Archives of Eaton Bray News for February 2008.
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February 2008

Tighter flightpaths mean more noise for some areas

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

PlanePlanned revisions to Luton Airport's flightpaths could reduce aircraft noise for the south east corner of Leighton and some nearby villages.

But there might also be an increase in noise to the north and west of the town.

Plans by the National Air Traffic Services (Nats) aimed at redirecting flights away from towns to less populated rural areas are now up for public consulation.

Planes coming in to land from the east currently fly over the Leighton-Linslade area and then curve back sharply south of the town and drop down to Luton from a westerly direction.

This will not change but more aircraft will be concentrated along a specific line rather than being spread out in a wide swathe of airspace.

Geoff Twiss, the chairman of the People Against Intrusive Aircraft Noise (PAIN) campaign group, says there will be "winners and losers" as a result of the proposed routes.

The most significant change is easterly arrivals into Luton will be pushed to the north of Leighton.

After circling at a stack near St Neots in Cambridgeshire, the "red line" route, at a minimum of 4,000 feet, will take them over Potsgrove and Stockgrove, just north of Heath and Reach.

Aircraft will then head towards Soulbury, Burcott, Wing, and Mentmore before joining the old route at Cheddington.

These places can expect an increase in the number of aircraft directly overhead, although not at different heights from now.

Mr Twiss said in theory planes should miss Leighton Buzzard altogether during busy periods when they will have to stick to a strict route.

However, he said, during quieter times pilots will have more freedom and will be able to take shortcuts over the town.

"They say planes will fly on the centre line when it is busy," said Mr Twiss.

"But during other times they will take the most expeditious, ie the shortest, route which means they will be flying directly over Leighton Buzzard."

Even so, stricter navigation along the central line ought to result in fewer planes over the Billington Park and Sandhills corner of Leighton, Eaton Bray, Hockliffe, Eggington, Stanbridge, Billington, and Slapton.

Residents will now be able to have their say on the proposals which were formally announced last Wednesday.

The consultation period is set to last 13 weeks and the changes will gradually come into force from March next year after approval from the Civil Aviation Authority.

From next year there will be an average of 11 planes an hour and 25 during peak times.

At present it appears that the Leighton area will not be affected by the changes to the departure routes from Luton Airport.

Mr Twiss added: "There will be winners and losers. We would be looking for greater clarity from Nats."

The new route can be found on page F37 of the consultation document by visiting

Get the Leighton Buzzard Observer every Tuesday.

Source: Richard Cooper, Leighton Buzzard Observer, 26 February 2008

Blaze-hit kennels hoping to rebuild

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

A boarding kennel in Eaton Bray is ready to rise from the ashes again after a devastating fire that struck last summer.

Appledown Kennels, in Harling Road, hit the headlines in August when an early morning blaze broke out in a boarding block and prompted a huge rescue operation.

Nearly 40 dogs were pulled to safety by brave firefighters and staff, but sadly three pets perished after being overcome by flames.

Since then the past six months have been a struggle for everyone working at the kennels, and they now hope to put the sorry incident behind them.

Appledown Boarding Kennels owner Julie Shelton

A planning application has been put forward by the kennels to open a new block to replace the building devastated by the blaze.

This week, Appledown owner Julie Shelton told the Gazette: "Hopefully, if this goes through smoothly, we'll be back to normal by the summer."

As a result of the blaze, Julie said the kennel's capacity had been seriously reduced, and staff have had to work hard to steer the business through a difficult time.

She said: "It's hit us, obviously, particularly over Christmas and the really busy periods.

"What we've done is said our priority is to our regular customers, so we haven't had to turn them away."

And Julie said she had been bowled over by the response from members of the public.

"It's just brilliant, people have been great," she said. "It's one of those things that people understand, fires do seem to just happen.

"You can't predict it, but it brings out the best in people, and they've been sympathetic and understanding."

She also praised her staff who, she said, were devastated by the blaze.

A fire investigation absolved the kennel of any blame for the fire, and police confirmed at the time that it was not viewed as suspicious.

Julie now hopes that the building work can bring back a sense of normality to the kennels.

She said an end wall needs to be replaced, and work needs to be done on the roof of the building, but, surprisingly, the rest of the boarding house is still structurally sound.

After the flames were quelled back in August, firefighters said they had never had to deal with so many animals in one fire.

Four dogs were unconscious when firefighters arrived, but two were dramatically revived using oxygen masks.

Appledown offers boarding kennels for pets whose owners are on holiday, as well as a home for dogs in need of rehousing.

Over the past year, the number of dogs in need of a new home has shot up dramatically, and another boarding house was recently set aside for them.

Julie said: "This last 12 months has been much, much worse than the other previous years.

"I think it's partly because of people being nervous about a recession. I think we've got some of that. Also there's been a lot of dog attacks in the news. I think that's had an effect."

The kennel owner added that many people buy pets without thinking about the amount of work and care they require, and often end up abandoning them.

At the moment Appledown has 55 dogs hoping to find new homes. Julie said that all sorts of breeds find their way to the kennels and urged anyone who thinks they can provide a home for a dog to get in touch.

The kennel can be contacted on 01525 220383, or by emailing [email protected]. Alternatively, people interested in finding out more can pop by between 10am and 4pm each day.

For the latest news from Eaton Bray and beyond, get the Dunstable Gazette every Wednesday and make a daily date with Dunstable Today.

