Ray Crowther

About Ray Crowther

Ray Crowther is here Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10am with the mid-morning show – Stafford‘s community hub, a daily mix of consumer advice, topical local discussion, current affairs and good music.

Posts by Ray Crowther:

Staffordshire to commemorate Battle of Messines 100 years on

On 7 June 1917 Allied troops were fighting their way into the village of Messines, near Ypres in Belgium, in one of the most successful offensives of the Great War.

Now, 100 years on, Staffordshire is set to commemorate the battle and the role of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade, which was based at the military training camps on Cannock Chase from late 1917.

The battle lasted seven days and was an important moment in the history of the NZRB. But such a spectacular victory came at a price, with some 24,500 allied casualties sustained, 5,000 of which were New Zealanders.

Staffordshire played an important role during the Great War where the two military training camps on Cannock Chase trained over half a million troops for the trenches from across the UK and abroad. Today, they survive as some of the most complete Great War archaeological sites in the country.

It was here that men from the NZRB built an intricate scaled model of part of the battlefield at Messines which was used to train troops in battle tactics and map reading.  The model, made of concrete and about the size of five tennis courts, was excavated and recorded by archaeologists in 2013 and is thought to be the only one of its kind in the country.

The model showed not only Messine’s buildings and structures, hills and streams but both the German and NZRB trench lines and sniper positions.  Using such a model would not have been a standard approach to training at the time, but is thought would have allowed men to physically walk the battle zone to understand the best way to attack.

Gill Heath, Staffordshire County Council’s Cabinet member for Communities, said: “Staffordshire played a vital role training troops during the Great War and we’re incredibly proud to have such a valuable heritage site on our doorstep.

“The discovery and recording of the Messines model is particularly special and, as a rare example of its kind, is recognised as having both national and international significance.  It offers us an insight into ‘modern’ approaches to training.”

“As custodians of this important landscape and its history, it is vital that we remember the work of the New Zealand Rifle Brigade and its role in the Battle of Messines as well as the many British units which trained on the Chase.”

Soldiers would have spent time at the training camps to learn the skills required on the Western Front. Lines of practice trenches, sniper ranges, the railway, remains of the parade ground and hut bases, and a Great War Hut are all still visible.

A special memorial on Armistice Day for Freda the dog who was the Mascot of the NZRB also rests on Cannock Chase near to the site of the Messines terrain model.  The Commonwealth Cemetery on Cannock Chase is also now the resting place for hundreds of troops including those from the NZRB who were based on Cannock Chase.

Sir Jerry Mateparae, New Zealand High Commissioner to the UK, said: “I applaud the County Council and the community for all the work they are doing to commemorate the Battle of Messines and the special link New Zealand has with Cannock Chase.

“It’s fantastic to see the connection between New Zealand and Staffordshire still so strong 100 years after the New Zealand Rifle Brigade trained at Cannock Chase.”

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5461) Near Wytschaete, 8 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237594

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5461) Near Wytschaete, 8 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237594

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5487) A smashed up German strong point at Wytschaete, 10 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237618

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 5487) A smashed up German strong point at Wytschaete, 10 June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205237618

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 3519) A German Light Railway destroyed by British guns, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205236055

THE BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 3519) A German Light Railway destroyed by British guns, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205236055

BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 2314) Soldiers, probably from the 12th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, seen in a British communication trench in Ploegsteert Wood, during the Battle of Messines, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205078194

BATTLE OF MESSINES, JUNE 1917 (Q 2314) Soldiers, probably from the 12th Battalion, the East Surrey Regiment, seen in a British communication trench in Ploegsteert Wood, during the Battle of Messines, 11th June 1917. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205078194

Staffordshire County Council Archaeologist Steve Dean talks about the Battle of Messines on its 100th anniversary and the county’s role during the Great War in this short video,

You can find out more about Staffordshire’s role during WWI at www.staffordshiregreatwar.com

 

 

HAVE YOUR SAY ON TAXI RULES IN STAFFORD

 

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The Borough Council has responsibility for ensuring taxi drivers are competent and that people can travel in safe, well maintained vehicles. Now the local authority is asking for views on a draft policy which outlines licensing conditions to make sure this happens.

Letters have gone out asking taxi and private hire drivers to have their say as part of the six-week consultation which began on Monday (12 June).  As well as vehicle conditions the document also sets out rules governing drivers ‘dress code’ and the effect criminal convictions can have on holding a taxi licence.

Councillor Frank Finlay, Cabinet member for Environment and Health, said: “People rely on taxis especially when they have no other way to travel around Stafford Borough so we appreciate how vital the trade is for the community.

“Therefore it is important that members of the public can have trust in the person who is driving that cab, and that the vehicle they step in to is safe.”

People can give their comments on the draft Taxi Licensing Policy and Licence Conditions 2017 policy until Monday 24 July. You can find it at www.staffordbc.gov.uk/taxi-licensing-policy-consultation. A copy is also available to view at the Civic Centre, Riverside, Stafford.

Email comments to [email protected] or by post to Mrs J Wallace, Licensing Officer, Stafford Borough Council, Civic Centre, Riverside, Stafford ST16 3AQ.

