April 2020

As all local events have been cancelled due to Covid 19 – there are no dates to remember.


Preston Parish Council and the Preston Trust would like to thank everyone who has volunteered to help those in need during the Corona Virus situation. Anyone who would like to volunteer and anyone who requires help should make contact in one of the following ways:

The phone line and emails will be monitored from 7.30am to 9.30pm.

Please note that if a call comes in after 8 30pm it may not be possible to link the caller to a volunteer until the following day unless the issue is urgent.

We know from conversations over the last few days that everyone is looking out for each other during this situation, but at the same time a lot of us are unwilling to be a burden. Some of the volunteers on the phone line are currently in self-isolation. If you do have to self-isolate don’t forget:

Let your family, friends and neighbours know that you going into self-isolation.

Arrange to be in daily contact with others by phone, text, WhatsApp, Email, Face-time or any other method that works for you.

If these are not possible or for extra peace of mind, you can also let us know using the contact details above.

Arrange for any shopping to be done and prescriptions picked up to be left on your doorstep. We suggest:

  • Internet delivery
  • Family, friends and neighbours
  • Contact the group of volunteers in the parish who are happy to help – details above
  • There is nothing to stop you using all 3 suggestions

Canon Stephen Writes:

In an unprecedented move, on account of the coronavirus, there will be no services of public worship at our church for the foreseeable future. This is for many a serious blow, and we regret it hugely, but it is an essential part of the attempt to stem the spread of the virus and to lessen the pressure on the NHS.

I will be going to the church every Sunday morning at the usual time – 9.30 at St Martin’s and 11am at All Saints to say a service of said Matins.  But sadly there will be no congregation present. Please do say prayers at home at these times, for yourselves, each other, for the community and for all those affected by the virus or helping to deal with it.

The faster we can stem the spread of the virus, the quicker we can hope to get back to normal.

Both churches will however be open every day for private prayer.

Meanwhile, each member of the Hitchin clergy team will be recording a weekly message – my turn will be on April 8. This will be available online.

There will be updates on our website A church near you.

With prayers and blessings


Two poems by A E Housman (1859-1936)

Easter Hymn

If in that Syrian garden, ages slain,
You sleep, and know not you are dead in vain,
Nor even in dreams behold how dark and bright
Ascends in smoke and fire by day and night
The hate you died to quench and could but fan,
Sleep well and see no morning, son of man.

At the right hand of majesty on high
You sit, and sitting so remember yet
Your tears, your agony and bloody sweat,
Your cross and passion and the life you gave,
Bow hither out of heaven and see and save.

Loveliest of Trees

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.

A Letter From Our Team Vicar

This is not the letter that I had been intending to write for April – for obvious reasons.

On all our minds is the dark cloud of the Coronavirus. It is affecting us in ways we could scarcely have imagined. There are the necessary restrictions on our freedom of movement. They are for the greater good of reducing the spread of the virus, but have come as a shock and a challenge.

The closure of our schools too is a measure of the seriousness of what we face. And I am sorry that public worship in our churches is ceasing for the time being. This is unprecedented.

However……every Sunday as usual I will be leading an act of worship in the church – but it will be an act of worship without a congregation to participate in it.

In other words, I will be more or less on my own. But I will be leading the worship of God and praying for our community; and I invite all of you to set aside the time of the services to make your own prayers at home. 9.30 at Preston. 11 o’clock at St Paul’s Walden.

Whatever Coronavirus brings, the key focus for us in April this year remains the great events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. It is a wonderful and profound transition – from the Cross to the vital surge of new life that the Resurrection of Jesus brings.

The Cross, as the place of the supreme crisis, and therefore the place of all our individual and collective crises, is also the prelude to their resolution in the event by which God raised Jesus from death to life.

It is a challenging point to keep hold of – but if we can hold onto it, we should do so, because it gives us hope at the heart of our current predicament, whether we face it individually or in our communities.

With every blessing for Easter,



Team Vicar of St Paul’s Walden with Preston:

Last Minute Update:

The Vicar Writes:

We are all very sad that St Martin’s is closed until further notice because of the Coronavirus. It means no services in or from the church.

However for the first time, this Sunday 29 March, at 10.30 we will be streaming a service of Holy Communion via You Tube from The Vicarage in Whitwell. At any rate, that is my hope, but you never quite know with the internet or my computer skills!

Access to the broadcast will be via the A Church near you St Paul’s Walden website.

I hope you will want to tune in and follow it with us.

Meanwhile there is a pew sheet for this Sunday, a copy of which can be accessed by following the link from the Preston website notice board www.prestonvillageherts.com

With my very best wishes in these tough times.


Sharing Photos (Paintings and Illustrations)

As many of you know I have taken photographs for the Preston Website, The Neighbourhood Plan and Preston Open Gardens. I kept intending to ask if you would also like to share photos (paintings and illustrations) to go on the Home Page, Newsletter Pages and Galleries of the Preston Website.

