Copy deadline is 9 April for May 2021 printed editions.
Let local people know you are open and working. We will be delivering our May editions of The Pioneer Magazines and Great Barr Gazette to 42,000 homes. Our magazines are hand delivered free to local people in Walsall and the surrounding areas.
People read our magazines from cover to cover and keep them for an average of two months.
We were one of the very few publications that managed to print during the first phase of the current Coronavirus crisis. We are determined to deliver news and information to local people when they need it most, and to support our local business community.
See our Bounce Back leaflet below or follow this link to see where we deliver. You can advertise with us from as little as £25 plus VAT.
Correction: This article was updated on 29 March, 2021 to clarify that much of the area of Great Barr Hall is privately-owned and cannot be accessed by the public.
As the New Year kicks in, resolutions for a healthier year begin. How about burning off your Christmas treats and starting 2021 walking around some fabulous local, hidden gems.
We at SmallHouseBigTrips have you covered with some of our personal favourites. But sshhh – remember, it’s a secret!
Great Barr Hall, Sutton’s Drive, B43 7BA
A hidden gem that even we didn’t know about until lockdown in March 2020. Much of the grounds of the Great Barr Hall estate is privately-owned with no public right of way. However, Sutton Drive and the land situated to the East of Sutton Drive are beautiful, public open spaces.
Holly Wood Nature Reserve, Whitecrest, B43 6EA
Enter the nature reserve through a magical gate where you will be greeted with 5 hectares of mixed broadleaf woodland and wet meadow. Trees to climb, a stream to paddle in and the largest blanket of bluebells in spring.
Park Lime Pits Nature Reserve, Rushall, WS4 2HH
A former limestone quarry in the woods, this woodland walk has a rope swing over one of the two clear pools, horses, walking trails and plenty of streams for little ones to paddle in.
For nature lovers, there are over 300 species of plants and it is the home to over 100 species of birds.
Cuckoo’s Nook and The Dingle, Walsall, WS9 0PQ
Cuckoo’s Nook is an ancient woodland over 400 years old full of acidic loving trees like holly, oak, birch and alder, winding picturesque paths and a sea of bluebells during spring. Step into The Dingle part of the walk and you enter an area surrounded by hawthorn, ash, beech and elder trees.
It is the perfect place to learn about geology as you enjoy your walk,through the woodland flowers, by the babbling Longwood Brook running next to the path.
There’s a rope swing and little bridges for children and keep your eyes out for the wishing tree which is decorated beautifully throughout the year. Recently it had Christmas lights, tinsel and other decorations.
Sot’s Hole Nature Reserve, B71 4DE
A fabulous circular route starting at Sot’s Hole Nature Reserve, walking through the ancient woodland, looking at wooden statues and various species of plants, leading through to Sandwell Valley Farm seeing cows and horses, before following the path all the way round back to the car. Fields, woodland and kissing gates. Make for some perfect exploring.
Church services may be subject to change in line with national and local restrictions, so you will need to contact individual churches before attending in order to book your space. Many of our churches were unable to provide details before we went to press.
Aldridge Methodist Church
Anchor Rd, Aldridge WS9 8PT
Christmas Day 10.30am: Christmas Day service
Our carol service will be via Zoom and we are exploring the possibility of a Christingle service.
Please call or check our facebook page for updated details.
Tynings Lane Church
Tynings Lane, Aldridge WS9 0AS
Sat 19th Dec 4-8pm: Church is open to drop in for a carol and prayer experience (no need to book, spend as much or as little time as you like).
Sun 20th Dec 4pm: All Age Christmas experience. Come dressed up and explore Christmas as a family.
Christmas Eve 6pm: Christingle on Zoom. Get in touch for your Christingle in a bag and a zoom invite to join in Christingle wherever you are.
Christmas Eve 9:30pm: Midnight in Bethlehem. A communion service.
Christmas Eve 11:30pm: Midnight Communion
Christmas Day 9:30am: Christmas morning Communion for all ages
The Calvary Pentecostal Church
Brickiln Street, Brownhills, WS8 6AU
Christmas Day, Communion Service 11am-12noon
Sunday 27th December, Communion Service, 10.30am
Clayhanger Methodist Church
Clayhanger Lane, Clayhanger WS8 7DS
Sunday Services have recommenced fortnightly at 4pm.
1st & 3rd Sundays in the month
Contact for details of Christmas services.
Pelsall Evangelical Church
Old Town Lane, Pelsall WS3 4NJ
Sun 13th Dec 6pm: Carol Services
Sun 20th Dec 6pm: Carol Service
Christmas Day 10am: Christmas Morning Family Service
Sun 20th Dec Carol Service: A pre-recorded version available to view online via our Facebook page
Christmas Eve 6pm: A pre-recorded children’s Christmas bedtime story which will go online via our Facebook page
Christmas Eve 10pm & 11.30pm: Midnight Mass services
Christmas Day 10am: Holy Communion service
Please note that due to COVID-19 restrictions on numbers, places will need to be booked at these services by ringing the church office on 0121 357 8941 or emailing email@example.com and social distancing must be observed, face coverings worn and sanitising guidelines followed.
