Thomas Alderton; Queen Philippa is being led by Kendle Putter and Rufus Hillier; Saunders is being headed up by Francesca Stevens and James MacGillivray; Goodwin is being led by Sydney Smith and Thomas Jackson; Priory is being headed up by Ellie Grimsey and Midu Gurung; and Choir is being led by James Barbrook.

In King’s Ely Senior, Huiru (Ashley) Lian is Head of House for Hill; Robert Dunlop-Brown for Hereward; Felix Hawes and Michael Poole for Osmond; Samuel Freeze and Ethan Morley for Wilkinson; John-Paul Gilbey for School; Rebecca Daniel and Phoebe Plumb for Torfrida; Eleanor Scott for Etheldreda; and Lucy Darby and Anna Pearce for Withburga.

To find out more about opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org.

Press release from King’s Ely 


Skills Fair Returns to Ely Cathedral For Fifth Year

Back by popular demand, East Cambs Careers & Skills Fair is returning to Ely Cathedral on Tuesday 9th October.

Now in its fifth year, the fair has continued to grow and draw attention from local schools and businesses alike. Last year’s event saw 800 students from schools and colleges throughout the district visit and for the first time this year, primary school children will be attending the fair.

The 2018 event will see East Cambridgeshire District Council launch a brand-new Apprenticeship Hub at the event which is a website designed to connect local employers, apprentices and training providers.

Emma Grima, Commercial Director at East Cambridgeshire District Council said: “Events like this are really useful for young people who are keen to explore the many different avenues people take after school. The event will enable students to learn more about the working world as well as allow them to demonstrate their networking skills in a professional capacity.”

Nikki Pritchett, who is a Work-related Learning Coordinator from Ely College, said: “It has been great to see how useful the students have found this day and the feedback we’ve had from them has been really positive. Fairs like this really help to open their eyes to the opportunities available to them and help students to consider paths they might not have considered before.”

The fair is sponsored by The Network for East Anglian Collaborative Outreach, Thorlabs, West Suffolk College, Enterprise East Cambridgeshire, The Employability Partnership, Shearline Precision Engineering Ltd and Tesco, who will also be exhibiting.

Speaking about last year’s event, Rebecca Sussex, Business and Education Development Manager from the Skills Service said “We are extremely pleased that the skills fair continues to be so well supported. The students really enjoyed the day and we hope that it’s helped to guide them towards a fulfilling future careers.”

If your business would like to sponsor an aspect of the Careers & Skills Fair contact Rebecca Findley, Marketing Officer at Enterprise East Cambridgeshire on rebecca.findlay@eastcambs.gov.uk

Press release from East Cambridgeshire District Council

Girls’ and Women’s Rugby at Ely Tigers Rugby Club

Written by: Rebecca Case-Upton and Charlotte Pindar 

Last season Ely Tigers rugby club started a girls’ section- the Ely Tigresses. We want this to go from strength to strength each year. The new season is starting, come and join us!

We want to make sure the opportunity to play rugby locally is available to girls and women in Ely and the surrounding area.  The women’s professional game has seen enormous success at both Premier 15’s level and internationally. As a consequence of this, women’s and girls’ rugby have become the fastest growing team sports in recent years!  Since 2013 the number of women and girls enjoying contact rugby in England has increased by over 10,000.  At the time of the 1991 Women’s Rugby World Cup there were around 35 English clubs with women’s sides, compared with over 300 rugby clubs hosting women’s and girls’ teams in 2017. Our long term goal is to have a thriving, sustainable and competitive women’s section at Ely RUFC. 

The Ely Tigresses train every Tuesday from 6.30-8.00pm and cater for girls aged 11 to 18. All the girls need to bring is themselves (and any friends who want to have a go too), a water bottle, warm layers, studded boots, a hair tie and a fitted gum shield.

Our coaching team consists of Simon Cross, Simon Edwards and Charlotte Pindar. As the girls’ section grows, we are recruiting for new volunteer coaches to add to our team. So if you are reading this and are an experienced coach, looking for a new challenge and to work with a burgeoning girls’ section, please contact our Girls’ Chairwoman Charlotte or our Director of Rugby, Adrian Storey. 

We had a brilliant turnout from our very first session last season and regularly saw 25+ girls from schools all over Cambridgeshire. This season we want to expand upon our excellent start and to have even greater numbers of players enjoying rugby. We have played 3 fixtures so far in partnership with Diss RUFC. We’d love to build on that and give our Tigresses more chances to represent their club.

Rugby is for everyone and teaches you so many important values.

One of the biggest misconceptions about rugby is that one has to be a hulking, great big person, who’s hugely athletic and very aggressive. This is definitely not so! Regardless of your size, shape, height, fitness and previous experience or (lack thereof), rugby is a game for everyone. If

you’re small but agile and speedy, you could zip past the defenders. If you’re a bit bigger and have sometimes felt uncomfortable in your skin, rugby could be the key to finding confidence in yourself and unlocking hidden abilities. We are one team. We all add value. 

Central to the culture of rugby is that we have a set of core values: Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship (or TREDS for short). We try to embody these in all that we do as a club, as a committee, as coaches and as volunteers; and we expect the same of our players, parents, supporters and spectators. 

Parents and players often say that they’re anxious about the contact aspect of the game. We understand these concerns but want to reassure you that we take the utmost care to ensure our players are coached fully in how to safely tackle and how to be tackled. We take their safety very seriously. If you have any questions at all though, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Our contact information can be found below or on the Ely Tigers website.

There’s also so much more to the game of rugby than the tackle! We do a lot of work on the principles of play- Possession, Going Forward, Support, Continuity and Pressure. It stands to reason that if you want to maintain possession of the ball, to carry on going forward, to apply pressure, to keep up continuity and to support your teammates; you need to communicate, to run into space, to keep the ball alive, to offload the ball rather than running into contact and to follow that pass to support the ball carrier! We saw our players coming on leaps and bounds in their knowledge, technical understanding, fitness, tactical and physical ability last season, as a direct result of this focus. We look forward to seeing all the progress our girls will make this season. 

Most importantly, we’re committed to creating an environment in which the girls have fun, make friends and feel part of a team. If they learn something, get some fresh air and do some healthy exercise at the same time, even better!

Rugby is the game of our lives. We hope it will be yours too.

Contact Charlotte Pindar, Girls’ Chairwomen, at elytigresses@gmail.com or turn up on Tuesday evenings, 6.30-8pm.

Touch rugby for men and women

For over 16’s, Touch Rugby is organised on Monday evenings 7.30-9pm and is open to both women and men. Touch Rugby is a relaxed, social, non-contact game. The rules are very simple and we can teach any beginners who want to give it a go. Everyone is welcome at Touch Rugby; men, women, beginners or experienced players.

One of the ladies who plays on Monday evenings has given this glowing report of Touch Rugby. “I’m so glad I gave it a go when I saw it advertised last summer. I wasn’t sure I’d be any good when I started but everyone is so friendly that it doesn’t matter if I sometimes make mistakes. Touch Rugby complements the pilates, yoga and dancing that I do during the week. It really tones my legs up. I always look forward to Monday nights”.

If you would like to try something different and are interested in a non-contact form of rugby give touch rugby a go.

Visit the Ely Tigers Website www.elytigers.rfu.club

New Community Bus Partnership – good news for Ely as improved city centre bus service begins

A new and improved bus route around the city of Ely set off today (Monday 3 September) from Market Street following a campaign by a group of local residents and councillors for a better bus service for Ely.

Following the loss of the old number 15 Ely service, a group of local councillors along with two Ely residents have been working with the help and support of officers at the County Council, and planners at Stagecoach, to make improvements to the current bus timetables on offer to Ely residents.

In an innovative move, a Community Bus Partnership has been formed between Stagecoach and the campaign group to promote the service locally with the aim of building up ridership over time.

The revised number 9 service will run on a circular route around the city, linking residential areas around Beresford Road, Priors Court, Cam Drive and Kings Avenue with the Ely Leisure Village, Princess of Wales Hospital, Sainsbury’s, city centre and Tesco. The route also provides through journeys to Cambridge for shopping. Initially, the bus will run every two hours during the day, on Mondays to Saturdays, and fares will be £1.80 for a single journey and £3 for an all-day ticket covering the Ely area.

City of Ely, East Cambs District and Cambridgeshire County Councillor Lis Every said, “We are delighted that Stagecoach has stepped in to provide this improved service for Ely and our campaign group will be throwing our efforts into promoting the route locally to help it thrive.”

District and County Councillor Anna Bailey said “Part of the discussions we have been having locally around bus services is the need for longevity to help build and sustain ridership over time. We want this to feel like a community service and one of the ideas we have is to provide very local versions of the timetables relating to different areas of Ely.”

District and City Councillor Richard Hobbs added “There is a lot of local knowledge available about the transport needs of the area. Ely is expanding, and this recent and future growth along with other detailed local information will all be helpful to ensure the success of this new and improved service for residents and tourists alike.”

Andy Campbell, Managing Director of Stagecoach East, said: “Community bus routes are vital yet, across the country, many services are struggling. This Community Bus Partnership is an excellent example of the sort of creative thinking that has the potential to help encourage greater usage. Stagecoach is pleased to be working with the Council and community, as part of this forward-thinking solution.”

Cambridgeshire County Council will also be working with Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Mayor James Palmer and the Combined Authority to consider longer term options for bus services in the area pending a more far-reaching Bus Review by the Combined Authority.

Full timetable information for the new no 9 service can be found at: https://www.stagecoachbus.com/promos-and-offers/east/ely-9-new-service

New Netball Season Celebrations for Ely

A wonderful start to the new season for Ely Netball Club!  Four of five teams took to the court for the weekend fixtures, resulting in two wins and two very close end results – with a total of 135 goals scored.

The club is also celebrating having received two grants; from Mick George Sports Fund in association with Living Sport, which has helped purchase much needed equipment, and the second grant from Sport England, will help towards the club’s new initiative of offering Walking Netball sessions.

Anyone interested in playing for Ely Netball Club or finding out more about the new Walking Netball please contact elynetball@hotmail.co.uk

Picnic in The Park Rocks Sutton Once Again

Saturday 1st September saw Sutton Feast’s Picnic in The Park event delight the crowds once again. This year the sun shone and hundreds of festival goers, young and old, came out to enjoy the festivities. This year the event featured 5 bands, headlined by the mighty Iron Fist!!

It was a brilliant show and there was something for everyone, up and coming artist, Jess Davies opened the show, crowd pleasers Five Ska got the crowds dancing, an acoustic folk and blues from Ady Pope and a lively rock set from The Numbers completed the line up.

Children enjoyed free face painting, henna tattoos and a massive bouncy castle. There was an array of food on offer provided by Sutton Scouts, Sutton Feast and St Andrews Church as well as sweets from Mr Simms.

The event, as always, finished off with a spectacular firework display that had to be seen to be believed. Onlookers squealed with delight as the sky over Sutton lit up, to a fantastic musical overlay which incorporated a fitting tribute to the anniversary of the end of World War One.

A spokesman for Sutton Feast said “This was the best one yet! So many people came out and enjoyed the relaxed party atmosphere created by a wonderful community. The fireworks provided a fitting climax to a fantastic day! We would like to thank all of our sponsors, volunteers and supporters for making the event so successful”

Sutton Feast Committee are so grateful to the whole community for helping to make the event so successful year on year and look forward to doing it all again in early September 2019.

Funding agreed to extend local urgent care improvements

Funding has been agreed by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG to extend the Local Urgent Care Services (LUCS) pilots in East Cambridgeshire and Fenland for a further year.

Over the past year, the CCG has been working alongside local services and clinicians to help provide better access to urgent care services for local residents, to improve patient experience, and to ease pressure on A&E departments.

This includes the launch of the Ely Local Urgent Care Services (LUCS) Hub pilot, where GPs are now working alongside nurse practitioners in Ely MIU to provide a ‘one-stop’ service for patients with minor illnesses and injuries.

Local GP, Dr Alex Manning, said “This is great news for local services. The Ely LUCS pilot has shown promising signs, and now we can explore how we can expand this service further.

“GP workforce and recruitment remains a challenge locally. However, a number of new staff have been recruited to start in September which will help to ensure reliability of the service. Should there be any reduction or change in services available, we will ensure patients are made aware of this and of the alternative local services available during that time.”

Over the past year, nearly 13,500 patients have used the Ely LUCS service – an increase of 4 per cent compared to 2016/17. Patient feedback has been positive, with two-thirds of patients seen and treated at the Ely LUCS hub with no follow-up appointment required.

Learning from the Ely experience, work also continues to develop local urgent care services for Wisbech and for the South Fenland area.

Dr Manning added “We are working with GPs in Wisbech and North Cambs MIU to look at the best way for services to work collaboratively. Various options have been considered, and it is hoped that this new service will start later in the year.”

There are also a number of new initiatives in place in South Fenland to help ease pressure on nurses and GPs. For example, as part of the ‘Time to Care’ project, a large number of receptionists have been trained as ‘Care Navigators’ so that patients can be directed to the most appropriate service, and to help reduce demand on GPs. New systems have also been introduced for managing correspondence, which frees up GP time.

Information on opening hours and minor illnesses and injurues that can be treated at MIUs can be found at:  http://www.cpft.nhs.uk/services/minor-injury-units.htm

Review – Youth Acts Up: The Dracula Rock Show

A couple of months ago Youth Acts UP decided to join NODA (National Operatic Dramatic Association). They support local groups and provide advice on anything theatrical. A NODA Representative also pops along and reviews the show. You may even be nominated for an award (fingers crossed). So here it is, our very first review……. Well done cast, marvellous 🙂

NODA review:


Youth Acts Up
Little Downham Village Hall

This was my first visit to new NODA youth society Youth Acts Up in Little Downham and you would not think that spending the evening with a crowd of vampires and zombies doesn’t sound much like fun but it was. The script was just right for the cast of 7 – 16 year olds with some great songs. A story of Zombies, Dracula mixed with a rock star Jagged Mick and saving the day Shirley Holmes with Dr Watson, not forgetting Holmes’ arch enemy, Moriarty, this all made for a good romp.

The excellent set created a super home for the Count and the undead. Lighting added to the spooky effect, sound effects were great and sound level was well handled and pitched just right to accommodate the young voices. The costumes and make-up enhanced the characteristics of the array of colourful characters. Director Becky Green had rehearsed the company well in the limited rehearsal time available. All the music, which included country and rock, was sung to backing tracks. Singing, particularly when the whole cast was involved was excellent and movement which suited all abilities was performed with a good level of accomplishment. Once or twice there appeared to be slow entrances but having seen the limited access available from the wings that was understandable. Dialogue was handled reasonably well but at times nerves overcame recall and projection.

All involved were well focused and everyone in the company will have learnt from the process. This was mainly an ensemble piece led by two good narrators. As the story unfolded all the characters were convincing. The humour was reasonably well timed and well brought out. Jagged Mick and The Blood Sisters were very good and the principal characters were all well-cast and did a splendid job. I am not sure who played which role but an extra well done to Count Dracula, Shirley Holmes, Dr Watson, Moriarty and particularly Mrs Peterson, Moriarty’s

This was a fun show which was obviously enjoyed by those involved and all their hard work was very well received by the audience.

Review by: Julie Petrucci

We would also like to announce the Workshops and auditions for our next show Peter Pan the panto written by local children’s story writer Peter Crussell. Please see poster attached for info.
On top of all this and our next exciting term we would like to announce that during rehearsals for “ The Dracula Rock Show” performed in July one of our cast members Nathaneal Fulford (Dracula) has won a full-time scholarship to study performing arts.

From September he will attend the Redroofs School for performing arts in Maidenhead. He will be covering not only academic subjects but also drama, ballet, tap, musical theatre, script and street dance.
In the future Nathaneal will have the opportunity to go to auditions in film, TV and West End shows. We at Youth Acts UP wish Nathaneal every success. On the downside we now have to find somebody to replace him.

‘Secondary School of the Year’ Ely College celebrates impressive GCSE results

Hot on the heels of being announced as ‘Secondary School of the Year’ at the recent Education Awards, Ely College has today built further on the huge improvements secured in 2017 with some of the best GCSE results in its history.

62 per cent of students secured grades 4-9 in both English and mathematics – a 27 per cent rise on 2015. 44 per cent of students secured the top grades (5-9) in both English and mathematics – a 4 per cent increase on last year, and significantly above last year’s national average.

The proportion of students achieving the top grades was particularly pleasing. An impressive 60 entries were graded at the new ‘Grade 9’, which is awarded to the top 3 per cent of students in the country.

138 GCSEs were awarded at either grades 8 or 9 (equivalent to at least the old A*), compared with 91 at that level in 2017. Overall, the proportion of top grades awarded (grades 5-9) rose sharply, by 10 per cent, to 51 per cent.

Richard Spencer, Principal of Ely College, commented: “I’d like to congratulate all of our students and their families on these excellent results for Ely College. Improving on last year’s results seemed a tall order twelve months ago, but I’m delighted with how the students and staff have risen to that challenge.

“The excellent results today reflect a great deal of hard work from our students and my wonderful staff.

“Ely College is once again a school of which the community can be proud, and we are determined to build further on this success in the years to come.

“I wish all of our students every success as they move onto further education, and am excited to be welcoming many of them back to our own Bishop Laney Sixth Form.”

Last week, Bishop Laney Sixth Form, a new collaboration between Ely College and Soham Village College, celebrated an excellent set of post-16 results, with a 100 per cent pass rate in its vocational courses. The average grade awarded was a distinction. From this September, students will once again be able to study A Levels at Bishop Laney Sixth Form.

For more information about Ely College, please visit: www.elycollege.com.

Hard work pays off for GCSE students at King’s Ely Senior

King’s Ely students are celebrating their GCSE results with around two thirds of all grades achieved being 9 to 6.

65 per cent of all GCSE results achieved this year were Grades 9 to 6, 22 per cent of which were Grades 9 to 8. Under the reformed GCSE marking scheme, results are awarded on a 9 to 1 scale, with 7 being broadly equivalent to an A grade. Grade 8 is approximately equivalent to the former A* grade, with Ofqual seeing a 9 as ‘exceptional performance’.

8 per cent of this year’s results were Grade 9, 42 per cent were Grades 9 to 7, 84 per cent were Grades 9 to 5 and 95 per cent were Grades 9 to 4.

In Maths, 100 per cent of students achieved at least a Grade 4 pass, with 88 per cent achieving at least a Grade 5 ‘strong pass’. 31 per cent of results in Maths were Grades 9 to 8. In the challenging Further Maths, 33 per cent of students achieved a Grade 8 or 9.

In English Language, almost half of all students achieved a Grade 9 to 7.

Results in History were of particular note, with over 50 per cent of students gaining a Grade 8 or 9. In Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Spanish, Textiles, Latin and Physical Education, over one third of all grades were at least an 8.

Joseph Lacey and Victoria Davies led the field with Grade 9’s in six of their subjects; they also achieved A* grades in GCSE Further Maths. Victoria also took an extra GCSE in Dance and achieved an A* in Ancient Greek which she took last year. Charlotte Ebbens, Edmund Heaney, Imogen Kirkpatrick, Anthony Taylor Gutierrez, Toby Whittome, Elena Wilden and Sihan Yu all achieved four Grade 9’s with Lily Buckley, Anna Chaudhry, Ben Garrett, Daniel Grapes, Tom Henderson, Lucy Lott and Charlotte Wilkinson all gaining at least two Grade 9’s among their excellent results.

Overall more than 20 per cent of students this year achieved Grades 9 to 7 in their top eight subjects. These students were Solomon Boon, Lily Buckley, Anna Chaudhry, Victoria Davies, Madeleine Dening, Ben Garrett, Daniel Grapes, Edmund Heaney, Tom Henderson, Imogen Kirkpatrick, Joseph Lacey, Anthony Taylor Gutierrez, India Thomas, Toby Whittome, Elena Wilden, Charlotte Wilkinson and Sihan Yu.

Principal of King’s Ely, Sue Freestone, said: “This period of transition has given rise to some trepidation. However, our students have given a really good account of themselves and we are proud of what they have achieved.”

A total of 37 students from 11 different countries also studied the intensive one-year IGCSE programme at King’s Ely, which sees them studying in their non-native speaking language. Maths was the only subject out of the 15 on offer that followed the new Grade 9 to 1 syllabus; all other subjects were assessed A* to F as in previous years.

This year’s IGCSE results are among the highest in the course’s 18-year history at King’s Ely, with 26 per cent of results being A* or Grade 9 to 8, 53 per cent being A* to A or Grade 9 to 7, 78 per cent being A* to B or Grade 9 to 6, 97 per cent being A* to C or Grade 9 to 4 and 99 per cent being A* to E or Grade 9 to 2.

Photography, Textiles, Chemistry, Further Maths and First Language English achieved 100 per cent A* to C or Grades 9 to 5, and the highlight of the year was Chemistry, which achieved a 100 per cent A* to B pass rate for the 16 students who sat the exam.

In Maths, 87 per cent of students achieved Grades 9 to 7, of which 38 per cent were Grade 9 (exceptional performance). In English Language, 94 per cent of results were A* to C.

Of particular note this year is Ilaria Dimina who sat ten IGCSEs after just two terms of study at King’s Ely International and achieved A* and A grades in nine of them, including three languages.

Four students achieved all A* and A grades in the eight or seven exams they sat; Anastasia Belan, Gar Bo Chow, Liam Joe Lau and William Wu. In addition, the following eight students achieved 100 per cent A* to B grades in their one-year courses: Zhiying Cen, Jingyi Fu, Suttapa Ittipornavich, Pui Man Leung, Eric Poon, Ho Lam Tsang, Yanhan Wang and Fanyao Ye.

Academic Director of King’s Ely International, Matthew Norbury, said: “These are the global citizens of tomorrow and, as ever, they flourish at King’s Ely. That our cohort continues year on year to achieve excellence whilst studying abroad bears testament to the outstanding teaching and highly focused effort these pupils apply. As always, King’s Ely is immensely proud of its international community.”

Autumn Open Events are being held for all sections of King’s Ely in September and October. To book your place for more information, please visit www.kingsely.org.

A Jolly story for Ely High Street

Ely is once again welcoming another independent brand to its wonderful community of small businesses.

The Jolly Bobbin will be opening its doors on Chequer lane on the 25th August. Owners, Amy and Mike Jolly of Ely have been operating as The Jolly Bobbin since 2015 when Amy began making and selling baby booties and hair-bows online. This grew into making a whole range of custom clothing, ranging from leggings to dungarees and sweatshirt tops. After becoming parents and getting fed up of the lack of truly gender-free, fun and colourful kids clothes on the high street, Amy decided this would be her inspiration.

After teaching paramedic husband (Mike) to sew, The Jolly Bobbin has been a busy little enterprise. With ever-growing online interest and two busy summers of festival trading, they decided to take the leap into a bricks and mortar shop in the centre of Ely.

The shop will be a miniature emporium of ethical, fun and practical child and parent related goodies. Alongside their organic gender-free clothing range (made on site), they have collaborated with other wonderful independent brands to bring a wide variety of products, including:- organic leather baby shoes, baby carriers/ring slings (following T.I.C.K.S rule), cloth sanitary products, hybrid cloth nappies, Baltic amber necklaces, teething/distraction necklaces and hand held pieces, beautiful vintage and chakra jewellery, reusable straws and kitchen roll, rainbow glass decorations, KindHuman t-shirts, beautifully upcycled campervan furniture, educational eco toys/puzzles/games and some lovely hand puppets from The Puppet Company. The Jolly Bobbin will also be stocking some goodies made by Rex London such as colourful lunch bags, mini backpacks, cushions and many more wonderfully useful items.

Opening day looks to be a great one with cake, prosecco and discount codes being given away during the morning.

Follow them on social media.



