Heyford Singers – December 2020


A tribute to Alan Watson

It was with much sadness that we heard, on 27th October, that Alan Watson had died, after a long but determined battle with illness. We have lost someone who was very much part of this village, a contributor to many of its activities and organisations.


Alan, Pam and their two young sons moved to Nether Heyford in 1975 when Alan was appointed headteacher at Bliss Charity School, living initially in the school house before moving to Wakefield Way. Thus began a long and close relationship with Nether Heyford. He taught hundreds of children in his time there, gave them a wonderful start in life and a set of guidelines to hold them in good stead for the rest of their lives. Alan was first and foremost a teacher in the classroom, where he was happiest! At his retirement 28 years later Alan said that he had loved every moment, never had a bad day. I was privileged to work at Bliss with Alan for many years and have many happy memories of that time, becoming not only a work colleague but a close friend as well. Whilst not an overly keen coach traveller Alan did respond enthusiastically to the school’s Queen’s Golden Jubilee adventure in 2002 … to take the whole school to London for the day! Many will recall the fleet of coaches outside the school that summer morning, everyone went on the London Eye, KS1 had a river trip, KS2 toured the Globe theatre, then a sightseeing tour of the capital before a happy and weary return to base!

To many, Alan was a quiet, private, family man, but there was a very theatrical side to him as well! A regular performer in the annual village panto’s, he usually played the villain, giving his pupils the chance to boo their headteacher! When the Heyford Morris side was formed, Alan joined, generously offering the school hall as a regular practice venue. He relished the role of telling audiences in market squares and on village greens about the various dances performed. When Pam’s dance group, Queens Oak Ladies Morris, were short of a dancer Alan (aka Alana) stepped into the breach, although not necessarily wearing a dress!

Alan was a very fit and active person, he enjoyed walking in the countryside with Heyford Amblers and Bugbrooke Strollers, and at home he tended his garden and allotment, also belonging to Heyford Garden Club. He loved travel, France and Italy were favourite destinations and he and Pam spent many happy holidays there. Alan’s mind was ever active and he retained a great thirst for learning, becoming a keen member of CLASP and Whitehall archaeology group, taking part in ‘digs’, field walking and processing the finds. When Roberts Field was built Alan supervised the organisation and placing of a time capsule with the children at Bliss, connecting the present to the future.

But it is with music that I shall end this tribute. Alan loved music and especially singing. As a child he sang in his local church choir, eventually achieving the status of head choirboy at St Michael’s Church in Bournemouth. He developed a fine baritone voice which could often be heard soaring above others at school concerts, church services and other music events. Soon after it was formed Alan joined Heyford Singers and was a loyal and enthusiastic member. He thoroughly enjoyed the concerts and rehearsals, often performing solos or participating in readings and comic sketches. Even when cruel illness made him less mobile and he could not communicate as freely as he would have wished, he never gave up and continued to come to rehearsals and sing! The song quoted above was one of Alan’s favourites, he knew it by heart and sang it with heartfelt joy. It was played at his funeral, and would have been sung by Alan and the choir of Heyford Singers at the postponed concert in May. When we return to rehearsals and our next concert, we shall sing this song for Alan, sadness in our voices but in loving memory of someone who loved to sing, to share the joy of music, and feel “strong”.

Alan will be sorely missed by so many people, not least Pam, his family and his grandchildren. We, the community in Nether Heyford, are the poorer for his passing but richer for having known him. I do hope that in due course we, as a village, are able to mark Alan’s huge contribution to our school and community.

Jill Langrish


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


Allotment News – November 2020

Still much to do
There is a feeling at this time of the year that everything is finished on the allotment. The last tomatoes have been picked and any green ones are now ripening on a windowsill. The bean frames are leaning over at an alarming angle and any pods that have clung on are turning brown. The flowers that once grew amongst our veg have either faded or are, like the condemned man, awaiting the first frost. It can seem like gloom and doom arrives with the month of November. The poet Thomas Hood had this feeling when he wrote:

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, –

But I’m having none of that. If we look around us there is still so much to be done and, more importantly, so much that the allotment can give us in return.

