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NEW timetable for 2020 + 5 day service + extended route

Rothamsted Research answers

White House call for coronavirus

data help

Search tool will help medical researchers

discover all known virus, gene and

drug links


A group of researchers based at Rothamsted

Research have responded to a request from

the White House, Microsoft, Mark Zuckerberg

and others to find a way to rapidly sift through

the mountain of COVID-19 scientific data.


Taking time off from their own research, the Rothamsted team repurposed a tool they had originally developed to help crop scientists, to provide medical researchers with quick and intuitive access to all documented linkages between genes, medicines, and the virus.


By bringing together COVID-19 related data in one place, the hope is that this will speed up the international search for useful drugs, stop researchers repeating work done elsewhere, avoid harmful interventions, and ultimately, help pave the way to a vaccine.


A US Government-backed call had urged the world’s artificial intelligence experts to develop new text and data mining techniques that could help the science community answer urgent questions related to the deadly outbreak.


Project leader, Dr Keywan Hassani-Pak, originally developed the KnetMiner software to support scientists studying complex plant traits and diseases – but together with his team, quickly realized the potential of it to help aid coronavirus research.


“Using KnetMiner, medical researchers can now search for genes and keywords, visualize connections between biological concepts and explore knowledge relating to the new coronavirus and COVID-19 disease.


“Users can search for drugs related to coronavirus and explore the surrounding connected data. Alternatively, they can investigate what pathways the drugs affect and visualize if any negative downstream effects may be present with using the drug in certain diseased populations.


“The genetic component of how SARS-CoV-2 and the human body interact can also be explored.”


The software links together almost 170,000 scientific articles, the majority with detailed information about human genes, plus SARS and COVID-19 related proteins, drugs and other medical conditions.


This works out at more than 1.6 million relationships between biological entities – something that would take years of searching for, using conventional means.


It was mid-March when The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy launched the COVID-19 call to action.


Over 500 scientists, software developers and clinicians joined forces in the COVID-19 virtual Biohackathon at the beginning of April to develop new tools for working with COVID-19 data.



Financial Planning For

The New Normal


At Lyndhurst, we have been busy positioning the business to continue serving our clients during what is now becoming the new normal. As you may have read in previous communications we are now operating in the main from home, with our offices only open for core operations that cannot be conducted remotely. We are using approved technology solutions to continue providing our financial planning services to clients from a distance, as per current government guidance.


In addition to the changes to business operations, our team have been collaborating weekly via video conference, discussing the rapidly changing world as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on financial planning.


Collectively we have documented our thoughts and I want to share some of these with you below. Not all of the themes outlined will be relevant to you and we will cover your personal circumstances in more detail as part of your normal Lyndhurst service. However, if you feel some of these themes are worth exploring further, then please do get in touch.


Paying for the Pandemic
The cost of the pandemic will be substantial and whilst the prime minister has outlined that he intends to avoid tax rises, it is widely publicised that there is likely to be increases in wealth taxes in the future to cover the cost of coronavirus. This may well result in the removal of allowances or the loss of certain tax mitigation schemes. Our message to clients considering any tax planning is to therefore NOT DELAY. If you are considering pension contributions, investing in ISAs, gifting to younger relatives, formulating trusts or investing is inheritance tax mitigation solutions, then we would urge you to bring forward your financial planning to lessen the risk of missing out on planning opportunities in the future.


A volatile New World
Give thought to goals-based planning. We can allocate differing strategies and risk tolerances to your invested capital. Long term growth strategies combined with shorter term more cautious approaches could be particularly useful if you have cash on deposit receiving low interest. If you have concerns about timing when to make an investment, rather than delay investing or attempt to time the market, we can divide the investment by several months and invest a smaller amount each month until the total amount is invested. This strategy is known as pound cost averaging and addresses some of the risk of investments falling in value immediately after a lump sum investment.


New Normal investing
Many market commentators feel that in the current and future climate, the pandemic will result in clear areas of business globally that will be winners or losers. We have created some investment strategies which focus on sustainable and positive change investing. Investing in companies of tomorrow that are set to take advantage of the new world with themes that are for the benefit of education, the environment, healthcare and addressing the needs of the world's poorest populations. Would you like an investment strategy that informs you of how many cars emissions you can offset on an annual basis? We can do this for you with our sustainable investment portfolios.


Lower for EVEN longer?
There has, over recent weeks, been reports of the possibility for negative interest rates. Whilst we feel this is unlikely, it is apparent that interest rates will be at historic low levels for the foreseeable future and pouring more misery on clients with cash on deposit. What is more concerning are reports that interest rates are likely to remain low even if inflation were to rise in the future and therefore eroding the value of your capital. This may be the time to be utilising strategies for cash alternatives which we can discuss with you. 


Estate Administration
It is a sad fact that many lives have been lost in the battle against coronavirus. At a time when the probate office is experiencing increased delays and individuals are giving thought to the eventual administration of their estates for their executors and beneficiaries, we can construct your financial affairs by the use of wrap administration technology to simplify your estate administration. This is possible owing to agreements the most established wrap platforms have with HMRC and whereby a payment can be made directly to settle inheritance tax before probate is granted. This could save both time and money, and most importantly stress on your loved ones at what is a difficult time.


