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Christmas church services

IMG_0871Come and join us at our Christmas services
Sunday 20 December 6.30pm: Carols by candlelight
Thursday 24 December 10.30pm: Christmas Eve Holy Communion
Friday 25 December 10.30am: Christmas Day Family service with nativity tableau. Children bring your favourite presents to show to us.

Photo courtesy of Shell Elson

SYDLING ST NICHOLAS PARISH COUNCIL – Minutes of meeting on 30 November 2015



 Members Present: Mr C Legg (Chairman), Mrs P Davies (Vice Chairman), Mr C Fowler, Mrs D Tucker

County councillor, Mrs J Haynes, district councillor, Mrs M Penfold and Mrs H Baird were also present.

Mrs Haynes gave a summary of some of the major developments for the County Council. Due to a budget reduction and increasing costs for children in care, the council was undertaking a review of the Youth Service, including youth clubs.  These were currently underused and it was felt that it would be more effective to place youth workers within schools, as well as taking other initiatives that would be a more productive use of money.

Mrs Haynes also referred to the shortage of care workers for older people, which meant that there were severe delays in discharging people from hospital, who required assistance at home. The council was looking at ways in which more people could be attracted into care work, including providing a career path for school leavers.

Finally, Mrs Haynes explained that work was ongoing with other local authorities within the county of Dorset to see if services could be provided more efficiently and effectively through more joint working arrangements.

Mrs Penfold advised the meeting that the district council had received a grant of £1.5 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund towards the costs of the Shire Hall refurbishments. Once the work is completed the visitor attraction will be operated by a trust.

Mrs Baird attended the meeting to give an update on the defibrillator. She said that it had now arrived and would shortly be installed outside the village hall, just to the right of the bench.  A training session had been arranged for 2.00pm on Saturday, 12 December, which anyone was welcome to attend.  The parish councillors voiced their appreciation for all the hard work undertaken by the Bairds.  Including a donation from Sharp, the fund now stood at nearly £4,000, which would more than cover the cost of the equipment and associated training and would provide for a replacement in four years time.

Apologies for absence

Apologies were received from Mrs Letten.

 Declarations of interest

There were no declarations of interest.

 Minutes of last meeting

The minutes of the meeting held on 21/9/15 were agreed subject to the inclusion of an item under Any Other Business regarding the necessity of clearing the river in East Street.

 Matters arising from the minutes

(item 4) Discussions were ongoing with regard to cutting the hedge adjacent to the play area.

(item 4) Village website: the clerk was asked to arrange a meeting with interested parties to move this matter forward.

(item 6) Telephone box: the clerk had contacted BT who agreed to paint the telephone box next year.

  1. Finance

5.1 Bank balances

Treasurers Account (including £3790 for defibrillator account): £13763

Play Area account: £689

5.2 Invoices and receipts

Cheques for the following were signed at the meeting:

  • mower petrol: £47
  • hire of village hall: £00

5.3 Budget 2016/17

A spreadsheet showing income and expenditure for 2015/16 and projected spend for 2016/17 had previously been circulated. Following some discussion, it was agreed to keep the precept at the same level as this year, for 2016/17.

Whilst discussing any required repairs or projects for next year, it was agreed some money should be set aside for the provision of some picnic benches and suitable hardstanding within the Spinney.


  1. Planning matters

6.1 WD/CA/15/00361, 1 Burnt Barn: fell 1 field maple. The council was advised that this application had been withdrawn.

6.2 WD/D/15/002517, 24, Three Acres: replace conservatory with extension.  No objection.


  1. Any other business

7.1 The grit bin going up the hill towards the A37 had recently been damaged by the council, whilst trimming the verges. The clerk was asked to contact the council to seek compensation for a replacement bin.

7.2 There had been a number of complaints about excessive mud being deposited on the Dorchester Road by farm vehicles. The chairman would speak to those responsible.

7.3 Large sign at Marrs Cross inscribed ‘Sydling”. It was not known the purpose of this new sign and who had erected it.  The chairman agreed to make enquiries.

7.4 It was noted the pothole in the High Street outside Palmers Cottage had still not been filled. The clerk was asked to follow this up with the council.

 Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the parish council will be held on Monday 1 February 2016, at 7.00pm, in the village hall.





The final meeting of the calendar year on 8 December took in a festive spirit when, in addition to mulled wine and mince pies (courtesy of, respectively, Nick Hopkin and Suzanne Legg) and a seasonal raffle, Lele Wade, one of our long serving members, had kindly agreed to show members how to make floral Christmas decorations using readily available foliage, flowers and fruit.  On arrival we were greeted by a display of several superb specimens which (in true Blue Peter fashion) she had put together earlier in the day, most of which she kindly donated as raffle prizes inspiring a marked increase in the sale of tickets.


