Hearts and Hands – Stafford

Hearts and Hands Stafford a new non for profit community organisation primarily helping those affected by COVID 19 and a reduced income the self employed, furloughed and those who have slipped through the net and need a bit of help.

Hearts and Hands a splinter group from Helping Hearts Outreach for Wolverhampton and Staffordshire, now dealing independently in Stafford and the surrounding area is run by  a volunteer team and  have the needs of the community foremost in their minds,  with the mission to help and assistance wherever they can
Working with other charities and community groups within the area, signposting people to those that can also assist and respecting people’s dignity with confidentiality a priority
Assisted by local supermarkets supplying surplus food that would normally go to waste and distributing free of charge to the community to those who are in need.
Hearts and Hands collection points are scattered throughout the area, outside the homes of community minded people who collect dry food and tinned food goods to add to the stock at Hearts and Hands to be given away in food hampers

 Their motto; never look down on someone unless you are helping them up!

Katie Lowe founder of Hearts and Hands Stafford said;
“We saw a need in Stafford and the surrounding areas as many people have been affected financially this last year through no fault of their own, before they could cover all their bills but on reduced income because they are self employed, furloughed and maybe illness has hit the household and cannot turn to anyone else for help, many never needed to ask before that were we hope to be able to help and if we can’t we can signpost to someone who can”
Food drop off points;
5 Christopher Terrace ST17 4LY
24 Surrey Road ST17 9SU
Rock Cottage 7 Radford Bank Stafford ST17 4PJ
Stafford Railway Station ST16 2AA
48 Alexandra Road ST17 4DE
63 Nelson Way Stafford ST17 9LQ
3 St George’s Parkway ST16 3WT
46 Impstones Gnosall ST20 0DH
23 Meadow Drive Haughton ST18 9HQ
3 Abbeyfields Great Haywood ST18 0SD
On Universal credit please conatct House of Bread , Rising Brook Church or Community Social Supermarket
If you need help or wish to volunteer please get in touch via
Facebook Hearts & Hands – Stafford and Twitter @HeartandH
Telephone in working hours 07534 831455  website

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The Tudor House Holistic Centre

My name is Maggie and I am the proprietor of Hart Magical Gifts, Therapies and Training, which is based at no. 9 Eastgate Street, on the right-hand side of the Colonnade.
Number 8, 9, and the Colonnade itself are part of a beautiful building with origins dating back to the 1500’s. I fell in love with it as soon as I saw it.

The Tudor House Holistic Centre is located in the rooms above the shop. When these rooms were vacated by Seven Casting a few years ago I popped in to have a look inside, and a similar process of falling in love took place! The rooms were beautiful with 16th and 17th century panelling and lots of character, but severely neglected, damp and dirty. It was clear they needed a bit of TLC.
Now, more than 2 years later, I am now the Centre Manager and my job is to take care of these rooms. After some structural repairs by the owner, and with a team of fabulous assistants, we have worked really hard, painting, cleaning, and decorating, making these rooms into a homely, welcoming space.

When it was decided to let these rooms out to people on a casual basis, of course it became necessary to have a way of identifying each room. Numbers seemed really impersonal, so the rooms are named after the previous inhabitants of the house. After a bit of research into a fascinating book called ‘Into Eastgate Street,’ by Roy Lewis (from a selection of guides available at the High House), I discovered some details about the people who have lived and worked in this house since Stafford records began in the 1600’s.  The rooms are named after just four of them: Mary, William, Prudence and Edward.

William Barker (or his son of the same name) was the person who is recorded as having bought the house in the 1690s. The elder William was a leading townsman in the latter half of the 17th century. He had moved into the town, or been apprenticed here, after the Civil War and was made a burgess in 1656. He was a trader in cloth, in Stafford and over a wide area, even being twice selected as Mayor. However, his finances collapsed in 1691, and he was even confined in prison (probably for debt) so had to resign from his civic duties. Buying Tudor House brought him good fortune, and by the time of William’s death in 1705 he was described as a ‘gentleman’.
Sometime in the late 1690’s, Tudor House was rented out to the widow Prudence Compton and her sister. Prudence’s husband had left an annuity of 40 shillings for the widows and orphans in the parish, which was given to the Mayor and Stafford Corporation to administer in trust. The Corporation then stole the money as they were desperately short of cash at that time. As Prudence’s father-in-law had been a high court judge, her lawyers took the Corporation to court and were successful in recovering the cash.