A Disrupted World For The Next Generation?
It has been reported that the new normal for the next generation is now more unclear. Securing jobs and mortgage lending to get on the property ladder is likely to be more challenging for the foreseeable future. Similarly, they may not have the spare capacity to make meaningful pension provision. Plan with your children or grandchildren in mind now and find out ways we can assist.   


Family Focus
Whilst educating children has become part and parcel of the new normal, we continue to stress that children should be educated on financial matters. Children may never utilise their skills at chemistry, history or languages but they will certainly need financial understanding. Allow us to show you ways in which we can interact with your children and they can be part of your financial plan and enabling us to take care of their financial situation in the future.

Lyndhurst Financial Management Limited

Lyndhurst House, High Street, Harpenden, Herts. AL5 2RT.

Tel:  01582 715777

Fax:  01582 462111


Lyndhurst Financial Management Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. The contents of this newsletter do not constitute advice and should not be taken as a recommendation to purchase or invest in any of the products mentioned. Before making any decisions, we suggest you seek advice from a professional financial adviser. All figures and data contained within this document were correct at time of writing.

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

May 16. Scientists breed

designer wheat for

whisky distillers

A team of scientists from Rothamsted Research

have bred a type of wheat specifically to improve

whisky production.

The group’s lead researcher says this new wheat

will reduce the processing problems, higher energy

use, and wear on pumps caused by using current

wheat varieties.

Rothamsted’s Dr Rowan Mitchell said: “At present using wheat grain is a problem for distilleries because it causes sticky residues that mean the whole distillery must be shut down for cleaning.

“Our novel wheat is designed to have grain with low levels of soluble dietary fibre and should greatly decrease these problems. Great for making whisky, but the opposite to what’s required by bakers.”

He added that the development will also make UK grown wheat more desirable for use in whisky compared to imported maize, which is currently easier to process.

This new wheat line is one of the first wheat varieties in the world developed using ‘reverse genetics’ - where scientists start with knowledge of what a gene does, rather than screening for the trait in a plant first and then looking for which of its genes are responsible.

Their non-GM approach, called TILLING, allowed them to rapidly breed their gene of choice into an existing wheat variety – no easy task as wheat has six copies of each of its genes compared to only two copies of each in humans.

The group focused in on genes they discovered that controlled the amount of a chemical found in plant cell walls called arabinoxylan, responsible for soluble fibre levels and what determines its viscosity - whether the liquid extract is ‘thin’ like water, or ‘thick’ like honey.

By using traditional plant breeding methods, they created wheat lines where these genes had stopped working – referred to as ‘knock out’ or loss of function lines.

In these lines, the arabinoxylan molecules where both shorter and fewer in number, leading to a whisky-friendly wheat that produces a liquid extract between 50 and 80% less ‘gloopy’ compared to wheat without the knock-out genes.

Interestingly, the team saw that the plant responded to this change by increasing the bonds between the remaining arabinoxylan molecules, which helped it maintain the size and shape of its cells.

The group have a patent on the use of the gene for this application and are now working with plant breeding company Limagrain to develop a new commercial variety.

Co-author Dr Simon Berry, marker specialist at Limagrain, said: “There is going to be a pilot scale test on about a quarter of a tonne of grain at a distillery this year and we are aiming for an official trials entry within the next 5 years.

“Low viscosity wheat would strengthen the continued use of UK wheat in distilling and offer a solution to those distillers still using maize.”

Scotch production is an extremely important industry to the UK, worth about £5 bn per year.

The project, which also included the Scotch Whisky Research Institute, was funded by UKRI and Innovate UK.

Covid and Cholera:

Repeating the


of the Past.  

By Amanda Thomas

The first quarter of 2020 has been unusual,

disturbing, and tainted with fear.  The panic

associated with running out of basic goods

such as toilet rolls, flour and pasta has been

an emotional veneer for the deeper fear of

life spiralling out of control, of death and

dying alone.  VE Day commemorations provided a ready comparison between World War Two rationing and lockdown shortages which have disrupted and restricted the usual rhythm of life.  The unavailability of ingredients to bake a birthday cake, the cancellation of gatherings such as weddings, the invisibility of the enemy - Covid-19 - and the uncertainty of when, where or whom it will strike: all factors which combine to stoke uncertainty and fear.  Moreover, as the epidemic runs its course we have begun to realise the potent nature of the virus, a disease not fully understood, and for which an effective vaccine is still frustratingly out of reach.

