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Rhianne Parkes, looking radiant on her wedding day.

If there are any quiz lovers who live in or happen to be visiting the town of Ross-on-Wye on Sunday, 13th June, why not head to the White Lion Inn at Wilton ready to pit your wits against other quiz lovers at 7pm?

The quiz and raffle are being held as Landlady, Jacqui's daughter Rhianne is taking part in the Adidas 5K Women's Challenge on 5th September, to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association because . . .

At the age of 12, after enjoying a September evening with friends, Rhianne woke up the next morning with a pins and needles kind of feeling in both feet. Before long that feeling spread to just under her chest, leaving her tetraplaegic.

The visiting doctor sent her immediately to the hospital in Swindon, where it was thought she may have a brain tumour and that she might die. Now MRI scans were not readily available at that time, but the Radcliffe Hospital had a scanner so Rhianne was sent there, where it was discovered she had a four inch blood clot on her spine. She was operated on that night and Jacqui was told that Rhianne might not walk again.

Rhianne never entertained that thought for a second, however, and when it was put to her that she might spend the rest of her life in a wheelchair, her response was, 'No I'm not!'

Stoke Mandeville Hospital, who specialize in spinal injuries heard of Rhianne's case and found a bed for her there, giving her six weeks for movement to start before fearing the worst. Everyday, visiting family and friends would talk to Rhianne, constantly telling her to wiggle her toe. She even enjoyed a visit from Sir Jimmy Saville whilst she was there. Three weeks later, she managed to wiggle a toe on her left foot and she gradually regained movement on her left side, but nothing was happening on her right side.

One day, Rhianne's aunt and uncle visited and when Jacqui and Aunty went off for a short break, her uncle, who wasn't a very 'touchy' person, patted her on the right foot and Rhianne managed to move her toe on that side. Her uncle was so pleased, the family story goes that he thought it might be a good idea to sell his urine down at the local Con Club as Holy water! Slowly, Rhianne's right leg came back to life and by December, she was allowed home at weekends.

Rhianne's school offered to adapt their building to accommodate Rhianne, but this proved unnecessary. After Christmas, Rhianne practised walking, beginning with standing in a frame as her long time in bed made her legs feel weak and heavy. After lots of physio and practice, Rhianne was discharged the following February.

With lots of care and physio from the hospital, love and help from her family and her refusal to believe she would never walk again, Rhianne has led a normal life and she says she just wants to give something back. The 5K challenge is apparently just a warm up for, awe inspired by the London Marathon, eventually, Rhianne would like to take part herself one day. Now I think that's rather special, don't you?

If you would like to help Rhianne with her fund raising, the quiz at the White Lion is open to everybody. (Teams of no more than six persons though, please.) There is no entrance fee, however, donations to the cause are very welcome. We look forward to seeing you there.


Police are appealing for any witnesses to come forward after a woman died in a road traffic collision that occurred near Ross-on-Wye.

On Saturday, 29th May, at approximately 12:20pm, officers attended a collision on the A449 at Old Gore, Ross-on-Wye, which involved two cars, a Peugeot 206 and a Ford Focus. A woman, who was driving the Peugeot 206, was seriously injured and taken by air ambulance to Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, with life threatening injuries of which she later died. The three occupants of the Focus, a man, woman and child, were taken to Hereford A& E with minor injuries and later discharged.

A West Mercia Police spokesperson said, 'Officers are investigating the circumstances surrounding the collision and are appealing for any witnesses travelling on or in the vicinity of the A449 at that time to come forward.'

Anyone who has any information about this incident should contact West Mercia Police on 0300 333 3000 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.


Further to Thursday's poll to elect a new Town Councillor for Ross West Ward, the results are as follows:.

Caroline Utting - liberal Democrats - 345 votes
Mrs. Margaret Lucas - Conservatives 303 votes
John Gasston
- Independent - 122 votes.

Congratulations to Caroline Utting and our commiseration to the other two candidates.


2010 is International Biodiversity Year and the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit is celebrating by providing a once in the lifetime opportunity at a unique BioBlitz event in Herefordshire on Saturday, 19th June.

County wildlife recorders will be racing against time to collect as many records of plants and animals in 24 hours at the previously unrecorded Perrystone Estate near Ross on Wye. The private estate is thought to be rich in species and the public can join the experts in a series of guided walks to discover hidden secrets of the natural world. You can join the free family event by turning up and booking in on a variety of hour long walks from 10am which will be led by specialists from across the county. Naturalists, ecologists and archaeologists will be leading the series of walks which will include topics on amphibians, spiders, beetles, woodland plants and the archaeology of the landscape. There will be plenty of activities for the kids including mini beast events..