Now seems like a good time for us to share our lives and surroundings in pictures whilst we spend so much time in isolation. If you would like to share, take a phone, camera (or drawing materials) with you round the garden, on walks, looking out the window and even inside. If there is a story to tell with one or more pictures our website can share that too. I already have some great images of a rainbow over the Whitwell Road to share with you, taken using a mobile phone, by one of our neighbours while out walking. Share whatever subjects catch your eye – landscapes, wildlife, our animals and of course gardens and plants. If you are takings photographs with people in, please remember to follow all government advice and rules on safe separation.

You can contact me the Photos Contact Form or the e-mail and phone number published in the print edition of this newsletter.

Wally Steele

The 2020 Spring Litter Pick: Saturday, March 14th, 10.00am – 12 noon

Once again, my sincere thanks to all those cheerful parishioners who, so enthusiastically, volunteered to help with our Spring Litter pick. It is truly heartening to have such support. We managed to clear all the lanes and the footpaths, and haul the rubbish back to The Green. It was the usual muddle of plastic, glass, rubber and metal ‘stuff’.

Special thanks are due to Ita who uncovered a wheelbarrow wheel and also a large ‘hoard’ of elderly glass bottles, some broken, well hidden on the verge along Charlton Road. And very special thanks also to Tim, Tom, Veronica, Eva and Amelia who raked up all the branches, twigs and twiglets from The Green: an energetic and capable team there! Tom, of the Pilkington Farms Partnership, very kindly took all the rakings into Wain Wood, where they will create an appropriate habitat for small mammals, insects and fungi, and then gradually weather down to a new layer of soil. Wain Wood is part of the King Walden Bury Estate, owned by the Pilkington Farms Partnership.

By prior arrangement, all the ‘litter’ was collected by NHDC/ Urbaser on Monday morning, the 17th, and the litter-picker tools and HiVis jackets returned to them. Please be vigilant and report, in the usual way, anyone whom you see ‘fly tipping’. Many thanks.

Liz Hunter, Preston Trust committee member

The Red Lion

From Friday 27 March the Red Lion will be running a milk and bread service. We will also be selling some produce from our suppliers.

More details are available in the print edition of this newsletter and via the PNS.

A take away food service will be starting next Tuesday, 31 March.


In case anyone doesn’t know already, most chemists provide a home delivery service for repeat prescriptions. To set this up, please contact the pharmacy from where you normally collect your prescriptions. This service might be particularly helpful to Preston residents in these unusual and unprecedented times.

The Great Easter Egg Hunt

Although this has been postponed we are still asking you to let us know if you are interested in coming when the belated Easter Egg Hunt takes place, hopefully September. Booking doesn’t commit you to coming it simply gives us an idea of numbers, any intolerances or allergies, and will enable us to involve the children with some free on line Easter activities we are planning. Liz is safeguarding 100 Eggs which we bought a few weeks ago but have best by dates in 2021.

To book or ask questions use the Preston Trust Event Contact Form

We look forward to welcoming you, in better times, to a fun filled afternoon –

Rae – Preston Trust committee member

Preston Open Gardens – Sunday May 24th 2020:  CANCELLED

It is with huge regret that we have decided to cancel this year’s Open Gardens Day. This seems sensible to us, whilst we all concentrate on other serious matters in the coming months.

Thank you all very much once again for such enthusiastic and generous support over many years, as flower arrangers, gardeners, ticket sellers and car park attendants, sandwich makers and cake bakers, and not forgetting Chris and Michelle with the beehive and many pots of honey on The Green. The income generated by this event each year has made a very significant and most welcome contribution to St. Martin’s church.

 The event has always been such a splendid annual achievement for our small community, since it was bravely initiated by Margaret Cashin and Sue Kellard 29 years ago. With such amazing talent and skill on display in all its aspects, this Day has become a highlight of the ‘horticultural calendar’ in this neighbourhood, with very many visitors returning each year to enjoy it all.

With love and good wishes to you all,
Meta, Pam and Liz

The Preston Trust AGM

The Preston Trust AGM due to be held on Sunday 31st May at the Village Hall has been cancelled. At this stage the committee are unsure of how or when the meeting will now be conducted but I hope to be able to give you an update in the May Newsletter and via PNS.

Wal – Chairman the Preston Trust

The Scarecrows… May be a bit late getting here

Last month we told you that the Scarecrows are coming. It seems unlikely that we will have our Community Fun Day and Scarecrow Festival as planned on Saturday 27th June. We will keep you updated on revised plans. It is our hope that The Preston Trust and PHC will still be able to organise a joint community fun day to celebrate Village Day and the 200th anniversary of the founding of Princess Helena College.

