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Waterstock Notes - November 2023

by Sarah Godowski

Waterstock has a long and proud equestrian heritage, dating back to the famous Lars Sederholm who sadly passed away recently - an Olympic equestrian who trained the British showjumping team and riders from around the world at the famous Waterstock House Training Centre. It's great to hear the
news that the current Waterstock Dressage and Riding School - at the heart of the village in every sense - is thriving, carrying on this great tradition. A five star riding school licensed by SODC and a certified Pony Club centre, Waterstock Riding School welcomes pupils from a wide area and numerous schools
as well as offering Riding for the Disabled, and are now training the Oxford University squad! Proprietor Arabella Whelan has recently returned from a visit to Ireland to buy three new horses and also visit the Cork Jazz Festival - sounds like a top weekend!

Arabella wrote a brilliant and important objection to the recent Greystoke planning application for the Eastern golf course, saying it would undermine her business and the safety of riders using the quiet lane if the development went ahead. She is now looking for additional grazing in the village, and would be glad to discuss renting grazing from any local landowner with under-utilised land, which would be a great help to this important part of village life.

Waterstock is also proud of its artists, in particular potter Jane Hanson and textile artist Helen MacRitchie, who are currently exhibiting in the Oxfordshire Craft Guild show in the Oxfordshire County Museum in Woodstock, running until Christmas (closed on Monday). They'll be exhibiting
alongside a number of other high quality local makers including jewellers, glass makers, textiles and pottery.

This year Waterstock and Tiddington combined Remembrance Sunday service was held at the war memorial as usual, the service led by Henry Manisty with contributions from Rob Arthur, Susie Edmondson, Geoff Talbot, Carole Tyce, Moo Nowell-Smith and Rosalind Portman. A collection raised £160, to add to the poppy appeal collection for which Stephen Shipperley had braved storm Ciaran on behalf of Susie and Nick Edmondson, after Susie injured her knee and was on crutches.

The storms seem to keep on coming but there are some blessed bright and still days, and we were lucky with one of these for the unveiling of the three 'habitat boards', beautifully designed by Shona Heron and now installed at the mill, the entrance to the Oxfordshire way opposite the church, and on Stockwell lane, all celebrating the rich variety of local wildlife in Waterstock. Maisie Banks and Kelly Skuse from Thames Water, who'd been instrumental in making this happen, were invited to cut the tape on a duvet cover (you had to be there) to reveal the one by the church, and were subsequently awarded medals promising the Freedom of Waterstock (Waterstock’ s highest honour) alongside other key helpers and our councillor, Tim Bearder. The event was also a good excuse for a get together in the church afterwards with mulled cider, sausages etc, and to celebrate the resounding rejection with which Greystoke's appalling proposals for the golf course were met. Henry Manisty gave us an update on this, and on the increasing extent of the Local Wildlife Site which now stretches as far as Ickford Bridge, as well as the designation of the River Thame as a Conservation Target Area, all of which provide us with additional ammunition against proposals such as GReystoke's.

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Nick Marriner, who has been auditing Waterstock’s birdlife for eight years as part of a River Thame Conservancy Trust initiative, gave a moving speech about how excited he is by the richness of our birdlife - over 130 species registered, which compares pretty favourably with serious bird sanctuaries like Otmoor, which registers150 different species.

By the time anyone reads this, Christmas will be around the corner and this is a timely reminder that the annual carol service will be held at 5.30pm on Sunday November 17th, followed by a bring and share supper at Home Farm. Please contact Janet to let her know if you are coming and what dish you would like to contribute.

Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas.