Coronavirus Community Support – Update 11/04/2021

Coronavirus Community Support – Update 11/04/2021

Although the Emergency Planning Team has stopped issuing regular updates about the pandemic we will continue to keep the village informed when there are significant changes to government advice or regulations.  Normally this will be as part of the new Parish Council Newsletter which is planned to come out monthly. Since there are significant changes happening from Monday 12th however and the newsletter will not be published before the end of the week this is an additional notice.

The rules are changing from Monday 12th April

Some of the restrictions on what you can and cannot do are changing from Monday with shops, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality opening as lockdown starts to ease.  You should still not meet indoors however as the risk of spreading the virus is significantly higher inside. The current planned date for allowing households or groups of up to six people to mix indoors is 17 May at the earliest.

The changes after this weekend include:

  • non-essential retail will be able to re-open
  • personal care premises such as hairdressers and nail salons will be able to re-open
  • public buildings such as libraries and community centres will be able to re-open
  • outdoor hospitality venues will be able to reopen – table service only
  • most outdoor attractions including zoos, theme parks, and drive-in performances (such as cinemas and concerts) will be able to reopen
  • some smaller outdoor events such as fetes, literary fairs, and fairgrounds will be able to take place
  • indoor leisure and sports facilities will be able to reopen for individual exercise, or exercise with your household or support bubble
  • all childcare and supervised activities will be allowed indoors (as well as outdoors) for all children.
  • weddings, civil partnership ceremonies, wakes and other commemorative events will be able to take place for up to 15 people. Wedding receptions can also take place for up to 15 people, but must be outdoors, not including private gardens
  • self-contained accommodation will be able to open for overnight stays in England with your household or support bubble.

We should still work at home where that is possible and limit our travel though we are no longer asked to stay at home.

How to get a free test

The Government is encouraging everyone in England to access free, regular, rapid Covid-19 testing. This regular testing is for those without symptoms of Covid-19 and helps break the chain of transmission. Details on how to get a test and advice on other support available in Somerset can be found on the SCC website .

Lifting lockdown – summary timetable.

We plan to keep village noticeboards updated with headline information about the pandemic.  If you would find it helpful to print off a similar copy for yourself you can find a useful one-page summary here.

Westbury Church – Book of Condolences for Prince Philip

St Lawrence’s Church, Westbury would like to draw everyone’s attention to the opportunity to leave a message in an on-line book of condolences for Prince Philip. The church website gives links to books made available by the Royal Family and the Church of England. It will not be possible to sign books in person because of the pandemic.


Sue Reece, 870618, Mick Fletcher, 870531   on behalf of the Parish Council


Westbury WI

Report of Zoom Meeting 23rd March 2021

Our speaker for this Zoom meeting was John Barkle who spoke about his book – Memories of a Village Grocer, which had recently been published.

Sue welcomed 23 people to the meeting and extended a very warm welcome to those joining us who were not regular members, including visitors from Wookey and Wookey Hole. We were delighted to welcome John to our meeting.

John began by saying that he was thrilled to publish his book which he had been intending to write for the last 20 years! Lockdown does have its uses! John also thanked everyone who had bought his book – he had originally ordered 400 copies but only 50 copies were left so he has put in an order for another 250 copies as it was due to be advertised in Mendip Times. All the profits will go to the Children’s Hospice care.

John outlined his life growing up in rural Ditcheat, in his parents’ grocery shop, in the 30s,40s & 50s. Life was, of course, extremely different in those days long before supermarkets came on the scene. His shop sold everything from bacon and cheese to paraffin and candles! As a small child he was expected to help by filling up shelves with new stock. They cooked their own ham and as produce was not prepacked, the smell of ham, bacon, cheese as well as paraffin and soap powder pervaded the shop. Other smells lingered outside the shop especially when one customer brought her goats along when doing her shopping – not a sight seen these days outside Waitrose or Tesco’s! As the counters were made of polished oak there was also the homely smell of polish. There was plenty of time to pass the time of day with the customers who were all known to John and his parents.

All the accounts had be added up and checked at the end of the day – the book keeping was a huge task especially when the bills did not tally which was often the case. Much of the produce like sugars, flours and dried fruit was bought in bulk and had to be weighed out and put into bags. Even spices were weighed out in tiny amounts!  A plastic – free era!

John, who has a great sense of humour and relates so wonderfully with people, loved engaging with the public and peppered his talk with amusing incidences concerning local “characters”. On one occasion when John’s toddler daughter Sue had wandered into the shop she was found sitting with one eccentric lady who was eating an ice cream but sharing it with her dog and Sue – each taking a lick in turn!

