Great Dunmow


Dunmow and District Review of the year 2012



✯2012 got off with a bang in Dunmow... quite literally, after a car crashed through the front window of a High Street shop. Stunned passers-by could only look on with a mixture of horror and amazement as police and firefighters worked to drag the car out of sport shop, Out There Sports. The bewildered motorist, a man in his 70s, was unharmed but 'shaken up'. Keith Maven, who was working in the shop at the time of the crash, said: 'At the end of the day nobody has been hurt and that is the main thing.'

✯ A FORMER air cadet pledged to give teenagers the 'same opportunities' he had after taking the reigns of the Dunmow 999 Cadets. Officer commanding David Wilding was formally handed the reigns of the squadron and immediately set out to boost cadet numbers.

✯ THE countdown to the London 2012 Games officially begun in Uttlesford with the start of the district’s Sporting Heroes initiative.
The sporting and cultural event was organised by Saffron Walden Museum and included Team GB hockey player Chloe Rogers, touring the district giving lessons to schoolchildren, and an invitation for people to nominate their local sporting heroes for an exhibition held later in the year.

✯ LONDON 2012 was still some way off, but preparations were in hand to ensure Dunmow enjoyed its own legacy of the Olympic Games. Organiser Chris Muir announced that the first-ever Dunmow Games – bringing together many of the sports clubs in the town – would be held later in the year.

✯ UTTLESFORD District Council announced the first phase of its Local Development Framework plan to build thousands of new homes over the next 25 years. The council revealed a list of sites put forward by landowners for development and, importantly, that it favoured a revised 'top-down' approach to the plan.


✯ WHEN the chance arose to venture 4,000 miles across the globe on an African escapade, it was one a couple from Hatfield Broad Oak could not turn down.Chairman of the Essex Beekeepers Association, Richard Ridler ,and his wife Jane, a former biology teacher, pictured above, were asked to visit the remote town of Kasese in Uganda to help teach local beekeepers the tricks of the trade. During the two-week trip they explained how modern top-bar hives were more suited to African bees and their environment, and also taught the farmers how to make candles from bees’ wax – a by-product of the process, which the locals had been throwing away. Mr Ridler said: 'I think we probably got more out of the trip than some of the farmers did but at the same time we both learned a lot during what was a very enjoyable couple of weeks.'

✯ A DROUGHT warning was issued for Uttlesford after experts predicted the driest summer in almost 40 years. The south-east was officially declared a drought zone as people were urged to save water wherever possible.

✯ AFTER seven years of campaigning by two families, Network Rail admitted breaching health and safety laws at a level crossing where two teenagers were killed. Olivia Bazlinton, 14, and Charlotte Thompson, 13, were hit by a train in 2005 as they crossed the tracks at Elsenham station footpath crossing. Network Rail indicated guilty pleas to three charges under the health and safety act at Basildon Magistrates’ Court and was committed for sentencing at Chelmsford Crown Court on March 15. The rail firm was eventually fined £1million.


✯ AN overgrown 'eyesore' was transformed into a picturesque walk for future generations. The St Mary’s Church Riverbank Walk was officially opened following four years of hard work to turn a dream into a reality. Christine Walkden, a celebrity gardener and lifelong horticulturalist, cut the ribbon to officially open the Riverbank walk at a well-attended ceremony at the church, pictured left.

✯ YOUNGSTERS came together for a campaign to save Great Dunmow’s youth centre. Posters were put up around the town and a petition started to save the North Street facility. The teenagers who use the centre also wrote a letter calling for it to remain open following reports that youth workers were being made redundant.
The future of the centre was cast into doubt earlier in the year when Essex County Council announced a review of its services following a reduction in grants. The uncertainty caused great concern with town councillors and police officers fearing an increase in anti-social behaviour. However, the story at least had a happy ending later in the year when Essex pledged to keep the centre open.

✯ A NEW inspector was appointed to oversee neighbourhood policing across Uttlesford. Mick Couldridge noted the district is a safe area to live, but immediately asked residents, business workers and farmers to remain vigilant to 'make Uttlesford even safer still'.

