After 22 years of Conservative control a new political administration took over West Oxfordshire, Witney staged its first-ever Pride and hundreds got together to celebrate the late Queen's 70 year reign.

Here's a look at the top stories of the first half of 2022 in Witney. 


A Scout volunteer who mobilised a team to deliver prescriptions in the pandemic was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours list.

Sarah Townsend was recognised for ‘services to the community in Witney, particularly during Covid-19’.

Oxford Mail: Sarah Townsend Sarah Townsend (Image: Scouts)

Mrs Townsend, in her role as dispensary manager at Windrush Medical Practice, came up with the idea at the beginning of the pandemic to use Scouts to deliver prescriptions to vulnerable patients which blossomed into 65 volunteers.

READ MORE: Bear Grylls praises Scout volunteer awarded in New Year Honours

Busker Torrin Cuthill, 14, a schoolgirl from Witney triumphed in ITV television show The Voice Kids.

She was named the champion after her group’s performance of Proud Mary in the Battle Round and her solo performance of Auld Lang Syne in the Grand Final.

Oxford Mail: Torrin Cuthill with Mel CTorrin Cuthill with Mel C (Image: ITV)

Fuming Jeremy Clarkson vowed to appeal after plans for a restaurant at his Diddly Squat Farm Shop were refused.

Mr Clarkson attended the WODC planning meeting with his land agent, Charlie Ireland, to plead his case for a 60-seat cafe or restaurant and 70-space car park.

As he left in a Range Rover, the TV presenter-turned-farmer said he will ‘go to the Secretary of State’ about the decision.

Oxford Mail: Jeremy Clarkson during the planning meeting Jeremy Clarkson during the planning meeting (Image: NQ staff)

He also told The Times that Phil Shaw, a planning officer who recommended that councillors refuse the application, looked like late comedian Eric Morecambe. 

Oxfordshire County Council’s ban on most traffic using Witney High Street became permanent.

Angry traders said it was badly damaging their businesses and called for it to be lifted and reconsidered.


Steve Fletcher, horologist on the beloved BBC show The Repair Shop turned out to be far from the only member of the family restoring things.

The show's saddle maker and leather expert Suzie Fletcher is his sister.

Oxford Mail: The Repair Shop The Repair Shop (Image: BBC)

A summerhouse in Carterton had its roof blown off during Storm Dudley.

A crew from Carterton Fire Station were called out to retrieve the roof while neighbouring properties were evacuated.

Oxford Mail: A summerhouse in Carterton had its roof blown off A summerhouse in Carterton had its roof blown off (Image: Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service)

Controversial weight restrictions for lorries travelling through Burford were scrapped as county councillors ended a bitter battle between the town and Windrush valley villages by declaring a “flawed experiment”.


Native Ukranian Larisa Botcherby, who lives in Witney, spoke of her anxiety for the safety of her 36-year-old son Vadym’s family as the Russian army continued its assault with heavy bombardment of civilian areas.

Stepfather Tony Botcherby, who works at Mac's garage, urgently appealed to Army Surplus Stores or anyone with to military protective clothing to donate helmets and body armour for the civilians at the Army Office where he worked.

Tragedy struck when talented footballer Jaden Mole, 19, died when his VW Polo hit a tree near North Leigh in the early hours. 

Mr Mole, a football coach and player at Clanfield 85 FC, had been at a 21st birthday party at North Leigh Football Club.

A BMW driver swerved to overtake a van then ploughed into car containing a mother and her young boy – leaving himself with serious injuries.

An outpouring of grief followed the death of Devon 'Dev' Wright on the A40 near Witney.

Oxford Mail: There was an outpouring of grief for Dev Wright who died on the A40There was an outpouring of grief for Dev Wright who died on the A40 (Image: Family handout)

Devon, who was in his 20s, was a roofer and player for Hailey FC.

His mother Michelle paid tribute to her ‘bubbly and kind’ son.

READ MORE: Family pay tribute to Dev Wright who died on A40

A maternity unit in Chipping Norton that had been closed for more than six months reopened.

Cotswold Birth Centre had been forced to shut its doors to ‘low-risk births’ on August 26, citing staffing problems.

David Cameron, the former Prime Minister and ex-Witney MP, drove to the Ukrainian border to deliver aid to refugees.

Mr Cameron, who lives in Dean, near Witney, announced the trip on Twitter, saying he had been volunteering for two years at food project the Chippy Larder.

Kelmscott Manor, the home of pioneering artist William Morris, reopened after an extensive £6million three-year refurbishment project.

Morris, a towering figure in the Arts and Crafts movement, was a pioneering designer, author, architectural conservationist and social reformer.


Artist Dan Barton created a new art installation to support Ukraine. The 12ft installation in Oxford's Broad Street depicted a soldier leading a mother and her two children to safety.

Mr Barton from Stanton Harcourt is the man behind voluntary community project Standing With Giants who create large scale art installations for people to experience and reflect upon, while fundraising for worthy causes.