As an end to the first phase of the lockdown begins, we can dare ask some difficult questions.  Should we have acted sooner, should we have been better prepared, should we have followed the lead of other countries or gone out on a limb like Sweden?  Did fear and panic influence our actions, or did complacency play a greater role?  Had we looked to the past and to the great pandemics of history we may have responded differently.  Or would we?  For years government researchers have been delving into the historical records held at regional archives, modelling the behaviour of earlier epidemics and gleaning a better understanding of how society and government have responded in the past. Committees were formed and plans put in place, yet as 2019 drew to a close, the reality of Covid-19, and its silent spread provoked unexpected reactions, even in those aware of its deadly potential.  The threat of epidemic disease was not new, but dangerous viruses such as Ebola and the coronavirus SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) had – in the end - not been a threat to European public health, so why should Covid-19 be any different?  Whilst we languished in complacency, the virus swiftly hopped from person to person and from aeroplane to aeroplane, and by the time we acted, the stable door had already been open far too long.  On the other hand, perhaps even the fastest of responses may have been too late as scientists are now considering whether Covid-19 was in fact already in circulation – even in Britain - well before Christmas.  But could we have been better prepared?  There has been considerable controversy concerning the availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).  Irrespective of the quantities available, it was revealed at the beginning of May that prior to the outbreak in Britain, the efficacy of the PPE used in our hospitals was only adequate for influenza.  Covid-19 was supposed to be a type of flu, wasn’t it?  No one had anticipated the potency of this coronavirus and the need for much more robust protection.

These and other debates will continue to rage, but even at this stage it is not incorrect to say that Britain’s response, and that of many other countries, has had more to do with the basic human response, ‘It will never happen to me’ and - of course - economic and political constraints.  Surprising as it may sound, in the past pandemics were dealt with in a similar way and for these same reasons.  I have been interested in epidemic disease for some time and became fascinated with the cholera outbreaks of the Victorian era many years ago.  I became intrigued with cholera when a distant cousin asked me why so many of her relatives had died in London’s Lambeth in a brief period of time in the autumn of 1849; a visit to Lambeth Archives soon revealed they had died from cholera.  Some time later my book, The Lambeth Cholera Outbreak of 1848-1849, revealed the full horror of the episode, but interest soon stretched beyond these events and my second book on the subject, Cholera the Victorian Plague, investigated the full story of the disease when it was at its most deadly in Britain.

Cholera is a waterborne intestinal infection which has killed hundreds of thousands of people since it first migrated from its natural habitat of India’s Bay of Bengal in the early nineteenth century.  It is a disease which continues today, most notably in poorer parts of the world such as Haiti and Bangladesh, affected by natural disasters like earthquake and floods.  There is a vaccine for cholera, but proper sanitation, clean drinking water, and vigilant hygiene – such as regular hand washing - are more effective measures to avoid infection. 

The outbreak in Haiti occurred following an earthquake in 2010.  In a place where infrastructure was already fragile, the devastation which occurred caused considerable disruption not just to the population but also to the cleanliness of the water supply.  The last reported case of cholera in Haiti was in January 2019, following the deaths of almost 10,000 people.  The cause of the outbreak is disputed, however.  Most are in agreement that the pathogen was introduced to the water supply by the untreated excrement of UN peacekeeping soldiers from cholera-endemic Nepal.  However, others believe there was an additional factor which caused the outbreak to be particularly deadly.  Benign cholera vibrios exist in water systems all over the world and it is thought that it is these which caused the so-called English cholera outbreaks of dysentery in the years before Asiatic cholera, the Bay of Bengal pathogenic variety, arrived on our shores.  Naturally occurring cholera vibrios can become pathogenic through a natural process in the water by which they take on additional genetic material.  One of the factors which needs to be in place for this to occur is a warming of the coastal and estuarine waters in which cholera lives, and climate change has provided this opportunity.  Of additional concern is how a small rise in sea temperatures also affects the terrestrial environment, and it is the disruption of this delicate balance which may have provoked the spread of Covid-19.  The strange almost Biblical reports of locust swarms in Africa and colossal bush fires in Australia may be indications of this disruption – unless, of course, the virus was produced in a Wuhan laboratory.

Epidemic cholera arrived on England’s shores in 1831. In October 1830, The Times newspaper published news from St Petersburg of the ‘rapid and fatal progress’ of a deadly strain of cholera in the south-east of Russia; the British Privy Council agreed that customs officers should be on high alert regarding ships and other vessels arriving from overseas.  Some denied it was cholera believing that the only disease which could wreak such devastation was the plague.  There was a strong case to maintain trade and protect the economy and the Privy Council sent a doctor to Russia to investigate.  Dr Thomas Walker relayed the following:

In Moscow by far the greater part of the medical men are of the opinion that the disease is not contagious, but produced by some peculiar state of the atmosphere, not cognizable by either our sense or instruments ...

I myself am convinced of the contagious nature of the disease, but that the proofs of its transmission from one individual to another are not quite perfect as yet.  And believing so, I cannot, of course be without some apprehension that it may also be conveyed by clothes and other articles, which have been in more immediate contact with the sick ... [cholera] must have its own laws as well as the plaque, typhus fever and other contagious or infectious disorders, but these laws we do not sufficiently know.

Despite his observations, Walker saw nothing wrong in allowing ships to travel from Russia to Britain and made no case for quarantine vessels. He believed that cholera did not appear to have the ability to remain dormant in humans for longer than 14 days, and for that reason there was no danger. 

