Sunday, December 09, 2018


An SWWJ Christmas gathering is always fun and a chance to welcome some of our new members. Members and guests gathered at the National Liberal Club in London's Whitehall Place for the annual Christmas tea.  Our entertainment this year - a Christmas Cornucopia - was provided by four wonderful professional actors, reading a collection of monologues, some comic, some dramatic, created by our talented drama colleague, Doreen Friend.  Martin Cort was our director.  With a book table displaying our latest publications, a gift table and grand raffle, we were never sort of activity and, of course, the all-important catching up over the year's work and gossip!  Masses of pictures taken and a few here to give you a flavour of a great afternoon. 

Sunday, December 02, 2018


Sunday December 2 and time for our annual Christmas Market.  Where would we be without Jim Shrubb, our Town Crier, the Rotary Club and Round Table members and so many folk who put great effort into the whole fantastic day. 
They never fail!  Thousands arrived from London and around Essex as well as our little town and it was great to see them enjoying themselves. Here are a few pictures below to give you a flavour of happy start to Christmas.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018


So sad to hear that Jean Barker is no longer with us. She died yesterday afternoon.   When I worked in the HoL, often had lunch with her and my boss Henry Plumb and there was always lots of laughter and fun when she joined the table. I bet the Upper House will be that much more dismal with her passing.  A few years ago, I found her again on the Terrace at an ALCS party and took this picture (in the middle of a naughty story).  She was also one of the Bletchley Park code-breakers and, again, had so many stories to tell us about this period of her life. There is a book available which I must read.

Her son Adam Barker wrote: "She did not make it to October 2022(100) ..but she had a bloody good innings".
Former Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted: "So very sad to hear that Baroness Trumpington has passed away." He added: "She was one of a kind - they simply don't make politicians like that anymore. She will be sorely missed in Westminster but long remembered for her outstanding ability and great humour. RIP Trumpers."

Monday, November 26, 2018


2018 Fun Walk surpasses £1,000,000 raised since 2002
£40,000 bonus awarded to participating charities at Presentation ceremony
At their Presentation ceremony on Friday, 23 November, John Baron MP and other Trustees of The Fun Walk Trust [a registered charity] awarded bonus pot cheques to all those charities and good causes [projects] which took part in this year’s Fun Walk [at Barleylands Farm on Sunday, 2 September]. This year the bonus is 65%.
Because of the generosity of local businesses and individuals, each project receives a bonus over and above what they raise themselves in sponsorship on the day. This year, for every £100 raised by projects in sponsorship, the bonus pot added £65.  The total monies raised both by the projects and bonus pot sponsors came to £100,000 – bringing the total monies raised for local causes to £1,064,000 since the Fun Walk started in 2002.
John took the opportunity to thank all those who had helped over the years to make this initiative a success, including previous bonus pot sponsors. He also gave notice that, whilst the annual walk would continue, a change of guard as to the organisation is now being planned in order carry the event forward. Next year’s walk is scheduled for 8 September.
Please see attached Factsheet and photos - more will be available shortly on our website The presentation was held at Anisha Grange Care Home, Outwood Common Road, Billericay, Essex, CM11 2LE by kind permission of Hallmark Care Homes Ltd. 

 John said:
The 2018 Fun Walk has been another huge success and brings the total monies raised for good causes since 2002 to over £1,000,000. Our thanks go to all who have helped along this journey, including our extensive family of volunteers and past and present bonus pot sponsors.”
“Our bonus pot sponsors this year were Swan Housing Association, c2c Rail, Hallmark Care Homes, Abellio Greater Anglia, Tunnelcraft Ltd, Brown & Carroll Ltd, McDonald’s Basildon, Leonardo MW Ltd, RSE Building Services Ltd, and others.”
“Our thanks also go to Barleylands Farm for hosting the Walk and to Hallmark Care Homes for hosting the presentation evening, and to the many others who have helped including Jim Shrubb, our marshals and accountants Hunt Smee and Co.”
“When people kindly offer you their seat on trains and your team are soon to be Grandmothers, the time has come for fresh blood to carry the event forward. Whilst I will continue in my role, the Trustees and I are now in discussion with parties able to help.”

Sunday, November 25, 2018


Wonderful celebrations last night at Queen Elizabeth II Field at Sun Corner with a huge turnout of school choirs, lights and a magical atmosphere to welcome visitors to our lovely little town. Personally, I loved catching up with long standing friends in the crowds and appreciated the help and guidance of the Billericay 2393 Air Training Corps cadets who marshalled the school choirs during the evening, along with our super Rotarian and Round Table friends.

Here is our famous Town Crier, Jim Shrubb - aren't we lucky to have him on our doorstep. Not many Essex towns can boast of their very own superb Town Crier. Jim can always be found in our town whenever we are celebrating our local occasions and we will be meeting him again very soon for our December Christmas Market. Watch this space!!!

Among many friends who had fun last night, what a joy to bump into a lovely friend Jodi Presswell and her family who were part of this great evening.


Tuesday, November 20, 2018


Ted Bailey in dark overcoat with English and French parishioners and colleagues 
One of my colleagues, Ted Bailey, sent me these pictures following his trip to France on  Saturday 10 November when a large Anglo-French group assembled at the church in Preux-au-Bois to attend a comprehensive lecture about the actions of the British Army in the area, which incorporated the 10th Battalion, Essex Regiment. This battalion was formed at Warley Barracks, Brentwood, in 1914 as part of the 18th (Eastern) Division, 53rd Brigade. It comprised volunteers and saw continual action from their landing in France in 1915 via The Somme in 1916, Arras (Scarpe) in 1917, resisting the Spring Offensive (Kaiserschlacht) in March 1918 right through to 4 November 1918, their final engagement.  This was a piece of opportunism by Commanding Officer Lt-Col Forbes who, seeing a long gap in German lines, led his battalion through it, successfully repulsing the enemy and taking many prisoners. 
A memorial to those men of Essex was kindly approved by the Mayor and Commune of Preux-au-Bois and installed in time for the 100th Anniversary of the Armistice. That morning, 11 November, all those concerned with this occasion assembled outside the Mayoral Office to participate in a three-part commemoration of the dead and celebration of the end of that grotesque war.
 The mayor kindly laid on a reception for everybody followed by a buffet lunch for the participants. Ted presented him with an Essex Regiment wall plaque for his office and received a bottle of champagne in return.This and the other Essex regimental memorials have only been possible owing to the donations of many interested individuals and organisations.
To paraphrase a well-known musician: ‘I’d like to thank you on behalf of our group and hope we passed the audition.’

Ian Hook bugled the Last Post followed by the two-minute silence, broken at precisely at 11.00 by the church chiming the hour and bells ringing out the victory. The cease fire was sounded and the History Group laid down their weapons and helmets, some donning civilian caps to signal the end of the military conflict.


Sunday, November 18, 2018


Billericay's residents came together on 11th November, for the commemoration service of the First World War Armistice, the first at 11.00am for our special service gathered around the Billericay War Memorial service and later at Sun Corner for the lighting of the beacon which was a most moving ceremony.  There was a huge turnout for both events, particularly the young groups including the splendid 2393 Squadron Billericay Air Training Corp cadets. We are most grateful to our long-standing friend Graham Baguley, bugler supremo who has never let us down over many years. Over the last four years, most of us have attended the annual services in the town and during the October Ward War One exhibitions at the Reading Rooms.