Annette Steele obituary

Annette Steele died on 19 January 2021 in Sobell House Hospice after a short illness, just a month before her 82nd birthday. Annette was born in the house in East Street where she lived her whole life, for the last four decades with her beloved husband Ron, who passed away 2 years ago. She was a much-loved, kind neighbour with amazing stories of island life. Annette is survived by her son Barry (who had cared for her since Ron’s death), and four grandchildren, of whom she was very proud.

Annette’s funeral is on 15 February. The hearse will be passing down East Street at approximately 2.15 p.m. if local people wish to pay their respects.

Local tributes

Maureen Ergeneli writes: Annette was a lovely neighbour who never forgot a birthday, or Easter or Christmas, and as often as not, children would find a fiver tucked in as well. She had a great memory and to our delight she would tell us about the characters who used to live on the island: the milkman and his horse, all those who had little shops where one could buy sweets or groceries. She remembered the barges pulled by horses which were stabled at the Waterman’s Arms [now The Punter], swimming in the river, getting chewing gum from American soldiers in the war. She leaves a big hole in our lives. We shall miss her terribly.

Alison Burdett writes: Annette was a wonderful, kind neighbour with amazing stories of island life over the many years she lived here. She had a wide circle of friends and a great sense of humour, and will be sadly missed.

Pauline Massey writes: Annette Steele was a good friend to me and my family, as she was to many others. Always kind and thoughtful, phoning regularly to see how you were; she was a fine lady who will be sadly missed by all who knew and loved her.

Julia Marsh writes: Annette was a good friend.  We chatted regularly on the phone including her final weeks in Sobell House.

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University plans for students this term

Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford have issued the following press release about plans for student teaching:

Oxford’s two universities will deliver learning online for most students until at least mid-February, in line with the national lockdown across England.

The majority of students at Oxford Brookes and the University of Oxford have been asked not to return to Oxford, with the exception of those studying specific courses relating to medicine, health, education and social work.

Students who do return will be asked to take free and fast tests for COVID-19 to minimise the risk of transmission, and to protect the health of students, staff and the wider community. Where in-person teaching does take place, both universities have COVID-secure arrangements to ensure it can continue safely. These measures have been in place since the start of the academic year helping to contain the virus, and prevent further transmission. They are kept under constant review to ensure they meet the latest government guidance and advice from Public Health England.

At Oxford Brookes University, the semester will start on 25 January with remote teaching for the majority of students, except for those on specific courses. Face-to-face teaching for most courses will not begin until 14 February at the earliest.

Professor Anne-Marie Kilday, Pro Vice-Chancellor Student and Staff Experience at Oxford Brookes University said: “Our first priority is the health of our students, staff and the wider community in Oxford. This is a challenging time and we all have a part to play in slowing the spread of the virus. I want to thank our staff for their ongoing efforts to minimise risks, support students and ensure they can continue to learn effectively.”

The University of Oxford’s Hilary term will start on 11 January, with most students learning online. The University will continue to operate, but museums and other buildings will be closed to the public.

Martin Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education, at the University of Oxford, said: “While very important for stopping the spread of COVID-19 the national lockdown will change how universities operate. We have been planning for scenarios such as this for several months, and remain confident that we can continue to support our students, and protect the health of our wider community in the weeks ahead.”

Some students may return to university accommodation in Oxford if they do not have suitable study space where they currently live, or for mental health reasons.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, said: “The universities are at the heart of this city, I want to thank them for moving so fast to ensure the safety of staff, students and residents in this latest lockdown. They have been thorough and proactive at managing the risk throughout this pandemic, I wish them and their students a safe and productive term through lockdown.”

Ansaf Azhar, Director for Public Health in Oxfordshire, said: “We have worked in strong partnership with our colleagues at Oxford’s universities throughout the pandemic and this continues as we enter the new lockdown period. We have been kept fully briefed of all key decisions. The universities are such a huge part of Oxford’s day to day life and our collective efforts in managing the local impacts of the pandemic will continue throughout the difficult weeks ahead and beyond as we deal with further developments throughout 2021.”