Source: Dunstable Gazette, 27 February 2008

Youth Football: Eaton Bray Lions

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Brache Sparta U8 - 6
EB Lions U8 Blues - 1

Eaton Bray Lions AFCLions' front men Matt Kennell, David Wood and Toby McGee swooped in at every opening and threatened the Brache keeper repeatedly. Defenders Sam Bramston, Robert Bunting, Daniel Challis and Bradley Hicks ensured an even slice of possession was retained throughout, effectively countering the blistering strikes launched from either wing by the adept Brache forwards.

Nonetheless three sublime goals went in ahead of the break and Lions had some work to do in the second half. Covering midfield, Connor Tough and Luke Jearrad were effective in neutralising a string of pacey attacks, and Brache were made to fight for every scoring opportunity.

A scorching run along the right wing from David finally paid off, bringing Lions onto the scoreboard, but the visitors matched their first half tally to secure another comprehensive win, and a scoreline which would have been still more lopsided were it not for deserving MoM 011ie Mulcahy, whose diving saves far outshone the Brache goals.

Bushmead Wanderers U8 - 3
EB Lions U8 Reds - 1

With Lions captain George phoning in sick just before the match and Dax up most of the night being sick it was no surprise that Lions could not get into their normal way of playing.

Despite the efforts of Jack and Charlie, who was MoM, Lions could not push forward often enough to get the attempts on goal that they normally have. Freddie had another good game as sweeper and in goal Toby did well and made some good saves.

With Harri, Lee and Karl all being asked to play in a different role it just did not work out the way they wanted. Lions kept trying to fight back but it was only in the last minute that Dax scored a goal. At least we know why it didn't work out as expected.

EB Lions Girls U10 - 1
Sacred Heart Cheetahs Girls U10 - 1

EB Lions were out of the blocks quickly with Misha hitting a rasping shot just wide. They took the lead with a great volley by Mel from the edge of the area. Georgia then went close, hitting the crossbar.

Lions continued to dominate with Megan up front coming close on several occasions. Holly (GOM) and Sarah Jane had strong displays in defence and both made driving runs to maintain a presence in the oppositions half.

The second half started brightly for EB Lions, with Amber Walsh making some probing runs on goal supported by Steph. Yet, despite all the pressure and possession the Lions failed to capitalise on their narrow lead.

Sacred Heart Cheetahs made a rare break and scored a scrambled goal luckily beating Amber Wright. It ended 1-1 and EB Lions Girls must reflect on how they only drew this game with the countless missed opportunities they had to comfortably win.

EB Lions Girls U12 - 5
Barnfield Colts Girls U12 - 2

We knew it would happen, if you play with the passion and commitment that the Lions have shown all season the results would start to come, and some. In a match that Lions totally dominated they could have scored twice as many.

With Darcy and Hattie up front having plenty of shots on target it was Megan, who was GoM, playing from mid-field who scored all the goals, Barton had no answer to the strong runs that Megan kept making and caused them problems all match.

With three players away the rest of the team had to adjust and Elsa covered well in mid field with Emily, Abbie and Shannon strong in defence. In goal Nancy had another good game and was unlucky to concede two goals.

With this well deserved win the Lions can look forward to a strong finish to the season. Well done.

EB Lions U14 - 3
Shefford Saints U14 - 2

Lions made the most of an early chance when Audouard chased in a long ball, which bounced over the goalie, and headed it into the net.

Lions continued to pile on the pressure, with several promising attacks being thwarted by the skilful Saints' goalie, and had a goal disallowed for offside. Broughton and Storey (MOM) worked well for Lions in defence. Shefford picked up their pace towards half-time and their efforts paid off when defensive errors allowed them through to equalise. Lions were awarded a controversial penalty early in the second half, but the shot hit the crossbar. A great cross from Moriarty was neatly collected by Marshall to score Lions' second. Their third soon followed when Moriarty struck a low, hard free-kick from just wide of the box.

Shefford made a comeback in the final minutes, managing to reduce Lions' lead, but the equaliser eluded them.

Source: EB Lions

Carnival 2008 - 5th July - "Fairy Tales"

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Carnival 2008 - Fairy Tales - 5th JulyWave that magic wand and banish winter gloom! Summon your Fairy Godmother and get ready for a touch of magic! St Mary's Village Carnival is on 5th July 2008 - and this year's theme is Fairy Tales!

Last year's carnival raised over £11,000 for charities - a record breaking sum and that's our target for 2008. With your help we can do it! This year's chief beneficiary will be the Air Ambulance Service. Our VIP guest to open the carnival is The Dean of St Paul's Cathedral (London), the Right Revd Graeme Knowles, originally a local lad whose father was headmaster of Eaton Bray School. The event starts with the procession of floats, then on to Edlesborough Green for a day of fun, entertainment and a huge number of stalls.

Join us - we need more helpers and with a variety of jobs there's sure to be something you can do. Contact Peter Bennett, chairman

Run a stall for your local group, business or charity - Our carnival is the biggest event of its kind in Bucks, so you'll get lots of trade.

We will shortly be writing to local organisations (clubs, societies, charities etc.) who might be interested in taking a fund raising stall at the Carnival. However, it is sometimes difficult to keep mailing lists & contact details current, so if your organisation has not heard from us by the end of February or you are desperate to book a pitch, please download a Booking Form from the Carnival Website:

Carnival Queen - Girls aged between 8 and 13 who live in Edlesborough, Eaton Bray, Dagnall or Northall or who are in the congregation of St Mary's Church may enter. More details on the Carnival Queen page.

