For earlier stories from June 2016 back to 2006, go to our NEWS ARCHIVE which is in six-monthly segments

The Spring cafe and shop celebrates 20 years

THE SPRING Community Shop and Cafe marked its 20th anniversary in style with a party in September.

The vicar, the Rev Rupert Martin writes: "Twenty years ago last weekend The Spring Shop and Cafe was created out of St Helen’s Parochial Hall which had been empty for ten years. This community enterprise brought new life to the building ... and has provided a place of welcome and refreshment over the years.

"The Spring is managed by Cath Moxham and a small team, with dozens of volunteers who give their time and energy to serve their community. Proceeds go towards the Christians against Poverty Wakefield Centre, which addresses the needs of those struggling with debt or other life issues. Other charities benefit throughout the year from the generosity of those who visit The Spring.

"A celebration party on the Saturday attracted hundreds of people to enjoy the hospitality of The Spring. To mark the anniversary, some woolly cloud sculptures were suspended from the ceiling to help absorb the sounds of the busy cafe. These were made possible through a WMDC grant from the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, and a generous donation from Sandal Community Association. The Spring was redecorated with paint donated by the Dulux Decorator Centre." On the Sunday a worship service was held in The Spring and prayers were offered by the congregations of St Helen’s, Sandal, and St Paul’s, Walton, for the work of The Spring.

Acoustic clouds help soften the noise at The Spring

THEIR heads are now in the clouds at The Spring! Sandal's popular community shop and cafe has been fitted out with acoustic clouds to help reduce noise levels which (as we all know) can reach something of a crescendo at peak times.

Sandal Community Association has donated £200 towards the cost of the project and chairman Les Goddard is pictured here on Thursday handing over a cheque to The Spring's manager, Catherine Moxham

Former castle visitor centre  becomes dog-friendly cafe

THERE has been a warm welcome for plans to turn the former Sandal Castle visitor centre into a family-run dog-friendly café. It is hoped the doors will open in June or July.

The venture is led by local businessman Paul Hamnett, who has had 30 years’ experience in the car trade and lives at Milnthorpe Green, almost within sight of the castle. If the plan gets the go-ahead from Wakefield Council, his head chef and manager will be Paul Kitching whose partner, Lucy Hamnett, an ex-police officer and RSPCA inspector, will be at front of house. Completing the team will be Lucy’s mother, Jeanette Hamnett, who is Paul’s wife and a former district nurse.

Paul Kitching said: “We are a strong family team and plan to welcome and serve the local community to the best of our ability.”

They will be providing freshly cooked food made with locally sourced ingredients, cooking traditional favourite dishes healthily. The café will also be available as a venue for meetings, coffee mornings, pensioners’ lunches and school visits to the castle.

Opening times will initially be Monday to Saturday 8am to 4pm and Sunday 9.30am to 3pm. And dogs will always be welcome, said Paul.

The move has been welcomed by the Friends of Sandal Castle. Chairman Dr Keith Souter said: “It has been over a year since the visitor centre closed, which has prevented the Friends from holding events at the castle. We were absolutely delighted to learn that Paul and his team are taking it over with plans to transform it into a cafe.

“The Friends look forward to working with them to help make it a success. The whole community should benefit from this venture, which will put Sandal Castle back on the map and back in the public eye where it belongs.”

SCA chairman Les Goddard said: “This is exciting news and we wish them well.”

The plans look as if they are shaping up for approval. Coun Les Shaw, the council’s cabinet member for culture, said: “A café is our preferred option as we believe it would enhance the visitor experience and encourage people to come and enjoy this important historical site.”

Keith (on the right of our picture ) met the family at the visitor centre  - Jeanette Hamnett, Lucy with five-year-old daughter Mae, Paul Kitching and Paul Hamnett.

Violet's memorial bench gets a facelift

THANKS to two SCA volunteers, the bench at the bottom of Sandal Avenue that serves as a memorial to the late Violet Moxon has been restored to pristine condition and was reinstalled in March.

Mike Fewster and Richard Binnington took on the task of refurbishing the dilapidated bench (left) which has a plaque bearing Violet’s name. She died in 1968, aged 86. Research by the SCA has revealed that she was the wife of William Moxon, who died in 1974 after a staggering 80 years as a bellringer at St Helen’s. They were married in 1909 and had two children.

SCA chairman Les Goddard said: “Our extensive efforts to trace the owners eventually drew a blank. However, two of our members kindly volunteered to refurbish the bench and they have done such a magnificent job it will probably be another 49 years before it needs to refurbished again.” Les (standing) is pictured with Richard and Mike,

The small corner patch of ground in front of the bench has been planted with bulbs by Sandal Gardening Club who will maintain the plot in the future. The Red Squirrel (aka Mark Preston) gave up his working time to help clear the ground ready for planting.

Keith Souter is Wakefield Express man in Sandal

SCA member Dr Keith Souter has become the Wakefield Express news correspondent for Sandal, taking over the reins from Norman Hazell.

Keith, who also sits on the committees of both the SCA and the Friends of Sandal Castle, said: “It is a privilege to take on this column, which has been written so ably and eloquently by Norman for the past decade.”

Keith was a GP in Wakefield for almost 30 years until he retired from the NHS to concentrate on medical journalism and fiction writing. He has been writing the Doctor’s Casebook column in the Wakefield Express for 32 years and has written many short stories and over 40 books, including several popular medicine titles and 16 novels under various pen names, across four genres. These include historical novels based on Sandal Castle.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners and is a member of various professional organisations, including the Medical Journalists’ Association, Society of Authors and the Crime Writers Association. He is married to Rachel and has three grown-up children and two grandchildren. In his spare time he walks, runs, plays occasional tennis and golf and enjoys cinema and theatre. He also is a patron of Wakefield Concert Society.

Keith’s preferred contact method is by email at (note the underscore after ‘dr’). He can also be contacted by phone on 01924 256201 where copy can be left on voicemail, if necessary. Deadline is the Saturday of the week before the column is to appear.

When he announced his decision to stand down as news correspondent, Norman told us: “I’m now an octogenarian and I’ve never missed a column, even when I’ve been in Australia or visiting war graves, which I’ve done several times.”


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