✯ A PRIMARY school ‘Glee Club’ got the chance to perform at the O2 Arena in London as part of a giant school choir concert. Schoolchildren at Hatfield Heath wearing green glittery bowler hats to help parents and teachers tell them apart from the other schools – were delighted to be involved in the Young Voices event. More than 8,000 pupils from schools up and down the country took part.


✯ FELSTED’S Cultural Olympiad saw top cellist Julian Lloyd Webber make an appearance at the school. Mr Lloyd Webber, pictured far right, gave a recital to a packed Grignon Hall which included pupils, parents, staff and music lovers.

✯ A NEW attraction was added to a top tourist spot. The Gardens of Easton Lodge announced it would be running regular guided tours of the historic site, so visitors can feel the benefit of the knowledge of volunteers.

✯ A BASE jumper created a media storm after breaching security and jumping 850ft off of Europe’s tallest building. Roofer Dan Witchalls, from Great Canfield, pictured top right, edged past security at The Shard in London before jumping off the building.
'If you play golf you want to play on the best courses. It is a similar idea for a base jumper,' he told the Dunmow Broadcast. Base jumping (Buildings, Aerials, Spans and Earth) involved jumping from a fixed point using a parachute or wingsuit to break the fall.

✯ A HOSEPIPE ban came into force across Uttlesford following the driest two-year period in more than a century. It was the first time residents in Uttlesford have faced a hosepipe ban since 2006.
However, the seven water companies who imposed the ban were left with egg on their faces when the UK experienced the wettest summer on record!

✯ THE 'Herculean efforts' of troops at Carver Barracks, pictured above, were recognised at a medal parade. Proud families of more than 100 soldiers from 33 Engineer Regiment gathered at Waterbeach Barracks to watch their loved ones march into the parade square to collect their campaign medals. The troops had just returned from a six-month deployment to Afghanistan and were recognised for their part in Operation Herrick, where their job was to seek out and destroy improvised explosive devices (IEDs).


✯ A PROMINENT High Street pub was promised a new lease of life, pictured top. Cozy Pubs, the new owners of The Saracens Head, announced it would invest £1.75m, including a £500,000 makeover, to return the grade-II listed coaching inn to its former glory. The stunning revamp included a spruced up bar and resturant, and refurbished en-suite rooms, and took just weeks to complete. A formal opening was later enjoyed by hundreds of well-wishers.

✯ A GROUP of Little Canfield and Takeley residents were awarded £30,000 to go towards a community project. The scheme to build a new outdoor café was inspired by the support of villagers at the six monthly markets held at Blatches in 2011. The idea was to give residents a meeting place, without having to drive to Dunmow or Bishop’s Stortford, and to support local growers to sell their produce, pictured above.

✯ AN ARCTIC explorer spoke of the emotional rollercoaster ride he endured during a week-long expedition to the North Pole. Dave Sissens, of High Roding, raised over £25,000 for the charity Children with Cancer after he completed his heroic 150km journey in temperatures as low as -40˚C. Mr Sissens was part of a five-man party which set off from 89 degrees north after being transferred there by helicopter from a Russian scientific base, known as Camp Barneo. After trekking through the night on the seventh day they arrived at 4.48am at the North Pole, pictured top right.
Mr Sissens described it as a 'truly magical experience' and said it was a fantastic feeling when it dawned on him just what he had achieved.

✯ A HORTICULTURIST reached the 'pinnacle' of his career after driving away from the RHS Chelsea Flower Show with a gold medal.
Paul King, from King & Co in Rayne, took the accolade for his creation, ‘The Williams Story’, a life-size topiary model of an F1 car and pit crew which told the story of the team from its origins in 1977 to the present day. 'To win a gold medal is the pinnacle of anyone’s professional career. It confirms your level of competence and excellence,' said Mr King. The display had been three years in the making.


