Wildlife in Winter

As we welcome in the New Year, put the Xmas decorations away get back to school or work after the holidays, we also enter into the hardest and coldest months of our calendar. Times when the nights are still long and the chances of waking up to a hard frost or snow are high.

For us humans tucked up in our homes, this can be hard enough but for our wildlife, January, February and March are among the toughest of all.

The greater abundance of food from autumn berries and seeds – where these have been left on uncut hedges, is now gone. And with the ground often frozen solid, or covered in snow, it can be very hard indeed for many creatures to find enough sustenance to keep them going through until spring.

This is a time when the bit of help we can offer, by putting out supplementary food in bird feeders or scattering seeds etc on the ground, can really be a life-line for many species, especially our birds.

For those not sure which food to choose from the many on offer at our garden centres, one of the best all round foods is sunflower hearts or sunflower chips. A seed high in oils and nutrient value, many species – such as goldfinches, greenfinches, great tits, blue tits etc enjoy these. Ground feeding birds such as thrush and blackbird will also eat them if you spread a handful in a cat-safe area on the ground.  

Another helpful food to put out in feeders is high quality suet fat balls (without nets its best so that no beaks or legs get caught in them). As the name suggests, the ‘fat’ in the fat balls provide an important source of ‘quick’ energy for birds in the colder months. Plus, they are loved by many species such as great tit, blue tit and, if you’re lucky you may also get nuthatches and woodpecker.

In really hard weather, farmland birds will also come closer to our gardens. Redwing (looks like a small Thrush) and Fieldfare (about the size of a wood pigeon) both love apple chopped into small rings – and in conditions like last year’s snows, putting out food like this really can be the difference between a bird making it through the night or succumbing to the elements.

Gloucestershire Youth Clubs

Plastic Fantastic this Christmas?

This month our youth clubs across the Cotswold’s have been making Christmas decorations from single use plastic for our entry in the Stow Christmas Tree Fair. Our tree, named ‘Plastic Fantastic?’ was decorated entirely with single use plastics. Below the tree there were gifts with tags that had suggestions of ways to reduce plastic usage. These include things like remembering to bring a reusable bag when you go shopping, bringing reusable cutlery and straws or even dining in instead of getting take out.

We were very impressed with the imaginative ways the young people turned single use plastics into Christmas decorations.

Sadly, the tree didn’t win any prizes but we have received lots of compliments and hopefully got lots of people thinking about their plastic usage this Christmas.

Gemma Hall

Youth Work Manager

The Cotswold School


I hope you had an enjoyable and peaceful Christmas.

As a new decade begins, we look forward to continued success at The Cotswold School. Success is measured in the difference we can make academically through our teaching; enrichment activities; and creating eager learners with high aspirations.

We had a busy pre-Christmas schedule and, as ever, I’m proud of what we achieved. Our Year 11 students sat their GCSE mock examinations, supported by staff and families through a very challenging time. We had three smashing Sister Act performances; hosted a fun party for local senior citizens; and sang carols with our communities in Bourton and Stow. We gave generously to charities and welcomed potential future students on our Sixth Form Open Evening.

One of the many ways that parents of children at The Cotswold School make a difference is by being an active member of the Parents and Teachers’ Association, the PTA, whose fundraising benefits our students’ learning and facilities.

In 2019, the team raised over £20,000. Perhaps you saw our PTA serving tea and cakes throughout the summer at Chastleton House, or came along to make a Christmas wreath for your front door?

Raffles and events rely on donations made by local businesses and individuals and if you have contributed cakes, bottles, gifts, vouchers or services to our fundraising efforts, I thank you wholeheartedly on behalf of the school, its staff and students.

The PTA is always delighted to welcome new members so, if you are part of our parent community, why not make a New Year’s resolution to join?

You can follow The Cotswold School PTA on facebook or email PTA@thecotswoldschool.co.uk. The first meeting of the year is on Wednesday 29th January at 7 pm in our school library.

I wish you all a very Happy New Year.

Bourton Panto Group, present “Mother Goose”

Bourton Youth Club Remember

With the 11th November being a youth club night this year we thought what better than to engage the young people in a time of reflection of what remembrance means to them.

Some young people shared stories of their relatives who had fought in the war.

The young people made poppies from the bottoms of plastic bottles which are now on display at the war memorial in the village.