Source: Focus, February 2008

Riders think cycle lanes will be too spooky for horses

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Anne Hudson and Murphy on a Totternhoe bridleway that is to have a cycle lane alongsideDisgruntled horse riders have voiced their fears over new cycle lanes being installed on the outskirts of Dunstable.

Work has already started bringing a cycle path to the Green Lanes in Totternhoe and Eaton Bray, but it has prompted serious safety concerns.

Horse riders said they feel they are being pushed to the margins, and are worried that development of the area's bridleways could leave them with few places to go.

Afraid to ride horses on increasingly busy roads, many feel the lanes provide their only remaining sanctuary, and having to share a narrow concrete path with cyclists could prove a major headache.

Members of the British Horse Society (BHS) have been in touch with the Gazette this week to claim that they were not consulted properly.

Fears are rife that horses will be easily spooked if bikes pass by too closely, putting cyclists and riders in danger.

Among the worried parties is Anne Hudson, who fears the cycle paths could have a huge impact on her ability to ride her eight-year-old horse, Murphy

Anne, 64, said riding a horse is her best way of exploring the countryside, but fears that once cyclists and horses are thrown together on narrow routes, it will result in mayhem.

She said: "We're going to be mixed up with bikes and pushchairs, it's an accident waiting to happen. It's going to be lethal."

Anne said she already avoids Dunstable Downs because of ongoing work and fears that Murphy will be scared by hang gliders and kites.

Now she feels that cyclists whizzing past will provide an additional hazard.

"You can't hear a bike coming up behind you, but the horse hears it and gets spooked," Anne said.

And she added that putting concrete cycle paths along the Green Lanes will seriously impede local riders.

Anne said: -I use it a lot. It's the only route we've got in the area so all the riders head down there. The Green Lanes really are the only safe place for riders.

"At the moment the Downs is out A bounds. A lot of people say they don't dare use the Downs because of the kites and the hang gliders. We haven't got many riding facilities, and we seem to be cut off from a lot Of it."

The BHS district bridleways assistant officer, Rosalyn Whisker, said local roads are not safe for horse riders because of the volume of traffic they carry.

She added that planners should have consulted the community before giving plans the go-ahead.

Rosalyn told the Gazette: "We can share, and we've all got to get along, but there are some places where they're asking us to ride with a cycle path on either side of us. It's quite sad to see all the concrete going over the lanes."

The cycle path project is a joint venture between Beds County Council and sustainable transport charity Sustrans.

Councillor Bob King said: "We are aware that there are some concerns from horse groups and people using motorbikes. We are intending to set up a special projects group made up of people that use the lanes to see how we can best meet their needs.

"This project is also one of many that will make sure there is excellent access to the green spaces across Luton and South Bedfordshire.

"This is very important, as this corner of Bedfordshire is within a big housing growth area.

"The county council takes issues of safety very seriously The development of the route will be supported by ample signage and work within the local community to encourage responsible use.

"I'm really looking forward to seeing the Sustrans scheme completed and getting out there with my family and friends. It will open up the countryside to everyone, no matter whether you're young or old."

And Andy Knight, area manager for Sustrans, said: "Sustrans works to improve accessibility to local facilities for everyone, and believes that routes can happily be shared by people on foot, riding bicycles and riding horses providing that paths are wide enough.

"As part of the development of this regional route, we have had several successful on-site visits with representatives from the British Horse Society which have led to improvements that will benefit everyone, including widening paths to provide more room for horse riders and relocating sections of surfaced path.

"This is a golden opportunity to provide some excellent green routes before the proposed housing growth in the area, giving people easy access to the local countryside."

For the latest news from Eaton Bray and beyond, get the Dunstable Gazette every Wednesday and make a daily date with Dunstable Today.

Source: Dave Burke, Dunstable Gazette, 20 February 2008

I won't win it, but I won't be last either

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Mick, pictured with his dog JoshRetired Eaton Bray pub landlord Mick Todd once glibly remarked to his customers while watching the London Marathon on television: "I can do that."

He was immediately met with an onslaught of sponsors, and one regular even offered to help with his training.

Nine years on, 65-year-old Mick is getting ready to run his eighth London Marathon, and he has also taken part in gruelling courses further afield, in both New York and Paris.

The former owner of the Hope & Anchor pub has taken to running like a duck to water, and this year he hopes to raise as much money as possible for Sense, which supports and campaigns for adults who are deaf and blind.

Mick, of Moor End Close, Eaton Bray, said: "I'm going to try and raise as much money as I can. I know I'm not going to win it, but I know I'm not going to come last either"

He has raised thousands of pounds over the years for good causes, and he said: "I'm knackered every time I do it, so I say I'm not going to do it again until I'm asked to do it by somebody else."

Since retiring, Mick has joined Dunstable Road Runners, and he said he thoroughly enjoys it.

"They make you feel very welcome. You get that little bit fitter because they gee you up, and that's what I like about them.

"I think it's wonderful because they could just steam off and leave us behind, but they don't," he said.

And he joked that his wife, Ann, is very keen on his new pastime.

