Petersfield people are so creative…

For over a month, customers at a sewing shop in Lavant Street, Petersfield have using all their creativity in Sew Creative’s Christmas Crafty Challenge. Using hessian, embroidery thread and their choice of embellishments, all manor of wonderful items were created, including bags, a snow man and fairy, advent calendars, table runners, bunting, cushions and so much more. Visitors to the shop then voted for their favorite. The winners were Mimi Harris for the under-16s for her cushion and Helen Spencer for her heart wreath. Jo Watts (owner of Sew Creative) said: “The amazing creativity of the people of Petersfield and the local area is so evident in their wonderful creations. We are so grateful for their participation.”

PYT is a logical family, brought together by love of theatre


Annie (Petersfield Youth Theatre)

Festival Hall, Petersfield

December 16, 2016

Like it or not, it’s the time of year when we think about families. If we’ve got one, the chances are we’ll be spending time with them – and members will migrate across the country to do so.

The sharing of sprouts or the gift of socks is not always a prospect we look forward to with joy. It can be excruciating. And yet still we do it. Why?

Perhaps deep down it’s because family is about bonds. We might drive each other mad. But rubbing people up the wrong way is often because you’re so close to them. We’re tied together. Yes, by biology, but also by shared traditions, shared histories and experiences – and shared concerns.

But we might also be lucky enough to have what the American writer Armistead Maupin calls our “logical family”. People we’ve picked up on the way with whom we have a natural bond, people who make sense to us, people we share interest and enthusiasms with. People we care about.

And as I wondered about the great whoop of joy that was PYT’s production of Annie, it struck me that this musical is itself all about logical families. It’s about finding the right people – and sticking with them and by them through thick and thin, whether you’re an orphan, a businessman or the President of the United States.

It is clearly a lesson PYT takes to heart. Because PYT is very clearly one great big and very special logical family – and I am sure that what the fine young people of the company enjoy together will sustain them through their lives, whatever path they pursue, judging by the sheer exuberance radiating from the stage of this production – and some stellar perforances.

Matilda Shapland as the eponymous Annie might be small of stature but she is huge of voice and warm of personality – and she was joined by a cracking group of orphans, who, on the basis of the high octane vivacity of the totally splendid Hard Knock Life, all deserve the very best homes and families.

But she was in no way overawed by sharing the stage with much older performers. Harry Mackay was fine billionaire with a heart – and so proved himself to be a better man than one billionaire we can all think of who is just about to enter the White House. The hope and empathy of anther man in the White House, President Roosevelt, was admirably captured by Luke Engelen, while Jessica Blatter as Grace was excellent as a career woman who cared – and has a fantastic voice to boot.

Kiera Leather and Crispin Glancy proved that the devil does in fact have the best tunes as Lily and Rooster, trying to hornswoggle their way to a quick buck or two. Their sleazy “Easy Street” was performed with real relish and what seemed to me a shocking insight into the darker motives of the human heart – and left me making a mental note never to trust a man in a chalk-stripe suit.

But I must give a special shout out to Megan Chambers as an absolutely terrific Miss Hannigan. She inhabited a hitherto uncharted space somewhere between Cruella de Vil and Carry on Screaming, a high-kicking, ballsy, boozy, brassy dame who hoped for much from life, expected little – and got even less. But underneath all the swagger, anger and hooch quaffing she still managed to convey vulnerability – perhaps even a little of the bewildered sense of being lost like her orphan charges. Megan was brilliant in PYT’s production of Candide. She was even better in this.

For me the highlight of PYT shows is the moment you look up to see a huge cast filling the stage and turning it into one great song and dance. It is quite exhilarating. You could run the National Grid off moments like this – when the whole of the PYT family is giving out for themselves, for their fellow cast members – and for the wider family and friends out in the audience. I have picked out a few part – but everyone deserves plaudits.

And yet the moment that will live with me from this production was not one of the barnstorming numbers – and they certainly did storm barns. Nor the sweet-as-pie duets – and they were as sweet as the piles of chocolate I intend to consume over the coming weeks. It was a solitary moment in the first half – actually something that wasn’t suppose to happen, when Warbucks’ hat flew off and Grace caught it for him and stuck it back on his head. It was, I think, unintended but Harry Mackay and Jessica Blatter exchanged a quick and easy smile that spoke of affection, mutuality and respect. It spoke volumes because only the best families have moments like this. They are to be treasured – as are the families in which they can happen. PYT is one such family.