St Matthew’s Church
Aldridge Road/Birdbrook Road, Perry Beeches, B44 8RA
For these services you will need to ‘book a pew’ by phoning the office on 0121 360 6964
Sun 20th Dec 6pm: Carol Service
Christmas Eve 6pm: Crib Service for all ages
11.30pm: Midnight Mass
You can join in our phone-in worship now and over the Christmas period. All you need is your phone, and it’s a free number from most phones (if in doubt check with your provider.) Every Tue. and Thur. at 8pm, and Sundays at 10.30am. Just phone 0333 011 0616, and then when asked enter the code 1499 488#. For regular updates please visit www.stmatthewsperrybeeches.org.uk
Beacon Evangelical Church
Sandwell Road, Handsworth, B21 8NH
Our Christmas services should be available online on our YouTube channel, Beacon Evangelical Church Handsworth:
Sun 20th Dec 11am: live streaming of our Christmas Family Outreach Service (Those who wish to attend in person should contact the church in advance to access our booking system).
Christmas Day service will premiere at 10.30am on YouTube.
Perry Hall Methodist Church
Rocky Lane, Perry Barr, B42 1QF
At the time of writing we are unsure how we will celebrate Christmas this year, but we will be celebrating! If you would like to join us, please look at the latest information on our website https://www.perryhallmethodist.org.uk/
A seven-year-old Streetly girl has donated her hair to a charity that makes wigs for youngsters with cancer – and raised more than £1200 in the process.
Kimran Bhathal decided to get her hair cut after growing it long during lockdown earlier this year – and when a schoolfriend told her she had donated her hair to the Little Princess Trust, Kimran was keen to do the same.
Her mum Neeta, aged 35, said: “She’d already asked me why some little children have to wear wigs and when I told her why she wanted to do something to help.
We found out from the Little Princess Trust that it costs about £550 for each wig to be made and Kimran asked if we could raise some money as well.
We set up a JustGiving page and expected just family and a few close friends to donate some money, but once I mentioned it on a parents’ WhatsApp group, she raised £557 in just two hours.”
Buoyed by her success, Kimran redoubled her efforts and set her targets at £1200, which would buy two wigs at the Little Princess Trust.
After posting the charity page link on to a Streetly neighbourhood Facebook page, the Blackwood Primary School pupil reached her fundraising goal in just two weeks.
Kimran donated an impressive 14 inches of hair when she had her hair cut at BU Salon in Solihull, which is owned by a friend of her mother.
“I’m so proud of what she has done,” said Neeta, who lives with her husband Suki and four-year-old son Kyran. “We’ve had people we don’t even know donating to the fundraiser, which is really touching, too. It just shows how kind children are and how a community can pull together to make a better place.”
Walsall siblings Arun and Priya Saini have spent the spring and summer entertaining elderly and vulnerable people living in care homes by staging online concerts.
The duo, from Streetly, have picked up their violins and streamed dozens of recitals to keep care home residents entertained while they were in lockdown, unable to receive visits from their own family and friends.
The idea came after their mother Jyoti, a clinical pharmacist, had to visit homes as part of swabbing teams at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everyone was in full PPE, which is disconcerting for residents when they can’t see anyone’s faces,” she said. “When I suggested playing for them online, the children were keen to do it and I contacted care homes to see if they were interested.”
The duo – Arun, aged 13, a student at Hydesville Tower School, and 10-year-old Priya, who attends Mayfield School – have played short concerts on Zoom, Skype and Whatsapp to residents as far away as Sunderland.
“Residents have been isolated for so long that we felt it was really important to do something to lift their spirits,” said Jyoti. “It’s not only ensured the children do their violin practise, but also helped elderly people enjoy something a little different, as well as support the hard working carers who look after them whilst sometimes being away from their families.”
Our September editions are dropping through letterboxes throughout the local area. If you have not yet received yours don’t miss out. You can read all three of our local editions right here.
Find out what happened to the Streetly Phone Box in our Villages edition. We’ve introduced a new Social Media Diary page. It sums up what’s been going on on our Facebook and Twitter pages over the past few weeks. See if you got a mention!
Each edition is full of local news and community initiatives. This month Dr Ron Daniels an intensive care doctor at Heartlands and Good Hope offers encouraging and balanced advice on the current Coronavirus situation.
Happy reading and thank you for helping us to do our bit to help our local community.