"To be fair I think I get out of her hair now I'm retired, so now she always says: 'Go on, off you go,"' he said.

This year Mick said he would love to top his record time of five hours and six minutes, but his main aim is to help good causes.

In 2003 he jetted off to New York to take part in the famous marathon, and he described the experience as "terrific".

He said he was struck by the television coverage, which captured the race in its entirety, and added about its London counterpart: "I feel that the

London Marathon is the most terrific race in the world. It's so well organised, but the coverage for the back runners is a shame."

Asked how he got into running marathons, he said: "I was in my pub and we had the marathon on, and I said: 'I can do that'.

"Two businessmen backed me straight away for a fiver each, and one woman said she would help me train. I thought: 'I can't back out of it now."'

He now proudly displays the medals he has accumulated during his distinguished running career, and looks forward to picking up a tenth on Sunday, April 13.

Simon Taylor, Sense's London Marathon project manager, said: "We are delighted that Mick is one of 400 people that have chosen to run the Flora London Marathon for Sense.

"Most of what we learn about the world comes through our ears and eyes, so deafblind people face major challenges with communication, access to information and mobility

"We believe they couldn't be running for a more worthwhile cause, and we'll be behind them every step of the way, cheering them on."

Get the Leighton Buzzard Observer every Tuesday.

Source: Dave Burke, Leighton Buzzard Observer, 20 February 2008

Search is on for the new Miss Bedfordshire

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Karlene Vardy, Miss Bedfordshire 2006It's time to slap on your make-up and dig out your favourite party frock as Miss England launch their search for a Bedfordshire beauty to represent her county.

Emma Allan, Miss England's regional beauty pageant co-ordinator, is searching for 17 to 24-year-old confident and intelligent women to compete for the title.

Emma said: "I'd like girls from all over Bedfordshire to apply not simply from the area where the contest is being held.

"I'm also looking for small local businesses who would like to take advantage of promoting their products and services free in return for prizes for the winners.

"I'm especially looking for health and beauty, travel prizes, and an overall event sponsor."

This is the third successive year for Miss Beds; in 2006, Karlene Vardy took the title at Bellow's Mill in Eaton Bray and last year's winner was Anna Lovato.

The contestants this year will model evening gowns, eco friendly outfits to promote fashion re-cycling and perform a short talent spot or presentation.

Chapel 29 nightclub in Bedford will be hosting this year's competition in May and the event promises to be a spectacular show with local celebrity judges and health and beauty experts.

The Bedford Eagles will be meeting all the contestants and taking part in a professional photo shoot at their ground.

The girls will learn how to catwalk, learn interview technique and have a hair, make-up and gown consultation.

Beauty pageants are often a model's first stepping stone into the industry and are great fun.

Example success stories are Chantelle Houghton and Danielle Lloyd who are now national celebrities after competing in beauty pageants.

To apply you can download an application form from Chiltern F.M ; .

The closing date for applicants is March 1.

Get the Leighton Buzzard Observer every Tuesday.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 19 February 2008

Youth Football: Eaton Bray Lions

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Luton Borough Dragons U8 Whites - 3
EB Lions U8 Blues - 0

Eaton Bray Lions AFCLions received an early wake up call as Dragons slammed home a loose ball within a minute of kick-off, forcing defenders Daniel Challis, Sam Bramston and Robert Bunting to draw together and effectively seal the gaps.

A string of fine saves from 011ie Mulcahy cut off any further efforts at goal for the remainder of the half, freeing an adept Lions attack force to go on the offensive. David Wood and Connor Tough both saw shots skim the posts, while Matt Kennel) sliced a ball into the side net.

Midfielder Jack Reynolds doggedly stuck to Dragons forwards as they upped the pressure, and Lions continued to press, making some potent attacks.

Luke Jearrad, in his debut appearance, skipped past the Dragons defence to leave them ball watching.

Ultimately though, even MoM Daniel's steadfast defence and 011ie's acrobatic saves could not prevent two more Dragon goals in the last quarter.

Cranfield Colts U12 Girls - 0 EB Lions U12 Girls - 0

This was always going to be a test of Lions' resolve and self belief, playing the top of the league away from home.

Lions passed that test with style and flair, in a game that they controlled from the first kick to the last.

Lions dominated the match and deserved to come away with both points. Nancy, in goal, is the only goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet against Cranfield all season. Lions' defense of Katie, Abbie and Shannon were solid. Darcy, Emily and Elsa controlled midfield, chasing every ball and didn't allow Cranfield to settle. Up front Hattie and Megan (who was GoM) Dept the pressure on the Cranfield goal.

This was another great team effort from the Lions who have grown into a well organised and structured team.

Source: EB Lions

House prices in Bedfordshire double in only seven years

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

House prices in Bedfordshire have almost doubled over the last seven years, according to figures from the Land Registry.

In December 2000, buyers had to pay £97,556 for the average home in Beds, but by December last year the cost had rocketed to £189,687.

That means prices have risen by £1,096 a month over that time, or £253 a week, and the increase has been almost relentless, with the cost of the average home only dipping twice, by less than £100 in August 2003, and then by £542 between July and December 2005.

However in the past year the number of sales across the county has fallen sharply, from 1,138 in December 2006 to 676 the following October.

Tony Inskip, owner of Urban & Rural Property Services, said: "This shows what a good investment buying a house is in the end.

