Post Office Re – opens


We have just spoken to Val Athwal and his Daughter Dal in regards to Ferndown Post Office. They have confirmed that a new interim sub-postmistress has been appointed and that the Post Office will open this afternoon. Exact time TBC, but it should be in the next few hours.

83 Year Old To Abseil


Two years ago, at the age of 81, Pat O’Riordan – who lives in Ferndown – took part in a wing walk raising an impressive £5,000 for Alzheimer’s Research.

And now, she plans to abseil down the 110-metre Spinnaker Tower at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth on 25th August, this time for Osteoporosis research.

“I’ve once again chosen a research charity as without answers to diseases we have nothing,” said Pat.

Her mother died at the age of 96, suffering from Alzheimer’s which is why Pat chose that charity for her first adventure.

“My mother also had osteoporosis as has my sister,” said Pat. “And would you believe that I have just been diagnosed with the disease too.”

The charity is marking its 30th anniversary this year

Health issues are very close to Pat’s heart as having trained at Guy’s Hospital she went on to become community nurse manager for Dorset Healthcare, working in a number of offices including Victoria Hospital, Wimborne and St Leonards Hospital.

She also worked with the army and air force abroad, moving to Ferndown in 1973.

Pat O'Riordan
Pat O’Riordan (Image: Marilyn Barber)

Since she retired in 1993, she has hardly stopped to draw breath.

In addition to being a keen member of Ferndown Golf Club, she is a member of the U3A and ran their keep fit sessions for 13 years.

Today she runs the Badminton group and the singles lunch club.

“I have always looked after myself with a good diet and plenty of exercise,” said Pat, who had breast cancer 14 years ago.

She is a firm believer in encouraging older people to have full lives.

“Just get involved with things,” she said. “I was hugely fortunate to chose to live in Ferndown where there are so many activities to chose from.”

She has advice for people who say they are lonely and haven’t spoken to anyone for days.

“Just knock on your neighbour’s door and invite them in for a coffee,” she said.

Is she worried about the abseil?

“Surprisingly I am more nervous about it than I was about the wing walk. I’ve watch people abseil down the tower at St Mary’s Church in Ferndown and realise that you lean back into nothing,” she said.

She said members of Ferndown Golf Club would be sponsoring her, but if you would like to support this brave woman’s challenge, send a cheque to the National Osteoporosis Society, Camerton, Bath, BA2 0PJ, with a note saying it is in support of Pat O’Riordan.

No more brews in Ferndown

POPULAR homebrew Dorset Tea will no longer be made in Dorset.

The company which makes the brew, Keith Spicer Limited, has announced plans to move all of its production lines to its factory in Newcastle.

It follows a decision made last year to move the production of some of its private label brands to its manufacturing plant in North Shields.

At the time the firm said it would continue to manufacture its Dorset Tea brand at its factory at Ferndown Industrial Estate, but now Spicers has revealed it will be moving all its production lines to the factory in Earl Grey Way.

The move could see 21 jobs put at risk in Ferndown. But the company has said there would be a job for every single person from the Ferndown production line at the Newcastle factory should they choose to relocate.

Karen Parkinson, HR manager for Spicers, told the Echo the firm was currently in a period of consultation and that a decision was not imminent.

It is believed the move to Newcastle won’t happen until March next year once the consultation period is over.

Mrs Parkinson added: “After careful analysis and consideration we will be consolidating our capabilities by moving all production lines in Wimborne to our facility in North Shields.

“The Keith Spicer head office, the home of Dorset Tea, which was established in 1934, will remain in Dorset.

“Keith Spicer’s tea buying, tea blenders and tasters, commercial and administration teams will remain at the head office allowing the creative engine behind our partner brands and our own brands including Dorset Tea to remain in Dorset.

“We remain committed to our Dorset home and Dorset Tea will also continue to support local charities such as Julia’s House and The Weldmar Hospice Trust and projects which have a positive impact on the local community.

“As a business we deeply regret any potential job losses, but we will ensure that all our employees that are affected by this will be treated fairly and respectfully and assist them with finding alternative employment including relocating to North Shields.”

The origins of the company date back to 1934, when 24-year-old Keith Spicer founded the business, using the parlour of the family home in Bournemouth as the blending department.

The company grew, rapidly becoming an important supplier to the local hotel and catering industries and by 1970 had moved to purpose-built premises in Ferndown.

In 2009 Dorset Tea was created to celebrate Keith Spicer’s success.

Dorset Tea Golden Blend is available at Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and Asda stores, with fruit and herbal infusions available in Tesco and Asda.

The Barrington Centre is BUZZING


When the Barrington Theatre closed suddenly on Friday 20th January it was as if the heart had been ripped out of the town.

However, thanks to Prama Life – a community outreach programme which is under the umbrella of the Prama Foundation – coming to the rescue, the community centre was re-opened the following week. Six months on it is buzzing and looking forward to an even healthier future.

“There were cash flow problems. We had staged some expensive shows and grants from East Dorset District Council – who still own the bricks and mortar – was reducing year on year. The centre isn’t designed to make money, but the grant from EDDC doesn’t even cover the electricity bill.”

“The centre is an ideal base for outreach for Ferndown and east Dorset.”

Andy said: “Bookings are buoyant. We have 82 per cent occupancy, but there is still space to accommodate more community activities.”

He added that they still attract stars such as Marty Wilde.

He said he was delighted that for the first time Ringwood Musical and Dramatic Society would be using the venue later in the year.

Activities at the Barrington are too numerous to mention, but one rather unique one is a free cinema every Monday afternoon, with special screenings for school children during the holidays. You will need to check with the box office for details of the movies.

“The films help with social isolation as people make new friends,” said Andy, adding that they do have a bucket for donations.

Funding the centre is all important.

“Prama are always competing for grant funding and we rely on donations and income from our charity shops. We are not for profit so everything is ploughed back into the charity,” said Paula.

On 5th August there is a variety evening at the Barrington to raise funds for the centre.

“We even have a local woman, Janet Wormwell, who is going on a 10-day trek to Kilimanjaro to raise funds for us,” said Andy.

Paula did warn that there would inevitably have to be price increases on hiring of the halls, but that regular users and those on low incomes would be eligible for discounts.

She said they would start offering social clubs for older people – such as dementia clubs, but that it was also important that some activities should be inter-generational.

The Town Centre Strategy for Ferndown will be a boost for the Barrington as one of the most important aims for the long term regeneration of the town centre will be improvement to Penny’s Walk.

This would include a more positive frontage for the Barrington and the extension of the cafe to provide a large café/bar.

At the moment the café closes at 3pm, but it is hoped in the very near future to extend the hours to 4pm or 4.30pm.

It opens at 8.30am and Andy said people sit in the Tesco foyer waiting for the café to open for breakfast.

“We may even open in the evening in the future,” he added.

The Ferndown Town Centre Strategy proposes replacing the nearby public toilets with three units, the loos being re-housed at the Barrington.

A market would take place in Penny’s Walk, with the Barrington providing a café .

The Barrington relies on assistance from volunteers and they have 12 active ones on their books doing a variety of jobs.

However, they always need more.

Residents appeal for Ferndown post office to reopen

‘OPEN our post office now’. This is the message from residents in Ferndown.

The town’s post office has now been closed for more than four weeks.

Councillors and Ferndown residents say their frustrations have been heightened by limited communication from the Post Office.

Earlier this week, the Post Office confirmed it is actively looking to resolve the situation at the Ferndown branch.

Residents say a temporary postmaster should be put in place to get the store open right away.