What now for Sleaford?

sleaford_sign_2Since Tesco have pulled out of Sleaford, is the outlook as bleak as we think?

Now that’s a hell of a question, but the simple answer is no, the outlook isn’t bleak.  Regeneration may be held up, it may even stop for a while, but life will carry on.  It is fair to say also, that the shopping opportunities may not be what we hoped, as quickly as we hoped, but in the end, things will improve.

There are several reasons that things will improve, the first and probably most important is the people of Sleaford.  While the various Councillors argue and hold up progress, people power will shine through, the people of Sleaford have realised that leaving it for someone else to do just isn’t the way forward.  Emma Yardley and Karen Pole will put on their Dog Show, the Carnival Committee will put on the Carnival, the Roundtable will host Oktoberfest once again.  There will be an Autistic Fun Day in May, which hasn’t been held before, life does and will go on.

Aside from the individuals who are putting in time and effort, there is the newly formed Town Team (http://sleafordtownteam.co.uk/) a group of locals who have got together to improve the town, Nightlife, Footfall, Events, Business and also the Market are all areas that have been earmarked for work.  The signs are all promising, they have already secured funding for a two day Digital Skills Workshop. (I would say that though, I’m one of the founder members!)

So, the future of Sleaford?  One thing that is sure is that another 3500 houses will be built in and around Sleaford over the next 15 years, meaning (even if we err on the side of caution) that by 2030, Sleaford is likely to have a population reaching 30 000.  It’s not all doom and gloom, but a few things need considering.  NKDC has learnt its lesson from places like Greylees, where amenities were promised, but never delivered, and have gain assurances that by certain stages of development shops, doctors and schools will be included.  The issue here is that developer find ways around these legalities, hopefully NKDC have this nailed and will actually get what they are promised.

The other issue here is that the population will have doubled since 2001, but the road system will not have significantly improved since 1906.  It doesn’t take a genius to work out that the number of motor vehicles will have increased in that time. A throw away fact is that the number of cars in Sleaford has trebled since 2001…. THREE TIMES as many!

What does that mean?  Well, in the absence of a new road, and I DO fear that the CPO could fail now, we are left with roads more suited to a couple of horse and carts than thousands of cars.  Congestion, it’s bad enough now, give it fifteen years and, unless flying cars become a reality, we are going to be very, very stuck.  Part of the Masterplan were little things like moving the two grammar schools to the end of the Drove, creating an entrance to the Drove at the bypass – removing nearly all the school traffic, eliviating a lot of the congestion, although I am not brave (or stupid) enough to blame young mothers, there is little doubt that school and work traffic contribute heavily.

Can this be fixed?  Well, yes.  NKDC could forge on with the road, the CPO could suceed.  Tesco could sell the land on and let another supermarket in, NKDC could even CPO the land.  That’s a lot of “could”‘s though.

What of the Maltings, let’s face it, that could be an awesome Meadowhall type development and could really put Sleaford on the map.  It could indeed, but without the road it is likely to be very hard to develop (access issues), but if you have a spare £100m to get that all underway, give me a yell, I’ll put you in touch with people!

So, if you are reading this and own a chain of Supermarkets and fancy an epic investment, Sleaford want to hear from you.  We need you!

I did tell you it’s not all doom and gloom, it will be harder to get where we are going, but we will get there and who knows, maybe NKDC have a Plan B.

Leave me you thoughts in the comments.

A Sad Day for Sleaford

800px-SleafordHighStreetToday is a sad day for Sleaford.  Why?  Tesco announced that they are shelving the super store that they had gained planning permission for some 6 years previously.

People constantly ask why it’s an issue that Tesco have pulled out.  I will try to address that here (my first post in over a year and it’s gonna get contraversial!).

tescoOk the long and the short of it is this, I don’t care whether it’s Tesco, Morrison’s, Asda, Sainsburys, Aldi, Lidl or Netto, the company is immaterial.  The important it is that Tesco were offering a larger store, one which could happily service the growing population of Sleaford (Sleaford is home to 17 000 people and is likely to see another 3 500 in the next 10-15 years).  You may find it odd that, as a supporter of small businesses, I look forward to a large supermarket store, but the reality is, it’s a numbers game.  At the moment 85p in every £1 goes OUT of Sleaford, that is a figure that our economy CAN NOT sustain.  A large supermarket in our town would go a long way towards keeping people in town, if they only buy at Tesco, some of that money will filter down into the “colleagues” wage packets, which then in turn gets spent in the local pub, club, shop, etc, so that £1 spent in Tesco could become so much more in the local economy.