"Prices doubling in such a short space of time is a surprise. If you had asked me in 2000 whether I expected this to happen then I would have told you that I wouldn't have thought so.

"In the longer term, despite one or two blips, property has outstripped almost all other investments.

"And it is something we can all play with. Everybody needs somewhere to live, and you don't have to be an expert in stocks and shares to enter the market.

"But I do feel desperately sorry for first-time buyers, because how they do it defies logic sometimes. It comes down to a mixture of longer-term mortgages, help from the previous generation, and the fact that first-time buyers tend to be older now than they used to be."

To see the cost of house prices in your area, visit

Get the Leighton Buzzard Observer every Tuesday.

Source: Leighton Buzzard Observer, 19 February 2008

Fair Trade Breakfast

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

A Fair Trade Breakfast and Coffee Morning will be held at St Mary's Church on Saturday 1st March, from 9.00am to 12.00noon. Adults £2.50, children £1 for breakfast; coffee & cake £1. Fair Trade Stall. Further details from Sally Taylor.

Please support this important annual event in its new location.

Cricket: All change at top for the Bray

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

CricketFollowing the clubs AGM on Sunday 17th February 2008 there has been a radical change in positions for the senior "staff" of the club.

Ian "Bobo, Barmy" Jones takes on the Treasurer and Sunday Captain roles. He must be mad!!

Darren "Resident Journo" Kerins relinquishes the treasurer's role to become 2nd Team Captain.

Andy Norris reliquinshes the Sunday Captaincy to become 1st team Captain.

Michael "MJ, Merlin, Coco" Jarrett becomes Secretary once again, having handed this role to Barmy in 2004.

New boy Wes Hosking becomes 1st team vice captain, despite strong protests from Colin about Wes's country of upbringing! Young Josh Peacock becomes Sunday vice captain.

Source: Eaton Bray Cricket Club

Don't miss out on community cash, MP urges

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Community groups in South Beds have been urged not to miss out on valuable funding by MP Andrew Selous.

He has called on groups in need of cash - including Houghton Regis Bowls Club, which is hoping to upgrade its changing facilities - to make sure they apply for grants from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd).

The company is responsible for distributing money for good causes, and in the past three years has awarded more than £250,000 to groups in the district.

But Mr Selous said that the rest of Bedfordshire is faring far better, with more than £3.44 million paid out across the county in the same period.

The Tory MP said: "It would be very good to see South West Bedfordshire receive an equal proportion of the funding provided among the six Bedfordshire constituencies."

WREN's contact details are: WREN House, Manor Farm, Bridgham, Norfolk, NR16 2RX. Interested groups can also phone 01953 717165, or email [email protected] for more information.

Related News

  • Village hall project gets £37,900 grant
    The completion of Eaton Bray Village Hall has been moved forward three years after receiving a grant of £37,900 from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd).

Honey, I've Got Talent

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Johnnie Condon with HoneyWhistler and bird calls expert Johnnie Condon couldn't have felt chirpier after he was given an invite to perform for a celebrity panel for TV show Britain's Got Talent.

But one look at the liquid eyes of his sick dog Honey and he picked up the phone to pass up the chance of a lifetime.

The retired businessman, who lives in Bower Close, Eaton Bray, told the Gazette: "I'm absolutely gutted that it's all gone down the pan.

"But I love my dogs to bits and they come before everything else - fame, fortune, whatever."

Simon CowellThe whistler, or siffleur, had been asked to attend a session in front of Simon Cowell, actress Amanda Holden and former national newspaper editor Piers Morgan, which would be recorded.

Johnnie, a widower with two daughters and two granddaughters, was amazed to receive the letter inviting him to go along to the audition, at the Hackney Empire, London.

After auditioning twice before for Britain's Got Talent, it was third time lucky this year when he got through the preliminary stage.

He said: "I nearly fell through the floor. They phoned me the week before I got the letter and I thought: 'No, this is a wind-up, this can't be right.'

"Then a few days later the letter did arrive, with the address, the phone numbers and even a map of how to get to the Hackney Empire. I just couldn't believe my luck, I was tingling all over."

But poor little Honey was soon to undergo a hysterectomy, and she had also been recovering from a virus.

Johnnie, who has four dogs, was very worried about Honey, who was unwell throughout the time leading up to the audition.

He said: "I weighed things up and I thought: 'What's more important, my little doggie or Britain's Got Talent? My dog comes before anything else.'

"I phoned up the PA lady and I told her: 'I'm very sorry, but I can't go, I'm afraid my doggies come first, before any personal fame and fortune."

His audition had been lined up for last Monday but the team told him he could go along on the Tuesday or Wednesday, instead.

But Johnnie said: "I just didn't want to leave her."

His four dogs are Honey, who is eight, her sister Fluffy, also eight, Bubbles, seven, and four-year-old Candy. They are all female lhasa apsos, a breed which originates from Tibet.

He would like to thank The Veterinary Clinic, in Hockliffe Road, Leighton Buzzard for nursing Honey back to health.

"She is very, very perky, barking and jumping around," he said.

Johnnie has a soft spot for any kind of wildlife, and can imitate about a dozen birds, including blackbirds, robins, thrushes and nightingales.

He modelled his whistling and bird calls after Ronnie Ronalde, the great whistler, singer and yodeller, who shot to stardom.

"I was so impressed with his whistling and his bird impressions that I bought all of his LPs, and I used to play them over and over again, " he said.

