This piece has been taken from the South Staffordshire Review Magazine Issue 74
Councillor Robert Reade has represented Wombourne North and Lower Penn since 1999 and is the Cabinet Member for Welfare Services. Robert is also a Parish Councillor for Lower Penn and Wombourne and has been
Chairman of the Victory Hall Management Committee for the last 20 years.
Why did you decide to become District Councillor?
I hadn’t intended to become a Councillor but I was encouraged by Edward Bolland, a former Chairman. There were things happening that I wasn’t very happy about so I put my nomination papers in and got involved with local decisionmaking. I’ve never regretted it and it’s really shown me what can be done. I enjoy helping others and offering advice and I’d encourage anyone who wants to be involved with their community to consider becoming a Councillor.
I’ve been a cabinet member for many years and nowadays it’s like being involved with a business. We have to think about how to create income as well as make savings and see how efficient we can be. We’ve had to change with the times and cope with grant cuts and I’m pleased to be associated with a council that has adapted and faced these difficult decisions.
What’s your proudest achievement?
Being able to secure extra land for much needed car parking at Victory Hall in the heart of Lower Penn. The village
hall used to be an old Nissen hut and I oversee its management. Initially, it had a small parking area but I was able to
negotiate with the owners of a piece of land nearby and arrange its purchase. I like to think that I take after my father. He would always see if there was a way to do things and was good at talking to people and knew how to treat them properly.
What’s your background?
We moved to Hillcroft Farm in 1934 and there are three farms in the family – Hillcroft Farm, Langley Hall Farm and
Pear Tree Farm, all in Lower Penn. They were originally dairy farms but this changed to arable farming and growing
potatoes, wheat and barley, which I continued doing until 1989 when I saw a need to rethink. Having horses myself
and being interested in them, I decided to go into horse liveries, providing stabling and grazing in a do-it-yourself livery
yard where owners looked after their own horses. Farming is in my blood. My mother’s family originated from Ireland and were farmers so I have farming on one side and brewery on the other as my paternal grandfather was a master cooper at Butler’s in Wolverhampton, making the barrels at Springfield Brewery.
What’s your favourite place in South Staffordshire and why?
My home, Hillcroft Farm. Every time I walk in the fields I never get bored as it changes with the seasons. It’s also home
to my horses – five Clydesdales and a pony – and three dogs. I live there with my wife of six years, Jing, who is Chinese. My father always said you don’t know what’s around the bend in the road, and when I met Jing, well, I wish I could tell him about her. I’m extremely happy.
I played a lot of golf in the 1960s/70s and played for the county. I’m also a great supporter of traditional farming methods and my heavy horses have taken part in many local events for over 20 years. I bought the shire horses back in 1986 and used to show them at local shows before becoming interesting in taking part in ploughing matches.
Favourite piece of music?
I love music and I play the piano and the guitar. My favourite composer is probably Chopin and I also love ballets like Swan Lake and The Nutcracker, which we go to see every year.
Winston Churchill’s history of the Second World War. It’s very long but I read it when I was laid up after a couple
of operations. I’m interested in history and I think that one can learn such a lot from history because history very often
There was certainly stiff competition for this year’s Best Dressed Window Competition, with Chairman of the Parish Council, Councillor Daniel Kinsey and Vice Chairman, Councillor John Pike having the difficult task of judging the windows.
We are thrilled to announce that the Winner of this year’s Best Dressed Christmas Window goes to Blush Tanning & Beauty – the judges were really impressed by their snow scene display and felt it deserved top place this year. Well done to everyone at Blush Tanning & Beauty!
Runner up this year goes to Let’s Go Round Again. Their displays are always beautiful and this year’s was no exception. Well done to the team at Let’s Go Round Again.
Councillor Daniel Kinsey will be delivering your certificates to you in the next few days. Congratulations to you all and thank you for getting involved.
Thanks to all the shops and businesses who entered this year’s competition.. we would urge residents to be sure to continue to #shoplocal and support our shops and businesses in Wombourne this Christmas and beyond.
Merry Christmas everyone!
