School days

Derek Kane’s “Back Through The Pages” last week included the Portway Penguin that headmaster Jack Reed purchased in 1966. The attached photograph (above) taken in 1972 may bring back a few memories for some of your readers.

As an ex-pupil of Portway I remember climbing the steps and sitting in the cockpit during our allotted time in the week for entering the plane. It smelt a bit musty in there, but you could still move the joy stick and pretend you were in control. The main playground also contained a caravan, an old open fire engine, and a steam roller which I think was called the Portway Puffer. Sadly I don’t think safety regulations would permit these to be in any playground today, but we enjoyed playing on them.

David Howard, Lawrence Close, Artists Way, Andover.

We need reform

Many of us listened with dread to the announcement by Matt Hancock the health secretary of another reorganisation of the NHS. I would question whether this is such a brilliant idea whilst we are not yet out of the pandemic. Most of us have not received the first vaccine jab let alone the second. Part of the government’s drive appears to be a reaction to some of the problems highlighted by the pandemic and the lack of control of many aspects of the NHS by government ministers.

Whilst individual NHS staff members have served Andover well over the years, I do feel that the NHS bureaucracy and sets of overlapping quangos have failed us. Our growing town needs additional resources that have not been delivered. It was not so long ago that they were considering shutting down Andover Memorial Hospital let alone the ambulance station. Medical and care facilities are a key part of any infrastructure of our town.

Reforms need to be done when the NHS system is not under its current state of crisis and staff totally exhausted. I believe that we need to consider three key questions. The first is what services are we expecting to provide through the NHS. Are we are going to be really serious about mental health and provide the resources? The organisational structure needs to follow the services. The second issue Is that NHS users must be more involved and part of the system. It would help if the NHS was regarded as less of a religion and more as a provider of services key to all our lives. Despite best efforts user engagement is sporadic and I would argue for example that many disasters in maternity services would have been avoided if patients had been listened to. The final point is that we need to move away from the current bureaucratic and quango structures to something which is a lot more flexible and adapted to the 21st Century. We need to look at best practise across the world and learn from it. We should not be afraid to demand better.

Cllr Luigi Gregori, Charlton Road, Andover.

No food shortage, stop moaning

I sometimes wonder if regular moaner Luigi Gregori writes in for the sake of it? His remarks published in last week’s Advertiser (February 12) about fruit , veg and perishable shortages in Andover surprises me. I have been the principal food shopper in my family since 1975 and I think I would have noticed. I go to all the supermarkets and have always found what I want.

Perhaps Luigi you could think of something constructive to say, or perhaps you have nothing useful after all, was it not the Liberal Democrat Leader who insisted we joined the EU vaccine programme last summer? What a success that was.

Whilst I would accept there are some teething problems, we did not attempt to stop the Northern Ireland protocol, we did not confiscate lorry drivers sandwiches because they had ham in them. The EU did not like us leaving so they are using every petty excuse to cause us problems.

But things are changing, Merkel is going and Macron is grossly unpopular, we were only the first to leave.

J F Budzynski, Leicester Place, Andover.

More room for more letters

Why is it that just about every week there are letters from Luigi Gregori? Is he privileged? There would be more room for letters if half the page not taken up with a photo. Perhaps there would be more room to hear from other readers.

Ray Fisk, Reynolds Court, Andover.

Editor’s note: Our letters page is welcome to all but the volume we receive varies from week to week. To write in a letter for consideration, email

Lovely column

It’s enjoyable looking back at old Andover through David Borrett’s column each week. In the picture of the top entrance to the Chantry Centre I remember Willis’s grocery store, which moved from Winchester Street, owned by Les Major and his twin sister Joan Edmunds who both worked in the shop. I recall Les saying, “It’s the newest shop in the High Street and they are going to demolish it to provide an entrance to the new Chantry Centre”. Les and Joan rebuilt their store at Charlton which is now Tesco.

J Goulding, Shakespeare Avenue, Andover.

They won’t stop us

Despite restrictions forced on Political Parties by the Conservative government, which prevents volunteers delivering leaflets in the run up to the elections, the Liberal Democrat members in Test Valley are financing the delivery of leaflets from their own pockets.

Two commercial delivery organisations are now engaged to ensure that the Conservatives attempts to prevent people hearing the Liberal Democrat message will fail.

The Tory Government has tried to stop us from putting our messages to the voters by preventing our volunteers delivering leaflets during the election campaign. Traditionally we could not afford to pay anyone to do this vital task but our own volunteers and supporters are so incensed by this disgraceful action that they are stumping up from their own pockets.

Delivery has now commenced and will continue throughout the Test Valley Borough Council area right up to polling day.

We have already heard of complaints from our opponents which have been made to the Police and the media.

These should in our opinion be treated as malicious complaints intended to politicise a legitimate activity.

Tony Barron, Liberal Democrat spokesman for Test Valley.

A little piece of poetry

Walks, such a simple delight for many during this virus. Simple, long or short, friendly and changeable. North, South, East or West, where next?

Even rain does not stop walking. One hour or whatever suits, can raise our spirits.

Nature is a delight. Viewing gardens that time and energy develop is a pleasure too. Your garden, my garden and public gardens also.

And those who cannot walk – how can we help? Pushing wheelchairs is a delight, giving a change, fresh air, seeing new faces and birds soaring over the snowdrops nodding or squirrels peeping at you too.

Those who cannot walk, can we visit, knock on the door, tap at the window – perhaps share a photo or a bobbing daffodil too? A simple raise of spirits brings delight.

Linda Price, Fyfield.