✯ YOUNG and old came together for the four-day weekend in a display of union to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee. The weather wasn’t great, but people braved it out to mark the Queen’s 60 years on the throne. From school events to street parties and the main event on Dunmow Recreation Ground, communities were awash with red, white and blue for the historic occasion.

✯ A FAMILIAR face to hundreds of Uttlesford residents emptied his final bin after an incredible 45 years in the job, Clifford Stone retired after completing his final round – just days before his 65th birthday. It is estimated he emptied somewhere in excess of 3.5m bins. Colleagues arranged a special presentation for him on his return to the depot in Great Dunmow on his last day.

✯ EIGHT friends completed a gruelling challenge to raise over £10,000 for charity. The octet took on the four-day, 230-mile canoe from Bristol to Bishop’s Stortford to raise funds for Brainwave, a charity that helps children who have suffered a brain injury, have a genetic condition or development delay.

✯ A HUGE leap was taken towards making a community radio station for Dunmow a reality. The project is spearheaded by the Dunmow Arts Centre, and a first meeting to get the scheme off the ground was declared a big success.


✯ AFTER 21 years, the long awaited north-west bypass was given a completion date. Uttlesford District Council’s planning committee approved an application from Bovis Homes for 125 homes on Sector 4 of Woodlands Park – and with it were promises the bypass will be finished within the next two years.

✯ OVER 80 years of a school’s history went up in flames after a boarding house caught alight. Felsted School’s Follyfield House was left in ruins because of the blaze, which took nine fire crews from six stations almost five hours to bring under control. The girls’ boarding house, which was built in 1928, suffered 'substantial' damage, although no-one was hurt.

✯ WHEELCHAIR users and the less mobile were able to enjoy one of the area’s most beautiful attractions after The National Trust opened a sensory boardwalk at Hatfield Forest. The 200-metre long vehicle free route through the coppice was billed as 'an ideal way for visitors with mobility problems to enjoy the forest'.

✯ TORRENTIAL rain did not dampen the Olympic spirit of Dunmow’s athletes as they took part in the town’s first-ever Dunmow Games.
Nearly all of the sports clubs in the town were represented in 15 events, including speed tennis serve competition, assault course, penalty shoot-out and running races.

✯ A LITTLE Dunmow man paid the 'perfect tribute' to his wife after carrying the Olympic Torch in her memory. John Bowman, 45, carried the flame into the evening celebration at Hylands House, Chelmsford. He stood in for his wife Kirstie, who had lost her seven-year battle with breast cancer in February at the age of 42.
Mrs Bowman, a sergeant for Essex Police, was selected through the LOCOG campaign after being nominated by the Breast Cancer Campaign for running 23 marathons and raising £50,000 following her diagnosis in 2005.

✯ LOVE, laughter, controversy and a lot of meat – the Flitch Trials had it all. Dunmow’s oldest tradition was a 'thundering success' as five couples came from far and wide, plus much closer to home, to try their luck and claim the bacon.


✯ A TEENAGE musician was given the chance of a lifetime as she sang at the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Esme Smith, from Great Dunmow, welcomed the Olympic Flame into the stadium singing Caliban’s Dream, a track written by her father Rick, who is one-half of the British electronic music duo Underworld. The teenager said: 'It was a once in a lifetime opportunity and the crowd were absolutely amazing.'

✯ RENOVATION of Finchingfield’s Guildhall was given a personal touch as people were given the opportunity to sign their names into its history. Over 150 people including children, parents, villagers and builders working on the project gathered to sign their names in the back of clay roofing tiles, before they were fixed onto the 540-year-old grade I listed building.

✯ TWO Uttlesford Olympians picked up medals at the London 2012 Games. Elsenham’s Ben Maher won gold in the equestrian team jumping event. The 29-year-old and his fellow Team GB teammates sealed the Olympic title after a jump-off with runners-up the Netherlands, giving Britain its first gold in the event since 1952.
Barnston’s Chloe Rogers walked away with a bronze medal. The former Helena Romanes School student played a vital role as Team GB’s women’s hockey team beat New Zealand 3-1 in the bronze medal game at the Riverbank Arena.