Toasting the Best of British Bed and Breakfasts

Local favourite Grove Barn has been shortlisted for National annual awards that celebrates the best independent hosts and hoteliers from across the UK

Grove Barn has been shortlisted for both the “Outstanding Host” and regional “Hidden Gem” Award at Britain’s premier annual awards for the industry. The eviivo Awards, now in their fifth year, celebrate the best of Britain’s world-class, and world-famous bed and breakfasts, guest houses, inns and small, independent hotels.
Recently announced, the eviivo Awards 2018 shortlist has seen Grove Barn, run by Joanne Holman, reach the final stages of the nomination process. Over the coming weeks, their application will be judged by a panel of industry experts before the winners are announced at the annual eviivo Awards dinner on the 16th of October at Quaglino’s on Bury Street, London.

Today the UK Bed and Breakfast sector is a £2 billion market of owner-managed businesses. Along with the thousands of small independent hoteliers up and down the country, they make a huge contribution to the British economy and to their local communities.
Britain’s independent B&Bs, guesthouses and boutique hotels represent the pinnacle of British hospitality, providing some of UK’s most quirky and unique holiday experiences. TripAdvisor recently revealed data showing that British B&Bs are now outperforming their larger hotel rivals by over 15% on average and the UK’s hotels and B&Bs are now rated among the very best in Europe. B&Bs, pubs with accommodation and boutique hotels are an increasingly popular choice for international and domestic holiday-makers, seeking a truly British experience.

Through their market leading technology, eviivo work closely with independent owners to help them compete on an equal footing with large hotel chains online and market their properties more effectively in the highly-competitive global marketplace.

Joanne Holman of the Grove Barn commented: “At Grove Barn we work so hard to give our guests a fantastic and unique experience. We are absolutely delighted to have that recognised through this shortlisting for the Hidden Gem – South East Award and hope we are successful on the night.”

Commenting, Paul Saxby, Events Director at eviivo said: “eviivo are proud to be working with many of the finest businesses in Britain’s vibrant hospitality sector. These are often small, family-run businesses that play a significant role in driving tourism and jobs to their local community. These devoted, independent hosts take immense pride in their service and our awards shine a light on many fine examples. What unites all of our customers is their passion and tireless dedication to offering a fantastic guest experience. Congratulations to all those shortlisted and we look forward to once again celebrating the very best in the industry at this year’s awards.”

The eviivo Awards takes place onthe 16th October at Quaglino’s on Bury Street, London.

Grove Barn is situated in Cambridgeshire. For further information please see www.grovebarncambridgeshire.com

King’s Ely Sixth Form students celebrate excellent A Level results

King’s Ely is celebrating some of the highest set of A Level results on record with almost half of all grades achieved being A* and As.

47 per cent of all A Level grades achieved this year were A* or A, 75 per cent were graded A* to B, 89 per cent were graded A* to C and 99 per cent of all students achieved A* to E. The number of students who achieved A* grades also increased to 18 per cent this year.

By most measures, the results are the highest ever achieved by King’s Ely students, with 22 per cent of pupils achieving all A* or A grades in their subjects and 51 per cent achieving all A* to B grades in their subjects.

Principal of King’s Ely, Sue Freestone, is understandably delighted with this year’s results. She said: “These results are fantastic! This resourceful and determined group of hard-working young adults, and the staff and parents who have supported them throughout their educational journey have done a first-rate job. We are very proud of them.”

Students who achieved all A* and A grades were Martha Bent (A*, A*, A), William Black (A, A, A, A AS Further Maths), Sebastian Carberry (A*, A, A), Zoe Danes (A*, A, A), James Graver (A, A, A, A AS Further Maths), Elizabeth Hall (A*, A*, A, A), Sonia Kasprzak (A*, A, A), Eric Lin (A*, A*, A, A), Robinson Lyu (A*, A*, A, A), Emily Moore (A, A, A), Jelena Rois (A*, A*, A*), Olivia Rosenberg (A*, A, A, A), Carlotta Rosenthal (A*, A*, A, A, A), Vicky Shang (A*, A, A), and Kayla Wang (A*, A*, A*, A).

William, Sebastian, Sonia and Carlotta also took the Extended Project Qualification, achieving A* and A grades here as well. Carlotta was only 16 at the time of taking her exams which makes her achievements even more impressive.

Vice Principal Academic of King’s Ely, Jane Thomas, said: “This year group faced the challenges of new linear, reformed A Levels in all of their subjects. Inevitably, new examination specifications bring an element of uncertainty for both teachers and students therefore we are particularly delighted with these results.”

Open Events are being held at King’s Ely in September and October, with the Sixth Form Open Event taking place on Saturday, October 6th. To book your place or for more information, please visit: www.kingsely.org.

Ely Runners Autumn Beginners’ Course

Ely Runners are pleased to announce their next 10 week beginners’ course – commencing on the 17th of September 2018. The course is run by qualified coaches and supported by established club members. It is very friendly and aimed at runners of all abilities: speedy types, long distance types, and those who want to go steady and just enjoy it!

The aim of the programme is to gradually build on the skills, fitness and thinking required in order to complete a 5K run at the end of the course at Littleport Parkrun. There is no obligation to attend the Parkrun at the end, but in our experience, those who have, loved it!

Ely Runners meet, come rain or shine, at the Paradise Sports Centre for 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9am on Sundays. Tuesdaysessions consists of hill training, speed work, repetitions and intervals. Thursday training is usually a longer steady run around the City and surrounding countryside. Sundays is often a longer run in the countryside. If you’re not sure where to start, come and train with us and see what you think.

We are always up for people coming and joining us for a few sessions free of charge.

The club has a healthy membership, is active and present at many races and athletic events at various levels, and has a well looked after juniors’ section.

The beginners’ course starting on the 17th September 2018 will last for ten weeks, meeting at the Paradise Centre in Ely on Monday evenings (7pm-8pm). It costs £25 in total, with a reduced full club membership fee should participants wish to join at a later date.

For more information contact Justin at beginners@elyrunners.co.uk


A few words from Phil, a recent participant on the beginners’ course:

“I started running aged 55 and for two or three years I ran very slow 5k’s, three or four times a week.  However, being self-taught, I found I was unable to make any progress, so gave up when I moved to Ely.  Now, three years later, I have found that joining Ely Runners beginners course has given me techniques that are improving my fitness and performance, week by week – brilliant!.  The very first week taught me more than I had managed to learn in my previous three years running experience.  I’ve not only learnt how to run, but perhaps as importantly, how to stop being self-critical and give myself a break when I can’t run!  

That was all I had hoped for … but what I hadn’t expected was the camaraderie. 

Being relatively new to Ely and working full time has meant that finding new friends here has been a challenge.  Now, every Monday evening I meet up with great people and chat (when running permits!).  I also get to see the coaches regularly on their training runs in the area – all of whom are open to banter and all of whom make you feel that you can achieve more than you might think.

I will take a very personal lesson away from this course – I love running with other people, being encouraged and helping to encourage is what this has all become for me.  If you’re reading this and wondering whether to sign up, then in the words of a famous running brand – Just Do It!”

A few words from an anonymous participant..

“I joined the course as I was going through a period of anxiety and depression, and had heard that running is good for mental health. Day one came around and it was a wet March evening – but the coaches were so welcoming and full of enthusiasm that is barely mattered! I was apprehensive – would I be fit enough/fast enough to fit in with the group? These proved unfounded as there were a range of people with different levels of running experience on the course and enough coaches and club members out with us to ensure no-one was ever left behind.
As the course progressed so did the distance, learning techniques and pacing to help us achieve the ultimate goal of being able to complete a full 5km parkrun. The coaches are obviously passionate about running and getting the best out of their students; if you are willing to learn they are very willing to help. As well as providing advice to the group as a whole they watched us individually to provide tailored advice.
I regularly run 5 and 10k now, and have a half marathon and 16 mile cake run in the pipeline! Running has been my escape. It’s my time to clear my head and take a break from my thoughts. My mental and general health have benefitted greatly and I have found a new group of friends.”

Finally, some reflection from John..

“At the end of last year I decided to get fitter and in January started the Couch to 5k. After three months I completed it and over the next weeks gradually increased my running time and distance until I did manage to run 5k. But it was slow and hard to motivate myself. And then I met Justin who was advertising this course, and he persuaded me that it was what I needed.

The first day I was very nervous – this was not something I’d ever done before! But the the coaches were friendly and encouraging and led us through a variety of running exercises that were actually fun. By the time we went through the stretches at the end of the session I was hooked.

Through the weeks the coaches have been informative, encouraging, supportive and very understanding. As have the members of Ely Runners who have come along to help out. Their support has been invaluable! No matter what speed I’ve run there has always been someone keeping pace, encouraging and supporting. I’ve learned that there are no shortcuts in running – it takes time and effort and change is gradual. But change there is! Through the various training exercises (intervals, hills, trails) my running has been slowly improving almost without me noticing until in week 8 I went on a run that produced personal bests at every interval up to two miles!

In the end, the course has shown me the methods I can use to maintain and improve my running. It’s shown the camaraderie that can be found in group running and has made me a few new friends. And I’ve found the feeling of achievement in improving performance. I might well become a regular parkrunner for a start.” 

Cambridgeshire Artistic Roller Skating Club first year celebrations

Cambridgeshire Artistic Roller Skating Club have just celebrated their 1st anniversary!

It’s been one whole year since CARSC, Cambridgeshire’s newest roller skating club opened in Ely and Soham. The last year has seen over 350 people learning to skate in grade sessions which run every week.

CARSC took 9 of their improver skaters to their very first newcomers competition in July, bringing home 5 medals.

Ruby Mae Clarke – Gold

Rose Langford – Gold

Alisha Turner – Silver

Elli-Rae Quinn Nicholls – Silver

Molly Bugg – Bronze

“The team did absolutely brilliantly at the Retro Skate Rookies Competition; we are so proud of all of them and are so excited to watch them progress even further in the future. We had a dream of making a positive and happy place welcoming people of all ages and abilities. We are very excited for what our second year as CARSC will bring”. -Rachel Hobbs and Zoe King, CARSC head coaches

Grade Sessions

Every Thursday6-7pm, Ross Peers Sports Centre Soham.

Every Sunday11am-Midday, The Paradise Centre Ely.

Summer Holiday Fun Skates – Friday 17th August and Friday 31st August from 9:30-11:30AM at The Paradise Centre Ely.

Find us on Facebook: Cambridgeshire Artistic Roller Skating Club

Musical Bandstand Treat in Ely

On Saturday 25th August from 2.30 to 4.30pm Babylon ARTS will be hosting a fantastic afternoon of free live music on Ely’s Jubilee Garden’s bandstand. Bring a picnic and come along to listen to some wonderful local musicians perform in the sunshine. This year’s line up features, Josh Aitken, Alfie & Chris Williams and Karen & Co.

All the acts are Ely based and have all made their mark on the local music scheme. Last month singer songwriter Josh Aitken was selected to perform at Ely Folk Festival as part of their Youth Folk Challenge. He has just released an EP entitled ‘A Case OF Heart Break’ and has a reputation for delivering his own unique take on pop classics.

Chris Williams was front man of Ely’s very own Brit Pop heroes Beach Blanket Bingo. He will be joined by his guitar virtuoso son Alfie to share their rich mixture of classic tunes.

Karen & Co have been regular performers on the local music scenes for over 10 years, including performing at Ely’s Party in the Park and Innovation Music Nights. Expect a cheeky mix of acoustic disco and poppy folk.

Caroline Cawley of Babylon ARTS said: “We have always enjoyed using the bandstand to offer a variety of musical styles on Saturday afternoons and this year we have a real treat in store. I hope the sun shines and people can come along to enjoy and support the great local talent on show.

Further sporting success for talented King’s Ely student Rebecca

Kings’s Ely Sixth Form student Rebecca Daniel is jubilant after being chosen to represent England Reds in the 2018 School Games.

The eagerly-anticipated event, supported by National Lottery funding from Sport England and delivered by the Youth Sport Trust, is a major multi-sport event for the most talented young athletes from across the UK.

Between August 30th and September 2nd, more than 1,400 young sportsmen and women will compete across 11 sports at Loughborough University, including Athletics, Cricket, Cycling, Canoeing, Netball, Rowing and more.

Rebecca will be representing the England Red Under 17’s Hockey team and will be competing against England White, England Blue, Wales, Ulster and Scotland.

Director of Sport at King’s Ely, Jim Thompson, said: “I am delighted that Rebecca has been selected to represent the England Reds at the School Games. Rebecca has put in a huge amount of hard work to be selected and I am sure she will enjoy the challenge of playing at a National level.”

Rebecca has also been selected for the Saxon Tigers Under 17 Hockey team, and will be representing them in the Futures Cup, which takes place in St Albans towards the end of August. She will play against the other three English regions; The Wessex Leopards, Mercian Lynx and the Pennine Pumas, as well as the Caledonian Cougars and the Celtic Jaguars.

Last year, Rebecca was selected to play for the Under 16’s England Hockey team, and then contributed to their victories. Rebecca, who lives with her family near Newmarket, has been at King’s Ely since joining King’s Ely Junior in Year 5, and is now in the Sixth Form.

To describe her as an all-rounder would be something of an understatement as, like the majority of King’s Ely students, Rebecca has certainly taken full advantage of the extra-curricular activities on offer.

As far as Rebecca’s sporting success is concerned, accolades include National Prep School Champion 800m (Years 7 and 8), Cambridgeshire Schools Cross Country Champion twice, Suffolk Cross Country Champion (three times qualifying her for the mini marathon), Anglian Cross Country Champion, English Schools Cross Country Championship (19th in a field of 350 and despite competing a year early!) and she plays National League Hockey for Cambridge City alongside Helen Richardson-Walsh, Olympic Gold Medallist.

To discover more about opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org.


CAT Theatre Company presents: The Full Monty!

In this Americanised musical stage version adapted from the 1997 British film of the same name, six unemployed Buffalo steelworkers, low on both cash and prospects, decide to present a strip act at a local club after seeing their wives’ enthusiasm for a touring company of Chippendales. One of them, Jerry, declares that their show will be better than the Chippendales dancers because they’ll go “the full monty”—strip all the way. As they prepare for the show, working through their fears, self-consciousness, and anxieties, they overcome their inner demons and find strength in their camaraderie.

Weds 17th – Sat 20th October at 7:30pm (also 2:30pm on Sat 20th) at The Maltings, Ely.

Tickets are £13 and are available online: www.ticketsource.co.uk/cately (over 18’s only).

This is a fun and upbeat show that’s hilarious and not to be missed.’


Ely, a High Street in crisis.

Ely, a High Street in crisis

Following the announcement of probable closure last week by Mr Simms and the closure of Select, plus looming and recent closures of other retail businesses around Ely, a lot of people have voiced their concerns and touchingly, their best wishes for Mr Simms owners and employees.

Mr Simms’ statement cited rates and fading footfall as the main drivers of their downturn; this naturally drew many comments and questions from the public.

These are complex issues and the comments show a good deal of misunderstanding about various aspects of our local governance and economy, from who sets rates to rents, building use control and more. Ely is facing a growing fight for the survival of its High Street; councils and government have a big role to play but one of the most powerful weapons we have is a well informed and organised community.

I have written this report not only to help to clear up some of the confusion but also to empower Ely to fight for the survival of its High Street.  I will preface this now with a warning that it is a very long article due to the complexity of the subject matter, but one I hope you will find a worthwhile read (assuming you make it to the end!)

If you feel that you are familiar with the powers and roles of the 3 councils which govern Ely and the Combined Authority, feel free to skip to the section “Irate about rates…” now.  If you feel that you know enough about how the rates system works, you can skip that section and jump straight to “The Charity Shop debate…”

One Council to rule them all...

The first thing I’d like to address is the council structure and governance of Ely, in particular what powers they do and don’t have, within the scope of this subject.  A lot of people have the misconception that there is one single council here, often with powers well outside of the remit of any council at any level. In fact we have 3 different councils who take responsibility for Ely, each in very different ways, plus the recently created Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority.

The City of Ely Council


Although Ely is a city thanks to our magnificent cathedral, in all other senses we are closer to a Market Town in makeup.  The City of Ely Council is actually a Parish Council and is responsible for local issues which are generally relevant to Ely and the villages of the Parish (Chettisham, Prickwillow, Queen Adelaide, Shippea Hill and Stuntney).  Their duties include:

  • Visit Ely (Ely’s Tourist Information and Town Centres team)
  • Management of Ely’s Cemetery and services
  • Management of The Maltings
  • Operation and management of CCTV in Ely (and some nearby towns)
  • Local Needs Housing (The Clay Way/Ramsey Road housing scheme)
  • Management of many of Ely’s playgrounds/recreation areas
  • Managing Ely’s allotments
  • Ely’s Christmas Lights and Switch-On event
  • Sessions House – maintaining and using this important Grade II* listed building

The City Council has notably taken over several key roles from the District Council in recent years, including CCTV and The Maltings.  Just this year the Visit Ely team have also moved from the District to the City Council, which includes the management of tourism and town centre along with Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely’s award winning Tourist Information Centre.

The City Council also takes responsibility for and plays a role in some of Ely’s street furniture, environment, trees, street lighting and other small initiatives.  The City of Ely Council is also a statutory consultee in planning matters and considers all planning applications within the parish – its views and comments are then considered by the District Council as part of their process.

Parish councils generally have fewer powers but are more and more taking on responsibility and roles traditionally held by higher councils, as is the case in Ely with The Maltings, Visit Ely, CCTV and so on.  Parish Councils can create minor bylaws and can enforce some existing laws.

One final point of note is that the City Council has for the last 5 years been taking over an increasing share of the annual grant to Ely Museum (shared with the District Council).  This transition has come to an end and they will be taking full responsibility for the grant going forward. Ely Museum runs the Ely Shopmobility scheme for the City Council as part of the grant conditions.

You can read more about this level of government here:

East Cambridgeshire District Council


East Cambridgeshire District Council are the next rung up on the governance ladder.  In addition to Ely they cover towns, villages and areas within the East Cambs district, including Soham, Littleport, Haddenham, Burwell and Bottisham.  A complete list can be found here:


The District Council has a far greater burden of responsibility than the City Council.  It is responsible for, amongst other things:

  • Planning Applications / management
  • Building Control
  • Council Tax operation & collection
  • Business Rates collection
  • Licensing (various including taxis, pubs, street trading, gambling etc.)
  • Social Housing provision (delegated to Sanctuary Housing and other organisations)
  • Housing Benefits
  • Refuse collection (under the Street Scene trading arm of the District Council)
  • Environmental Services
  • Food safety and hygiene
  • Sports Provision
  • Markets (under the ECTC trading arm of the District Council)
  • Car Parking
  • Public toilet facilities
  • Parks (including the Jubilee Gardens and the Country Park)

These services are offered within the entire district (along with many others not mentioned above) and can generally be categorised as services which are localised to an area but would not be specific to any one place (although there are exceptions).

The District Council are geared up to undertake large scale projects and even some infrastructure work, for example the recently opened Ely Leisure Village.  In recent years they have formed two trading companies, East Cambs Trading Company (ECTC) and Street Scene. ECTC has already engaged with building residential homes (on Barton Road) and is enabling house building across the district by supporting the creation of Community Land Trusts (CLTs) [C.DCLT].  It also manages the local street markets.  Street Scene has taken the domestic refuse (and in time commercial refuse) collections in-house, following the termination of contract due to poor performance from the previous commercial supplier, Veolia.

The District Council, unlike the City Council, holds greater powers to enforce laws, regulations etc.  For example, they would be responsible for prosecuting landlords who engage in illegal practices, food safety/hygiene violations and more.  They are also responsible for business development within the city and undertake various activities in this role, including approaching national chain stores to attract them to the city.

Despite this role, the District Council has very few powers to deal with the types of issues the public often think they should do.  For example, the District Council has no real powers other than through planning/conservation area restrictions to prevent specific businesses/types of business from taking a premises.  Planning restrictions are very narrow in scope and can only really deal with the fabric of buildings, building regulations and how a development would affect the surrounding area (termed the Street Scene).  One measure which can be used is to refuse the conversion of a premises’ Planning Use Class from shop to takeaway/restaurant (or vice versa). However, outside of this the classifications are quite blunt. Most premises in Ely city centre will be in the A class, which is divided as follows:

  • Class A1 shops and retail outlets, including:
    • Shops where goods are sold, excluding betting offices/loan shops
    • Post offices
    • Ticket offices
    • Hairdressers/Salons
    • Hire shops
    • etc…
  • Class A2 – professional services
  • Class A3 – food and drink
  • Class A4 – drinking establishments
  • Class A5 – hot food and takeaway

You can read more here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planning_use_classes_in_England

As you can see from this categorisation, most of the time when we’re talking about “The High Street” we’re referring to either Class A1 or A3/A5.  Even though the District Council can refuse to convert a premises’ class between these, it still leaves little control as virtually any type of shop/showroom can go in an A1 property without any change of use process to interject in.  If the government made these classes less broad, particularly A1, it would offer more of an opportunity to control the types of shops/retail within the UK. However, this would place an additional cost burden on businesses (particularly small ones) who would then more frequently have to pay for a Change of Use, so it is not without a downside.

This leaves the selection of tenants up to the individual landlords, who in Ely are made up generally from private individuals, companies, pension/investment funds and others.  A lot of people assume that Ely Cathedral is “the landlord” when this sort of emotive issue comes up and whilst it is true that they are one of the larger landlords, there are other large concerns of similar size or larger.  Notable landlords include Rannerlow Ltd. who own the building in the centre of Market Place, plus others around the periphery and throughout Ely. For example a pension fund owns the Coronation Parade building (currently housing from Mr Simms up to Scope, plus residential lets on the upper floors) whilst Ely Cathedral owns a majority of the medieval buildings along the High Street, plus its recent acquisition of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill building.  These are just some of the larger concerns but the reality is quite a patchwork of landlords throughout the city, some of whom let their buildings as a mix of both commercial and residential dwellings.

The District Council is responsible for the management and collection of Business Rates; they are often accused of setting them too high when the reality is that they are merely the collector of the rates.  Business Rates are in fact formulated nationally by the government – the District Council merely uses the formula to calculate and then collect the rates. Rates are calculated by multiplying the rateable value of your property by a multiplier.  A property’s rateable value is calculated by the government Valuation Office Agency or VOA [C.GVOA], who update rateable values on a 5 year cycle.  The government sets the multiplier (also known as ‘Poundage’) at the beginning of the business year (April 1st).

There are various reliefs for which you can apply to the District Council, including Charitable Rate Relief (I will discuss this in a later section) and Small Business Rate Relief but again the District Council merely applies the rules set higher up in central government.  This is an important point to understand because so often people’s reaction is “why are ‘the council’ charging such high rates” and similar questions. With the exception of the ability to give charities an additional relief rate at their discretion (above the mandatory national 80% relief), the District Council has virtually no powers in this respect.

Cambridgeshire County Council


The final and top level of governance from a council is the County Council.  As the name suggests this covers the entire of Cambridgeshire and their services and remit are generally far broader than either the District or City Councils.  You could generally categorise their services and responsibilities as those which are shared by many areas and are not specific to any one area (again there are some exceptions).

Some of the County Council’s services and responsibilities include:

  • Social Care provision
  • Schools and Education provision
  • Highways/Infrastructure management and expansion projects
  • Street Lighting (although in Ely, both the District and City Councils are responsible for a small portion of the street lighting, which they outsource to the County Council’s contractor – Balfour Beatty)
  • Public Transport
  • Waste Management (recycling centres, tipping facilities etc.)
  • Consumer Protection
  • Jobs/Unemployment Services

These are just a few of their services and responsibilities but as you can see they are much broader in scope and relate to every village, town or city, rather than individual areas or places.  I won’t go into further detail on the County Council because except for the scale, it is somewhat repetitious, except to say that again the powers to prevent certain types of shop or reduce rates do not lie at this level of governance in England.

