Tales from Twyford

PUBLISHED: 13:02 05 January 2011 | UPDATED: 18:00 20 February 2013

Tales from Twyford

Tales from Twyford

Residents who are making their mark in very different ways, tell us why they love the small town, between Reading and Maidenhead, and how they've been supported by it

Twyford is a community that has grown and evolved enormously over the past 180 years since the coming of the railway changed it from a quaint Berkshire backwater into a vibrant place in which to live and work. The Twyford Village Partnership, together with its Business Forum with nearly 40 members, plays a very active role in the life of the community, alongside the many thriving clubs and associations.



Olympic hopeful


When sixteen year-old Zac Seddon isnt studying for his GCSEs, hes to be found training for the 2,000 metres steeplechase event in the 2012 Olympics. In August he achieved a personal best in the Youth Olympic Games in Singapore.


I started running back in primary school (Polehampton Junior) and carried on at Piggott. The school has been really supportive. They give me time off and theyve even helped with my travel costs when Ive gone to competitions.


I train five or six times a week. I can run between two miles and seven or eight a day, mainly around Twyford. I also train at the track in Bracknell.


Now Im getting older its getting harder, but Im really hoping I can go for the 2012 Olympics in London. Getting in would be mega!



Local food hero


Andy Dicks has only lived in Twyford for two years but is one of its best-known characters, visited by up to 9,000 people a week at his place of work.


In 2008 Andy moved away from the Lake District to become general manager at Hare Hatch Sheeplands plant centre and farm shop on Twyfords London Road.


I live in the centre of the village and I love the close proximity of so many different types of restaurants we have Indian, Lebanese, Italian and Thai and English.


I admire the way local traders have got together to create self-help groups, such as a home improvement group and wedding group, within the umbrella of Twyford Village Partnership. It typifies the community spirit that exists here.


We hope to make Sheeplands a centre for the community and a home base for so many of the villages organisations.


People already enjoy our farm and craft markets and events such as food fairs, koi carp and orchid shows.


In addition we have worked with groups such as Twyford and Ruscombe Horticultural Association to stage a gardeners question time, become a meeting place for the National Childbirth Trust and helped the local scouts by offering them a location for their climbing wall.



Lets drink to Stanlake


In 2005 Peter Dart and his wife Annette bought Stanlake Park Manor House which dates from 1590 and the 150 acres and 25,000 vines that go with it. The wine they produce has won numerous awards.


Says Peter: We came to Twyford because of the house and the vineyard. When we first arrived we didnt realise just how much the village has to offer.


Its a place that you just tend to drive through. Its not until you have been here a while that you realise just how good it is and how nice the people are.



We have around a thousand loyal customers on our database and these people live, by and large, within 20 miles of the vineyard, though some come from further afield.We have a lovely location and a refurbished Cellar Shop with plenty of room to taste the wine or simply browse. In the summer we have many tables outside in the gardens, in the vineyard itself, where you can enjoy a glass of wine, some cheese, some local pickles and so on. It really is a beautiful environment.



Although I am probably best-known in Twyford for producing Stanlake wine, I do have many other interests in my life, including a job as a global marketing professional for the global WPP Communications Group.


I advise organisations such as the British Museum and the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields, among many others, and also find time to play the organ in St Nicolas Church and help with the Twyford Village Partnership.


When I do have a moment to relax its great to do so in such a wonderful home, with my lovely family and in such a resourceful community.


Stanlake Park Winery is open to the public. For more information visit www.




Neil Tyler is a member of Twyford and Ruscombe Theatre Group and co-director of their next production, Lady Windermeres Fan.


He has lived in the village since 1980 and despite a great deal of overseas travel says quite firmly that Twyford is home.


I have made so many friends through the theatre group, which has been in existence for 45 years. There are about 90 of us in total and although our focus is on our productions we do have a very good social side.


We stage three shows a year, in the spring, the autumn and a Christmas pantomime.


The group meets for rehearsals every Tuesday and Thursday at the former Robert Piggott School in the village. Sometimes the cast of a production can be quite small, which is one reason why we also organise social outings.


For example, we organise trips to the cinema, to other theatres and we have barbecues.


I love the village. All the amenities we need are here at hand and if you go into the supermarket you always seem to see people you know.