✯ HELENA Romanes School and Felsted both enjoyed fantastic A-Level results, yet again, continuing the excellence of previous years.
At HRSM 75 per cent of pupils got A*-C grades, while Felsted students had an overall pass rate of 99 per cent. GCSE results records were also broken at the two schools.

✯ THOUSANDS of people turned out once again for the annual August Bank Holiday weekend outdoor extravaganza that is the Countess of Warwick Show. Equestrian displays, a ploughing match, horticulture show, animal tent and a scarecrow competition were among the many attractions.

✯ DILAPIDATED children’s facilities on Carver Barracks were replaced by state-of-the-art equipment in an effort to bring families together. The Rowney Community Park Project took just over 10 months to complete thanks to the fundraising efforts of the committee and generous donations from many grant-giving organisations, businesses and local authorities. In total £180,000 was raised to build a new play area, and there was enough left over to renovate a second, smaller children’s facility.


✯ DUNMOW’S Dan Bentley thanked the people of his home town for his success at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. The 28-year-old added a bronze medal in the mixed team Boccia to the gold he won in Beijing 2008, an achievement he called 'incredible'. 'Two Paralympic Games and two medals is an incredible achievement,' he said.

✯ COMPOSER, pianist, bandleader and broadcaster Jools Holland added a military honour to his list of titles. He accepted an invitation to become Honorary Colonel of 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) based at Carver Barracks. Mr Holland visited the Wimbish base in September to meet the soldiers of 21 Field Squadron (EOD) prior to their deployment to Afghanistan.

✯ FORTY years of silence was replaced by the 'beautiful' sound of music as a church’s organ was restored to its former glory. St Andrews Church’s in Barnston is home to a very rare Bevington barrel organ – it is one of only six of its kind still in the country. Two years after churchwardens found the cash to restore the organ, it was pieced back together in the church’s gallery, awaiting the congregation to hear its splendour. The church held a concert in September where the organ was played to the general public for the first time.

✯ A PRIMARY school unveiled a new facility for students in memory of an 'irreplaceable' member of staff. The Roding Primary School officially opened Mrs Bardell’s Reading Room – named after Debbie Bardell, the school’s secretary who lost her battle with cancer in 2011. The Reading Room cost £20,000, which was raised by the children doing a sponsored read, fundraising by the Friends and a donation from Debbie’s family, who were on hand to see the opening.

✯ DUNMOW Carnival 2012’s procession broke all records, with over 70 floats taking part, and thousands of people flocked to the town centre. Numerous displays and performances took place in the main arena to make for a successful and exciting day.


✯ EXPERIMENTAL chef Heston Blumenthal caused a stir when he made a surprise visit to Dunmow as part of his TV show, Heston’s Fantastical Foods. It was hard to miss the chef as he parked a cement mixer on Dunmow High Street before loading half a ton of flour, suppplied by Dorrington’s, into it. It wasn’t just the roads that were blocked by the excitement – people stopped to snap photos of the famous cook while he loaded up the cement mixer. Sophie Sharples, the bakery’s development manager, pictured with Heston, told the Broadcast it was 'really good fun' meeting the chef.

✯ COMMMUNITY heroes who give up hours of their time to help others in Uttlesford were honoured at a special awards ceremony, pictured below. The bi-annual Community Achievement Awards, organised by Uttlesford District Council, welcomed Team GB’s Olympic and Paralympic heroes, Chloe Rogers and Dan Bentley.
Continuing the London 2012 theme, volunteer Games Makers and Essex Ambassadors were also present and all were awarded certificates. Twenty-eight Uttlesford residents – who between them have clocked up decades of voluntary work – received certificates and those attending heard the stories behind their selfless commitment to their communities. From running vital community shops to tireless charity fundraising, each award recipient had been nominated for making a difference to their community.

✯ AN ambitious project to complete the Flitch Way between the east and west of Dunmow was revealed. Town councillor Trudi Hughes is spearheading a campaign by Sustrans and Essex Bridleway Association volunteers to identify a safe route to link the Flitch Way around Dunmow for cyclist, walkers and riders.
Part of the project is aimed at putting pressure on landowners and developers to help complete the missing link of the network through the town.