Cambridgeshire & Peterborough Combined Authority


In addition to the 3 councils we also have the new Combined Authority, led by the County Mayor.  This body has been granted a large pot of money to undertake development and infrastructure projects in the area.  At this time it is not clear how this funding might be delivered or how Ely might benefit as the authority is relatively new and is still finding its feet.   It may however become a potential source of investment money for Ely in the future.

Who funds the Councils?

The councils are funded primarily through the local precept. This is a portion of the Council Tax that you pay and is set annually by the City and District Councils as part of their budget planning.  The City Council’s precept for 2018/19 was set at £515,547 which for a Band D property works out to £75.15 per year (£1.45 per week). The District Council’s precept for 2018/19 is £142.14 for a Band D property (£2.73 per week).  Finally the County Council precept is £1249.83 for a Band D property in 2018/19 (£24.03 per week), with a further £198.72 per year for Cambs Police and Crime Commissioner and £68.76 for the Cambs & Peterborough Fire Authority (combined, £5.14 per week).

The various councils also have the potential to raise revenue through services, including refuse collection, cemetery fees, venue hire and so on.  Generally any such revenue will primarily cover costs of the service/venue and then any remainder would be taken into account in the budget and when considering whether or not a raise or reduction to the precept rate is required for the next period.

Another source of funding which the City and District Councils receive is from development works.  When a large scale development (or even a single dwelling) is built, various levies are negotiated by the District Council to offset the potential damaging effects they may have on the area, by allowing various mitigation projects to be undertaken. Section 106 agreements and Community Infrastructure Levy are negotiated by the District Council and a share is passed to the City Council from these, managed by the District Council (at present). These funds do come with restrictions and regulations, for example they may be locked to transport projects or open spaces development, can often be spent on new projects/developments only and particularly in the case of Community Infrastructure Levy, project proposals must undergo public consultation before the money can be spent.  A recent example which is easy to understand was that from the levy on the Sainsbury’s development, which was expected to cause congestion due to extra in-town driving, the Ely No. 15 bus was funded to provide cheaper transport and reduce dependence on cars to shop there. Whether or not this worked, in reality, I will leave for you to decide!

Finally the District Council who administer and collect Business Rates are entitled to keep up to 50% of the revenue they generate, with any not retained being returned to central government for redistribution through various mechanisms.  The District Council will use these funds to run local services and projects and they will also help to determine how much they charge in the Council Tax Precept to each household. It is crucial to remind yourself at this point that the actual rates and valuations are not determined by the District Council; they merely apply the formula set out by the government for the whole country and use the predetermined property values (London has a different formula due to higher valuations).

Irate about rates…

So now that I’ve broadly outlined the different councils and their responsibilities and powers, it’s time to look at the situation affecting Ely’s traders.

Mr Simms’ statement squarely puts the blame on Business Rates and fading footfall.  So what are business rates? Simply put they are a tax on the occupation of any non-domestic property (with a few exceptions).  Rates are rooted in taxation legislation dating back many centuries. The funds raised from them are supposed to support local services however in reality a significant portion is handed back to central government.  So why are they causing a problem in Ely?

There are several factors to consider here.  Most importantly is the rateable value for a business property and how it is calculated.  The Rateable Value represents the rental value of the property over one year, from a given date (these are updated every 5 years).  This is then multiplied by the Poundage multiplier which gives the Business Rates figure that each business must pay per year. If your rateable value is below £12,000 then you are exempted entirely and will pay no rates at all.  If you have a rateable value between £12,001 and £15,000 you benefit from a sliding scale reduction, which is termed Small Business Rate Relief. Some examples would include:

A rateable value of £13,500 would be eligible for a 50% reduction in your rates bill,

A rateable value of £14,000 would be eligible for a 33% reduction in your rates bill.

Even above these levels there is a low and high multiplier rate (the Poundage).  If your property’s rateable value is below £51,000 the multiplier for 2018/19 is 48p and above this threshold, 49.3p.  Whilst this may seem insignificant, it all adds up.

The next thing you must consider is that shop rents are very high in Ely.  A 2012 update to the East Cambridgeshire District Council’s Retail Study [R.DCRS] includes examples for Ely, Littleport and Soham in 2011.  At the time of writing I was unable to find more recent data.  These high rents will of course return high rates when this is put through the national formula.  When you compare the rents (and hence rates) here to comparable market towns in the area (adjusting for the fact there’s a cathedral here) we are significantly higher.  The rents in 2011 for Littleport were £161 per square metre for Soham £188 per square metre. Soham has a population roughly half that of Ely and yet the same measure for Ely shows an almost 300% higher rate at £543 per square metre.  This is the real crux of the matter and it has a complex series of sub-factors which make the whole thing very difficult to tackle.

Firstly high rents can be infectious!  One aspect to this is that we do have quite a number of large landlords with multiple properties and if they see they are able to achieve high rents on one property they will be inclined to try for higher rents on their other properties, it is after all their business to rent properties and so profit margins are king.  This is not restricted however to single landlords as rental prices from anywhere in the city can be a strong influencing factor when a landlord makes their decision.

Location is as with everything, a key factor in deciding rental prices on commercial premises.  The closer a property is to a main street, the higher its rental price will be. For example you would expect the passages between Market Street and High Street to be significantly lower than on those two main streets.  Footfall makes up part of the equation too in so much as shops at the very end of the street where fewer people visit will usually command a lower rental price than those further in/toward the centre. The number, type and sizes of surrounding businesses/properties (commerce type and density) may also have an effect too – for example if there is a small shop in the middle of a row of residential properties, you would expect a lower rental than one in the middle of a dense row of shops/businesses.  Similarly a shop surrounded by/characterised by desirable features or aspects, such as Ely Cathedral or a shop in one of the medieval commercial premises on Ely’s High Street would be expected to command a higher rental value.

To give a few examples of currently advertised properties and their rates:

1 High Street (Anglia Wines)

435 square feet of sales floor (plus 409 square feet upstairs, for amenities, storage etc.)
Rent: £20,000 pa ~ Rates: £8,040 (current rateable value £16,750)
Total per year:  £28,040 ~ Rent/Rates split: 71% / 29%

13 High Street (Clinton Cards)

975 square feet of sales floor (plus 760 square feet upstairs, for amenities, storage etc.)
Rent: £35,000 pa ~ Rates: £12,815 (current rateable value £12,815)
Total per year: £47,815 ~ Rent/Rates split: 73% / 27%

29 High Street (the old convenience store)

1,256 square feet of sales floor (plus extra for amenities, storage etc.)
Rent: £42,500 pa ~ Rates: £22,920 (current rateable value £47,750)
Total per year:  £65,420 ~ Rent/Rates split: 64% / 36%

36 Market Street (Joyce Family Butchers)

980 square feet (comprising sales area, office and stores)
Rent: £13,000 pa ~ Rates: £0 (current rateable value £9,800)
Total per year:  £13,000 ~ Rent/Rates split: 100% / 0%

68 Market Street (China Inn)

1,127 square feet (ground floor comprising kitchen, storage, lobby & dining area: 80 covers)
689 square feet (upstairs floors and basement, for storage and services)
Rent: £25,000 ~ Rates: £10,320 (current rateable value £21,500)
Total per year:  £35,320 ~ Rent/Rates split: 71% / 29%

As you can see from these examples (correct at the time of writing, based on active property listings on the Internet) for many premises, rent is only ⅔ or less of the battle.  See reference [R.GPRV] to check rateable values for yourself.

The Charity Shop debate...

The final big factor influencing rents, taking all of the factors I’ve already discussed into account too, is a very contentious issue: charity shops.

I would like to preface this section of discussion by stating that I appreciate the enormous amount of good charities and charity shops can do.  In many cases they fill in holes left by poor government policy and underinvestment in social care, disease research (in particular) and more. In many places they can help to fill vacant properties and stave off the knock-on effects of shop vacancy.  It is reported that as many as 25% of charity shop volunteers are there whilst seeking full time employment, which can be of enormous benefit to mental wellbeing and can even add to one’s CV. What I am presenting here is a dispassionate statement of the facts and effects the charity shops can have.  There has long been an argument that they are damaging the High Street and I hope simply to give you a grounding of the facts and figures here in Ely so you can make up your own mind on the issue.

The central point of contention in the debate around charity shops damaging our High Streets is that of Charitable Rates Relief.  Put simply, charities are entitled to the Mandatory Charitable Rates Relief of 80% in England. In addition to this charities can also apply to the local authority responsible for handling rates (for Ely this is the District Council) for a discretionary additional relief of up to 20%, which if granted in full could mean a 100% exemption from Business rates.  In reality the majority of English councils reported that they do not grant this additional relief [C.DRRR].  This may not seem like a bad scenario – charitable organisations get a tax break so more money goes towards their good work; there are however some obvious side effects and some subtle issues surrounding this policy, which it is argued have a seriously deleterious effect on our High Streets.

The first of these is the effect on rental prices.  As I’ve demonstrated previously the rates can be over 50% of a property’s rental price, especially if the 5-yearly update rateable value hasn’t caught up with the current market climate (this is very noticable for 29 High Street, where the rateable value is a full £5,250 above the current asking price).  Where charities can obtain an 80% reduction (potentially even a 100% exemption) in rates, their overheads are significantly lower. This means that their ‘buying power’ when it comes to choosing a property and rental price is significantly higher than a private non-charitable business. A recent example is Oxfam which has moved into the old Argos shop:

The rental price for the old Argos property (7 High Street) was £53,000 pa.  The current rateable value is £50,000 for this property and so the rates are:  £24,000. This means that in order to rent the property and before all other costs including utilities, fitting, staff and other costs, a private business would have to pay £74,000 per year just to be in the building.  Compare this with a charity in receipt of charitable rate relief which would only have to find between £53,000 and £57,000 (depending on whether they were granted discretionary full relief by the District Council). In addition, charity shops rely almost solely on volunteers and so the staffing overheads are significantly lower, as of course are their stock costs when the majority is comprised of donated goods.

The argument is that this disparity in ‘buying power’ puts private businesses at a significant disadvantage by comparison.  Charity shops will (within their budget) be able to offer up over and above the level a private business can withstand. This may also be compounded as many charity shops are backed by a national organisation which can provide funding to weather a dry spell, should a store not be performing so well.  When we compare this to the case of Mr Simms (who despite being a franchisee, must fund their own survival entirely) there is no such safety net and obviously conditions have become too difficult to for them to continue to trade. I won’t name names but I am reliably informed that within the last few years, one or more businesses trying to enter the market in Ely have been gazumped by one or more charity shops, who have offered up on the already difficult to afford rents in the area.

Government policy dictates that landlords must start to pay Business Rates on an empty premises after 3 months.  There are a few exceptions including warehouses (for an additional 3 months), listed buildings (until they are reoccupied) and buildings owned by charities (if the next use will be charitable) [C.RRES].  Even where a landlord may wish to let to a private business over a charity shop, this policy could force their hand due to the not insignificant mounting costs of business rates they face paying on their empty premises.

Unlike the domestic rentals market, commercial landlords are driven to seek the longest terms possible.  The cost of marketing and filling an empty property (to say nothing of rates and lack of rental income) mean that for a commercial landlord short term rentals are a higher risk.  For any business new or existing, the commitment to a longer term contract poses a higher risk especially so as should they fold, they are still legally liable for the ongoing rent bills.  As previously discussed, most charity shops have the weight and financial security of a large charitable organisation behind them. This when combined with the massively reduced overheads (rates, staff, cost of goods etc.) creates a clear imbalance in the level of risk a longer term contract poses to them as opposed to a private business, especially those of a smaller scale or with no additional premises.  This reduced risk will naturally be more attractive to commercial landlords; it could be argued that this puts an upward pressure on the commercial lettings market, as landlords don’t have to choose between higher risk/shorter term private tenants and charities who are prepared to take longer tenancies and are more shielded from local and national market forces and collapse.

Another not so obvious effect charity shops may have is a reduction in footfall draw, when compared with a private business in the same location (and hence of a similar size).  If you recall Mr Simms’ statement included that “fading footfall” was in part to blame for their downturn. This is actually the perfect example of this effect; Argos, a major “anchor” store which drew significant footfall and was a destination shop (one for which people would potentially make a specific trip to Ely) has gone and instead of a comparably sized retail or food service business taking its place, has become a charity shop.  When planning shopping centres, designers ensure they are carefully studded with anchor stores. These draw people around the complex and ensure that they pass as many of the smaller stores along the route as possible. Argos had this footfall effect and draw in a way which kept the top end of High Street busy (even throughout a rumoured decline in their sales at the Ely location). If you compared footfall when Argos was operating with the same place on Market Street which had no similar “anchor” store, the difference in footfall would be highly evident.  Footfall data doesn’t go back far enough but a similar decline would almost certainly be evident following Cutlacks’ move from Market Street (what is now The Hereward pub, right through to Caffe Nero on High Street). Retail at this end of Market Street has basically collapsed and has been replaced by service industries (fast food, restaurants, barbers, offices etc.) At the time when the premises was converted from retail use, then chairman for Planning at the District Council Philip Reed stated that: ‘the super-pub had been given planning permission as part of a drive to encourage more people to shop in the city centre.’ [C.MKST].

Whichever way you turn it, with the best intentions in the world, charity shops will never have the same draw as a large store such as Argos does, even if they are lucky enough to be super-duper Mary-Portas-souped-up style charity shops (I’ll get to her later!)  We have to face the reality now that Ely’s High Street may never regain that critical footfall driving store it desperately needs (as Oxfam are likely to be a long term tenant) and trade may be permanently harmed as a result. We have only to look at the Hereward/Cutlacks example to see the outcome of this sort of downturn.

I did not intend through this example to single out any one charity shop – it just so happens that the Argos/Oxfam example is intrinsically linked with the fate of Mr Simms and ably demonstrates all of the issues already covered.

Another effect to consider which is more subtle yet is the impact to the local economy of a charity shop vs. a private business.  Private businesses generate jobs which in addition to putting money in the hands of the owners (even if they’re a national chain) creates local disposable income.  A good portion of this income will be spent in local stores, boosting the local trade and economy. It is also not uncommon for local businesses to cooperatively supply each other and boost the interconnected trade, branding and recommendations between businesses which give customers more choice and reason to visit Ely.  With the exception of a few management staff positions (which are not always full-time) charity shops rarely enable any of these local economy boosting activities to occur and further still, may prevent other businesses from entering the market which could do so.

Over the last decade charity shops have taken on more and more brand new goods to sell in their stores.  This has become a hot topic issue in this debate and many argue this is incredibly damaging to local commerce.  The argument is that a charity shop selling new goods is able to directly compete with private businesses, without the overheads of full rates or staff.  Such an advantage would enable them to sell at prices the private businesses could not sustainably match, or to be selling items which a rate paying business might not exist to do, due to the overheads and local competition levels.  The law states to be recognised as a charity shop, a store must sell “wholly or mainly donated goods”.  It’s actually quite difficult to find a solid answer on this although the general consensus seems to be that a maximum of 15-20% is allowed.  Whatever the upper limit, national estimates suggest that 6.3% of sales in charity shops are new goods [C.NWGD].

The final aspect to consider is the actual funding of the Business Rates relief.  It used to be the case that central government would fund 100% of the Mandatory Relief (80%) and 75% of any granted discretionary relief (up to 20% of the rates).  In April of 2013 the funding rules were changed; going forward from this date, any newly granted relief on rates in Ely is split 50/50 between central government and our District Council.  This represents a drop from 85% government funding to just 50% overall. To put this into some hard numbers, I will use the Wood Green and new Oxfam shops as examples, both of which opened post April 2013.

Oxfam’s rateable value is £50,000 for this property and so the rates are:  £24,000.

80% of this is £19,200 so where the government would have paid this fully prior to 2013, now they only pay 50% and so District Council would fund £9,600 per year.

Wood Green’s rateable value is £30,500 and the rates payable are: £14,640.

80% of this is £11,712 so where the government would have paid fully before, now they only pay 50% and so the District Council would fund £5,856 per year.

These calculations are just for the Mandatory Relief of 80% and ignore the potential for the 20% Discretionary Relief.  Whilst the numbers might not seem that high, if you think over a 10 year period that would equate to a £154,560 cost to the District Council for those two shops alone.  Think about where this money will come from – the Council Tax precept perhaps? Reduction in services elsewhere in the district budget?

I don’t wish to sound like a monster and suggest that charity shops are evil – rather I would suggest that perhaps this country needs to have more open debate about whether charity shops are the best way to raise money for these good causes, given the damage they could potentially cause.

One final note is that at the time of writing, a new charity intends to move in to a sizable vacant property, one of the few remaining on that street.  It currently has a planning application in progress. This is happening in area which is already struggling and in a property which has remained unlet for some time due to trading conditions, high rental price (and of course rates as a result) and rental terms.  I am not going to name names here and am mentioning it because it specifically backs up the arguments about how charity shops can act to keep rent and rates artificially inflated in Ely.

When you take the arguments I’ve given overall, the key point to take away is that because charity shops can afford the higher rents (regardless any of the other arguments), when they are abundant within an area this can act to keep rents artificially high, especially when compared with like for like towns locally.  As I’ve discussed previously this can also have a direct impact on the rates for every single shop premises in Ely to some degree and of course the City, District and County councils have no powers to mitigate these effects.

The Portas Review and Ely’s City Centre Forum…

In 2011 the Prime Minister asked renowned retail guru and TV personality Mary Portas to undertake an independent review into the state of the UK’s High Streets and town centres.  Published in December of 2011 [P.PRHS], the review found we had reached a critical point as a country and urged action in various forms to prevent irretrievable decline.  Ely was actually featured as a case study on page 39 of the report, around the period when the car parking charges were still being considered by the District Council.

The key message from the report was the need for joined-up thinking, interconnectedness and communication with and hence involvement of all stakeholders from the traders and landlords to the public, councils and potential investors.  One of the key ideas she promoted was the creation of “Town Teams”, set up to promote footfall, ease relations between tenants and landlords and much more besides. The key was that these teams should be empowered and enabled to bring about meaningful change and to promote growth and communication within an area, rather than just creating a new talking shop with little chance of achieving any lasting results.

Ely took up the challenge and initiated a series of open forum meetings to which everyone was invited to attend.  I attended from the very start and have continued with the team as it went through several different iterations to become the City Centre Forum.  Today our team consists of traders, councillors from the various councils governing Ely, the Head of Tourism and Town Centre for Ely, representatives from our Cathedral, Stained Glass Museum and Ely Museum.  I represent Ely Perspective on the team along with a fellow director and together as a group we have worked to promote greater cohesion and collaborative working between all of the councils, tourism, Ely Cathedral, our museums, shops and services in Ely.

Some of our main achievements include:

  • Breaking down historic barriers and improving communication between the various councils and stakeholders in Ely, especially our visitor attractions and traders.
  • Held seminars and consultations with a significant representation from Ely’s businesses and traders on a range of issues, including improving signage.
  • Offered training seminars on social media and other promotional strategies.
  • Creation and funding of a new Shopping and Eating guide for Ely, distributed locally to both residents and those visiting our city.
  • Creation and funding of a series of special offer leaflets which were free to participate in as a trader.  These were distributed to visitors and residents at major events such as the Cathedral’s Christmas Gift & Food Fair, Eel Day and others.
  • Distributed eco-friendly Ely-branded cloth shopping bags to visitors at major events.
  • Undertaken regular footfall surveys (with the help of Ely’s traders) to build intelligence about the health of our High Street, flow of people and to build on the data received from reports commissioned previously by Ely Perspective and various councils.

You may even have seen a few of us bouncing around dressed up as Father Christmas and Rudolph at the Christmas events in Ely!  Whilst we are very pleased with our achievements and feel that in particular the opening up of communication channels has really helped to move Ely forward, we have hit a bit of a brick wall and progress has ground to a halt.  The City Centre Forum received a small amount of funding (under £10K) from the City Council along with some of the Tourism budget (at that time from within the District Council) and grants from Ely Perspective. We kept costs low by using skills and time from within our own team, for example with graphic design work and distribution.

We were also awarded £12,000 of Section 106 money for new signage in the city.  Unfortunately following consultation and workshops with traders it became clear that this amount of money was barely sufficient to cover one of many identified areas which needed better signage, for example the top of Fore Hill (directing to the river) or one of the High Street/Market Street passages.  At this point the money is still there but the project remains on hold until such time as funds in the order of £100K can be raised to pay for a new uniform, city-wide signage scheme.

As a group we have considered various options for raising money including a Business Improvement District (a BID).  This is a national framework which allows an additional rate to be charged to businesses within an area (basically an additional tax) to fund projects to market and promote an area.  The team coordinating the BID is able to set a threshold and geographic boundary for the district, both of which act to ensure that such a measure does not unduly burden small to medium businesses, most of whom would be exempt.  The remaining businesses would then be levied with the charges, comprising mostly nationals and chains such as Boots, Tesco, Waitrose, Bon Marche, WHSmith and so on. This sort of framework is widely used throughout the UK and something which these larger businesses are well acquainted with.  Our achievements and team have been assessed by several experts and whilst there would be a long way to go to achieve a large scale scheme such as a BID, we received high praise for the significant achievements and progress we had achieved in Ely so far

Future projects we have considered (with input from traders and residents), given sustainable funding include:

  • City Centre Wi-Fi (including the river and parks) with the ability to promote business and events to visitors and residents alike.
  • A full signage package for Ely, replacing the now quite dated signs.  This would include improved modern signage throughout the city, directions to and from the riverside, updatable signage at the end of our High Street/Market Street passages and in other smaller areas to promote the businesses there and more.
  • Digital information points for tourists with interactive shopping/eating directories, directions, accommodation information and much more besides.
  • “Eel Train” shuttle service to help visitors get between the station and more remote car parks to the riverside and city centre (many visitors leave Ely never having visited the riverside or shopping centre!)
  • Ely Loyalty Card Scheme – like your supermarket reward card but used with a collective of businesses around the city.
  • More investments in new and existing events and festivals to attract new visitors, increase footfall and improve the health of our businesses.
  • Work to build a better night-time economy in Ely, for example dedicated late-night shopping night with heavy paid promotion in and around Ely to ensure best chance of success.  This might also include more use of the public outdoor spaces in the evenings to hold outdoor events and activities, for example regular evening street food and live music nights throughout the summer.
  • A dedicated paid officer empowered with funds and authority to spearhead new initiatives, events and promotions throughout the city.
  • Ely Ambassadors programme (as seen in Cambridge, amongst other places) which places Ambassadors on the ground to assist visitors and shoppers alike.
  • Commission extended footfall monitoring, surveying work and customer intelligence gather to build the sort of data needed to attract companies like Marks & Spencer, Next etc. and work with the District Council in outreach to companies.

These are just a snapshot of the sorts of things which could be achieved in the area with more funding.  It doesn’t have to be the City Centre Forum who undertakes this sort of project of course although I know I can speak on behalf of the team in saying that we would relish the opportunity to do so.

Obviously as an active founding member of the group who has spent considerable time working to achieve our aims I am biased and would like the group to be able to go further, to continue to promote and boost Ely’s city centre.  If this is something you feel should be funded I would urge you to contact the City or District Councils (I have provided contact page links in the section about each council earlier in this document) and voice your opinion. I would like to add that the City Centre Forum team is 100% voluntary and we all dedicate our own time and skills to this cause (and occasionally even money).

Where’s The Masterplan?