We are currently using the empty beds to store winter hardy plants for next spring’s bedding – Wallflowers, Sweet Williams, Foxgloves and Marigolds. The green manure that we sowed as we lifted our potatoes and onions has grown vigorously and now gives our soil a warm blanket of green that will be dug in as the winter progresses. The compost we have nurtured all summer will be spread over the soil that is bare and any crops we still have in the ground like leeks and parsnips will be harvested with extra relish in the dark months ahead.

Alan Jenkins in his wonderful book Plot 29 says that he visits his allotment as to an elderly relative and is dutiful, loyal. I think of it as a friend who still needs me when the winter sun is low. The truth, of course, is that it is me who has the need – to nurture, to walk through memories. To grow.

As you will be aware if you have visited the allotments over the past year, the plots are in a good state of repair. They have been well tended, pathways have been mown and lots of produce has been grown. And how lovely to see so many flowers being cultivated amongst all that fruit and veg. However, there will be some basic maintenance tasks to carry out over the winter, including covering plots for new owners to take on in the new year. We are also keen to tidy up the area by the Watery Lane entrance so that it does not become a dumping ground but a space where manure or compost could be delivered. We are also keen to carry out some work on the large shed by the orchard, improving storage and strengthening the structure. If you are able to assist in any of these tasks we would love to hear from you and will be publishing details of when we will be starting work in the coming months.

Our thanks goes to all those people who have helped with the upkeep of the allotments over the past year, whether that be giving of time and labour so generously or donating equipment for general use. Your support is appreciated.

The Orchard
Our fruit trees have grown really well this year and the area we planted up just two years ago is beginning to look like a real orchard. I would like to think that this time next year we will be picking fruit and asking you to share in our bounty. Basic tree maintenance will continue in the winter and early spring.

Dave Musson has been keeping readers of the Prattler fully informed of developments in the wildlife area with his monthly articles, so suffice to say that the bio diversity that he and Mark and Mary Newstead have helped create in that area has enhanced what we on the allotments do, day in, day out. That is something we all benefit from.

A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com (01327 341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Lynda Eales on 01327 341707. We have a few vacant plots but at least five local residents who are keen to begin allotmenting. Rent night will be held in January – more details in the next edition of the Prattler. It is hoped that by then we can reallocate vacant plots so that everyone is able to benefit from this wonderful village resource.

Mike Langrish 

Heyford Singers – November 2020


A tribute to Joan Hanley

Nearly forty years ago on a preparatory visit to Nether Heyford before our move here (Bliss Charity School for one son, playgroup for another, and the all-important allotment) we wandered into Manor Park to have yet another look at our soon-to-be home, when we met Joan Hanley. She chatted to us, extolling the praises of this village, its friendly community and its facilities, undoubtedly a lovely place to work and bring up a young family. It was the beginning of a long friendship with this very special lady. But there is much history to Joan, and it begins many years before our first meeting …

Joan was born in December 1925 in the small Yorkshire village of Bubwith, where she later attended the local primary school, before moving onto a girls’ grammar school in Selby. Although Joan’s father and brother both enjoyed singing, the “cronky” piano with its untuned sound was the only instrument in the house. However Joan showed an early interest in learning to play the piano, received lessons from the village church organist and achieved Grade 8 before going off to train as a teacher in Ripon, studying music and history. It was here that Joan’s organ playing moved to a higher level, taught as she was by Dr Moody, organist of Ripon Cathedral. For two years she was the resident college organist, and on one occasion was invited to play the Cathedral organ for a special event!

Her teaching career began in 1945 at a primary school in Fulford, York where she taught for seven years, now also taking on the permanent post of church organist in her home village. In 1954 Joan applied for her third teaching post,”a first assistant (female)” at Willow Park Junior in Pontefract, which had 500 pupils and was the largest primary school in the West Riding. She got the job and worked alongside Arthur, who also taught at the same school. They married on 27th December 1954. The ensuing years saw Joan taking on more responsibility for music in school, playing the organ and accompanying choirs. She and Arthur joined Pontefract Choral Society, soprano and tenor respectively, and it was here that they developed their love, and experience, for great choral works as well as attending numerous music concerts.

