The generosity of members – and a boat trip, May 2024

Medical detection dog speaker

Organiser, Richard Preston writes:

There are times when you are surprised, humbled and in many cases, brought to tears by a story involving a person who had hit rock-bottom, and a dog. This is exactly what happened at the Valentine Club meeting on the 21s tMay. Our speaker gave a wonderful presentation on what Medical Detection Dogs were all about. A record number of members attended, all 80 of them, to hear exactly what these dogs could do, with many of us having our own preconceptions of what we thought might be the outcome.

After a summary of what this charity provided, a gentleman who was the guardian of Charlie, an eight-year-old Labrador, came on stage and told his own story. The man in question had held a very good job, served as a medic in the forces and unfortunately witnessed some horrendous sights which left him with a serious disorder which in turn made him lose his job, his wife, and his home. When life looked like it was coming to a tragic end, the Medical Detection Dogs came to his rescue and more precisely, Charlie. After nearly eight years, he is now in a good job, has a nice home and most importantly, the best companion he could ever wish for; Charlie.

Such was his story that at the end of the meeting a donation box was emptied and through the generosity of Valentine Club members, a total of £257.72 was raised for this superb charity.

All I can say is how proud I am of my club members and what a wonderful outcome too for a gentleman whose life could see no future until he met Charlie.

Two days later we were back on the coach and travelling to Saville Gardens and then on to the River Thames for a boat ride accompanied by a cream tea, After the torrential rain of the previous day, we set off with a coach of 56 passengers and fine weather. Arriving at Saville Gardens, the restaurant was opened up especially for us to accommodate the need for coffee and cake. With the sun making appearances, many of us ventured into the amazing gardens where the Rhododendrons were in full bloom. After a chance to have a look around the shop and maybe a top-up in the restaurant, we were back on the coach for a short trip to Runneymede where we boarded Queen of The Thames for a two-hour journey along the river bathed in sunshine and refreshed with the odd glass or two of liquid refreshment and the cream tea. A wonderful day out and NO RAIN!

rhodedrons at Savill Gardens
Rhodedendrons at Savill Gardens


Teatime on board
Jersey cattle at Windsor Castle

Christmas celebrations 2023

Christmas dinner

Organiser Richard Preston writes: Tuesday, 12th December brought 90 members into the Village Hall for a superb Christmas dinner provided by S & J Cuisine accompanied by a vast cheese board and copious amounts of wine and soft drinks. Many considered the meal to be the best to date so no pressure for 2024!

Raffles prizes

There was the annual Christmas raffle, and I would dare anyone to find a bigger and better raffle than that experienced on Tuesday, see above. Hampers to the value of over £50 to a magical clock which we know is valued at over £200 and all donated by club members and friends. So how do you “top” that meal and raffle.

Well, we were treated to two forms of entertainment. First, we had the arrival on stage of Alan reciting King John’s Christmas by A. A. Milne accompanied by Santa Claus, some say it might have been Vaughan but yet to be confirmed! This set the audience up for what was to follow.

King John & Santa

Enter The Wilkinson Brothers, a duo that has toured much of Britain and provided us with some great renditions of music across the decades plus a bit of what could be best be described as ‘family humour’.

The hall looked amazing with the lights and decorations but the icing on the cake has to be, “able to spend a few hours with some of the most amazing group of people you will ever find and best described as “Friends”.’

A holiday in the Isle of Wight, May 2023

Holidayers having a drink

Organiser Richard Preston says the holiday was “fantastic”. He writes:

The Valentine Club holiday to the Isle of Wight. May 8th -12th.

42 members and friends departed and miraculously, 42 returned.

Wonderful weather.

Great food and accommodation.

Wonderful location.

Two excursions. Osbourne House and The IOW Steam Train plus The Donkey Sanctuary.

What a wonderful way to enjoy time with friends and also make new acquaintances.

Two Christmas meals for 2022!

Organiser Richard Preston reports:

Another year has come to an end and what a year. Recovering from the Covid pandemic, we saw an increased interest in the club and what we do. Membership very quickly rose to 100 which is about the maximum we can take simply because the Village Hall would be at capacity when we all sit down and eat! A waiting list started to arise which is something never experienced before.