Lele began with an amusing short talk on how she became interested in flowers in her native Denmark, an involvement that continued throughout her later life travels with husband Chris. Step by step, she built up the model on an oasis, which was mounted on a small turntable, utilising leaves, sticks of wood, moss, flowers and fruit, much of which she had collected whilst walking in the village.  Quite quickly it seemed that the oasis disappeared and morphed into a stunning display set off by inclusion of three candles mounted into spiked holder.  It then became a star in the larger than usual draw.


After some lively questions and answers, tickets were drawn from the box under the supervision of Jane Warren, where it seemed that the prizes were shared reasonably equally by members, before Phil led a vote of thanks to Lene for a most enjoyable and instructive evening ,which was endorsed by everyone present.


The next meeting is to be held at 7-30 pm on Tuesday 12 January 2016 when our speaker will be Malcolm Mills from The Castle Gardens group will tell us about ‘Flowers that changed the world’.




An impressive 31 Society members gathered at the Village Hall for the first ‘indoor’ meeting since April.  The Chairman thanked them all for their support and outlined the revised programme for the remainder of the membership year to March 2016.

16 October

7-30pm Opening of Castle Gardens (both Brimsand & Poundbury

were already open)

3 and 5 November       

Gold Club Open days at respectively at Brimsmore and Poundbury, 11am to 3pm

10 November

Gold Club Open Day at Castle Gardens 10am to 4pm

Society evening meeting in the Village Hall at 7-30pm when

Stephen Griffiths, Curator of Abbotsbury’s Sub Tropical Gardens, will give a talk entitled ‘ Abbotsbury’ – The Past, Present and Future’

8 December

Demonstration of Christmas floral decorations by Society member Lene Wade.  This event will include mulled wine and mince pies, plus a seasonal raffle

12 January

‘Flowers that changed the World’ by Malcolm Mills of Castle Gardens

9 February

Visit to Robin and Gerry Maclachlan’s famous snowdrop collection at Pound Cottage

8 March

Annual General Meeting


The highlight of the evening was a most informative and enjoyable talk by Lucy Simpson, manager of the Gardens Group’s Poundbury operation.  Lucy, whose parents live in the Sydling and are staunch members of the Society, had worked at all three of the Group’s gardens.  She has an honours degree in Agriculture and Countryside management, a national certificate in Horticulture and also a gold medal in Retail Plant Care.


Lucy provided us with information on the selection and care of each of the impressive display of plants she had brought with her, including her ‘top five’ of two types of orchid, azaleas, poinsettias and cyclamen.  Her tips embraced positioning, temperature, watering, re-potting, feeding and propagation of all the plants and concluded with demonstrations on gift selection and presentation as well as superb wrapping and ribbon bow making. .After a lively question and answer session, Lucy was given a very well deserved round of applause by members, all of whom agreed that it had been a most successful evening.




The speaker at the Society’s second meeting of the winter season was Stephen Griffiths, Curator of Abbotsbury’s Sub-Tropical Garden.  Stephen, who is a well-travelled author and garden tour leader and a member of numerous professional bodies, including a RHS Plant Committee and the International Camellia Society, arrived at Abbotsbury just after the massive damage caused by the great storm of 1990.  His brief on taking up the appointment was to oversee a new ten-year development plan designed revive the historical garden to improve plant content and infrastructure so as to enhance tourism aspects.


His photo laden presentation began with a brief history of Abbotsbury which had been established adjacent to a grand seaward facing house built by the Fox-Strangeways family (subsequently the Earls of Ilchester) in 1765, who remained in residence until 1913, when the house was destroyed by a fire, after which the family returned to their former (and current) seat at Melbury House.  However the old wall garden was maintained and remains in family ownership.


Stephen explained that the wooded and sheltered 20 hectare site has its own micro climate in which more delicate plants than are usually grown in southern England can flourish, and that these which would otherwise need greenhouses can be grown outside.  These factors lend support to the formal and informal gardens, as well as the comprehensive woodland walks and walled garden.  After an informative question and answer interval, a vote of thanks proposed by the Chairman was supported and applauded by the 31 members who attended.  Jenny Hopkin then outlined arrangements for the 9 February 2016 visit to Robin and Gerry Maclachlan’s snowdrop collection and asked members to indicate preferences for ‘group block timings’ for the conducted tours.


The next meeting will be held on 8 December at 7-30pm in the Village Hall when Society member Lene Wade will give a tutorial on Christmas floral decorations.  The occasion will also include mulled wine and mince pies, plus a Christmas Raffle (donations as Prizes will be gratefully accepted by Jenny Hopkin (01300 341252).

Gallery Photos

cartwright dec-jan-05-more-152 Snow goose? Bluetit checks out a new pad