WEEKLY COLUMN of Fairford and Lechlade news by Chris Roberts MBE 

1. Lechlade library needs your help

Lechlade Library Limited is a community library run by volunteers and, when Gloucestershire County Council (GCC) was set to close the library as part of a cost-saving exercise in 2012, the community volunteers took it over and have run it successfully with no increase in budget, but with the highest community library footfall in Gloucestershire.

Now, 12 years later, the volunteers face major challenges which threaten the future viability of the Library. These being increasing energy costs and the need for renovation and updating throughout all the town centre building.

There is a long list of work needed including upgrading the existing lighting to LED and adding secondary double-glazing to windows to reduce energy costs and wastage. In addition, there is a significant amount of structural refurbishment needed, damp issues, general wear and tear, improving the efficiency of the Tourist Information section and general updating to all areas.

Lechlade’s Library receives an annual GCC grant of £10,000, which has not been increased since the volunteers took over in 2012. It is also supported locally by other individual contributions such as the Friends of Lechlade Library. Sadly, this is not enough to keep the Library economically viable.

Timescales for refurbishment work are funding-related and, through frugal management over the last 12 years, the volunteer workers at the Library have accumulated a refurbishment fund of £20,000, but the current refurbishment estimate is £78,000.

The project team at the Library are now actively seeking grants from charitable trusts and funders, but would also like to ask the Lechlade community to help by donating whatever amount they can afford through a Just Giving page: www.justgiving.com/lechladelibrary. If you would like to donate in any other way or would like to become a Friend of Lechlade Library, please email: info@lechladelibrary.co.uk or visit www.lechladelibrary.co.uk.

2. Book festival 

The Transylvanian Book Festival is run by two writers, art historians and Romania-obsessives. Quenington resident, Lucy AbelSmith, who founded the festival in 2013 and Bronwen Riley, who now directs it.

 It will run from September 12-15, but help is needed to keep this unique festival going. Lucy and Bronwen look forward to welcoming you at one or all of their fundraising events in Oxfordshire, London and Cumbria and, most of all, to seeing you in Romania in September next year.

3. Local lectures 

In the first of a series of fundraising events to raise awareness and much-needed funds for the fifth edition of the festival, Professor Martyn Rady will be lecturing locally on Saturday January 20 at 5.30pm for 6pm in the beautiful private theatre at Buscot Park near Faringdon by kind permission of Lord Faringdon 

Tickets cost £20, including refreshments. Booking in advance is essential as seating is limited. Please pay by BACS to Reality and Beyond Ltd. Sort code: 23-14-70 - Account number: 84662677.

For more information, visit: www. transylvanianbookfestival.co.uk.

4. Church looking for help 

St Mary’s Church is looking for help in a number of different areas.

(1) New members are needed for the flower team.

No experience necessary, just an enthusiasm for flower arranging. Please contact Heather on 01285 712611 or fairfordpcc@gmail.com.

2) Would anyone like to join the Offertory team? This is carrying the chalice and bread up to the vicar from the back of the church during the Offertory hymn.

Two steady hands are all that is required probably about once every six weeks. Please contact Heather on 01285 712611 or fairfordpcc@gmail.com.

(3) A volunteer is needed to join the Churches Together Committee. The job is not onerous. If interested, please contact Jenny Hewes at jandphewes@btinternet.com

5. Solar farm application

Following their local engagement event in June 2023, Innova are now lodging an application with Cotswold District Council to seek full planning permission for the installation and operation of a solar PV farm and associated infrastructure on Ernest Cook Trust land off Welsh Way, Fairford.

Innova will continue to keep local residents, parish and town councils directly informed with updates on the project and updates will also be available on their website: https:// innova.co.uk/welsh-way-solar-farmproject/

6. Membership for theatregoers 

There are currently a few membership places available for the Fairford Theatregoers. Every member receives a show offer for each month (usually about 10 offers a year).

All the theatres visited are within a two-hour coach trip of Fairford and they leave from and return to Fairford Market Place. Shows in 2023 cost between £30- £47.50 per person, which included the coach.

Every member can also invite one guest per show and the guest is charged £2 extra for their ticket. The annual membership is £7 for a single membership or £11 for a couple to cover the running costs. If you would like more information or an application form to join, please email bookingftg@btinternet.com or phone Alison or David on 01285 713182.

7. Special family crafternoon 

A winter special family crafternoon to create sponge art winter landscapes; make wooden spoon snowmen pots; decorate beautiful snowflakes; design snowflake suncatchers; paint winter decorations.

On Saturday January 20 from 2pm-3.30pm in Fairford Community Centre. For ages 3-11 years. Cost £12 per child (siblings £10). For more info, visit www.artycraftylittlemonkeys.co.uk.

8. Baby postnatal group 

Baby & Me is a free weekly postnatal support group organized by Home-Start Cotswolds and is back in Fairford in January.

The group, which is for parents with babies aged up to six months, is a great opportunity to build your confidence as a parent, share experiences and learn more about your baby’s development. Each week, there is a different topic – such as feeding, play and communication, baby massage and sleep – delivered in a friendly and supportive environment.

Baby & Me will be held on Tuesdays between 11am-12.30pm in Fairford Community Centre. The first session of the year will be on Tuesday January 23. To reserve your free place, please call 01285 885391 or email groups@homestart-cotswolds.org.uk.

9. Tennis club continues 

Lechlade Tennis Club coaching has continued this term and, for more details or any questions, please contact Andy Sutherland on 07976 440216, andrew_ sutherland93@hotmail.com.

Social tennis continues throughout the year on mornings from 9.30am and on Thursday evenings from 6.30pm

The Club is always looking for new members both for social and league tennis.

Details about the Club and all the coaching sessions are on www.lechladetennisclub.co.uk.

10. Project inspire

Supporting Lechlade’s Project Inspire, a Burns Night Supper & Ceilidh is being held on Saturday January 20 at Lechlade Memorial Hall.

Doors open at 6.45pm for a 7.30pm start. Three course supper, piper, dancing, pay bar, Lechlade Ceilidh Band with Caller. Tickets cost £30 each available at www. stlawrencelechlade.org.uk/events.

11. Next meeting of Lechlade WI

The next meeting of Lechlade WI is on Monday January 20 from 10am-12 noon in Lechlade Memorial Hall. There will be a popup café to raise money for Lechlade Library Social Room. Tea, coffee and cake plus a cake stall and bottle stall.

12. Theatre trip 

The next Lechlade Theatregoers’ theatre trip will be on Saturday January 20 to The Theatre Royal, Bath to see ‘The Circle’.

It is a play by Somerset Maughan first performed in 1921 and actors include Jane Asher, Clive Francis and Nicholas Le Provost. This is a weekend performance at 2.30pm. The coach will leave the Memorial Hall at 10.45am to allow more time for the journey on a Saturday. To find out more about Lechlade Theatregoers, contact Rachel Range on 01367 252056, Ellie Maughan on 01367 253551, candemaughan45@ gmail.com or Brian Rudge on 01367 615044, brudge@sky.com