Latest information on COVID-19 from each university:

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Hallowe’en advice from Oxford City Council

Stay safe this Halloween

Halloween is this weekend. We are encouraging residents to celebrate Halloween safely this year and to continue to follow social distancing guidelines as Oxford enters in to Tier 2 (High Alert) for coronavirus from 00:01 tomorrow (31 October).   Residents are reminded that traditional celebrations are likely to spread the virus and the council recommends they should:

  • Avoid going door to door when trick or treating, and giving out treats by hand
  • Not attend gatherings that are held indoors with members outside of your household
  • Not attend outdoor gatherings where there are more than six people
  • Not substitute a facemask with a Halloween mask as this will not keep you safe.

Some suggestions and ideas (suitable for councillors too ..)

  • Getting involved in the Big Neighbourhood Pumpkin trail outside
  • Hosting a virtual Halloween costume party with friends and family
  • Holding a Scavenger hunt-style trick-or-treat search with your household members in or around your home
  • Carving or decorating pumpkins to light up the doorstep or in the window
  • Pumpkin picking at one of Oxford’s local farms
  • Socially distanced Halloween dance party on your doorstep
  • Host a virtual Halloween quiz
  • Have a Halloween film night with your household members
  • Make a Halloween themed face mask/covering

  Households in Oxford are also being encouraged to recycle their real Halloween pumpkin at the kerbside on top of or beside their food caddy.  Those who live in flats with shared bins are invited to pop their pumpkins directly in their red food bins.   There is a lot of waste produced around Halloween so, where possible please try to make your Halloween decorations or buy second hand or reusable products. If you’re unsure whether something can be recycled check Oxfordshire County Council’s recycle, repair and reuse web page.   Recycling organisation Hubbub believes that 12.8 million pumpkins are expected to be left uneaten this Halloween in the UK. For some pumpkin recipe ideas, visit the Hubbub website.

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Tree pulled out of river

The EA today removing the tree that has been in the river upstream of the lock ever since the winter floods.

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Black Lives Matter

Osney residents take part in the Stand up to Racism doorstep protest this evening against the killing of George Floyd

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Osney Easter egg hunt


How many Easter eggs can you spot in Osney Island windows this weekend? Osney is taking part in the West Oxford Window Easter Egg Hunt, 6–20 April. Keep a safe distance while out hunting.


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Coronavirus support on Osney

For help if you are self-isolating go to this page

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Residents’ Association newsletter, spring 2020

The latest newsletter is out now: Osney Newsletter 2020 Mar

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Thanks from Mammoth Screen

Letter of thanks from the company that filmed in East and South Streets a few weeks ago.

Dear Residents,

On behalf of Mammoth Screen and all Cast and Crew of ITV Drama Endeavour I would like to thank you for your generous hospitality during our filming at East Street on Sunday 22nd September.

We are grateful for your understanding and wonderful help during our time there.

We simply wouldn’t be able to achieve anything without your support.

Once again thank you very much.

We hope you will enjoy watching Episode 2 of Series 7 of Endeavour, which will be aired on ITV in February 2020.

With kind regards,

Peter Litwinski
Location Manager

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OIRA AGM, 29 April 2019

The OIRA AGM will be held on Monday 29 April, 7.30 pm in the Mary Town Room at West Oxford Community Centre. It’s a chance to meet your neighbours, have a say in what you’d like the committee to do in the coming year and to volunteer for events. Wine, soft drinks and nibbles will be served.

There will be two speakers:

  • Tim Wiseman, the new Waterways Coordinator for Oxford City Council, will talk about the streams around Osney Island and his wider project.
  • Benjamin Smith and colleagues from the Charles Wells Brewery will talk about their plans for the Hollybush.

Representative(s) from the police should also be present (TBC).

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