News Archives - 2024 1st.Quarter

Borderland Rotary News and Reports in 1st Quarter 2024

1st Winter feature in Oswestry organised by Borderland Rotary

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Resilience Awarded

Josie Lawson and Sherie Soper

The Annual Resilience Award from Borderland Rotary was received by Josie Lawson.  Recognising her resilience and hard work to return to competetive football after 15 months recovering from injury.  The presentation was made at Oswestry School by Sherie and Justin Soper, who leads the very active Borderland Youth Services.

The Borderland Mountain Bike Challenge is on Saturday 11th May and starts from Rhiwlas Village Hall in Shropshire, on the border of England and Wales and should not be confused with the Borderland Mountain Bike Association, a laudable endeavour, but based in El Paso, Texas where the border in question is the one between the United States of America and Mexico. The members of this Association ride the peaks and canyons of the Ferguson mountains and it looks like exciting, desert terrain, which couldn’t be more different to the lush green slopes of the hills and valleys or the foothills of the Berwyn Mountains, near Oswestry, Shropshire. 

This all came to light when a keen mountain biker, Ian Stewart was working in Oswestry and saw a flyer about the Borderland event and decided to Google it to find out more details and was presented with an arid Texan vista, he said, “With the amount of rain we’ve endured this year, I expected the countryside to be a little greener, but then I realised I was looking at the wrong country – in fact, the wrong continent! I soon got the right website though and have now signed up a team and am busy sorting out sponsorship – the Air Ambulance is such a great cause to raise money for, and we must do all we can to keep them in the air. Now, can’t wait till May, we’ll be there in those green hills - near Oswestry, Shropshire not El Paso, Texas”.

It's great that people travel so far – from Yorkshire – possibly not from El Paso, to enter this great challenge, and it would be nice if it is a sunny day.

For more info go to

Borderland Rotary get lesson on flood defences

Members welcomed Christian Wilcox to speak at their meeting and were enthralled by the tales of hell and high water as Christian told how he wrestles with the elements on a daily basis as an engineer, firstly for The Environment Agency and currently working for Natural Resources Wales

As well as discussing the general state of current waterways and flood defence capabilities he also looked back at a somewhat hairy incident earlier in his career. 

He was based in Shropshire in 2007 when the summer turned to winter and during June and July deployed temporary flood defences along the River Severn. Having been prepped and ready to deploy barriers at Ironbridge the water stopped rising and the risk was set to pass. It was then a call came through that the situation at a National Grid substation at Walham, Gloucester was critical, and he needed to get down there, right away. 

Christian said, “The management told me to get to Gloucester as soon I possibly could and - by the way - bring all the flood barriers we have with you as we need them here to avert a national disaster. Well, no pressure then! We managed to transport all the equipment to the area but when I arrived it was apparent that I didn’t have enough staff to erect the barriers and the water was still rising and threatening to fuse the electricity supply to over 600,000 homes including hospitals, prisons, and GCHQ. I liaised directly with COBRA, the government office, and suddenly a helicopter arrived carrying, what seemed like, a regiment of Gurkhas. Just as you thought being knee deep in flood water, in the middle of high voltage electricity facility was risky, these guys turned up in camouflage in the middle of the night to help!

We swiftly showed them how the defences worked, and they assembled them in double quick time and catastrophe was narrowly averted. All this took around 26 hours and luckily, the flood waters slowly dropped after that. It was a big event to happen so early in my career, but I look back on it as a great learning experience and a job well done”.

Andy Boroughs, Borderland president, added “Rather more than just a job well done, you were presented with the Queen’s Jubilee Medal by the then Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, which implies a little more than just another day at work!”

Borderland Rotary stunned to see 17th century Cavalier appear at their meeting

Andy Boroughs, Sir Percy Chisholm (AKA Justin Soper) & Rob Hughes

When Sir Percy Chisholm, a mythical Cavalier from the 17th Century, suddenly burst in on the weekly meeting of Borderland Rotary, everyone was stunned – and rightly so.

Sir Percy explained, “I am here to remind those that know, and tell those that don’t, about the Battle of Oswestry, which took place during the English Civil War on 22nd and 23rd June 1644 when Parliamentarians led by Lord Denbigh and Sir Thomas Myddelton attacked and took control of the Royalist garrison in Oswestry, commanded by Colonel Edward Lloyd”. 

The English Civil War was fought between the Royalists, who supported the King Charles 1st and the Parliamentarians, led by Oliver Cromwell, and it lasted from 1642 to 1651. At that time, Oswestry was far smaller, and the castle was surrounded by dwellings and shops, within a town wall, which is now only remembered in street names, but the central layout was much as it is today.  