It is announced Witney is expected to receive £2million towards transforming the town centre, through Government funding for a scheme to encourage cycling and walking.

It follows criticism from Witney MP Robert Courts about the county council decision to close High Street and Market Square to traffic, leaving the area ‘in chaos’.

Oxford Mail: Robert Courts on Witney High Street Robert Courts on Witney High Street (Image: Robert Courts)

It is said the next step would involve planning and consulting with Witney residents about how the changes are implemented.

The cost of living crisis is truly starting to bite as bills sky-rocket with more people seeking support from Citizens Advice than at any point during the pandemic.

Naomi, a caseworker at Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire, said: “I am seeing desperation. People are having to rob Peter to pay Paul.

"Each week people need to decide which is their priority do they pay for heating, rent or food.

“I have single men crying on the phone. Their heating is not on yet they can see the metre is running. It is terrifying.”

A fed-up resident of Bampton, the real village used for filming Downton Abbey, said he is selling up and moving because he feels like he is 'living in a zoo'.

Mark McArthur Christie feared new movie Downton Abbey: A New Era movie would lead to another uptick in visitors.

He lives near St Mary’s Church, where Lady Mary’s wedding to Matthew Crawley was filmed and 10 yards down the lane from the library which doubled as the drama’s Cottage Hospital.


A group of fun-loving motorists in 120 decorated old bangers set off on the Twin Town Challenge charity rally from Blenheim Palace to Witney’s twin town of Le Touquet.

The entrants, in cars decorated on the theme Battle of the Bands, enjoyed a weekend of fun challenges around northern France dressed as Abba in a glitterball car, the Village People, the Beatles, Elvis, Dolly Parton, Run DMC and The Ramones.

The event has raised over £1million for Special Effect – a Charlbury-based charity focused on improving the lives of the physically disabled through technology and video games.

Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board unveiled a plaque for Thomas Beecham, manufacturer of patent medicines and creator of cold and flu medicine Beechams Powders, who was born in Curbridge, near Witney.

Jordan Wall, 25, a rapist who later killed his friend in a high-speed crash was jailed for 12 years at Oxford Crown Court.

He caused the crash that claimed the life of passenger Matthew Hammonds in Witney in July 2020.

The dad from Eynsham, who fled the scene covered in his friend’s blood, was over the limit for alcohol, cannabis and cocaine.

The Conservatives lost control of West Oxfordshire for the first time in 22 years.

The shift meant the Liberal Democrats, Labour and Green Party formed the West Oxfordshire Alliance to run the council.

Oxford Mail: Liberal Democrats, Labour and Green Party sign a deal to form the West Oxfordshire AllianceLiberal Democrats, Labour and Green Party sign a deal to form the West Oxfordshire Alliance (Image: West Oxfordshire District Council)

Carterton Community College said it was 'proud' after it went from being rated ‘requires improvement’ to ‘good’ by Ofsted.

As one pupil said to the lead inspector: “It is like one big family here.”


Drew Macauley Simpson, 25, from Witney, tragically died in hospital after he came off his motorbike on the A44 near the Duke of Marlborough pub in Woodstock.

Mr Simpson was riding in convoy with other vehicles.

Parking charges and restrictions were to be introduced in Woodstock.

The decision followed a period of consultation when over 50 per cent of respondents objected to the introduction of paid parking bays and the feedback on permit-holder parking was variable.

The council said the changes are aimed at improving the situation for residents, increasing the turnover of parking for businesses, encouraging more short journeys by foot, and improving action against inconsiderate parkers, while generating revenue to fund the scheme and provide effective enforcement.

Scores of people took to the streets for Witney’s first Pride march. The event came 50 years after the first Pride in London.

Oxford Mail: Witney Pride Witney Pride (Image: Ed Nix)

Witney Pride director Beth Sherlock said: “We are here, we are queer and we deserve equality and acceptance.”

Music lovers partied in their thousands with one of the best turn-outs ever for Witney Music Festival.

The event, blessed with sunshine and back in person after two years, was headlined by The Inflatables on Friday and 90s hitmakers EMF on Saturday.

Witney prepared for a weekend of jubilation, as the extended bank holiday weekend gave friends and neighbours a chance to join together and celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.

The new mayor of Witney, Liz Duncan, town crier, town councillors, Air Cadets, Park Run and youngsters from West Oxfordshire Academy Of Performing Arts lit a beacon on the The Leys.

Oxford Mail: Several hundred people attended the Witney beacon lighting ceremonySeveral hundred people attended the Witney beacon lighting ceremony (Image: Witney Town Council)

Witney Beer Festival, organised by Witney Round Table, got under way at St Mary’s Church ready to raise a  toast following a Platinum Jubilee Civic Service at St Mary’s Church in the morning. 



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This story was written by Miranda Norris, she joined the team in 2021 and covers news across Oxfordshire as well as news from Witney.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Or find her on Twitter: @Mirandajnorris

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