A key impediment to the understanding of the transmission of cholera in the Victorian era was that they had yet to discover the existence of pathogenic microorganisms, the cause of disease.  At the time it was thought that illnesses, including cholera, were spread through the air on foul smells, or miasma.  Even when it was suggested that poor sanitation and filthy drinking water were the real causes of cholera, many in the scientific community disputed the hypothesis, including Florence Nightingale, who maintained her belief in the miasma theory until her death in 1910.  In addition, the areas which were worst affected by the disease were the poorest and most densely populated areas of Britain’s cities.  At the time it made little political or economic sense to improve the living conditions of the working poor, particularly as they didn’t have the vote. 

There are parallels between the perceived transmission of cholera and Covid-19. Although today we understand that illness is spread by germs and not foul air, there is still considerable public ignorance, despite government advice.  Just like colds and flu (and incidentally many other infectious diseases, including measles, chickenpox and tuberculosis), the coronavirus is spread through the air by large droplet or by finer aerosol transmission.  It therefore makes sense to socially distance and wear masks.  However, within a closed space, social distancing probably doesn’t make a huge amount of difference as air (and pathogens suspended in it) will move within that place, and especially if it is ventilated by re-circulated air conditioning systems.  It is a reason why air travel is still a headache and the sharing of exhaled breath in aeroplanes is one of the likeliest cause of the initial rapid spread of the virus.  Good hand hygiene is also very effective as germs will live on surfaces for prolonged periods.  This was the case with cholera which, for example, was spread effectively within dried bodily fluids on recycled hospital cloths.  These were sometimes shipped to other countries for industrial use, but the washing of the rags caused the release of viable pathogenic vibrios into the water.  Many washerwomen caught cholera in this way as they touched their mouths or ate food without first cleaning their hands with soap and untainted water.  Today the practice of wearing plastic gloves is sensible but only in specific circumstances, as they will spread germs from place to place in the same way as unwashed hands.  It has been fascinating observing on the television news certain health care workers putting on plastic gloves before entering a patient’s room.  By the time they touch the person they are trying to protect, the gloves will have come into contact with a myriad of surfaces, including the door handle of the patient’s room.  Many shops are now also banning the wearing of gloves not just because they spread the virus, but also because they perpetuate the lazy – and dangerous - practice of avoiding regular hand washing.

In the summer of 1831, just as air travellers brought Covid-19 to Britain, vessels carrying cholera began arriving in British ports.  In the early days of an epidemic the disease is often not so violent and thus it can travel within its human host without detection.  In addition, filthy water from ships arriving from infected places was discharged into estuary ports where it mixed with the local water supply.  Officials were vigilant and specific areas had been set up for the quarantine of vessels, but the source of infection was not contained and cholera silently crept into Britain along the waterways, on imported goods and in the tummies of those who didn’t even know they were infected until it was too late.

In the absence of a scientific understanding of cholera, strange cures were devised such as brandy, laudanum, chalk water and gum, calomel (mercurous chloride), mustard, lead, turpentine and the taking of hot baths.  How similar this sounds to today’s internet advertisements for curative teas, oils, colloidal silver, garlic, and bleach, moreover many people are still of the belief that a tot of something alcoholic will kill the virus.  It won’t.

In today’s world we have become used to finding solutions, but in the face of an unknown disease we are not in a dissimilar position to our Victorian forbears.  Cholera was eradicated in Britain with improved sanitation and a better understanding of the importance of hygiene, not by widespread vaccination.  A vaccine for Covid-19 is still a long way off and there remain concerns for its efficacy against a mutated virus.  In addition, if the coronavirus behaves in the same way as every other epidemic disease, there will be a second wave and sadly too fast for any vaccination programme to be put in place or take effect.  The solution may be to find more effective ways of treating the virus, and clinicians at Warrington Hospital seem to be taking this very approach in their modification of the so-called ‘black boxes’ which are used to treat sleep apnoea, the erratic stopping and starting of breathing during sleep.  The devices have cut the death rate at Warrington and facilitated a faster recovery in Covid sufferers. 

Finally, we have all marvelled at the way in which the world has become less polluted during lockdown. The Taj Mahal is no longer shrouded in smog, dolphins and jelly fish are swimming in Venice’s canals, and with India’s factories closed, the waters of the Ganges are flowing clearer than ever in to the Bay of Bengal, cholera’s ancestral home.  Whilst worldwide lockdown has artificially created this idyllic situation, we might wish to continue the clean up in the future.  If scientists are correct in their belief that climate change will perpetuate the emergence of more deadly pathogens, then cholera and Covid-19 might be the least of our worries.

Amanda Thomas’ books include:

Cholera: The Victorian Plague, Pen & Sword Books, first edition (2015), ISBN: 978-1783463503;

second edition (2020), ISBN: 978-1526781819.

The Lambeth Cholera Outbreak of 1848-1849: The Setting, Causes, Course and Aftermath of an Epidemic in London, McFarland & Co, (2009), ISBN: 978-0786439898.

Coming soon and available for pre-order:

The Nonconformist Revolution: Religious dissent, innovation and rebellion, Pen & Sword History (2020); ISBN: 978-1473875678.

All titles are available on Amazon and at all good booksellers.

June 16. Ashtons are Open

for Business!

Ashtons are open and ready to help you

continue on your property journey. Rest

assured, we will be following stringent

health & safety measures at all times.