"When I went to watch him on stage, I used to watch how he was whistling, and I copied him."

He still has the certificates to prove that he won 15 grand finals in talent contests at the Band Pavilion in Clacton.

"Nobody else has ever done that," he said.

Les DawsonHe was so good that he was even given a spot in a show at Clacton on the same bill as comedian Les Dawson, Sandy Powell, and ventriloquist Peter Brough with his famous dummy, Archie Andrews.

Johnnie said: "I got to meet Les Dawson - the loveliest bloke under the sun, he was."

In the past, he also appeared regularly in annual variety shows in Clacton.

"We had up to 1,000 people in the audience every year," he said.

And he also went to give performances to entertain people in hospitals and in residential homes for elderly people.

"I look back on it and I hope people appreciated being entertained by somebody different to a singer," he said. "There are not many whistlers about."

Johnnie is an interesting character, who is also well known for another passion - metal detecting.

In the 1960s, he started importing metal detectors from America, and in 1969, he set up the country's first specialist shop for metal detecting fans.

He believes he played a key part in introducing metal detecting to this country.

Famous faces who called in at his London shop or called on his services included former Prime Minister Harold Wilson, and TV presenter Nicholas Parsons.

Johnnie has made a number of interesting finds while out metal detecting.

Now he insists that he won't be giving up on his hopes of putting his other hobby, his whistling and bird impressions, on show in Britain's Got Talent.

And he is looking forward to-applying for the show next time around.

"I'll have to wait now until next year," he said. "I'll enter it next time and keep my fingers crossed!"

For the latest news from Eaton Bray and beyond, get the Dunstable Gazette every Wednesday and make a daily date with Dunstable Today.

Source: Dunstable Gazette, 13 February 2008

Council tax rises by 3%

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

South Beds Council say households can expect to pay 2.99 per cent extra for its services from April 1 while County Hall has settled on just over three per cent.

The district authority's figure was settled on at a meeting of the council's executive committee and is to be approved by the full council on February 26.

This is the same increase as last year and lower than the current 4% rate of inflation. It averages out at £163.33 for a band D property.

The executive decided that the council needed a total of £15.6 million for 2008/2009 to cover net expenditure and to run its services.

Of this total, £8.8 million will come from the government direct through its annual grant to the authority .

The remaining £6.8million needed for council services will come from local taxpayers.

Council tax payers pay more than this in total, however, because about nine tenths of the total tax payment is paid to support Bedfordshire County Council, the county's police, fire and rescue service and the taxpayer's local town or parish council.

Executive member for resource management, Cllr Phillip Penman, said: "Our internal control systems are working well.

"There is pressure on our car parking budget but, while income receipts from car parking charges are down, we have no plans to increase them.

"Even with a poor government grant settlement, we are still able once again to present a budget to our residents which allows us to raise council tax by the lowest percentage of all major authorities in Bedfordshire whilst continuing to maintain services at their present levels."

Bedfordshire County Council has agreed a council tax increase of 3.8% for 2008/9.

The authority says this is one of the lowest increases likely to be set by a county council in the country and that it is below the level of inflation.

County deputy leader and cabinet member for Finance, Richard Stay, said: "This budget seeks to protect front-line services and invest in our priority areas which the people of Bedfordshire tell us are important to them. These priorities have not changed - more investment for schools, roads and adult social care.

"This is even more remarkable in the context of a hostile government which has 'floored' Bedfordshire for three years running, while favouring its friends on more Northern councils.

"Even if we had received the average of shire county settlements, Bedfordshire would have received an additional £5.8 million in 2008/9, equivalent to £39.00 for every band D property - or over 200 social workers!"

But the council is cutting spending by £1.4 million through savings in customer service, procurement and revised use of accommodation.

Its budget includes:

  • £5.4 million for adult social care to address demographic changes and other significant pressures
  • £1.5 million to priority areas within schools and continuing funding for building schools.
  • Continued investment in roads and footways with an extra £400,000 of revenue investment plus capital investment of £7.45 million to take the council's total investment in roads maintenance to £20 million in 2008/9.
  • £100,000 to fund three special constables to support community safety initiatives.

Council leader, Madeline Russell, said: "We are delivering on our promise to keep council tax increases down. We have listened and responded to residents' priorities.

"We are officially rated as a good council, and we are improving strongly, and this budget reflects the fact that we are well on the way to becoming a great council."

Beds Police Authority has agreed a budget that allows for an additional 24 police officers, taking the total to 1,274, the highest number in the force's history.

At a meeting today (Feb 15), the authority set a budget of just over £96million for 2008-2009, a 5.3 per cent increase on last year.

The council tax precept has been set at £27.494million (29 per cent of the total figure) with the remainder coming from the government.

This means that in the coming year a householder living in an average Band D property will pay £135.28 towards policing (around 37p a day)- an increase of 23p per week or 9.6 per cent over last year's precept of £123.43 for a similar property.

Authority chairman, Peter Conniff, said that he felt the decision to ask local tax payers to invest in their local police service was justified.

"Our consultation established that the majority of those questioned were willing to pay an increase of 11% or more towards policing," he said.

"The authority has lost approximately £4 million per annum since 2006/07 due to changes made by the Government to its funding formula.

"This year, it is seeking to redress the balance to give the chief constable additional resources to bring about performance improvements.

"Cutting crime and keeping people safe costs money.

