January-June 2017

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.

Kevin and Bruce drop in at Kettlethorpe Friendship Group

BEING a rescued greyhound is not always a dog's life! SCA committee members Val and Phil Carter (pictured) took brindle-coloured Kevin and his buddy Bruce to the first meeting in March of the Standbridge Friendship Group. The group, which it is planned will meet weekly at the Standbridge Community Centre, is run by a team of volunteers led by Monica Graham, who said: "We've got off to a really good start and we are aiming for a lively programme of entertainment and interesting speakers."There's a welcome for people of all ages. You can just drop in at the centre on Wednesday lunchtimes, or call Monica on 01924 258214 for more information about the group.Val and Phil have had a number of dogs from the TIA Greyhound Rescue Centre at Doncaster. "They make wonderful pets," said Phil. For more information go to http://tia-rescue.org/

Music evening raises nearly £380 for SCA funds

EVEN if the temperature had plunged by the time the event finished, the SCA's open-air musical evening in June was blessed with sunshine.The audience of more than 90 started bringing their picnics to West Yorkshire Sports and Social Club from 6.30pm, ready for Irish folk group Blimey O'Reilly to start their programme half-an-hour later. Their performance of Irish folk, country and western, and popular music proved to be a very entertaining mix. The event raised £378 for SCA funds and will help finance projects such as the hanging baskets, the Christmas tree and September's Scarecrow Festival.

Sharks in sponsored swim relay

THE Sandal Sharks - the swimming squad from Sandal Castle Primary School - were keen participants in a sponsored swim relay at the Normanton pool in May. The event was organised by the Rotary Club of Wakefield who entered their own four-man team. There were 24 Sandal Sharks taking part in the relay, raising money to support the squad's activities. There are 34 in the full squad who train two or three times a week in the school pool.

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