With so much pent-up demand in the

market for renters and buyers itching to

get out of the confines of their homes and endless online virtual meetings, Ashtons were one of the first to open our doors for our valued customers in each of the four locations and have worked incredibly hard to prepare our offices and staff to go over and beyond the government guidance on Covid-19 safety to protect everyone we come into contact with. It certainly has been busy since reopening!


We have also developed and refined a number of our processes to avoid unnecessary property and office visits, we’ve also made the sales and letting process as slick as possible to make every transaction as frictionless as possible whilst adhering to government requirements.

Now offering virtual valuations and video viewings which are now available for our customers to help them on their property search and over 200 of our properties now have the footage included in its marketing on our website. If you’re interested in moving, selling or investing in property, we recommend watching our videos and helpful market updates to keep in tune with the market leading estate agency in your area and the fast changing landscape of home moving.


If you want to physically look at a property in person before making a commitment, our Covid-19  trained staff will be happy to show you the property, wearing the appropriate PPE, please note; we are busy and restricting some viewing activity, so where possible, please contact us on 01582 461166 or email salesharp@ashtons.co.uk

to reserve your appointment slot rather than a visit to the office which is limited to one person entry at a time.


Keep well and let us guide you through a safe property experience.



John Murray is the new president of Harpenden Village

Rotary Club. He has lived in Harpenden since 2001 when,

after a career including spells in the oil industry and running

his own business, he was appointed chief executive of the

Society of Maritime Industries.

John is married to Christine and they have two grown-up


This is not his first Rotary presidency. He joined Darlington Rotary Club in the 1970s and was president in 1989-90. He has been a member of Harpenden Village Rotary Club since 2001.

John commented: ‘The core ethos of Rotary is encapsulated in its motto, Service above Self. While serving and supporting the community, both locally and through our international contacts, may appear to be on hold at present, as a result of Covid-19, I can assure you that our club members are working behind the scenes to ensure that during my year we will be able to deliver on our remit.’

Local help to tackle money worries

Mounting personal debt is an increasing problem as many of us struggle to pay bills because of the impact of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic on our finances.  There are high levels of debt on credit cards, and personal loans and not everyone can manage the repayments at the moment.

Help is at hand from Harpenden Money Advice Centre which is a charity providing confidential, non-judgemental and impartial debt and budgeting advice. This free local service from trained advisers, all volunteers, will look at how best to tackle your debts.

Manager of the charity Richard Payne said "Our team are here to help people look at their money problems and work with them to come up with an affordable plan, prioritising the most urgent payments and looking at what they can afford to repay.  Anyone can get into debt, and often it’s no fault of their own doing.  It could be a job loss, relationship breakdown, bereavement or other change in circumstances and it can be very hard to admit there is a problem.  But that is the first step to sorting it out.  We are still open during these strange times and can give help via Zoom or on the phone.  Do get in contact.  We are very friendly and just want to help."

One client told their story:

"Two years ago I felt I was drowning. I was making payments every month but then had no money for the remainder of the month and was then getting further loans to get through each month, increasing my debts and finding myself in a vicious cycle I couldn't get out of. I also needed to find somewhere else to live, as the tenancy on the place I was living in was running out. With your help and support not only did you arrange an affordable monthly plan with my creditors, but you also found me a new place to live.

I was at a point two years ago where I felt almost suicidal but thanks to you, I now see a light at the end of the tunnel and emotionally and mentally I have emerged from that black hole I was in. Thank you, without your help, I dread to think where I would now be."

To find out more contact Richard Payne on www.hmac.uk or call 07954 276281 email info@hmac.uk

Harpenden Money Advice Centre is a local charity supported by churches across Harpenden. All advisers are volunteers who freely give their time and are trained to the CMA Level 3 Award in Generalist Debt Advice, which has been "Money Advice Service" accredited at Advice Level.

Photo above of the HMAC team (Richard Payne is in the centre with the purple jumper)

July. Harpenden wins ‘Best Local Building Society’ Award for 6th year at the prestigious What Mortgage Awards for

a 6th consecutive year.

The Society, with its Head Office based in Harpenden, has a long history of providing mortgages tailored to the specific requirements of its customers dating back to the 1950’s.

It’s grown a reputation for its personal, common-sense approach using good judgement and sound lending practice when assessing mortgage applications. Their expert team are experienced at finding solutions to complex lending scenarios, all factors which have led to this ongoing awards success. 

Harpenden’s range of owner occupied lending products provides options for Residential, Guarantor, Self-Employed and Contractor mortgages.  A specialist product range also supports lending for Self-Build and Development mortgages, Second Homes, Holiday-let, Buy to Let, Consumer Buy to Let and Bridging facilities.

During the last accounting period, Harpenden’s mortgage lending grew 8.3% compared to net mortgage lending of 4.2%* over the same period across UK building societies in general.

Sarah Howe,(above) Chief Executive at Harpenden Building Society said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have won the What Mortgage ‘Best Local Building Society’ Award for an amazing 6th year on the trot. We manually assess all mortgage applications as we realise that people have increasingly complex sources through which they receive income – we want to provide a solution and not simply reject an application just because it may be more complicated than the average. We believe the flexible approach we take and our willingness to invest in taking the time to listen and truly understand the customer situation is what makes us stand out as a lender. I believe our service ethos is central to our success which means brokers and customers can be confident and assured by the responsive, consistent and personal experience we offer.”