The District Council drew up and published the Ely Masterplan back in 2010 [M.DCMP], outlining many of the issues and pressures on the growth and development of our city.  A key issue it identifies and which is highly relevant here is the lack of available space in our city for retail growth.  We’ve all heard (or have maybe even said) “Ely’s rubbish, there are no good shops here”. Whilst at any one time we do actually have around 150+ shops, including many national retailers and some fantastic independent traders, we lack sufficient space for some of the bigger chains that people desire (those “anchor” type stores I talked about previously). The national chain shops use well honed formulas which include population size, footfall, square footage and many other metrics to assess where they can/will place a new shop.  The simple truth of the matter is that in many ways, Ely just doesn’t cut it for these retailers and so they cannot invest here. At times it may seem like it just needs someone to go out and talk with these companies and represent Ely but I can assure you this is something the District Council works hard to do on an ongoing basis.

Lack of space naturally increases the likelihood of edge-of-town and out-of-town growth and indeed new out-of-town retail developments are imminent here.  Octagon Park is set to add a new Tesco (although this is no-longer certain following Tesco’s recent financial difficulties) along with 6 retail units, a DIY/garden centre, a hotel, a restaurant, offices and some light industrial units [M.OTOP]  Situated along Angel Drove (A142) this out of town development has proven to be controversial with traders and residents alike.  Mary Portas even commented “New edge of town and out of town development is threatening to take trade from the high street”.  I do agree with her and many others that such developments pose an existential risk to our High Streets, but only if the opportunities they create are not seized upon and leveraged to the advantage of our city, its businesses, shops and residents.

Right now we are on the cusp of a large population expansion in Ely.  Upwards of 4000 homes in Ely North will add a significant boost to the population, potentially in the order of 6000-8000 people.  This could take our population close to the 30K mark and with this comes that all important footfall. More residents equals more people shopping here and using our local services, plus more guests visiting.  Of course without proper investment in services such as medical facilities and transport this could create enormous problems but above all we will start to see a huge boost to that all important metric required by the big retailers – footfall.

Boosting both domestic and international tourism in Ely is another natural way to increase footfall here.  In fact we already enjoy a very healthy level of tourism in the area with over 250,000 people visiting Ely Cathedral each year and levels in East Cambs nearing the 4 million per year mark.  There is a “but” however as much of our tourists in Ely are single-day visitors. We have some great hotels, a fantastic range of B&B establishments and some other options including self-catering lets and even AirBNB rentals.  Despite this offering, Ely desperately needs new hotels – the type which can handle coach loads of people. Octagon Park’s inclusion of a hotel will bring a significant boost to Ely’s accommodation options. Whilst it is true that these visitors will be out of town, the all important factor is that they are here for more than one day and will visit our shops and restaurants and other services where they may otherwise not have done.  Ideally we would be able to build/establish hotels within the city centre area but again we are back to this issue of lack of options. Many of our larger historic buildings and areas which could have offered opportunities for hotel development are now home to King’s Ely which locks up their use permanently and so we can only look out of town for these larger developments, in the absence of any brownfield sites.

Another organisation which locks up a significant amount of prime land is the District Council at the Grange Site (opposite the police station).  It has long been planned that these offices should be moved out of the town centre to make way for a new shopping development, on a scale which would attract the larger shops people are clamouring for here.  Very few of the District Council’s officers are actually customer facing (so to speak). Retention of an in-town presence for those customer facing roles whilst moving the majority to an out-of-town location would make a lot of sense.  Building/occupying space at The Octagon Park development would be a fantastic opportunity to start this process. Some people might argue that dumping these larger shops in the city could damage trade for our smaller independent retailers and this is of course a risk, however I would remind you at this point of the anchor store concept.  Obviously these wouldn’t be directly located on streets which are struggling, for example High Street; they would however make Ely a more desirable shopping destination, pulling in greater footfall overall with enormous potential to benefit the entire city. The thing to remember about direct competition is that it also offers greater choice to customers.  If a shopper plans a visit to make a specific purchase, a destination which offers multiple options and increases chances of achieving the desired purchase is a far more appealing prospect to that shopper, so it can be very positive. Along with the fantastic new plans to redevelop and improve Ely Museum, a development on The Grange’s site offers a potential solution to so many of Ely’s problems and would open up an exciting new shopping zone in an area which has suffered enormous decline in retail.

I would personally take everything a massive step further by expanding the Cloisters site onto its current car park footprint, enabled by moving parking provision for it and The Grange site to an underground car park beneath the Paradise playing fields.  Whilst this would be an enormous project for Ely it is done throughout Europe (even in highly heritage sensitive areas) and would open up a huge amount of land for development right in the town. Dependent on the future of the Paradise leisure facilities, now that The Hive has opened, a hotel/retail/entertainment complex could potentially replace the existing site if one were to really do big blue sky thinking… maybe that’s just me!

The final opportunity opened up by Octagon Park is the District Council’s mothballed Ely Station Gateway plan [M.DCSG] which holds huge potential for Ely.  It would rely on the relocation of Tesco (which is no longer a certainty of course) and the completion of the bypass reducing heavy goods traffic through the area, combined with the decline of light industry at the site.  If these elements could all be achieved (the bypass is already nearing completion for one), the District Council’s proposal would offer a bold and exciting regeneration of the area station area. This would include residential and office space, new jobs, potential for light retail and expansive open spaces to take aesthetic advantage of Ely’s beautiful riverside and of course the cathedral.  Right now when people visit by train they are greeted by a run-down industrial area with heavy traffic and no obvious visual link to either the city or the riverside. This sort of improvement to the area could easily boost visits by railway to Ely and consequently our local economy too.

So what’s next…

Obviously these larger scale plans I have just discussed would be years in the works.  Many things will need to slot into place to enable them to happen, including continuing to lay the solid foundation of data collection/intelligence and dialogue with traders, landlords, potential investors, residents and councils.

At present a crucial survey is underway with all of the city centre businesses.  This is being led by 4 District Councillors from the Ely Electoral Wards and has also been adopted by the City Council.   This survey will assess key the issues businesses are facing right now in these tough trading conditions. If you are a trader and have yet to answer the survey (which is currently being collected) I would urge you to fill it in as soon as possible.  The results will allow the discussion to move out of the anecdotal stage and start to build a solid picture of the issues, facts and figures. This will enable the councils and the City Centre Forum to begin to take stronger action, including taking representation all the way to Parliament if necessary.  There may also be easier fixes, for example issues with rateable valuations that can be addressed en masse. Whilst the option to simply reduce rates is not within the powers of any of our three councils (as discussed in the first section of this article) there may be other measures that can be taken – any of which would require strong evidence to start the ball rolling.  The councils can also collectively fight on behalf of the city for new legislation and options to reduce the current burden to business, due to government policies.

As I already mentioned the City Centre Forum has achieved all it really can without additional funding.  If you feel this is a worthwhile body which should be funded then I encourage you again to contact the City and District Councils to express that view.

It’s not all about the official bodies however as each and every person who lives and works in Ely can help too!  It’s an old refrain but if you make the switch to buy locally, particularly from smaller independent traders, you will provide a significant boost to the local economy.  Even just switching a single regular item purchase from a supermarket to an independent trader can make a big difference. If things are too expensive or you can’t find what you want, consider letting our traders know.  If you’re unable to get to them during the opening hours they operate, make sure they know about it – good feedback informs good service. Equally if someone is doing something particularly well, tell them – you might just make their day!

A lot of people don’t realise it but using a bank card (or contactless payment device) is not free for businesses, quite the opposite.  Whilst companies like Tesco and Waitrose have enormous market power and can negotiate very low rates with payment processors such as Barclaycard, for smaller traders the charge can be as high as 50p per transaction (in addition to monthly fees).  As you can imagine this adds an enormous overhead to purchases so if you have the cash, or can get some before you go to an independent retailer, it too can make a significant difference to their bottom line.

Recommend a friend!  Ely isn’t perfect but it has a lot to offer to visitors, shoppers and tourists.  If you have an opportunity to recommend Ely, do it! If it’s an office party, a conference, friends looking for somewhere to visit or any time you see an opportunity, give Ely that hard sell!  You might not know it but we have excellent conference facilities here so consider bringing your company to Ely for a retreat, meeting, product launch or even an AGM. Along with a fantastic range of facilities and accommodation options, our transport links by train are excellent (particularly to London and Cambridge) with many frequent services running throughout the day.  Do you know someone looking for a wedding venue, are you looking for one for that matter? Ely has some wonderful offerings from the beautiful riverside setting of The Maltings to Poets House and the breathtaking Old Hall in Stuntney, so make sure you take a look at or recommend Ely!

Say Hello!  I mentioned previously that the City Centre Forum would like to start an Ely Ambassador program; until we find a way, be an ambassador yourself!  Ely already has a reputation for being a friendly place but why not make it even better… if you see/hear someone who looks like they need directions or maybe a suggestion for somewhere to eat, take a moment to stop and help them.  Not only might you direct them to a local business they otherwise wouldn’t know about but you might leave such a good impression that they come back or recommend Ely to friends further afield. I realise this may seem like a light suggestion but there’s a reason we want to have ambassadors here, it really does work!

Explore some more!  During my time with Ely Perspective and the City Centre Forum I have surveyed and personally spoken to almost every business in Ely at one point or another.  Something I’ve frequently been told is that people who’ve lived here since the year dot walk in and say “I never knew you were there!”. Did you know for instance that we have a SubWay restaurant at the back of Spar on High Street?  Or that we have Sew Much To Do, a fantastic arts and crafts shop on High Street Passage? Ever fancied a nice relaxing massage? Positively Treated (also on High Street Passage – are you seeing why we need some signage on the passages yet?) offer a fantastic range of massages and holistic treatments.  Perhaps you’re looking to hire or buy a cocktail or party dress? Maybe a swanky new handbag? Something Special of Newnham Street may have just what you’re after. Fancy yourself some Scandinavian style – no problem, just pop along to Jensen’s on Market Street and check out their fantastic clothing ranges!  We have some really excellent shops and businesses in Ely and maybe you’ve missed a few, so why not seek them out and pay them a visit! Google Maps is your friend here, just search “shops in Ely”, zoom right in and see what you can find! You can also check out the business directory at https://www.spottedinely.com/business-directory (if you own a business and you’re not on there, make sure you add a listing too!)

We do have some very difficult issues here which require significant investment and effort to overcome. We’re not the only ones going through these difficult times but I hope this now very long report has offered some insight into the complexity of our situation – thank you for reading if you’ve made it this far!  Above all, keep the dialogue open, engage your friends and colleagues in the discussion on social media, in the pub, at home, at work, anywhere!  Shop locally, spread the word and do let the councils and decision makers know your opinions and ideas (contact links are in the first section of this article titled “One council to rule them all…”).  Together, we can keep Ely vibrant and thriving for generations to come.

Intrepid King’s Ely students enjoy action-packed Lake District expedition

Trail running, ridge walking and rock pool swimming were just some of the activities enjoyed by King’s Ely students during an adrenaline-fuelled expedition to the Lake District.

To say the expedition earlier this month (July) was action-packed would be a slight understatement – with students in Years 11 to 13 also enjoying multi pitch climbing, bouldering, scrambling and lots more.

The week-long summer holiday event was staged through the Ely Scheme, which aims to build important life skills that cannot always be taught in the classroom. While most independent schools have an outdoor pursuits programme, the Ely Scheme is both unique and central to the whole King’s Ely experience, as young people are given tangible opportunities to push themselves to achieve beyond anything they ever thought possible.

The aim is to develop each individual student through outdoor education and adventurous activity, concentrating on eight major elements: personal skills; self-confidence; teamwork; leadership skills; social and environmental awareness; problem solving; ability to cope with difficult situations and healthy respect for nature and the outdoors.

To find out more about the Ely Scheme, and other unique opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org.

King’s Ely Junior pupil secures place with National Youth Girls’ Choir

Talented King’s Ely Junior pupil Sophia Garrard is singing with the National Youth Girls’ Choir this summer.

Sophia, 11, auditioned for the prestigious choir in October last year and was successful in securing a place on its summer programme, which is taking place at St Hild and St Bede College at Durham University.

The highlight of the programme for Sophia and the other girls will be singing in the ‘March With Us’ concert being held at Beamish Open Air Museum on August 18th to mark the centenary of Women’s Suffrage.

Sophia, who lives with her family in Ely, is a member of the Chamber Choir at King’s Ely Junior, and will be joining the wonderful Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir in September. She was also a member of Cambridge University’s St Catherine’s College Girls’ Choir this year.

Head of King’s Ely Junior, Richard Whymark, said: “Sophia’s love of singing has unlocked a very special range of opportunities for her, and we have loved watching her achieve her musical dreams through sheer dedication and hard work.”

To discover more about opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org. For information about the National Youth Girls’ Choir, including the upcoming March With Us concert, go to www.nycgb.org.uk/national-youth-girls-choir.


Ely Rotary Loses a Lady Member

Gillian Brady, a member of The Rotary Club of Ely for the past 12 years, died peacefully at home surrounded by her family on 29th June, and was cremated at Fenway Crematorium on Friday 27th July.

Preceding this, a sung Requiem Mass was said at a packed St Etheldreda’s RC Church in Ely.  The reception was held at their home in Witcham.

Gillian was a valued member of Rotary, and her skills were many. In 2007 she designed all the publicity material for the first band show, depicting  a graceful lady in a flowing red dress, the hallmark for many a design in the following years.

One of her highlights was a production of “Dickens Night”, in November 2012, where she produced  a full-size model of a village street of Dickensian shops, and acted in the proceedings too (see picture).

She was also popular with her raffles, often selling more tickets than anyone else! And her attributes go on and on. She will be sorely missed.

Before joining Rotary she was a member of the ladies’ Inner Wheel, where she served as President for one year. A lady of many talents.

Over £3000 given to charities from 2017 Ely Potato Race

Street Race Delivers Multiple Local Charity and School Funding.

The streets of Ely were lined with over 1,000 spectators and watched by over 7,000 people online through our live stream, the Isle of Ely Produce organisers of the annual Potato Race on the streets of Ely have today announced the beneficiaries of the charity proceeds from the 2017 event and are appealing once again for runners for the 2018 race!

The race sees local farmers and businesses teaming up to see who can race up and down the high street the quickest whilst carrying 20kg of locally grown potatoes! It features a ladies cup and also a children’s race too.

Last years races were started by Lucy Frazer MP for South East Cambs.

Austen Dack event organiser said “We were inundated with requests for help from the £3,000 pot and together with the directors of IOE and city mayor we sat and discussed every application in detail before deciding on the winning causes.”

IOE Potato Race Charity donations 2017 were given to: 

Elysian Riding for Disabled

Ely Wildspace

Ely Museum

Isle of Ely Primary School PTA

Highfield Ely Academy

Little Miracles

British Legion

Ely Hockey Club

Holy Cross Church Stuntney

Oliver Boutwood Isle of Ely Director said “The selected charities are from across the age ranges of our community. Hopefully the money raised from our potato race will touch many people’s hearts and deliver the required results.”

The race also raised money for The Lantern, St Johns, and St Marys Primary Schools too from the children’s race and for the Ely Hereward Rotary Club who act as race stewards.

The 2018 Potato race date for your diaries is Saturday October 13th. If you would like to enter a team or sponsor a race, please email austen@chippychat.co.uk.

Ely Makers Family Fun Day

Ely Makers hosted its Family Fun Day last Sunday at the City of Ely Bowls Club near the Paradise Centre. The event, which was open to Ely Makers and the public, attracted over 60 people with an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Electronics and Maths) and art whether they were total novices or professionals in their field.

Various stalls offered a range of activities and demonstrated projects ranging from autonomous robots, a 3D printer, an electronic harpsichord, a miniature steam engine replica to a hi-tech sewing machine where children and adults were invited to make their own pencil cases. One of the most popular activities of the event was building lego cars and racing them down a ramp.

The event was supported by parents with children attending various schools across Ely such as The Lantern, Ely St. Marys, Spring Meadow, and Ely College as well as the Ely Library Code Club.

The Family Fun day was also supported by local hi-tech firms and their representatives. Simone Bonanni from Thorlabs in Ely brought a couple of his personal electronics projects including an electronic harpsichord with 3D-printed keys, playing accurate sounds through advanced digital signal processing. Renowned replica steam engine builder, Dave Clark, also from Thorlabs, brought an exact scale miniature model of a historical steam engine. Thorlabs very kindly donated prizes for the raffle which made £49 for the benefit of the Lantern Primary School Library.

The local business The Innomech Group (GB Innomech and Nexus IE), who recently organised a robot competition which was held at Ely College also donated raffle prizes and Adrian Brown from the company also attended the event.

Arvind Shah, who founded Ely Makers in 2016, donated a 3D modelling and printing course. “Ely Makers provides a network for both experienced and inexperienced makers and those who might be looking for a future career in STEM subjects. We are more than happy to offer advice for those looking for information about where to start learning about robotics, electronics, coding and in other areas. For more experienced makers the group can offer inspirational peer support and a way to share their expertise and motivate younger and less experienced makers.”

Ely Makers have twice competed in the robot competition Pi Wars which is held in Cambridge in the spring-time. “We have received lots of encouragement and support from parents and families who are now able to tap into our network to find out about ways to get into science and technology”, said Arvind.

The atmosphere was one of curiosity and fun, providing opportunities for questions from people of all ages enjoying a science quiz walk, raffle, with free home-made cake and drinks.

For more information about Ely Makers please visit http://www.elymakers.co.uk/ or send an email to elymakers@gmail.com.  Joining Ely Makers is free.

Soham Groups Benefit from the Carnival Atmosphere

For the past 65 years, the Carnival has been staged every year to raise money to go back into the local community. This year The Carnival raised £7500.00 to donate to various Schools, Charities, Clubs and Organisations.

Our main beneficiaries this year were the 3 Primary schools in Soham.  St Andrews, The Shade and The Weatheralls who were each presented with £1500.00 each.

The remainder of the money was distributed to our other beneficiaries which included Soham First Responders, Pos+Ability, Daisy’s cause, Cruse Bereavement Services, Soham Bowls club, VIVA  Arts,  KD Theatre Productions, Soham North Chapel, Molyn,  Soham Day Centre,, Soham Comrades Band, Soham Over 60’s, Royal British Legion-Soham Branch and Soham Christmas Lights.

We also presented our Townspersons of the year, John and Helen Attlesey with the Townsperson Cup- Every year John and Helen decorate their house with an amazing Christmas lights display whilst raising money for Charity at the same time. It’s truly a magical experience for the children and adults alike of Soham and surrounding areas. Many congratulations and thanks to them- we all appreciate their kindness and generosity.

The Carnival 2019  is to be held on Monday 27th  May at the Recreation ground Soham.

You can keep up to date with information on our Facebook page. facebook.com/sohamcarnival

If you would like to get involved with the 2019   Carnival please email carnival@soham.org.uk.

Soopa Doopa Spartans

Following the pairs participation in the Obstacle Race “Nuclear Rush” to raise awareness for Action of Addiction, Soopa Doopas’ Jake Scott-Paul and mate Matt Lucas were at it again, this time taking on the “Super” Spartan Race, which involved 10 miles and 28 plus obstacles.

Jake has been taking part in these events to help raise awareness around addiction and to show that recovery from substance abuse is possible.

The Spartan “Super” is one third of the illustrious “Trifetica” challenge put on by Spartan Race and is physically and mentally very challenging.
Set in the beautiful grounds of Marston Lodge, Market Harborough on one of the hottest days of the year, Jake described it as one of the hardest things he has done, both physically and mentally. All the obstacles involved lifting body weight, carrying various objects up and down steep inclines, mud swims, fire jumps and of course, 10 miles of running in 30 degree heat in and around the challenging terrain.
Not set on pushing his body through that on the Saturday, Jake ended up returning the next day to complete the “Sprint” part of the trifecta, which is a shorter 4 miles, with similar obstacles.
The third and final “Beast” race, which is 15 plus miles is set to take place in Windsor in October, and with two out of the three complete, Jake has said he has to go back and complete the set.
Jake said he was physically exhausted by the end of day 2 but mentally firing on all cylinders. “Its great to show people suffering in active addiction that you can turn you life around and be free from the hell that it brings”
Now…onto the beast….”
For any suffering with addiction:

Another Year for Ely’s Green Flags

Keep Britain Tidy’s green flags will continue to fly high in Jubilee Gardens and Ely Country Park thanks to the hard work of volunteers and East Cambridgeshire District Council’s open spaces team.

Ely Country Park and Jubilee Gardens have received recognition from Keep Britain Tidy’s Green Flag Award for 2018 this week, which recognises them as some of the UK’s very best green spaces. This is the 14th year that Jubilee Gardens have been awarded a Green Flag and the 5th year of recognition for Ely Country Park.

Councillor David Ambrose-Smith, Chair of the Community Services Committee at East Cambridgeshire District Council, said: “Our open spaces team work very hard to uphold the high standards which come with being accredited by the Green Flag Awards scheme. This is just one way that the council keeps to its commitment of making the district a fantastic place to live, work and visit.”

This international award, now into its third decade, is a sign to the public that Ely Country Park and Jubilee Gardens boast the highest possible environmental standards, are beautifully maintained and have excellent visitor facilities.

International Green Flag Award scheme manager Paul Todd said: “We are delighted to be celebrating another record-breaking year for the Green Flag Award scheme, with more Green Flags awarded this year than last year.”

“Each flag honours the thousands of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to maintain the high standards demanded by the Green Flag Award. We are proud to have so many wonderful green spaces in the UK for people to enjoy, and hope that next year, we award even more flags.”

Ely Country Park’s green flag award comes after an already successful year following accredited country park status by National England. Over the past year work and improvements to the park includes the installation of a play ship, new seating provision and the provision of toilets during the summer months.

Jubilee Gardens was opened in 2002 by HRH the Duke of Edinburgh to celebrate the Golden Jubilee year of HM Queen Elizabeth II. The gardens are supported financially and practically by the friends of Jubilee Gardens and are currently rated number 5 out of 34 ‘things to do in Ely’ on Trip Advisor.

Awards are given on an annual basis and winners must apply each year to renew their Green Flag Award status.

Press Release by East Cambridgeshire District Council

King’s Ely raises more than £3,000 for Hope 4 Malawi charity

King’s Ely students have raised over £3,000 for a charity working to relieve poverty in Southern Africa.

Each year, the boys in Osmond House at King’s Ely Senior choose a different charity or organisation to support and over the last 12 months they have been taking part in a wide variety of fundraising activities in aid of Hope 4 Malawi.

The Hope 4 Malawi charity and its volunteers are working tirelessly to relieve poverty in Malawi, Southern Africa, by raising funds for projects and facilitating trips where participants implement projects, teach in schools, take assemblies and run conferences and kids clubs. The charity also raises awareness of poverty related issues in the UK by visiting and working with schools and youth groups.

Just before the end of term, a group of representatives from the charity visited King’s Ely to meet the boys of Osmond House, their Housemaster Paul Lott, and to receive a cheque for £3,120, which the charity says will enable approximately 260 children to go to primary school in Malawi for a whole year. The charity has also received hundreds of books from the school, which would have otherwise been recycled.

The majority of the money raised was achieved at Osfest – the annual fundraising extravaganza organised by students in Osmond House. Held in April, the feast of activities and attractions on offer included bouncy castles, a coconut shy, sports challenges, ‘sponge the teacher’, face painting, music, an ice cream van and a wide variety of stalls and raffles.

To find out more about Hope 4 Malawi, including how you can support the charity, please visit www.hope4malawi.org.

For more information about opportunities at King’s Ely, please go to www.kingsely.org.

Witchford’s ‘Oscars’ Awards Evening 2018

Witchford Village College’s ‘Oscars’ Awards Ceremony took place on 19 July 2018. It was attended by students and their families who were given the full red-carpet treatment. Students had been nominated for awards by College staff in recognition of their achievements throughout the academic year. Two awards were presented for each subject area, with students being acknowledged for not only their academic success but also for their willingness and commitment to achieve. There were also Community, Governor, School Contribution and Principal’s awards. These were presented in recognition of students’ achievements both within and outside the College. Many were identified for their Charity work and willingness to help others less fortunate than themselves.