When their daughters, Judith and Pamela arrived, Joan gave up teaching to be a stay at home mum. But as ever music teachers were much revered and Joan was frequently invited back into the classroom, to take music lessons, begin recorder groups, form school choirs and play for assemblies! Joan’s dedication to music in children’s lives was strong and varied! On one interesting occasion there was an evening’s entertainment of Sooty and Sweep with the ever-popular Harry Corbett; when the accompanist failed to turn up for the show Joan stood in at a moment’s notice – another musical accolade!

In 1974 Arthur took up a job with the Northamptonshire Inspectorate and the family relocated to this county, moving into the newly created Manor Park in February 1975 where extensive floods greeted them on their first day! It was to be a very long, settled and happy time for Joan and her family. She taught at Grange Junior School for ten years, and also at the Saturday morning Music School in Daventry. I am sure that there are many people reading this who will fondly remember their Saturday morning music classes with Joan, recorder playing, singing, etc. As a family we were always so grateful for Joan accompanying our son Jeremy on the piano and practising with him for his violin exams, his success in part attributable to her encouragement… and patience!

During my years of teaching at Bliss School I hold lovely memories of Joan playing the church organ for numerous carol concerts, leavers’ services and Harvest Festivals, as well as the occasions when I took my class of little people down to the church and she would let them press the organ keys or pedals! Her passion for music, and her love of children was very evident in her kindness, her delightful sense of humour and the ever-present twinkle in her eye. There are families who have christened their young children, walked down the aisle to be married, or bade farewell to those who have died – all to the musical accompaniment of Joan playing the organ in our local village church.

In 2003, shortly after Heyford Singers was formed, Joan joined the choir as an alto, where she remained a loyal and valued member until age and mobility applied their inevitable restraints. Her legacy with the Singers will live on in every new member who joins “ for the love of music and singing”.

Joan’s last few years were spent in a local care home, until she died in August at the grand age of 94! Her funeral, which was a beautiful and very personal occasion, taken by Reverend Stephen Burrow and Sue Morris, reflected all the aspects of music which Joan so loved – Jesu, Joy of man’s desiring (played on the organ), If with all your hearts (from Mendelssohn’s choral work, Elijah) and My Favourite Things (from The Sound of Music). We will miss Joan, her smile and sense of humour, her love of children, and the musical accompaniment that she gave to so many of our lives. We are all the richer for having known this lovely lady.

I would also like to dedicate this article, and indeed this issue of the Prattler, to all those friends and family members, within our village community, who have died in recent months. Sadly the restrictions of Covid 19 have prevented us sharing the grief, the tears and the hugs that we would normally give so freely. But they all live on in our hearts and leave us, each and every one, with such precious memories.

Take care as we enjoy the beauty of these late autumn days and we look towards the hopes of a new year. Stay healthy and content, take care of one another, and may music feature somewhere in your life every day.

Jill Langrish


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


Allotment News – October 2020

Continuing a legacy
It was with great sadness that we learnt of Sue Corner’s untimely death at the end of September.

Allotmenteers will recall that her illness was the reason we contacted them in the middle of last month to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the allotments. Sue and her husband Bill have, over the last few years, done so much to help regenerate the allotments and create our community orchard, jam patch, flower bed and wildlife area. We did not want that legacy to be jeopardised. The response from plot holders was most encouraging and offers of help, to particularly keep up the maintenance work carried out by Bill, were plentiful. Sadly Sue’s illness progressed much faster than anticipated hence this sad news.

Sue wanted the allotments (and the village – through the development of the Neighbourhood Plan) to develop and grow sustainably. I’d like to think that we will continue that work. And what a fitting tribute for a very special lady.