✯ ONE of Uttlesford’s most popular attractions finally got the wind back in its sails after a major restoration project. Grade II* listed Thaxted Windmill had been without sails since disaster struck on Easter Monday 2010 – one of the stocks holding the sail frames broke in the canister box, forcing one sail to come crashing down through the gallery. However, a specialist millwright installed four new sails as part of a £60,000 refurbishment project.


✯ TEEN motorsport star Alex Lynn thrust Dunmow into the international spotlight when he added his name to an illustrious list of drivers who have stood on the podium at the legendary Macau Grand Prix. The 19-year-old Formula One hopeful joined world champions Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, and fellow drivers who have gone on to race in F1, Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld, as the only rookies to finish in the top three of the famous end-of-season event. It is a race won by some of the greatest names ever to grace the pinnacle of motorsport, including Ayrton Senna and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher, and features the best up-and-coming drivers from across the globe. Lynn stormed to pole position following a sensational qualifying lap and, after going wheel-to-wheel with his more experienced opponents on his way to third place in the main event, the youngster hopes his performance will turn a few heads in the F1 paddock.

✯ OWNERS of a long-established tree nursery took drastic action, burning hundreds of trees amid fears a fungal disease could take root. King and Co, in Rayne, took a decision to destroy 200 trees as a preventative measure in the wake of Ash dieback scare.
Owner Paul King said the loss of trees would cost the business around £10,000.

✯ A MUM from Great Dunmow who runs a successful mobile cookery school beat dozens of other cookery schools from across the country to win a top industry award. Carole Rose started Cookies Cookery School in 2003 by holding a handful of school cookery classes. She and her team now work with primary and secondary schools across Essex and Hertfordshire, as well as with numerous children centres. Cookies also supports children with various special needs, including teaching deaf children via sign language, and teaches cooking to vulnerable children and adults.
The cookery school picked up the accolade of Best Community Engagement at the British Cookery School Awards.

✯ POPULAR music venue High Barn moved to become a not-for-profit organisation to the 'cultural, social and economic benefit of the community'. Owners of the Great Bardfield facility turned it into a Community Interest Company, and announced plans to expand the venue by building on its programme of events to include all kinds of performing and visual arts.

✯ INTREPID adventurer Charlie Pitcher stated his intention to break a world record and become the fastest man to row the Atlantic Ocean. The father of four from Felsted aims to raise £100,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital and the charity C Group, which provides support to injured Royal Marines. The 49-year-old’s 3,000-mile adventure starts later this year.

✯ ESSEX’S first ever Police and Crime Commissioner was elected into his new post. Conservative Nick Alston beat Independent candidate Mick Thwaites after a second preference vote, with just 13 per cent of eligible voters turning out for the elections.


✯ A CHRISTMAS shopping day saw a return to the 'good ol’ days' as thousands of shoppers poured into Dunmow – and it was so successful there could be similar events on the horizon. The Dickensian Shopping Day, organised to replace Late Night Shopping, was a huge success – the High Street was full of people and some shops recorded their best days of the year.

✯ A SUPERB year for Helena Romanes School got even better after it was graded ‘good’ by Ofsted inspectors for the first time in its history. After achieving its highest ever GCSE results and adacemy status, the school ended 2012 in positive fashion by being upgraded from a ‘satisfactory school by government inspectors. Headteacher Simon Knight and students celebrated the ‘good’ Ofsted report.

✯ CHAOS was brought to the roads, some flights were cancelled at Stansted Airport, and some schools in the Broadcast area were shut for the day after 2cm of snow fell unexpectedly overnight. Essex County Council gritters took some time to get out on the roads and the council’s cabinet member for highways and transportation, Cllr Derrick Louis, apologised for the disruption.


Austin Reeve, Dunmow Local History Recorder
With material kindly supplied by Daniel Barden (Dunmow Broadcast and Advertiser).