Awards were presented by the hugely inspirational Mr John Willis, founder of Power2Inspire. He gave a motivating speech about his life and achievements despite being born without fully formed arms and legs. He set up the Charity, Power2Inspire, to promote sport for everyone. During the evening, performances were given by pupils Sarah Jones on the piano and Rosie Scott on the harp showcasing some of the College’s musical talent.

It was a memorable evening, with very proud parents and their children enjoying the celebration. Staff had also turned out in force to support the event. Special thanks to John Willis who made an excellent guest speaker that we hope to see more of.

50 cyclists raise over £15,000 by cycling 200 miles in one day In aid of East Anglia Air Ambulance & Beads of Courage

Over fifty cyclists from Ely’s Octagon Cycling Club have successfully pedalled 200 miles each in one day, raising money for two local charities. ‘The Double Ton’ followed a route from Ely, taking in Swaffham, Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Stowmarket and returned to Ely after 12 hours of riding in extremely hot conditions.

The fundraising group set off from Ely Cathedral at 5am on Saturday 30th June and after lunch in Gt Yarmouth, a couple of rest stops and a few punctures, returned to the Cathedral by 8.30pm the same day.

Most members have been training since January, with several riders going out every weekend come rain or shine, in order to acclimatise to the long distances involved. On the day, temperatures exceeded 26 degrees, with strong winds from the start. However, the riders were well supported with several water stops and van escorts, rolling in together to a heroes’ welcome with family and friends.

Octagon Cycling Club has raised over £22,000 for local charities following previous charity rides and is well known for its friendly, relaxed fundraising ethos as well as prioritising lots of cake on their training rides. This year they’ve already exceeded their original target. This will be shared between local charities East Anglia Air Ambulance and Beads of Courage.

Robin Jones, founder member of Octagon Cycling Club says he is extremely proud of the team’s performance. We’ve all been training hard for this event.  Some of our less experienced newbie riders have been riding with the club for less than a year and originally struggled to ride for 30 miles.  After several months of endurance training and a huge amount of commitment, they managed to surprise themselves.

“We were all truly inspired by the stories of extreme bravery shown by children from the Beads of Courage programme undergoing gruelling hospital treatment over many years. Knowing that we were riding with purpose was a great motivation throughout the day.”

East Anglian Air Ambulance is the charity that runs essential air ambulance providing helicopter emergency medical services across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. Founded in 2000, they’ve attended over 22,524 missions across East Anglia.

Beads of Courage UK offers complete support and assistance for children with chronic and long term serious illness through Oncology/ Haematology, Burns, Cardiac, NICU, and Chronic Conditions programmes. They provide support to the emotional and social wellbeing of seriously ill children and their families, giving them recognition for their medical journey. 

Any individuals who wish to make a personal donation can still do so through the Just Giving site at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/octagon-cycling-club


Cathedral Choristers set off on Music Tour of Estonia.

17 boy choristers from Ely Cathedral’s highly regarded choir will perform a series of choral music concerts in Estonia. This is the Choir’s first ever visit to Estonia and includes a very busy schedule of five performances in venues across a number of cities including Tallinn, Haapsalu and Parnu. The tour will culminate in a concert at St Peter & St Paul Cathedral in Tallinn.

Many of the boys, all aged between 9 – 13, have never been on tour before but most are very used to performing in some particularly awe inspiring venues.  Previous Choir tours have included America, Canada, Spain, Norway and France as well as special performances in Rome, Vienna & Budapest.

Despite the rather gruelling schedule of rehearsals and performances, there is some time scheduled in for the choir to experience their surroundings with visits scheduled to a museum and water park.

Paul Trepte, Director of Music at Ely Cathedral is accompanying the Choir. “English choral music is highly regarded across the world and these tours enable us to bring choral music concerts to a global audience. It also gives the boys a great opportunity to perform in unusual venues and to spend some quality time together after a very busy and highly successful year”.

Ely First World War Commemoration Event and Cambridgeshire Regiment Reunion Service 2018

On July 15th, 2018, Ely Cathedral will host the annual reunion service for the Cambridgeshire Regiment and its descendants, D (Cambridgeshire) Company, VI (Vol) Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment. This year’s event is an important one from a First World War perspective as the King’s Colour of the wartime 11th (Service) Battalion, Suffolk Regiment – “The Cambs Suffolks”, will be on display and will feature in a ceremonial hand over to the Mayor of Ely (local historian and author Mike Rouse) on behalf of Ely Museum. The Colour, which recently was removed from display at Ely Cathedral due to its rapidly deteriorating condition, has now been stabilised and conserved. It will now go on to become a central part of Ely Museum’s First World War gallery once the Museum’s refurbishment is completed.

Alongside this year’s service, the Ely Branch of the Royal British Legion have organised an event on Palace Green, in front of the Cathedral. This free event will include stalls and displays from branches of various local organisations, such as the Royal British Legion, Royal Air Force Association and the Army Cadets. We are pleased to be able to support this event and, alongside some of our friends, will be putting on a display relating to the Cambridgeshire Regiment and Suffolk Regiment in the First World War. These displays will include items of equipment and uniform as well as photographs and information. We will also be unveiling our 1918 pop up exhibition, which tells the story of the 1/1st Battalion, Cambridgeshire Regiment during the final year of the War.

This event is free and will run from 10.30am to 3.30pm with the Reunion Service and parade taking place on Cross Green from 2.30pm. The Cambs Regt website team and our friends will be on hand all day at the display and are happy to help anybody with any First World War questions. We will also be there to assist any visitors who are looking to find out more about the wartime service of their relatives, or if they have any First World War related pictures, medals or items that they would like to learn more about.

Over the years our free First World War Family History Events in Ely have always proved popular and we have been able to help a large number of people looking to find out more about the Cambridgeshire Regiment or their relatives. So if you are interested in the events of 1914-1918 or want advice on researching your relatives we hope to see you on 15th July on Palace Green!

If you have any questions about the event please contact us at cambsregt@gmail.com or by filling in the Contact FormAlternatively the event organiser can be contacted directly at cityofely.chairman@rbl.community

Press release from Cambs Regt 1914-18



Witchford Village College Inter House Games Day

The whole College took part in an Inter House Games Day on Friday based upon the World Cup. This was no ordinary sports day, the emphasis was definitely on everyone taking part and choosing both a curriculum-based activity and a sport. Students competed in their Houses (Lords, Twickenham, Wembley and Wimbledon) for the House Cup.

The day kicked off with an opening ceremony and our Year 9 band, The Outlaws, belted out a great rendition of ‘Seven Nation Army’. Students Jessica Lonnen and Megan Holland talked about the ethos of the day and declared the games open.

There was a wide range of exciting sporting activities on offer and students competed well in tennis, table tennis, tag rugby and football, despite the heat. Mrs Barker led the aerobics teams and others rivalled in Speed Stacking, Extreme Golf and the Team Challenge. We would like to thank Peacock Archery for attending the day and instructing our students about Archery, they were very enthusiastic about hitting the target.

The English department challenged students to create their own sports product for the World Cup. They produced posters, adverts, scripts and storyboards. Art teams built a giant car and then competed in a race; DT students designed a trophy using 3D software. Food Technology teams produced some mouth-watering Russian foods based around football and Science students investigated ‘Who stole the World Cup?’ using forensics. History students learnt about the History of Russian Dance culminating in a performance whilst Drama students created an opening ceremony.

Our Principal, Mr Baxby, had arranged for a local ice cream van to visit the College at lunchtime and this proved to be a very popular decision as queues snaked their way across the playground in the heat.

The closing ceremony commenced with a re-mix of Prokofiev’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’ produced by Music students. The Dance teams had been instructed by Sara Ford and performed their learnt routine to the Houses. Following on from this the Aerobics group led the whole College (including staff) with their routine. Lords were announced as winners and two students collected the House Cup on the team’s behalf. Our canteen staff had made fantastic shortbread medals strung from strawberry boot laces for the winning team.

It was a fantastic day and great to see all students involved in new and different activities and rising to and completing some excellent challenges. Special mention must go to Mrs Emmess, Head of PE who organised the day with the support of all staff.


Trike Rally raises £1100 for pain relieving machines to be used in local communities

Trikes R us, founded in 1995, is one of the biggest trike only clubs in the UK, although based in Lincolnshire, is both a national and international club with members as far away as Scotland and Holland.

Each year the club holds its annual rally – TRIKEFEST, and since 2004 the club celebrated its 10th rally by moving to a new bigger and better venue, the Littleport Leisure Centre in Littleport, Cambridgeshire.

The club also support local charitable causes during the festival, and this year, teamed up to raise money for No Gain No Pain UK (NGNPUK), a small local charity raising money for syringe drivers to be used in people’s homes.

Club spokesperson and vice chair Nicky Harrison said “Our chairman Ged Kettle, challenged me to find a charity local to Littleport in Cambridgeshire to work with. As a club, we wanted to give something back to the people of the local community who support our Trike rally every year!”

Syringe drivers are small portable machines that nursing staff can program to give a patient a continuous stream of pain relieving medication and other drugs in palliative care. They can help patients remain comfortable at home with their families instead of having to go into hospital or a hospice.

Through bitter experience Louise Nicholls and her family found that there were a limited number of these machines available when her dad needed one to manage his pain at home in December 2013. After more research Louise found that many local towns and villages shared just one or two machines to cover large areas with some patient’s requiring more than one machine at a time to help with managing pain and administering drugs.

In 2015 along with her husband Lee and friend Samantha Carter they began fundraising to supply more machines for local communities and No Gain No Pain was formed.

Each syringe driver costs £1100 and just one of these machines can help so many people in its working lifetime.

NGNPUK have handed over 61 syringe drivers to the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Foundation Trust to date, and with support from Trikes R us, have now been able to make their first donation to the community nurses for use within the Fenland region. This includes Ely and Littleport, the home of Trikefest!

All of the previously donated syringe drivers have been in constant use since they were handed over and have made a huge difference to patients, their families and the nurses. Louise said

“Not many people know about these machines and sadly it’s not until someone you love needs one that you would. No one should have to wait. We have had some amazing support such as the generosity of Trikes R us and their members, without it people would still be going without these vital machines.

We are so grateful to Trikes R Us, and we know from letter and messages we receive it is making a real difference to people out in our communities.”


Ellgia win national award for Independent Operator of the Year at the MRW National Recycling Awards

Ellgia celebrated award success at the MRW National Recycling Awards on Thursday 28 June, held at The Hilton on Park Lane.

Ellgia was awarded Independent Operator of the Year and were up against a tough category with eleven other nominations. The award recognises exceptional customer service, market innovation, growth and high performance. Ellgia was able to demonstrate improvement of resource management and show practical awareness of its role in driving resource management up the waste hierarchy.

The judges said, “Our winner shows innovative ideas, a great holistic approach, good focus on maximising resource value, and gain very positive customer feedback.”

Jack Lavington, Operations Director said, “We have enjoyed remarkable growth at Ellgia since our establishment in 2012. That growth has bought opportunities to develop our business and allowed us to evolve our processing capabilities, infrastructure and the services we provide to our customers. This also bring its own challenges and throughout we have maintained commitment to our core values by providing differentiated customer service excellence. The independent operator of the year award is a wonderful achievement and recognises that we have continued to drive value, invest in our business, develop new ideas and above all keep, customers at the front of all our decisions. I am proud to be part of this team and look forward to what we can achieve in the future.”

The MRW National Recycling Awards 2018 brings together over 500 recycling and waste management professionals to recognise and celebrate best practice and innovation in recycling and waste management.

Having started as a recycling specialist company, Ellgia is committed to driving waste up the waste hierarchy through collection, sorting materials and processing to ensure that as much waste possible is either recycled, reused or converted to energy recovery. Ellgia are committed to working with its customers to improve recycling prior to collection but have also invested in post collection sorting and processing equipment to extract maximum value from all waste streams once they have been collected.


The perfect antidote to a scorching weekend, it’s the Haddenham Beer Festival 2018

This weekend looks like it’s going to be a hot one, so what better than to rest and relax in the sun at the Haddenham Beer Festival. The beer festival promises a full weekend of live music, great food, plenty for the kids to do, and you can try some of our 64 beers and ciders as well as some summer favourites: Pimms and Prosecco and plenty of soft drinks.

The Haddenham Beer Festival is held on the first full weekend of July in the pavilion and on the recreation ground in Haddenham. Starting on Friday the 6th with an evening of music, a full day’s events for all the family on the Saturday, and ending with a day of traditional family games on the Sunday.

The weekend has become locally famous for its great and, at times experimental, live music which runs all weekend on two stages. This year including Indietones, Modern Vintage, Special Groove, Sabertooth Timmy, Kepler, Holly-Jean, Elma and many more.

This year’s bumper selection of food stalls will again cater for all tastes, including pizza, BBQ, a hog roast, fish and chips, Thai, Caribbean, crepes, tea and cakes, and plenty of ice cream.

The beer festival committee work hard with other volunteers on making the weekend an event for all the family, with much for the kids; this year is no exception: with bouncy castles, face painting, children’s entertainers, traditional games, and many more stalls run by village groups to help raise money for their charities.

The Haddenham Beer Festival is an event run by volunteers to help raise money and awareness for local good causes, clubs, and charities raising over £20,000 in the last 3 years. Tickets are available in advance at £10 for a weekend pass, 3 beer tokens, and a festival glass, or entry on the door is still frozen £3 for the fourth year – see website for details.

For more information please visit:

Web: www.haddenham.beer

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WeDrinkHaddenhamBeer

Email: we.drink@haddenham.beer

King’s Ely trio qualify for Northampton Saints Development Programme

Three King’s Ely students have been selected to join the Northampton Saints Rugby Player Development Programme.
George Nearney, Bertie Whymark and Daniel Kember, who are all pupils in Year 8 at King’s Ely Junior, qualified for the scheme following a series of trials. The talented trio were also standout players for the Junior School’s 1st XV team during the Michaelmas Term.
The Saints Academy aims to produce players capable of making the grade in professional Rugby, and has now cultivated a group of household names such as World Cup winners Steve Thompson and Ben Cohen, England captain Dylan Hartley, and British and Irish Lion Courtney Lawes.
There are several tiers to the Saints Academy system. Over 100 young players aged between 13 and 20 receive coaching from the club – ranging from the bi-weekly Player Development Groups, based in Northampton and Colchester, to the Senior Academy who train full-time at Franklin’s Gardens.
Director of Sport at King’s Ely, Jim Thompson, is thrilled for the boys. He said: “It is fantastic to see Bertie, Daniel and George being selected for the Northampton Saints DPP programme. They all have worked hard to gain these representative honours and I am very proud of their selection. They are all part of the performance squad rugby programme at King’s Ely, which allows them to develop their Rugby during all three terms. I look forward to hearing about their progress over the coming months.”
To find out more about opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org.

Ex Davis Cup duo pop into King’s Ely for coaching session to remember

Ex British Tennis players Danny Sapsford and Luke Milligan visited King’s Ely to help students improve their skills on the court.
The memorable visit was organised by Seb Scaux, King’s Ely’s tennis coach and who runs the hugely successful 10iS Academy.
King’s Ely students and players from the 10iS Academy enjoyed coaching sessions with the talented ex Davis Cup duo, followed by exhibition matches. Players also had the opportunity to get involved and play doubles matches with Luke and Danny.
Head of Tennis at King’s Ely, Chanre Bond, said: “Danny and Luke’s visit was a really inspiring event and it was fantastic to see so many players on the court eager to improve their game. Money raised from the event will be going towards various projects, including coaching opportunities for people with autism and learning difficulties. Thank you to everyone who made the event such a great success.”
The 10iS Academy is running a children’s tennis summer holiday camp at King’s Ely, starting on July 30th. For more information, please go to: www.clubspark.lta.org.uk/10isAcademy.
To find out more about opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org.

Spring Meadow School, make nearly a third of all support staff redundant before the end of term.

Spring Meadow school, an infant and nursery school with an assessment unit in Ely plans to make nearly a third of all support staff redundant before the end of term.
Spring Meadow school launched a three week long consultation with all support staff on 11.6.18, proposing to lose 19 support staff, with 22 jobs at risk. Spring Meadow School cites a falling school role and subsequent loss of £80 thousand pounds of school funding as the rationale for the proposed job cuts.
Currently there are 65 non teaching job roles (some staff have more than one role) and it is proposed to reduce this to 48 job roles, with a new structure in place for September 2018.
The majority of posts proposed for redundancy are staff directly supporting children’s learning and welfare, mainly amongst teaching assistants, with midday assistants and supervisors and school facilities staff also facing job losses. Other posts planned to have reduction in hours include nursery lunchtime club, administrative staff and the family support worker.
The majority of the support staff at risk at the school are UNISON members and they fear the effects of the redundancies upon the welfare and education of the children at Spring Meadow School. The end of consultation has now been shifted to 2nd July, with staff due to hear if they have lost their jobs ten days before the end of term.
Julia Drummond, an organiser from Unison Cambs County branch said: “We believe these cuts to be sort sighted due to the imminent  housing development at Kings Meadow, which will soon increase the pupil numbers at Spring Meadow School. A local authority school such as Spring Meadow could bolster their finances with a deficit budget until numbers increase, rather than lose experienced staff who work hard to do their best for all the children at the school”
Management claim that the school is “over staffed” which is hotly disputed by Unison and their members at the school.
Julia Drummond said: “We are gravely concerned that parents and the local community have had no say or involvement in the the proposal to lose 19 roles supporting children’s welfare and learning at Spring Meadow School. Currently they are unaware of the proposals and are due to find out after the redundancies have been made. This consultation appears to be a rush job.”
Press Release from Julia Drummond Unison Cambs County branch

Little Thetford Acorns Pre-school Host Family Fun Day

Roll Up! Roll Up! Little Thetford Acorns Pre-School will open its doors on Saturday 30th June for its 4th annual Family Fun Day.
Members of the public are invited to an afternoon of fun and frolics on the recreation ground in Little Thetford from 12 noon… with guest appearances from Paw Patrol’s very own Skye and Chase!
Stands, all manned by parents and staff of Little Thetford Acorns Pre-School, include a bouncy castle, hook-a-duck, sandpit treasure, walking animal balloons and a Grand Raffle with some wonderful prizes
including London Theatre Tickets, Newmarket Racecourse Tickets and many more! What’s more (and back by popular demand…), you can put your pooches to the test at the ‘Fun Dog Scurry’ and be in with
a chance to win a fantastic doggy-themed hamper!
All this is topped off with a delicious home-cooked BBQ and… this year’s must-have… fruit kebabs and ice cream!
All proceeds to Little Thetford Acorns, which, without the generous contributions from its parents, support from local sponsors (including Greys of Ely, Johnson & Scott Vets in Witchford, Greg Saberton Design, Bouncing Beans and PS Plumbing Services) and the commitment of its small committee, would not be able to operate.
For more information on Little Thetford Acorns, the annual Fun Day and the opportunities for your child and to join the committee, please call Zoe Corley on 01353 649234 at any time, visit their brand new website www.littlethetfordacorns.org.uk or check out the LTA Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/littlethetfordacorns/.

Former Archbishop Opens Academy Trust’s Headquarters

Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams was the guest of honour when he officially opened the head office of the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust (DEMAT).
Dr Williams – now Master of Magdalene College in Cambridge – performed the ceremony with the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Reverend Stephen Conway.
DEMAT – which currently runs 33 schools across Cambridgeshire, Norfolk, Peterborough and Suffolk – moved into permanent offices in the Grace Building at 8 High Street, Ely, last year.
The official opening featured a special performance by a choir from Ely St Mary’s CofE Junior School.
Headteachers, governors and Trust members joined the celebrations, which included the unveiling of a plaque and the cutting of a cake.

PSHE Day at Witchford Village College

Wednesday was our third and biggest Personal, Social and Health Education day of the College year. We had many outside agencies attending. They delivered interesting and informative talks to help our young people make the right life choices.

The Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service gave an invaluable presentation about Water Safety, which was well-received by our Year 7 students. The Skills Service brought their popular Activote system. This is an interactive quiz about students’ views on careers and careers information, all Year 7 & 8 students used a hand-held voting device. The College is given feedback on the quiz results enabling us to tailor a full careers programme for our students. This session also included an introduction to the legal profession by Fraser Dawbarns LLP Solicitors.

Staff-lead sessions took place on student relevant topics such as Internet Safety, Peer Pressure, Healthy Lifestyles and Body Image. All were designed to give our students the facts they need to make informed decisions whilst here and in the future. As a big bonus, the good weather meant that many sessions moved outside and a Healthy Lifestyles rounders match proved to be very popular.

We were also lucky to welcome representatives from the National Citizen Service, who informed Year 10 students about their exciting programme. Hopefully many will join this scheme and benefit from the self-belief and new skills that it offers. As a team-building exercise NCS provided Sumo Wrestler suits and a Tug-of-War competition at break and lunch. Our new Principal, Mr Baxby, was seen to be taking part in the Tug-of-War!

It was a fantastic and hugely valuable day. We are very grateful to the local companies and services, including the Police, who gave up their time to share information and their experiences.

Supporters of Highfield Littleport Academy Launch Crowdfunding Page

Supporters of Highfield Littleport Academy (SOHLA) have launched their very own Crowdfunding page on “Just Giving”, to raise funds for an Outdoor shelter for the pupils at the Academy.
The addition of an Outdoor classroom/shelter for the pupils would be a huge asset.  The Academy is a fantastic new building, purpose built for the needs of both staff and children and allows the staff and volunteers to provide the pupils with an excellent education.
Due to financial restraints on the educational system the Academy lacks equipment required to help provide that final educational and comfortable environment to make it even better for the pupils.  With the help of you the public, SOHLA, will be able to raise the funds to provide equipment that the Academy just couldn’t buy within the budget provided.
Highfield Littleport Academy is an area special school for up to 110 pupils, aged 2 – 19.  It is an Academy and belong as part of an Active Learning Trust School. Currently there are only 7 area special schools in Cambridgeshire.
Children and young people attending Highfield Academy may have severe and complex learning difficulties and often also have a significant disability and/or additional needs such as medical, social, emotional, sensory or physical.
The Academy opened in September 2017 and currently has 41 pupils; there will be a further significant increase in September 2018 with it eventually reaching capacity of potentially 110 pupils.
In February 2018, a volunteer group “The Supporters of Highfield Littleport Academy” (SOHLA) was formed as a parents and friends association.  SOHLA’s purpose is to raise funds to provide equipment, entertainment and resources that are not provided via the Education services, for the young people of Highfields Academy.
SOHLA has already organised a “Cake bake and Raffle”, which raised £175 and they hope that their forthcoming Summer Fair on 6th July will be a huge success and will help secure further funds.
It’s not just about funds, businesses could help with some of the many other projects, by donating their time, materials or specific items.  We have a long list of items the Academy requires and projects that require work to complete. We require items such as science equipment, plants for a sensory garden, and volunteers to help with the creation of these projects.
The pupils of Highfield Academy are an amazing bunch of young children, the staff are excellent at their work, but those little extras could make all the difference, if you think you could help, please contact Jo Pearson, at Sohlafundraiser@mail.com or Yvonne Skillern at head@highfieldlittleport.org.
To donate: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/highfieldlittleport

Ely Children Walking Miles for Whales to Bring Smiles

Local charity marks its 10th year of taking school children to walk the Jurassic Coast, raising more than £150,000 to help people recover from cancer
The Malcolm Whales Foundation, a charity established in 2008 by former Ely College-teacher Damien Whales in memory of his father, is preparing for its 10th annual Dorset Walk along the Jurassic Coast.
More than 150 schoolchildren and teachers from Ely, Peterborough and Northamptonshire will take part in the event, walking 40 miles of the South West Coast Path from Weymouth to Studland Bay over three days, from 13-15 July. Each will have raised an average of around £100 to participate, and will also rattle buckets to raise more as they walk, passing features familiar from their geography textbooks such as Lulworth Cove, Durdle Door and Old Harry. The walkers also clean up the trail as they go, helping maintain some of the National Trust’s most beautiful coastal countryside.
The Foundation has raised more than £150,000 from the event since its launch 10 years ago, and uses the money to provide practical help for young people recovering from cancer and other life-changing illnesses. In recent years, it has helped Grafham Water Sailability buy a new boat and get more disabled young people afloat, it has enabled The Harry Johnson Trust to build a sensory garden at The Princess Royal Hospital Telford, it has donated iPads to the children’s cancer ward at Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge, it enables Edgar’s Gift to provide a free six week break at a holiday retreat each year for families recovering from cancer, and it provides funds annually to Climbing Out, so that 16 young cancer survivors’ can re-build their confidence and self-esteem on a challenging outdoor adventure.
Commenting on the event, Damien Whales, former Head of PE at Ely College, said: “I am always blown away by the amount of support we get for this walk, both from the walkers themselves and their schools, and also from our generous sponsors. Ten years ago, as I took just 30 Ely students to Weymouth, I would never have dreamed that some of them would now be involved in running the Foundation, nor that we would be able to help so many people through the funds we’ve raised since. It’s become a proper logistical operation now, and is hard to pull off alongside my day-job, but I know my dad would have little sympathy for that. I’m fairly sure he’d be proud of what we’re doing in his name.”
Malcolm Whales was only 55 years old when he died of bowel cancer in 2008. Shortly before his diagnosis, he had taken an interest in endurance challenges and in particular long distance walks, and so Damien thought these would be a fitting way of remembering him. The Foundation also raises money through sponsored golf days, rugby matches and a ’12 hours of sport’ event at several schools.
Commenting on the impact of the walk, Ben Gibbs, an Ely-based Patron of the Foundation, said: “So many things impress me about these walks, but what strikes me most powerfully is watching some of the young walkers overcome their own personal challenges and develop as the miles take their toll. It really is a privilege to walk with these young fundraisers, and also to walk alongside those who have themselves battled cancer and other illnesses. As a Foundation, we are really grateful to Ely College and the other schools involved for their support, and for recognising the significant educational value of the walk for their students.”
The Foundation is always looking for charities and worthy causes to support, and also welcomes interest from companies or individuals who wish to sponsor its events. To find out more, see www.malcolmwhales.co.uk. To give to the Foundation, please see: http://www.malcolmwhales.co.uk/donate/4539153919


New Principal at Witchford Village College

It is all change at the top at Witchford Village College who have welcomed Daniel Baxby as the new incoming Principal. Daniel, appointed from Wrenn Academy in Wellingborough brings with him a wealth of experience in relation to school improvement, and a track record of working in a number of rural secondary schools.