As I left the Festival Hall on something of a cloud, I was reminded of another family – of my friend Greg and his son, Sam, now an  eighteen-year-old. But in my mind’s eye he is still a wide-eyed four year old. Greg once told me of Sam’s delight at coming down early one Christmas Day to see piles of presents under the glittering tree. But then his despair on Boxing Day when he bounced down the stairs to find no repeat of this vision of plenty; he’d thought that every day would be Christmas Day – and the gifts would never stop. Well, PYT make me think that Sam’s vision has come true. The PYT family don’t just bring Christmas joy. They bring that joy long into the new year – and long into the lives of its members, audiences and many, many friends. There wasn’t an empty seat in the house. I suspect there weren’t many dry eyes either.

Hugo Deadman

Sheet Film Club – what do you want to watch?

Sheet Film Club meets in Sheet Parish Hall once a month on a Thursday, offering a mixture of classic and contemporary films from a wide cultural perspective, British, American, European and world cinema. The club tries to cater to a wide range of tastes and ask feedback on the night’s film and what they should plan for next year. In the summer the club holds a Sheet Film Festival over a weekend, encouraging self-made short films made on iPhones to compete for Sheet Oscars. Everyone is welcome, and you can take out a membership or just pay at the door. For dates etc. see

Daniel Day Lewis Award nominations open

Petersfield Town Council is once again seeking nominations for the Daniel Day Lewis Award.

The award is given to a young person under the age of 18, in recognition of their achievements through theatre or drama.

If you know of anyone you would like to nominate for the current year, send the council details, together with an explanation as to why this person should be put forward for this award and where possible a photograph, by January 31, 2017. The winner will be announced at the Annual Town Meeting which will be held in March or April next year.

Previous winners have been Alex Lawther, Charlie Essex and Anna Hughes.

Free Christmas tea dance at Haslemere

Thanks to  generous support from Waitrose, Haslewey Community Centre, opposite Lion Green in Haslemere, will be putting on a Christmas Tea Dance on Wednesday, December 21, from 2-4pm, for people of all ages in the local community to join in – and it’s absolutely free!

Enjoy a delightful afternoon with a traditional afternoon tea and dancing, plus a nostalgic singalong with music from the 1940s and 1950s and a special Festive twist!  There will also be live entertainment from Kevin Jacot, locally renowned singer and pianist, who will play and sing partygoers through the decades in style.

To book your place,  call Haslewey on 01428 648716 or drop in at reception.  Places are limited.

Try hypnotherapy for New Year resolution success

Petersfield has a new Hypnotherapy service. Jenny West, a professional hypnotherapist, said that it is “an ideal way to increase the chances of making a permanent change for 2017”.

Jenny, who recently qualified with the National College of Hypnosis and Psychotherapy and works from her consultation room in Love Lane, described hypnotherapy as “a type of complementary therapy that uses hypnosis, which is an altered state of consciousness. It gets to the root of the issue so that changes can be made to support your goals quickly and efficiently.”

“After first-hand experience of how powerful hypnotherapy can be, I developed a passion for learning and applying the techniques to also help other people achieve their full potential. Whilst I’ve a personal interest in hypnosis for sports and business skills, I use the techniques to support a wide range of issues including weight loss, phobias and depression.”

Life before hypnotherapy was a very different one. Between 2002 and 2013, Jenny started, grew and eventually sold a successful Hampshire-based travel business, Planet Cruise.

Jenny is available for a free initial telephone consultation on 01730 302377 and can also be contacted via her website

Continue learning with Petersfield WEA

The Workers’ Educational Association, Petersfield branch, is offering a whole range of classes for adults in 2017.

Founded in 1903, the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) is a charity dedicated to bringing high-quality, professional education into the heart of communities. With the support of nearly 3,000 volunteers, 2,000 tutors and over 10,000 members, it aims to deliver friendly, accessible and enjoyable courses for adults from all walks of life.

In Petersfield for 2017, you can sign up for a series of classes in: history (40 tempestuous Years 1649-1689, or a History of the Ottoman Empire); music (Wagner – der Ring des Nibelungen – Part 2); art appreciation (pre-Raphaelites), and English literature (DH Lawrence, and Modernism).

Classes take place in Petersfield Methodist Church Hall, Station Road. You can enrol online at or call the Southern regional office on 01634 298600 or the student course booking line on 0800 3281060.

Panto classic at Barrow Hills

A traditional Snow White pantomime blended with the iconic songs of ABBA …

Dwarves galore who work as accountants during the day but also moonlight as owners of a B&B …

 A festival vibe as the audience waves coloured glow sticks …

 Year 8 children at Barrow Hills school certainly put on an original performance this week with their unique Snow White: An ABBA Spectacular extravaganza.