Harpenden understand that their customers need more certainty and to know where they stand. They believe this approach has contributed significantly to this quite remarkable string of award successes.

Further information about Harpenden Building Society’s mortgages can be found by visiting: www.harpendenbs.co.uk/mortgages/

Enjoy the beauty of butterflies at

home with this new book

Heartwood forest is a magical place where arable

fields have been replaced by young trees and

shrubs and gorgeous wildflower meadows.  It is a

haven for butterflies and for ten years two members

of Butterfly Conservation have visited every week

and recorded every butterfly they have seen. 

A new book "Heartwood Butterflies" shows all the species they have seen with full colour photos and also shows how dramatically the numbers have increased.  Everyone who visits Heartwood in the summer sees the butterflies, and with this beautifully designed book will be able to identify them and learn about their remarkable life stories.

It is available for only £4 from:

Carpenters Nursery, Sandridge;

Wheathampstead Post Office;

or (adding £2 for p&p) by email to brianjlegg@gmail.com

July. Angela Karp announced as new

Director and CEO of Rothamsted Research

Professor Karp had been acting as interim director since

December last year, in addition to her role as director for

Science Innovation, Engagement and Partnerships.

She is the first female director of the Institute since it

was founded in 1843.

“I feel very excited, and hugely proud, to be taking up this

role at a time when agriculture is undergoing such

significant transformation,” said Professor Karp.

“It is a time of great opportunities, but also of considerable challenges, as farmers strive to identify the most resilient, viable and sustainable routes to providing nutritious, healthy food whilst also enhancing and protecting the environment.

“With its world class resources, breadth and depth of knowledge of agricultural systems, ability to engage across the sector and 177 year old brand, Rothamsted Research is in a unique position to make significant contributions through agricultural  science and innovation, whilst also providing independent evidence-based analysis and advice to society.”

With more than 35 years’ experience in crop

genetics and breeding for food and bio-renewables,

Professor Karp has more than 130 refereed

publications, co-authored a textbook on genetics,

and is co-editor of books on genetics and bioenergy.

In 2007, she received the Royal Agricultural

Society of England Research Medal and, in

2008, the Alfred-Toepfer Prize for her research


More recently she has led the institute’s overall

strategy on external engagement and partnerships.

This included developing new mechanisms for collaborative innovation, including a new accelerator initiative (AgRIA) to co-develop agri-food solutions with businesses and the climate change investment programme SHAKE.

“I look forward to working with everyone at Rothamsted, and our partners in institutes and universities, as well as in the private sector, to ensure Rothamsted Research continues to play a leading role in developing impactful solutions to the challenges facing agriculture now, and in the years ahead,” she said

Chair of the Rothamsted Research Board, Sir John Beddington. said: “This was a unanimous decision by the Board, and we are absolutely delighted that Angela is taking up the role permanently.

“Her leadership during the last few months, including her effective handling of the Covid crisis, has been outstanding.  We look forward to working with her to move Rothamsted into the exciting next chapter of its illustrious history.”

Rothamsted Research is the oldest agricultural research institute in the world, working from gene to field with a proud history of ground-breaking discoveries, from crop treatment to crop protection, from statistical interpretation to soils management.

Harpenden Public Halls

Covid 19 Customer Update

24 JUL 2020


‘We are continuing to review and digest the government guidelines for the remobilisation of theatres whilst also awaiting a further update on the financial support package the government have announced to support the industry. At the current time the theatre remains closed, as they have been since the end of March, with all performances cancelled or rescheduled up to October 31st.

The government if currently undertaking indoor trials with audiences with the hope of updating and permitting live audiences with restricted capacities at some point in August. We eagerly await the results and updated guidelines and will then review how best we can implement these before announcing any revised schedule’



BBC News report July 29 indicated the problems facing Leisure centres in the South East .

Harpendia will continue researching with more revelations to come.

Time to rethink Harpenden’s town

centre to encourage shoppers back.

Research* has reported that almost half of all people

are still concerned about social distancing and

crowded places. Yet a third of consumers are ready

to go out and spend and do more then before the


The introduction of road closures, changed parking

arrangements and large numbers of orange barriers

in the town were a necessity at the time but have

now served their purpose.

The visual signals of all the barriers and road signs

maintains a huge negative image and the introduction of compulsory face coverings in shops only adds to the equation.

Some of the restrictions need to be lifted to create a more positive atmosphere in the town without endangering the health and wellbeing of the shoppers, employees and visitors.

Face coverings have to be retained. Social distancing has to be retained.

The road closures, signs and orange barriers should all be removed. At a stroke this will change the whole appearance of the town, bringing back a degree of normality and encouraging more people to return and businesses to open. Socialising and shopping can increase slowly whilst still retaining social distancing and other government rules.

Residents should be advised when there are busy times and quiet times so that journeys into town can be phased to avoid overcrowding.

