Wednesday, March 1

SWINDON-born explorer David Hempleman-Adams, 60, was made a Knight Commander of the Victorian Order in recognition of achievements ranging from conquests of Everest and the North and South Poles to perilous balloon journeys.

The ceremony was performed by the Duke of Cambridge, and Sir David told him that his taste for adventure began at 14 when he went to the Brecon Beacons in pursuit of his bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award.

Sir David told us: “I said to him that we have got to get kids doing things because we surround them in cotton wool too much and we have to be careful that we don’t create a generation of soft kids. We need to toughen them up.”

Monday, March 6

RIVERS with Jeremy Paxman was a Channel 4 series exploring the historical significance of major waterways.

No edition about the Thames would have been complete without a visit to Cricklade.

There he met members of the Court Leet – a centuries-old manorial court which still has responsibility for certain local grazing rights. Local people found the scourge of untruthful politicians to be knowledgeable, straightforward and “…very, very pleasant.”

Thursday, March 2

STEVE Cook, 38, of Park North, spoke about being the proud owner of one of Britain’s largest and finest vacuum cleaner collections.

The senior business analyst is one of a small band of dedicated people devoted to researching preserving an otherwise overlooked branch of technological history.

His collection of 300 machines began as a child when his school caretaker father brought home a Hoover Constellation – a spherical design classic resembling an early satellite – for repair.

Wednesday, March 15

“I LIKE Meerkats,” said 75-year-old Railway Village craftsman Colin Woodward, a master of understatement as well as making things.

“I like watching them on TV, and the people who walk past my garden seem to like them as well.”

So much did they like the carefully-arranged musical meerkat diorama in his garden, not to mention his displays of gnomes and other creatures, that Colin was able to raise more than £1,000 for Cancer Research UK by asking for donations. Colin, who was also in the midst of creating a matchstick model of the Town Hall, said all were welcome to visit so long as they made a small contribution to the charity.

Wednesday, March 22

BRINKWORTH cheesemaker Ceri Cryer attended an artisan awards ceremony with husband Chad, son Bede and Bede’s grandparents – on the day of the murderous Westminster terrorist attack.

Khalid Masood, 52, killed four people by ramming them with a car before stabbing a police officer to death and being killed by an armed officer.

Ceri said she and her family had just sat down for a meal with MP James Gray in the canteen at Westminster when a police officer ordered them to the centre of the building, away from windows. Ceri said Apprentice star Baroness Brady offered her mobile phone for Bede to play on during the long wait for the all-clear.

Thursday, April 13

HADIAN Ellory-van Dekker, the man in charge of Swindon’s plan to a new £22m art gallery and museum in the town centre, resigned only a little over a year after taking his role.

Personal reasons were cited as the reason for the departure of the former head of collections and chief curator at the Science Museum, but there were widespread suggestions that he had been disappointed by the council’s failure to attract a groundswell of public support for the project.

Tuesday, April 4

SOME people worry that personal technology causes people to become isolated from the world around them because they’re too busy sending messages.

The Rev Harvey Gibbons, Vicar of the Parish Church of St Augustine of Canterbury in Rodbourne, has other ideas.

He promoted an innovation in which parishioners unable to make it to services were encouraged to text in prayers for reading during services. The idea came from lay minister Neil Fisher and Mr Gibbons embraced it wholeheartedly.

The vicar said: “We have talked about it for a while because we think it’s a brilliant way to give those who can’t make it to church a way to contact us directly and still be part of the service.”

Saturday, April 15

MORE than 50 firefighters battled a huge blaze in part of a metal recycling yard of Gipsy Lane, near the BMW Mini plant.

The incident, at EMR, began in the early hours of a Saturday morning, and Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service immediately sent the first of what would be 13 vehicles including eight pumps. Crews were still damping down hours later.

Wednesday, April 19

FOR the discerning canine or feline, sometimes plain water just won’t do for washing down that last can of food, those leftovers swiped from the table or that unfortunate mouse.

Fortunately, Pet Shed in Swindon laid down a generous stock of Pawsecco, an alcohol-free wine for cats and dogs.

Owner Phil Wells said: “On special occasions people can be tempted to do silly things with their pets, like giving dogs real beer. It’s lovely to include pets in family celebrations, but the drinks humans favour are not always very good for our pets.” Pawsecco, we revealed, was made by a company called Woof and Brew and was a herbal infusion approved by vets.