Mary’s Bower is named after William Barker’s daughter-in-law. In the early 1700’s, she moved into Tudor House.  In the 1700’s the brick building to the left of the Colonnade (now number 8) was timber-framed and connected to number 9, being part of the same property. Mary is the person who decided to divide this building into two. After he husband’s death, she moved into number 8 and let number 9 out to provide an income. I feel that Mary deserves recognition for her role in making good use of the space!
Edward was the son of a thread maker, who inherited number 9 (the right hand side of the Colonnade) and the business from his father, Thomas, in 1797. The ground behind the house had been built on and became known as Clarke’s buildings. Edward retired in 1810 and let the house, which he described as having a rear warehouse ‘well adapted for any manufacture and built for that purpose (probably by his father), with a yard and stables. The premises were taken by a hat maker called James Nixon, who let out some of the best rooms as gentlemen’s apartments with stables. I have visions of gentlemen staggering up the stairs after having had too much alcohol, as there were a lot more pubs open in Stafford then than nowadays!

If you would like to learn more about my work and this building, do follow these links: for information on room rental and facilities for Courses and treatments for the  Gift shop

Photos by Maggie Jennings

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Stafford Walking Street Market December 2020

A successful outdoor market took place on Thursday the 10th of December, Stafford Walking Street Market under the Tier 3 rules which showed the rest of the country how an outdoor market should be run with the public taking ownership of their actions with many wearing masks by choice and socially distancing.
Local company LR Partnership Events with a group of volunteers have hosted a few events throughout the year sticking to the government guidelines in place at the time. The public was asked to donate gifts for Santa’s Grotto so a visits would be free, the 500 tickets allocated sold out in 24 hours, which is a testament to how Stafford and the surrounding villages pull together as a community.

Lorraine Conkey organiser of the Stafford Walking Street Markets said: “Wow! What a great atmosphere! I would like to thank everyone who came to the Christmas Stafford Walking Street Market, you were great, keeping social distancing in mind and although not mandatory many wore masks. A huge thank you to everyone who donated gifts for Santa’s Grotto, you made a lot of children very happy.
Thank you to Cllrs Ann Edgeller and Carolyn Trowbridge and former Stafford MP Jeremy Lefroy for attending and giving your continued support. A great job was done by the stewards, elves, all the stallholders and the Salvation Army for the Christmas tunes.”

Walking Street Market will be back  on Thursday the 8th of April              and then the second Thursday of the month.
Stallholders wishing to reserve a place email
For more details go to LR Partnership website, and/or                      
Stafford Walking Street Market on Facebook and Twitter
Photos by Paul Milgate-Scarrott and Lorraine Conkey

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Food, Fitness and Festivities

Food, Fitness and FestivitiesBy Ross Panton, Personal Trainer
2020 – what a year it has been! Lockdowns, social distancing, everything shutting and always forgetting your mask when you leave the house. It’s okay, we’ve all done it!

Now here we are in December; it only feels like 5 minutes since it was January! Christmas is just around the corner and we all know what Christmas is like for food. Should I worry about it? Is it going to undo all the hard work I have put into my fitness this year? Should I only eat ‘good’ foods and avoid all the ‘bad’ ones? My answers to these questions! No, no and no. Let me explain:
Should I worry about my food this Christmas? No. Food and Christmas, they go hand-in-hand. All the Christmas adverts that we are bombarded with on TV are centred around food. There is no getting away from it. Food is central to the big day (and to a few days before and after) so, just enjoy the occasion. I don’t know about you, but Christmas dinner is my favourite meal of the year! Particularly this year. It is going to be a very different Christmas for most of us, so don’t add food to the list of things you are worrying about.

From a fitness industry perspective, it has been a very interesting year.
Joe Wicks stole the show with his weekly P.E with Joe programme throughout the first lockdown. This was a great way to get both kids and adults involved in fitness, some for the very first time and some to keep up their exercise regimes. Personally, I moved all my personal training services online so I could keep working with my clients and it has been a great success. 2020 has not been the year of missed fitness goals that looked likely at one stage!

Is it going to undo all the hard work I have put into my fitness this year? No. A few days of over-eating is not going to undo all your hard work. If weight loss was your goal at the start of the year and you have achieved a degree of that, it is going to take a lot longer than a few days to put it back on. After all, it took a lot more than a few days to shift that weight, right? Now this is not me saying we should go off and mindlessly eat every chocolate Santa in sight. No. We should still be mindful, take our time to taste the food and try to only eat if we are hungry. That way you will be able to keep a level of control over the festive period.
Should I only eat the ‘good’ foods and avoid all the ‘bad’ ones? No. Demonising food is one of my pet hates. No food is inherently bad, but some are significantly easier to over-consume than others. Some foods are what we call calorie-dense, which means they do not have a lot of nutrient value for the number of calories they contain. Typically, these foods are hyper-palatable, so they are too easy to over-consume. It is these foods that are often labelled as bad. Others are very nutrient dense, meaning that they have high nutritional value and a relatively low caloric value. Here is the catch with these though, you can still eat too much of them. The trick, like with most things, is moderation; just a little bit of what you fancy.