"This budget will provide the chief constable with more resources, more officers and an increased capability."

Get the Leighton Buzzard Observer every Tuesday.

Source: Mick King & Jessica Vince, Leighton Buzzard Observer

Gazette Gossip

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

It's time to talk about the birds and the bees. No, not that kind. The Birds And The Bees was the title for the latest charity Christmas puzzle from Northall villager Gordon Gray.

It was more popular than ever. And the even better news is that the puzzle raised £3,600, shared between Michael Sobell House Hospice, Mount Vernon, Romania Care, and the restoration of the Harrison & Harrison Organ, St Albans Cathedral.

So far, in the past 17 years, the puzzle has raised more than £27,600 for good causes - including almost £10,000 in the past four years.

Now, I like to think I'm organised, but I'm staggered that almost 100 people have already registered online for the next Christmas puzzle.

Even more amazing, Gordon has already set the brainteaser.

But you'll have to wait before you can put on your thinking cap - it won't be released until early December.

If you'd like to find out more, just check out the website at

For the latest news from Eaton Bray and beyond, get the Dunstable Gazette every Wednesday and make a daily date with Dunstable Today.

Source: Anne O'Donoghue, Dunstable Gazette, 13 February 2008

Bike-car crash

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

A motorcycle and a car were involved in an accident in Eaton Bray on Saturday afternoon.

Police, fire and ambulance crews went to the scene, shortly after 3.30pm, in Harling Road.

One person was taken to hospital by ambulance.

For the latest news from Eaton Bray and beyond, get the Dunstable Gazette every Wednesday and make a daily date with Dunstable Today.

Source: Dunstable Gazette, 13 February 2008

Youth Football: Eaton Bray Lions

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

EB Lions U8 Blues - 1
St Josephs U8 - 5

Eaton Bray Lions AFCA second half David Wood goal retained the spirits of a determined Lions side in a tough game versus second place St. Josephs.

The scoreline belied a close and competitive match, which saw the home side up tempo after the break to establish a real threat to the talented visitors.

Positioning was excellent, not least from MoM Jack Reynolds who was finding space in anticipation of the next attack.

Daniel Challis played his usual effective style, powering the ball from one end of the pitch to the other, while Connor Tough worked hard to feed the ball forwards and Toby McGee delivered a handful of impressive shots on goal.

Keeper 011ie Mulcahy made some accomplished saves, snatching the ball from the air time and again during a torrid first half which saw four goals go against Lions.

Stiff defensive work by Robert Bunting and Bradley Hicks applied the brakes to the harried St Josephs strikers as the game progressed.

EB Lions U8 Reds - 4
St Martins Blues U8 - 0

Lions are settling into their new formation well and right from the start were in control of the match.

An early goal from Harri got them off to a great start.

With Dax up front keeping the pressure on the St Martins defense and Jack, George, Charlie and Harri controlling the centre of the pitch Lions looked comfortable.

Freddie was in charge at the back and in goal Toby dealt with anything that came his way.

Lions brought on Karl at half time and continued to push forward.

Six minutes into the second half, after a corner, George got Lions' second.

An on form St Martins keeper was all that kept the score line at 2-0 until five minutes from the end when Dax got two more.

In a match where it was difficult to award MoM it was decided to give it to Dax and George.

EB Lions U11 - 3
Flamstead Youth B U11 - 3

The Lions returned to form in this exciting encounter.

The boys started well when Scotty Mercer's persistence blocked the keeper's clearance and he rolled the ball into the net.

Flamstead got an equaliser when their speedy striker outpaced the Lions defence to a long pass and slotted home.

The same player scored a similar goal to put Flamstead ahead.

He almost added a third, this time his shot was cleared off the line by Jakob Knappitt.

The Lions were the stronger team in the second half.

Scotty scored the best goal of the match to equalise, a superb shot from the edge of the box into the top corner.

A period of Lions pressure resulted in MoM Scotty's third with another great strike.

However the Lions could not hang on and with a few minutes remaining Flamstead's striker scored from close range for the second hat-trick of a great match.

EB Lions U14 - 8
Stopsley Sports U14 - 0

Lions applied pressure from the start and a long throw from Coates allowed Crace to flick the ball past the keeper to score within two minutes.

Dear scored the second from a corner, but though their defence struggled Stopsley were persistent and had their chances.

Lions scored three more before halftime; Thorne calmly lobbed the advancing goalie from well outside the box, Auduoard connected with a great corner from Moriarty and Thorne blasted in his second.

Lions lost momentum after the break and Stopsley went on the attack but Taylor and Lancefield were solid in Lions' defence.

Lions scored three more; Thiel knocked in another of Moriarty's corners, Scott-Lewis scored from a neat series of passes culminating in a superb cross by O'Connell and Moriarty (MOM) finally found the back of the net.

It was a great performance by Lions and Stopsley showed great spirit in never giving up until the final whistle.

Source: EB Lions

Youth Football: Eaton Bray Lions

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

EB Lions U8 Blues - 4
Memorial Park U8 - 3

Eaton Bray Lions AFCIn a match that ebbed and flowed throughout, Memorial opened first, but their lead was reeled in as David Wood and Matt Kennell upped the Lions' goal tally to go into the second half ahead.

Stand-in keepers Toby McGee and Robert Bunting had a torrid time of it though, adeptly fending shots from a stubbornly persistent Memorial strike force.