 

KEEP YOUR COOL IN BED THIS SUMMER

 

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Sun-starved Brits may welcome high-end temperatures this summer, but over-hot nights can play havoc in the bedroom.

“When the sun comes out we can enjoy days in the garden, a picnic and dusting off the BBQ – but we forget the effect the warm days can have on our bedrooms at night,” said Simon Williams of the National Bed Federation (NBF).

“A baking bedroom can impact on our comfort and sleep. An ideal bedroom temperature should be around 16-18°C (60-65°F) but it can be difficult to get comfortable and fall asleep in a hot and stuffy bedroom, leaving many suffering from a disturbed night’s sleep.

Continued Simon: “Your body temperature needs to drop slightly before you go to sleep which is why you just can’t sleep when you’re too hot. Below are some simple, very effective steps to take to ensure you stay cool and comfortable in bed this summer.”

  • Keep windows and doors open to allow air to circulate.
  • Keep curtains or blinds drawn during the day to keep the sun out.
  • If you’ve got an attic, try opening the hatch. Hot air rises and this will give it somewhere to go.
  • Get rid of the duvet and blankets – just use a cotton sheet. Or a duvet with a low tog rating.
  • Wear light cotton nightwear. This is actually better than wearing nothing at all as natural fabric will absorb any perspiration.
  • If you’ve got long hair, tie it back. Hair around your neck can make you feel warmer.
  • Have a cool shower or bath before bedtime to lower your core body temperature.
  • Drink plenty of cold water during the evening and keep a glass by the bed.
  • Avoid too much caffeine, alcohol or a big meal. They can all make you feel hot and steamy in the middle of the night through dehydration and over-active digestion.
  • Put a hot water bottle filled with ice cold water in bed.
  • Cool a pillow case in the fridge before bedtime or try one of the new cooling pillows that are available to buy.
  • Cool socks in the fridge and wear them. Cooling your feet lowers the overall temperature of your skin and body.
  • Use an electric fan – the remedy for 20% of people. If it’s really hot, put a tray of ice and a little water in front of the fan which will cool the air even more.
  • Next time you buy a new bed, look out for one that incorporates new temperature regulating technology.
  • And, if you share a bed, make sure it’s big enough for two people, so you can sleep without disturbing each other: 5ft wide should be your minimum.

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation from the sun can have both positive and negative effects on human health, there’s some useful tips to protect yourself from the sun here, http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/health/yourhealth/uv-and-sun-health

 

Staffordshire sizzles for third IRONMAN 70.3 competition

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Hundreds of spectators took advantage of the sun as they came out to cheer on competitors along the route, which saw over 2000 people complete a 1.2 mile swim, 56 mile bike ride and 13.1 mile run through stunning Staffordshire countryside.

And, scores of volunteers were on hand to give out water and support athletes along the way, who were competing in temperatures of around 29C.

The day started off at Chasewater, where the sun certainly helped people plunging into the cold water at 7am on the start of their IRONMAN journey.

Professional athletes Italian Giulio Molinari and Britain’s Lucy Gossage led the field, with Gossage scoring a hat-trick of wins at IRONMAN70.3 Staffordshire.

Over 2000 local, national and international competitors took on the gruelling challenge, battling soaring temperatures to cross the finish line.  Many people were raising money for local charities.

County Councillor Mark Winnington, Cabinet Member for Economic Growth was on hand to hand out medals to finishers.  He said: “It’s been a fantastic day for the spectators, and it’s good to see so many local communities come out to support the athletes.  I think it’s been a tough race out there because of the heat, but everyone has been getting into the spirit of things and giving competitors that much needed boost as they reach the finish line.

“I particularly want to thank all of our amazing volunteers, who have given their time up freely to make both the IRONMAN and IRONKIDS competitions a fantastic success.”

IRONMAN 70.3 Race Director, Lisa Dent said, “It’s fantastic to see everything come together on race day after the many months of preparation. The spectator support from the local communities was once again exemplary and really helped the athletes reach the finish line. A special thanks to the volunteers who braved the heat to give the athletes a memorable race day.”

Bolow are photos of Ironkids with Carter Chatting.

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Remembering murdered MP Jo Cox in Staffords Victoria Park

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Tomorrow, Saturday 17 June in Stafford’s  Victoria Park there’s a special event in memory of the murdered MP Jo Cox. Local organisations who have arranged this are, Stafford Welcomes Refugees, The Friends of Victoria Park, Stafford People’s Assembly and Castletown and Virginia Park Residents Association. There will be entertainment on the bandstand, stalls and games for children and adults. The Worshipful the Mayor of Stafford Borough, Councillor Aidan Godfrey will also be attending this event.

It will be one of hundreds of events held across the country under the heading of ‘The Great Get Together’ which is a national initiative of the Jo Cox Foundation as a way of remembering her and as a way of showing unity in communities. It is supported by a wide range of organisations including Save the Children and Amnesty International.

The event starts st 12 noon

Photograph courtesy of: Ian Hinchliffe/Rex/Shutterstock