Let’s suppose, though, that our Tesco shopper only buys a few bits in the store, but uses the 2 hours free parking and walks into one of our many beautiful, independent shops.  At that point it becomes a completely new ball game.  Real money in injected into the economy.

“Why not build on the outskirts?” I hear you cry.  Simple, if you build a retail park, people will drive to the retail park, then drive home.  At no point will they “nip” into town.  Yes, consumers are inherently lazy, but if you give them the opportunity to shop in one place and walk a small way to browse other shops on the way to a cafe, they very well may do, it happens in Lincoln, Grantham, Boston and many other towns all the time.  if you put distance between the consumer and independent shops, they will NOT visit them.  Yes a larger Tesco would sell more, but then it becomes the responsibility of the independent retail to either compete on price, quality or service.  The retailers in Sleaford do this exceptionally well.  We have three butchers in Sleaford, all of whom do well, leading me to believe that people value quality over price.

cropped-1.jpgOk, forgetting Tesco itself, what else are we losing?  The likelihood is that we’ve lost the £9m commitment from Tesco to build a new road, which we so desperately need, which will impact on the Maltings development,  The road system hasn’t really changed in Sleaford in over 100 years, we had the opportunity for a new road, with no level crossing to help improve the traffic situation, the chances are though, that’s gone.  The road was going to lead to Bass Maltings.

The Prince’s Regeneration Trust, the charity founded by HRH The Prince of Wales, is delighted that proposals for the regeneration scheme for The Bass Maltings in Sleaford, Lincolnshire have been finalised, and that planning and listed building consent applications have now been submitted by the site’s developers

The-Bass-Maltings-02Even Prince Charles got involved in the Maltings!  Why is the road so important?  It is the only access to the Maltings, the owners of the private road commonly known as “Maltings Way” have refused construction traffic access, meaning they necessary equipment and supplies can not get to site.  You can’t blame them for that, as the road will not be formally adopted until a year after the project is finished, meaning that any damage caused would be the responsibility of the owners.  So an historically important, listed building’s future could now be in jeapordy.

But the trees will be safe.  Yes, this is true, the trees, which are largely passed their useful life, are safe.  I know, “useful life”!  Essentially trees take carbon dioxide, perform their magic and give us oxygen (it’s fairly important to us), but they only do this efficiently for a certain amount of time.  I’m no scientist, and the little I know only covers a little bit about plantlife, but I have had conversations with tree surgeons and people who know a whole lot more than I do, they assure me that the trees are in decline healthwise, indeed STC’s own report has shown that several of the trees are in substandard condition, one of which shed a branch a foot or so wide, only last year.  What if that had landed on someone?  While talking about the trees, Tesco had said it was to undertake a replanting scheme on a 3 for 1 basis, not only that, but the rare Black Poplars were to have cuttings taken and potential have a lot of baby Black Poplars, it would be a shame if this further delay sees those trees expire.

As I say, today is a sad day for Sleaford.  Add comments at the bottom please, for or against.

Oh, by the way….. a year and a half and I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack!


I’ve been busy….

Darren Bannister (5)That is my only excuse.  Simple as that.  I have no idea how long it’s been, but faithful readers, it has been too long.  What have I been up to?  Anyone local should know the answer to this.  I have been organising a Carnival in Sleaford, along with a very dedicated committee.  The last four months have been, paperwork, phonecalls, paperwork, meetings, paperwork, more meetings, paperwork, emailing, and a little more paperwork, whilst I’ve not been doing that, I have been trying to raise support and funds for the Carnival.  It appears that raising money is no mean feat at the moment, apparently someone spread a rumour that the economic climate is in decline.

Anyway, no matter how you paint it, the day was a roaring success, thanks to everyone who planned, manned, and attended, you lot rock.  We will be bigger and better next year.  We did raise money for two excellent charities too, the Fire Fighter’s Charity & the Lincs and Notts Air Ambulance.

Now I am less busy, I am hoping to sink my teeth into a couple more projects, but I’ll chat more about them at a later date.  For now though, I have decided to tick another thing off my “Things to do before I die” list.  I am going to do a 175ft Bungee Jump.  I couldn’t help thinking that doing a bungee jump is fine, but someone should probably gain from my pant wetting experience, so I have decided to raise money for Nocton Ward.  Nocton Ward is the ward at Lincoln that helped Emmett recover in the final month of his hospital stay, they are also our local neo-natal ward.

