Extras – May 2021

Probus Hears of Three Pyrenean Adventures

Probus Club member, retired RAF Squadron Leader, Chris Perkins MVO, talked about his recollections of three backpacking expeditions to the French and Spanish Pyrenees some four decades ago. They were “home spun” adventures involving experienced members of the Royal Air Force Mountain Rescue Service, although the last trip was with those with little or no mountaineering experience providing a trekking experience second to none.

As a boy, in the immediate post war suburbia of south Birmingham, he always held an interest in the great outdoors. Birthday, Christmas and pocket money was spent sourcing items of ex-military maps, rucksacks and compasses. Only after embarking on his RAF Service in the 1960s could he afford to purchase up to date clothing and equipment and eventually joined the RAF Mountain Rescue Service.

A decade later, he was persuaded to put together a ‘trekking adventure’ to the French/Spanish Pyrenees. Being a military sponsored expedition, permissions had to be obtained and diplomatic clearance achieved for them to operate in the border area. They were challenged on the first two expeditions by the French National Gendarmerie as Basque separatists were active in the area. This worked to their advantage for the third trip as a liaison had been established with the Gendarmerie unit based at their start point in Bagneres de Luchon: an ideal location to securely leave valuables, a change of clothing, camp overnight and ‘clean up’ prior to the long rail journey back to base.

None had experienced travelling in the area during July. The scarce information that could be gleaned, described fantastic rocky ridges and peaks, permanent glaciers and high valleys holding year-round snow and ice. On the first expedition, they kitted themselves out with normal RAF Mountain Rescue winter mountaineering clothing and equipment as if tackling a winter trip to the Scottish Cairngorms or Glencoe. Combined with the heavy tentage of the time, all rucksack loads exceeded 60lbs with tinned food for a couple of weeks.

The plan was to set up a base camp just inside the National Park boundary and each day make exploratory excursions, some with overnight bivouacs to look at various glaciers, mountain huts and suitable routes to gain the frontier peaks. They looked very strange ‘apparitions’ toiling up the steep, but well-defined lower tracks loaded up and perspiring profusely. In temperatures well over 30 degrees, they were overtaken by folk trekking in their shorts, ‘T’ shirts and walking trainers, all carrying lightweight overnight sacs and plenty of water. They were bound for French Alpine Club mountain huts below the snowline where accommodation and food could be provided – at a cost. Utilising these ‘facilities’ and locating camps nearby, the RAF team were able to access the upper snowfield couloirs, peaks and frontier ridge thus saving the gruelling descent and climb each day.

Much was learnt from that first excursion into the area. Looking across into Spain more incredible mountain ridges were seen, and above the snowline, only a few experienced climbers and the alpinists of the Gendarmerie were encountered. Some access valleys and rocky passes in the area had been utilised by the Resistance during WW2 taking Allied Evaders into Spain. This knowledge set the scene for a return next year to expand the trip into a ‘lightweight trekking expedition’ taking ten days crossing into Spain, climbing the highest peak in the Pyrenees, Pic de Aneto and returning via a steep and rocky pass over the frontier.

Each trip they travelled by train from London, with the Hovercraft used to cross the Channel from Dover. Also, instead of sitting upright in crowded, bench seated carriages, couchette compartments were utilised. However, on the return journey some French passengers allocated overnight beds in a couple of their compartments, were unimpressed with odours radiating from two weeks of backpacking kit.

They had gained access to a remote and completely unspoilt, beautiful area of the Pyrenees for these expeditions. Unforgettable adventures for all and extremely gratifying. It is hoped that with the passage of decades, climate change causing glacier melt, mass holidays for all and the advent of motor vehicle incursion into those mountains, that the area has not changed for ever!


Basingstoke & Dean Borough Council

21 April 2021

PR 9934

Restart Grant Scheme launched

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has launched a new government grant scheme to support local businesses to reopen safely as COVID restrictions are lifted.

Following further business support measures announced by the government and guidance on how to distribute this funding, businesses are now able to apply for Restart Grants from the council.

