Snow on Ash Ranges in the 1980s

During the snowy winter of 1981/82 here in Ash/Ash Vale, along with everywhere else in Southern England, we awoke one day to find there had been a huge snowfall overnight and everyone was totally ‘snowed in’!  There was no way in, or out of Ash & Ash Vale, all roads were impassable until the snowploughs reached us with grit etc.  For that day we were all ‘cut-off’!  Those who did try to drive to work, found the roads where impassable & had to return home.  This was a day I shall never forget!

What a wonderful day of fun and laughter the day turned out to be!  Everyone (young or older, with or without children) made for the ranges!  We all took everything we could find to have fun!  We wore our boots, wellies, thick coats, gloves, mittens, and hats to keep our ears warm.  Sledges, toboggans, tin trays, and even ski’s were the ‘order of the day’! .  There were numerous snowball fights (between children & children, plus adults and adults!), several snow-men (or “snow-people” to be politically correct these days!) were built and children just enjoyed rolling in the snow, especially down the butts (but no damage was done, the snow was so thick)!  Everyone mixed in with the fun, regardless of their age. 

A couple of the menfolk built a fire (in a sheltered snow-hole) and managed to get a decent fire going. They then found sticks/branches, planted them in the snow with a line of string attached to make a ‘drying line’ for drying gloves!

As the kiddies (& adults) gloves became soaked through, they would take them to the fire, take them off and they were ‘pegged’ onto the line to dry out!  In exchange they received another ‘dry’ish pair of gloves, any gloves that fitted!

I am certain no child (or adult) went home that day with their own gloves, but no-one cared! It was a day nobody who was involved in will ever forget and will probably not happen again?  The ‘Community Spirit’ was definitely shown on that day.

By Pat Scott

Suffer the little Children and great big Animals to come to me

Christmas Eve in 1972 was a Sunday.  This is why the Sunday School at the Ash Vale Methodist Church planned a special Christmas procession on that Sunday morning. The idea of Mary and Joseph accompanied by a group of shepherds and the three Wise Men travelling to Bethlehem, appealed to the children and so a plan was hatched to produce something the people of Ash would remember and talk about for years to come.

I, as a new Sunday School Teacher, was one of the team elected to ensure the planned procession took place. My daughter, a newly recruited pupil at the Sunday School was also excited to help.

Many suggestions were considered and rejected.  The shepherds should have some sheep and if possible lambs with them. Wasn’t a new born lamb one of the gifts presented to the Baby Jesus ?  Enquiries were made but it transpired that sheep, and especially lambs, were not available, so this suggestion had to be shelved.

However, someone was found who could walk with the children whilst playing an accordion. For the next five weeks he, and the children practised their Christmas Carols.

We found an animal refuge that was prepared to lend us a Donkey for the day and they would deliver and collect the Donkey to meet our timing.

So on that Sunday Morning a transporter was met by forty, or so,  Sunday School Children at the end of Wharf Road and a Donkey was off loaded.

Now every donkey I had ever seen, and certainly all the pictures I had seen in the Children’s Bible were of a creature that was about half the size of a small pony In the Children’s Bible, Mary was the only rider and she overflowed on all sides of the steed.  The donkey that lumbered out of the transporter was huge.  About five feet tall with enough space on his back to accommodate the whole Sunday School. We opted for Mary and Joseph together with three companions to ride and the rest of the ‘tribe’ to follow singing  Christmas Carols.

Arriving at the Church we were met by the Minister, Bernard, who had thoughtfully brought a bucket and spade with him, in case of accidents. The idea was that the Children should celebrate Christmas and still be there when worshippers arrived for the morning service at 11.00 o’clock. And of course so would Mary, Joseph, the three Kings, Shepherds and, the Donkey.

Entry into the Church was simple enough, the doors were wide enough and it just needed a turn to the right and all would be well.  This was when Neddy displayed his thespian independence.  As soon as his front half was in, he stopped. He became rooted to the spot. I experienced my first example of an immovable object. We pushed, we pulled we pushed again, we offered carrots and pulled but to no avail. Neddy was not going in any further. But our attempts to put him in reverse were also no good. He had decided that he was there and was going to stay there. Front legs, head and shoulders in the Church and rear quarters firmly filling the doorway. Then, oh catastrophe, the congregation started to arrive. No way to get past this impenetrable blockage so they had to use Minister’s door and so were able to take part in the Service. Bernard was very amused but we faced to problem of getting Neddy out when his transport arrived to take him home.

By Mike Jacobs

News from Ash Citizens Advice

I live with my two children and partner in a small semi-detached house. During the winter we use more heating and electricity as we’re home more. Do you have any tips on how I can keep the cost of my energy down during the winter?

There are a few things you can do to save some money during the winter period. Check when your energy contract is due to expire. If you’re at the end of your contract use energy compare by Citizens Advice to see if you could save money by switching supplier or tariff.

If you’re on a prepayment meter you could save money by replacing your meter with one that lets you pay after using energy rather than in advance. Most suppliers won’t charge for removing a prepayment meter, though many will run a credit check or ask for a deposit.

You may also be eligible for certain grants and benefits these could include Warm Home discount or help with energy debt.

Here are a few practical tips to help keep costs down:

· Using a timer for your heating, lowering your thermostat and using radiator valve controls could save you over £100 per year

· Changing light bulbs to more efficient ones could save £50 over the lifetime of the bulb

· Turn appliances off standby mode to save around £30 a year

· Seal cracks in floors, skirting boards and add draft excluders to letterboxes, doors and windows.

· Some energy suppliers also offer grants to allow improvements to your home, like insulation or a new boiler. What help you can get depends on your circumstances and what would help your home. You don’t need to be a customer of one of these suppliers to apply but you’ll Need to check your eligibility. If you would like help with the any of the issues above, please contact Ash Citizens Advice on 01252 315569.

Citizens Advice Ash is an independent local charity. We depend on local funding from local authorities, local charitable trusts, local businesses and private donations. Our highly trained volunteers, who give their free time to help local people, are currently working from home providing free independent telephone and email advice service. We have recent funding from the CO-OP to help us continue to provide this service post the pandemic, helping us to return to face to face services in a safe and secure environment . If you would like to support us you can do this by going to the CO-OP website and becoming a CO-OP member https://www.coop.co.uk/membership?

Citizens Advice Ash is open Monday to Thursday 9.30 am to 4 pm for telephone advice (01252 315569). Email advice is available via our website: www.ashcab.org.uk.

By Sandra Luff