During 2022 we held regular meetings in the Village Hall, visited destinations all over the country by coach and put together for the first time ever, two holidays. One to the Isle of Wight and one to Suffolk.

Christmas dinner

Most recently, we held our annual Christmas dinner where over 90 members or helpers, sat down to a superb meal provided by S & J Cuisine and then entertained by that very versatile artist, Paul Dumas, below, with his friend ‘Elvis’.

A few days earlier, we went to The Delta Marriot Hotel in Warwick for yet another Christmas meal and again with entertainment this time based on the music of ABBA.

Mama Mia at Warwick

For 2023 we have a full programme of events, coach trips and holidays. Reaching the magical age of 60 years young certainly has its benefits! To find out more about the club and see some pictures of what we have been up to, visit our website.

If you would like to support our club, you can join the Cherwell Lottery, supporting The Valentine Club, and be in with a chance to win up to £25,000! Go to or call 01295 221980.                                                

We have had a fair few winners over the past twelve months and half of all proceeds come directly to The Valentine Club enabling us to put together an imaginative programme of events.

For more information on The Valentine Club, give Richard a call on 01869 340512 or visit the website.

Platinum Jubilee & 70th Birthday Tea Party

There is so much going on with The Valentine Club at present but on the 3rd June, the club celebrated, not only our Queen’s Platinum Jubilee but also the 70th year of our club. Seventy-three members congregated in the Village Hall during the afternoon to enjoy a wonderful “high tea” and most importantly, each other’s company.

A massive thanks must go to The Midcounties Coop and especially the Deddington store for providing us with a grant of £150 which in turn purchased all the food and a bit more. And not forgetting a superb committee who decked the Village Hall with bunting, flags, balloons and just about anything else you could think of and this was left in situ for the use by the village on Sunday 5th June in the case of inclement weather conditions on Robinson’s Close.

You can see what the club is up-to by visiting our own website on or keep up to date by looking on this website, or simply call me on 01869 340512.

Richard Preston – Group Organiser –

More photos of the tea taken by Nigel Francis can be seen in the Photo Gallery. Just click on the first image to enlarge,then navigate using the arrows.

More information about the club is on the Valentine Club page.

Christmas Dinner 2021

Organiser Richard Preston writes:

Life still goes on at The Valentine Club! Tuesday 14th December might not mean much to the vast majority but for 75 “seniors”, that is those over 60 years young, it was time to take a lateral flow test, and join in the fun at the Village Hall for the annual Valentine Club Christmas dinner. And what a superb meal it was supplied by S & J Cuisine accompanied by sherry, wine, soft drinks, and a giant size cheese board. Not forgetting the most magnificent raffle you have ever seen. And if you were not fortunate enough to win a raffle prize, then Home Instead very kindly donated a prize for every member who came to the dinner.

To help us all celebrate the festive season we were entertained by Bruce Thompson, known in many circles as “The One-Man Band”. Bruce was a winner multiple times on both Opportunity Knocks and New Faces and has since toured the world entertaining audiences all over and now, here he was at Steeple Aston. We think that a club member called Kevin might be ready to step into Bruce’s shoes as one of the photos of the dinner demonstrates!

The past 20 months or so have been stressful for everyone and unfortunately, the pandemic is far from over, but life still goes on as our members demonstrated. Let us hope that 2022 brings with it some normality to life and we will be able to fulfil the amazing programme of events that the club has to offer.

More information about the club is on the Valentine Club page.

More photos of the dinner along with other Christmas celebrations in the village are in the Photo Gallery.

Christmas Dinner 2019

Waiting for puddingChairman Richard Preston reports: “The Valentine Club finished another successful year off with their Christmas dinner on the 17th December in the Village Hall.

Members eating Christmas dinner“A superb meal was provided for 88 members and guests by S & J Cuisine accompanied by copious amounts of wine and soft drinks and great entertainment. The hall looked festive with all the lights and decorations thanks to the Village Hall committee with special thanks to Alan and Barbara and table centre decorations by Daphne. As has become the custom over many years, members were greeted with a glass of Sherry before taking their places for the afternoon’s festivities.

Raffle prizes“There was an enormous raffle with the star prize of a hamper valued at over £70 and won by John Gordon.

