Ver Players talk to Sustainable St Albans

The Ver Players – a ukelele group playing in St Albans – are dedicating their annual 2019 Charity Fund-raiser to Sustainable St Albans. We were thrilled – and decided to have a chat to find out more about the group…

What are the Ver Players, when did they first get going, and where do they meet?

Ver Players is a community ukulele group based in St Albans. Founded in 2012, the group meet once a fortnight to sing, play and unleash their inner creativity. The group alternates between small, focused sessions in St Albans’ The Courtyard Cafe and larger old-fashioned singalongs in the Rose & Crown, a local pub. It’s a fantastic opportunity for people to get together and experience live music.

How many people involved in the Ver Players?

Ver Players currently has over seventy members of all ages, with an equal gender split* of all ages from fifteen to over eighty. *(Just checked and amazingly the split is exactly: 37 men / 37 women)

Is it only for experienced ukulele players?

No, any ability is absolutely fine. Members typically join as complete beginners before quickly gaining confidence as they realise they can start to produce real music. The open, collaborative spirit ensures a fun and friendly atmosphere to learn, laugh – and ‘lose yourself in the ukulele’!

What is your favourite ukulele tune to play with the group?

It has to be Chuck Berry’s ‘You never can tell’, we’ve been playing this song since we started, and though it’s one of easiest songs we do we haven’t grown tired of it!

What’s the best venue you have ever played?

It was a proud moment to play for the Mayor of St Albans annual ball at Sopwell House Hotel this year.

Ver Players group

Ver Players practising

Can you tell us something about your annual charity fund-raisers?

The annual charity fund-raisers are the high point of our calendar and gives an opportunity for everyone to show of their skills in a concert setting. In recent years we have also brought in professional players on the national or international ukulele circuit. We carefully pick a suitable local charity each year working in a variety of fields from medical: Rennie Grove House, St Francis’ Hospice, Mind in Mid Herts. Herts independent living service (provide a range of services to help older and vulnerable people stay happy, healthy, and independent). Last year’s charity was Earthworks, St Albans (nurturing people with learning disabilities to reach their full potential).

This year we are delighted to support Sustainable St Albans for our charity fund-raiser on 12th October!

We played (a sub-group called Rag House) for  the Market Takeover at The Sustainability Festival 2019 in St Albans, and fully support the ethos of reducing the impact of human beings on the natural world. We pride ourselves in contributing to our community’s well-being in our small way and of course the ukulele is a small instrument so people can walk or cycle to our local gatherings.

The fund-raiser is on Sat 12th October: Trinity Church Hall, I Beaconsfield Road, St Albans, AL1 3RD. Doors open 7pm. Tickets £15: at the time of writing – a few tickets left at the door only!

How do you know about the Hot Potato Syncopators who are heading the bill at this year’s Charity fund-raiser?

They went down a storm at the Grand Northern Ukulele Festival (the UK’s major uke festival) last year. We saw them there and we’re thrilled to have them here in St Albans in October!

Joining the Ver Players

  • Annual membership for 2019 is £25 per person. Non-members are very welcome to our monthly sing-a-along at the pub, meet everyone, and then decide if you want to join us, and join the fun!

Full members get additional benefits:

  • The music is provided for you to print your own copy – so you can practise beforehand.
  • New songs are introduced each month, so you quickly build a up a fine collection of  songs, carefully arranged, with professional quality artwork, including chord diagrams to help you master the songs and improve quickly.
  • You can come to our regular practise sessions at the Court Yard Café and learn useful playing tips.
  • Depending on ability, you can join one of our performing groups.
  • If you need an instrument or new strings etc, go to The Music Dept, 67 London Road, St Albans: – Ver Players Membership Card to claim 5% discount.

For more information, please get in touch:


St Albans District streets celebrate World Car Free Day

Seven streets in St Albans and Harpenden closed for up to 3 hours on Sunday 22nd September  for World Car Free Day.  Neighbours took the opportunity to socialise as their children played on the road with bikes, scooters and skipping ropes. They were all taking part in the trial of a new Sustainable St Albans project called Playing Out.  The project enables residents to apply to close their own road to through traffic for the purposes of children’s play and community building.

The Playing Out scheme is being launched throughout the district including St Albans, Harpenden and the villages. It is being run in conjunction with St Albans District Council and is now open for applications from the public for 2020. 

Sustainable St Albans’ Playing Out co-ordinator, Nicola Wyeth, said:

“Playing Out sessions enable children to play out in the way that we all took for granted when we were young. It is a fabulous way to build communities, for parents to find a support network and for isolated residents to enjoy a cuppa and a chat all while the children get fresh air and exercise. It was wonderful to see multiple streets celebrating World Car Free Day in this way.”

A Playing Out scheme is always run in a way that minimises any inconvenience to residents who need access by vehicle to the closed area. Neighbours volunteer to steward the road closure points and if a driver needs access, they are escorted to their property at walking pace after children have been cleared from the road. 

