NEWS: Free Easter Egg Hunt to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – from 12noon on Saturday 30 March

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by Short Heath Fields Trust

A free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields this Saturday (30 March) with local children and families from across the Erdington constituency all invited.

Running between 12noon and 2pm, special festive eggs will be hidden along the hedgerows and sides of Short Heath Playing Fields – which sits in just off Short Heath Road and next to Bleak Hill Park – with each egg carrying an individual pattern.

Children must first hunt for the eggs across the parkland, draw the patterns – to prove they’ve found the eggs, then head back to the Easter Egg Hunt HQ and claim their prize from the Short Heath Easter Bunny.

There will also be an Easter Bonnet Parade held at 1pm, where those attending are invited to show off their festive head gear and decorated Easter hats – with prizes given to the ‘best boy’ and ‘best girl’ in the parade.

The event is totally free, to enter or attend, with no charges for the prizes or anything given to the children for taking part.

Organisers have confirmed the prizes for children will contain chocolate, and there will be a paid for raffle held with more prizes that adults can enjoy.

There will also be a refreshments tent open during the event, run by the Short Heath Wombles – the local community group who litter pick across the park. All money raised with help support future events on the Playing Fields, such as the annual Halloween Pumpkin Hunt which attracts families from Castle Vale to Kingstanding.

Organised by Short Heath Fields Trust, who took over the management of the parkland in May 2023 after a fiercely fought battle to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ from a Council led housing development, the Easter Egg Hunt is now in its third year.

Run by dedicated volunteers and supported by the local community, the Trust has been responsible for organising many free to attend events on the Playing Fields – whilst also arranging for regular football sessions to be held there every Saturday, run by Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy.

Ahead of the Easter Egg Hunt this Saturday, a spokesperson from Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) told Erdington Local: “The Easter Egg Hunt is a great event for the kids and their families. SHFT are establishing this free event as a regular for the community’s calendar, as this is our third one.”

They added: “It’s a chance to have some family fun, and with it being free it means it really doesn’t matter what your background is – it’s for everyone to enjoy, especially with money being so tight for so many families at the moment.”

The SHFT free Easter Egg Hunt will be held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 30 March, between 12noon and 2pm. For more details, click herE to visit the SHFT Facebook event page.

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit: www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day to be held on Short Heath Playing Fields – Saturday 19 August

Words & pics by Ed King

A free summer holiday Fun School Sports Day is being held on Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 19 August, running from 12noon to 4pm – organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Open to children of all ages, organisers are inviting local families to take part in a day a community sports, games, and outdoor activities.

Classic school sports day games will be held – such as three legged, sack, and egg and spoon races –  alongside more contemporary children’s sports, including soft archery and badminton.

All games will be free to enter and take part in, with stalls selling local gifts and refreshments available at The Womble Tea Tent. There will also be a raffle or tombola to help raise money for SHFT – the community group that fought to save, and now manages, the beloved local green space.

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council (BCC) tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

After a long fought battle with BCC, on 8 June this finally year SHFT signed a license agreement giving them official responsibility of the playing fields until 31 May 2024.

Championed for its importance to the local community, used by individuals and families for outdoor and wellbeing activities, the cherished parkland on Short Heath Road has hosted regular events for local residents – including the annual Pumpkin Hunt, which sees hundreds attend from all over the constituency.

With the UK Met Office predicting a comfortably sunny day on Saturday 19 August, event organisers are hoping the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day will offer more local families a chance to enjoy an active day together without breaking the bank.

A spokesperson from SHFT told: “SHFT have always believed that free events for the children of our community are important.

“Crucially, a free event like our Fun School Sports Day will mean all kids can join in and their parents/carers don’t need to pay a penny for it – unlike a visit to a zoo or adventure park.

“It’s all about inclusivity, and every child deserves to have FUN.”

For more on the Short Heath Playing Fields Fun School Sports Day, click here to visit the event’s Facebook page. 

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Over 200 register for community meeting to address ‘common concerns’ over crime and housing

Words & pics by Estelle Murphy

(This is an extended article from the one first published in the Erdington Local July newspaper)

Were you at this community meeting? We’d love to hear about it – please email: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

Over 200 people registered for a community meeting on 20 June to address ‘common concerns’ affecting Erdington locals, including crime, HMOs, and exempt housing.

