Welcome to the families of Avrillé

The Fen Edge Twinning Association met their French guests at the Cottenham Village College on the evening of 2nd May – and after that the long weekend went with a swing. Over 60 people, adults and children, came by coach from the Maine-et-Loire town of Avrillé, all to be billeted with families in local Fen villages.

This year the French numbers were swelled by the addition of a choir, Chant Anjou, who were invited by Siobhan and Tim Lihoreau to sing alongside their own choir TyrannoChorus of Cottenham at the ‘soiree’ on the Saturday evening. The college auditorium was packed to hear the choirs perform, with a splendid finale of Amazing Grace from their combined voices, after which a buffet supper was ready to be enjoyed by all.

Some of the visitors took part in the Fun Run in Cottenham; there were visits to Cambridge museums, a 1km walk along the Car Dyke Roman Canal (with information provided about this archeological treasure in both English and French), a bilingual church service at St John’s Church Waterbeach, followed by a picnic in the village’s Tillage Hall.

John Loveluck, chair of FETA, congratulated everyone by email for making the visit a success. “There was tremendous good feeling as our friends boarded the coach this morning; everyone seemed to have had a great time discovering (if they did not know it already) that we eat well in England, that the weather is not so bad, and that some of us can sing exceptionally well.”

The Avrillais invitation for the FETA visit next year – twinners and choristers – is for the bank holiday weekend 22-25 May. Information on joining the association from Anna Vining (panda@vining.co.uk) or Julia Gwilt (juliagwilt@gmail.com)



Fun Run 2014

Cottenham Fun Run 2014, on the first bank holiday weekend in May, got off to an early start on the Saturday morning with the arrival at Cottenham Village College of 200 enthusiastic contestants to register. All would be running for a good cause: Sunflowers Care in Cottenham which provides nurse-led care to children from babies to 18 year olds with a variety of complex health needs.

For the main race, 98 adults, 20 college children and 7 primary school children put their names down for the 4mile/7km walk or run through Cottenham. There were 75 juniors to take part in the race around the CVC playing field, starting at 10am. As the event is organised by volunteers, the entrance fees of £5 (over16s) and £3 (under16s) went to the charitable partner. There were stalls on the college green which also contributed to the sum donated (after costs) of £412.

Runners who came first, second and third were awarded prizes. Children received an engraved medal and an Amazon voucher (from £20 to £10); adults were given an engraved medal, and category winners (men, women, veterans, CVC boys, CVC girls, primary school boys – there were no entrants primary school girls) won a £20 Amazon voucher. Bonus goodies for all winners came from the French twinners de Avrillé who had arrived the night before and would be spending the weekend in the Fen Edge villages.

Cottenham Fun Run 2014 Results

 Race No Time

Adult Male

First Finn Johnson 041 22:54
Second Harry Law 001 23:01
Third Chris Miller 004 23:34

Adult Female

First Katie Meredith 127 24:58
Second Emily Reid 135 27:50
Third Victoria Coe 129 27:51

College Boy

First Toby Kay 209 26:10
Second Dougie Ellis 205 28:45
Third Jack Leeks 207 29:22

College Girl

First Emily Hutchinson 306 32.23
Second Lena Barden 304 34:11
Third Jo Whitehead 305 39:44

Primary Boy

First Tom Chaplin 400 27:59
Second Peter Hutchinson 403 30:45
Third Alfie Whyatt 401 31:56

Male Vet

First David Chaplin  020 28:00
Second Kerion Hunt 012 28:28
Third Nick Bryant 014 29:06

 Female Vet

First Rachael Bryant 106 33:32
Second Lois Harris 122  34:37
Third  Jo ians 131 35:02


Information provided by the organiser Martyn Leeks (info@martynleeksltd.co.uk)

Cottenham fun run



Yesteryear Road Run through Fen Edge villages to beat Cancer 2014

Yesteryear Road Run through Fen Edge villagesThe sun shone on the 27th of April as over 360 registered vehicles, plus a dozen or more that joined in on the way, took part in the Yesteryear Road Run a round road-trip from Cottenham – through the villages of Rampton, Willingham, Over, Swavesy, Longstanton, Oakington and Histon – to raise the magnificent sum of £6,500 for Cancer Research UK at the Cambridge Research Institute.

The Cottenham Brass Band was on the village green to send the parade on its way about 9.30am and stalls set up on the green did a roaring business when the vehicles returned in the late afternoon. The extraordinary display of vintage cars, whose owners came from near and far, brought hundreds of spectators.

The volunteers who made a huge contribution to the event were the six leather-clad motorcyclists who carefully herded the procession through the villages; the dozen bucket-wielding collectors who travelled in the bus, on Robert Smith’s trailer and on foot (they must have walked miles); and the foot marshalls in Cottenham who managed to allow the flow of normal traffic while encouraging the parking of the participants on the green. Thanks, too, to the tow truck and fire brigade for assisting those in trouble.

It was a wonderful day and brought smiles to the faces of everyone along the route.

Information provided by vivien.lampard@ntlworld.com

Donations to justgiving.com/yesteryear-road-run

Next year’s Yesteryear Road Run will be on 19 April

Get on your bikes in Willingham!

