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Photograph of the opening of Hampton Square
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  • Maura Waters, November 2013 - Latest news stories

Soggy opening for Hampton Square

It may have happened in mid-October, but we're a quarterly publication and can't always give you hot news. We felt the official opening of the refurbished Hampton Square deserved to be celebrated though. The rain poured incessantly, the wind blew – the whole event could have proved to be a damp squib.

Photograph of the opening of Hampton Square

But the Dunkirk spirit was out in force and many of us turned out loyally to see the actress Samantha Bond cut the tape in a windblown and hastily-erected bandstand in the middle of the square. This was where the White House Big Band, Kristi’s Dance Academy and Groove Academy were all due to perform. All wisely retreated to their usual homes alongside the square at the White House or the Hampton Youth Project and performed there.

Not all participants were so fortunate. The usual Sunday market traders braved the elements. But I felt sorry for young Regan Turner, whose face-painting tent had attracted only two customers in more than an hour when I met her, and for whom the prospects looked distinctly bleak. Similarly the art exhibition’s open-fronted tent did them no favours in such weather. With the original White House disappearing from the middle of the square as part of Richmond Council's Uplift programme, the scene has been transformed.

flowerbeds, a children’s play area, and, best of all, pavement fountains surrounded by comfortable benches now fill the space. During the summer the fountains proved a great hit with the children. Small ones dashed in and out as the jets spurted water upwards to varying heights, while the bigger ones rode scooters or bikes through, trying to dodge a wetting. (Thank heaven they’re to be closed during the winter!)

For the record, it’s 33 years since the original “square outside Sainsburys” opened. At the time it was a victory for the Hampton Society, who campaigned for neighbourhood shops to be included in plans for the new housing development. There had been no such provision originally. Sunday 8 December is the date the square's own Christmas tree will light up their festivities: Santa's grotto, a hog roast and mulled wine, plus carols sung to the accompaniment of the Wensleydale Wind Band and Ladies' Harmony Chorus are among the highlights.

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Photograph of Hilary Dodman and Lord True
  • by
  • Maura Waters, November 2013 - Latest news stories

Community award for Hilary

Local classical music lovers´┐╝won’t be surprised tohear Hilary Dodman has been honoured with a community award from Richmond Council for her work as Chair of Teddington and Hampton Music Festival.

Together with her team – Hampton School’s head of music Iain Donald, Janet Burt, Mary May and Gaynor Chick – Hilary has raised £26,000 for good causes during the last decade, £6,000 of it in this year alone.

The Festival operates with two concerts every year, in the summer and, usually, on Twelfth Night in January. It aims to give performance opportunities to local youngsters who show exceptional vocal or musical talent. Since 1996 the concerts have been held in places like Hampton Court House, Garrick’s Temple, local churches and even Hampton Sailing Club. Next Twelfth Night, though, the venue will be the Normansfield Theatre on the site of the former hospital in Teddington. With an audience capacity of 200 it offers the potential to raise more funds for causes like local community associations and the Shooting Star Hospice.

It’s important talented young people are given the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, and we like to showcase their talent

In fact Hilary is also involved in organising an annual Jazz in the Park concert in the woodland gardens of Bushy Park which solely supports the Hampton hospice.

She confesses to being amazed by her award, one of only 28 out of a nominated list of 150 people. Her team’s efforts have given invaluable performance opportunities to young people like recorder-player Charlotte Barbour-Condini, winner of the woodwind section of last year’s BBC Young Musician of the Year. Other potential stars include pianist Claudia Shek, clarinettist Emma Van Gelder and violinist Athene Hinkeleys-Walker, to name only three.

“It’s important talented young people are given the opportunity to perform in front of an audience, and we like to showcase their talent” Hilary explains. “I’m always grateful to local residents who support us faithfully year after year. We’ve built up reliability over the years and know we can raise £1,000 from each concert”.

Incidentally, Hilary and her husband David are Hampton Society members (just boasting!).

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