A small selection of people who help keep village life ticking over. There are so many more!
Since April 2018 I have been the Headteacher at Eynsham Primary School.
I have taught for over 20 years beginning my career in London where I was an Acting Headteacher of a large primary school with a behaviour unit. For the last ten years I have worked for the Eynsham Partnership Academy in different roles at both Hanborough Manor and now Eynsham.
I have a background in Special Educational Needs and am passionate about all pupils being able to achieve their very best. I am a mum of two children and enjoy running and walking.
It is a privilege to work at Eynsham and I am incredibly proud of what the school has achieved particularly with the school being judged as good in September 2019. I am particularly enjoying working with members of the community to help continue driving the school forward.
Parish Councillor since September 2011.
I have been in my new job since January 2020 and would like to say a big thank you to colleagues and customers for the warmth of your welcome and the support you have given as I settle in to managing the library. It is very clear how much the library, its staff and the services we provide are valued and appreciated by the community.
I wanted to let you know that we are planning some new initiatives and events including author talks, sales of discontinued books, smoking cessation and IT support drop-in sessions; and a children’s craft day during the Easter school holidays. All events will be publicised in the library and at Eynsham Online. If you have suggestions for events or speakers you would like us to consider, please call in for a chat.
Don and Sue settled in Eynsham in 1970 - Don as reporter for the Oxford Mail and Sue as photographer for the newspaper group.
They devoted the early years to renovating Millstone Cottage and producing a family. Don also founded Eynsham and District Liberal Democrats and launched their newsletter, As It Happens. His campaign about the toll-bridge led to quotes in the Wall Street Journal and coast to coast appearances on American television. He later chaired the committee which organised Eynsham's celebrations to mark the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977 and purchased the Bartholomew Room for the village.
After a long battle with ME he took early retirement in 1994; and a couple of years later at the request of the directors embarked on a history of the Oxford Playhouse. What he thought would be a two-year doddle turned into a 12-year marathon because all the archives from 1923 to 1956 had vanished: the past could be reclaimed only from old newspapers and magazines. The labour of love was finally completed in July 2006, with a doctorate from the University of Leicester.
This photo © Sue Chapman, October 2017.
Don and Sue settled in Eynsham in 1970 - midway between Oxford, where Don reported for the Oxford Mail, and Witney, where Sue was local photographer for the newspaper group (and valued source for the Eynsham Record and the Eynsham Image Archive).
They devoted the early years to renovating Millstone Cottage and producing a family. Sue then took to village affairs with the Eynsham Society, the Primary School and the Parish Council. Her campaign for a circular footpath exploiting the old railway line took her into the fastness of County Hall; an archive snap shows her leading Eynsham Morris at the official opening.
Her fascinating talk on press photography (and much more) has been expanded during lockdown 2020 as a standalone feature, with many © photos.
Parish Councillor March 2009-February 2012, shown here at Wytham View Play Day in 2009. Alan served on the Emergency Planning and Fishponds Committees, as well as the Play Area Committee.
I have been a resident of Eynsham since birth, except for a short stint in Bicester then Didcot, however the village pulled me back eventually.
I work full time as an Operations Supervisor (paramedic) with the South Central Ambulance Service, based out of Didcot, however I also respond to calls within the village when I'm at home.
I lived in Evans Road with my wife George and two children until March 2011, when we moved to Merton Court.
When not working, I enjoy gardening, reading, flying (although a little too expensive) and going for walks in the countryside.
Working on the Council has been a great experience and challenge and has given me the opportunity to put something back into the village, which I feel has given me so much.
Parish Councillor since November 2016.
Clerk to the Council from May 2017.
Bryan Duffield may not have been born in the village, but he’s an Eynsham man through and through. Father of four and husband to Audrey, Bryan has lived in Clover Place since they married in 1958.
Although he officially retired some time ago, you can’t keep a good man down. Bryan continues to use his carpentry and joinery skills by creating some superb little pieces out of reclaimed wood and gives people a hand with little repair jobs too.
Those who know him have heard all about his “bottles” which entered his life when he was 50. He loves telling how he found the first clay bottle in Bitterell and how the collection grew.
Bryan explains, his first bottle turned up by the little old brick hut that used to be a telephone exchange. He says the hut was broken, split down the middle and bent, due mainly to the fact it was built on top of an old Victorian dump. Given that Blake & Co were manufacturing a wide assortment of aerated waters and lemonade in Eynsham from 1875 until 1960, first in a paddock to the west of Mill Street, and later in the Everleigh Works in Witney Road, the dump was a treasure trove of clay and glass bottles.