Covid continued …
I have been determined to avoid that subject in these articles but a piece I read in my morning newspaper has prompted me to sing again the virtues of growing your own fruit and veg and getting outside in the fresh air – whatever the weather. “Bundle up and embrace an alfresco winter” ran the headline. So I reckon that creating a safe space between people, coupled with all that fresh air and exercise is achieved pretty well on an allotment. Added to which you get exercise and grow stuff to eat. If you bring something warm to wrap up in, along with a hearty snack and warm drink, we even have a welcoming outdoor seating area – where you can of course socially distance. What is there not to like?

As the growing season comes to an end next spring and summer seem to stretch far into the distance. There is however, still much to do. Preparation of ground and basic maintenance makes work in the new growing year so much easier. How about building a couple of compost bins and putting all that green waste we create to good use. It always strikes me that whilst it is good to see recycling of green waste in the council bins, how much more productive to use that to build up the fertility of our own soil. There is lots of guidance on how to successfully compost your waste. Readers of the Prattler may recall that several years ago we actually ran a series of articles on this very subject. They are all still available.

In addition there are crops that can be grown throughout the winter, often without too much protection. I’ll go into more detail on that subject in next month’s article.

Finally, and of particular importance to those who think that they couldn’t/can’t manage a whole allotment don’t despair. A number of plot holders have rationalised their holding and covered some areas with plastic sheeting or a landscape fabric, cultivating just what they can manage at the moment. When they are ready to extend their growing again they will have clean areas of soil to work. Alternatively, a number of plot holders have turned part of their plots over to flowers. Dahlias grow well on the allotments and have looked quite stunning this year. Other perennial plants like lavender, rosemary or sage don’t mind a bit of neglect, come back every year and smother weed. We have even created a rhubarb hedge on the community jam patch. It just looks after itself and gives an abundant crop every year.

A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com (01327 341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

Heyford Singers – October 2020


In the last Prattler I posed the question, “What do you think is likely to be the nation’s favourite film theme?” The result was, by a huge margin, the theme to Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. It is a hauntingly beautiful piece of music, composed and conducted by John Williams with Itzhak Perlman playing the violin.

The film is based on the Booker prize winning book published in 1982, written by Thomas Keneally and originally titled Schindler’s Ark. It tells the story of Oskar Schindler, a member of the Nazi party who became an unlikely hero by saving the lives of more than a thousand Polish Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his factories. A non-fiction novel that is at times unbearingly moving as it describes actual people and places, with fictional events, dialogue and scenes added by the author.

Poldek Pfefferberger, a Holocaust survivor, initially inspired Thomas Keneally to write the book and then following its success, used his friendship with Steven Spielberg’s mother, to eventually persuade the renowned film director to tell Schindler’s story on screen, and portray the horrors of Hitler’s attempts to make Europe judenfrei. The result was a film that almost “stunned’ the cinema going public . Its bleakness was emphasised by being shot primarily in black and white, with one particularly traumatic scene where a red coat is used to distinguish a little girl caught up in the liquidation of the Krakow ghetto.

John Williams composed the music for the film, and it is reported that he was so overwhelmed by the film that to write a suitable score would be too challenging for him. He said to Spielberg, “You need a better composer than I am for this film”, to which the director responded, “ I know. But they’re all dead!” How fortunate the world of music is that John Williams took on the task of composing such a beautiful and haunting soundtrack.

Like many other people I clearly remember going to see the film when it was first released in 1993. When the credits rolled and the violin played its solo piece, we saw the faces of the real people who had featured in the events depicted in the film. The entire audience sat in silence for what seemed like an eternity, no one wanting or willing to break the spell of what we had watched and experienced together. It was, and still is, one of the most moving and collective responses that I have ever known.

A few years ago we went, during a cold bleak winter, to Krakow and amongst several other memorial sites, toured one of the factories owned by Oskar Schindler. A visit to the sites of the Auschwitz and Birkenau concentration camps was very emotional, an important pilgrimage towards a greater understanding of such dark days in our recent history.