I work in engineering so I am often abroad, including places like the Middle East and West Indies, but Twyford is very much my home.





Realising Daisys Dream


When a young Twyford mother was left widowed, ten weeks pregnant and with a four year old to look after, her world looked bleak. But coming to terms with the sudden loss of her husband Jerry, aged 45, led Penny Lowe to found a childrens charity Daisys Dream, which now helps around 550 children a year who face, or have been affected by, bereavement.



Says Penny, now 47 and remarried to Kevin ORourke: In this situation, people share their stories with you. They talked about their parent dying when they were children and the huge impact on their wellbeing even as adults.


Then I met Margaret Boys from the Sue Ryder Hospice at Nettlebed. She was interested in the course that my four year old, Tom, and I were doing at Gloucester charity Winstons Wish.


We found that the course for bereaved children and their families did help us. Margaret and I talked to Berkshire health and social work professionals and teachers about the need for a similar scheme here.


So many people thought there was a very big need. My role was to progress the idea and push things along. I felt very strongly that death is a normal part of life, but people may need help to deal with it.


Together with the professionals, other volunteers and with the first funds committed from South Chilterns Lions Club, we started Daisys Dream, named after our family Labrador dog, Daisy.



0118 934 2604, email info@daisysdream.org.uk or visit www.daisysdream.org.uk


Motorcycle madness



Jim Gleave operates his classic motorcycle business from small premises near Twyford station, but his customers come from all over the world. He moved to the village in the mid 1960s and he and his wife raised two daughters. Now he is so busy he doesnt have enough time to join local organisations.



I work seven days a week and I always seem to be travelling somewhere, says this former engineer who at one time owned a single-seater racing car business. The Yom Kippur war and ban on fuel in 1973 put an end to that so in 1978 I created Atlantic motor-cycles.



I knew nothing about bikes then. Now I have customers all over the world and have just sold two bikes to America for 100,000. People rarely see them before they buy but my reputation means they trust me.



Given thatHeidi Strickland-Clarksparents both helped to dig the original swimming pool at Colleton School in the seventies, she was probably always destined to return in some kind of sporting capacity.


Now a fitness instructor and massage therapist, Heidis FastTrack Fit Camp, which she runs with her colleague Vida Bennett, became the latest sports and recreation club in Twyford when it started under her guidance in King Georges Field Recreation Ground last month.


I chose to run my business in Twyford because I know the area and chose The Rec as when I look back on my childhood I remember that as the centre of the village. My bedroom overlooked where we now hold the classes.


Twyford is our sixth camp. We have classes in Bracknell, Swallowfield and Wokingham and two in Winnersh, but I still have contacts in Twyford who were keen to support us launching a new venture here.


The village has changed greatly since my childhood, but the community spirit is still there.My dad worked for 18 years for BB&O Farmers at Twyford Mill, which was a major part of the village in the 70s, and my memories are of summer events like Medieval Mayhem and 'swimming the channel' at the school pool.


They were big community events and lots of parents used to get involved. My parents helped dig the pool at the Colleton School and were also involved with the swimming sessions at Polehampton and swimming in that pool helped me get into Reading Swimming Club and is where my love of health and fitness started.



Debbie Youngand her husband Bruce are proof that Twyford is an established hub for commuters. When a new job in Berkshires telecommunications heartland meant Debbie needed to relocate, the village literally offered a breath of fresh air for the couple.


I secured a job as a mobile network director with GK Telecom who are based in Slough, right at the heart of the UK telecoms industry. We work for people like T-Mobile and Three so I needed to be close enough to feel part of that industry area, but we also needed to find somewhere with a fairly equal commute for both of us so we drew a line between the two, stuck a pin in the middle and said lets go and have a look at Twyford.


We loved it straight away. We did look at all the other villages and towns within the area but kept coming back to Twyford as we liked it the most. The first meal we had here was at the Duke of Wellington the first day we were looking around and that pretty much did it.


Our family is very settled here. Its easy to reach London but maintains a village feel, with excellent schools and a real community spirit. The church and pastoral community is important and it feels safe. We would never move back to London.


In terms of population Twyford is probably officially a town, but it remains very rural. When people at work as me where I live, I tell them Im in the countryside.






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