To echo my previous piece as your outgoing Vice Chairman, I’d like to say a warm hello to all of the residents of the Wombourne Parish – this time as your new Chairman. I must say, it is a great honour to be elected your Chairman for the next year, and along with the newly elected Council, we look forward to serving our Parish over the next four years.
As such, we have a wealth of talent on the Parish Council, including all seven of our District Councillors, and our County Councillor. I am grateful for their continued support and guidance, and we benefit greatly from their close involvement in the village.
Only a few weeks into my new role, I have already been kept busy representing the Parish across a wide variety of events. All have been thoroughly enjoyable, and I look forward to attending many more.
On Monday 24th June, I attended the flag-raising ceremony at the District Council for Armed Forces Day. As a history teacher myself, I am very committed to honouring the very best of our armed forces, whether current or historic. They deserve our undying respect. At this ceremony, I was stopped by a young lady who was amazed to see the procession, particularly of Parish and District Chairmen proudly wearing their chains of office. She asked me what I did, and I responded that I chaired my Parish Council and represented it at official engagements. She observed that the chains looked heavy, and was grateful for me taking the time to speak to her. Actually, it was a pleasure. I look forward to many more such encounters.
Of course, it has been that time of year again, where the village was gripped by Carnival Fever. This year’s theme, Bringing Books to Life, was well supported by the school float competition, and the quality of the entrants was as high as ever. Indeed, this is quite a pertinent theme, given the times. I’m sure we’ve all come to identify children’s playtime with television and video-games these days, but it is extremely important to underline the importance and joy of reading. I look forward to this each year, and it was fantastic to see so many turn out to support it.
The Carnival committee do a fantastic job in putting this annual show on, and a big well done to all those that help to bring it together on the day! I thoroughly enjoyed meeting people throughout the day, visiting all the stalls and seeing the fantastically high standards at the W.I. event. I hope you all enjoyed yourselves too, and look forward to seeing you there next year.
One of my main initiatives as Chairman has been to demonstrate my unwavering support for Wombourne’s Best Kept Village committee. They have done a fantastic job for many years keeping our village looking its best, and in recent years has grown its volunteer base which is enabling it to undertake ever more ambitious initiatives. It is amazing to see the improvements they have made to the village. Anyone who has been past the Women’s Institute village hall on the High street recently will be able to attest to what they can do in a single morning, and I was delighted to offer my own services in support of them.
What is more, with support from schools, and all manner of youth organisations, they are helping to create a new generation that sees actively caring for their surroundings as an essential part of community life. This is simply inspirational, and I would ask all those that can spare a morning to check the BKV Facebook page for their next scheduled activities – it would be lovely to see you there.
Finally, I would like to reiterate the words of our last Chairman, Mary Roberts. I really do wish to encourage more community feedback to the Parish Council, especially your triumphs, and hope to see residents in the Public Participation sessions before the monthly Parish Meetings.
Wombourne Parish Council
Seoul Searching, Cllr Jack Tudor
As one of the UK’s youngest elected representatives, juggling the commitments of serving your hometown alongside studying at university is a prospect which some would find daunting. Since being elected to Wombourne Parish Council in 2015 however, this is something I have managed to balance well during my time at university, even when attending university took me on a slight diversion from my usual morning commute to the University of Birmingham, in Edgbaston.
A 5,500-mile diversion across to Seoul, South Korea, to be precise.
This is where for the last 12 months, I have completed the third year of my Politics degree, having been offered the chance to complete a year’s study at Korea University, one of South Korea’s most prestigious institutions. Having arrived back in Wombourne only as recently as June, I’m keen to not only share my personal experiences from the Korean peninsula, but to paint a portrait of an entire lifestyle far removed from what we’re used to, and a place unfamiliar to the vast majority.
I first departed for Seoul back in August 2017, not quite knowing what to expect, what I’d find and quite frankly whether I’d be able to adapt to something so far removed from our way of life here in Wombourne. To a certain extent, I’d deliberately avoided doing too much research into the matter in the weeks leading up to my departure because I’d wanted to keep so much a surprise for myself; fortunately upon my arrival I was greeted with a friendliness and welcome I’d not expected, as Western stereotypes, intentionally or not, tend to perceive Asian societies (wrongly) as somewhat exclusive to outsiders. While I was certainly in a tiny minority in terms of ethnicity however (South Korea is one of the world’s most homogenous nations, with 98% of the population being Korean), I was very much made to feel welcome, and spent the first couple of weeks prior to the start of term being introduced to a wide range of people, food, drink, music and culture.