“I am excited to be joining the WVC community, and I am looking forward to the work we have ahead of us. I am extremely grateful to the work that Rob Campbell and the Morris Trust have invested over the past few months, in supporting the students and staff in what has been an uncertain period of time.

My vision for the College is clear, we will become the school of choice in the local area, and with a fantastic and committed staff body behind them our students will be given a range of opportunities to succeed both academically and personally”.

I am looking forward to working with students and parents, and also engaging with the local community to make the College a key community facility and resource.

Applications for the College for September 2018 can still be made to the College direct. All parents of Year 5 and 6 students next year are invited to our open evening on the 18th October. Please see the College website for details or call the College direct.



01353 662053


Little Downham Youth Theatre “Youth Acts UP” Presents The Dracula Rock Show

Little Downham Youth Theatre “Youth Acts UP” Presents :- The Dracula Rock Show
The Dracula Rock Show, with a cast of all children from 7yrs – 16 yrs, directed by Becky Green, you will be sure to dig the show.
The Zombies and Vampires are unhappy with their life underground, and summon Count Dracula, their master. He promises them fun among the humans, disguised as the audience at Rock Concerts, where their bizarre appearance will go un-noticed. To achieve this, he creates his own Rock Group.
Meanwhile Inspector Shirley Holmes of the Dewberry CID and her pathologist, Dr. Watson, are battling against the master criminal Professor Moriarty and his gang – as well as trying to solve the mystery of an outbreak of anaemia among young women.
These strands are woven together in a hilarious plot, full of splendid eccentric characters, sparked by a dynamic Rock score, which takes in 60’s rock, a touch of 70’s disco! A rock ‘n’ roll Dracula, Shirley Holmes doing a Dolly Parton, and a Mick Jagger-like rock star are just some of the surprises in this comedy musical.
Don’t coffin the audience or you might miss something.
If you would like to join Youth Acts UP we are always looking for new blood, contact Carol email carol.ldyg@hebbard3d.com

Reflective Last Pledges Day at Ely College

Ely College dedicate their final PLEDGES day of the year to reflect on the world around us and the communities we support together as a city
Students at Ely College celebrated their final PLEDGES and Futures Day before the summer break, preparing them for future challenges and opening their eyes to their own potential to drive environmental and social change.
Ely College students continued to build on their PLEDGES this week, earning points for their HOUSE teams (Scott, Turing, Etheldreda and Franklin) as they took part in a range of workshops. The last in a series of off-timetable days dedicated to PSHE lessons and experiences, the event saw them focus on diverse environments and their futures.
Year 8 and Year 9 both focused on their Environmental and Service PLEDGES, exploring the impact of single use plastics and the importance of recycling. Inspired by current political issues in the media, they made a start on an art installation using plastic waste, with a hope to depict a shared unity expressed and inspired by the MP Jo Cox #MoreInCommon trend.
Later in the day, they explored themes focusing on mental health, first aid training and personal resilience. Student showed amazing empathy when they met with external speakers to discuss the homelessness crisis.
Year 7 students were given the opportunity to travel to London to visit the Neasden Hindu Temple and work towards their Diversity PLEDGES. Year 7 student Ben Convine said: ‘The sounds and colours of the midday Arti ceremony were so calming and the building itself was amazing and very peaceful! Everyone was so welcoming to us.’
Year 10 students focused on the ‘Futures’ aspect of the day, as they launched into their UCAS applications and planned for their July work experience placements with a number of careers and safety workshops.
They joined the rest of the students at the end of the day for some forward-planning as students brainstormed their Inter-House competitions and big House events coming up and the end of the year. With students leading their own learning and PLEDGES achievements, it was clear some excellent ideas have been sent in motion, so watch this space for our House Charity Day 2018!

Members of the Cambs Youth Consultation Panel attended the House of Commons

Seven members of the Cambs Youth Consultation Panel attended the House of Commons with Sergeant Phil Priestley on Wednesday 20th June for a meeting with Lucy Frazer QC MP to discuss knife crime and youth violence.
Parliament was an absolute hive of activity with the Brexit debate heavily underway.
Sgt Priestley said “Parliament was absolutely dizzy with activity yesterday – and it was remarkable that Lucy Frazer was able to honour her appointment in the middle of it all. As we closed our meeting she actually had to go and vote on the Brexit question! We were incredibly grateful to Lucy for her time and support.”
The Cambs Youth Consultation Panel were formed in June 2016 and celebrated their second year this month. The group are currently working on an ambitious project to bring students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida to Cambridgeshire.
Francesca Galelli (15) of Soham Village College explains “We want to bring them [Parkland students] to our area because they have been such an inspiration to us. We know that nobody understand the effects of youth violence better than them, and that people will listen to their experiences.”
Last week the Youth Panel submitted a £5,000 bid to the Home Office Knife Crime Community Fund and today they sought the support of Lucy Frazer to back that bid.
Ed Ouzman (16) of Witchford Village College took time off from his GCSE revision to join the group in Westminster “Lucy was keen to hear what we had to say, and she was fully supportive of our work. We gave her a copy of the bid and she has told us that she will support us in every way that she can.”
Youth violence and knife crime has been an increasingly prominent concern – both on a national level and locally in 2018. The Youth Consultation Panel believe that it will be very difficult to legislate against knives – but recommend winning the hearts and minds of young people to combat the problem.
Rory Dingly (16) of Witchford Village College finished his GCSE exams last week and is hoping to claim a place at Long Road Sixth Form College to study A Levels. Rory said:
“Knives are everywhere and we need them in daily life. Even pencil sharpeners have to have blades in them. You can’t get away from blades and knives. Every office has scissors, every kitchen has a cook’s knife. You have to stop people from wanting to carry them as weapons.”
The Cambs Youth Consultation Panel are seeking financial support and donations to help them reach a total of £10,000. They are seeking donations of all sizes – from private individuals and commercial sponsors. If you would like to help, please email cambsyouthpanel@gmail.com.  


World-Famous, Award-Winning family Rave Phenomenon – Big Fish Little Fish returns to the Maltings 

Following two sold out events, world-famous, award-winning family rave phenomenon Big Fish Little Fish returns to the Maltings on July 14th
Big Fish Little Fish have been putting on award winning events since 2013 (Winner of best family event, Family Festival Awards 2014-18, Time Out ‘101 Things to do with Kids in London) .
We have entertained over 150,000 family ravers up and down the UK and have now launched in Australia. We have organised events in Dozens of venues including Alexandra Palace, the V+A, The National Gallery and Glastonbury.
We have booked a very special guest for this event. World renowned Mark Archer (ALTERN 8/Nexus 21) supported by DJ Trax. Expect (grown up) oldschool dance music along with confetti cannons, bubbles, giant parachute dance, themed crafts, Playdoh table, giant mural, fully licenced bar, face painting and Audrey`s vegan cake stall.
The event has a `Summer of Love` theme with optional (but encouraged) fancy dress. BFLF events are aimed at 0-8`s and their families but older siblings are most welcome. Adults are not admitted unless accompanied by a child.
Our first two events at The Maltings Sold Out to we advise purchasing tickets early to avoid disappointment. Tickets + info at www.bigfishlittlefishevents.co.uk

The Beast 2018

Sunday 10th June saw the crowds gather in Sutton for the annual running of ‘The Beast’. This incorporates The Tony Robinson 10K and The Mini Beast Fun Run and this year saw record crowds in both races.
The event was introduced and hosted by ITV Anglia’s Donovan Blake and featured live music from local songstress Sophie Frear.
The Mini Beast Fun Run is a 2.5Km multi terrain race and is embraced by the whole range of ages giving it a real family atmosphere. This year saw Ben Isaacson retain his title for the 3rd Year running, just about beating off Louis Beningfield in the most exiting of finishes. The first female home was Dana Fraser with Elena Fraser not far behind.
The Tony Robinson 10K is also a multi terrain race. It goes off The Isle of Ely and out into the swathes of Fenland into Sutton Gault and beyond. The sun beat down this year, making the race tougher than ever and everyone who completed the race did so well. This year’s winner was Sutton resident Paul Waggit in a time of 35mins 23 secs while the first female home was three time winner Lisa Marriott (41mins 53secs).
Between and after the races, the hundreds of participants and their supporters enjoyed a BBQ, Pizza, Desserts and Tea & Cakes, as well as taking part in The Scouts hamper raffle.
The orgainsers said “We are delighted that the event was such a success. There are so many people that came and ran and each and every one seemed to have had a great time. This is a real example of a community coming together and we are so grateful to ‘Team Beast’ for making it run so smoothly”.


Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir concert raises £400 for charity

Ely Cathedral Girls’ Choir’s Charity Concert raised £400 for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association.
People of all ages came together inside Ely Cathedral for the event on May 25th, which featured solo songs and duets by Mozart, Grieg, Pergolesi, Britten, Abba, Tom Lehrer, and Lakme’s famous Flower Duet, as well as a special new arrangement of O Happy Day.
The concert was originally going to be held in the courtyard at Etheldreda House but heavy rain forced it to take place inside in the cathedral’s South Transept. The concert was followed by a reception in the Canonry where members of the audience were able to enjoy drinks, nibbles and a cake sale.
The Pulmonary Hypertension Association (PHA UK) is the only charity in the UK dedicated to people with the rare disease, pulmonary hypertension (PH).
Set up in 2000, PHA UK has grown to a membership of over 3,500. The PH community is like no other – a unique group of people committed to supporting each other and raising awareness of this serious condition in the hope of one day, finding a cure.
To find out more about the charity, visit: www.phauk.org. For more information about opportunities at King’s Ely, please go to: www.kingsely.org.

Expeditions put King’s Ely Senior students’ stamina to the test

Intrepid King’s Ely Senior students reached new heights during an action-packed half term break.
More than a dozen Year 9 Ely Scheme students travelled to Yorkshire to take part in the school’s annual Three Peaks Expedition. The challenge involves a circular walk bagging the summits of Penyghent, Whernside and Ingleborough in the Yorkshire Dales National Park – covering a distance of just under 25 miles and all within twelve hours, which the team successfully accomplished.
A separate group of Ely Scheme Level 3 Hill Walking and Mountaineering students also spent some of their half term in Snowdonia being taught key skills in how to look after themselves and each other in mountainous terrain. The course covered efficient journeying over large ascents, decision making and dynamic route planning, as well as rope work and leadership skills to aid another person on steeper rocky terrain.
Just a few days previously, members of the King’s Ely Climbing Club put their Level 2 skills to good practice in Holyhead Mountain and Snowdonia.
The Ely Scheme aims to build important life skills that cannot always be taught in the classroom. While most independent schools have an outdoor pursuits programme, the Ely Scheme is both unique and central to the whole King’s Ely experience, as young people are given tangible opportunities to push themselves to achieve beyond anything they ever thought possible.
The aim is to develop each individual student through outdoor education and adventurous activity, concentrating on eight major elements: personal skills; self-confidence; teamwork; leadership skills; social and environmental awareness; problem solving; ability to cope with difficult situations and healthy respect for nature and the outdoors.
To find out more about the Ely Scheme, and other unique opportunities at King’s Ely, please visit www.kingsely.org.


Lantern Community Primary School joins CMAT Trust

Lantern Community Primary School, Ely, rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted, officially joined CMAT on 1st June 2018. The school had already been working closely with the Trust since the start of the year while the plans were approved by the Department for Education.
CMAT (Cambridge Meridian Academies Trust) was formed in 2011 and enabled Swavesey Village College – an outstandingly successful secondary school – to convert to academy status, sponsor other academies, and help spread good education practice throughout the region. All the Trust’s schools united by a shared vision and values – to provide high quality and dynamic education for all at the heart of its communities. With the two new additions, the Trust now includes 11 schools who work in close partnership, with brand new schools planned to open in the next few years in Northstowe and Corby.
Mark Woods, Chief Executive of CMAT, said: “We’re really pleased to welcome Lantern Community Primary School to CMAT. The new school will strengthen our primary school expertise and mean that the Trust is now working with five primary schools throughout the region.
“Lantern Community Primary School have chosen to be part of CMAT, which is testament to the Trust’s excellent reputation within Cambridgeshire. The fact that it is rated ‘Good’ by Ofsted shows that not only can CMAT have an impact on the schools needing additional support, but also that our Trust can learn from the already great practice taking place.”
Paul Baddeley, Headteacher at Lantern Community Primary School, said: “Lantern Community Primary School is committed to ensuring that each of our students receives a successful education within a safe and nurturing environment. We are very excited to be part of CMAT and have been working closely with Ely College and Downham Feoffees Primary Academy for some time. I believe that together we can continue to promote and inspire high quality educational provision in our school and the children in our community.”
For more information about CMAT, visit: www.cmatrust.co.uk or for more about Lantern Community Primary School, visit www.thelanternschool.net.

Ellgia Wins Major National Contract with British Sugar

Ellgia is proud to have been awarded the national contract to provide British Sugar with their Waste Management and Recycling services.
The long-term contract has started and includes working with their six major sites in Peterborough, Wissington, Bury St Edmunds, Cantley, Newark and Bardney.
Ellgia is delighted to have been chosen as the waste and recycling partner and will work with British Sugar to provide a service that will deliver efficient, measurable, cost effective and environmentally friendly solutions. British Sugar will benefit from Ellgia’s innovative recycling and waste to energy processes whilst working towards their target of zero non-hazardous waste to landfill.
British Sugar are the leading producer of sugar for the British and Irish food and beverage markets, processing around eight million tonnes of sugar beet and producing up to 1.4 million tonnes of sugar each year.
Joe Hemsley-Rudd, Ellgia’s Sales and Marketing Director said “Ellgia is delighted to be entering into this exciting new partnership with one of the leading UK’s brands in British Sugar. This partnership is a powerful endorsement of the Ellgia brand to showcase our ability to deliver our first class & industry leading complete service.”


Coni the Dog Helps Ely St. Mary’s Children with Reading

Children at Ely St Mary’s CofE Junior school in Ely have been given a helping paw with their reading from Coni the dog.
The school – part of the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust – is the first in the area to benefit from the Paws 2 Read scheme, run by Therapy Dogs Nationwide (TDN).
Border terrier Coni comes into school once a week with her owner Amanda Wall to help four children gain confidence with their reading. Initially a trial, they hope to expand the scheme further.
Coni has become a regular visitor to the school and has her own doggy bed and bowl in the staffroom.

Headteacher Beccy Ireland-Curtis said: “This is a wonderful opportunity to allow children to have extra reading time alongside a furry member of our team. It embraces our holistic approach to helping children within school and we are delighted to have welcomed Coni and Amanda into school.”

TDN volunteer Amanda Wall added: “Coni and I are very happy to have been invited into St Marys C of E Junior school. We have already seen an improvement in the reading of the children we help, and look forward to a long relationship with the school. “
All dogs at Therapy Dogs Nationwide are temperament assessed by trained assessors and must be healthy and well presented.  The dogs and their volunteers also visit hospitals and retirement homes.
Although Ely St Mary’s is the first school to have Coni visit, other schools in the Ely area have shown an interest and Therapy Dogs Nationwide are hoping to become an establish part of the educational landscape in the area.

Ely Teacher Invited to Downing Street Reception

An Ely teacher was invited to a reception at 10 Downing Street to celebrate the work of the teaching profession across the country.
Rachel Clarke, deputy head of Ely St Mary’s CofE Junior School, was nominated to represent DEMAT – the Diocese of Ely Multi-Academy Trust – which runs the school in High Barns.
The drinks reception – to recognise ‘outstanding work of teachers’ – was for primary, secondary and special school teachers across the UK and included a speech from Prime Minister Theresa May.
Rachel met Education Secretary Damian Hinds and Children and Families Minister Nadhim Zahawi.
Rachel said: “It was an honour to be invited to the reception and to meet not only the Secretary of State but also many other dedicated and committed teachers doing an outstanding job for our children and young people.”

Gospel Choir hopes to break fundraising record

Ely Pop Up Gospel Choir is hoping to raise £5,000 for children in Kenya as more than 60 singers take to the stage for the third consecutive year.
The choir will be performing afternoon and evening concerts at St Mary’s Church on Saturday 9th June. Numbers include The Greatest Showman’s This Is Me, Happy by Pharrell Williams and Something Inside So Strong, as well as more spiritual songs such as Steal Away and Holy, Holy.
More than £6,000 was raised for Potters Village following the choir’s concerts in May 2016 and July 2017, but this year’s ticket sale proceeds will go to To Kenya With Love. This charity transforms the lives of poverty stricken children in Kisumu, the country’s third largest city.
The Pop Up Gospel Choir is directed by West End performer and Ely mother of three Lisa Olsworth-Peter, who said: “As always the concerts will be lively, fun and full of energy but there will also be some slower, more reflective songs which sound fantastic because the choir makes such a rich and beautiful sound. It’s a real community of all ages and abilities who share a love of music, and their enthusiasm is infectious. People who come to the concerts will leave with a spring in their step and they can feel proud to have helped provide vital support for children in Kenya.”
For more information about the Ely Pop Up Gospel Choir and to book concert tickets at 2:30pm or 6pm on Saturday 9th June, please contact Kirsty Smith at gospelchoir@stmarysely.org or visit St Mary’s Church OfficeTickets are £10 and Concessions £5, with the price including refreshments. The charity’s website is www.tkwl.org.uk

Haddenham Beer Festival 2018 – The Weekend Party 6th-8th July.

The Haddenham Beer Festival will be held for the fourth year running on the first full weekend of July in the pavilion and on the recreation ground in Haddenham. Starting on Friday the 6th with an evening of music, a full day’s events for all the family on the Saturday, and a day of traditional family games on the Sunday.
There will be plenty of chance to try the 60+ beers and ciders, plus Pimms, Prosecco and Ely Gin on sale, as well as soft drinks, so there really will be something for everyone.
The weekend has become locally famous for its great and at times experimental live music which runs all weekend, including headline spots for Indietones and Modern Vintage, as well as some great new acts and the return of some old favourites.
This year’s bumper selection of food stalls will again cater for all tastes, including pizza, BBQ, a hog roast, fish and chips, Thai, Caribbean, crepes and plenty of ice cream.
The beer festival committee work hard on making the weekend an event for all the family, with much for the kids; this year is no exception with bouncy castles, face painting, children’s entertainers, traditional games, and many more stalls run by village groups to help raise money for their charities.
“The beer festival committee feel really grateful to the families which come each year for helping to raise over £20,000 for local charities and good causes over the last three years” said Toby Bush this year’s chair of the committee, “and this year we are hoping to have an even better year.”
The Haddenham Beer Festival is an event run by volunteers to help raise money and awareness for local good causes, clubs, and charities. The event is held annually over the first weekend in July on the Recreation Ground in the centre of the village, this year’s dates are the 6th – 8th July. Tickets are available in advance at £10 for a weekend pass, 3 beer tokens and a festival glass, or entry on the door is £3 – see website for details.
For more information please visit:
Web: www.haddenham.beer
Facebook: www.facebook.com/WeDrinkHaddenhamBeer
Email: we.drink@haddenham.beer

Lucy Frazer MP Emphasises Need for an Agriculture-and Agritech-First Brexit to Michael Gove MP during Visit to South East Cambridgeshire

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove MP, came to South East Cambridgeshire on Thursday. His visit was prompted by an invitation from South East Cambridgeshire MP, Lucy Frazer. Mr Gove visited local businesses in the agriculture and agricultural technology (agritech) sectors and Ms Frazer took the opportunity to press the importance of agriculture and agritech in Brexit negotiations with the EU.
Lucy and Michael visited Barcham Trees, G’s Fresh (G’s), and the National Institute of Agricultural Botany (NIAB).They attended a series of presentations and site tours and witnessed first-hand why South East Cambridgeshire has become a world-leader in cutting-edge farming and agritech.  
The visit covered the development of an arboretum at Barcham Trees, which will create up to 40 new jobs and deliver a unique visitor attraction to the area, a tour of G’s harvest rig operations, which have been the product of extensive in-house development, and a talk on the future aspirations of NIAB’s Innovation Hub, including the incubation of businesses with a waste or productivity focus.
Mr. Gove said, “the pioneering work being done in the agriculture and agri-tech sectors here is boosting business in this region and driving economic growth nationally. The UK is a world leader in agricultural research and innovation, and leaving the EU is an opportunity for us to set the global agenda.”
“I am one of the people that Lucy has brought here in order to ensure we do what we can at the centre of government to help people in this part of Cambridgeshire, and specifically Ely, to achieve everything they can in the future”
Lucy Frazer added, “businesses in Cambridgeshire are leading the field internationally in many areas. It is important to recognize the invaluable contribution this makes to the local and national economy. Hosting the Secretary of State was not only a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic work being done by local businesses in driving forward innovation but also a chance to meet with them again and discuss matters relating to Brexit and ongoing investment in research and development.”
Leader of East Cambridgeshire District Council, and Deputy Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Cllr Charles Roberts said, “it was fantastic to welcome the Environment Secretary to East Cambridgeshire. The NIAB Innovation Hub in Soham is a great example of innovation in agriculture and we’re proud to have it in our patch.
“Clearly the Environment Secretary was impressed with what he saw. It was good to see employees raise concerns they have directly with such a senior member of Government.”
Mayor of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, James Palmer added, “the former LEP played a key role in supporting the Innovation Hub. I am clear in my view that the new Combined Authority Business board will continue to provide whatever help it can in order to support the great work going on there.”