Even today and many years later, I can never hear the music of Schindler’s List, without it evoking all those memories and experiences, the places, the people, the book, the film.

Such is the power of music

Take care as we enjoy the beauty of these autumn days and we look towards a new year lives. Stay healthy and content, take care of one another, and may music feature somewhere in your life every day.

Jill Langrish


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


Allotment News – September 2020

Community Use
It has been so good to welcome villagers to the allotments. They are often residents who have never visited the site or who came along when it was an overgrown wilderness. Their comments and general surprise at how productive and attractive the allotments look have been most encouraging. One long standing resident of Heyford said to me the other day: “Last time I came here it was a jungle and all a bit depressing really. Now look at it! The allotment holders must be very proud of what has happened”.

The sharing barrow in the community picnic area has been used by allotmenteers to off-load excess produce (particularly courgette’s). It is good to share and exchange what would otherwise be wasted. Even more encouraging, has been the increasing number of allotmenteers and villagers who have taken the opportunity to cut some of the beautiful flowers on offer. Virtually all of these flowering plants originated from donations, so many thanks if you were able to give us something earlier in the year. When you come to tidy up your seed box in the winter or begin dividing plants, do spare us a thought. Those items could be the basis of next year’s bounty.

If you are picking flowers, try to use a pair of scissors or snips and, if time allows, give the plants a drink, using the watering cans we have left out in that area. A water cistern can be found nearby.

Soft fruit in our community fruit patch has been better than we anticipated, particularly as the bushes and canes were only cast-offs and did not look too promising when we planted them during the winter. Do feel free to pick fruit from this area if it looks ripe. We know for a fact that many villagers have already used this resource to make jam, fill a freezer box or even produce gin!

Allotments are cool?
We recently dug up the early potatoes on our own allotment, enlisting the help of our grandchildren. There is something quite magical about a child’s face when they unearth a large clutch of potatoes from the soil. For them it must be like finding buried treasure. As we finished and surveyed our haul, Nick, our eldest grandchild said: “You know grandad, allotments are really cool aren’t they?” I gave him a hug, there and then.

People used to have this stereotypical view that allotments were the preserve of old men in tweed jackets and flat caps. Those wise souls of more mature years are still a vital part of the growing community, but as Nick so wisely noted, allotments are “cool” and have attracted a far wider group of people. This has become so obvious in Nether Heyford, for our allotments are now tended by people of all ages and from all sorts of backgrounds. They have all discovered the joy of growing their own fruit, veg and flowers and long may it continue. Perhaps, as I approach another big birthday, I may even need dig out my tweeds and flat cap!

Despite the ridiculously hot weather we’ve experienced during much of the summer, the crops on the allotment have held up well – due in no small part to all the watering that allotment holders have done. However, we have found that cropping has advanced, in many cases by as much as a month. We are already picking autumn fruiting raspberries from our own allotment and sweetcorn is in danger of “going-over” if we don’t get a move on! I suspect that is a trend all gardeners will have to come to terms with as our planet warms.

Fruit Trees
A recent inspection and some routine maintenance of the fruit trees in our community orchard has revealed that all the trees, planted just eighteen months ago, are thriving. Earlier infestations by aphids have all but disappeared – largely due to the increasing number of predators like ladybirds and wasps. The excessive use of pesticide just isn’t necessary if you wait for nature to take its course. New growth on the trees is strong and they are beginning to take on that classical shape which should herald good harvests in the coming years.

A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com (01327 341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

Heyford Singers – September 2020

For the last seven years I have written articles for the Prattler and each September the focus has been the same, the joy and anticipation of the autumn return to rehearsals for Heyford Singers members, and for the return to clubs and other organisations for lots of other folk. Sadly this year it is not the case, for whilst the enthusiasm is there, the unpredictability of Covid 19, our small indoor spaces and the vulnerability of participants, has led committees to be understandably cautious and to delay their return until 2021. Singing in groups is high on the list of restricted activities, so whilst it is good that children will be going back to school this month, the thought that there will be no rousing choruses of “Big Red Combine Harvester”, throughout the country, is sad.