It wasn’t long before Bryan became a serious collector and a member of Oxfordshire Bottle Club, to which he still belongs. He said: “Out of all the things I have ever done in my life, the most thrilling thing was digging from that old dump.
“I’d go out in the morning with an old shovel and fork and a bag with a flask in and as we dug we would shout ‘Look what I’ve got! Look what I’ve got!’ That used to go on until well into the afternoon, then we would take everything home in an old bag. When we got home I was sometimes so exhausted I’d fall asleep under the shower ‘cause we did work hard digging. But gosh, the excitement when we went over all the things we had found that day”.
“I do talks about them now,” he says proudly. Report and photo © Helen Pecocke
Parish Councillor 1990-2010; latterly Chair of the Planning Committee, member of St Leonard’s Churchyard Working Group and Council representative on the Allotments Association.
‘I joined the Council because I was interested in the village and wanted to know and help with how it worked. Since arriving here in 1973 I have got to know so many people, how much our community depends on them – in fact, what is village life.
‘With my interests ranging from gardening, schools, churches and the villagers, old and young, I love living here and do what I can to maintain village life’.
Leslie became a trustee on the Bartholomew Educational Foundation and Eynsham Consolidated Charity in 1992 and retired in November 2017.
West Oxfordshire District Councillor from May 2021.
Andy has lived in Eynsham for over 10 years, with his wife and 4 daughters all at Eynsham’s schools. He’s very active in the community.
He is founder and race organiser of Run Wytham Woods, a 10K and fun run that raises funds for Eynsham primary school - sign up to run at runwythamwoods.org He brought tennis to the community with the help of Patricia Crowley and has always been a serious tennis player. He loves playing football several times a week with local dads’ groups and has set up and started coaching an under 9s girls football team in the village - anyone keen to get involved with girls football and helping, contact Andy.
Andy enjoys basket making and working with willow, after many years of volunteering at Hill End outdoor education, Andy co-founded willowcoppice.co.uk to help nature recovery, increase bio-diversity through organising volunteers to plant and maintain willow and hazel coppices, to make willow pieces, fences and sculptures around the village and to teach willow working skills. Contact Andy to get involved.
Andy is passionate about the village. He actively demonstrated against the significant house building plans that don’t pay attention to the needs of the village and required infrastructure. He was elected to the District Council in May 2021 to represent the people of Eynsham, Cassington and South Leigh. Andy is determined to make a difference, to focus on the affordability, good quality and environmental credentials of the new housing, to push for providing infrastructure before the houses are built. Andy says ‘Thank you for voting for me, I am committed to make a difference for the community.’ Contact Andy for any WODC questions.
Ron Hollis received a Volunteer of the Year award from Thames Valley Police on 15 July 2014.
Described as a mine of information, he runs the front counter at Eynsham police information point two days a week and chairs the local Neighbourhood Action Group (NAG).
He has also helped with a CCTV project, entering retail premises on a database so they are easily searchable; assists with Farm Watch visits and crime reduction advice; and spends one day a week at Woodstock station helping with admin for the local Speed Watch scheme.
Ron said: “I am very proud to receive this award and thank all my colleagues in West Oxon for putting me forward. I look forward to continuing as a volunteer for some time to come and to helping to keep crime down in our area.”
Responsible Financial Officer (RFO) since July 2018.
Julie is almost a village institution, having lived here all her life and been involved ‘hands on’ in local activities for longer than most.
She chaired Eynsham Carnival Committee from 2006 to 2018, made dresses for the Carnival Queen and attendants (and turned up in hats of her own design on every occasion) and created all the costumes for the annual Primary School parade as well. She still manages collection boxes and a stall for our British Legion Poppy Appeal
More recently, she has turned her talents to mask-making, raising over £1,000 for the Eynsham Community Larder / Eynsham Coronavirus support. This photo © Bob Thiele, August 2020
PCSO for Eynsham Neighbourhood, warmly welcome back in December 2020 after a spell over the border in Woodstock. She has been a fixture at events around the village since her first Primary School Parade in 2008.