Intrepid King’s Ely teachers to take on Uganda Marathon

Four teachers from King’s Ely are taking on the challenge of a lifetime to raise funds for poverty-stricken families in East Africa.
Richard Oliver, Alison Stewart, Amanda Kippax and Claire Kyndt, who are all members of teaching staff at King’s Ely Junior and King’s Ely Senior, are taking on the Uganda Marathon on June 2nd.
The gruelling challenge will see the team, which includes Richard’s wife, Niki, joining thousands of participants from around the world, around 3,000 of whom will be from Uganda itself, to take on the 26.2 mile course through beautiful yet remote, hard-baked tracks in the equatorial heat.
In the week leading up to the race, the intrepid teachers will also be taking part in a variety of local voluntary based projects in Uganda, including a school sports day to support the UN’s Global Goal initiative. Despite huge progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, Uganda has suffered hugely from conflict. Around 6.7 million Ugandans still live in poverty and a further 14.7 million are vulnerable. Access to health and education remains inconsistent with life expectancy at 54 years.
Miss Stewart, who is Year 12 Academic Coordinator and Teacher of Biology at King’s Ely Senior, said: “My two favourite pastimes are running and travelling, however I am aware that my sport, which has taken up hours of my life, is a little selfish. When Richard casually mentioned the Uganda Marathon last summer, I eagerly checked out the event website and realised that this was a project not to be missed on so many levels. The opportunity to be involved in raising money for, and then visiting the projects we support first hand, seemed like a fairly unique set up. The groups that the Uganda Marathon supports are so varied and so worthwhile that I am hoping we can make a real difference to the community. The added bonus is that I get to have my first taste of East Africa, and run 26.2 miles at altitude over some unforgiving hills on the Equator. I can’t wait!”
Thanks to the generosity of family, friends and colleagues, as well as lots of fundraising activities held in school, the team have raised a whopping £11,730 so far. However, their aim is to raise at least £16,000. They have also collected dozens of pairs of unwanted trainers and running shoes to give to Ugandan runners out there so that they do not have to do the race barefoot.
To donate, please visit: https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/kingselyrunuganda


Two Head Girls at Witchford Village College

Following an application process and gruelling interviews with staff in the college, the appointments of senior prefects for 2018-19 at Witchford Village College have been made. In a slight departure from tradition, the school has appointed two girls to be ‘Head’ students, with a further two boys and two girls becoming their Deputies. 

The invitation to apply and step up to the role of leading the student body at the 860 pupil school was extended to the whole cohort of 150 Year 10 students. A job description and person specification was issued and those who were interviewed were assessed against the criteria in the same way that someone might be evaluated for a new job. The standard of application and interview was very high and presented the panel of three senior staff, including Interim Principal, Robert Campbell, with a serious challenge. Ultimately it was unanimous in following its scoring system which resulted in Scarlett Ambrose and Abigail Wells securing the posts of Head Girl.

Robert Campbell, Interim Principal and CEO of the Morris Education Trust, says ‘This was an excellent experience and challenge for us. We were overwhelmed by the standard of applicant, all of whom did exceptionally well in the interviews. However, we used a scoring system which resulted in Scarlett and Abigail getting appointed. They will do a great job over the coming the year and will be very capably supported by their Deputy Head Boys and Girls, as well as the prefects that we will be recruiting in the month ahead. These are exciting times for WVC, with the arrival of Dan Baxby, new Principal, on 25 June and the progression to Vertical Tutoring for September, which will see mixed age tutoring for all.’


Gogmagog golfer picks up second trophy in 2 days.

Emily Slater, from Ely a member of Gog Magog golf Club in Cambridge, has won 2 major competitions in a week! 
First, she won the Cambs and Hunts Country Championships on Sunday then travelled to Sunningdale golf club in Berkshire on Tuesday, one of the most prestigious golf clubs in the UK. Then she picked up the Critchley Salver. The tournament was contested by a class field of players ranging in handicap from 2 to +4.
In the first 18 holes on the new course she missed several opportunities to come in 1 over par and 4 shots off the pace.
The second 18 holes were played on her favourite course the old. The old course at Sunningdale is the hardest and most sort after to play. Conditions were more tricky in the afternoon with firm greens and a stiffening wind. Emily eagled the last to shoot 2 under par to clinch the championship.
Emily has been playing both national and international competitions since she was twelve and is hoping to turn professional later this year.


A full day of entertainment at Soham Carnival and Heavy Horse Show 2018

Monday 28th May sees Soham Carnival and Heavy Horse Show 2018 with a full day of entertainment for all the family. 
In the main arena from 9am- 1pm is the Traditional Heavy Horse Show Followed by the Parade – The parade of floats leaves Holmes Lane in Soham at 1.00pm arriving in the Arena for the judging at 1.45 pm.  Our Carnival Prince Emerson Hillier and Carnival Princess, Grace Wright, will be in the parade along with their attendants, Erin Latimer, Sophie Cousins and Oliver Coleman.
Congratulations also to Freya Bailey who won the competition for the programme front cover design and to Helen and John Attlesey who have won Towns Persons of the year for their amazing Christmas light display they hold every year for charity.
Helen and John will be judging the floats along with our special Guest Dotty McLeod from BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.
We also have performances Team Mad – a top UK Mountain Bike Ariel display team, also a ‘Have a go’ Children’s Sports Event held by Premier Sports.
We are pleased to be holding the Fun Dog show for the 2nd year running. Bring your dog along from 10.30 am – 1.00pm and enter one of the classes – once again, TV celebrity Sian Ryan – Dog Trainer and behaviourist  from the BBC2 Show – ‘Me and my Dog’ will be a Judge at this years event.
.From 11am- 4pm on the Skate Park are the BMX and Scooter Competitions (Parental consent form required for under 16’s)

The Live Music stage starts at 12.45pm: performances include our singing compare, Michael Antony – featuring Tanisha and Abigail,  The 142’s Band, Riff Raff, VIVA, KD Theatre, Special Groove, and DJ sets from Vinyl Sebas, Jem Howe and Neil Brosnan. 
Other Attractions 
Soham Comrades Band, Majorettes, Scotties Circus Workshop, Punch and Judy, BBQ, Stalls, Raffle, Games, Fun Fair, and Much Much More.!!
Thank You to our sponsors:
KnA Design and Print, Blueshed Studios, Brendas Flowers, Turners, Newmarket Plant Hire, Philip Neal (R&P) and A&NJ Turner. Daf/chassis,  GLL, G’s, Sweat Gym and Cambridge Car Solutions.
All monies raised are distributed to local clubs, organisations, schools and charities. Our main beneficiaries this year are the three primary schools in Soham, St Andrews, The Weatheralls  and The Shade.
To be considered for a donation for your organisation, charity or club please write to us: soham benevolent association, 44 Martins Close, Soham. CB7 5ES or email -carnival@soham.Org.Uk by 18th June 2018.
Admission: Adults £3.50, Concessions £2.50, Children (under 16) 50p.

Everything's Coming up Roses at Ely Cathedral

The 2018 Flower Festival is the perfect opportunity to introduce the new Ely Cathedral rose. 
The rose has been produced by award winning East Anglian rose growers, Peter Beales, recognised worldwide for the preservation of old fashioned, historic and rare roses. As a specialist propagator of new blooms, they have won many prestigious awards including 24 Gold medals at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show, which is where the Ely Cathedral rose was officially unveiled by television personality and celebrity garden designer, Diarmuid Gavin.
This subtly scented, repeat flowering shrub plant produces a wonderful multi-headed display of deep red buds open to reveal double, ruffled blooms which was much admired by HRH Prince Charles at the Sandringham Flower Show last year, when he was inspecting a few of the new unnamed new species.
A limited number of roses will be on sale at the Flower Festival but we strongly advise ordering in advance.
Potted Rose: £25 – https://www.elycathedral.org/flower-festival/flower-festival-merchandise 
Subject to availability.

Welcome to the 2018 Isle of Ely Arts Festival

There’s plenty to get excited about as the Isle of Ely Arts Festival kicks off in June with a month of arts and cultural events throughout the East Cambridgeshire District with a host of festival highlights running through until 7 July.

You can pick up your free brochure at local shops and galleries or download a version online from the website http://www.isleofelyartsfestival.org.uk/brochure/

Join us on Saturday 6th July for piano recital by Clare Hammond in Ely Cathedral. This colourful and inspired musical journey is inspired by our festival theme of Flora & Fauna and includes works from Schubert, Mendelssohn and Rimsky Korsakov. Enjoy an evening of incredible music from this acclaimed pianist. She is also generously giving her time for a Master Class and a Children’s concert the following morning.

Other exciting musical events include a special American Independence Day concert commemorating the centenary of the ending of the World War 1 by a choir of 300 Americans in Ely Cathedral on 4th July. The talented Eboracum Baroque group are introducing some of our local children to the music of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” in school workshops and will be playing it as part of their evening concert in St. Mary’s Church, Ely on Thursday 28thJune.

Chapterhouse Theatre Company are bringing The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to the Maltings, Ely on Thursday 14th June, picnic beforehand in Jubilee Gardens before you enjoy this stunning new tale of romance and suspense.

There’s plenty on offer outside the city as our own Isle of Ely Festival Players perform ‘Snake in the Grass’ by Alan Ayckbourn in Wicken and Little Downham. Haddenham Galleries are hosting a series of workshops creating ceramic flowers which will become a permanent feature in the village. Other arts events include a high profile Miro exhibition opening on 7th July at the Babylon Gallery, Ely Museum and Ely Maltings with pop-up art by local artists in Wicken Fen.

The Ely Youth Choir will be giving a concert in Littleport on Sunday 1st July and local musicians will be giving a Folk concert in Isleham on Friday 15th June.

Other Ely events include The Running Hare, a new ballet created by the Lantern Dance Company, the Sing! Choirs’ concert in the Bishop of Ely’s garden and the grand finale concert by Ely Choral Society in the Hayward Theatre on Saturday 7th July.

Full details of the festival are online www.isleofelyartsfestival.org.uk

King’s Ely Acremont Nursery children take Mapia the orphan under their wing

Children and staff at King’s Ely Acremont Nursery have become the proud ‘adopters’ of a baby elephant called Mapia.
Mapia, who is named after the place where he was found in Tsavo, Kenya, had to be rescued by helicopter after he became orphaned in the recent drought. He is now being cared for by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, which is a conservation partner of the Tsavo Conservation Group, and is making good progress.
The founders of the Tsavo Conservation Group are Ian and Tanya Saunders, whose two daughters attend King’s Ely Acremont Nursery. Ian and Tanya have ‘adopted’ Mapia on behalf of the Nursery as a gift to the children and staff.
On May 11th, Tanya visited the children to talk to them about Mapia and to share some fascinating facts about elephants with them, including how many bottles of milk a baby elephant needs every day in order to grow big and strong. Tanya also helped to teach the children how important it is to be kind to animals of all shapes and sizes.
Tanya said: “I grew up in the Tsavo National Park in Kenya, with elephants literally on my doorstep. Being surrounded by nature from such an early age has shaped the way I live my life and think about the world. My husband and I founded the Tsavo Conservation Group with the aim of helping to create areas where people and wildlife can co-exist in a mutually beneficial environment, because at the end of the day if the people who live alongside wildlife do not see any value in it, then wildlife has no chance of survival. It was a pleasure to be able to share some of my love for elephants and other animals with the Nursery children.”
Head of Early Years Foundation Stage at King’s Ely Acremont Nursery, Anna Ballanger, said: “The children have been learning about different animals around the world this term, and are thrilled to be a part of helping to look after our own baby elephant. We will be following his progress each month with great interest, and look forward to receiving our monthly updates on how he is doing.”
King’s Ely’s Principal, Sue Freestone, is co-chair of the UK branch of the Tsavo Conservation Group. For more information about the charity, visit: www.tsavocon.org.
To find out more about the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, go to: www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org.


Action on Addiction – Raising Awareness

Ely based branding company, Soopa Doopa’s Jake Scott-Paul and friend Matt Lucas recently undertook the Obstacle Course “Rush” put on by Nuclear Races.
While putting themselves through the mill with over 52 obstacles and 7km of running, they thought it would be a great idea to raise money for the charity Action on Addiction. This cause is particularly close to the heart of Jake Scott-Paul who is coming up to two years free from alcoholism.
The course had every obstacle you could imagine from hang tough, mud baths and swimming, to zip lines, tunnel crawls and death slides. To top is off there was a total 7km of running, while covered head to toe in mud!
The pair raised over £800 for this great cause and Soopa Doopa kitted them out so they could be easily spotted in their hot pink tops.
Jake said that “while we are doing this for a bit of fun, we felt it was a great opportunity to raise awareness around addiction, that affects so many people. It shows that recovery is possible
To read Jakes journey in full or make a donation to such a worthy cause please visit:
Pictured below the pair at the “survivors” finishing podium with Jake on the left and Matt on the right.


Ely Runners announce their next 10 week beginners course

Ely Runners are pleased to announce their next 10 week beginners’ course – commencing on the 18th of June 2018. The course is run by qualified coaches and supported by established club members. It is very friendly and aimed at runners of all abilities!
The aim of the programme is to gradually build on the skills, fitness and thinking required in order to complete a 5K run at the end of the course, usually at Cambridge Parkrun. There is no obligation to attend the Parkrun at the end, but in our experience, those who have, loved it!
Ely Runners meet, come rain or shine, at the Paradise Sports Centre for 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and 9am on Sundays. Tuesday sessions consists of hill training, speed work, repetitions and intervals. Thursday training is usually a longer steady run around the City and surrounding countryside. Sundays is often a longer run in the countryside. If you’re not sure where to start, come and train with us and see what you think.
We are always up for people coming and joining us for a couple of sessions free of charge.
The club has a healthy membership, is active and present at many races and athletic events at various levels, and has a well looked after juniors’ section.
The beginners’ course starting on the 18th June 2018 will last for ten weeks, meeting at the Paradise Centre (Ely) on Monday evenings (7pm). It costs £20 in total, with this being deducted from full club membership should participants wish to join at a later date.
For more information contact Justin at justin@elyrunners.co.uk
A few words from Lisa, a participant of our most recent course!

“I heard about the beginners’ running course via Spotted in Ely, I asked people about this sort of course and the resounding response was how fantastic Ely Runners is!
I decided to apply for the course as I have tried to run for about a year now, starting with Race for Life and I have gone from there, but I didn’t seem to be running right.
I couldn’t ever manage to run for more than five minutes without having to walk. The course seemed the right fit. 
I’m a nervous person, that first day walking up the stairs I was terrified, but I was met at the top by the friendliest and most welcoming group of people I think I’ve ever met. We were all in the same boat and feeling nervous. Charlotte explained the course overall and what to expect etc and all the other coaches helped to put our minds at ease. 
I feel I have learned to run! I’ve learned techniques for combating the ‘hard parts’ of running (hills, and how to ease up without walking on a run) and so much more. Every single coach I have meet through the course has been supportive and kind. They are all so passionate about running you can’t help but feel the same way. It was great to complete the course with people in a similar situation to me and see how we all progressed. Even as beginners we all had different levels of fitness and running ability but this was easily accommodated within the course because of the number of coaches. The sessions were hard, but how are we ever going to improve without pushing ourselves?
I drove away from the course every Monday with a smile. I had worked hard, but been supported and encouraged throughout each session, and I knew I was improving.  Completing the course has helped me to knock minutes off my 5km time, it’s taught me to run correctly and introduced me to an amazing bunch of people who I hope to run/ train with again soon as a club member.  I can’t thank the coaches enough for this course and can’t recommend it enough. Thinking about doing it? Don’t hesitate you will NOT regret it.”

A few words from Tracy, another recent course participant:
“It is very relaxed, you feel comfortable straight away with all of the coaches. I have felt supported throughout the course  and so motivated. I got to see that I can push myself a lot harder, I have learnt new techniques.
The coaches are amazing, supportive but not in your face, they get you to do your best but do not put you under pressure. I have made new friends and will hopefully be running with
them once I have signed up. I have definitely improved!!! I am now working on a 10k and I have signed up for a half marathon in September”


Call for artists….Babylon ARTS Selected Summer Open Exhibition

What is the Babylon Selected Summer Exhibition?  
During the summer months our riverside gallery is an unrivaled local setting for both professional and amateur artists to display and sell their artwork. We have an open-entry application system and your work will be judged on its merit.
Our aim is to present an impressive display of original contemporary artwork all styles of media with artwork hung floor to ceiling.
Our fourth selected summer exhibition will display works in a variety of mediums and genres by artists of any age, both professional and amateur. Over the month it’s a chance for visitors to browse, buy and discuss the work on show. We are looking for original, contemporary work – all work selected must be for sale. The works will be selected by a team of three independent judges and hung by our experienced gallery team. Full details are available on our webpage and on the downloadable form.
Click here for application form
There is a non-refundable entry fee of £10 per piece (up to a maximum of £30), the proceeds go towards promotion and publicity and to help support the work of our charity Babylon ARTS (operated by ADEC charity no. 1034197).
Please note:  If you are under 16 years old please ask your parent or guardian to countersign the entry form.

Don’t miss magical production of The Tempest at King’s Ely’s Old Palace

Spellbinding Shakespeare play The Tempest is being staged at King’s Ely in June. 
The Lord Chamberlain’s Men are bringing the hugely popular open-air production to the picturesque gardens of King’s Ely’s Old Palace on the evening of Wednesday, June 6th – and tickets are selling fast!
A play of soaring poetry, high comedy and tender love, and widely believed to be the last full play that Shakespeare wrote alone, The Tempest examines the power of true love, our capacity for vengeance and what it takes to forgive. A play that has mesmerised and moved audiences for over 400 years is just as relevant and powerful today.
Prospero, the usurped Duke of Milan, and his daughter, Miranda, after being cast out from their home, are washed up on a distant, mystical island. 12 years later his enemies are blown off course towards them. Using his powers of magic, he raises a tempest to shipwreck them on the island. After being left to plot his revenge for years he finally has the chance to exact it. But will he?
Artistic Director, Peter Stickney, said: “With some of Shakespeare’s most memorable speeches and packed with famous characters – from the elemental and ethereal Caliban and Ariel to the comic clowns Trinculo and Stephano and the enchanting force that unites them all, Prospero – The Tempest is a spectacular play and will make fantastic viewing for a summer’s evening. A truly theatrical play like this, set outdoors and in our trademark style bursting with song and magic makes for an evening not to be missed!”
Founded in 2004, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men are the modern incarnation of Shakespeare’s original company of the same name. Performing with an all-male cast, they present authentic and magical productions of Shakespeare’s finest plays bringing to vivid and accessible life the greatest works of drama, as they would first have been performed. Peter Stickney took over the company as Artistic Director and Chief Executive in 2016.
The show is being premiered at the prestigious Brighton Festival, before heading off on a tour around the UK that takes in the most significant and visually stunning castles, cathedrals and stately homes, finishing their tour in mainland Europe in September.
With audiences encouraged to bring picnics, a chair or a blanket, and a glass of something chilled, this show promises to be another authentic, excellent and magical treat from the company that brought you last year’s riotous farce, The Comedy of Errors.
The production starts at 7.30pm, although gates open at 6.30pm to allow people to set up their picnics etc. Tickets are £15 for adults and £10 for children. To book your tickets, please call (01353) 653931 or visit www.kingsely.org/boxoffice.


Lancaster Way Bike Share Scheme

The summer is finally here and to celebrate Grovemere Property have launched their brand new Bike Share Scheme for companies on Lancaster Way Business Park, Ely in partnership with Ison Distribution.
All the companies based on Lancaster Way Business Park will be given the opportunity to join the Scheme and the idea of the Scheme is to reduce vehicle movements on Lancaster Way and to encourage a more healthy work environment.  
Nicola Tuck, Director at Grovemere explains “Employees on the Business Park will be able to borrow a bike to travel to work, travel to meetings or go out on their lunch break just to get a bit of exercise.”
Ison Distribution located on Lancaster Way have supplied Grovemere with 5 Cambridge Light Blue Bikes and Lloyd Townsend the MD worked closely with Nicola to help choose the most suitable bikes.  Lloyd explains “Our 4th generation family owned business has been serving cyclists in Cambridge since 1895. My great grandfather started by making and selling his own brand of The Light Blue bicycles up until the 1920s. The company evolved within the bicycle industry over the generations to a point 10 years ago where we were able to reintroduce the brand to meet the demand for a simple to use, lightweight, quality City type bike.  
Townsends Light Blue Cycle Centre on Chesterton Road remains as our retail unit in Cambridge, however, 9 years ago we decided to move our main distribution HQ to Lancaster Way Business Park.  We have remained immensely pleased with the friendly and helpful attitude of Grovemere and we’ve experienced Grovemere investing in such benefits as High-Speed broadband, 24-hour security, as well as keeping the whole estate looking tip-top for all of the occupants.  When Nicola mentioned to us that they wanted to add a Bike Share scheme as another benefit for all of their occupants – we were of course very happy to become involved. We felt that our Light Blue Parkside 3-speed model with a natural wicker basket for easy cargo carrying capacity and a low-step through frame would be just as ideal around the Ely City area as it’s proven to be in its natural home of Cambridge.   As a local business, we are pleased to be able to offer long term support to yet another one of Grovemere’s pioneering ideas for building a better environment for business in the area.”

Ely Air Cadets had a fantastic VIP day out for the Shuttleworth RAF Centenary Airshow

Thirteen Air Cadets from Ely Squadron had a fantastic VIP day out at the Old Warden Airfield yesterday for the Shuttleworth RAF Centenary Airshow on Bank Holiday Sunday as guests of BAE Systems.
100 air cadets from Squadrons across the country were invited to take part in a series of STEM -Science Technology Eletronics and Maths activities during the morning in the grounds of Shuttleworth House.
The theme of the morning activities were aviation safety and the 75th Anniversary of Operation Chastise (the Dambusters raid)
Awards for these competitions were presented by members of the board of BAE Systems former Chief of the Air Staff: Air Chief Marshall Sir Andrew Pulford, GCB, CBE, ADC and the Engineering Director of the BAe Systems Air Sector Mr Ian Muldowney, MSc FRAeS.
Afterwards the cadets enjoyed lunch and spent the afternoon at the air show as the guests of Shuttleworth. The cadets were treated to flying displays by aircraft flown in RAF service from its formation on the 1st April 1918.
The aircraft ranged from the First World War Avro 504K, on to the Avro Lancaster of the Second World War and right up to the present day with the RAF’s Typhoon FGR4’s first display of the summer.
The air show was a great tribute to the first 100 years of the Royal Air Force and was complimented by excellent weather with sunshine and clear blue skies.
Here are a few images from the day taken by Corporal Liam West, one of 1094’s keen aviation photographers.

Witchford Village College Year 11 Dress-up Day 2018

It has become quite a College tradition that Year 11 don costumes for a day & raise money for their Prom. Dress-up day took place on Friday 4th May and students rose to the challenge, some wilting in inflatable costumes and masks in the heat. This fundraiser follows on from a successful cake stall and cake raffle the previous week.
The Prom takes place on Friday 29th June. Vehicles usually start arriving around 6.45pm and we warmly welcome the wider community to come and watch. It is always a great occasion with exciting modes of transport, beautiful dresses and sharp suits. We are really hoping for a dry evening this year after several downpours over the last few years.


Cineworld Ely Celebrates Fantastic First Year

Cineworld Ely rings in its one-year anniversary on Saturday, 12th May, after welcoming nearly 260,000 cinema-goers in its first year.