But music continues in all our lives. It is a means of relaxation, a relief from stress, it provides skills to be practised and shared, and above all it gives us enormous pleasure and enjoyment. We were fortunate in the last few weeks to acquire a Sonos speaker, and “Alexa” has set up permanent residence in our home to the delight of the grandchildren. One asks her for yet another joke, another for yet another rendition of “Wheels on the Bus”, and a third for Radio 1, Radio 1 and even more Radio 1! We laugh and enjoy this shared experience, even when we mistakenly find ourselves listening to Radio Malawi or the Breakfast Show from Nova Scotia! However when the little people have gone we have found even greater pleasure in creating our own playlists, exploring musical memories, our wideranging musical tastes, plus favourite songs. We may not have managed our Desert Island Disc choices (despite several attempts to whittle the number down below fifty!) but we have successfully, and very enjoyably, created themed listening choices – instrumental jazz, political folk songs, UK musicals, Bernstein, film themes, etc and we haven’t even touched on classical music, the Beatles and the 1960s, music to dance to, or opera yet! Great fun and it shows that music is alive and well in this household.

Quiz question. What is your favourite film theme tune?
What do you think is likely to be the nation’s favourite choice for this No 1 spot?
Film themes was an interesting play list for us to consider, and it unwittingly coincided with the Radio Times vote for the nations all-time favourite film theme. Will it be ET, Jurassic Park, Schindler’s List, The Dambusters, Titanic, Harry Potter , Lord of the Rings?

I shall reveal the Answer in the October issue for those who don’t have the Radio Times.

Take care as these summer days gently ease towards autumn and we look towards a new year and new beginnings. May the days be warm and sunny, may you stay healthy and content, and may music feature somewhere in your every day.

Jill Langrish


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


Revitalising the Allotments – July & August 2020

Revitalising the allotments


I was pleased to report, in last month’s edition of the Prattler, that allotment holders had been generously sharing their surplus plants with other allotment holders. That has continued throughout June with more and more excess being offered. What a generous group of people we have in our growing community. I am sure that when excess produce is forthcoming later in the season, there will be fruit and veg to hand out too. I won’t even attempt to guess how many oversized courgette’s are likely to appear! An old wheelbarrow now sits proudly in the picnic area and hopefully by the time this article goes to print, there will be a sign attached directing you to place all surplus items there.

It has been encouraging to see more and more villagers making use of the picnic area. It is a tranquil place to sit and while away some time.

We are also encouraging people to visit our community flower patch (clearly signposted) and, if they so wish, help themselves to some cut flowers. Cutting carefully should enable everyone to have a bunch – so bring a pair of scissors or secateurs. Sweet peas benefit especially from regular cutting and will continue to flower all season if that happens. Later in the year we are hopeful that we may have sufficient soft fruit to offer to you as well. Just keep an eye on the notice boards at the entrances to the allotments and on the large shed in the middle of the site.

A spare watering can be found by the sweet pea wigwam, so if you are cutting flowers you might also give the plants in that area a drink. Every little helps.

Links to the past

We were very pleased to accept a donation of old tools from two allotment holders who found them at the back of their parents’ garden shed. They’d once rented an allotment in the village and it was wonderful to think that the tools were “coming home” and again being put to use. If you are a new allotmenteer or just want to make use of some unusual hoes and hand cultivators, let us know. They are stored in the community shed and available to borrow.

If you too have any unwanted garden tools let us know; someone can probably
make good use of them.


One of the joys of working on the allotments is the amount of wildlife you see. Even if we do seem to spend a lot of time and effort protecting crops from greedy pigeons and butterflies anxious to lay their eggs on our tasty greens, the benefits from creating a rich and diverse eco-system far outweigh any small loss of produce. It has been wonderful to see more and more people visiting the allotment wildlife area, created and curated by Dave and Pauline Musson and Mark and Mary Newstead.