A Streetly woman has launched a campaign to save one of Britain’s iconic red telephone kiosks.
Anne-Marie Goodchild spotted a notice inside the 1950s kiosk in Burnett Road, Streetly, from BT, which said that it was to be removed because it was no longer economically viable.
“I’ve always liked our red kiosks as they are a real symbol of Britain, so when I saw the notice I wanted to do something to save it,” she said.
She hopes the phonebox, which is believed to date back to the 1950s, will be adopted by Staffordshire County Council – it sits just inside the Staffs border, despite being in Streetly – and that it could be transformed into a community asset, such as book exchange.
In just a couple of weeks, Anne-Marie got BT to promise that it will not remove the kiosk while she speaks to councillors about the adoption, which will cost it just £1, and establish how it will be maintained.
“At first we thought it was in Walsall, and the council was keen to support adopting the kiosk, but it quickly became clear that it sat in Staffordshire, so I’m hoping that because there are already adopted ones in Shenstone and Wall that the council there will be willing to save this one,” she said.
Once the plea about the phonebox was posted on the Streetly Community group page on Facebook, a petition was raised to save it and more than 500 people have signed it.
“We’re still in the early stages of the campaign, but I’m hoping that we can get the council on board quickly and then we can look at how we put a committee together to maintain it,” added Anne-Marie.
Philosopher George Santayana once remarked that ‘a child only educated in school is an uneducated child.’
With lockdown removing most children from the classrooms, home schooling has been the ‘new normal’ for many.
“Opportunities to learn surround us in everything we do – it doesn’t just happen in school,” explained Head Teacher Helen Wright.
“Give a child your time and attention and they will learn and remember more than they will ever in the classroom.”
Parents across the country have risen to the challenge and we catch up with a couple of local dads in charge of lockdown lessons.
Rob Pearson swapped his day-to-day job as a building maintenance systems engineer for teacher when schools closed down due to the coronavirus pandemic.
His daughter Isabel, who attends Park Hall Infants Academy, enjoyed daily lessons from dad, while his school teacher wife Cassie continued her day job.
As well as the 3 Rs, Rob and Isabel enjoyed regular nature lessons – signing up for a five-week bird-watching survey with the British Ornithological Trust (BTO) and planting flowers and tracking them as they grew.
There was also plenty of play-style learning to help keep Isabel’s three-year-old brother Toby occupied, too.
The pièce de resistance for Rob was the science lessons – making different paper aeroplanes and measuring how far they fly, and building a wind turbine out of tin cans.
“I’ve been wanting to make one for a couple of years and as we had the chance to do it, we made it one of our projects,” said Rob, who was placed on furlough in April.
“Isabel helped where she could, with the gluing, looking at the instructions, and holding the pole in place, but I did the cutting and twisting the blades because the edges were sharp. It’s still in the garden now and looks great. I’ve enjoyed doing it for the past few weeks.”
It was DIY and science that Stuart Webb’s children enjoyed when he supervised their lockdown lessons.
The Aldridge dad of two, who works as a service manager for Walsall Council’s leisure services department, worked throughout the lockdown period, but was able to do the lessons when he took annual leave.
Martha, aged eight and in year four at Cooper & Jordan School, and her brother Henry, who is 11 and in year six at the school, have spent most of their time being supervised by their mother Kelly, who works at Bloxwich Leisure Centre as swimming instructor and receptionist.
But Stuart, who admitted he felt guilty about not being able to dedicate the same time to doing lessons with his children because of working, he ensured he did his bit on his days off.
His favourite project? A challenge from the school to create something from marbles – with his children, they collected old timber from the garage and other bits and bobs to make a pinball machine, which worked brilliantly, he said.
“We came up with the idea and they both did the sawing, drilling and hammering to make it – the kids absolutely loved it,” he said.
In fact, Martha enjoyed woodwork so much she enlisted Stuart to help her make a birdhouse from offcuts of wood.
Stuart also enjoyed a wind power science experiment that the children were asked to do at home, with cardboard, string and a hairdryer.
“We’ve also been on plenty of walks and bike rides, while Henry has been able to practise some cricket as the nets opened at Aldridge Cricket Club,” he added.
Our July editions of The Pioneer Magazines and Great Barr Gazette are hot off the press and will be dropping through your letterboxes in the next few days. But, if you don’t receive a copy of our printed magazines or you just can’t wait to see what’s inside, follow the link to your favourite edition and read it online!
These issues are positively brimming with local stories about local people including students at Ormiston Shelfield Community Academy, dads doing home schooling and the amazing work of our NHS Workers, Key Workers and volunteers who have made such a difference during the pandemic.
As always, we are extremely grateful to our Advertisers who even through this terribly difficult time have continued to advertise with us, ensuring that we were able to put our magazines together which we know are eagerly awaited by our readers.