Promoted under the banner ‘strong community breeds safe neighbourhoods’ the meeting further aimed to “show the positive side” of local governance and encourage “a better understanding” between the public and those in power.

Organised by Gravelly Hill resident Roger O’Kelly, the meeting packed out the hall at Six Ways Baptist Church – leaving standing room only as people turned up in droves to hear from senior officials from Birmingham City Council (BCC) and West Midlands Police (WMP).

After introductions from Roger O’Kelly and Naziah Rasheed, who helped arrange speakers for the event alongside Gravelly Hill Councillor Mick Brown, the first question came before anyone got up to speak.

A woman from the eager crowd asked: “how many of the panel live in Erdington please?” Getting no answer, she continued: “…I thought so.”

James Fox, Senior Enforcement Officer (Planning) at BCC, began by walking the crowd through the planning and enforcement process. With many arguing the Council should do more to curb the rise of unruly social housing, Mr Fox surmised the Local Authority have “a duty to investigate reports, but are not duty bound to enforce that report”.

Deborah Moseley (Housing) talked about licensing for HMOs, stating there are 314 currently in Erdington, Gravelly Hill, and Stockland Green.

Then Yvonne Cowley (Supported Exempt Accommodation Team) explained the “minimal support” that Exempt Accommodation provide to receive extra money from housing vulnerable people, and later admitted “we (BCC) do not know what that looks like” when pressed by local campaigner Dawn Edwards.

Crime was the next on the now heated agenda, with Assistant Police & Crime Commissioner Tom McNeil talking about the work being done by WMP and brining new community police officers to Erdington. Mr McNeil also challenged the Exempt Accommodation in Erdington, stating many are run by organised criminals and calling for a vetting scheme for landlords.

Erdington’s Police Inspector Shameem Ahmed then discussed how the local police teams dealt with reports over HMO’s and Exempt Accommodation, and how they were tackling crime on Erdington High Street – admitting until people felt safe it wasn’t enough and asking people to come forward with their intelligence.

Erdington Town Centre Manager, John Hodgkiss, voiced concerns over higher local crime rates than the police realised – despite the Erdington ward being promised extra patrols on the High Street and a pop up police station scheduled for February.

And after one man demanded “what are you doing about the blatant drug dealing on the High Street?”, Sergeant Ahmed responded she would arrange for him to join police on patrol and see for himself.

Rounding off the meeting was Reg Banks from Neighbourhood Watch, speaking about the benefits of the scheme and how to get involved.

Organiser of the well attended community meeting, Roger O’Kelly, told Erdington Local: “We are delighted with the huge turnout, this lively event sends a clear message that Erdington wants to see more success by our local authorities in dealing with low-level crime and exerting greater control over exempt accommodation.”

“We are delighted with the huge turnout… this lively event sends a clear message that Erdington wants to see more success by our local authorities in dealing with low-level crime and exerting greater control over Exempt Accommodation.

“The point of the meeting was to bring understanding of the challenges.

“We achieved that somewhat. After today, we will work with Councillor Mick Brown of Gravelly Hill, Community Support and Development Officer Rachel West of BCC and Rev Chris Seeley of St Chad’s to establish a formal community organisation.

“The flawed financial model around HMOs, which favours enterprise, risks letting Erdington slide further into destitution and casting it as the Skid Row of Great Britain.”

Were you at this community meeting? Did you feel the issues were addressed well, or did you think the speakers left more questions than answers?

Whatever your thoughts, we’d love to hear them – please email: mystory@erdingtonlocal.com

NEWS: Short Heath Road stabbing victim suffered ‘serious but not life-threatening’ injuries, emergency services confirm

Words by Ed King / Pics by Estelle Murphy

A man who was stabbed on Short Heath Road yesterday suffered ‘serious but not life-threatening’ injuries, emergency services have confirmed.

The victim, who has identified as 20 years old, was treated at the scene after the alarm was raised at around 5pm on Tuesday 3 July – following an attack that saw ‘injuries to his chest and arm.’

