Berkshire news and views - April 2014

PUBLISHED: 11:59 02 May 2014 | UPDATED: 11:59 02 May 2014

Your carriage awaits: don't miss Royal Windsor Horse Show

Your carriage awaits: don't miss Royal Windsor Horse Show


The latest stories from across Berkshire

Ready to greet patients: reception staff at Wokingham Medical CentreReady to greet patients: reception staff at Wokingham Medical Centre

Wokingham’s practice for the future

For most people a visit to the doctors is not something you exactly look forward to, but we’ve been for an ‘appointment’ which definitely lifts the spirits.

Berkshire Life took a tour of the new Wokingham Medical Centre with Dr Vipan Bhardwaj just a couple of weeks after the medical team had swapped their cramped surgeries at Tudor House and Rectory Road for a state-of-the-art hive of activity in Rose Street.

With its light and airy interior, the white three storey building and adjoining pharmacy is a world away from the previous premises. As Dr Bhardwaj explains: “This is a medical centre for modern day patients. Old buildings have their charm, but the gargoyles and staircases of Tudor House couldn’t really add to the ‘patient experience’. Corridors were too narrow for wheelchairs, but now we have a place where people on mobility scooters, for instance, can come straight through the doors and into the lifts to see their doctor.”

Needing the exercise, we took the stairs to the top floor where there is a conference room with magnificent views across the town and countryside.

At present 10 GPs are based at the centre and there’s room for growth. This is important as Wokingham’s population is expected to grow dramatically in the coming years. It’s one of those property ‘hot spots’ attracting families for the lifestyle they can enjoy in a town which embraces both history and modern living. It could well be that the new centre, built by Beard to a design by Barbara Weiss Architects on the site of a 1980s office block, will be a 7-day a week facility offering continuity of care with more diagnostic work done on site and consultants and specialists holding their surgeries there.

You notice how this building is designed to be easy to keep clean, right down to there being no curtains in the examination area of the doctors’ consulting rooms. But no one can see you should an examination be necessary as the windows go from transparent to translucent (as if neatly whitewashed) at the press of a button. The

science is beyond us, but watching it happen is a bit like a magic trick.

Free entry at Royal Windsor Horse Show

There’s a lot of excitement around the castle as the build up for May’s Royal Windsor Horse Show begins, including news that on the first day – which will be known as ‘Windsor Wednesday’ – the showground will throw open its gates to all visitors completely free of charge. The UK’s largest outdoor horse show runs from 14 to 18 May and this year sees the return of International Dressage and Show Jumping with a prize money increase to more than £250,000.

Held in the grounds of Windsor Castle, it celebrates all things equestrian and hosts international competitions in four equine disciplines: show jumping, dressage, driving and endurance.

It’s a favourite of both Her Majesty the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh. As Patron, Her Majesty has attended every single year since it began in 1943, and while he no

longer takes part in the carriage driving, Prince Philip will undoubtedly be casting an expert eye over the competitors. Show Director, Simon Brooks-Ward said:

“With over 3,500 competitors, Royal Windsor Horse Show has established itself as the biggest national outdoor horse event in the UK. The international competitions,

with their attractive prize money, have given the show a huge boost and as a result we expect to attract some top international riders this year. In particular, we hope that some of Britain’s best riders will be making an appearance.”

With horses ranging from miniature Shetland ponies to heavyweight cobs, exciting displays and a Shopping Village with some 200 plus outlets, there’s plenty to make a day out. As well as ‘Windsor Wednesday’ with free admission for all, children also go free on Thursday 15 and Friday 16. Prices for adults range from £16 to £25 depending on day, and £10 for children at the weekend. Discounted group bookings and family value tickets are vailable, see

Get out and enjoy the bluebells

Yes, it’s nearly bluebells time, and nowhere does it better than Berkshire. So we want to give you advance notice of the Fishers Farm Bluebell Walk on Sunday, May 4 at Shefford Woodlands near Hungerford. Enjoy a gentle afternoon stroll around a 30 acre wood which every spring is carpeted with bluebells, and at the same time help support two deserving charities. The life-saving work of the Thames & Chiltern Air Ambulance is familiar to us all, but it relies entirely on public donations for its running costs. Genesis Breast Cancer Prevention is the only UK charity entirely dedicated to the prediction and prevention of breast cancer. Last year this event raised just short of £5,000 for these charities and the aim is to top that in 2014. There’s fun for all the family.

Turn up any time between 2pm and 5pm (the venue is easy to find and within 1 mile of junction 14 of the M4) and make your choice of the waymarked routes, including

one with views over the Lambourn downs. There’s an entry fee of £5 per adult which all goes to the charities, but children and dogs are free. Children can take part in a teddy bear hunt and this year there will be a have-a- go dog agility course for the four-legged family members.

Transport is on hand to whisk the less agile to the bluebell wood. Bacon butties will be on sale to fortify walkers before they set off, and teas will be available in the historic barn afterwards.

Full details of the event are available on

Now they can wag their tails

Little did they know, but when more than 100 dogs and their human friends enjoyed a walk in Windsor Great Park, they were helping their human friends to raise £10,000 for Thames Hospice. The Woofs and Wellies walk was launched by Heart FM’s breakfast DJ, Michelle Jordan, who took part with her dog Bilbo. Susan Blues from Thames Hospice said: “We are thrilled with the number of dogs that took part, were very lucky with the sunny weather and delighted that so many local people came to support us. It was a lot of fun to see all the dogs in one place!”

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