An indication of the richness of our eco-system has been the presence of more frogs, toads and hedgehogs on the allotment. They are beneficial visitors to allotments and gardens, hoovering up large quantities of slugs and snails. A note of caution however: try to avoid using larger gauge netting to protect crops as it can snag and trap hedgehogs. One conscientious allotment holder recently spent an hour disentangling one of our prickly friends from a piece of netting before taking him off to the vet! I am pleased to report that the hedgehog made a full recovery and when set free, limped off across the allotment site to find more slimy treats for dinner.

A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Bill Corner (sue.corner@sky.com 01327 342124), Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish langrish_heyford@hotmail.com 01327341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.

Allotment Holders
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Sue Corner on 01327 342124 or Lynda Eales on 01327 341707.

Mike Langrish 

I believe in the life enhancing virtues of
pure earth, clean air and blue sky.
Octavia Hill – founder of the National Trust

Heyford Singers – July & August 2020


Quiz question
When did the song above hit the No 1 spot in the music charts?

I think most people reading this article would agree that if a lockdown had to be imposed, there is no better place to experience it than by living in Nether Heyford. The ready access to beautiful open countryside which surrounds the village, the large village green and open spaces within the area, have enabled folk to enjoy exercise and being outdoors whilst appreciating nature in all its glory as the seasons have changed. Praise too to the local shops which, in times of queues and shortages, have kept the local community continually supplied with food and other goods, whilst the take-aways and book swaps offered by the pubs have provided relief and pleasure.

As the lockdown measures gradually ease it has been a delight to see small groups of pre-school children walking around the village, and the quieter, but still noticeable sounds of children back at Bliss School. The Pizza Van is ‘back in town’, hungry customers patiently waiting for their orders whilst they sit and play on the green, and there is now a steady march of twos or fours towards the tennis courts and playing fields.

In the days and weeks to come we will hopefully see more signs of this cautious awakening, the church and chapel offering the opportunity for quiet reflection and prayer, if not yet large group gatherings or celebratory events, additional sporting activities at the playing fields, and maybe pints enjoyed in pub gardens!

Our little village hall, both a visual and metaphorical hub for the local community still remains closed… except for the wonderful work of volunteers who gather there weekly to sort and distribute food boxes to older and less mobile people in the village. They have, and still continue to do, a sterling job – thank you to each and every one!

I do miss the ‘business’ of the village hall, the full car park evidence that inside people were socialising, exercising, honing their skills and learning – W I meetings, bowling, yoga, Pilates, and taekwondo, gardening and flower arranging, sewing and patchwork, singing, films, quizzes and parties. Our local meeting place is very much the centre of village life and all that we enjoy. Sadly it has been unable to bask in our appreciation of its value, now and in years past, as the 60th anniversary celebrations also fell victim to the Covid 19 lockdown. But I have no doubt that Alwyne (Chairman) and all members of the village hall committee and friends are working hard to ensure that as soon as it is safe and wise to do so, we may again enjoy all the benefits the village hall offers.

Quiz question answer. This was the No 1 hit, and best-selling single, when the village hall was opened on 8th May 1960 by Lord Spencer, and maybe danced to at celebrations that evening or weekend. It remained at the No 1 spot for 7 weeks!

Appropriately now I give you our village hall Chairman’s choice of music should she be cast far away on a desert island, where there is no village hall, no nasty virus, but also no community to be part of!

Thank you Alwyne

I wish everyone a safe and sunny summer, which I hope will slowly and carefully return us to our busy vibrant community!

Desert Island Discs – your choices – Alwyne Wilson:

I usually prefer classical music, especially baroque, but at the moment whilst I’m wading through an extremely tedious and time-consuming list of admin tasks for my family, I feel I need some diverting company – hence this list of vocalists:

Mamma Mia! Of course.
Aled Jones – I’ve been a fan since his choirboy days.
Barbara Dickson – always wished I could sing like her.
Katherine Jenkins – ditto –
Hayley Westenra – ditto – (In my dreams I can sing both soprano and alto)
Alfie Boe – some friends of mine met him many years ago and became friends. I feel therefore I have an affinity with him.
Neil Diamond – Fantastic! Makes an old lady very happy.

