It's been quite a year in Old Town: Old Town Residents Association

By Swindon Link - 23 November 2021

Community

A column by Judith Randell-Sly of Old Town Residents Association (OTRA)

As the year draws to a close we can reflect on an eventful year, starting with another lockdown in January, when yet again many shops closed and we could not mix with other households.

Then came vaccinations and gradually we were able to meet up once again, but the cost to local businesses has been huge and sadly some have not survived.

Although covid cases have soared since the autumn fewer of us have been sick enough to need hospital treatment and with the roll-out of booster jabs it looks as though we will be able to celebrate Christmas with family and friends and hopefully support our local businesses.

In the summer we were hit with news of the probable closure of the museum and art gallery at Apsley House and it now appears the collections have been moved to the Civic Offices, but it is not clear when and if they will be on public display.

Let us hope that the plans for the proposed new art gallery in the town centre development will be speedily expedited, so that the collections can again be on permanent public display.

The OTRA gardens group continued working once we were able to meet outside and during July our gardens were judged as part of South Swindon Parish’s entry for Britain in Bloom, in a category called In Your Neighbourhood, which is not just about the planting, but concerned with improving the locality. They all did very well, but to get the highest marks we need to focus on some of the non-gardening aspects, such as painting the iron railings around the Station Approach bed. If you think that you could help with this, even on a one-off basis please get in touch with Linda: lindakasmaty@hotmail.com

South Swindon Parish Council want to encourage more people to volunteer, particularly to look after other urban patches that need some care and attention. Volunteering need not mean that you have to give up a great deal of time and not necessarily every week, but every hour is helping your community in some way and it is also a good way to meet other people in your neighbourhood. The Old Town gardening group has grown to six regular helpers this year, most of whom had never met before, but we all learn from each other and enjoy being together.

The Town Gardens’ Enchanted Lights Trail opens on 2 December and is being produced by a company which does lighting presentations for the National Trust and for festivals. There is a mixture of static mood lighting and moving lights, including an interactive display and a son et lumiere in the Bowl. It is open every night in December, apart from Christmas day, between 5pm and 9pm and until 10pm at weekends. Entry is by ticket only and these are available on the Skiddle website. (Details on the South Swindon Parish website and on posters attached to various parish venues).

Parking will be available at Nationwide, on Pipers Way and a shuttle bus will run between the car park and the venue.

More information can be found at facebook.com/oldtownresidents

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