The Restart Grant, which will run until 30 June 2021 in two strands, will support non-essential retail businesses with one-off grants of up to £6,000 and hospitality, accommodation, leisure, personal care and gym business premises with one-off grants of up to £18,000.

All eligible businesses will receive funding based on the rateable value of their premises. When applying, businesses must be able to demonstrate that they were trading on 1 April 2021.

Since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, over £38 million of grant funding has been allocated to businesses across the borough.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Executive Director of Corporate Services Sue Cuerden said: “This continues to be a difficult time for local businesses and we thank them for everything they have done to minimise the spread of COVID-19 across the borough.

“Following guidance from the government, we have been working hard to implement this scheme as quickly as possible. I would encourage eligible businesses to apply now so that they don’t miss out.”

For more information on the eligibility criteria and to apply, please visit  www.basingstoke.gov.uk/local-restrictions-support-grant

For further information please contact Senior Communications Officer Jessica Bave on 01256 845746 or email Jessica.bave@basingstoke.gov.uk

Media enquiries line 01256 845220 or email communications@basingstoke.gov.uk.
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26 April 2021

PR 9930

Curtain up for Pictures in the Park at new venue

Outdoor cinema will be back in Basingstoke this summer with the return of the popular Pictures in the Park event.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council has lined up 10 fantastic film favourites, to be shown on the big screen at a new venue, The Walled Garden at Down Grange, from Thursday 8 July to Sunday 11 July.

Audiences will be treated to a very special outdoor cinema season in the beautiful surroundings of the Walled Garden and for the first time, due to a day-safe screen, there will be afternoon screenings in addition to evening performances, so that people of all ages can enjoy the entertainment which is part of Basingstoke Festival 2021. 

Movie blockbusters will include Frozen 2, Wonder Woman 1984, Downton Abbey, Ghostbusters, Bridesmaids, Madagascar, Black Panther, The Incredibles, Back To The Future and get ready for a musical extravaganza with The Greatest Showman Sing-along!

As in previous years, cinema-goers are invited to bring their own deckchairs and a picnic or buy hot drinks and snacks on site. Ticket holders should check the Pictures in the Park website for any updates and wrap up warm for evening screenings.

To ensure that the event is COVID-secure, audience numbers will be limited and safety measures will be in place.

Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s Arts and Events Manager Ross Harvie said: “After the difficult time everyone across the borough has faced during the pandemic, we are delighted to be bringing back the popular Pictures in the Park event in the stunning surroundings of The Walled Garden at Down Grange.

“This year, we have a larger selection of great movies to bring some much-needed entertainment to the borough and there really is something for everyone.

“We are looking forward to seeing everyone and I’m sure there will be a fantastic atmosphere as friends and family get together for the outdoor cinema experience. So don’t miss your chance to come along and keep an eye out on the Basingstoke Festival social media channels for regular updates before tickets go on sale in the middle of May.”

Tickets will be priced between £5 and £15, plus booking fee, and go on sale in mid May at https://www.basingstokefestival.co.uk/picsinpark2021/

Find out more about Down Grange at https://www.basingstoke.gov.uk/walledgarden


Chineham Library

Update from Chineham Library

We were delighted to welcome customers back into the library on 12 April, but a reminder that we will be temporarily closed for browsing from Monday 26 April to allow for some building works to take place within the library. Whilst we are closed you can still come to the library to collect Ready Reads selections. We expect to re-open on Saturday 15 May, but please check our website for updates before you visit.

Whilst we are closed the closest bookable public computers and study spaces are at Basingstoke Discovery Centre. To book a computer or a study space please call 0370 779 6100

If you want to learn something new over the next few weeks there are a number of courses available online as part of the ‘Learning in Libraries’ scheme. To find out more and to book a course visit the Hantsweb shop online on https://www.hants.gov.uk/shop/home.php?cat=369 and click on ‘Online learning’ or ‘Online events’.

If you want a specific book, then you can choose those by reserving them. Did you know that we have an app, which can be downloaded for free and used to search our catalogue and reserve a book from the comfort of your own home? For more information on the app please visit our website Library self-service app | Hampshire County Council (hants.gov.uk)

Hampshire Library also offers a Home Library Service to support those who cannot visit a library due to ill-health, disability, or caring duties. Go to https://www.hants.gov.uk/librariesandarchives/library/services/access-for-all/homelibraryservice to find out more, or call 01962 454747.


