Disease fight planting

Earlier this year Rotary clubs were offered Crocus Corms with the profits from their sale going to Polio Plus, the polio eradication charity run by Rotary International. Anton Rotary elected to purchase a batch and then sought a place to plant them. When Andover Hospital was suggested it seemed an obvious choice and the Club is very grateful to the hospital managers for agreeing to let us plant most of them in the bank in front of the main building, Rotary members marked out the patch and planted the corms and if all goes well every spring the display will remind everyone of the importance of eliminating polio.

Anthony Lynn, Anton Rotary Club

Tax band difficulty

I WAS very interested to see the follow-up to my banding problem, and very grateful to James Ashworth for coming out to see my cottage. Sadly most suggestions for my problem are impossible for me. Not only do age and afflictions prevent me from going round the area knocking on strangers’ doors, but I am also totally untechnological.

I was going to come to grips with the computer age when I retired from art teaching, but a disastrous timber treatment of my cellar, which migrated through the house, found me fighting a four year decontamination battle and becoming part of the chemical battle of the late 80’s. I was part of the chemical victims’ helpline, something that mattered more than anything else at that period.

I am not the only pensioner who has been told to go round knocking on doors. I was lucky enough to have a friend to explore this route for me. But what if you are the only one and a bit bedroom cottage with no mod cons upstairs in your area? Does this make it more or less fair banding?

My only addition to my cottage has been enclosing my traditional porch. The improvements that would have been required in order to qualify for a thatching grant when I moved in would have included a new staircase and I believe another outside door - the cost of which would probably have outweighed the grant. I still have my ladder-like staircase which, I fear, is not going to make possible a stairlift, so the comment from the Valuations Agency Office that they cannot review my band “when extensions or alterations have taken place...” does not apply to me.

“It is not unusual for properties of different sizes to fall in the same band,” says a VOA spokesperson, also to James Ashworth.

Isn’t that what I am complaining about as being totally unfair?

Margaret Reichlin, MacCallum Road, Upper Enham

Council views

Whilst there are decent independent councillors in local government, there are also dangers as well.

In May last year, a group called the Andover Alliance took control of Andover Town Council and won several seats on Test Valley Borough Council as well/ Within a short space of time, this group fell apart amongst bitter infighting with resignations. Two councillors were expelled for not turning up at a single meeting for six months.

The main culprits are Cllrs Rowles and Coole. The victims are the electorate and public service in general.

Those who are only interested in their own careers should leave the political stage for those who generally care about the community.

Voters also need to consider just how independent some independents really are. Have they got elected without declaring extreme views?

Richard Kidd, Texel Green, Andover

Stamp duty

2020 has been challenging and, although many people like to give generously to charity at Christmas, it may be difficult to make a donation this year.

Rather than gifting money, this Christmas you can help support the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) by collecting and donating used stamps from cards and parcels you may receive.

Your stamps will be recycled and turned into vital funds that will help RNIB make Christmas as open and inclusive as possible for children with vision impairment. By supporting RNIB with your stamps, you can help make good things happen for these children, like ensuring they receive a letter from Santa in a format they can read.

To get involved and receive a pre-paid envelope for your stamps, visit www.rnib.org.uk/stamps or call 0303 123 9999. After this all you need to do is send your stamps using RNIB’s freepost envelopes, and they’ll take care of the rest. It really is that simple!

Show your support for RNIB this Christmas and New Year by collecting stamps and help make life better for blind and partially sighted people.

Vanessa Feltz, Royal National Institute of the Blind

Mayoral address
The Mayoress and I would like to wish you all an especially happy and healthy Christmas and New Year during these difficult and unprecedented times.

As a result of Covid 19 and the reduced possibilities of face to face meetings, we were humbled to be asked to continue as Mayor and Mayoress for a consecutive second year. This being a first for Test Valley.

We really do miss meeting you all, although we did of course have the immense privilege and honour to meet many of you during our year as Deputies and first three quarters of our first mayoral year.

When government rules and guidelines have allowed we have been able to carry out a limited number of personal engagements - including remembering and honouring those who gave their lives for our country at, albeit somewhat reduced, but still special and appropriate commemorations, on both Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day.

We have been thrilled to join in numerous Zoom, Webex and Teams meetings with many organisations across the borough.

Rest assured we are still available to attend in person any gathering allowed by Covid-19 rules in place at any time – we appreciate that this may mean short notice of such meetings or regrettably their cancellation.

As well as attending virtual meetings, we have recorded a number of short video clips for members, residents and staff of various groups

On behalf of all the residents of Test Valley, enormous thanks go out to all of you who have continued to volunteer to help your local communities cope with this pandemic in so many different ways. It is no exaggeration to say that in many instances you have literally been a lifeline to individuals and have also helped many people combat dreadful loneliness. Well done!

Our grateful thanks go also to all the research scientists in England and the rest of the world who have developed vaccines in record time. My wife, Jo, and I sincerely hope it will not be too long before we can all meet safely again in person in glorious ‘3D’!

In this 75th anniversary year of the end of the Second World War, what is being asked of us now is probably nothing like what was asked of our parents, grandparents and other ancestors in the two World Wars and other conflicts.

However, no matter how true that might be, we recognise that it will be of little comfort to many of you who have had to suddenly scale down their Christmas plans, due to the recent appearance of the latest new and more virulent form of the Covid virus which has resulted in more restrictive measures being imposed upon us. Clearly Covid 19 does not celebrate or respect Christmas!

We hope that the emerging light at the end of this dark tunnel we are currently in will arrive sooner rather than later in 2021. In the meantime, please be careful and remain safe.