“On that fateful day”, continued Sir Percy, “Colonel Lloyd had, in fact, been replaced by a Colonel Shipman as Lloyd was thought to be rather too fond quaffing ale and feasting handsomely and neglecting his duties. And so, a Parliamentarians force arrived, surrounded the town, and drove a small Royalist force out of St Oswald’s Church after a short exchange of fire. They then brought up a canon and partly destroyed Newgate, (just by what is now, Red Square), but not so that their troops could enter the town. Seeking a volunteer to clear the way, George Cranage stepped forward, on the promise of pay, a liberal amount of ale and the loan of an axe he cleared the wreckage of Newgate. The shock of this panicked the Oswestry garrison and they hastily retreated behind the gates of the outer bailey. (At the bottom of Bailey Street.)

Now what?

“Well,” said Sir Percy grandly, “George Cranage was at it once again, having been plied with much strong drink and promised more money he was armed with a petard – a bomb in today’s parlance – and advanced to the inner gates where he set and detonated the devise to much effect and the garrison again scrambled, in disarray, back to the Castle itself”.

Sir Percy explained that the Parliamentarians decided not to storm the castle that day but wait till the morning and in that time the wives and families of the Royalist garrison talked them into surrender, rather than be slaughtered.

“And so”, continued Sir Percy, “Just as things were getting exciting, the battle ended. No more blood was spilt but, by order of Oliver Cromwell, the castle was partially demolished so that it could no longer be used as a fortress, they called this ‘slighting’ and records show that the former castle was left as a scenic pleasure garden for future generations of gentle folk like the present assembled company. And now, my work is done, and I must leave you – thank you for listening”.

“Not so fast”, said Andy Boroughs, president of Borderland Rotary, “You must have your photograph taken with us before you go back to the seventeenth century!” “What is a photograph? I know of no such device, you may set up your easel and paint my likeness if you care to”.

30 years and counting for Borderland Mountain Bike Challenge

Launching on 24th February, The Borderland Mountain Bike Challenge is thirty this year and will start at 10am on Saturday 11th May from Rhiwlas Village Hall, SY10 7JH.  Borderland Rotary first held the challenge way back in 1994 when it was a fun ride for members to raise a little money for local charities but then it grew and grew to become a fixture on the annual mountain bike calendar and the great event it is today.  

Jonathan Jones, who organises the ride for Borderland Rotary Club said, “In those early days we could never have imagined that hundreds of keen mountain bikers would ride off into the Berwyn Mountains and raise thousands and thousands of pounds for charity. It has meant that with the support of such sponsors as Tim Gray from Dairi-Pak and Mule Cycles, we have been able to give charities like Air Ambulance a regular annual donation as well as supporting lots of local good causes. I’m sure that the late Brian Gray, one of the founders of the event, must be looking down with great pride.”

The 22-mile Challenge takes the riders over green lanes and farm tracks, over private land, up and down the beautiful foothills of the Berwyn Mountains and is available to riders of all competence however, it’s not for the faint hearted as there is only about 300 metres of tarmac and probably no more than that on level ground. It’s a challenge but also a wonderful social event for riders of all ages and competence to enjoy.

Jonathan continued, “Why not put a team together, talk to your colleagues at work, talk to your boss, and if you are the boss, talk to the staff and get pedalling – it’s for a good cause, and it’ll be great fun. All you need is a bike, a helmet, and the heart of a lion!”

Go to and sign up.

Borderland Rotary host Orthopaedic Institute

Debra Alexander and Laura Haythorn from the Orthopaedic Institute Charity visited Borderland Rotary to give some insight into the work the charity does and how they operate alongside the RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital.

Debra explained, “Our mission is to support research and education in the specialist centres and departments within the Robert Jones & Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital.  We are a dedicated charity set up in 1971 and work in parallel with the hospital.  We support both clinical and scientific research, as an example, for over 20 years we have been helping to fund a study into Autologous Chondrocyte implantation (ACI).  The procedure sees a sample of cartilage removed from the patient’s knee from which their own cells are then grown in a laboratory, a process which takes around three weeks.  These cells are then returned into the patient’s knee in a second surgical procedure.  The successful study resulted in the RJAH being the first centre to be granted certification by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) who approved the technique for wider use across the NHS.”

“Equally we work to support studies on many more conditions such as Muscular Dystrophy, Osteoarthritis, Cerebral Palsy and Rheumatoid Arthritis – to name but a few.”

The researchers collaborate with several universities from around the country which include Keele, Chester, Birmingham and London, with PHD students working with the teams as they begin their scientific careers.”

Debra finished by thanking Borderland for their past donations saying, “We’re very grateful to organisations like Rotary for helping us buy equipment for the laboratories as every donation, big or small, makes such a difference and will enable us to do more research and in turn, facilitate better outcomes for patients”.

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1st Winter feature in Oswestry organised by Borderland Rotary

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