You can contact her on 101 (just ask for C9862) or through the Eynsham email box
West Oxfordshire District Councillor from May 2019 and County Councillor from May 2021
Dan has lived in Eynsham for 15 years. He says that it is an ideal combination of friendly village, with lots of pubs and shops, and – despite the obvious issues with the roads – good transport links. He moved away once, but came back once he realised his mistake. He says that it was a great place to bring up his children. The village is going to face lots of challenges over the next few years, as new houses are planned. Dan is committed to trying to make sure that there are sufficient affordable homes, and that infrastructure is built before the houses are built. Dan cycles for pleasure and transport, and was a committee member of Cyclox, and will keep pushing for improvements to our active travel facilities.
Dan is a senior manager, specialising in asset financing, with a large multinational company. He is also an avid Stockport County supporter, and formerly a director of the club. His wife works for Oxford University and he has two adult children. He relaxes by cooking, propping up the bar at the Queens Head, running and cycling.
Dan says ‘I look forward to working for the people in Eynsham, Cassington and South Leigh; and hope people will contact me with any suggestions or issues. It is important that the District and County Councils look after the interests of the inhabitants and not just those of property developers. I am grateful for the voters who have trusted me to stand up for them’.
Parish Councillor from November 2015.
Vice Chairman of the Council.
The Oxfordshire County Councillor for Eynsham division 2006-2021 presents his last report below - view reports for Annual Parish Meeting 26/04/2016, 25/04/2017, 24/04/2018, 23/04/2019...
As the years have raced by, I find myself entering the last few weeks of my tenure as your County Councillor for the division of Eynsham. Since you kindly elected me in 2006, many of the tasks have remained the same - potholes, planning and liaison with the local authorities. It has not always been a smooth passage but I have done my best to ensure that fair treatment was doled out to the residents and problems highlighted.
This past year the culmination of many years of discussion have led to the prospect of the Park and Ride on the A40, the bus lanes on the A40, the Garden Village Development , West Eynsham development, the prospect of further gravel excavation, the appearance of the 140 acre solar farm at Twelve Acre to name but a few. On all of these projects significant in the future of Eynsham, one is only able to attempt to ensure that the local existing residents were shown consideration and that the outcomes were the best which could be achieved in the circumstances. I offer apologies that the Eynsham of tomorrow will differ radically and not necessarily rationally from the ideal.
I have worked diligently with your Parish Council on these matters and attempted to influence the County Council; life can be frustrating! Occasionally the result of months of trying to attain a satisfactory outcome does win through - as is, I hope, the case with the road works at the Swinford Tollbridge scheduled to start on March 15 2021.
Thank you for your tolerance of my ways, for your friendship and not least for your help these last sixteen eventful years. I wish you all well in the future and that Eynsham will remain the thriving sparkling community it is today, although a bit bigger.
I have pledged to help my successor in any way I am able and will remain available should anyone feel I can help.
I find little time recently to pursue reading, old books, horse racing, travel and gardening to name a few but I have enjoyed being in the midst of decision making and discussing with you all and my Councillor colleagues topics which affect us and our area’s future.
This photo taken May 2009 © Linda Dodds
From 1969-2004 Maureen shared life at Eynsham Lock with husband Bill, as recounted to Witney U3A on 17 January 2008.
She has also written ‘A History of the River Thames at Eynsham’, first published in the Eynsham Record 21 (2004).
More recently, she has been closely involved in fund-raising for Eynsham Friends of Helen & Douglas House and for St Leonard's Church Hall: her cream teas are unmissable.
Bill is a retired architect and an active member of Eynsham Road Runners. At the time of this photo, however, he was on far away on a trek across the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia - to raise funds for RETRAK, a small, hands-on charity for street kids which started in Uganda.
Bill says, “If you want a different experience, visit Ethiopia. Lalibela, Axum and Gonder are cities steeped in history - stelae, rock-hewn churches. Maybe even the Ark of the Covenant.”
Never let it be said that Eynsham is parochial in outlook!
Original co-ordinator for Eynsham car scheme and contact for the Wharf Stream team, David is now the booking contact for Eynsham Baptist Church Hall - and still helps behind the scenes to keep our local walks accessible.
Parish Councillor since May 2011.
Parish Councillor since August 2006.
Nick is the author of over 70 books for both children and adults.
Although he is best known for writing about the Bible and biblical history, he has written many children’s books, as well as novels, poetry and plays. His latest book is The Dark Night of the Shed, a look at men, midlife, spirituality ... and sheds.
Before taking up full-time writing around 1994, he was the head of communications for a leading charity. And before that he founded, and acted in, a touring theatre company.