Emm Skegness 060

Here’s my boy at 14 months, ain’t he gorgeous?  Well, that’s largely due to the work of several neo-natal wards, Notts City, Queen’s Med and Nocton Ward at Lincoln.

So, if you feel like supporting me (and my brother who I convinced to join me on my jump out of a perfectly good basket), feel free to throw a few pound into my online Virgin Money account – it goes directly to ULHT, who have been asked to direct it to Nocton, click the picture of my baby boy when he was first in hospital and it will take you to the page……

Emmett 1st

Thank you.

What did you do on your birthday?

After a busy day the day before (Emmett’s birthday), I decided to have a nice, relaxing day in.  Rach & the kids had chipped in together to buy me a Lego Millenium Falcon.  So , with the help of Amb & Rach, I set about building it.  Now, being into my photography, I decided to chart the build and here it is…..


Master Emmett Loki Patrick Gresham

Day at the Rec 003 (Medium)What a twelve months that was!  As I’m sure you all know by now, Emmett was born prematurely, extremely prematurely at 27 weeks +4, commonly known as “way too bloody early”.  He entered this world at extremely short notice, approximately 2 hours, and not being one to shy away from the limelight, he left his nice, comfortable, limosine-esque womb through the sunroof.  He weighed in at 2lbs, or as his grandad put it “not even a bag of sugar”.

Emmetts first home was the Neo-natal unit at Lincoln, but due to his age and complications, they couldn’t keep him, so he was swiftly transferred to Notts City Neo-natal.  On and off he stayed there for three months, visiting Queens Med and Lincoln Neo-natal for the last month.  When you first go to a Neo-natal ward they describe your journey as “a rollercoaster”, it is fair to say that until this point I had never seen a word used in such an inadequate way.  “Rollercoaster” doesn’t scratch the surface of what you face.  If you can think of an emotion, I am pretty sure we experienced it.  We watched our amazing little boy fight for his life on several occasions, we watched his astound doctors on several occasions, we watched in pure amazement so many times, it’s not possible to count.

I am not going to bored you with all the details again, suffice to say that we owe a lot of healthcare professionals a debt we can never repay.

The last twelve months have seen Emmett go from strength to strength, improving day after day.  He has grown in so many ways, he is still prone to chest infections and colds, but we take a little more care than most people would need to.  His character has grown too, he is a funny, cheaky little chappy, and he put a smile on our faces every hour of every day.  I am so proud of my gorgeous little boy, and I always will be.

We love you Emmett, you are an inspiration.  Happy birthday little man, I hope we can make it as special as you make our lives. x

St Deny’s Church

St Deny'sSt Deny’s Church in Sleaford, Lincs, is a Grade 1 listed C of E church.  It was built in the early 12th century and added to over subsequest centuries.  It is noted for having the oldest stone broach spires in England and an alter rail designed by Sir Christopher Wren, which was gifted to the church when it left spare during the renovation of Lincoln Cathedral in the 1790’s.

St Denys 017 (Medium)The church is dedicated to Saint Denis and is located on the eastern side of the market place, it stands in a small, now unused, graveyard with a vicarage to the northern side.  The vicarage is unoccupied at the moment and in a state of disrepair.

The earliest mention of a church in the town is in the Doomsday Book of 1086, but the building as we see today dates from 1180.  A spire was added to the tower around 1220.  A chantry chapel was founded in 1271 and is located at the eastern end of the north aisle.

During the English Civil War (1642–1651), St Deny’s was used as a barracks for parliamentary troops.  Much of the interior was destroyed, including the organ, eagle lectern and stained glass windows.  In 1772, Edward Evans, a ships surgeon donated £300 to replace the organ, with one built by Samuel Green.

St Denys 001 (Medium)A north aisle was added by local builders Kirk and Parry in 1853 to accommodate an expanded congregation. At the same time the church’s interior was renovated, at a cost of £3,500.  Thirty one years later, the spire and other parts of the church were damaged during an electrical storm. Kirk and Parry rebuilt the church, a 15th century stained glass window was removed from the front and reconstructed in the grounds at the rear of the church.

St Denys 008 (Medium)In 2008 solar panels were installed on the roof of the south aisle, half the cost was met by grants through the British government’s Low Carbon Buildings Programme.