Centred around the Lifestyle Express newsagent on Short Heath Road, West Midlands Ambulance Service was called to an incident at 5.09pm – with the first ambulance arriving at the scene in only three minutes.

An unconfirmed post on Erdington Local’s social media, following our initial report of the attack, suggests the young man went into the popular convenience store seeking help after being stabbed on the street – with staff administering first aid and alerting the emergency services.

West Midlands Ambulence Service further told a second ambulance, a paramedic officer, the West Midlands Care Team, a MERIT trauma doctor, and critical care paramedic also attended – with witnesses seeing police cordon off the entrance to Short Heath Road from Station Road.

Witnesses to the response further say they saw ambulance crew attending to the victim for around 20 minutes before taking him away from the scene, presumably to hospital for further care.

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman told: “On arrival, crews found a man with serious injuries.

“Ambulance staff immediately began administering advanced trauma care before he was conveyed to hospital for further treatment.”

A spokesperson from West Midlands Police added: “We’re investigating after a man was found with stab injuries in Short Heath Road, Erdington, at around 5pm yesterday (Tues).

“Officers attended and the 20-year-old was being treated by paramedics for injuries to his chest and arm. He was taken to hospital and is understood to be in a serious but not life-threatening condition.

“Neighbourhood teams are patrolling in the area to offer reassurance to residents. Anyone with information can contact investigators via Live Chat on our website or call 101, quoting crime reference number 20/576105/23.”

Following the first reports of the attack by Erdington Local, many people took to social media to lament the rise in knife crime over recent years – alongside a stripped back and arguably underfunded local police force.

However, others were also quick to recognise the issue as a citywide concern.

NEWS: Police shut off Short Heath Road after reported stabbing in local newsagent

Words by Ed King & Estelle Murphy / Pics & video by Estelle Murphy

Police shut off Short Heath Road this afternoon, following reports of a stabbing at the Lifestyle Express newsagent – next to the Facethetics beauty salon and just opposite The Red Lion Pub.

Full details of the incident are yet to be confirmed by emergency services, although Erdington Local had a reporter at the scene talking to the many local residents who were witnessing events.

Rush hour traffic was brought to a standstill after emergency services attended the scene at around 5pm, with hundreds of commuters forced to take alternative routes following a police cordon blocking the entrance to Short Heath Road from Station Road.

Pictures taken from the scene show at least four marked police cars and one ambulance in attendance, as blue police tape is extended to block off the busy thoroughfare.

Witnesses at the scene further told they saw police dog vans, a Critical Care Team vehicle, and an armed response unit also attend.

One eyewitness told Erdington Local: “I think it happened at around 5pm, I saw them (emergency services) working on a young man, possibly in his early twenties, for about 20 minutes before the took him away. I’m pretty sure he was stabbed, possibly by a machete.”

Another explained: “I was driving home, down Station Road, and the traffic was almost gridlock. Then I saw all the flashing lights and eventually the police tape.

“It’s just a regular afternoon, a Monday. You don’t expect to literally run into a crime scene on your way back from work.”

Police at the scene were not able to confirm or deny any information. Erdington Local has contacted the emergency services involved for more information or an official public statement.

LA FEATURE: Compassionate Communities – living through bereavement with Compass Support

Words by Estelle Murphy / Project pics supplied by Compass Support

Few things in life are definite. But we will be born, we will face changes, and at the end we will pass away. Before birth parents have had nine months to prepare, and as we grow life teaches us how to live with change, but what prepares us for death?

Whilst death is a subject many still find hard to talk about, Birmingham has been recognised as the UK’s first ‘Compassionate City’ – awarded the accolade by Compassionate Communities UK in acknowledgement of how organisations across the city work collaboratively ‘to provide support, space, togetherness and understanding for those undergoing the experiences of death, dying, loss and caregiving.’

Building on those friendships and foundations, Castle Vale based Compass Support are launching their Compassionate Communities project this May – teaching people practical and emotional skills to help them support those facing bereavement in their own community.

Compassionate Communities will be delivered through a series of free workshops and awareness sessions, helping to educate people about dealing with bereavement and to ensure more in our community know where to go for help, advice, and support when someone is passing away.

The project will work with local groups and individuals to help break down the walls surrounding death, so people can talk more openly and constructively about dying.