He and his wife, Claire, have lived in Eynsham since 1994. Together they are responsible for the Eynsham Mysteries - a modern version of the medieval mystery plays staged in St Leonard’s Church. After two productions (in 2000 and 2006) a new Eynsham Mysteries was held in 2010.
He became a writer because it allows him to do the three things he loves most: buying stationery, drinking coffee and staring into space.
Helen Peacocke, food writer for the Oxford Times and steady supplier of recipes to Eynsham Online, has just launched a charming guide to 40 dog-friendly pubs and walks, from Oxford into Wychwood and the Cotswolds - including two in Eynsham.
Paws Under the Table is enhanced by Helen’s own photos, comments from her dog Pythius and line drawings by Sue Mynell. Look for the series in all good bookshops (ISBN 978 1 902279 35 0) or ask in Eynsham Post Office or Evenlode DIY.
This portrait of Helen and Pythius in her garden adorns the back cover - © Jil Orphen, June 2007.
Helen also contributes a series of Seasonal Recipes and occasional local café and pub reviews; and is a valued judge at Eynsham Village Show.
After graduating from the Royal Free Hospital in 1969 and working in London and Paris, where he spent a year at the American Hospital, Max chose a career in general practice. He started at The Shrubbery (where he now lives) with Dr Bolsover and partners in 1975. Settling in quickly, his marriage to Joanna soon followed and they have two children James and Kate, both of whom live and work in London.
The practice grew rapidly and moved from the cramped surroundings of The Shrubbery to the new surgery in 1978. Standards were high and Eynsham was accredited as a recognised GP training practice, Max becoming a trainer in 1986 and senior partner in 1994.
Max feels that he has been fortunate to live and work through the best years of general practice and his main regrets, as he hangs up his stethoscope, are not only to leave behind the marvellous and loyal team of partners and staff at both Eynsham and Long Hanborough surgeries, but above all to say goodbye to his patients with many of whom he has built a lasting friendship over the years.
The philosophy of care thirty years ago was to offer personal care from cradle to grave. Sadly, after NHS reorganisations too numerous to mention, changes of government have made this ideal harder and harder to attain, but nonetheless Max is happy to be leaving his patients in good hands at the surgery.
John Pukaniuk is Eynsham born and bred. He fondly recalls the old horse-drawn delivery waggon used by Biggers the baker in the early 20th century as a regular feature at Eynsham Carnival.
The van had been adopted by the redoubtable Margaret Foote of Lord’s Farm, fitted with shelves and stocked with Christian texts. It took part of the Carnival procession for many years - most memorably in 1955, the millennial year of Aelfric’s birth, being hauled by the vicar Revd Stuart Blanch (later Archbishop of York) and the Baptist minister Revd RJ Hamper, both dressed as Benedictine monks.
Fifty years on - and almost single-handed - John rescued and restored the van to former glories, learning a lot along the way about the old crafts of the wheelwright, blacksmith and coach builder.
Check the video, which shows him reconstructing the wheels and turntable in the workshop at Bridewell Organic Gardens then moving on to rebuild the carriage; and finally returning the van to Eynsham in time for Carnival 2005.
Chairman of the Parish Council.
Rarely seen without a camera, John is in his element recording local events for screening at the Village Hall - from Carnival and Shirt Race to Jubilee celebrations to the annual conker contest. This photo © Helen Peacocke, 2008
Few can wield a needle as effectively as Lesley Riding. Banished to the side of the stage and a minor speaking part in Calendar Girls, she pulled out a ball of wool and a pair of knitting needles … and had the audience in stitches.
Possibly the day job, as creator of curtains, blinds and cushions for countless homes in Eynsham and beyond, prepared Lesley for that particular role - though she seems to have the theatre in her blood. If she wasn’t in the work-room (all night at busy times) she was sure to be found with Bartholomew Players at the Village Hall.
But after 25 years behind a sewing machine (including four years teaching a local evening class), Lesley is handing over the trade to daughter Amanda and heading off to spend more time at North Oxford Golf Club - never mind her gammy legs. As vice-captain of the ladies’ section, she will be busy organising diary events and matches for 2015 as well as supporting the current ladies’ captain.
What else? Lots more sewing! Vinyl bags of every shape and size, all fully lined, under a smart new eLaR label (LR - Lesley Riding) have “simply happened” and are flying off the rack. Remnants are being converted to gym bags; and ‘proper’ cushions, shaped and piped, remain a labour of love.
