Clubs and Community: Spirited Mary is marking 70th birthday with 70 challenges

Mary Ward is completing 70 small challenges before turning 70
Mary Ward is completing 70 small challenges before turning 70

The latest news from clubs and community groups in your area.


Dacorum Majorettes

Dacorum Majorettes

Instead of celebrating with a traditional cake, Mary Ward, from Apsley near Hemel Hempstead is marking turning three score years and 10 this June in an unusual manner.

The spirited lady has committed herself to completing 70 small challenges before turning 70 and is having enormous fun in the process as well as raising valuable funds to support local charity, The Hospice of St Francis.

So far, Mary has achieved a whole range of things that have been on her bucket list. These have included eating a Bakewell pudding in Bakewell, Derbyshire, running a mile, getting a (temporary) tattoo, writing a poem, finding a fossil, completing a childhood memory book and taking tea with a tiger at Paradise Wildlife Park.

Her final ‘official’ challenge will be volunteering at the Hospice’s Marlowes Love to Give shop on June 9, the day before her big birthday.

For each challenge she completes Mary is donating £5 to the hospice and the culmination of her 70 challenges will be participating in The Hospice of St Francis’ Midnight Walk on Saturday June 28 in Hemel Hempstead where she will putting the £350 raised already towards her event sponsorship.

Mary said: “I really wanted to do something other than take a holiday or hold a big party to mark the fact that I’ve been on the planet for 70 years.

“It suddenly came to me to put together a list of small things to achieve and I’ve had a brilliant time planning and doing each one.

“I’ve even got my five grandchildren involved and they’ve been telling all their friends about grandma’s special list.

“It seemed a good idea to support a local charity in the process and I picked the hospice because I’m passionate about the great care they provide for local people who have cancer or another serious illness.

“I’d really urge anyone approaching a milestone birthday, anniversary or occasion to do something similar.

“It’s also a great thing to do in memory of someone and you can make a real difference to a charity like the hospice whether you can afford to give £1 per challenge or £10.

“I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed doing the Hospice’s Midnight Walk last year and am looking forward to getting my pink outfit and striding out again this year.”

Registrations are now open for the Hospice of St Francis’ Midnight Walk which starts at 9:30pm.

The circular walk starts at Hemel Hempstead School and there is a 5 or 11 mile option. Registrations costs £20, £15 for 11- 16 year olds.

Visit or call 01442 869555 to find out more.


Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers triumphed in the semi-final of The IAC amateur film competition.

The group was up against worthy competing clubs South Essex Film Makers, Walthamstow CVC and Colchester Film Makers Club.

All clubs presented various films, that either contained entertaining or informative subject matter. This gave the competition judge a more difficult task. At the end of the competition, the placing for the four clubs resulted in Hemel Hempstead being the winner, and South Essex Film Makers as runner up.

Both winner and runner-up will now meet the two film making clubs from Bourne End (not the local Bourne End) and Staines in the final of this 4x4 Competition on Sunday May 18 at Laleham Village Hall.


Households throughout Tring have been busy collecting loose change for a challenge set by the Mayor of Tring.

Cllr Roxanne Ransley appealed to Tring people to support Iain Rennie Hospice at Home (part of Rennie Grove Hospice Care) and Herts Air Ambulance by putting a special label on a jar or pot and collecting as much loose change as possible and the time has come to collect them in.

On Saturday Cllr Ransley will have a special charity stall at Church Square in Tring and people will be able to return their pots between 10am and 1pm.

Pots can also be returned to Tring Information Centre anytime between 9.30am and 3pm up to Friday.


Photographs on the theme of ‘springs are the focus of a fun photo competition open to the whole local community.

The Hospice of St Francis in Berkhamsted is asking keen and budding photographers of all ages to get snapping for St Francis to help it complete the recent refurbishment of its Spring Centre.

The winning submissions, to be judged by a panel of professional photographers, will be mounted around the hospice building and the winners invited to a special unveiling ceremony at its Spring Garden Lane site.

Kimberley McLaughlin, director of supportive care at the hospice, said: “Thanks to a Department of Health buildings grant, we’ve been able to carry out extensive redecoration and adaptation work to our existing space to make the hospice more flexible for inpatients, outpatients, carers, families and visitors.

“Over the last 12 months, our health and wellbeing Spring Centre and our 14-bed Inpatient Unit have been redecorated throughout.

“Our reception area has been extended to accommodate our growing numbers of visitors with French windows opening onto our beautiful gardens.