St Denys 040 (Medium)Originally St Denys’ had 6 bells, some dating from 1600, one from 1707 and two undated. In 1796 a new peal of 8 bells were cast by Thomas Osborn of Downham, Norfolk. The bells carry inscriptions from Osborn:


  1.         The Lord to praise, my voice I’ll raise
  2.         Give no offence to the Church
  3.         Peace and Good Neighbourhood
  4.         Edward Waterson, vicar
  5.         Long live king George the third
  6.         William Kirton and George Robinson, Churchwardens
  7.         These 8 bells were cast in the year 1796
  8.         I to the church the living call

I was lucky enough to be able to visit the church and climb the tower to the bells, the reason for this will become clear in the future, but I took a few photo’s whilst up there of Sleaford, it is an angle you rarely see your home town from.  The pictures are below, feel free to browse and comment.


Evie’s Dream

As far as hard luck stories go, I’ve had & heard a few, but this one was brought to my attention earlier.  It’s a touching story, please take time to read it and visit the links in the story.  The following is lifted directly from their webpage (I hope the owners don’t mind)…..

Hi, my name is Evi-Lou.

I was 4 on 5th November 2011, I was born 10 weeks early and was poorly for quite some time. My mummy only had me at home for 5 days before I stopped breathing and was rushed back into hospital and ventilated for 72 hrs, my mummy and daddy went through a very hard time as they had my 2 older brothers and 2 older sisters to look after as well as travelling 35 miles each way to visit me in hospital.I am a very happy little girl and always have been, I don’t know any different ;-)

At the age of 20 months I still wasn’t sitting or crawling and mummy knew something wasn’t right. We went to the Childrens Outpatients for a regular appointment and this is where mummy learnt of my fate….

He told my mummy I had Cerebral Palsy and quite a bit of technical mumble jumble that I think went in one ear and out the other, that was the end of the appointment. My mum came away knowing nothing at all about Cerebral Palsy until she got home and started researching on the Internet. I saw my mummy’s face drop as she read stories and looked at photos.The following day  we went to an appointment with one of my sisters Emilie who, to my mums worst nightmare, had also been diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, Emilie is lucky she can walk although she is clumsy.

I cannot sit unaided for very long, I pull myself across the floor and I cannot stand or walk. My mummy started doing some research for Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy (SDR) and has now applied for me to have surgery to help me in my mobility. Unfortunately this comes at a cost for the operation, physio and equipment, which is why it brings me here to my own webpage to just ask all of you who visit to help me please.

Ordinarily, the story would end here, but a Facebook friend is auctioning a teddy, erm, bunny to try and help raise funds.  I bid, a mate outbid me, but another Facebook user, who’s in the same position as me (i.e. suffering with terminal finances) suggested that we should donate our £10 bids anyway.  Why not?  So, the reason for this post, go look at the page, make a bid if you can, pledge a donation if you can, if not, share the link, that costs nothing and raises awareness nicely.  Some Bunny Loves You’s post here.

Let’s see if we can make this little girl’s dream come true…. Please.

Goodbye 2012….

So, there goes 2012.  To be honest, I’m not overly sure how I feel about it.  The beginning was fairly normal, the middle hell and the end bliss.  Here is why…….

By January 2012, we’d known for about a month that Rach was pregnant, something that didn’t really hold any fears for me, been there, done that, produced the sodding T shirt.  Rach was a little more cautious, but excited.  As the pregnancy progressed, Rach seemed to become more and more ill with it, not just the normal sickness.

Emmett 1stAs it happens, that T shirt I’d produced didn’t fit anymore.  A day before my birthday (19th May 2012), Emmett Loki Patrick Gresham was born.  He was a poorly boy, 2lbs and three months early.  I have had some very difficult nights in my lifetime, this night ranked up there amongst them.  In the space of six hours, we went from knowing Rach was poorly, to Emm being born, and every emotion along the way.  Rach had an emergency C-section.  The word emergency conjures up any amount of thoughts, but when you are sat in a side ward, with a nurse observing your wife constantly and a Doctor explaining that Rach had Pre-eclampsia and would be in surgery within 2 hours, “emergency” suddenly takes on a new, scary meaning.