So Lesley seems to have her work cut out for many years ahead. Acting - golf - grandchildren - did I mention Rotary? - and lots more sewing - will be balanced only by a determination to travel: she says there’s so much of Britain to explore without digging out a passport. And somewhere along the way a wedding to Tony Robinson, who is (almost) as busy too.
Parish Councillor since November 2017 and District Councillor since May 2018.
Robin Saunders opened Evenlode DIY in 1985, in a listed building on the High Street. Today, as any resident will tell you, it is an Aladdin’s cave and a village institution. Step in past the bedding plants for tickets to every local event - jostling the bird-seed, barbecue supplies, key cutting, loose nails, paint pots and shear sharpening. Best of all is the ready supply of cheerful advice, for Robin takes an obscure delight in saving us any expense at all. He still finds ‘it's nice to come in and enjoy work’.
Outside the day job, Robin moonlights with Eynsham Morris. He regularly accompanies the May celebrations of the Primary School - where he served as a governor until recently - and has inspired several pupils to join the team. The Morris has also taken him on more unlikely jaunts, notably to Albania. Over a number of trips the team carried medical supplies, warm clothing and quantities of musical instruments - and were welcomed with open arms (Eynsham Roundabout 231, Feb. 2002).
Robin's other contributions to village life include tree planting. More than 1000 trees in Eynsham Wood and along the path by Oxford Instruments owe their existence to his experience as a nurseryman and partnership with David Russell. This photo © Ian White was taken beside the wildflower bank he created at the Fishponds entrance in 2008-9.
He was awarded an MBE for his services in the 2002 New Year’s Honours List.
Presenter / producer at BBC Radio Oxford; PA (public address) announcer at Eynsham Carnival for over 30 years; ongoing researcher and compiler of material for the Eynsham Scouts Archive, generally involved in organising the annual reunion of the Friends of Eynsham Scouting (FOES).
Interview with Laura Stringer, December 2020
Where are you from and how did you come to live in Eynsham? I was born in a small town in rural New South Wales, in Australia. I came to the UK between uni degrees and never managed to make it back! I arrived in Oxford to work on a cancer research project in 2001, and moved to Eynsham in 2008 because we found our beautiful little wreck of a cottage and loved the feel of the village.
What do you like about the village? I often joke that Eynsham is the centre of the universe because so many exciting, creative and innovative projects are started here. I also meet a disproportionate number of people, from all over the world, who have some connection to Eynsham!
What do you do for a living? I am the founder and Head of Explosions at The Curiosity Box. We are just behind the Co-op and we make fun, hands-on science experiment and engineering kits for families and schools.
What do you hope to achieve with The Curiosity Box? My mission is to give 1 million children a wonder-filled experience of science. We are nearly half way there after this year! I am particularly interested in reaching children from disadvantaged backgrounds and helping them to discover the science that is part of their everyday lives.
What are the benefits of having a small business based in Eynsham? The biggest personal benefit is that I don't have to get in a car to commute to work! It brings me such joy to be able to cycle through the village, stop off at the market garden or Lyall and co., have a chat with fellow villagers and arrive at our lovely HQ feeling very much part of a community.
How has Covid-19 impacted upon your businesses? The panic that many families felt when faced with homeschooling their kids meant that they turned to us for help so we have had a very busy year! The most rewarding thing we have done is launch Curiosity v COVID, a project to send boxes of resources to disadvantaged kids across the UK. Through this project we have sent boxes to just under 16,000 children and the feedback we've had has been the perfect antidote to the stresses of 2020.
You excel in so many areas. What are your proudest achievements? Aside from the project I mentioned above, I think one thing I am incredibly proud of is the work environment we have created at Curiosity Box. We employ quite a few local people and it makes me so happy to see the enjoyment they get from coming to work. I really believe that a workplace built on trust, openness and a clear purpose can be life-changing for people.
What is your favourite rainy day science activity? Oh that's a tricky question!! There are so many things you can do! As Head of explosions, I think my favourite would have to be pocket rockets. all you need is something that fizzes (fizzy vitamin C tablets are ideal) and a container with a push on lid. Put the fizzy tablet with a bit of water into the container and wait for the pressure to build up and launch the container into the air! You can use this as the basis for so much experimenting (try it with different amounts of water, with different liquids, different containers, turn the container into the fuselage and design an actual rocket etc.) and even an art project if you switch out the water for some watery paint and pop your rocket on some paper! But this IS MESSY so make sure you do it on a washable surface!
Parish Councillor from August 2015.