Herts County Council, SADC and Harpenden Town Council need to review the situation quickly to kick start the local economy on a longer term footing.

Significant numbers of consumers are now shopping on line and receiving excellent service. In February 19% of all retail sales were made over the internet. By the end of May this had risen to almost 33%.

*The Centre for Retail Research

International IT company now established in Harpenden.

Arden Gove in Harpenden is now the home for one of the world’s most respected IT businesses. Cisco, a company with over 10,000 employees worldwide with  headquarters in San Jose, California.


By acquiring Ensoft a Harpenden based company, also in the IT business whose largest client was Cisco. The acquissision was concluded in mid 2019 and as many of Ensoft’s working practices were similar to Cisco’s so it was a perfect match. Additionally Ensoft were honoured with a high ranking in the Sunday Times’ list of Best Small Companies to work for.

Do you ever wonder how stuff on the Internet, like the web page you’re reading right now, reaches your phone or computer?  Very likely it’s because of code written by Cisco’s Ensoft team in the United Kingdom.

The team develops software technology that powers some of the biggest routers in the guts of the Internet.  It’s important and creative work that matters.

Employees were asked. ‘What’s it like working on the Cisco Ensoft team?’

“I really enjoy it!  The work is both challenging and rewarding, with colleagues always around to help with any questions or particularly difficult bugs.  Managers and mentors are very supportive, while regular meetings ensure you have a clear understanding of your progress and development.  Beyond work, the office is very sociable, with varied activities including table tennis, running and lunchtime board games.”

“I am now a year in and I’m very happy to be a part of the team!  I can’t imagine that there are many places that match Cisco Ensoft for its ability to develop software engineers.  An exposure to lots of talented engineers helps, but it’s the proactive approach that management take in the development of their employees that particularly stands out.

The work we do is challenging and I like that every day I have to think deeply about a technical problem. I’ve found working in teams very enjoyable; everyone is happy to help each other and the atmosphere in the office is very positive.”

Harpenden can now boast two major businesses with world wide connections, the other being Rothamsted Research.


This for the newly refurbished pavilion which enhances the already lovely view of the cricket being played on the  Common.

Harpenden Society chairman Phil Waters (left) presents the society’s 2019 ‘Certificate of Merit’ to Harpenden Cricket Club president Geoff Newman awarded to the club’s splendid new pavilion. Presentation on Aug 8th 2020

New Survey in May shows the

Nickey Line continues to be extremely

popular with Harpenden residents

Friends of the Nickey Line carried out a usage

survey in May 2020 to measure the very high

usage being seen throughout the Nickey Line

during the Lockdown. More than 50 volunteers

reported counts for their section of the Line,

ranging from before 7.00 until 21.00 each day

for more than two weeks. - Daily usage over

the individual Redbourn to Hemel Hempstead sections was estimated at about 350 uses per day and over 1,000 uses per day for the Harpenden sections.

- Overall Nickey Line Lockdown usage was 12,000 uses per week. This is almost 3 times the last count we had of 4,100 normal uses for the Harpenden section in July 2013.

The Coronavirus lockdown in late March 2020 immediately resulted in much greater use of the Nickey Line than normal, with the widespread impression being gained of much higher numbers of users than any previously ever seen. Sample counts in late April and early May appeared to confirm this, with projected usage apparently well above the base usage of 4,100 per week counted in early July 2013.

To obtain a more definitive usage estimate, a ‘Whole Line’ survey was undertaken from 14th May till the month end. This was mainly based on reports from volunteer users of how many people they had seen using the Line in 30 minute periods whilst they were using the Line themselves in their normal exercise breaks from Lockdown. Whilst two formal surveys had been undertaken by Friends of the Nickey Line over the Harpenden section (2006 and 2013) and one on the Redbourn Lane roundabout crossings (in 2015), this was our first major survey to also include Hemel Hempstead and Redbourn.

More than 50 volunteers reported a total of more than 280 counts overall, each count covering the ‘stream’ of users over one or more sections of the Line and ranging from before 7.00 until 21.00 on the day in question.

Friends’ Chairman Dave Abernethy said, “We are very grateful for our volunteers’ time and diligence. They made the survey possible despite the restrictions and challenges we all faced in the Lockdown period.”

Did you know farmers and land owners can help in the fight to prevent climate change?

Like me, most people probably didn’t know that looking after their soil in arable use could help enormously. Arable soils become degraded through regular ploughing, when not enough organic matter is added, and in some case when soil organic matter is washed away. Soil is a a complex combination of biological, chemical and physical processes.

Scientists led by Rothamsted Research have developed an easy to use ‘soil health’ measure that shows for the first time that 38% of arable soils in England and Wales are degraded. This is compared with less than 7% of grassland and woodland soils being given the same rating. 

Developed from the findings of a number of European studies, their index classifies soils by the proportion of organic matter versus clay that they contain, and is a good predictor of how much carbon they can take up and store – vital in the fight against climate change – as well as a general indicator of how well they are functioning.

Adding organic material like manure improves flood and drought resilience, climate control and crop yields - universal ‘ecosystem services’ that are widely recognised as worth billions to the global economy. A simple action bringing remarkable results. Manure is high in carbon and nitrogen, whereas ammonia-based fertilisers are devoid of carbon. Decades of such inputs - and soil processes typically act over decades - have changed the way soil microbes get their energy and nutrients, and how they respire.”