Defenders Sam Bramston, Daniel Challis, and MoM Connor Tough, who battled the length and breadth of the pitch to defeat wave after wave of attack, ensured their opposition were frustrated at every turn.

Just as a 3-1 victory looked possible, Memorial squeezed through to score twice in a matter of minutes, and Lions had a fight on their hands.

It was a challenge they would rise to meet, defender Jack Reynolds shearing the crossbar with a long, looping shot from beyond the penalty area, and ultimately David netted again to clinch an electrifying win.

EB Lions U14 - 2
Shefford Saints U14 - 2

Shefford were a physical team but seemed unable to take advantage of the slope and strong following wind in the first half.

Good defensive play by Lions and effective goalkeeping by Cavendish prevented Saints from scoring but Lions struggled to produce any good attacking moves.

The second half was much more exciting.

Lions were caught out by a first minute goal from Saints, the shot coming from wide on the right wing.

Saints quickly repeated the move to score again and Lions countered with renewed energy.

Dear moved up to midfield for Lions and was soon linking up with Audouard to feed balls through to the forwards.

Auduoard (well deserved MOM) took the ball through and lobbed the keeper to score.

Moriarty took a corner for Lions and Audouard was perfectly positioned at the far post to knock in his second goal.

Lions applied relentless pressure but were unable to secure the winner.

EB Lions U12 (Girls) - 0
Sacred Heart U12 (Girls) - 1

Lions controlled the match from the start with every player giving their all.

Darcy (GoM) was all over the pitch with some great attempts on goal along with partner, Hattie.

Hattie kept pushing forward and looked like she was going to score but twisted her ankle and had to come off.

Meg kept taking the game to the opposition whilst Emily and Elsa covered well making good passes.

In defence, Katy played a faultless game as sweeper, Beth and Devon looked solid and Nancy in goal coped with everything that came her way.

Lions brought on Abbie and Shannon in defense in the second half and continued to keep control of the game but against the run of play a scrappy goal from a corner gave Sacred Heart the lead.

Despite constant pressure and more attempts on goal, the game ended in an undeserved defeat for Lions.

Source: EB Lions

Eaton Bray Methodist Church

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

Our Christmas Lunches were a great success and we thank Helen Joels and Ann Plater for all their organization before and on the day. Our thanks go also to everyone that helped and supported us in making this such a special event. The Carol Service and the Christmas Day Service were both excellent Family occasions and it was lovely to see many new faces joining us.

Our February lunches will be served on Saturday 12th from 12.00 noon until 1.30 pin and our chosen charity will be Fibromyalgia. FMS (Fibromyalgia syndrome) is a chronic widespread musculoskeletal pain and fatigue disorder giving pain in the soft fibrous tissues in the body. lt is hoped that by raising awareness of Fibromyalgia by support groups, organisations and medical professionals the quality of life for people living with FM will be helped. Do join us for Lunch and support this cause.

A date for your diary: March Lunches are on Saturday 8th and our Charity to be supported will be the lain Rennie Hospice at Home.

Source: Focus, February 2008

Old GI's Take the Long Road

This article was published in February 2008. Please see Latest News for more recent information.

It was December the 15th, the frost lay heavily on the roads and cars, 12 very cold GI's walked alongside Dunstable Round Table's Christmas Float. The carols (well King sings Christmas actually) were coming out at a fair rate of decibels and we all felt that wonderful feeling when the children look up at Father Christmas with absolute trust and belief. The last 3 hours of freezing feet and hands is all forgotten and the thought of that young GI's (Katrina) chicken casserole waiting in the warmth oilier and Paul's home kept us going for the next half hour or so. It really does seem to put a little belief back into Christmas after all the commercialism that exists in this day and age. Talking of which, by helping Round Table on two nights and standing outside Asda for two half days we will benefit the village hall to the tune of nearly E1,000. Huge thanks to all the villagers who came out and helped. Like all organisations we are nothing without people like you. Thanks! The Village Hall Fund Raising is coming on. As you know we need to raise £10,000 by June of 2008, to add to the Wren Grant of £37,800 which we have been promised. We have had the Quiz and the 200 Club has put £2,000 into the coffers, Thanks you all who are members, December's winners are listed elsewhere in this esteemed publication.

We are then running a bar at the Panto Thursday 24th January through to Saturday 26th January. After that we are holding our bi-annual joint Quiz with Eaton Bray Tennis Club on Saturday 26th April. Book early as we sold out last time!

Then we have the Beer Festival in June, Friday 6th and Saturday 7th, similar format to the last 4 years. Why change something that everybody seems to enjoy. Bring on the burgers I say!

Well before the end of the summer, we will have completed the majority of the major refurbishment on the Hall. I am sure everybody in the area will be delighted with the results.

Following on from that, we still need to do the car park, a new partition, and many smaller items that will keep us fundraising for a few years more but perhaps not with the ferocity of the last 4 years!

We hope you all enjoy the various events we hold and we really enjoy organising them.

P.S. Honourable Chairman of the Village Hall did everything right this year, did not run out of fuel or get his key stuck in the ignition lock on the lorry. So I cannot even have a dig at him. Or can I? He did forget to bring the money bags at the end of one night, so we had loads of piles of cash with nowhere to put it. Does that count? Answers on a postcard please to...........!

Source: Focus, February 2008