This week's Fairford and Lechlade column by Chris Roberts MBE. 

1. Ella blown away by Ant and Dec's takeaway getaway

 Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway (SNT) returned to our screens on February 24 for its 20th and final series.

The Geordie lads promised that the final series would be unlike any other Takeaway that had gone before.

This was certainly true for 10-year old, Ella Bacon from Lechlade who had no idea that she would be appearing on the show and win a holiday for her family in the show’s Takeaway Getaway!

The family can now choose any holiday from around 130 resorts across 40 country destinations donated by TUI or a cruise with Marella Cruises.

The ITV show’s producers read about Ella in social media posts written by local reporter, Chris Roberts MBE and then contacted her. “I was sworn to secrecy,” explained Chris. “But I was allowed to tell Anna Marie, Ella’s mum so she could be in the secret as well!”

Anna Marie said: “This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do – keep this secret from my wonderful daughter. I am so proud of Ella. Everything she has done for Lechlade Library has been her own idea.”

Declan Donnelly announced live on television that they were about to film a family in Gloucestershire and surprise Ella Bacon, who had organised a Readathon and fundraised for her local library. Dec said: “Ella has saved their bacon!”

While Ella had her hands clasped to her mouth in surprise, Ella’s dad, John threw his arms in the air and jumped for joy! Ella said afterwards: “I didn’t realise it was me. I thought it was someone else with the same name!”

So far, Ella has organised a Readathon at her Lechlade Primary school and raised £1,017.42 on a Just Giving page. Ella had initially set out to raise just £100, so raising over £1,000 was a welcome surprise. Ella said: “I never thought I would be able to raise £100, let alone over a thousand! It is totally amazing.”

So far over £50k has been raised towards Lechlade Library’s target of £78k, which will be used for much needed renovations to the community-run building.

Ella is also organising a book-related competition, which is for primary school-aged children to design a book cover for The Egg Bandits – Eric, Einstein and Englebert – Easter eggs with a difference!

Future fundraising includes a raffle with the draw taking place at 12 noon on Saturday April 13 at Lechlade Library. Ella will be guest of honour drawing the winning tickets. For a chance to win, contact with name, contact details and DRAW in the subject box.

2. Ella continues her fundraising for Lechlade library 

Ant & Dec Saturday Night Takeaway winner, Ella Bacon is continuing her fundraising for Lechlade Library helping to raise £78k to refurbish and renovate the community building for the future.

Ella has thought up a great competition for children to take part in over the Easter holidays to help. Ella said: “It would be lovely if the children of Lechlade and surrounding villages could all get involved to help this valuable community facility.

The competition is open to all Primary school age children and what they have to do is: design a book cover on A4 paper for The Egg Bandits: Eric, Einstein and Englebert – Easter eggs with a difference.

When the Egg Bandits, Eric, Einstein and Englebert were created in the Easter Bunny’s factory, they didn’t quite come out as ‘eggscellent’, so didn’t make the ‘Basket’. They are now making it their ultimate goal to ruin Easter and ensure that no eggs make the basket, which means that Easter will be cancelled, and the Easter Bunny will be out of a job!

What no one bet on was Ella Bacon! She’s also a Bad Egg but sees that the Egg Bandits’ behaviour is wrong and, with the help of her fellow ‘bad egg’ Esme, they must do everything they can to ensure that the children of the world still receive Easter eggs on Easter Day.

Will Ella and Esme be able to stop the Egg Bandits from being such Rotten Eggs and save Easter?

Prizes for the best three book cover designs. For more information, contact Ella’s mum, Anna Marie on 07845 051349,

Winners will be announced at Lechlade Library’s raffle draw on Saturday April 13 at 12 noon.

3. Fairford's Alex scoops another three medals 

The BUCS (British Universities and Colleges Sports) Long Course Swimming Championships – part of BUCS Nationals – saw over 5,000 students come to Ponds Forge, Sheffield over the weekend of February 23-25 to compete against each other and in teams in the 50m Olympic-sized swimming pool.

Fairford’s Alex Cohoon (21) was representing Loughborough University, where he is studying a three-year BSc (Hons) degree in Sport and Exercise Therapy. Ranked 22 in the world, Alex came away with three top medals, narrowly missing out on a fourth.

In the Open 100m Freestyle, Alex beat Edinburgh student, David Cumberlidge by 0.26 seconds to take Gold and his own ‘in season’ personal best and then, in the 50m Freestyle, Cumberlidge narrowly took first place with a time only 0.04 seconds better than Cohoon, who had to settle for Silver despite having another ‘in season’ personal best.

Cohoon was joined by fellow Loughborough students Greg Butler, Conor Ferguson and Luke Ibbeson in the 4 x 100m Medley Team race and scooped Gold beating the four Edinburgh students to second place by 3.9 seconds and smashing the previous BUC’s record.

“I just missed out on winning a fourth medal in the 50m Breaststroke by coming joint fourth,” explained Alex. “I am very happy and proud though to have been able to win two Golds and a Silver.”

Alex’s next big race is the Olympic trials from April 2-7 at the London Aquatic Centre with the event playing a key role in the selection of the British Olympic and Paralympic swimming teams for the Games in July.