Rach couldn’t be knocked out for the procedure, her blood pressure was critical, put simply, it would kill her.  When you find yourself in a position like this, you like to know why this has happened, was it something we’d done, something a midwife missed, something a Doctor missed?  The fact is that Pre-eclampsia is one of those things that very little is known about, if caught early enough it can be “maintained”, if not it often results in emergency C-sections.  Anyway, as Rach couldn’t be knocked out for the C-section I was in the lucky position where I could be in theatre, sat with her.  I have been through some pain in my life, but watching the Docs cut through the seven layers of your wife’s abdomen, makes you wonder if there could possibly be a pain that compares to that.  By 10.05, our baby boy was delivered, although very small, he still whimpered, which gave me some hope.  Emmett was rushed up to Neo-natal, but because he was less than 30 weeks old, Lincoln could stabilise him,  but not care for him, so by 7am he was on his way to Nottingham City.

The next two days were hell, Rach was recovering from some major surgery, desperately wanting to be with her son, but unable to be transported.  I wanted to be with them both, but Rach was in Lincoln, Emm in Nottingham, I can’t drive!  I made the decision that Rach needed me more right then than Emmett did, he was blissfully unaware, and Rach needed the reassurance and love to get her through, she was still critical after all.  Emmett on the other hand was having the best care there was and wouldn’t have any idea whether I was there or not.

IMAG0451By the Tuesday, Rach was transferred to Nottingham City Hospital and we were all together again, I had a fold up bed in Rach’s room, but it meant we could go down and visit Emmett at any time day, or night. This was the beginning of three months of splitting our life between Nottingham and Sleaford.  Luckily, Emmett made good progress, with a few hitches along the way, they describe it as a rollercoaster ride, but nothing quite prepares you for the emotions that you go through, from joy for the smallest improvement, to despair and dread when you think that you may lose your son.  Emmett had to go to Queens Medical Centre to have a Broviac Line put in IMAG0325at one point, he was retaining water badly and was quite ill, but the ability to get antibiotics straight into his blood stream made his recovery quite swift.  After three months at Nottingham City Hospital, Emmett was transferred back to Lincoln Neonatal Unit.  This was a difficult time, we had grown used to the nurses, doctors and specialists at Nottingham, indeed, they had grown used to Emmett.  As it happened, the transition wasn’t painless, Emmett became quite ill again and had to be back in an incubator, something Nottingham had just got him out of, it felt like a massive step backwards.

IMAG0222The nurses, doctors and specialists at Lincoln were great, after consulting with Nottingham City, they formed a plan of action and Emmett resumed his recovery.  Emmett, although doing well, had a few issues, not least Chronic Lung Disease and Premature Brittle Bone.  Both of these things sound far worse than they are, but are still things that need dealing with.  Emmett was also on a fairly rare cocktail of drugs to control his fluid retention, his reflux issues and other things.  The Chronic Lung Disease is something that is ongoing, but basically means that, until his lungs have repaired, he will be on oxygen.  The Brittle Bone will hopefully disappear as he grows.

IMAG1236Fast forward to September 19th, four months to the day of his birth, an Emmett is given the all clear to come home, albeit on oxygen and with a shopping trolley full of drugs.  This was a terrifying time, all of a sudden, we were going to manage his meds on our own, contend with his oxygen and do all the things a term baby would do.  A midwife visits, as do Community Nurses, but still, you feel a lot like you are alone.

One of the biggest fears at this time of year is that your baby will end up back in hospital, there are any number of reasons why they could, we were warned that this is likely to happen and we are given 24/7 access to the children’s ward.  So far, we have not need to call on them, but the winter is far from over.  We rarely take him far, as crowded places breed germs and his immune system can not cope with it.  We’ve missed weddings and various other functions as we daren’t risk it.

Emmett is now seven months old, and he amazes me, he’s alert, holding his head up and chattering away.  These are all things that most people take for granted, but they are special moments in Emmett’s life.

This rollercoaster has been a long ride, but we haven’t taken it alone, we have had a lot of support from people, whether it was over Facebook, through these pages (before the Great Hack of 2012) or by visiting, thank you to one and all, it means so much to know that you are there for us.  We don’t know how long this ride is, we are still on it, but it’s all going in the right direction, so I am not complaining.

Before I leave you with the tradition felicitations, I feel I need to thank the Doctor’s, Nurses and Specialists of the three Neo-natal units that made this Christmas and New Year so great for us.  We owe you so much and will never be able to repay it.

Anyway, a Happy New Year to you all, may 2013 bring you everything you deserve.

Emmett today


An English Treasure….

Stephen Fry, actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, film director, and notably an Atheist.  He is arguably one of the greatest, most intelligent orators of his time.  The man is an English Treasure.

This is from The Intelligence² Debate of 2009, about 20 minutes long, but well worth a listen…..


It would be nice to create a theism/atheism debate on here, but no one ever comments :(