For earlier stories from December 2017 back to 2006, go to our NEWS ARCHIVE which is in six-monthly segments

Sandal post office changes hands after nearly 17 years

AFTER nearly 17 years as Sandal’s sub-postmistress, Kathryn Bramley will be officially handing over the keys of the busy Barnsley Road post office on March 12. Her successor is Sandal resident Umeshkumar (Umesh) Ahir.  Kathryn, who was a nurse in Wakefield for nearly 25 years before taking over the post office, will be retiring but will continue to live in Sandal with husband Ian who has been helping out in the background since his own retirement.

She said: “We’ve had a very happy time and over all those years lots of customers have become friends. And I’ve sold sweets to youngsters who’ve seen grow into adult customers. I hope that everyone who has supported us will do the same for Umesh.”

Umesh, his wife Jigna and their two young sons live in Normans Way, Sandal. He has played an active part in his father's business at Portobello Newsagents since he was very young. He has worked in the financial services industry for the banking sector and for several years as a science and mathematics teacher at Leeds City College.

He said: “We will continue to have the same staff at Sandal post office and ensure continuity of everyday services. My wife may be joining me in the everyday running of the business at a later stage, once my youngest son is a little older.

“Jigna and I feel that Sandal post office is an important hub in the community and without it, vital everyday local services would be lost. We therefore decided to buy the post office and keep it open. But for us to continue operating, we need the help and support of local residents. Firstly we ask for the people of Sandal and surrounding areas, such as Walton, to continue to use the post office and its full range of services.

“Secondly, we would appreciate feedback from the community about extra services and products that the post office might offer. We are considering extending the post office and the retail space inside and feedback about what additional products customers would like to see in the store would be very helpful. For example, would residents like to see a greater selection of greeting cards or a wider choice of confectionery products? Or even a coffee machine?”

Popular visit to Wakefield's archives centre

SIXTY SCA members paid a fascinating visit to the West Yorkshire History Centre at its new premises in Kirkgate, Wakefield, in March. The event, organised by the Association, attracted such a response it had to be divided into morning and afternoon groups. The parties were shown round by archivist Helen Walker who explained the centre's holdings, how they were stored and how they could be accessed by visitors. The centre is home to one of the largest collections of records in the country covering the old West Riding of Yorkshire, the current county of West Yorkshire and the Wakefield district. The SCA visitors were shown a range of documents specific to Sandal.

Inspector turns down appeal for M&S food store in Sandal

The appeal by Sandal Property Company to build an M&S food store at the rear of Aldis has been dismissed by the planning inspector. He has supported Wakefield Council’s decision to turn down the project, which also included non-retail outlets, because the site is in the green belt. The SCA heard in an email response sent by the inspectorate to chairman Les Goddard who had highlighted various issues that needed further work, especially the problem of access and increased traffic using the area. We recognised, however, that many residents were in favour of the scheme, while others were against. To download a pdf of the inspector's full report click HERE

Trefoil Guild members mark organisation's 75th anniversary

IN JULY members of Wakefield South Trefoil Guild celebrated the 75th anniversary of the national organisation. The Trefoil Guild was launched at the height of the Second World War in 1943 when various groups of 'Old Guides' were amalgamated into one organisation.  Wakefield South chairman Ann Chamberlain (seated centre) provided a specially-made anniversary cake for the meeting in Sandal.

Unique plaque marks Sandal link with Dunkirk

A MOVING ceremony was held at St Helen's on June 9 to unveil a plaque which will be placed on a wall adjoining the church path. It records the story of the arrival of the 3rd Battalion Grenadier Guards, soon after their evacuation from Dunkirk. They were billeted at homes in Sandal, Walton and Portobello. On 8 June 1940 they mustered below St Helen's and a roll call was held. The following day a parade service was held at the church, on a Day of National Celebration. This event was witnessed by Gerry Southworth, then 11 years old, who recounts his vivid memories in this audio link

The plaque, sponsored by the Grenadier Guards, is the first in Wakefield to record a story rather than a remember a person, and is a military brown colour which better blends in with the ancient stonework of the parish church and churchyard. The unveiling was attended by many Sandal residents and by David Dinmore, Deputy Lord Lieutenant for West Yorkshire, Mary Creagh MP, Kevin Trickett MBE, president of Wakefield Civic Society who created the plaque, and Brigadier David Maddan, former CO of the Grenadier Guards, who unveiled the plaque. Gerry Southworth, now 89 years old, travelled from Dorset, where he lives, to be present at the ceremony.

Brigadier Maddan said: "It’s a great honour to represent the Grenadier Guards here today at this unveiling ceremony. Soldiers are recruited from the community, serve their country and return to the community after their service. In that sense, we are you and you are us. During tough times fighting abroad and when recovering from the ordeal, soldiers draw on the community to sustain and protect them. We do difficult things for you and you reaching out to us is of immense comfort. This initiative recalls a shining example of a community reaching out and its commemoration resonates very directly with those who serve today. It is a great privilege to unveil this plaque on behalf of the Grenadier Guards and especially those who served on the 3rd Battalion in 1940 during the evacuation from Dunkirk." The Sandal bell tower rang the recently renewed bells to mark the occasion.

Mr Trickett said later: "It was a nice, quiet, respectful and dignified event. We were intrigued by the suggestion from Mr Southworth... I am delighted we have been able to take the idea forward."

Our Home page photo shows( from left): Commanding officer of the TA Reserve in Wakefield, the Rev Rupert Martin (hidden), Armed Forces Champion Coun Sandra Pickin, Deputy Lieutenant David Dinmore, Gerry Southworth, Kevin Trickett, Brigadier Maddan and MP Mary Creagh.

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




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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