LOCAL AMBASSADORS spoke to Isobel Hayward, Health and Wellbeing Project Organiser from Compass Support.

She explained: “The (Compassionate Communities) scheme was bought to us through Birmingham City Council, as facilitators of compassion, to bring it to anyone in the community that works with people.

“We run workshops on how to approach death and end of life, and going forward people will know who to call for help with bereavement, end of life, and financial support.

“Our awareness sessions on end of life are completely free and open to community groups and individuals.”

LOCAL AMBASSADORS further asked Isobel why she thought this scheme is so needed: “I think it’s because when you are dealing with loss and death, you are consumed by what’s going to happen and your grief.

“Easing that with the knowledge of who to call and what to do, or who can offer support for families is important. It’s about tailoring the process for individual needs.”

As the those who work in palliative and end of life care know all too well, there is no handbook for the general public on what to do and where to go when someone is dying, and often these families are left isolated, grieving and alone.

Any scheme giving people more help, support, and knowledge around dealing with bereavement will ultimately help people spend their last few days or weeks with their loved ones, instead of chasing information and adding more worry to an already stressful and heart-breaking time.

The more people who can offer support the better, and it’s never too early to have the knowledge you need to support yourself, loved ones, or friends. Who will be there with compassion, when you need them, at the end?

To find out more about the Compassionate Communities project being delivered through Compass  Support please email: contactus@compass-support.org.uk 

**For free community journalism and creative writing workshops, come and join our LOCAL AMBASSADORS team – click on the link below and email us for more information**

FEATURE: “Our very own field of dreams,” FC Elite Academy to deliver football sessions on Short Heath Playing Fields

Words by Ed King & Estelle Murphy / Pics by Ed King & FC Elite Academy

Sport is set to return to Short Heath Playing Fields, as Kingstanding based FC Elite Academy have teamed up with Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT) to deliver a programme of youth football coaching on the beloved green space.

Having secured planning permission to develop their existing home at Twickenham Park into a permanent sports facility and community hub, FC Elite Academy are now looking at Short Heath Playing Fields to train up some of their younger squad members.

The ambitious Kingstanding club are looking to develop their current College Road ground and are currently fundraising for the £70-80k they expect the project to cost – including building a 3G pitch, clubhouse, changing areas, café, on site office, and parking facilities.

Plans for Short Heath Playing Fields, revealed to Erdington Local, show the establishment of four football pitches, five training ‘grids’, a ‘runner’s route’ around the parkland, and an ‘event zone’ at the top end near Short Heath Road.

FC Elite Club Chairman, Mario Gerroni, told: “Football sessions will be taking place on Short Heath Playing Fields in May. FC Elite Academy and Short Heath Fields Trust are forming a new partnership.

“It’s a positive move for everyone involved and I am excited to see the growth of sports from Short Heath Playing Fields, bringing something back to the community.”

Short Heath Road resident, Ifan Stretkesia, added: “This is a good thing, it’s good that we are finally listened to and our children have something they can now do.

“We go to all the events at the (playing) field and my daughter wants to play football. There is nothing for children now, just Xbox. They need to grow strong.”

FC Elite Academy was set up in 2013 by Mr Gerroni, an experienced football coach who previously worked with Aston Villa and trained ‘soccer’ in North America. The club’s website describes its ambitions to ‘continue growing grass roots football in the North of Birmingham.’

SHFT was formed in 2020 to protect Short Heath Playing Fields from development, after Birmingham City Council tried to push through plans for an 84 strong housing estate on the urban parkland – amidst widespread local objections.

But following years of fiercely fought campaigning by concerned residents, a recent letter from the Leader of Birmingham City Council, Councillor Ian Ward, confirmed the site will now only be sold as a ‘sports field’. The letter also confirmed SHFT would be give a 12-month license to manage the site and ‘establish themselves’ as effective landlords.

A report conducted by Birmingham City Council into the viability of using the playing fields for residential development further identified acid grass on the green space, making it harder to continue with their plans for housing. Further environmental concerns were raised by about the wildlife and plant life that would be affected by building on the parkland.

SHFT began talking to FC Elite Academy back in August 2020 about providing football on Short Heath Playing Fields, who were busy working on their planning application for the Twickenham Park site.