Sustainable St Albans will help you through the necessary steps of the application and lend you the necessary kit such as high viz jackets and road closed signs. Interested residents can find out more at by visiting our Playing Out page or get in touch by emailing us. There will be free information sessions in November – one at the Harpenden Arms in Harpenden on 11th November at 10.30am and one at The Beech House pub in St Albans on 15th November at 10.30am. Come along to find out more.


St Albans Environment Action Group

A group of Residents and Councillors

St Albans Environment Action Group was formed in 2018 by a group of residents and councillors, with the aim of connecting local environmental groups and individuals more strongly with local councils. The emphasis, as the name suggests, is very much around action – both supporting the councils’ efforts to improve the environment and pursuing new ideas and projects. It meets at St Albans Council but is very much independent of it.

Transport, Buildings, Water, Wildlife…and more
Meetings are usually based on a theme – transport, buildings, wildlife – and start with a guest speaker followed by discussion.

The Group is open to all, and has grown into a popular force, so much so that it’s now moved from a committee room to tha largest space at St Albans Council – the Chamber. 

It’s also got a new website, with information about past and upcoming meetings, a sign-up form and a suggestions box. See

Wilder St Albans
The group’s most exciting project so far is Wilder St Albans. A sub group of our members are working with Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust and St Albans District Council to create an action plan for enriching nature and increasing biodiversity. The project is still at the discussion stage, but we already have a huge amount of interest and we hope that formal planning  will start very soon.


Meeting dates for the coming months are:

Thursday 2 January 2020

Tuesday 10 March  2020

Tuesday 19 May 2020

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Tuesday 22 September 2020

Please see their website for contact details

Global Climate Strike St Albans

Friday 20 September saw hundreds of  school children and supporting adults on strike for the Climate. Meeting at the clocktower in St Albans the group, with colourful and emphatic banners, marched to the town hall, and then back through the city centre.

The UK protests are co-ordinated by the UK Student Climate Network (UKSCN) who are a group of mostly under 18s taking to the streets to protest the government’s lack of action on the Climate Crisis. They are mobilising unprecedented numbers of students to create a strong movement and send a message that they are tired of being ignored.

This is a strong start to this Autumn’s climate actions – taking place throughout the UK. Keep an eye out for Extinction Rebellion’s Autumn Rebellion, starting on October 7th.

outside council



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boy give me a futureHelen and boyclocktowercrowd by council

Climate Emergency declaration 55 – 0 at St Albans District Council

Climate Emergency report back Wed 9th Oct- see you there!

St Albans District Council is holding a full council meeting at 7pm Wed 9th October 2019  at the council offices, St Albans – they will be reporting back on the Climate Emergency work. Anyone who is interested is welcome to attend this meeting. You may want to attend so that the council sees that you are concerned and interested in the progress of their work on this.

InJuly 2019 St Albans District Council  declared a Climate Emergency with all party agreement voting 55 votes to 0 in favour.

Read the minutes and council motion agreed here

Sustainable St Albans and St Albans Friends of the Earth jointly organised the 1700 strong petition, which was distributed during the 2019 Sustainability Festival, also organised by the two groups.

Members of Sustainable St Albans, and St Albans Friends of the Earth, joined environmental groups and supporters outside the council offices before the council debate. Groups included Extinction Rebellion St Albans, St Albans Labour Party, and St Albans Green Party.

Catherine Ross, chair of the 2019 Sustainabilty Festival and trustee of Sustainable St Albans presented the petition along with Mimi Spiliopoulou,  a 17 year old member of Extinction Rebellion St Albans.

Catherine Ross said:

“It is a brilliant result – and so positive that there was cross-party agreement in favour of declaring the Climate Emergency in our district. I just want to thank all of the residents, councillors and officers who helped to make this happen – and to say that Sustainable St Albans will help in any way we can as the council goes forward in developing an action plan. Now the work begins.”

Catherine and Mimi presenting the petition at the council

 120 1st tier councils across the UK have declared a Climate Emergency. 70 of these, like St Albans District Council, have set a target date of 2030 to go carbon neutral. For information on other councils see

Single Use Plastic Ban

On the same evening the council also agreed a motion put forward by Cllr Mary Maynard to ban the use of single use plastic in Council offices and work towards banning its use in facilities licensed by the Council and at events on Council property or supported by the council. This follows the setting up of a new Plastic Free Harpenden group, which joins Plastic Free St Albans in calling for a reduction in the use of single use plastic across the district.

Gail Jackson, trustee of Sustainable St Albans which partners Plastic Free St Albans said

“This was a remarkable, and historic night for the district with two major motions supporting environmental sustainability. Over 5,000 people took part in the events during the fourth Sustainabilty Festival and these concerned residents must now feel that their voices have been heard.”

 Christelle Garcia from Plastic Free St Albans said

“It’s fantastic that the council is supporting the reduction of single use plastics in such a practical way that should see quite an impact in the district. Local businesses have already been very pro-active on this issue and this motion will provide a huge boost to the movement to remove these unnecessary plastics from our everyday lives.”

Sustainable St Albans will be following the council’s progress closely and we will keep you all up to date!

Facebook: @sustainablestalbans

Twitter: @sustainablesta