Archives – November, 2019

Damascus Youth Project

Damascus Youth Project
The name Damascus is an acronym for the five Vale villages south of Abingdon that this youth project originally served: Drayton, Appleford, Milton, Sutton Courtenay and Steventon. In recent years the project has expanded to cover South Abingdon and some parts of South Oxfordshire.

The purpose of Damascus according to their website http://ycat.org.uk/ is ‘enabling young people to make a positive difference within their own communities.’ Many of the young people Damascus work with had been detached from education and the community or were underachieving for a variety of reasons.

Last night was the Damascus AGM and during the first half achievements were recognised, and certificates were presented to eighteen young people by the High-Sheriff of Oxfordshire, Lady Jay of Ewelme. Also in attendance were parish councillors from the five villages; five police officers including Chief Inspector Matthew Bullivant and PCSO Alison Blood; Matthew Barber the deputy Police Commissioner; three head teachers including Chris Harris from Larkmead; and Vale council officers.

In the second half there was a presentation about the work of the charity during the last year, and a look at their finances. The five villages and Abingdon-on-Thames Town Council have given Damascus grants towards their work.
Damascus Youth Project
So how did Damascus engage with young people that had become detached and hung about on street corners? Their first answer was to go where young people were, whether that be street corners, bus-stops, or the shops. The three Damascus youth workers have all come through troubled times and now help others. They are Roxy, James and Jake. They also have a gazebo that they put up at venues where young people could drop in for a chat.
Damascus Youth Project
The youth workers and invited experts also led a lot of workshops on about a dozen topics including substance abuse and money management. They helped develop skills and talents and got young people back into education, employment or training. They provided one-to-one support where needed. They ran sports events. The young people also ran their own community projects including tea parties for the elderly, and a community BBQ.
Damascus Youth Project
Damascus continues to thrive after over twenty years because of the quality and commitment of their youth workers. Gary Hibbins, who now runs Abingdon Bridge, started his youth work with Damascus. The trustees put in a lot of time for no pay. Milton Park provides them with an office for free. But as a charity they need to raise money, and last year a young lady called Bryony did the 3 peaks challenge, and helped raise about £3.5K. She said ‘People do not realise what a fantastic resource we have in Damascus. It is worth climbing mountains to support.’

Thankyou to them for inviting me to the AGM. Thank you also for the pictures which come from their facebook page, Bryony’s fund raising page, and the twitter account of somebody there. Thanks also to the Drayton Village Newsletter for some of the information here.

2 Comments November 13, 2019

Simon’s News to close

Simon's News to close
Simon’s News, on East St Helen Street, will be closing down on Saturday 23rd November. Simon says this is partly due to ill health.

The closure is a great shame for Abingdon as Simon’s News is the last dedicated Newsagent in Central and South Abingdon, after McColl’s Stores, in Reynold’s Way, closed last month. I heard that a lot of the paper rounds from Simons and McColls will now transfer to Rowes in Wantage.
Simon's News to close
There will be a sale for the next couple of weeks. Simon’s News have a wide variety of traditional sweets in jars.

22 Comments November 12, 2019

One Hundred and First Anniversary of the Armistice

One Hundred and First Anniversary of the Armistice
A whistle was blown at 11 am this morning and the traffic was stopped near Abingdon War Memorial. There followed a two minutes silence, observed by people standing round the outside of The Square, and by those on the War Memorial island. The whistle was blown again and normal activity resumed.
One Hundred and First Anniversary of the Armistice
Children, and staff from Thameside School were there for the ceremony. Two of the children are seen here with Headteacher, Miss Anna Grice, and alongside her are Clare – the Poppy Co-ordinator, and The Mayor of Abingdon. After the ceremony, the children went on to look at the wreaths and names on the memorial. They saw that there were seven Abingdon Carters killed during WWI. There were also other Abingdon names they knew.
One Hundred and First Anniversary of the Armistice
Across Abingdon and the UK, the two minute silence showed respect for those killed in wars. There was another ceremony at 11 am at Abingdon and Witney College. Crosses and a wreath could be seen afterwards.
One Hundred and First Anniversary of the Armistice
One hundred years ago, in 1919, The King invited all his people to join him in a special celebration to mark the first anniversary of the armistice. That included a two minute silence.

The North Berks Herald reported ‘the siren at the Abingdon Pavlova Works gave the signal for the observance of the King’s message’
One Hundred and First Anniversary of the Armistice
In 1919 a white cross had been placed on the Square. On that first Armistice anniversary  ‘Members of the Abingdon branch of Comrades of the War placed a wreath on the shrine in the Square in memory of fallen comrades.’
One Hundred and First Anniversary of the Armistice
The North Berks Herald also reports ‘… A short service was conducted in St Nicolas Church and the whole of the seats in the nave were occupied. The congregation stood in silence at the appointed time.’

Thankyou to Abingdon Library and Herald for the extracts. Thankyou to the Imperial War Museum and their film Abingdon’s Welcome to the Heroes of The Great War for the picture of the temporary shrine. A permanent War Memorial was only being thought about in 1919.

Leave a Comment November 11, 2019

Remembrance Sunday 2019 in Abingdon

Remembrance Sunday 2019
Army personnel from Dalton Barracks, near Abingdon, and lots of other uniformed organisations paraded from St Helen’s Church to The War Memorial this morning for the Act of Remembrance.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
The Royal British Legion – Abingdon Branch – followed the serving soldiers in leading the act of remembrance. They represent the Armed Forces community that fought in the two World Wars and later conflicts.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
Cadet groups stood shoulder to shoulder with the veterans and serving soldiers.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
This year the parade arrived with time to spare on a bright sunny Sunday, and so there were three or four minutes of silence before the 11 am act of remembrance. Revd. Charles Miller led the commendation and prayers. The exhortation was read, the last post sounded and then there were two minutes of silence followed by the laying of the wreaths round the war memorial.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
Afterwards all the uniformed groups followed Abingdon Town Band in marching past the dignitaries at Abingdon County Hall.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
Again the Royal British Legion followed the regular army,
Remembrance Sunday 2019
followed by cadets
Remembrance Sunday 2019
Then came all the uniformed groups. Here the brownies, and their leaders, salute the four people on the platform: The Queen’s representative in Abingdon, Deputy Lord Lieutenant Felicity Dick; The Mayor of Abingdon, Councillor Charlie Birks; the town’s Poppy Appeal organiser, Clare; and a senior officer from Dalton Barracks.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
Crowds of people, who had been watching, followed on behind the parade. There were a lot of people and lots of young people. Back at the War Memorial people laid their own poppies and crosses at the foot of the war memorial, including young children carrying on a family tradition.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
A member of the gurkhas who had served at Dalton Barracks had come to pay his respects at Abingdon.
Remembrance Sunday 2019
I asked the Royal British Legion standard bearer to stand for this picture. During the act of remembrance the standards were lowered as the two-minute silence took place to remember those who have died in the violence of war.

Leave a Comment November 10, 2019

Hft on the Market Place in Abingdon

Craft Fair Arrives
On the Market Place in Abingdon this morning Hft had a stall. They were handing out leaflets and talking to people who might be interested in becoming an Hft support worker – supporting people with learning disabilities to live the best life possible.

Hft have quite a few houses supporting people in Abingdon, Milton Heights, Harwell, Didcot and further afield. Each house is the home to 2-3 people. Care work involves supporting people to make their own choices and be as independent as possible. There is more information at https://www.hft.org.uk/jobs/.

Leave a Comment November 10, 2019

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