Entertainment was provided by Chuckletruck, a four-piece showband that has appeared all over the country and supported some very high-profile stars and what little room there was for dancing was filled with those Chuckletruck performingreinvented teenagers. Not forgetting the follow-up act that can’t be kept off the stage and is well known around the village and the golfing circuits as Alan Brewer.

“It is at this time of the year when I have a chance to thank all the wonderful team that makes this club such a success. Rose, Becky and Angie come monthly to serve teas and wash up and of course, this would not be required if it were not for the generosity of the members for providing cakes and sandwiches for those meetings. A special mention to Joy and Carol for managing the Dancingraffle which throughout the year makes close on a £1,000 for the club. To Barbara for managing the kitchen and Alan for just about anything else. Most of all, I would like to thank the members as they are such a friendly and helpful bunch and make my task as group organiser so much more enjoyable.

“Our next meeting in the New Year is on the 21st January staring at 2.30pm when we will learn all about “Dogs for the hearing”. If anyone is thinking of joining this group, this is an ideal time as the annual membership is just £10 and we already have seven varied and exciting coach trips organised as-well as a superb mix of entertainers and speakers for the regular meetings. If you would like to join us, all you need to do is turn up to any of our meetings and you have reached the ripe old age of 60 years young.”

For more information, give Richard a call on 01869 340512 or email

Valentines see out the year in style

Chairman Richard Preston writes: “After another successful year of monthly meetings and numerous coach trips, The Valentine Club finished off the year with a superb Christmas dinner a week before Christmas Day.

“The Village Hall was the venue for 82 members and some happy helpers (pictured here) to congregate for the last time in 2018 where they all enjoyed a super, two-course meal prepared by S & J Cuisine and accompanied by cheese and biscuits and enough wine to drown a small boat!


“Our entertainment this year came in the form of Micky John Bull, a well-established singer and comedian from Bristol who delivered some songs from the “greats” in the music business and a few impressions which probably, only Micky could get away with.  As a “warm-up act” our very own Alan gave a slightly different version of “These are a few of my favourite things” accompanied by Carol and Richard.

“To complete the party, we had what must be one of the biggest raffles in history, thanks to members generosity and to take home, the programme for next year.  This can be viewed here, or on The Valentine Club’s own website – – where you will find more photos of the Christmas dinner and more information about the club.”

For more information about this group, give Richard a call on 01869 340512 or email

Valentine Club’s October Report

First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who very kindly supported The Valentine Club on Saturday 13th October at the annual jumble sale.  Whether you gave items for sale, bought some bargains in the afternoon, or helped in any way, THANK-YOU!  The crowds came from far and wide including Drayton, near Abingdon, Milcombe, Banbury, Bicester and of course, lots of support from our own village.  We made over £900 profit which will make such a difference to the club, allowing us to secure some high-quality speakers and entertainers next year and subsidising some of the coach trips we organise and of course, not forgetting the Christmas dinner.

Our trip to Whitchurch Silk Mill and Bombay Sapphire at the end of September was everything we could have hoped for including the super weather.  If anyone has a few hours to spare, I would recommend a visit to Whitchurch Silk Mill as it is set in a glorious location by the River Test and is well worth the journey.

By time you read this we will have been to Denbies Vineyard in Surrey and enjoyed another wonderful meal and undoubtedly sampled a glass or two of English wine.

Our entertainer for October was Kerry Jean who sang with such enthusiasm music we all know from the 60’s and made a wonderful accompaniment to some delicious home-made teas and excellent company.  Her rendition of Tina Turner’s classic hit, “Proud Mary” was so full of energy I hope she had an uneventful journey back to Leicester to allow her to time to recover!

For our November meeting on Tuesday 20th we meet at the earlier time of 1.30pm for our second helping of fish-and-chips for the year and after that, a quiz, so let us hope the fish encourages the old grey-matter to come up with some good answers.

For more information about the club give me a call or go onto our very own website at.  where you can view the forthcoming programme, catch up with news from the club and see photos of the club’s activities.

Richard Preston – 01869 340512 or email

Valentine’s new website and 2018 programme

The Valentine Club joins the 21st century with the construction of its own website  This is all thanks to a wonderful volunteer in the village, William Riman from Northside, who is working towards his Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and has been very involved in the workings of The Valentine Club over the past month or so.

