January-June 2008

Sandal Magna’s chess players – and a new school

SANDAL MAGNA Community School’s successful chess team, pictured in March 2008. Team captain Sam Liddicott is seated on the right. During summer demolition teams were due to begin reducing the original 118-year-old school building to rubble. The new eco-school, which pupils helped to design, was expected to open in autumn 2009. Initially half of the school was to be demolished and pupils would be taught in the other half, which was to make way for the playground and car parking areas when the new building was finished.


Sandal soloists Matthew Hodges and Olivia Dobson, both from Sandal (See story below)

Photo courtesy Rotary Club of Wakefield

Teen to wow crowds at festival

Published by the Wakefield Express on 7 May 2008: A YOUNG singer-songwriter is set to wow the crowds at the first Wakefield Arts Festival.  Music student Matthew Hodges, 16, of Carr Lane, Sandal, has been chosen as one of the support acts for jazz legend Chris Barber at the inaugural cultural event. His friend, soprano and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School pupil Olivia Dobson, also 16, of Chevet Lane, Sandal, will share the support act duties at the Saturday, July 5, evening concert, which starts at 7.15pm. Matthew, who studies at Leeds College of Music, said: "I think it's a fantastic opportunity and something I've always wanted to do. I'm going to take the opportunity with both hands."

It is just one part of a day-long festival showcasing talent in music, drama, art and dance at QEGS, Northgate. It has been organised by Wakefield Rotary Club.  The idea for the event sprang from a conversation between music teacher and Rotary vice president Sue Parkin and art lover Brenda Ward, who had motor neurone disease. When Miss Ward lost her battle with the illness, Mrs Parkin, of Roger Drive, Sandal, organised the festival in her memory. She said the event, which will feature contributions from 15 schools, was a great way of linking state and private schools together and giving pupils a platform to perform.

Among the attractions will be choirs from Sandal Endowed, Dane Royd Primary School, and St Austin's School, drama from Kettlethorpe High School and art and music from Wakefield Girls High School. Horbury Brass Band and the Gilbert and Sullivan Society will also perform. July is going to be a busy month for Matthew Hodges as he will also be performing a tribute on national radio to his friend Alex Dawson, a QEGS pupil who died from cancer last November, aged 16. Matthew wrote and performed a song inspired by Alex at his funeral called Left a Man, and will sing it again on July 13 on BBC Radio Two's Good Morning Sunday with Aled Jones.

Diagnosing a medieval murder at Sandal

KEITH SOUTER, a retired doctor living in Sandal, who has written seven novels under the name of Keith Moray, delved into historical Wakefield for his latest offering, The Pardoner’s Crime. Set in medieval Wakefield and Sandal Castle, the text reclaims Robin Hood as a Wakefield character. Dr Souter told the Wakefield Express: “I live within arrow shot of Sandal Castle so it seemed particularly fitting for the location. I had the idea to write a historical novel in the back of my mind for some time, but didn’t know whether I could write about history believably.”

But after winning a prize for a short historical story in 2006, he was confident enough to put pen to paper. Dr Souter’s previous crime novels featured Inspector McKinnon and this was first to be published under his real name. It tells the story of Sir Richard Lee, sergeant-at-law, who is sent to Sandal Castle in 1322 by King Edward II. Within hours of arriving, he and his assistant are forced to investigate a rape and a murder. Enthusiasts were offered an insight into The Pardoner’s Crime when Dr Souter gave a reading on Thursday, January 24, at Sandal Library. The novel promises to be the first in a trilogy of Wakefield and Sandal Castle-based novels. 

Six decades of bell ringing

John Cutt, 73, of Milnthorpe Crescent, Sandal, had been bell ringing at St Helen's church since the 1940s, when was honoured in May 2008 for dedicating 60 years to his family’s tradition of calling the congregation to worship. At a church service he was presented with a specially made working model of a tower bell.  When he started as a learner aged only 13, his father George had already been ringing for 20 years and his uncle Ernest for 22 years.  And when a group of teenagers joined in 1955, John met his future wife, Margot. The couple, who had both been christened at the church, married there in September 1961. Decades on the two still climbed the church's narrow spiral staircase to ring the bells twice a week – and they had no plans to stop. John said: "I would have rung the bells on our wedding day, but my wife's mother wouldn't let me." The vicar, the Rev Rupert Martin, said: "He is an incredibly loyal and conscientious bell ringer. He contributes hugely to the life of the church because bell ringing is a very audible presence, which tells people the church is alive and well.” 

Trainee nurse shuns modelling career

Published by the Wakefield Express on 25 June 2008: A SANDAL model has given up on her hopes of becoming Miss England in favour of finishing her nursing degree.  Katie Cheesman, of Stillwell Grove, Sandal, dropped out of the competition after realising she would have to leave her course in July – six weeks before it was due to finish. Former Wakefield Express Look Of competition finalist Miss Cheesman, who currently holds the Miss Wakefield title, was competing in the regional heats when she was asked if she would be prepared to sacrifice her career.

The 24-year-old said: "My instinct was to say no. I knew there and then it was over for me in the competition. I could have lied and said yes, but that wouldn't make me a very good nurse. I wasn't aware that Miss England was a full-time job. If it was any other course then I would be able to take the year out but I can't because I would have to resit all my exams, rewrite my dissertation and do all my placement hours again. I have worked so hard this year and I could sacrifice my degree and then not even be crowned Miss England. My nursing is everything to me. I know I am a fantastic nurse and put 110 per cent into caring for my patients. Beauty will run out and I will age but I will always have my nursing degree.

Brookhouse Club set to re-open

A POPULAR working men's club will rise from the ashes in the same spot were it was demolished after being gutted by a fire. Sandal’s Brookhouse WMC, on Barnsley Road, closed in January 2006 after the building was declared dangerous. Now its was preparing for its re-opening in new premises. Just two months after a fire ripped through the disused building, a decision was made to demolish it. The committee immediately began planning its revival, determined not to let down the 1,400-strong membership. 

The club did a deal to sell part of the land for a housing development but retain the same spot for a new club and bowling green.  In the meantime, members were allowed to use Wakefield City WMC on Brunswick Street so the Brookhouse club could retain its Club and Institute Union (CIU) status. Now the club, which dates back to 1898 and has been at different locations in the past, was planning a grand reopening of its new premises in August 2008.  Club secretary Julie Brough said: “The club will still have its traditional roots because that is really important to us, but it is more modern. It’s on exactly the same spot as before, with the same address, phone number and post code. We have kept all our sports teams, who were based at other clubs around Wakefield.” 

'Exceptional lady’ in for teaching award

A TEACHING assistant from Sandal was in the running for a 2008 National Teaching Award after winning the northern regional heat of the competition. For 15 years Joyce Steel, 63, of Stillwell Drive, had been a teaching assistant at Castle Grove Infant School, on Pinfold Lane. She was nominated for the award by school governor Stephen Nuthall, who said: "She is just an exceptional lady. She works in the foundation stage and is extremely creative.” Mrs Steel said: "I just love being with the children and the job satisfaction that you get from being able to work with them and the atmosphere of the class.”


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