The 954-seat state of the art cinema has shown over 150 films across over 10,000 screenings, showing the biggest blockbusters and thousands of hours of movie magic for local residents. Hungry film fans have also munched on over 25,000 bags of popcorn adding up to a whopping 2,032 kilograms over the course of the year – equivalent to the weight of a hippopotamus!

What’s more, Ely cinema-goers are big fans of family-friendly blockbusters, with action-packed movies such Star Wars: The Last Jedi, The Greatest Showman and Despicable Me 3 all featuring within the cinema’s top five performing cinemas in the last year.

This Saturday, Cineworld Ely will celebrate its first birthday and is inviting local residents to join in the festivities. The cinema will host a variety of activities for its landmark anniversary including a wheel of fortune  – plus amazing giveaways and opportunities to win goodies. Lucky winners could get their hands on complimentary cinema tickets, food and drink vouchers and even movie merchandise.

To show its gratitude to the community, Cineworld Ely has also partnered with local arts group Ely Arts Society, to create a bespoke piece of artwork telling the story of Ely and the town’s love of film – which will be officially unveiled at the cinema during the anniversary celebration.

Matthew Shaw, Cineworld Ely General Manager, comments: “It’s been an incredible first year and we’ve loved being part of the local community, welcoming around 260,000 customers through our doors since we opened on 12th May 2017. On Saturday, we’ll be giving away lots of prizes and goodies, so what better way to spend our one year anniversary and show our gratitude than giving back to the movie-loving community who help make the cinema so great.”

Cinema fans can take advantage of the Pick & Mix selection and enjoy Baskin Bobbins ice cream as part of their cinema experience, as well as Movies for Juniors and Cinebabies screenings. The cinema is also available for private venue hire.

To book tickets and for further information, please visit www.cineworld.com. Like Cineworld Ely on Facebook, or follow @Cineworld and tweet #CineworldEly.

Enter a world of pure imagination at Cineworld.

Try The King of Summer Sports for Free

It’s day’s like these you imagine being at Centre Court watching famous names like Andy Murray, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Johanna Konta but somewhere is history these guys have learned to play tennis at their local courts. Probably with a knock about using their local coach to see if the enjoyment and love for one of the UK’s most viewed sports was burning inside them.
Maybe you watch Wimbledon on the tele and think “I would love to play” or you have a need to get fit and want an outdoor activity that can be played at any pace.
This weekend, 12th May, Ely Tennis Club is opening their doors for anyone, any age, any ability to just come and “GIVE IT A GO”.
You do not need to bring anything as rackets and balls will be supplied and the 10is Academy coaches will be on hand to give you tips and advice.
The open day last year was so well attended that this year you will need to register your interest to attend by going to https://bit.ly/2vaierv. It’s very simple to do.
The club will be open from 12 noon till 5pm this Saturday, 12th May and is located behind the Leisure Village and next to the Rugby and Football Club.

Ely Netball Taster Sessions

Ely Netball Club will be running ‘Back to Netball’ sessions on Wednesday evenings throughout June at Witchford Village College, 7.30pm-9pm.
Ladies (age 16+) are invited to join, regardless of ability or experience.  If you have always wanted to give it a try but weren’t sure, or if you are a returner to the game then do come along and see what it’s all about.
The Club will also be holdings its first ‘Walking Netball’ taster session on Thursday 28th June at Ely College, 6pm-7pm.
Walking Netball is the lower impact version of the faster paced game and is aimed at those either returning from injury or taking up an activity for the first time.  
Ely Netball Club currently consists of six adult teams and welcomes new members anytime throughout the year.  Netball is having a thriving year, with our national England team having recently won gold at the Commonwealth Games, motivating women back into sport.  Our Back to Netball and Walking Netball sessions are a great way to come and see what the fun is all about!
For more details or to register your interest please contact elynetball@hotmail.co.uk

Octagon Cycling Does “The Double Ton”

Octagon Cycling Club is looking for sponsors for its next big charity challenge: Cycling 200 miles in one day, in aid of East Anglia Air Ambulance & Beads of Courage.
Nearly fifty cyclists from Ely’s Octagon Cycling Club are each planning to pedal 200 miles in one day in June to raise money for two local charities. ‘The Double Ton’ will follow a route from Ely, taking in Swaffham, Cromer, Great Yarmouth, Stowmarket and Bury St Edmunds and returning to Ely.
The fundraising group will set off from Ely Cathedral at 4am on Saturday 30th June aiming to return to the Cathedral by 8pm the same day.
Training has begun in earnest, with most riders going out every weekend come rain or shine, in order to acclimatise to the long distances involved, against potentially unpredictable Fenland winds or rain. During the recent cold snap, several riders were even spotted training in snow, and some are even prepared to ride through rain.
Octagon Cycling Club, raised over £14,000 in 2016 & £8000 for local charities during previous charity rides and is well known for fundraising as well as eating cake on their training rides.  This year they’re aiming to raise over £10,000. This will be shared between local charities East Anglia Air Ambulance and Beads of Courage.
Corporate sponsors are being sought, who will have their logos on the cyclists’ team kit in return for their donation.  Local businesses wishing to support can contact Octagon Cycling through the website: https://www.octagoncycling.com/double-ton
Any individuals who wish to make a personal donation can do so through the Just Giving site at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/octagon-cycling-club
Robin Jones, founder member of Octagon Cycling Club says they have been training hard for this event: “Some have made the ultimate sacrifice and given up cake and alcohol in January and we regularly cover 60-70 miles on weekend training rides.”
Octagon Cycling Club have elected to raise funds for East Anglia Air Ambulance this year, and Beads of Courage.
East Anglian Air Ambulance is the charity that runs essential air ambulance providing helicopter emergency medical services across Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire. Founded in 2000, they’ve attended over 22524 missions across East Anglia.
Beads of Courage UK offers complete support and assistance for children with chronic and long term serious illness through Oncology/ Haematology, Burns, Cardiac, NICU, and Chronic Conditions programmes. They provide support to the emotional and social wellbeing of seriously ill children and their families, giving them recognition for their medical journey. 

Ely Aquafest 2018: Aquafest Memories

This year’s Ely Aquafest on Sunday July 1st, organised by the two Rotary Clubs in Ely, will celebrate its fortieth anniversary.
The event, started by the Rotary Club of Ely as a “thank you” to the community for supporting Rotary’s fundraising throughout the year, began as a modest river-based event, but now encompasses the river and both Lavender Green and Jubilee Gardens as well, attracting thousands of visitors to see the arena events and visit the multitude of stalls and funfair rides.
To celebrate this special anniversary the Aquafest team are hoping to produce a video presentation and a static display of photos of past Aquafests in The Maltings. If anyone has any photos which the Aquafest team could borrow and copy, particularly those from the 1970s 80s, and 90s they would be extremely grateful.
Photos should be sent (with return address please) to Viv Doji, Ely Aquafest Photos, 52 Prickwillow Road, Ely, CB7 4QT or e-mailed to vclariced@hotmail.com, ideally by the first week in June.

Dancers go old skool to raise money for school

Sometimes you just have to embrace your inner 80s child!

Legwarmers, leotards and lycra were the order of the day at The Lantern Community Primary School yesterday.

Dedicated dancers proved that you can have your cake and eat it – getting into the groove before enjoying some refreshments.

The Dancefit session, hosted by Friends of the Lantern School and led by Sarah Parker from The Lane Academy, raised over £250 to refurbish the school’s playground.
Sarah said: “There was so much fun and energy from everyone, topped off with some amazing 80s outfits!
“We danced through the 80s for an hour and finished off with some delicious cakes baked by committee members.
“Thank you to everyone for their help and all the kind donations for the raffle.”

With all the retro gear on offer, organisers had a tough time choosing the winner of the coolest costume, but the prize went to Shelli Martelli for her “fab gold glitter shoes” and Kids from Fame themed leggings, FOTLS member Emanuella de Lucia Rolfe said.

Shelli added: “It was great to finally have a chance to dust off my glittery golden dancing shoes and dance like I’ve never danced before to raise money for my son’s school. Thanks for a fun event and here’s to many more.”

Fed up with just pink and blue? Get to Little Roos!

Five-year-old Alex Fickling was first through the door when Little Roos opened on Saturday.

Torn between a hummingbird top and a stripy dress, the Pymoor resident eventually went for the latter, enticed by its bright colours and bold patterns.

Mum Vicki Fickling said the unusual range offered inside the new shop was refreshing, with brands such as Frugi, known for its vibrant, organic cotton prints.
“That’s why I buy Frugi – it’s not just pink and blue.”
Based on Ely High Street, at the site of where Handmade Hotspot used to be, Little Roos is the brainchild of Downham Market grandparents Margaret and Mike Rooney.
Margaret said she saw a gap in the market and decided Ely needed a range of “good quality, branded clothing”, catering for babies and children.
“We’ve got nine grandchildren and we all love Frugi.”

The couple, who have a boat at Ely Riverside, said the city’s shoppers wanted more choice when it came to children’s clothes.
Unicorn skater dresses, seaside prints and super stripes are all the rage – with all the colours of the rainbow represented.
The brand Cut4Cloth was launched in 2004 when its founders couldn’t find clothes big enough to fit over their baby’s cloth nappies.
They launched a range of clothes from their living room and eventually grew the business, renaming it Frugi (Latin for “fruits of the earth) in 2008. 
The clothes are designed to be ecological, durable and practical – while being bright and colourful at the same time.

The award-winning brand’s headquarters are now based at an organic farm in Cornwall – but you don’t have to travel that far (or shop online) to shop Frugi anymore.
Little Roos also stocks Emile et Rose, Hatley, Petit Bateau and Angel and Rocket.

For more information, including opening hours, click here.

Ely Country Park Endorsed with Natural England Accredited Status

Ely Country Park has been recognised by Natural England and awarded accredited country park status.
This acknowledgement follows recent developments and successes for the park including the installation of a new multi-play ship which was opened in during Love Parks Week in July 2017 and its fourth consecutive Keep Britain Tidy Green Flag Award in 2017.
Along with Ely Country Park’s Green Flag Award, the Natural England accreditation evidences the park’s high-quality standards as a place for everyone in East Cambridgeshire to enjoy.
Chair of the Community Services Committee, Councillor David Ambrose-Smith said: “I am delighted that Ely Country Park has been awarded country park status for the second time in a row. We work hard to ensure that our parks offer a range of facilities for our community and it is wonderful to be recognised on a national scale.”
Ely Country Park boasts several features including play areas, sculptured walking routes and spectacular views of Ely Cathedral.
Service Delivery Champion for Open Spaces and Facilities, Councillor Lisa Stubbs, said: “I am absolutely thrilled that the fantastic work of the Open Spaces Team and our brilliant volunteers has been appreciated by Natural England. This status is testament to their dedication and effort to make Ely County Park a fantastic place to visit”
Established in 2009, the park is a fantastic place for families, residents and visitors to enjoy and explore the fenland landscape and great outdoors.

Beanie BOOM!

Ever wondered what a Llamacorn is? Or where you might find a Beanie Flutter?

Kids’ creative skills have been put to the test during a special competition hosted by the City Cycle Centre’s Toy Department in Ely.

Over the past three weeks, the store’s been running a competition to see who could invent the best Beanie Boo soft toy.
Over 100 entires were received, with Beanie Boo manufacturer Ty helping to judge them and send back the best designs to their headquarters.
Yesterday the winner was announced, with Ella scooping the top prize (a giant Beanie of course!), after wowing the judges with her feisty “Flutter” – a colourful creature resembling a dragon, complete with spotty tail and fiery wings.

Runner up Reuben, five, from Sutton, impressed the judges with his Beanie bird design, featuring real feathers. Both he and sister Samara, seven, picked up prizes for their creations.

Meanwhile Keira won a prize for her fabulous “Llamacorn” – a combination of a llama and a unicorn.

The City Cycle Centre is inviting everyone who entered the competition to pop by the toy counter and collect their designs. Over the next few days, more runners up will be announced.

If you ever see a Llamacorn, Flutter or Bird Beanie Boo hit the shelves, you know where the ideas originated!

King’s Ely teacher takes on London Marathon for second time in aid of MIND

A member of teaching staff at King’s Ely has raised almost £2,000 for a mental health charity by completing the London Marathon.
Claire Kyndt, Director of Learning Development and Teacher of Geography at King’s Ely Senior, was among the tens of thousands of runners who took on the gruelling 26.2 mile race in the capital on Sunday, April 22nd.
It is the second year running that Claire has put her best foot forward in the marathon, not only to put her stamina to the test, but to also raise funds for the mental health charity, MIND. Claire, who lives in Ely, completed this year’s race in 5 hours and 31 minutes, and has so far raised an impressive £1,700 in sponsorship.
Speaking about the race, Claire said: “It was brutal yet wonderful! The heat was immense and it was certainly the wonderful spectators and fellow runners who pulled me through. People lose their way for a huge number of reasons and it is because of charities like MIND that many can get back on the right track. By supporting MIND, we are opening a dialogue where it’s okay to talk about mental health, where it’s okay to admit that you’re struggling and where it’s okay to seek help.”
To sponsor Claire, please visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/ClaireKyndt1


Ely Archers – Prize Giving Awards

Ely Archers began their first Sunday outdoors by closing off their indoor season with coffee, cake and awards. There were most improved indoor handicap awards for Louise Tapp (Ladies Recurve), Rob Edson (Mens Recurve), Rob Edson (Mens American Flatbow), Jasmine Pearson (Ladies Barebow), Malcolm Basing (Mens Barebow) and Mike Bradford (Mens Compound).
There were also two trophies handed out. The winner of the outdoor handicap shoot from 2017 which was won by Louise Tapp (Ladies Recurve) and the winner of the indoor handicap shoot which was won by Thanasios Kyziridis (Mens Recurve). Both are pictured receiving their awards from the clubs records officer, Daniel Coe.
Photographs by Mike Williamson.

Justin raises even more money for charity running the London Marathon

On the 22nd of April 2018, Justin Smith ran the Virgin Money London Marathon for MACS, a charity supporting children who are born without eyes, or with underdeveloped eyes.
Various local fundraising events have been organised, concluding with a charity meal and head shave at The Prince Albert Pub on Silver Street.
On the 24th of April, the Prince Albert hosted a sausage and mash fundraising meal, which concluded with Yiorgos (widely known as George), the barman, having his head shaved. The evening raised over £400, with more than this amount yet to be collected from sponsorship.
Justin would like to thank Yiorgos for being a great sport; Steuart Northfield for organising things; the Prince Albert pub for hosting the event, and to Steve of Fresh Approach Hairworkers of Witchford for the shaving!
The running total for MACS so far is close to £3,000 – and rising.
Donate here.

The Ely Guild of Woodturners Celebrates a Very Successful Hands-On Day!

The Ely Guild of Woodturners enjoyed an incredibly successful hands-on day on Saturday 21 April at The Little Thetford Village Hall. The event has been held for a number of years, but this year saw a record number of attendees including young and old alike.
Members of the public were able to have a go at woodturning under the expert eye and guidance of some of our senior, expert turners. The hall was equipped with numerous lathes, a pyrography table and a large selection of members’ work for people to see.
It was great to see quite a few young people under the age of fourteen trying their hand at the craft, and one lady who had a go actually completed a bowl and took it away with her – smiling faces all round.
One of the highlights of the day was a visit from the Mayor of Ely, Cllr Richard Hobbs. He even had a “turn” himself, although we made sure he removed his Chain of Office first!
Well done to Malcolm Arter for organising the day, and to all those EGW members who helped to make the day run smoothly. We hope this event has encouraged some of the visitors to take up the craft, and maybe join our Ely Guild of Woodturners too.
If anyone is interested in seeing more of our work, then do come along to our annual Art in Wood exhibition, which this year is being held between 18 – 27 August at the Cathedral Centre in Ely. For more information, visit our website www.elyguildofwoodturners.org.uk and do follow us on Twitter @ElyWoodturners.


East Cambs youth invite US school shooting survivors to Ely

A local youth group is fundraising to bring survivors of one of America’s deadliest high school shootings to Ely.

During an exclusive interview with Spotted in Ely yesterday, members of the East Cambs Youth Consultation Panel revealed they needed to raise at least £10,000 to bring eight students and two chaperones over in October.

They’re also hoping to raise cash to help pay for counselling for the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School victims.
On February 14, a gunman killed 17 people and wounded a further 17 in the space of just six minutes in Parkland, Florida, making it one of America’s worst school massacres.

Shocked by the students’ plight but humbled by their bravery in the aftermath of the shooting, the East Cambridgeshire teens are inviting some of them over, to learn about their culture, spend time in their classrooms and stay with their families.
In a Spotted in Ely podcast, Molly Curtis, 15, said it was hard to comprehend the pain her American counterparts were going through.
“When you go to school you expect to be safe and when something like that comes into the news and people have been killed in school, it’s really shocking because we go to school every day.”
Daniel Davey, 16, said: “We want to learn by their experiences, and we want them to have an opportunity to visit us and learn by ours. Everyone believes that young people should be safe at school.”
Fran Gallelli, 15, said that while knife crime was becoming an increasing concern for young people in the UK, at least they didn’t have to worry about guns.

Ely-based police sergeant Phil Priestly, who leads the East Cambridgeshire Youth Panel, said its members had been deeply touched by the massacre.
“I remember the meeting after the shooting. We were all a bit shocked about what had happened… Everybody saw the incredible response from that community. If they can get up and do what they’ve done, we can get up and help them.”
The panel is not there to preach about American gun laws, or the Second Amendment, but to offer help and support to the Florida students, he said.
Although the fundraising target is ambitious, he hopes individuals and businesses alike will rally behind them to help them achieve their target.
A heartfelt YouTube video made by the youth panel, inviting the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students over to East Cambridgeshire, has been gaining momentum on Twitter, Sgt Priestly said.
[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KDfZ9kc4n0Y&feature=youtu.be” ]
The panel is in the process of setting up a crowd-funder for the project, and is looking for corporate sponsors and raffle prizes as well.
During yesterday’s podcast, Soham Village College students Fran and Molly, who helped set up the panel, were presented with a £50 Arbuckles meal voucher each, as well as a family ticket for four at Cineworld.
Sigma Embroidery, in Witchford, will provide special t-shirts for the youth panel to wear when out in the community.
The youth stereotype-busting East Cambs Youth Consultation Panel was formed two years ago as a means for police to engage with local youth.
The panel is looking for new members to join them. To qualify, you have to be a secondary school student either living or studying in the district.
For more information message Policing East Cambridgeshire on Facebook or tweet @CambsYouthPanel.

Ely's first vegan cafe a big hit

The queue stretched out of the door during the launch of Ely’s first dedicated vegan and gluten free cafe.

Lucy at 35 celebrated its grand opening at midday today – and within minutes the cafe was full of foodies curious to try out its colourful cuisine.

Any stereotypes of vegan food being bland or boring were quickly shattered, with dishes ranging from three bean chilli to chickpea, squash and sweet potato curry.
Not to mention the tantalising cookies, brownies and cakes – a work of wizardry, containing neither eggs, butter nor flour.

Minutes before the launch, Spotted in Ely caught up with chef Lucy Andrew, of Little Downham, and Ely businesswoman Caroline Bailey, the forces behind Lucy at 35.

Caroline said: “We are very excited and we are very proud to be bringing a dedicated vegan and gluten free cafe to Ely.
“I’ve known Ely for 40 years. Absolutely there’s been a change. Ely’s a really special city and I think it will really embrace a healthy eating lifestyle.”
Lucy, who’d been prepping dishes into the early hours, admitted having last minute jitters about the grand opening.
“Nerves are good – it shows you care a lot.”

Lucy – who herself has followed a gluten free diet for almost a decade – needn’t have worried.
The healthy, unusual dishes she’d dreamt up were an instant hit on a busy Saturday.
The old stereotype of vegans living on tofu and lentils has gone – and “if it hasn’t, it definitely will be kicked into touch”, Caroline said.
“Vegan food has a beautiful range. It’s delicious and healthy – a rainbow of colours.”
Lucy at 35 opened today at Spa Ely, 35 Forehill. For more information click here.

Upgrade to Cambs level crossing likely to cause delays

Ely travellers may face delays and disruption while work is carried out to improve a Cambridgeshire level crossing next month.

Network Rail is set to carry safety improvements at Shepreth level crossing on Station Road in May as part of the company’s railway upgrade plan.

From 10pm on Saturday, May 5, Shepreth level crossing and Station Road will be closed until 8am on Monday, May 14, so that engineers can carry out the upgrade.
The rail line will be closed on Sunday, May 6, and Sunday, May 13.
During this time, work will be carried out to replace the half barriers at the level crossing with full barriers and CCTV.
The crossing sees 166 trains a day, traveling up to 65 mph. Nearly 2300 vehicles pass over the crossing each day.
Station Road in Shepreth will be closed to all traffic from 10pm on Saturday, May 5, until 8am on Monday, May 14, while work takes place. Traffic will be diverted via the A10 and Foxton level crossing to cross the railway.
A rail replacement service will run between Letchworth Garden City and Cambridge on Sunday,  May 6 and on Sunday, May 13.
All London to Cambridge services will start and terminate at Letchworth Garden City with a train shuttle service also operating between Cambridge and Kings Lynn.
Passengers should check before they travel at National Rail inquiries.
Information about level crossings and how to use them is available here.

Three charged following four Fen ram raids

Two men and a teenage boy have been charged in relation to a series of ram raids across East Anglia.

The suspects were arrested and charged on Tuesday (April 17), following a ram raid at the Co-Op in Isleham at about 4.35am that morning.

They have each been charged with four counts of conspiracy to commit burglary.
The charges are related to ram raids at Co-Ops in Fulbourne in Cambridgeshire (April 6) and Long Bennington, Lincolnshire (March 20), as well as a One Stop Shop in Feltwell, Norfolk, on April 16, and the Isleham Co-op.
The arrests came following an investigation by the Eastern Region Special Operations Unit (ERSOU).
The trio have been remanded in custody pending a court hearing.

Cause for celebration over crane chicks

The common crane Grus grus has successfully bred for the first time at WWT Welney Wetland Centre.
The birds arrived on 21st March and to the delight of visitors, staff and volunteers they nested within sight of the visitor centre. These scarce birds are shy and secretive during the breeding season, which could be why they chose the most peaceful corner of this wetland reserve.
At four feet tall (1.2m), the adult birds can easily be seen with binoculars. The pair both take an active role in the incubation process and have been seen sharing the responsibility of brooding the eggs, swapping over every couple of hours.
The chicks are only about 6 inches tall (15cm) when they hatch, and are quickly able to walk, swim and run. Over the next 10 weeks both the parent birds will protect these precious chicks from predation and teach them how to find the food they need to grow.
Leigh Marshall, Centre Manager, said:
The area of wetlands that the cranes have chosen to nest on is less than ten years old, and was previously arable farmland. The development of this habitat was specifically for wet springs, such as the one we have experienced this year, when the Ouse Washes are storing water to protect the surrounding land and communities.
‘This most recent breeding success is adding to an increasingly impressive list of species which include the black-winged stilt and black-tailed godwit.’
Hetty Grant, Warden, said:
The cranes have done well to protect the eggs from the cold, wet weather we have had this spring. Staff and volunteers monitored the cranes and their nest, this meant we could glean insight into some of their most secret behaviours, ensure that they weren’t disturbed, and react quickly to prevent the nest from flooding.’
In recent years crane sightings have become more regular at WWT Welney as the Fens population increases and begins to expand across the region. Up to 30 cranes gathered in a post-breeding flock last autumn, feeding on the Ouse Washes right in front of the birdwatching hides. This may mean that the family group will stay close to the wetlands at WWT Welney even after the chicks have fledged.

Crane adult with chick at feet CREDIT WWT/Roger Rawson; Crane chick CREDIT WWT/Mark Hughes; Crane pair CREDIT WWT/Kim Tarsey; Crane and chick CREDIT WWT/Kim Tarsey.