flowers-decorate-barley-church (cropped)
Suicide: Breaking the taboo – let’s talk – it could save a life

Suicide shatters lives: Anyone who has been closely touched by suicide will be familiar with all the unanswered questions and tangle of emotions it leaves that exacerbate the sorrow, including “what could I have done differently?”  But because suicide can be an impulsive act, there may have been no clues, and therefore, heartbreakingly, no opportunity to intervene. Some people deliberately hide their feelings and intentions for a variety of complex reasons. And there are also occasions when suicide happens despite the most heartfelt efforts to support someone, and it’s important to be aware that these losses occur despite and not because of these efforts.

It is vital that help is accessible where needed for those bereaved by suicide, anyone feeling suicidal, or struggling in any way with their mental health, and individuals supporting someone with mental health difficulties. Sadly, while progress has been made, the stubbornly persistent taboo around mental health in general and suicide in particular, makes it hard for us to access the help we need. In fact, friends, family and colleagues may inadvertently isolate us further in our grief, avoiding us because they “don’t know what to say”.  This can be further compounded by the stigma itself, which can stop us from seeking both the help that is available, and even comfort from those we love.

MIND, the mental health charity that runs the brilliant “Stop Suicide” campaign believes that most (but crucially not all) suicides are preventable; that suicide is often carried out amidst a crisis that will pass. As a mental health professional, suicidality is something that I and my colleagues have learned to speak about openly, to ask difficult questions and to know, depending on the answers, what to do next. 

If you have concerns about a family member a friend or even a colleague, do not be afraid to ask difficult questions.  With the taboo surrounding mental health your calm willingness to “go there” can break down barriers and feel like permission to speak out. Your role here is identifying and signposting, so don’t worry thinking that you need to be a mental health expert.  Some tips:  watch the men in your lives especially and learn to be OK talking about feelings; it can be amazingly freeing.  If you have any concerns (change of behaviour or mood - even a sudden change from a dark mood to very positive one - or a significant negative life event) open a conversation about it.

Be direct, avoid euphemism, stay calm and accepting and avoid judgement - nobody chooses to feel this way.  Ask “Have you made plans to end your life” rather than “You aren’t thinking of doing anything silly are you?”  While much is unknown around suicide, there is no evidence that straight talking puts the idea into someone’s mind and plenty of anecdotal evidence that it really helps.  Mostly, people do not wish to die - rather they want their pain to end. 

If someone has no intention to end their life but feels desperate, encourage them to see their GP as soon as possible and to seek mental health support.  Look at the Samaritans’ website for safety plans which can be helpful. On the other hand, if someone has a plan and imminent intent, seek urgent help - call 111 and ask for option 2 (the mental health professional you are connected to will want to talk to the person concerned) or call 999. Remember though that people can slide from no intent to a plan - so continue to check in with them. Please do not subscribe to the many myths around suicide, such as “people who talk about it never do it”.  Oh yes, they do.

Finally, if you are supporting someone through a mental health crisis, your GP and the organisations below are there for you too.  That also applies if it is you struggling to cope. The Samaritans are available 24/7 on 116123.

Organisations offering help:


Stop Suicide




Safety Plan

If you have been affected by suicide:

Support After Suicide

Police Village Rural News - July 2022

Warning to motorists after thefts from vehicles in Baldock and the surrounding villages, keeping your home safe in the summer and an update on ATM fraud - plus your usual rural crime news. 

Download the Police Village Rural News for July 2022

Police Village Rural News-May 2022

A warning to farmers about protecting GPS equipment, an update on work with schools to learn about speeding and a relaunch of the 'ride along' scheme, which gives residents a taste of policing. All this, plus the usual crime shorts can be found in this month's Police Village Rural News from Hertfordshire Constabulary. 

Download the Police Village Rural News for May 2022.

Barley Church
Barley Parish Plan - first review published

The first review of the Barley Parish Plan, which was first produced in 2015, has been published by the Parish Council. 

The Council asked for volunteers to form a committee for this process. 

The Committee has reviewed what has happened over the last five years and how the previously identified village aspirations have been met. 

In tandem with the first review, the Committee compiled a new questionnaire to canvas the current views of villagers over a range of key topics, to allow the plan to be updated and to remain relevant. 

Visit the Barley Village Plan page to read the full review. 

Barley Surgery, part of Granta Medical Practices
Granta Medical Practices - May news

Community Pharmacist Consultation Service (CPCS) - for treatment of minor illnesses

What is CPCS?

When you call us, our receptionists will ask about your symptoms. If your symptoms indicate that you can be helped by a pharmacist, you will be offered a same-day private consultation with a community pharmacist.

Pharmacists are qualified healthcare professionals and experts in medicines. They can offer clinical advice and over-the-counter medicines for all sorts of minor illnesses, and a same day consultation can be arranged quickly and at a time to suit you. This in turns frees up GP appointments for those people with more complex symptoms who really need to see a GP.

How does it work?