“IT for patients, carers and visitors has been enhanced and our parking facilities have been improved.

“Our Spring Centre is all about wellbeing, self-management and engaging with our community and photos can really help to enhance the healing environment, are a great way to bring the outdoors in and can be an excellent focal point for conversation.

“So we thought what better way for local people to connect with us and have a say in the way their local hospice looks than through a photo competition?

“Pictures on our walls, taken by local people, will provide exactly the finishing touches for our refurbishment that we need.”

The theme of the competition is spring but is open to free interpretation. Entries should be sent to and include the entrant’s name, age, address, phone number and a short line about what it means to you. Images should be in colour and in high resolution. Followers of the Hospice on Facebook and Twitter can also post their photos on the TheHospiceofStFrancis Facebook page or @hospicstfrancis. Closing date is Tuesday May 6.

The Hospice is showcasing the best of the images on its website

Judging will be by a panel of professional photographers, including Adam Hollier, of Adam Hollier Photography in Tring, Rebecca Fennell of Rebecca Fennell Photography in Berkhamsted and Cynthia Nolan, of Shoot Me Studios in Berkhamsted. Prizes will be on offer to the top three winners.

The hospice supports people facing life-shortening illnesses across Bucks and Herts and its Spring Centre is meeting a real need in the local community, offering patients, carers and family members support beyond life-shortening illnesses.

All its services are provided free but it relies on public donations for 80% of its £4.7m annual running costs.


The next meeting of the RSPB Hemel Hempstead Group will be held in the main hall at the town’s Cavendish School, at 8pm on Monday, May 12.

Members will be giving short talks on their favourite topics while a short AGM will also be held.

At the last meeting, the group was entertained by Brian Sawford who gave an ‘interesting and well illustrated’ talk about his favourite bird and wildlife habitats throughout the UK.

The next group outing will be a coach trip RSPB Minsmere next Saturday (May 10).

Minsmere is a coastal reserve, featuring dunes, woodland and wetlands. It is notable for having been managed by the RSPB since 1947 when avocets first bred there, which were also the first to breed in the UK for over a 100 years.

The group’s last outing was to Sea View, Littlehampton and to RSPB Pulborough Brooks in Sussex, which is known for its great variety of habitats, including wetlands, woodland, and heathland.

Fourteen members were rewarded with a total of 56 bird species seen. The highlights included marsh harrier, nightingale and avocets.

Find out more at, or contact group leader Ian Wilson on 07929 997759 or for outing details, Alan Corner on 01442 833585.


An innovative new club for working-age blind and visually impaired people launched next week.

The volunteers at Hemel Hempstead’s Social Centre for the Blind, in Alston Road, say too many of their clubs and activities are geared towards elderly people with sight problems, who make up much of the blind and visually impaired population.

However, the younger generation who suffer the disability are also in need of companionship, and the new SightLife group is designed to not only offer social activities but also help with job advice and CV writing.

Centre manager Dawn Bunting said: “Our mission is to introduce activities that sighted people take for granted into the lives of others and to create opportunities that enrich lives and give them a reason to smile.

“We aim to bring blind and visually impaired people together to share new experiences and successes, to support each other in difficult times and to create imaginative solutions to everyday challenges.”

The club runs every Wednesday from 10am until midday, except during school holidays.

Call Dawn on 07825 330 648 or 01442 258550 if you are interested in joining the club, or can volunteer your time to help it run.


The Dacorum Majorettes have

returned triumphant from the United Kingdom Federation of Majorettes National competition.

Since forming in 1986 the troupe has been dedicated to providing a different and exciting form of entertainment, exercise and fun as well as competing at the highest level of discipline.

The troupe which is currently made up of 18 girls aged seven to 28 (pictured left) not only won 25 first places, 18 second places and 14 third places but also the four most prestigious awards, claiming overall marching troupe, best troupe routine, top troupe in Hertfordshire and the title of overall troupe in the United Kingdom Federation of Majorettes!

All four awards are highly sought after by every troupe within the Federation. Many of the girls picked up outstanding results but it was Rosanne Hossack who deserves special mention after 10 years of competing for the title of Colour Guard she was awarded with the well deserved title and the opportunity to represent the Federation by carrying the Union flag throughout the year. The national competition was crowned off with Leanne Foy picking up the Ambassadors Trophy. Leanne joined the troupe in 1990 and has remained loyal to Dacorum and the Federation for 24 years. The troupe is now seeking a local company to offer the opportunity of becoming their sponsor. Interested? Contact the troupe online at