Plans to bring sport back to Short Heath Playing Fields, a parkland once used by several local schools for Physical Education, are now moving forward – with the club offering to both set up and maintain the football pitches and start sessions this May.

As part of the deal, all community events organised by SHFT will continue on the playing fields – including the annual Halloween event and Easter Egg Hunt. A special dog walking circuit will also be established, allowing the many local pet owners who use the green space to continue unheeded.

A spokesperson for SHFT told Erdington Local: “Mario from FC Elite becoming SHFT’s sporting partner and bringing football for 4 to 12 years olds back to Short Heath Fields is a community dream true, you might say our very own field of dreams.

“And with a guaranteed one year license from Education (at Birmingham City Council) you know those dreams will become a reality.”

SHFT added: “It’s been a hard fight to save the playing fields. Now it’s the people of Erdington’s chance to get involved and use the playing fields as a sports field again, this is a great opportunity for boys and girls of all ages 4 and up to come and train and take part.

“FC Elite have a proven track record and we are all looking forward to working together in the future.”

For more on FC Elite Academy visit www.fcelite.co.uk and for more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com

NEWS: Community up in arms after “hurtful and ugly” vandalism destroys Covid memorial on Bleak Hill Park

Words & pics by Ed King

Local residents and community campaigners are up in arms after a “hurtful and ugly” act of vandalism recently destroyed a Covid memorial garden in Bleak Hill Park.

According to Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT), the action group that fundraised and built the Covid memorial, vandals snapped in half the ornamental cherry trees that stood centre place in the garden – before using the wooden stakes to try and smash the sign welcoming people to the site.

Away from the memorial garden, which is situated along the path cutting through the park from Short Heath Road to Marsh Lane, vandals also damaged a bin for dog mess SHFT had also installed.

Short Heath Fields Trust began building the Covid memorial garden on Bleak Hill Park after having plans approved by Birmingham City Council in March 2021 and securing funding from the National Lottery.

400 trees were further donated by the Woodland Trust, as part of their ‘Free Trees for Schools and Communities’ initiative.

Around 6000 bulbs have also been plated at the Bleak Hill Park Covid memorial, including British bluebells, snowdrops, crocuses, and daffodils.

However, the community led project has seen challenges since the start – including plants being stolen, and the accidental destruction of 200 trees when ‘Council error’ mowed them down during routine park maintenance.

Local residents have also reported significant litter at the site, including broken booze bottles and drinks cans scattered around the two benches made especially from environmentally friendly recycled plastics.

A spokesperson form SHFT told Erdington Local: “This is a heartbreaking moment for the Trust and its members, many of whom have worked hard on this project.

“The community turned out in all weathers to make this a peaceful but engaging part of the park and a fitting memorial for Erdington people lost to Covid 19.

“This project has hit obstacles at every stage, including the Council mowing down the sapling trees in the area they told us to plant, to the plants being stolen. But this is by far the most hurtful and ugly.

“Local tempers are running high, and people are extremely disgusted at the mindless vandalism and destruction of the ornamental cherry trees in the memorial site and the dog mess bin further in the park.

“Locals are asking questions like ‘why?’ and ‘what possesses anyone to think this is OK?’”

But despite the cruel attack, which has brought widespread condemnation of those responsible, the local community are committed to rebuilding the Covid memorial garden and breathing new life into the project.

One of the four cherry tress remained untouched by the vandals, which residents and campaigners now see as a sign of hope for the community led Covid memorial garden.

A spokesperson for Short Heath Fields Trust added: “One tree remains, but that tree represents the hope and belief that we as a community will overcome and win against the adversity that stands in our way.

“The community will always win.”

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com/

FEATURE: Remembering Erdington’s fallen, lest we forget

Words by Estelle Murphy (LOCAL AMBASSADORS) / Pics by Ed King

On Remembrance Day, held every year on 11 November, people across the country and Commonwealth remember the fallen service men and women who died in the line of duty. LOCAL AMBASSADORS explores the war graves at St Barnabas, Erdington’s parish church and oldest building of worship.