Looking ahead our Stow youth club, with a little help from our clubs in Moreton in Marsh, Blockley and Bourton on the Water, are busy creating Christmas decorations from single use plastic for our entry in this years Christmas Tree Fair at St Edwards Church.

Our theme is plastic fantastic and explores our relationship with single use plastic and the effect on the environment. There will be pledges the young people have made and a chance to make your own pledges of one thing you will do this Christmas to reduce your impact on the planet.

Do pop by and have a look if you are able to!!


Cotswold Riding Opportunities Project

Do you know any children, teenagers or adults who are looking for new ways to spend their time?  Perhaps they have an existing interest in horses and animals or could benefit from some fresh air!  Cotswold Riding Opportunities Project (CROP) is an emerging Community Interest Company based at Bourton Vale Equestrian Centre.  CROP offers opportunities for all ages, which promote physical and mental wellbeing in the great outdoors!

CROP’s popular Saddle Club for primary school aged children (Fridays 4-5pm term-time only) is a practical, non-riding club, which teaches the basics of pony and general animal care in a safe and fun environment.  It is a confidence building chance for children to make friends, play games and learn in the fresh air! 

For secondary school aged children, CROP runs a Young Equestrians club  (Mondays 4-5pm) which provides opportunities for teenagers to further develop existing skills or gives them a first time introduction to horses.  It is also a good place to taste a career in horses with lots of advice and guidance available, as well as experiencing the amazing therapy of horses and the social benefits of a youth club.

For adults, CROP offers a monthly meet up (11-12.30 on the last Wednesday of every month) to experience the peace and magic horses can bring.  Whether you have never touched a horse before or are rekindling a past love you can join them for tea and cake!

CROP clubs run throughout the year whatever the weather so wellies/boots and waterproofs are a must.

For more information search Cotswold Riding Opportunities on Facebook or email cropsocialenterprise@gmail.com

Bourton Baptist Church

Christmas time is such a wonderful time of year, where we all try and leave the worries aside and focus in on the good things we have in life: on family, and on celebrating joys, and happy times, and thinking of the things that cheer us up, or bring us together.

So as part of Bourton Baptist church family, we thought we would add some activities for the community to join in with our Christmas time – we have activities that will appeal to everyone, to enjoy and to celebrate with us and others. We also have our lovely Christmas church services, too, that celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – the ‘Christ’ in Christmas!

Come and celebrate with us – you are warmly welcomed to one or all of the events below –

Throughout December –

Nativity Hunt with Virtual Reality game – we have ‘hidden’ 12 wooden figures from a nativity set (Jesus in a manger, Mary, Joseph, Shephards, Sheep, Wise Men, Camel) in various village shops who have kindly agreed to join in with the fun. With each one, you will also see a card up high in the window, showing a present with a number (1 to 12) and ‘12 revelations of Christmas’ – this is a virtual reality (VR) game for those with mobile phones that want to have some fun! Just go to your phone’s app shop, and search for ‘12 revelations of Christmas’; download the app, and then, when you spot a card – go in the shop, and at the counter, there will be another ‘present picture’. Open the VR app, so your camera is active, and hold your phone over the present… boom! It begins! Tap the VR present that appears, and watch what happens!  

We will have the VR ‘present’ cards in Bourton Baptist Church, Station Road, for you to try, if you are visiting us.

Christingle is a traditional Christmas childrens activity, where we make a Christingle decoration together – we will be doing this at

Noah’s Ark Toddler group on 6th December, 9.30am

and at Youth Club on Friday 9th December, 5pm.

Christmas film evening, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ on Tuesday 17th December at 7pm.

This is such a great Christmas film, with a wonderful message to us all! If you’ve never seen it – come and watch it with us, and see if George wins the day, and Clarence gets his wings. Popcorn and atmosphere provided, as we will watch it in the church on our big screen. All the family welcome, and bring your own treats to enjoy with the film.

Carols by Candlelight – Sunday 22nd December at 6pm.

The Baptist Church will be decorated, tree up, candles along the pews and this service is that wonderful Christmas experience of hearing the readings of the Christmas story, and singing the traditional carols we all know and love. Its one of those things to do at Christmas that just feels right! We end with tea/coffee and mince pies for all, so hope to see you there.