Adrian Hanks, Head Keeper at Perrystone Estate, has been extremely supportive of the event. 'We are keen to show people how shooting and conservation can go hand in hand and welcome the opportunity to give people a chance to see how a working estate runs,' he said.

You can download the programme of events, directions and a poster by going online to and clicking on Bioblitz.

The event has been organized by the Wye Valley AONB Unit and Herefordshire Biodiversity Partnership. For more information please contact Sarah Sawyer at the Wye Valley AONB Office on 01600 710844.


The Association of Ross Traders (A.R.T) hold regular meetings to discuss ways in which they can help to make Ross-on-Wye a more vibrant place for both residents and visitors to the town. Three very successful events which were organized by the association have already taken place and there will be more.

A.R.T. do not simply put on events, however. They are trying to find ways of resolving the coach parking problem, improving signage in the town centre and drawing passing traffic on the A40 to the town itself.

A.R.T. have been raising money towards the cost of repairing the chimes on the Ross Market House clock. Collection boxes have been placed in a number of shops in the town and David Bruce of Pots and Pieces Tea Shop was pleased to announce that over £2,000 has so far been raised, largely due to the generosity of a local person who gave a cheque for £1,500. With 'only' £700 left to raise, Herefordshire Council have been informed that A.R.T.'s half of the money needed is almost there, so hopefully, when the half promised by the council comes forward the repairs can get under way and the chimes should be ringing out by Carnival Day. If anybody would like to make a donation towards the outstanding £700, please pay David a visit at Pots and Pieces. He will be more than happy to see you.

The town centre is looking quite summery now as 110 hanging flower baskets are adorning some of the local independent shops and A.R.T. are actively publicizing the forthcoming, genuine Italian Market which will be visiting Ross-on-Wye on Friday, 11th June. The association are also getting actively involved with Ross Town Carnival this year and hope to repeat last year's very successful Christmas Shopping Extravaganza.

Watch this space to find out more of what the Association of Ross Traders are doing for you.

Members of A.R.T. at Tuesday evening's meeting.


Despite the tough times ahead, Herefordshire Council is committed to the creation of jobs, improving the county's roads, caring for those who can't care for themselves and becoming more efficient. The comments came in an upbeat but sobering annual speech by Councillor Roger Phillips, following his re-election as Leader of the council at their Annual Council meeting held in Hereford's Shire Hall on Friday.

Councillor Phillips highlighted a number of key achievements during the last 12 months, including the response of the council and NHS Herefordshire to the swine flu threat, the 18 million offensive launched to repair roads damaged by the worst winter for decades and the fact that 16 per cent more vulnerable people were now helped to live independently at home by social care. His report spotlighted the successful introduction of 60,000 wheelie bins which has sent recycling rates soaring and the construction of the 11 million Ross flood alleviation scheme.

'However, the challenge is now to achieve more with fewer resources,' he warned and referred to the 'very telling' statistics which showed that county wages were below the regional and national average, and that the difference was widening. 'In 2006, the average Herefordshire wage was six per cent lower than the West Midlands average, and 14 per cent below the UK average wage. In 2009, the difference was nine per cent compared to the West Midlands and 23 per cent lower than the national average. This is an issue which needs to be addressed.'

He added that the council's key priorities included creating affordable housing, improved infrastructure and ensuring businesses and homes have access to broadband. Councillor Phillips also said that there was a key role, which everyone could play to ensure Herefordshire received a better deal from central government.

'It's been a concern for a long time that we're not receiving our fair share of funding - during 2010/11 we received 317 per head of population, which is 17 per cent below the average for other councils like this one. Government bases its calculations on the figures collected from the census which takes place every ten years. The next census takes place in spring next year so it's essential we get the county's returns back to Government so they've got accurate figures on which to base their calculations.'


Police are appealing for anybody to come forward who may have witnessed a sexual assault which took place in the early hours of Monday, 24th May.

Between the hours of 1:00am and 1:35am a woman, who was walking alone entered the grave yard from Canal Road heading in the direction of Commercial Road, Hereford, when a man tried to grab her from behind twice. The man is described to be between 5' 4" and 5' 5" tall, in his early 30's to early 40's, of medium build, with light ginger or blonde hair, which is described to be in a messy, collar length bob style. The man was wearing a white T-shirt with yellow and red colours across the top and front and was also wearing light denim baggy jeans.