Staying true to the classic concept, the boys dressed as pantomime dames, donning their tights and fancy frocks to play parts such as the Wicked Queen, Fairy Nasty and of course (in this Barrow Hills interpretation), the hat shop owner Millicent and Nurse Gladys!  Meanwhile, the girls took on the roles of two of the ‘principal boys’ by portraying the characters of Prince Kevin and Prince Ken.

The evening’s hilarious entertainment was given an edgy twist as the story played out to the sound track of some of ABBA’s greatest hits including Super Trouper, Dancing Queen, Thank you for the Music, Mamma Mia and the unforgettable Waterloo – all of which proved an irresistible cue for some active audience participation.

Luisa Mason, Head of Drama at Barrow Hills said: “The children have worked so hard to combine rehearsals with revision for their mock Common Entrance exam and I couldn’t be prouder of their achievements.  Every child put 100% into the production and the constant roars of laughter and enthusiastic singing from the audience confirm the success of today’s show.”

Shout BANG and save on landfill, says Sustainability Centre, in Christmas campaign

The Sustainability Centre near Petersfield has launched a campaign to get people thinking about just how crackers it is to pull crackers at Christmas.

Crackers have been on tables at Christmas since 1847, when Tom Smith, a London confectioner, created what he called Cosaques. These crackers contained a motto and a surprise gift and were instantly popular in wealthier households. They were a clever packaging idea to sell his sweets.

The London sweet-maker originally planned to wrap sweets in coloured paper, inspired by trips to Paris where he saw such treats. But another version, with mottos, hats and toys proved much more popular, and the cracker as we know it was born.

The Sustainability Centre, Droxford Road, East Meon, specialises in teaching practical and fun ways to lead greener more ethical lives. It welcomes visitors from around the country, including more than 15,000 school children annually, to learn about one-planet living.

It says: “300 million crackers are pulled in the Christmas period at an average of 75p each. That’s £225 million this year, with 90% of those crackers ending up in landfill.

“You can easily spend £15 on a box of crackers for the big day. Just imagine what could be achieved if that £225 million pounds was be re-directed to charity this year.

“It’s worth asking what your family do with their cracker waste. Do you really value the plastic comb or the false moustache? If you are like most people, the gift is funny for five minutes, you read out the cheesy joke and struggle with the paper hat. The bang is the best bit and it’s all over by the end of the meal.

“So if you are crackers enough to “just shout BANG” instead of buying crackers, then please give locally by making the Leaves for Learning Appeal at The Sustainability Centre your charity of choice this year.”

The Leaves for Learning Appeal is a Community Fundraising Campaign aiming to raise £800,000 to create a New Learning Centre at the site. It will include a new education suite especially for schools and young learners; community facilities and office space for small businesses. The building itself will be an example of how to re-use and recycle, as the plan is to transform an existing ex MoD building on the former HMS Mercury site at Leydene. Each leaf sponsored as part of the Appeal will acknowledge the gift in a Leaves for Learning sculpture. Donations xan be made online at www.sustainbility-centre.orgor by picking up a donation form.

A cost- and waste-free Cracker Kit that is full of the fun of having crackers on Christmas Day without the cost or the waste has been invented. All the work has been done for you to have totally ‘guilt free’ cracker fun. Download the kit to enjoy ideas for Sustainable Christmas Crackers, including how to make them re-usable and create no waste. There are tons of cheesy jokes, charades, quizzes and The Cracker Song. You can down load it here.



I hope they make it a Christmas tradition


A Child’s Christmas in Wales (West Meon Theatre)

St John’s House, Winchester

December 3

What an entrancing performance! The eight-strong cast, directed by Mary Dawson, brought to life a short story by Dylan Thomas, with a beautiful score by Peter Theobald, performed live on the night in the huge, festively decked out hall of St John’s House.

After a delicious bowl supper by local caterers, Wild Garlic Catering, we turned our chairs round to watch this delightful play about wintertime in the 1940s.

The Welsh accents were pretty solid, the singing wonderful (some beautiful harmonies) and the performances by the actors as they played a variety of characters, young and very old, were delightful.

The set was simple – two platforms at either end of the performance space, piled high with props and costumes, chairs and boxes and picture frames. It was all bathed in a warm glow from the lights, which gave it a sepia colouring like candlelight. Inventive use of props meant we were pelted with pompom ‘snowballs’ at one point, picture frames became doors and windows, and door knockers were all that were needed to create doors for the carol singing children to knock.

The whole was a seamless dreamworld of nostalgia and warmth. It was by turns funny and sad, with many memorable little scenes of aunts and uncles, gifts and feasts, adventures and fun.

Although at times it was a little difficult to see due to the seating arrangements, I loved the play. I do hope they make this an annual performance.

Kat Wootton