The parish church of St Barnabas Erdington was first consecrated on 23 July 1823 and has proudly stood watch over the constituency’s comings and goings for nearly 200 years. Badly damaged in a fire on 4 October 2007, St Barnabas was repaired and reopened in 2012 – with further renovations currently being planned for the churchyard.

A key part of the Erdington community, St Barnabas has been the final resting place for countless local loved ones and family members. Amidst its sprawling churchyard, with some areas significantly overgrown and dilapidated, St Barnabas has 66 War graves – maintained by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission

Honouring those fallen in combat, there are 29 graves from the Great War (WWI) and 37 from the Second World War (WWII), including a memorial for eight service men ‘who lie buried in this churchyard in unmarked graves.’ There are a further 20 war graves with private headstones erected by loved ones.

The Erdington Historical Society produced a book on the Great War graves at St Barnabas, assisted by the Heritage Fund and National Lottery.

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission also maintain war graves in two other Erdington churchyards – St Thomas and Edmund of Canterbury Roman Catholic Church, and the Erdington Greek Orthodox churchyard (formerly Erdington Congregational Church).

There is also a memorial to the postmen who fell during war time inside the Post Office on Sutton New Road, detailing nine postal workers killed in action during WWI and WWII.

At the outbreak of war in 1914, the regular British Army was made up of skilled soldiers. However, between 14 October and 30 November that year, Britian’s forces lost over 53,000 men with an additional 4,500 Indian casualties. So, ‘Kitchener’s New Army’ was recruited – with 90 different posters and leaflets made, the most commonly remembered motif being ‘Your Country Needs You’.

Over two and a half million recruitment posters were put up around the UK, and within two months of war being declared over three quarters of a million volunteers had been signed up. Many of Erdington’s young men became part of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment which saw action at Ypres in 1914 and the Somme in 1916.

The first bomb of WWI to fall on Birmingham landed on Enstone Road, Erdington, on the night of 8-9 August, which was later confirmed to be a mistake. At that time the German air force, who would be coined the Luftwaffe in 1935, were only bombing factories and industrial sites

The first two Erdington ‘serving deaths’ of WWI were Able Seaman Arthur Hands, of Slade Road, and Royal Navy Colour Serjeant Royal Marine Light Infantry John Mason, of Clarence Road. Both of whom were lost on the sinking of HMS Cressey on 22 September 1914.

Between 1914 and 1922 Erdington families lost a further 373 servicemen, after Arthur and John, many of whom were buried where they fell by their comrades and fellow servicemen – left in no man’s land or buried at sea, making the graves at St Barnabas more poignant.

One of the biggest losses in one day came on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme, when Erdington reportedly lost 41 servicemen.

After WWI, the people of Erdington funded a memorial to their fallen at a cost of £1000 – nearly £50,000 in today’s money. The memorial was registered in the Imperial War Museum (© WMR-38612) and placed in a dedicated chapel within St Barnabas Church. Sadly, the WWI memorial bought by the people of Erdington was lost to the 2007 fire and has never been replaced – making Erdington one of the few places without a permanent memorial to its lost WWI servicemen and women.

Of the 37 WWII graves maintained by The Commonwealth War Graves Commission in St Barnabas’ churchyard, only one belongs to a woman – Aircraft Woman 1st Class Patricia Marie Parry, who died 8 October 1947. Although sadly, very little else is known about her story.

Of the remaining WWII graves, 14 are from the Royal Air Force, seven from the Royal Navy, and 16 from the British Army. One of the youngest servicemen buried at St Barnabas is 18 year old Ordinary Seaman Henry George Gallett, from Pype Hayes, who was one of 15 men killed aboard HMS Mohawk when the Luftwaffe made its first attack on British territory on 16 October 1939.

The oldest is 54 year old Stoker Petty Officer Herbert Ernest Hughes, also from Pype Hayes, who also served in WWI – surviving the sinking of HMS Queen Mary in 1916 at the Battle of Jutland, to end up serving in WWII in Greenock Scotland with HMS Orlando.

After major restoration work following the fire in 2007, the church building at St Barnabas is now a vibrant community hub – with a well used café and meeting area. There are also plans, currently being discussed, for significant renovation to the existing churchyard, to further extend the church as a community asset.