Susan Thomas, Chief Inspector for Operations said, 'We are keen to get any information about this incident and we would urge anyone with any information to come forward.'

Anyone who has any information about this incident should contact West Mercia Police on 0300 333 3000 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.


Time is running out for farming enterprises to enter the AONB Farming Awards competition 2010. A valuable cash prize of 500 is on offer for the winning farm together with the prestigious AONB Farming Awards Trophy. Generous runners up prizes of 200 for 2nd place and 100 for 3rd place are also up for grabs with winners being presented at the Monmouthshire Show on 26th August.

To be eligible, farms must be over 100 hectares and situated within or adjoining the Wye Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), The competition, organized by the AONB, will be seeking a farm that operates as a successful business, providing a full or part-time income for the farmer. An important factor will be management of the land, with reference to the AONB purposes of conserving and enhancing the natural landscape. Each entry will be visited by Andrew Nixon, Wye Valley AONB Development Officer, prior to initial selection. The short-listed farms will be judged in July by a team of farming and wildlife experts including the Winner of the 2008 Farm Awards, a National Farmers Union (NFU) representative, a representative from the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group (FWAG) and Andrew Blake AONB Officer.

Andrew Nixon said, 'We are delighted to be running our prestigious Farming Awards again in 2010. This year we will focus on the large farms and look forward to rewarding some of the excellent farming practice that we know is operating in the AONB area.'

Entering the competition could not be simpler. To register your farm's interest send your contact details to Andrew Nixon, AONB Development Officer, telephone 01600 710841 or email

Farm details including name, address, telephone and email details can also be sent by post to AONB Farming Awards, FREEPOST SWC 4106, Monmouth NP25 3ZZ . Leaflets will also be circulated through local farming organizations. The deadline for entries is Friday, 25th June 2010.

English Longhorn Cows.


Ledbury families are being offered a week of jam-packed activity during this year's National Family Week which began on Tuesday, 31st May and runs until Sunday, 6th June.

Ledbury Children's Centre is preparing to promote positive family life by joining in some big national events and enjoying a few local ones too. Families with children aged 0-5 are invited to join in the fun and bring their siblings with them too. Ledbury children's centre will be gathering families and friends for a special story time with Bookstart Bear from 9.30 to 11am and then 1.30 to 3pm on Wednesday June 2. Nursery rhymes will be the theme and the centre hopes to welcome a few more dads and grandparents to the sessions. Sharing the magic of a story together is one of the most rewarding ways to spend some quality family time. Capturing imaginations, learning new words and seeing what you can find in the pictures makes for great family fun.

On Thursday, 3rd June, during an active afternoon session (1.30-3pm), the Music Pool will be visiting the centre to help families with toddlers tune into their creativity with dance and music. A big family recycling day has been organized for Saturday, 5th June from 11am until 3pm. With a focus on minimizing waste and using up what we already have, there will be cooking sessions, paper mushing, parachute games, art, shoe box theatres, composting, planting and a recycled music machine. NHS staff are also offering families the chance to experience a green gym (exercising using natural resources), a treasure trail and buggy workouts. The week will end with a huge family picnic. Hundreds of picnics are being organized throughout the country and Ledbury will be joining in at the children's centre from 11am until - 3pm during the family recycling day.

According to a poll commissioned by National Family Week last year, the average family spends just 45 minutes a day together. The council's children's centre in Ledbury and other partners would like to see families spending more time together and are providing a range of events to encourage them to do so.

Kim Gristy, children's centre manager said, 'As always, the emphasis will be on fun. We're particularly looking forward to our family recycling day. We need families to bring their own shoe box, large cardboard box and plastic bottle to get creative with. Picnics are most welcome: we have a great outdoor area to enjoy.'


An event with an international flavour is being planned for Hereford's High Town on Saturday, 6th June to bring together people from other countries who are living and working in the county. The Welcome to Herefordshire event will take place from 10am until 4pm and will feature live entertainment, market stalls, international food, drink and much more.

The entertainment kicks off at 12 noon when local dance company Feat Beat will be performing tap and jazz routines. Local and cultural artists will be performing traditional, classical and modern chart topping songs, and to remind us of our past, local street entertainers will perform traditional puppet shows to keep us all entertained.

The event has been organized by Herefordshire Council and partners, and is part of the MIRA (Migration & Integration in Rural Areas) project which is funded from levies paid nationally by migrant workers. Its aim is to help migrant workers in rural areas integrate with the local community and ensure they are able to access services for their families and children.