The shop also housed the Post office and the switchboard for the telephones as few people owned their own telephone then. John recounted the fun it was for a youngster to man the switchboard and connect people and of course to keep up with all the local news – listening in whilst holding one’s breath!

As many of John’s audience were “of a certain age” it was also a trip down memory lane as we could all remember going shopping in similar shops when items such as camp coffee, lifebuoy soap, angelica, butter being patted, cheese cut to order and loose items weighed out were the order of the day.

Julie Romeo gave the Vote of Thanks speaking for all of us by saying how delighted we all were by hearing John talking about our memories too. He was just such fun to listen to. Julie rightly called John “our village treasure!” -which is quite true.

Now that we are nearing the date when restrictions will start to ease and groups will be able to meet outside in groups of 6 once more we might be able to have small groups meeting outside for social chatting. Hopefully normal meetings in the village hall might resume in September. Until then we will continue to have meetings by Zoom, with a speaker on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, our normal meeting day.


The next talk will be on 13th April  – when we are delighted to welcome Tessa Munt, our former MP, who will talk to us about her experiences. Please do join us for this as she is a really good speaker.


Our branch will hold its AGM by Zoom on May 11th.

Sue ended the meeting by thanking everyone for attending the Zoom meeting.



Westbury Inn Takeaway Menu for week Wednesday 7th to Sunday 11th April 2021.

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Westbury Inn Takeaway Menu for week Wednesday 31st March to Sunday 4th April 2021.

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Westbury Inn Takeaway Menu for week Wednesday 24th to Sunday 28th March 2021

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Westbury Inn Takeaway Menu for week 17th to 21st March 2021.

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Village news

Despite us all having nothing to do at the present time there are several events planned, both in the community and on Zoom.

You can access them via the Village website, by following the links below.

The Church of England has partnered with Marie Curie on 23rd March 2021 to mark the first anniversary of the first lockdown in the UK with a national day of reflection to reflect on our collective loss due to Covid-19, support those who have been bereaved, and hope for a brighter future.

Bellringers have been invited by the Church to participate in this day by marking the end of the one minute silent reflection at 12 noon by tolling a bell at 12:01.  There are other ways to get involved on the day detailed on the Marie Curie website at

Accordingly one of the bells at St Lawrence’s will be tolled at 12:01 on Tuesday 23 March


There is an update on the Playing Field and notice of the AGM added here.


The WI have been meeting on Zoom, our next speaker is John Barkle talking about his book, details here.


The Friends of Westbury Church have their AGM in April, and information about the Charity can be found here.


Westbury Inn Takeaway menu for week Wednesday 10th to Sunday 14th March 2021


Ash dieback and pollarding

Several people have expressed concern at the number of mature trees that have been felled or pollarded recently in the upper part of the village.  Sadly, it is a sight that we will have to get used to since most of the trees involved are ash trees and most of them will have been infected with ash dieback- a disease that will kill some 90% of ash trees over the next few years.  You can find out more about dieback here.

Trees affected by dieback can become brittle and unstable and can shed branches in windy conditions.  Where such a tree is alongside a road or path the landowner needs to take action to protect themselves and the public – they would be negligent not to.  Trees well away from public access can be left to die since standing dead wood is a valuable wildlife habitat.

Pollarding – the removal of upper branches – is a long-established form of management and can preserve an ash tree for a time while making it safe. In most cases it will regrow until it finally succumbs to the disease and even then the trunk can be left standing for the benefit of wildlife.

A diseased tree may be weakened internally without signs showing on the outside.  For that reason the safest method of dealing with them is often with giant mechanical shears driven from a heavy vehicle.  The result may not be elegant but it is effective.  Some people have asked whether the brash from infected trees should be burned to slow the spread of the disease.  Unfortunately there are already billions of fungal spores circulating in the air and on leaves that dropped in the autumn so that would have little effect.

Ash dieback will bring about dramatic changes to our local landscape.  Since for environmental reasons we need to increase rather than reduce the number of trees across the country the parish council has established a tree group to help promote awareness of the situation and take practical steps to increase tree planting.  We have compiled information on how to recognise ash dieback, on what sorts of trees might make suitable replacements for ash and where to look for further advice.  We have also established a tree nursery to grow on native trees and begun to plant young trees to replace those that we will lose.

You can find out more about our activities by looking on the website here.  We would be pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in helping us or simply finding out more.

Comet over Westbury

Steve Penfold has kindly shared this excellent clip of a comet over Westbury apparently taken by a smart doorbell!