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Words: Julie Sayed
Featured in the December 2018 issue

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Woodhall Spa is a village where valuing local heritage seems to be built into the very fabric of the community, writes Julie Sayed.

From its ever successful, annual 1940s Festival to its old-style cinema and the preserved house museum, the echoes of Woodhall Spa’s past seep into everyday life. Even newer businesses remark on the strength of local traditions as they look to keep the village in step with modern trends.

As it looks ahead to the festivities of the Christmas season, Woodhall continues to reflect the strength of community spirit, with the war commemoration events recently bringing a new focal point to the village. In October the village took delivery of a figure of a soldier, the silhouette ‘Tommy’ featured in the village’s Remembrance Day celebrations, which this year also marked the Centenary of the end on the First World War.

The six-foot-tall ‘Tommy’ will be a permanent fixture in the village, located near the mini roundabout by the Cenotaph. The silhouette was obtained from the organisation There But Not There and fifty per cent of the proceeds from monies collected for ‘Tommy’ will go to charities supporting ex-servicemen and women.

Parish Clerk Joann Greer said: ‘Tommy’ will be a permanent fixture in the village, although during particularly inclement weather he will be taken in and protected from the elements.”

On Friday 7th December, the village will celebrate the festive season in style by hosting its Annual Christmas Fayre.

“This is largely staged on Station Road and Broadway, where the streets are closed for the event, and there are pop-up shops, street entertainment and the shops and businesses open, pulling out all the stops to make the event the best it can be,” said Joann.

“The festivities always create a really good Christmas atmosphere and we attract lots of visitors from all around. Later in the day at 6.30pm there are Carols in Royal Square where children from St Andrew’s Primary, St Hugh’s Primary and from Kirkby on Bain entertain the crowds.

“Hymn sheets are provided for the congregation so we get a good rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ and other seasonal songs.

“Shops all have decorated Christmas trees, so the streets are lined and look very pretty. Our Christmas Fayre is only held on the one day but it is very well attended.”

One of the businesses which will be entering fully into the spirit of Christmas is Woodlands Café which opened earlier in the year and which is continuing to build on its success.

Owned by Anthony Sharpe, Woodlands Café recently added a ghostly touch to proceedings for Halloween.

“Over the past four-and-a-half months I have gathered together a wonderful team to run the café. Over Halloween all the staff dressed up and the shopfront looked amazing. We gave it a very autumnal look and added spiders’ webs and other spooky features,” said Anthony.

“Now we are turning our attention to Christmas and will be decorating and offering seasonal favourites. We are looking forward to the Christmas Fayre and will be open offering cakes and hot chocolate.

“In some ways we are still the new kids on the block. Woodhall Spa has some really good cafés, tea rooms and restaurants but I think we add to the experience for visitors to the village.

“We are quite a trendy café but we have retained a few of the retro meals people enjoy and we still offer the traditional ice creams that the previous owners served. These remain popular even in the colder months.

“In the New Year I will be looking at making a few changes to the internal and external feel of the café and we will not be complacent but will continue to build on our success which hopefully will have a snowball effect.

“No matter who comes through our doors the most important aspect is that we make everyone welcome. We have a warm, friendly approach and if customers come in alone the staff are always happy to chat and pass the time of day. We want to achieve a family-run feel to the place.”

Christmas is a busy time for party events and the various hotels in the village host a whole range of special entertainment. At The Petwood Hotel there are gala dinners, party nights and even festive high teas.

In its glorious setting The Petwood is a country house with a difference. Steeped in aviation history, as the legendary home of 617 Dambusters Squadron, the Petwood will be taking an active part in the 7th December celebrations.

Director Emma Brealey said: “The Christmas Fayre, organised by the Rotary Club, this year clashes with the Lincoln celebrations but we know we will still attract lots of visitors. Our Christmas and New Year gala dinners and parties are proving highly popular.

“This year we completed our Garden Restoration scheme and people like to come to Woodhall and walk through the woods and then through our grounds and call in for mulled wine or hot chocolate. They find it the perfect antidote for the cold grey days of winter.

“Throughout the year we host successful Faulty Towers Dining Experience events. We have done this for a number of years and it’s where you can immerse yourself in the comedy magic of Basil, Sybil and Manuel. New for this year we are adding Only Fools, The Cushty Dining Experience which incorporates familiar storylines from John Sullivan’s television classic.”

Another of the nostalgic experiences that Woodhall Spa is famous for is Kinema in the Woods. Dating back to 1922 this is the only fully functioning cinema in the UK to employ back projection.

You can even enjoy the music of the resident organist who performs in the intervals most evenings. Recently Kinema in the Woods has opened extra woodland parking facilities for the benefit of customers.

General manager Philip Jones said: “We opened our 108-space, free woodland parking at the end of September, so that means there is now no need for on road parking. It is lit up in the evening and looks lovely at night, all adding to the movie-going experience.

“We hope to add further to this experience by adding a third auditorium. Plans were passed last January and work began on 12th November to add a 74-seat auditorium. This will be decorated to the existing, traditional environment with the exception that the seating will be larger, more luxurious and with extra leg room – although leg room is not a problem in our existing auditoriums.

“We are hoping it will be ready to open in April but it is dependent on the vagaries of the English weather. It will allow a fantastic wider offer, including niche offers like foreign language films. It will also mean we have the scope to extend offers such as autistic-friendly screenings.”

With the festive season coming up Kinema in the Woods will be decorated and there are special seasonal treats for all the family.

“One treat we have lined up is a showing of A Christmas Carol with Simon Callow, on 11th December, and on 12th December we have an 80-minute ‘Christmas Down Memory Lane Show’ with resident organist Alan Underwood, which features classic film clips, vintage slides and a sing-a-long. Of course, we will be showing Christmas classics such as Elf and It’s a Wonderful Life.”

And any trip to Woodhall Spa wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Peter Scott Shoes which is housed in the smallest shop in Britain, or a look round the Cottage Museum.

DINING IN STYLE AT TORAY PINES
Residents at Toray Pines care home in Coningsby, just ten minutes from Woodhall Spa, are dining in luxury now that its dining room has been revamped.

Toray Pines’ dining room has been refurbished with new tables, chairs and curtains and decorated in a red floral colour scheme to give a glowing, warm feel to the room.

Katie More, Toray Pines’ manager, said: “Our residents love dining on delicious meals and snacks in this room. It’s bright, airy and spacious and has a homely feel to it!

“Meal times are an important part of the day at Toray Pines, so it’s important for us to provide residents, and sometimes their families, with a space to relax, converse and enjoy their meals.”

Part of the Tanglewood group, Toray Pines care home on School Lane in Coningsby provides high-quality residential and dementia care.

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