Basingstoke Voluntary Action 

Member’s Update – 23rd April 2021

Keeping You Up to Date With the Latest Community News…

We are pleased to bring you our second member’s update of the two being sent out this month. As you already may be aware, this newsletter is sent out to our valued members and residents of Basingstoke. If there is anything you would like us to be including in particular, please let us know by emailing contact@bvaction.org.uk.

Place to Be Proud of Awards…
We Have Been Nominated!
The BVA team are delighted to have been nominated for the Place to Be Proud of Awards. We greatly appreciate this nomination alongside all the other excellent community groups and look forward to seeing what the ceremony holds! This year, the awards will be held virtually on 29th April at 6pm online.
New Funding Stream…
Giving Our Youth A Voice!
Restart Youth is a new funding stream supporting youth organisations in Hampshire and the IoW through the Covid-19 crisis to give decision making power to young people. We can also help find the funding you need! For a tailored funding search, please email contact@bvaction.org.uk.
Community Renewal Fund...
Webinars For You!
You may have already seen the latest Community Renewal Fund from our Funding bulletin that was sent out last week. Once a month, we send out a bulletin where you can find all the latest funding opportunities available in one place. We remain available to support local groups with their fundraising efforts, including through our ‘Funding Finder’ service!To explain how to apply for this fund and the application process, a series of webinars have been set up to help you out! There is still time to sign up to one of the Community Renewal Fund webinars that are being hosted for organisations wishing to deliver activity as part of the fund.The events will give those who attend background and context to the fund, explain the application and selection process.
We Are Recruiting…
Be Part of Our Team!
We are partnering with Action Hampshire to recruit a joint temporary 6 month Voluntary Sector Insight Officer to undertake some detailed research/collation of the scope and state of the VCSE sector in Hampshire.

Update On Covid & Volunteering…
Getting Back to Normality!

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport have issued an update regarding covid and volunteering. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations have provided a summary of the latest changes to government guidance and information which have an impact on volunteering.
Remember that if you are interested in volunteering, we can help! If you are an individual looking to help out the community in your spare time or an organisation looking for volunteers, look no further!
Don’t forget that if you are an organisation that also needs their volunteering opportunities advertised so volunteers are able to see what roles you have to offer, we will be able to do this for you!
Please email vc@bvaction.org.uk for any volunteering enquiries and we will be sure to get back to you.

Basingstoke District Disability Forum – Why Volunteer?

Do you have a couple of hours to spare a month, maybe you have more free time than usual as you are commuting less or want a new challenge or a way to make new friends whilst giving back to your local community?

BDDF are actively seeking volunteers to support our services such as the buddy scheme and to help on the Scarecrow event.

BDDF would like to expand our Trustee Board. As a Trustee you can help set the strategy for the charity. We have 2 positions available one focusing on Diversity & Inclusion and the second a Treasurer/Financial position.

Why volunteer?! Volunteering offers vital help to people in need but there are many benefits for you, the volunteer. Aside from the obvious feel-good factor from giving your time to a worthy cause, volunteering has several key benefits which make it well worth considering…

    • Gain confidence by giving you the opportunity to try something new and build a real sense of achievement.
    • Make a difference your actions will have a real and valuable positive affect on people, communities and society in general.
    • Meet people meet people from across the community, make new friends.
    • Be part of a community be part of a cause wider than your current network.
    • Learn new skills gain practical experience, help your CV stand out and learn skills which make you more desirable for prospective employers.
    • Challenge yourself to try something different, achieve personal goals, practice using your skills and discover hidden talents.
    • Have fun! Most volunteers have a great time, regardless of why they do it. 

Food for thought? Want to know more about volunteering with Basingstoke & District Disability Forum (BDDF), your local disability charity, please contact sarah@bddf.org.uk or telephone 01256 423869. or by visiting our website www.bddf.org.uk.