We will forward your details to the pharmacist, along with details of your minor illness. The pharmacist will contact you to arrange your consultation on the same day, or at a time that suits you. You may be seen in person in a private consulting room if the pharmacist thinks it appropriate, or your consultation may be carried out over the phone or via video. You will be asked about your medical history and symptoms and current medication, in the same way the GP would ask you about them. Usually, the pharmacist will provide you with advice and can recommend an over the counter product if needed. Details of your consultation with them will be sent to us for our records.

If the pharmacist feels you need to be seen by a GP urgently, they will call us to ensure you are seen, or they will advise you to contact the hospital Emergency Department if deemed necessary. You may also be referred back to us to arrange a non-urgent appointment or follow up.

Why is this a good thing for patients?

Community pharmacies are local, can be open longer hours than us and can offer you the same consultation outcome at a time that is convenient for you. If the pharmacist thinks you need to see a GP, they can help arrange an urgent appointment for you. Patients who have already used this service liked the convenience of having a consultation on the same day, or a day that suited them, at a pharmacy of their choice.

If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me on 01223 627743 or email me

Barley Surgery, part of Granta Medical Practices
Granta Medical Practices - March news

Are you up to date with all of your vaccinations? There are a number of vaccines available on the NHS, the more common of which are listed below. If you are unsure whether you are eligible or would like further information please do not hesitate to call us on 0300 234 5555 or visit www.NHS.UK

Shingles vaccine - who is eligible?

  • Adults 70 to 79 years old

You only need to have the shingles vaccine once and you can have it at any time of year. Whilst it is a very effective vaccine, some people can develop shingles at a later stage, but the illness will be milder. It is also fine to have the shingles vaccine if you have already had shingles. It works well in people who have had shingles before, and it will boost your immunity against further shingles attacks.

There is a new vaccine available for people who are immunosuppressed called Shingrix and this is available at all of our surgeries as a 2-dose course.

Pneumonia vaccine - who is eligible?

  • Babies, as part of the national immunisation programme
  • Adults aged 65 and over
  • Children and adults with certain long-term health conditions, such as a serious heart or kidney condition.

The pneumonia vaccine protects against serious pneumococcal infections and encourages your body to produce antibodies against pneumococcal bacteria.

If you have a long-term health condition you may only need a single one-off vaccination or a vaccination every 5 years, depending on your underlying problem.

Flu vaccine - who is eligible?

  • Adults 50 years and over
  • Have certain health conditions
  • Are pregnant
  • Are in a long-stay residential care
  • Receive a carer’s allowance, or are the main carer for an older or disabled person who may be at risk if you get sick
  • Live with someone who is more likely to get infections (such as someone who has HIV, has had a transplant or is having certain treatments for cancer, lupus or rheumatoid arthritis).
  • Frontline health or social care workers

If you are not eligible for a free NHS vaccine you can buy one from your local pharmacist. Granta Pharmacy in Sawston have stocks of flu vaccine - to book an appointment call 01223 727530.

Covid vaccine - who is eligible?

  • People aged 16 and over
  • Children aged 12 to 15
  • Some children aged 5 to 11

Adults have 2 vaccinations plus a booster dose. People with a severely weakened immune system are offered 3 doses plus a booster. Please note that it is never too late to start your covid vaccine course.

Visit to find out where get covid vaccinations.

Sandra East, Head of Patient Services

Granta Medical Practices, London Road, Sawston, CB22 3HU

Barley flower tower (cropped)
Beautiful Barley Flower Tower completed after community effort

After months of knitting, crocheting and stiching, the beautiful Barley Flower Tower is complete and St Margaret of Antioch Church is adorned with a colourful display of flowers.  



Barley resident Alison White, who runs the Barley Knitting Group, came up with the idea to keep everyone going through lockdown by busying themselves creating the beautiful blooms to decorate the church, and raise some much-needed funds. 


She encouraged the community to help make flowers for display, originally aiming for 500 to be created. Inspired by her idea, contribrutions were made by community groups including the Barley Tennis Club and Barley Gardening Club, the beavers and cubs, Margaret House care home residents plus individuals living locally and as far away as USA and Australia. 


In June, the 1452 flowers, which took four weeks to be stiched onto netting by a team of 12, were hoisted onto the 15m tall church tower and draped from the windows, with the help of Royston Fire Station.






It is hoped the display will inspire people to make a donation towards the running of the church - and also to help expand its use to the community. Ideally Alison would love to raise £10 per flower. 


The church's Rector, Ruth Pyke, told BBC Look East: "The money will be used to maintain the building so it can continue to be a warm, welcoming place for weddings, funerals and Sunday Worship, but beyond that we want it to be a place for the community. We have a vision for disabled access and an area where we can welcome people in for coffee mornings, exhibitions and concerts."







To donate towards the incredible display please visit the Barley Flower Tower Justgiving page, or visit the donation boxes located in Barley Stores, Fox and Hounds pub, Chequers pub or Drayton's Garage.


Visit the Barley Flower Tower Facebook page for more photos, videos and information.