Christmas Eve open house at the Manse, 59 Roman Way

Justine and Ian Fowler would like to cordially invite you to drop in, say hello, share the seasons best wishes and Christmas chat over a drink and mince pie at their home. All welcome to drop in!

Christmas Day family service 10.30am, bring a fun present to share.

We have a fun, lighthearted, short service to celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas day. Pop the turkey in the oven, and come join us with your favourite present to show!

Finally, we are planning to start a new Alpha course in January, and if anyone would like to come along, and hear and ask some of those questions in life, we would love to hear from you! Just contact Rev Ian Fowler (07906 518316) or come along to any of our December events listed and let us know. Wishing everyone a very happy christmas!

Bourton Youth Theatre

“Theatre is a mirror, a sharp reflection of society”

With the cold weather upon us, it’s time for warm socks and hot chocolates! For us at Bourton Youth Theatre, it’s also time to start looking at a new drama style!

We are going to be looking at the Russian Dramatist – Stanislavski and his work around naturalism within the drama world. This means more work with scripts leading up to a final performance.

The students have so far enjoyed learning about Stanislavski and his dramatic techniques (as well as how to pronounce his name!) But more importantly, we are teaching them how to apply these techniques to their own acting and understanding of drama, allowing them to improve their current skills.

Our theme for our next performance will be the teenagers of 1960s Britain so we can teach the students about the “Mods and Rockers” era and the impact they had on the country. We think this is something that everyone will be able to enjoy and the kids are already excited to get their costumes and hair ready!

              ***FANTASTIC NEWS***

We are extremely grateful to the Parish Council for their generous grant and support and with the purchase of new Audio, Lighting and Staging equipment,  we will soon be able to offer technical skills to our students.

We work with the drama department at The Cotswold School to ensure our sessions support the GCSE and A-level drama syllabuses.

Spaces available ages 10-18

Bourton Youth Theatre

George Moore Community Centre Sundays 6-8pm



St. Lawrence’s Church


Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust this year launched their most ambitious appeal yet. ‘Save Our Special Places’ calls for the county’s residents to help save local wild places in very real danger of destruction.

The charity, which places caring for Gloucestershire’s wildlife at the heart of everything it does, began the new fundraising campaign in the summer to urge people to donate what they can so that vital conservation work can continue.

Struck by the threat of losing much-loved green spaces, and keen to play their part for the wildlife of the county, Grundon Waste Management have just donated £6,000 to the appeal’s cause.

Anthony Foxlee-Brown, Head of Marketing and Communications at Grundon, said: “This is such an important campaign that we wanted to give it substantial support. Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust is the only county-wide organisation with the ability, perspective, knowledge and experience to fight for the county’s special places, without which this region would be much the poorer.”

Threats faced on a daily basis by Gloucestershire’s picturesque countryside includes intensive agriculture, aggressive urbanisation, climate change and pollution. Wide open grassy spaces and leafy green woodlands, home to childhood memories of kite flying, tree-climbing and long family walks, are being ruined. Treasured creatures that call the county home, such as hedgehogs, barn owls and bumblebees, are struggling to survive and could be lost forever.

The UK is now one of the most nature-depleted countries in the world. Over the past 70 years, 56% of plants, animals, insects and fungi have declined, and 1 in 10 species are threatened by extinction.

“The way we live our lives is sending shock waves through the natural world around us. We already know how fragile the environment can be. Now we’re seeing the true reality of it. Will your childhood wood be here in twenty years’ time? In ten? At the moment, I couldn’t guarantee it” comments Roger Mortlock, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust.

However, the Trust are fighting back, and hope to encourage the people of Gloucestershire to join them in protecting the county’s wild places.

Every day staff and volunteers carry out painstaking work to protect wildlife for the future, not just across the land the Trust cares for, but by working in partnership with landowners and within urban areas. Whether it’s building hedgehog routes in local towns or removing invasive plant species which threaten to spread and smother native plants, it all encourages wildlife to thrive.

There’s still time to make a difference; the appeal will be running until the end of December. Donations could help to save the county’s wild places from the brink of disaster. Even the smallest donation could help to fund gloves and tools for teams of conservation volunteers, activities to help local children re-connect with the outside world and learn how they can help to care for the environment, as well as bird boxes to provide a home for declining species like barn owls. To find out more about the appeal and to donate, visit www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk/saveourspecialplaces

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