To celebrate the Tour de France in Cambridgeshire, Willingham Wheels has organised a family event for cyclists of all ages on Sunday 6th July.

Willingham Wheels, set up by the Willingham Action Group, was awarded a grant of £300 from the Cambridge County Council to arrange an event to mark the visit of this famous annual bike ride.

‘The Fen Edge Mass Exodus’ is a cycle ride along the guided busway from Longstanton, finishing eight miles later at Parker’s Piece in Cambridge with a do-it-yourself picnic. It is a marshalled, family oriented event and will proceed at a good slow, and safe, pace. However, you should take into account the distances involved (there and back) and the cycling proficiency of the youngest member of your group! Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult over 18 who is known to them. All cyclists are responsible for their return journeys.

Those taking part are asked to be at Longstanton guided busway car park at 11.30, for a noon start. There will be a safety briefing, which is required by the busway authorities who have given permission for the ride. Willingham Wheels issued four essential guidelines: make sure your bike’s nuts are tight, tyres are pumped up, carry a drink (non-alcoholic) and, above all, no speeding. It took several months for the group to get permission and accidents must be avoided. Some road travel is unavoidable.

The ride is registered with the national cycling charity CTC and is an official part of the Vélo Festival. Find the route and keep clicking on the map for more details and road names.

There is no entrance fee but you can sponsor the ride with all donations, including collections, to Marie Curie, the cancer care charity. For each £5 donation you will receive a maillot jaune or winner’s yellow t-shirt for just £2.50 on the day; for £10 donation you will receive four (while stocks last). Put your required sizes on the donation site. If the organisers run out of yellow, they will switch to green (stage winners) t-shirts.

Fen Edge Twinning Association welcome French visitors

The French are coming to Fen Edge in the first weekend in May, and lots of activities are planned, as Anna Vining explains.

The Fen Edge Twinning Association is about 16 years old and membership is open to everyone living in Cottenham, Rampton, Willingham, Waterbeach and Landbeach. The villages are twinned with Avrillé, a small town near the city of Angers on the river Loire, just south of Le Mans (famous for the 24-hour car race).

The association arranges and takes part in annual visits – we go to Avrillé one year and they come to us the next, usually one of the May bank holiday weekends, travelling by coach (or own car) on the Friday and returning on the Monday. Generally about 50 people from each twinning group are involved, the host group’s members offering accommodation and hospitality during the visit which this year will be here on 3rd and 4th May.

Various events are in the process of being organised and final details were not available at the time of going to press. But one of the highlights will be choral music – a local choir in Avrillé will be hosted by members of the bigMouth Choir in Cottenham, the adult ‘third’ of the TyrannoChorus which is directed by Siobhan Lihoreau. You can find TyrannoChorus at facebook.com/bigmouthsinging.

Don’t worry if you are not a fluent French speaker. Half the fun of the twinning experience is trying to find the right words in the other language, and making mistakes is all part of it. And nobody minds. This year there will be much to talk about: the revelations about François Hollande for one, and the Tour de France for another.

The association is always happy to welcome new members, so if you would like to take part in or know more about the coming visit contact Anna Vining at: panda@vining.co.uk.

The Fens and Flooding

The plight of householders and farmers overwhelmed by the water on the Somerset Levels touched the hearts of everyone around the country. Yet despite the two months of record-breaking rainfall, the Fen Edge area appeared fairly normal. Was this luck or good planning?

Some of the fields looked very wet and there was a lot of mud around but you’d expect that after the rain we’d endured. But the eastern fenland area is an area of high flood risk, so why didn’t the water rise – and not drain away – as happened in the Somerset Levels? The circumstances are not the same, according to Cottenham resident Mike Mason. He believes the name of the Dutch drainage expert Cornelius Vermuyden should be engraved upon every heart in the Fen Edge.

It was Vermuyden who in the 1650s built dykes, new channels and sluices to drain the original marshes and meres which had extended from the coast to Cambridge and Peterborough. These works have been improved on over the centuries by pumping stations to lift water from the low level fens into the high level embanked rivers running through them, making flood protection more reliable. Mike, a county councillor for Cottenham, Histon and Impington with a history of involvement with drainage, is a member of the Anglian Central Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (CRFCC).

Flood and water management is a complex subject with wide variations in regional rainfall and river catchment characteristics. The pastures of the Somerset Levels cannot therefore be easily compared with the largely arable peat lands of the South or Middle Level of the fens. The Environment Agency report for January said this was the wettest month on record for the Bedford Ouse and Cam Catchments and the second wettest for Central Area overall.

While flooding in the fens has been avoided this year, the cost borne by the local drainage ratepayers and taxpayers will be high in terms of electricity and fuel costs associated with many hours of pumping. Flood defences at Kings Lynn and Denver sluice were severely tested and were actually breached at Lowestoft by the recent east coast tidal surge. We should not be complacent about the effects of climate change, says Mike.

Vermuyden’s motto on the crest of the South Cambridgeshire District Council reads “Niet Zonder Arbyt” which translates (from old Dutch) as “nothing without work”. As Mike says, the Fen Edge flood defence system is an example of that motto, so luck and planning and many years of capital investment came into it.

Wendy Dear