Cllr Martin Hatley and Mrs Joanne Hatley, Mayor and Mayoress of Test Valley

Thank you
Please may I thank everyone for the wonderful service of help through this pandemic.

Firstly, St. Marys Surgery and all the staff, receptionists, admin, nurses and GPs for an excellent service through the pandemic, and continuing, for all the work involved in constructing a special area for flu vaccinations and all the extra work to implement the Covid 19 vaccinations. Despite treating patients in the normal way with Covid safeguards.

All the paramedics and front line services who keep working through.

All the small community groups with their dedicated volunteers and leaders who are on very low salaries or hardly none at all. I have to especially recognise Ann Brown of Breathe Easy who does so much for her members voluntarily - we are very lucky.

The isolation team who collect and deliver my prescriptions for me, and others many of the volunteers are working and use their lunchtime or call at the end of their working day to deliver, it really is a life saver.

Photo2Print who kindly bring my cartridges up so that I can continue to print and helps keep me in touch with people.

Waitrose for delivering my groceries for me and always so helpful, my milk lady and postie.

Last but by no means lest the bin refuse collectors who have kept going through all the pandemic and keep smiling doing a difficult and risky job.

Wishing you all a safe and happy Christmas and a healthy New Year.

Grateful thanks to you all.

PS -  To everyone don‘t forget to stand on your doorsteps at 6.00pm on Christmas Eve. Instead of clapping the nurses ring and jingle bells.

Jill Hannington, Weyhill Road, Andover

Be kind in shops

The run-up to Christmas is always a really busy time for retail workers, shoppers can be stressed and things can boil over. This year is likely to be even more stressful as a result of recent lockdowns and worries around Coronavirus.

I want to gently remind readers to remember that shopworkers are people as well. They will be working really hard to make your shopping experience as enjoyable as possible.

Talking to our members who work in retail, I know that verbal abuse cuts deep. Many will go home after a shift upset about an unpleasant incident that took place at work that day and worried that it will happen to them again.

During this appalling pandemic we have been shocked to find that incidents of violence, threats and abuse against shopworkers have doubled. The main flashpoints are enforcing Covid rules, queueing and shortage of stock. None of these are the fault of shopworkers, but too often they end up on the wrong side of customers’ frustrations.

That is why Usdaw, the shopworkers’ trade union, is asking customers to ‘Keep your Cool’ at Christmas.

I would also like to ask readers to support our members by signing the petition to protect shopworkers at: https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/328621

With seasons greetings.

Paddy Lillis, General Secretary, Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

Support at the end

With Christmas just around the corner, this year more than ever we will want to celebrate and spend quality time with the people we love, even if that might look different than we expected. People who are approaching end of life or coping with a bereavement might find the festive season a difficult and overwhelming time of year.

More than one million people in the UK are expected to be caring for someone with a terminal illness this Christmas, during what could be their last one together. Millions of people have been bereaved since lockdown began and with every death, comes grieving friends and family.

Many readers in these situations may find themselves struggling to cope with the pressures of the festive season or feel isolated and don’t know who or where to turn to for extra support.

Marie Curie trained Support Line Officers can provide practical information on everything from managing day-to-day with a terminal illness, to planning ahead. We also offer emotional support if someone needs a safe space to talk. We have a dedicated bereavement service where callers will be paired with a volunteer, who can offer a regular listening ear, as well as a Check-in and Chat befriending service that lets you arrange a call back from our support line at a time that suits you, whether you need support or just someone to talk to.

If readers have been affected by dying, death and bereavement and need support over Christmas and New Year, then please urge them to contact Marie Curie for free on 0800 090 2309.

Alternatively, visit mariecurie.org.uk/support to chat online or to find out other ways we can support you.

The support line is also open to doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals dealing with end of life care this Christmas. Our online information platform, the Palliative Care Knowledge Zone, includes guidance for professionals on palliative care which is updated regularly.

Karen Burfitt, Marie Curie Regional Nursing Manager – South West

Listening to leavers

IT CAN be frightening and lonely for young people when they leave the care system. Many may be living on their own for the first time and often will not have a network of friends and family around to offer them support. Christmas can be a particularly difficult and isolating time for care leavers as they find themselves having to spend the festive season on their own, especially this year when COVID-19 restrictions mean it will be difficult to go out to socialise and the usual large scale Christmas dinners for care leavers will not be taking place.

However, the charity Family Action runs Listening Works, a free virtual helpline specifically for young care leavers aged 18-27 years old across the UK. We are here from 6pm to midnight every evening and from 3pm to 6pm between December 24 to January 2. So if you are a care leaver, whether you’ve got something on your mind or you just fancy a friendly chat, we’re here for you when many other services are shut or not available. You can call us on 0808 802 0222, text us on 07860 065 169 or you can have a web chat with us via our website at www.family-action.org.uk/listening-works – whatever kind of listening works for you, we are here.

Our trained volunteers can offer you someone to talk to – a listening ear, a friendly voice and a chance to talk openly about whatever’s on your mind. We also offer signposting to useful resources if any specific issues come up and information about other support out there and how to get it.

So if you are a care leaver, or know a care leaver who might benefit, please remember Listening Works is here for you and not just for Christmas. Please get in touch.

David Holmes CBE, Chief Executive, Family Action

History hit

I BUY the Advertiser for many reasons, but lately without a doubt, there is one section of the weekly paper that is worth the entire cost of it - and that is the history page as written by David Borrett.

I thought I knew our town and I guess many other Andoverians will think likewise, but David Borrett makes it informative interesting and worthwhile reading about Andover.

He is to be congratulated for his contribution, and I’m sure he must have increased sales too.

As it is often said: “May there long be ink in your pen”.

Manuela Wahnon