The club started off the new year with two versions of Cinderella. The first being a visit to Milton Keynes theatre on the 3rd January where we saw Brian Conley and Gok Wan and their interpretation of this old-established pantomime. Then on the 9th January we were once again invited to Dr Radcliffe’s school for their very own version of the same pantomime.  The visit to the school is a great example of ‘intergenerational’ communication between the young and not-so-young members of our community.  Many thanks to the school for inviting us and providing a superb tea.

Our first meeting welcomes Patrick Fitzgibbon to the club to enlighten us on his experiences with Unipart and The Mafia. This is the start of what must only be described as a very ambitious programme of events for the club in 2018 with eight coach trips and a very diverse range of speakers and entertainers.

Life begins at 60 so if you want any further information on what we do, have a look on our website or give me a call on 01869 340512.

Richard Preston – Club Chairman (for lack of a better description)

To see the club’s 2018 programme, please click here.

Henley River Trip – June 2017

Chairman Richard Preston writes: “So far, we have had a busy year with trips to Littlecote Manor in Berkshire, a visit to Milton Keynes to see Mama Mia, a boat trip from Henley on The River Thames and information and entertainment each month ranging from community safety to ventriloquism. We still have four more coach trips this year and have already booked up for a return to Milton Keynes to see Cinderella in pantomime next January.

“Membership is still running at around 100 over 60’s and we are managing to keep the finances alive with our monthly raffles and sales table and of course, not forgetting the annual jumble sale in October.

“Our trip on The Waterman, a river cruiser we hired entirely for the club, was a great success not only because we were afloat for four hours but the sun shone all the time and the buffet on  board was fabulous. This is just one example of what a club of our size can achieve, allowing members to do something which otherwise might not have been possible.”

For more photos of the river trip, please click here


Christmas Dinner 2016

Chairman Richard Preston writes: “I think it would be fair to say that the Valentine Club finished off the year with a bang, not just the cymbals that Alan was wearing around his ankles (see the photo) but as the final event of the club’s calendar. About 80 members were able to enjoy a wonderful Christmas meal in the village hall curtesy of S & J Cuisine accompanied by cheese and biscuits, wine, sherry and one of the biggest raffles you would ever see.

“We were entertained by Bruce Thompson’s one-man-band who has appeared all over the world with the likes of Bruce Forsyth, Les Dawson and The Two Ronnies. He started off his act by saying that we were one of the youngest audiences he has played to since leaving the SAGA cruise line.  Not sure if that was a compliment or not but it was taken in the best possible manner!

“Our programme for 2017 includes eight coach trips ranging from a cruise down The Thames to a visit to an historic house, accompanied by a meal of course. We have visiting speakers covering all sorts of topics to entertainers such as ventriloquists, guitarists and comedians so lots to look forward to in the new year.

“Getting older may be a bit of a nuisance but whilst travelling down that path we are going to enjoy ourselves! For more information about this band of over 60’s please contact me on 01869 340512 or email

To see more photos, please click here

The Valentine Club visits Rousham for tea

Oh what a party!Chairman Richard Preston writes: “”The Valentine Club was blessed with one of the few sunny days this year when we visited Rousham Gardens for our June meeting.  Thanks to Anne Starling and her helpers, 61 members enjoyed a superb tea in the courtyard to Rousham House and the opportunity to spend an hour or so meandering amongst the amazing displays of roses, herbaceous borders and all things that make Rousham such a glorious location.”

For more photos, please click here.

June 2016

The Valentine Club visits Longleat lions

Pride of lionsRichard Preston reports: “The theme for June is definitely LIONS with members of The Valentine Club. After a trip to London’s West End to see The Lion King at The Lyceum Theatre after a superb meal at a restaurant on The Strand, it was time to see the real thing.

“On a warm, dry Thursday we all set off by coach to Longleat to see if the real lions could be found. We were not to be disappointed as out came the entire pride to say “hello”.

“Longleat is not just about wild animals as the house is splendid and by taking the boat journey on the lake we were able to feed the sea-lions and see a very ancient gorilla on his own island. Life begins at 60!”

To see more photos, please click here.

June 2016