LOCAL AMBASSADORS asked St Barnabas what would be done during any developments to protect the war graves.

St Barnabas vicar, Emma Sykes, told: “We will make every effort to make sure the war graves are protected during the renovation as they will continue to be an important feature in the newly designed churchyard.”

LOCAL AMBASSADORS would like to extend a special thanks to Robert Brown of Erdington Historical Society, for access to their book detailing WWI war graves at St Barnabas’ Church.

For more on The Commonwealth War Graves Commission visit: www.cwgc.org

For more on St Barnabas Church visit: www.stbarnabaserdington.org.uk

The Erdington Historical Society meet on the second Tuesday of each month, 7pm, at St Barnabas Church. For more information please email: erdingtonhistory@gmail.com

NEWS: Halloween Pumpkin Hunt returns to Short Heath Playing Fields on Saturday 29 October

Words by Ed King / Pics supplied by SHFT

On Saturday 29 October, Short Heath Playing Fields will see the return of the annual Halloween Pumkin Hunt event – as organised by Short Heath Fields Trust (SHFT).

Completely free to attend and open to children (and big kids) of all ages, the SHFT Pumpkin Hunt has become a firm,  fun, and frightening fixture on the local community calendar.

Running from 5m to 8pm, people are invited to take part in the park wide ‘hunt’ – looking for the handmade ‘pumpkins’ hidden across Short Heath Playing Fields.

Handcrafted by SFHT Chair Estelle Murphy and hidden across the playing fields by the committee members and local volunteers that make up SHFT, the illuminated pumpkins each have different Halloween based motifs – such as bats, ghouls, and grinning Jack-o’-lanterns.

People entering the playing fields from Short Heath Road will be asked to find and draw the ten pumpkins hidden across site, which can be exchanged with SHFT event volunteers for a special surprise treat at the end.

Alongside the Pumpkin Hunt, there will be fancy dress competitions for ‘Best Dressed Under Five’, ‘Best Dressed Boy’, ‘Best Dressed Girl’, and ‘Best Dressed Adult’ – as well a pound entry raffle, and an array of stalls selling hot chocolate, sweets, bath bombs, scents, and other fancy goods.

There will also be a mystery haunted tunnel, where those that dare can enter and face the ghoulish surprises inside… suitable for all ages, but with adult supervision advised for younger children.

Organisers also suggest people attending should bring their own torch and a sturdy pair of shoes suitable for walking across parkland in the dark.

Following on from the success of the past two years, the SHFT Halloween Pumkin Hunt on Short Heath playing fields has welcomed hundreds of families – with people coming from Kingstanding to Castle Vale to take park in the now annual event. Situated right on the No28 bus route, Short Heath Playing Fields is accessible across the constituency.

Organised and managed by Short Heath Fields Trust, the popular Pumpkin Hunt is one of the first regular events to be held on the parkland – following a fiercely fought battle to save the green space from development.

In August 2020, a campaign to ‘Save Short Heath Playing Fields’ was launched by local residents to challenge Birmingham City Council’s plans to build an 84 strong housing estate on the parkland.

Following over two years years of fierce negotiations, the housing development plans were finally scrapped by Birmingham City Council, and SHFT – which became a formally constituted groups from the original campaign group – are currently in talks with the Council about a lease to take over the official management of the site.

Organisers of the Pumpkin Hunt and other events on the playing fields, SHFT have long stated the area should be preserved as a community asset – used for health, wellbeing, community sports, activities, and events.

SHFT Chair Estelle Murphy told Erdington Local: “After the amazing success of the last few years the Pumpkin Hunt is back again. We have seen visitors from Castle Vale all the way through to Kingstanding.

“It’s a great opportunity for families to have some fun outdoors together. We always look forward to seeing friends we have made through previous events and making new ones.

“We have had some amazing fancy dress costumes over the last couple of years and we are looking forward to all the monsters, goblins, and witches we will meet this year.

“Bring a torch if you are coming after dark, but turn it off in the mystery haunted tunnel, if you dare…”

For more on the Short Heath Fields Trust Halloween Pumpkin Hunt visit www.facebook.com/events/607795361128944

For more on Short Heath Fields Trust visit www.shortheathfieldstrust.godaddysites.com