As a full-time university student, Alex has to rely on sponsorship to continue to compete in swimming championships and further his aim of swimming for his country in the Olympic Games. If you or your business could help with sponsorship for this up-and-coming swimming star, please contact Alex’s father, Craig Cohoon on: 07773 325704.

4. World number one Ella wins in Croatia 

There was more success for the World No. 1 female compound archer, Ella Gibson (23) from Cirencester last week when she become European Indoor Female Team Compound Champion 2024 and also picked up a Bronze medal in the European Compound Women’s final.

Taking part in the European Indoor Archery Championships that were held from February 19-24 in Varazdin, Croatia, the GB women’s teams came home with three championship titles and three more individual medals.

Ella and her two team mates, Grace Chappell and Patience Wood proved they were the winning team when they beat the Italian competition in a shoot-off to take the win with a perfect 30 points.

In the European Compound Women’s final, Ella shot against the third ranked Croatian archer, Amanda Mlinaric and finished with a score of 149-147 to earn her the Bronze medal.

The next competition for Ella will be in Phoenix, USA, for the 2024 Arizona Cup – an outdoor target archery tournament over Easter weekend April 4-7.

5. Palmer Hall Cinema 

 The Palmer Hall Cinema is usually held on the second Wednesday of each month. The next film being shown on Wednesday March 13 is Champions. This is a 2023 American sports comedy-drama starring Woody Harrelson.

A former minor-league basketball coach receives a court order to manage a team of players with intellectual disabilities. Despite his doubts, he soon realises that together they can go further than they ever imagined. Doors open at 7pm for a 7.30pm start. Entry is £3.50 to include a free tea/coffee and a biscuit or £3 for a glass of wine.

For more information about The Palmer Hall, visit

6. Next Messy Church 

The next Messy Church is on Sunday March 10 (Mothering Sunday) starting at 4pm in St Mary’s Church.

There will be activities and a celebration on the chosen theme followed by a cream tea in Fairford Community Centre.

The meeting will finish at about 6pm. Everyone is welcome, but you do need to book your place for the tea. Contact Sarah Bottomley on 01285 712074 or

Does anyone have a cake tier that they wouldn’t mind lending to Messy Church on Sunday March 10 please? If so, please contact Sarah Bottomley above.

7. Primary School inspection 

Fairford’s CofE Primary School was inspected in November 2023 by a SIAMS (Statutory Inspection of Anglican and Methodist Schools) Inspector. The very favourable and encouraging report is on the school’s website. To see the full SIAMS Report, please go to “Our School” and then to “Our Church School”.

The new School website is well worth a look and contains a lot of really useful information about Fairford Primary School.

8. Monday Lunch Club

Monday Lunch Club at Fairford Hospital. The Edna Dawes Lunch Club is ideally for the isolated and lonely. We provide a sociable day out, hot meal and transport every week for just £10. Please contact Katie Bull, 07713607106.

Provided by the Friends of Fairford and Lechlade Communities

9. Volunteer drivers taking people to and from their medical appointments 

The Friends of Fairford & Lechlade Communities’ team of volunteer drivers take people to and from their medical appointments.

Please get in touch with the Transport Coordinator to arrange a drive. There is a fixed rate fare for each journey to cover fuel costs – you will be informed of the rate on booking.

If you also have trouble collecting your monthly prescriptions, the Patient Transport Team may be able to assist. Please note this service can only be provided for people receiving free prescriptions.

Please book either service via the Transport Coordinator, Val Harvey giving as much notice as possible. Phone: 07540 798226. Email: The next meeting of Lechlade Gardening Club is on Wednesday March 13 with Nick Gilbert talking about ‘The Dahlia Year’. Growing, storing, propagating and showing dahlias.

Nick has been growing dahlias for many years and has a nursery and a dahlia field in Hampshire with over 400 varieties. Meetings are held on the second Wednesday of the month at 7.30pm in Lechlade Memorial Hall.

Membership is £5 per person per annum, after which it is £2 to attend each meeting. Visitors £3. For more information, please contact 01367 252495 or 01367 252286.

10. Next theatre trip 

The next Lechlade Theatregoers trip will be on Wednesday March 13 at 2.30pm to see ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’. More details to follow.

To find out more about Lechlade Theatregoers, contact Rachel Range on 01367 252056, Ellie Maughan on 01367 253551, or Brian Rudge on 01367 615044,

11. Lecture about British visitors to Rome 

The Arts Society Upper Thames’ meeting on Thursday March 14 will be about “The British in Rome” with Stuart Harvey, who is a Guida Turistica Abilitata della Provincia di Roma. In this lecture, Stuart will look at some of the famous British visitors to Rome between the 1500s and 1800s and how these Grand Tourists changed the art world.

These wealthy travellers not only visited the great works of art and architecture, but also wanted portraits, miniatures, mosaics and ancient sculptures to purchase for their family collections – some of the tourists included renegade cardinals, exiled royals, wealthy aristocrats and, of course, the artists that came to study. Meetings are at 2pm in Lechlade Memorial Hall, but please arrive by 1.50pm. Please pre-book by email at and pay £7.50 on the door.

12. Lechlade charity shop

Lechlade Charity shop, based in the heart of Lechlade sells a wide range of quality goods including ladies, gents & children’s clothing, books, craft supplies, toys, vinyl and various household items.

There is also a feature rail for seasonal items and frequent sales. Pop by to pick up a bargain! Open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 4pm.