Phone And Broadband Issues

The Parish Council would like to thank everyone who responded to their request for information on individual phone and broadband issues so that it could lobby Openreach and BT. A member of the High Level Complaints Team has looked into the Preston issues and there has been a positive outcome.

Openreach would like to apologise to all residents if they’ve experienced a problem with their phone or broadband. These are essential services and they understand that the community want to know they’re getting the best possible service.

The issue with the main cable going into the cabinet was acknowledged and changes to the cables have resolved the problem. Since the work at the cabinet has been completed there have been no further faults reported to Openreach.

Residents should report any future individual problems they have to their provider and claim compensation.

Preston Neighbourhood Plan

The Steering Group would like to thank everyone who voted in the Referendum and everyone who contributed to the Neighbourhood Plan during its production. The outcome was positive with 128 (91%) voting for the Neighbourhood Plan and 13 (9%) voting against it. Turnout was 41%.

This means that the Neighbourhood Plan will be formally made by NHDC in a few weeks’ time and will be used by planning officers when determining every planning application for the parish until 2031.

A number of residents have asked if they could have a copy of the Neighbourhood Plan as a printed and bound book. This can be organised at a cost of between £10 and £21.50 for a full colour, high quality, proper hardback copy with a sewn binding. The price will be determined by the total number of copies printed with a minimum print of 25. Anyone who would like a copy can complete the online order form at:

Closing date for orders is Tuesday 5 May.

The actual cost will be confirmed to those who have ordered copies before the order is submitted to the publisher with details of how to pay.

If you need to look at the Neighbourhood Plan online to decide if you want to order a hardback copy, please visit preston-np.org.uk and follow the link (10 lines down the page) to Preston Parish Neighbourhood Plan 2018 – 2031

The book will contain all 112 pages of the plan. In addition to the 27 pages which detail the planning policies there are:

    • Chapters on the history, heritage, buildings and natural environment of Preston
    • The outline story of writing our plan, its objectives and our community rights
    • Over 150 photographs from around the parish
    • 23 annotated maps

Neighbourhood Watch

The number to contact at North Herts Police for all non-emergencies (including witnessing of fly-tipping) is 101 or 01707 354000.

For removal of fly tipping which has already occurred, call NHDC 01462 474000 or online at www.north-herts.gov.uk, then follow the links to Transport and Streets, Street Cleaning and Fly Tipping where there is a form to complete to report the details.

PC Johnie Streeter and PCSO Heather Burrows can be contacted regarding local community issues. Their contact details are as follows:

PC Johnie Streeter: 07525 905431 or 01438 757604 Johnie.streeter@herts.pnn.police.uk

PCSO Heather Burrows: 07740 745168 or 01438 757604 or heather.burrows@herts.pnn.police.uk

In the event of an emergency or if you witness a crime taking place please call 999.

Reporting suspicious activity

Please report any suspicious activity or vehicles you may witness in the locality.

Call the police on the non-emergency number 101 or report it online by using the website www.herts.police.uk/report and follow the links.

Register With The Owl System

Keep up to date with what’s going on in your neighbourhood by signing up to the OWL System (Online Watch Link). Information about crime, the latest crime prevention advice and local community news is sent by email from Herts Police.

Visit www.owl.co.uk for further information or email the Watch Liaison Officer at WLO@herts.pnn.police.uk.

Details are also available on the Neighbourhood Watch page of the Preston Village website at www.prestonvillageherts.com.

Hitchin Foodbank

Many thanks for your ongoing support and contributions to the Hitchin Foodbank. Due to recent increased demand the following items are most urgently needed: Pasta sauce, long life juice, sponge puddings, tinned fish (tuna preferred), as well as the usual products.

Please ensure items are undamaged and in date. Donations can be deposited in the blue box in the garage at Lychgate House, Church Lane, or at Waitrose and Sainsbury’s.

Preston – Bin Collection

From Monday 30 March, North Hertfordshire District Council (NHDC) will be suspending collection of food waste caddies and garden waste until further notice.

All food waste should now be placed into your purple refuse bin. For tips on home composting go to their website: http://ow.ly/XC3R50yWyMi

NHDC have made these changes, due to the unprecedented circumstances we are faced with during the Coronavirus pandemic. By suspending collection of food waste and garden waste, this means we can prioritise the collection of refuse and recycling and hope that changes made will help us to maintain a sustainable level of service during staff shortages.

COVID-19 and the Newsletter

Producing our Parish Newsletter is a community initiative. Between us, we have taken steps to protect both the volunteers who produce and deliver as well as our readers. We have reduced the number of people involved in production – Howard edited the newsletter and e-mailed it as a Word file for printing; Rae and Wal printed, folded and sorted into delivery rounds this month; each delivery round was laid out separately for contact free collection.