The team of microbiologists and physicists, led by Rothamsted Research, considered almost 9,000 genes of the microbes living in soil, and used X-ray imaging to look at soil pores smaller than the width of a human hair, and in concert with previous work, have started forming what they envisage will be a universal ‘Theory of Soil’.

Lead researcher Professor Andrew Neal said: “We noticed that as carbon is lost from soil, the pores within it become smaller and less connected.  This results in fundamental changes in the flow of water, nutrients and oxygen through soil and forces several significant changes to microbial behaviour and metabolism.  Low carbon, poorly connected soils are much less efficient at supporting growth and recycling nutrients.”

“We have shown for the first time a dynamic interaction between soil structure and microbial activity - fuelled by carbon - which regulates water storage and gaseous flow rates in soil with real consequences for how microbes respire.”

Intensive farming’s quest for high production with low costs has contributed towards these problems. Mixed farms used manure from their sheds and liquid manure from their slurry pits. Crop rotation was another method. Today it is much easier to add artificial fertilisers at the expense of natural methods.

Time for the farming  industry to review the future and improve soil management.

Huge piles of manure from the  Sewage works in West Hyde.

To be spread across the Rothamsted Estate farm trial fields,

Calling all jigsaw lovers!

Harpenden will hold its first ever Jigsaw Festival

on 4 & 5 June 2021 at High Street Methodist

Church. Organised by volunteers from two

Harpenden churches, this will be a community-

wide event with all proceeds going to two

nominated charities. Jigsaw festivals have proved

popular events around the country, where

hundreds of made up jigsaw puzzles are displayed

either to buy or just to view, whilst refreshments are


Further details will be released later, but at this stage, in order to make the event a success, the organisers are looking for the community to get involved with any of the following tasks:-

· Assembling your own puzzles and donating them.

· Donating unmade complete puzzles for others to assemble and Making up jigsaws donated by others.

If you are willing to help in any way, or require further details, please contact:-

Email: harpendenjigsaws@gmail.com, or telephone: 01582 713056 or visit the festival website:harpendenjigsawfestival.co.uk.

Follow progress on our Facebook page Harpenden Jigsaw Festival

Sept 9. Temporary Gym for 1 LIFE Sports Centre

users NOW OPEN at Harpenden Public Halls.

Feel safe and ensure you stay fit and healthy.

Gym users are accountable for cleaning their equipment

before and after use.  Specialist cleaning materials are


The onsite operational team also have a strict cleaning

schedule to support this. 

In addition to these measures the facility is currently being

fogged with specialist equipment that offers up to 3 weeks

protection per treatment.  We will applying this treatment

every two weeks

Open Mon - Fri 7am -8pm

          Sat & Sun 8am - 2pm

Please bring your own yoga mat with you when you attend the group exercise classes.

You would also need to bring your own water bottle to help you stay hydrated. Water will not be provided.

There will be no lockers or showers provided therefore please refrain from bringing belongings with you.

We encourage everyone to book their gym sessions or classes online or through the app.

Harpenden Trust’s Pat Ring Honoured

with British Empire Medal

The Harpenden Trust is delighted to share the news that its

People Director, Pat Ring, has been included in the Queen’s

Birthday Honours List and awarded the British Empire Medal

for services to the community in Harpenden during COVID-19.

When the UK went into Lockdown, Pat helped to spearhead

an initiative through the Harpenden Trust to set up a 17 strong

socially distanced call centre, which has to date received over 2000 calls for support from Harpenden residents. The call centre then provided solutions through a strong volunteer network throughout the Trust and with other local charities, to help those needing it through a very difficult period in areas such as befriending, food support, financial assistance – and much more.

Pat Ring, People Director at The Harpenden Trust, said:

“I am truly humbled to be the one receiving this award. I would like to think that I am accepting it on behalf of all those in Harpenden who gave their time and support, because it has been a fabulous team effort. Our whole team at the Harpenden Trust, as well as our fellow partners in the Harpenden Cares Initiative have been amazing, supportive, and the very best example of how truly wonderful people can be when the need arises, as it did when we had to lockdown.” 


“The continued care, thought and energy that has gone into our set up to support those in far greater need than ourselves has been truly amazing. We have overcome hurdles, had laughs and sadness and some tears too, but all in the knowledge that we have helped so many people in so many ways, many of whom would have found themselves in serious situations without our support.”

Richard Nichols, Chairman at the Harpenden Trust, said:

“There are a huge number of unsung heroes right across The Harpenden Trust – all those volunteers who have made such an exceptional contribution across our local community in a year when many sought our support. Pat has been at the heart of all the work that has gone on during this difficult time and we are delighted that she has been honoured in this way.”

The Harpenden Trust has been supporting Harpenden residents for over 70 years with over 400 volunteers. Funded by the people of Harpenden, the Harpenden Trust provides support for individuals, families and young people, as well as financial support for community projects.

To find out more about the Harpenden Trust, please visit: www.theharpendentrust.org.uk