Dominica Lipska of Herefordshire Council said, 'This will be a big fun event for everyone. It gives residents and visitors the chance to learn about the way different cultures live, work and enjoy family life together. We hope people from a broad range of backgrounds and cultures will come along, enjoy some of the entertainment and find out about the support and services available for migrant workers from organizations across the county.

This is a partnership event with representatives from the police, Herefordshire Housing, the fire and rescue service, NHS Herefordshire, voluntary agencies, safer Herefordshire and Herefordshire Council.'


West Mercia Police and their Community Support Volunteers in Herefordshire are together celebrating the recent announcement that they have been awarded 5,000 from the Access to Volunteering Fund. The money from the Fund will be used towards the purchasing of special equipment for disabled volunteers. The equipment will include: laptops, Dictaphones, special telephones, Braille signs and customized keypads.

Gabrielle Wright, Police Strategic Partnership Manager said, 'We intend to involve the volunteers in their local policing teams so they can help the teams with tasks such as carrying out surveys, assisting at events and making those all important contacts with the community that help maintain satisfaction and confidence in the police service.'

Michael O' Neil, a volunteer for two months, said about his role: 'I am thoroughly enjoying it. I was given the chance to volunteer for West Mercia, on a work placement for my business NVQ course. I am enhancing numerous skills, working with the police, so I am likely to be a slightly stronger candidate for employment. This will hold me in good stead for hopefully gaining employment later on.'

Anyone who is interested in becoming a volunteer should call 01432 364550.


Young children across the county are being encouraged to be good early communicators as Herefordshire Council is working with a specialist consultant to help them to develop their speech and language development skills. Heather Price, speech and language therapist, has been appointed to work alongside the council's early years team to train up around 20 local professionals who will then work with pre-schools, childminders and children's centres to help make sure children whose skills need a boost are given the support they need.

Research into children's development has shown that children who start school as confident speakers with good language skills go on to become successful learners and achieve well throughout life, yet in Herefordshire, up to fifty percent of children in some parts of the county come into early years settings with delays in their communication skills.

Every Child a Talker (ECaT) is a national strategy designed to improve the skills of children and parents and works towards raising awareness and attainment for children's early language development for 0-5 year olds. In Herefordshire, training to help families has already begun and early years settings are already beginning to see benefits.

One of the county's childminders, Alison Jackson works with small numbers of children in her home. She says, 'As a childminder I've found the ECaT principles can be used to support the communications skills of all children, as well as those who have identified speech and language difficulties. The programme particularly stresses the value of parental involvement. By helping parents understand their child's language development and encouraging their involvement, the children's communications skills are steadily improving.'

Alongside the ECaT training, a range of events have been organized across the county inviting parents, carers and their children to join in some exciting activities which can help boost communication skills and offer support to those who are struggling. Look out for events at local primary schools, children's centres and pre-schools and a national Communication conference to be held in Hereford in 2011.

Louise Jackson, early years advisory teacher said, 'We have over 600 professionals who are trained in Elklan which is an accredited training course for those supporting children's speech, language and communication development. The ECaT training will complement this and the events we are organizing over the next 12 months will help professionals identify and support any children whose communications skills need a boost.

A child's ability to develop language depends on being immersed in a rich environment of words, sounds, rhythm and verbal and non-verbal expression from birth. However there are still many children starting school without the extended vocabulary and communication abilities which are so important for learning and for making friends. We want Herefordshire children to have the best possible start in life.'

Anyone who is concerned about their child's speech and language can contact their health visitor, local children's centre or NHS Herefordshire's speech and language therapy department (01432) 344344 for details of help available.


Police in Tenbury, Worcestershire are appealing for witnesses to come forward after riding tack donated to rescued horses and ponies was stolen.

The heartless theft took place between 18:30 on Monday, 24th and 07:30 on Tuesday, 25th May at stables off a lane leading from Hanley Childe to Broadheath, near the B4204. Tack worth around 2,500 was taken, including saddles, bridles and bits. Some of the items had been donated to the owner because she rescues horses being sold at markets.

PC Nick Ferguson said, 'We would like to hear from anyone who saw anything unusual in the area between the times given, such as a suspicious vehicle. The crime is particularly cruel as one of the victims works hard to rescue animals in need and find them new, loving homes.'

One of the bridles is marked with the postcode WR3 7PP. Anyone with information is asked to call police on 0300 333 3000, quoting 89/S/250510. Alternatively, call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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