My advice to anyone who is worried about Christmas affecting their fitness journey is relax. Try not to worry and enjoy it for what it is. Just get back on track once the festivities are over. Believe it or not, relaxing over this period is likely to be much more conducive to your fitness goals than restricting what you eat. Sometimes allowing yourself a break keeps you motivated. What would you rather? Craving all the foods you wish you could eat, binging on them and then feeling like a failure or eating them anyway, mindfully, knowing that you will be back on in it a few days.
The key thing to remember is that we are looking for consistency over a long period of time not perfection over a few days.
I hope this helps you enjoy your food this festive season.
Merry Christmas!

More from Ross over on his Website

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Save Our Sandonia

You would be hard pressed to find somebody in Stafford who doesn’t bemoan the loss of many great buildings we once had. Dales’ Shop, the Brine Baths, countless pubs – the list goes on.
This is because old buildings aren’t just piles of bricks and mortar, they mean so much more; they are the patches that make up the rich tapestry of our history and without them, Stafford simply is another clone town with no soul or character.
The problem we have here isn’t necessarily the council, town planners or developers – although there are times that they have certainly been destructive forces when it comes to the custodianship of our town’s heritage. The problem is Stafford lacks self-belief and imagination. We are too afraid to fight for what we have – we don’t think of it as special, unique or worth preserving. The sad irony of all of this is Stafford is a wonderful, historic town with such a rich past, much wealthier in terms of what we have been left than many other places.

Our County town’s ancient, medieval, and industrial heritage is spectacular, but perhaps we are just too humble to recognise it – but unless we do take notice, what we have could easily be lost forever.
It is often joked that a Staffordian’s favourite past-time is moaning. It’s all well and good to make light of this, but it would serve us well to understand why. Most people in Stafford feel that their town isn’t theirs anymore and that they have played little part in the changes that have happened in recent years. It’s therefore only natural that people feel they can do nothing but complain. The sad irony of this is that elsewhere across the country threats to historical architecture have been just as present as they have in Stafford.
Famously the great St. Pancras station in London was due for demolition and only saved when local campaigners like the poet John Betjeman stepped in. It only takes local people, equipped with determination and passion to save a town’s heritage.

The Sandonia, which celebrated its centenary in November, has seen many uses over its life.
Firstly, as a theatre and cinema, then a bingo hall and finally a snooker club, which closed leaving the Sandonia to rot.
This varied and coloured history means that today the passion for this building is alive and well. This was evident to me when I launched the campaign by simply posting a photograph of the building, with a statement asking people if they agreed it should be saved. Within 24 hours, thousands of people had stated their agreement with the campaign and tens of thousands had now heard of the campaign as a result.
It was beautiful to hear the many stories people had about their own personal connections with the Sandonia, in fact I was quite overwhelmed by how fond people are of this building. Campaigning to save this building seems a fitting way to mark its one hundredth year.

There is no escaping the fact that the Sandonia has been not just neglected, but horribly vandalised. Someone, at some point, has stripped out almost the entirety of its remarkable interior. It isn’t clear why this decision was taken – I can’t think as to why anyone would do this except to prepare it for demolition.
What does remain however, is the shell of the building itself and the incredibly iconic frontage, as well as a few interior features and some stained glass – well worth saving and arguably architecturally unique in the case of the facade.
However this prior destruction has led a few people to comment on the campaign, saying that it is a lost cause and I would be foolish not to address this. Whilst this damage to the building is terribly sad in one sense, it does provide great opportunity for reworking the building into having a new purpose or function fit for the 21st century: this is not a campaign of nostalgia or fantasy, but a realistic one that accepts that for old buildings to remain, they have to perform an everyday function for people in our town.

Saving the Sandonia would be an investment in Stafford’s economic and cultural future, saving an irreplaceable landmark for years to come.
Market towns that thrive in the modern economy are ones that make the most of their historic environment – just look at Lichfield, Stone or Shrewsbury. Our job as citizens of this town isn’t just to make a life for ourselves but preserve a future for those who come after us, so let’s come together and stop the destruction of this wonderful building. Our focus must be on ensuring that the building is either protected through national listing or local government – otherwise there is a possibility that it could be demolished at any time, even in a matter of weeks. As far as I know the current owners, a property management firm in London, have no plans for the building.
However, Stafford has seen far too many buildings fall prey to the predictable fate of neglect, disrepair and then demolition. That is why it is crucial we must act now. Over the coming weeks and months we will be campaigning hard to get the Sandonia protected and create a plan for its future.

If you would like to be involved or simply wish to express your support, you can contact us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter where we are SaveOurSandonia or via email, which is

Article by Jack Pearce, founder of Save Our Sandonia

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