Jill Langrish


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.


Heyford Singers – Desert Island Discs – June 2020

Desert Island Discs – your choices

Below is another selection of favourite music chosen by one of our readers. We
thoroughly enjoyed reading and listening to this choice, so thank you Mick.

Jill Langrish

Mick Watts’ Desert Island Discs – May 2020

I never realised quite how difficult it would be to choose just 8 pieces of music – almost every piece brings back memories of certain times and places. I have chosen 8 classical pieces and 8 more popular compositions and as the choices are so tenuous have placed them in alphabetical order. If pushed for just eight I would choose those with the *.

*Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 in C Minor
Abba – I have a Dream
*Carly Simon – No Secrets
Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 4 in G Major
*Dire Straits – So Far Away
Dire Straits – Brothers in Arms
*Joaquin Rodrigo – Concierto de Aranjuez
Dire Straits – Money for Nothing
*Ludovico Einaudi – Divenire
Dire Straits – Sultans of Swing
*Steeleye Span – Thomas the Rhymer
Fairport Convention – Sir Patrick Spens
*The Who – Won’t Get Fooled Again
Ludovico Einaudi – Andare
*Wagner – Overture to Tanhäuser
Ludovico Einaudi – Oltremare

Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 3 in C Minor is arguably the best piano composition of all time. Such virtuosity required to play. First heard it live at the Birmingham Symphony Hall, conducted and played by Vladimir Ashkenazy. A bit disappointing really as he was seemingly not able to give his full attention to either the orchestra or the piano and his antics rather distracted from the overall performance. But then, quite recently, I heard both piano concertos 3 and 4 played by Krystian Zimerman with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein, which were absolutely sublime and would be an extremely hard act to follow. Those are the recordings I have chosen.

On the other page so to speak is the contemporary concert pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi. I have several of his CD’s and had tried, with limited success, to replicate some of his compositions on our piano. My excuse is that he must have a very large finger span. Anyway, I went to the Birmingham Town Hall to see his concert with my elder daughter and having fought our way through a jam packed Christmas market only just made it in time. It was as expected a brilliant performance and it was just as if his hands were hovering over the keyboard yet this magnificent sound was produced. I would need to play 8 hours a day for 10 years of lockdown to come close.

What can I say? Virtuoso guitar performances by Mark Knoppler. Just magical. We used to put the Brothers in Arms audio cassette on when we travelled down to Devon when the girls were quite young. They always said “can we have the Whoo Hoo song” (The Walk of Life) and they laughed and giggled for ages. It certainly delayed the cries of “are we nearly there yet”. With so many people in enforced isolation the song I have chosen could be rather apt but the Brothers in Arms track would be just great as a finale.

The sheer volume generated by The Who is almost enough to blow your brains out. A classic.

And the Overture to Tanhäuser by Wagner always makes my neck hairs stand up.

Last year we went to The Stables at Wavendon near Milton Keynes to see the 50th Anniversary tour of the reformed Steeleye Span, wondering if they may have lost a bit of magic. We need not have worried as they were great. Jessie May Smart, the classically trained violinist in their latest line up brought a new dimension to the band and harmonised well with Maddy Prior. Again a difficult choice of their repertoire – The Wife of Ushers Well and 700 Elves just losing out.

Carly Simon is in another class act – she had such a vocal range. A recent TV programme entitled ‘No Secrets’ was indeed apt and showed that she certainly led a full, uninhibited life as many of her songs portray. Her voice is still fantastic.

Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez is for me one of the most relaxing guitar pieces ever. You can close your eyes and be transported.

Mick Watts


If you would like to find out more, visit the Heyford Singers page or our website:


 alternatively come along to one of our rehearsals in Nether Heyford Village Hall.