‘The Heart is Back’: Readers welcoming the New Blackmore Vale
One of the founders of the Blackmore Vale Magazine has said ‘the heart is back’ in the publication after we relaunched the title. Ingrid Chalcraft still lives in Stalbridge, where she and her late husband Alan launched the magazine in 1976.
Ingrid joined scores of readers in welcoming the New Blackmore Vale. Among the loveliest comments were people saying it felt like lockdown and covid-19 were over when they spotted the magazine in the shops. Many people commented how much they liked the larger print.
“THE heart is back in the Blackmore Vale.” This is praise indeed, especially as the sentiment comes from Ingrid Chalcraft, who together with her late husband Alan, launched the Blackmore Vale in 1976.
BVM founder Ingrid Chalcraft – an amazing story of how everything started
I spoke to Ingrid on September 29th. A poignant day as it was the sixth anniversary of her beloved Alan’s passing.Her voice spirited, we spoke about the Blackmore Vale, which Ingrid and Alan owned and ran for almost 20 years, and her story is a compelling one.The couple were session singers in London who moved to Stalbridge in 1976, swapping the night life and the hustle and bustle of city living to the quiet, peace of the countryside.
Before their move to deepest, darkest Dorset they had enjoyed jobs as backing singers for The Beatles and Sir Tom Jones at the Abbey Road studios. “We had no jobs,” laughed Ingrid. “We had no work and nothing to do. We were session singers who suddenly found themselves living in the countryside”.
“One evening, Alan went to the pub and got chatting to a man who wanted some help with a new parish magazine. When Alan told me, I thought ‘that would be something’ as I had a bit of a job at the chemist a couple of afternoons a week. “Well it transpired that the chap in the pub wasn’t going to do it after all and did Alan and I want to buy it? Of course the cost was more than we had, so I told Alan to offer him half and he agreed.
The very first days of the BVM
“It was madness really,” confessed Ingrid. “We knew nothing about publishing. We had one electric typewriter and a big drawing board and that was it. “And yet there we were, putting adverts together under the staircase in our centuries old cottage. But it worked. “Our printer, who was in Blackmore, gave us tips and we got organised. In those days it was all about ‘pasted up’. Adverts were typed up and then pasted on to paper which were then sent on the printer.”
The Blackmore Vale began with just four pages of A4 however over almost 20 years, Ingrid and Alan grew the magazine to the magnificent village read it became. “When we first started we went for a drink in Marnel and we could not believe our eyes as almost everyone inside the pub was reading it. Soon, four adverts turned into hundreds and we could not keep up. We employed a typist and other people to help and soon the magazine was getting bigger and better.
A story to remember
“It was marvelous.” Ingrid explained: “Alan was the brains and did most of the writing while I looked after the financial side of things. But one particular little bit I wrote sticks in my mind. It was about a lady who recently had moved to Gillingham was unable to get jellied eels. I wrote a piece and soon she was inundated with eels from the local fisherman. She was delighted and spent many days jellying these eels.“This was the point and the what Alan and I wanted to create. A magazine for chat, really.”
Ingrid and Alan sold the magazine in 1993, with many rumours still flying as to how much money it was sold for. “We did sell it for a good bit of money,” said Ingrid. “We shared it with our three children and invested a little, but here I am still in Stalbridge!”Ingrid said: “It was a lovely thing to have happened and we loved our time publishing the magazine. Alan would be thrilled to see the Blackmore Vale magazine as it is now, with its heart back. It is truly wonderful.”
Thank you all so, so much for the love and appreciation you’ve shown us since we launched the New Blackmore Vale.
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