Past Events

Here's a flavour of the many and varied events we organise each year. Most of them are 'Members-only' events, so don't miss out on the fun - join us now!

INITIATIVE MEMBERS VISIT UTTLESFORD FOODBANK

On 19 March 2024 Saffron Walden Initiative members were given a tour of the Uttlesford Foodbank in Shire Hill by the General Manager Katy Mendes-Day. The Foodbank is currently celebrating its 10th anniversary. Katy explained that local people in a crisis situation are referred to the Foodbank by Uttlesford Citizens Advice and other agencies such as local schools.  They are given between 5 to 7 days’ nutritionally balanced emergency food and, where needed, are provided additional support to help address the underlying issues behind their crisis.

A small Foodbank team co-ordinates over 120 volunteers who collect the public’s food donations at the collecting points, check and distribute the products into many different sections in the warehouse, make up specific parcels for different size households and deliver them to homes all over Uttlesford.

We were told that the cost of living crisis has meant that the demand for help has gone up over the last couple of years at the same time as the public’s donations have gone down. The Foodbank welcomes support from individuals and local companies. At the time of the visit the Foodbank desperately needed Easter eggs and cereals and the Initiative gave a donation to help a little with this. Please help if you can. See https://uttlesford.foodbank.org.uk/

20th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION EVENT

Saffron Walden Initiative's 20th Anniversary Celebration Event took place in the King's Arms on Sunday 19th November 2023. It was a chance to recall some of the Initiative's many community projects and catch up with old friends. The highlight was a 1 hour talk by Paul Hunt demonstrating some of his WW2 memorabilia which included an early German 'Enigma' coding machine, the only one in private hands in Europe today.

HISTORICAL TOUR OF SAFFRON WALDEN

Saffron Walden Initiative members enjoyed an informative tour of the major historical landmarks of the town on Sunday, September 24th 2023 led by one of its members, Sue Ullstein. Sue was able to provide detailed information about the buildings around the Market Square, the Sun Inn, the Castle, 1 Myddylton Place, the Castle Street area and the surroundings and interior of the Church of St Mary’s. Everyone learned a great deal - even those who have lived in the town for many years!

The Initiative was established in 2003 and is celebrating its first 20 years this year. It is an independent, non-political and non-profit making organisation which works to improve the quality of life in Saffron Walden for residents and visitors. For information about the Initiative please contact either the Chair (Jacqui Portway) on Jacqui.portway@gmail.com or the Membership Secretary (Peter Riding) on peter@riding.co.uk

GUIDED TOUR OF BRIDGE END GARDENS

On June 14th 2023 in glorious evening sunshine, 20 lucky members of the Saffron Walden Initiative had a guided tour of Bridge End Gardens in the company of Liz Lake. Liz is currently the Chair of the Friends of Bridge End Gardens. She has been involved with the gardens for many years and was the Landscape Architect responsible for writing the 1999 Management Plan used to obtain a Heritage Lottery Fund grant for the restoration of the gardens. By that date the gardens, created around 1840, were overgrown and in a sorry state. The restoration project took place between 2003 and 2008 and was such a success that the gardens now have a II* Registration.

Members were able to visit most areas of the garden learning about some of the difficulties created by climate change, our chalky soil, pruning problems and so on. The summerhouse was specially opened for a view of its charming mural canvases. It was all fascinating and an enjoyable evening was had by all.

The visit to the Gardens is the fifth visit to local sites since March 2023 by members of the Initiative, which is this year celebrating 20 years since its inception. Members have been to various sites in and around Saffron Walden, including the Genome Campus, St Mary’s Church, the Fry Art Gallery, and the Waste Water Recycling Centre.

For further information on the Initiative please contact the Chair, Jacqui Portway on 07931 534599 or the Secretary, Peter Riding on 01799 502355.

VISIT TO THE SAFFRON WALDEN WASTE WATER RECYCLING CENTRE

Members of the Saffron Walden Initiative recently visited the sewage treatment works which are next to Swan Meadow car park. Anglian Water staff explained how waste water is recycled using bacteria to break down the sewage and that they were in the process of expanding their facilities to cope with new housing developments.

They were keen to point out that wipes and sanitary waste must not be flushed down toilets as, along with fats, oil and food scraps in sewer pipes, these can result in serious blockages and local flooding. Initiative Chairman Jacqui Portway urges everyone to do a little to help this ever changing world. 

VISIT TO THE WELLCOME GENOME CAMPUS

In March 2023 members of the Saffron Walden Initiative made a return visit to the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton which is the largest centre for genome sequencing and genome research in the UK. Members were introduced to the wonders of the genome as well as DNA, genes and chromosomes. The campus played a key part in the covid-19 pandemic by large scale sequencing of the virus genome so that vaccines could keep up to date with the evolving virus.

Members heard about the work of one of the Informatics researchers at the Campus and saw a film which looked at some of the ethical considerations of germline gene editing. The close links between the National Health Service and the Campus were emphasised. 

We are lucky to live near to a world class research organisation. Afterwards an Initiative member wrote: “Thank you for a quite astonishing afternoon at the Genome Campus.”

VISIT TO ST MARY'S CHURCH BELL RINGERS

On 8th November 2022 members of the Saffron Walden Initiative were visited St Mary’s Church Bell Ringers, known officially as the Saffron Walden Society of Change Ringers.  The members were told the history of the 12 bells, shown how they are rung and then to stayed for the start of the weekly practice session.

VISIT TO SAFFRON WALDEN GIBSON LIBRARY IN OCTOBER 2022

On October 12th 20 members of the Saffron Walden Initiative visited the Gibson Library in Saffron Walden. The Library is an independent library founded in 1832 housed in the Grade 11 listed building at 2,King Street. The historic collection consists of more than 25,000 volumes. Amongst the collection, are botanical illustrations, including George Stacey Gibson’s Flora of Essex (1862).

There is also a large local studies collection. Members of the Initiative listened to a talk by Gillian Williamson, the Secretary of the Gibson Library Society, and were able to look at a selected example of books from the collection.

VISIT TO CAMBRIDGE CENTRAL MOSQUE IN JUNE 2022