In particular, I recall my first visit to Gyeongbokgung Palace; one of the main homes of the old Joseon dynasty that ruled Korea before its occupation by the Japanese in 1910 and being transfixed at the grandiosity of the buildings and structures that have been preserved since then. This is a place that I visited several times during my time in Seoul, as the sheer size of the grounds means that it’s nearly impossible to view the whole place in one day, and a place I would strongly recommend visiting should anyone consider going to South Korea in the future.
Term-time itself in Korea proved arduous, and a marked difference to what I’m used to at Birmingham; particularly when it came to assignments and exams. Whereas I’m accustomed to being examined on my ability to analyse and think critically at Birmingham, Korea proved to be a lot more fact-based, and this meant a much higher workload. In Korea, it is considered standard to read between 15 and 20 articles per week; roughly 2 articles per class where each class teaches in one and a half hour periods twice a week, and then to be expected to be able to memorise entire chunks of these articles for twice-termly exams.
Fortunately, the evenings in Korea appear to be where people let their hair down. Virtually all of the buildings in Seoul are high-rises and skyscrapers; not surprising as Seoul has 1.5 million more people than London with around only half of the city space. This means that in many of the basement floors, it is easy to come across a Soju bar.
For those not aware, Soju is the Korean national drink, and is a spirit manufactured in a similar way to vodka, albeit nowhere near as strong. The popularity of Soju across Asia is slowly making it’s way into Europe, and is why South Korea is the world’s largest exporter of hard liquor. Needless to say, the intensity of the days on the campus led to more than one visit to a Soju bar!
Seoul’s nightlife did initially come as somewhat of a surprise and is one of only two places I’ve ever been (the other is New York) where nothing seems to stop or close; virtually everywhere is on the go between 18 and 24 hours a day; in busy areas of the city such as Itaewon, Hongdae and Gangnam, Korea’s famous street food vendors can often be seen working until 3 and 4 in the morning. Given how rigourous the Korean work ethic appears in the day, it most certainly is a case of ‘work hard, play hard’.
What perhaps surprised me most during my time in Seoul was the response of the locals I spoke to towards the North Korea issue. Seoul is only around 35 miles away from the de-militarised zone that separates the North from the South, and despite there being several instances of aggression from the North, particularly in October last year when North Korea fired ballistic missiles close to the coast of Japan, there appears considerably less hostility to the North than one might expect. There is an opinion not uncommon among Koreans that suggests that there is almost a sympathy from the South for the North, and the conditions that North Koreans are subjected to – this is somewhat related to the fact that when Korea was divided along the 38th Parallel at the end of the Korean War in 1953, many families were separated by the border, and this is an issue that remains prominent in Korean politics today. As a result, many Koreans were overjoyed at the summits between South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-In, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un that took place in April and May of this year, and hopefully this marks a start of an inter-Korean dialogue that de-escalates tensions on the peninsula.
In all, my experiences in Korea are something that will stay with me for the rest of my life, I took part in, saw and did many things that are too long to list or talk about here, but I would definitely jump on the chance to go back to Seoul should the opportunity arise. Should any of this readership be considering going to Asia for holidays or to travel, Seoul and South Korea more generally are two of the places I would certainly recommend for those interested in learning about a history, culture, people and language much different to our own. British people in particular get a very big welcome in Korea as Britain’s film industry has been one of the most successful imports to Asia in recent years, and franchises such as the James Bond and Kingsman films are favourites of the Korean people. To have visited a part of the world that we perhaps don’t hear much about here in Wombourne has been a real eye-opener for not just myself, but for those around me here in my family and friends (my parents were quite shocked when I brought home some duty-free Soju at Christmas for us all to try…), who one way or another have learned more about a new place at the same time and in the same manner as I have.
I start back at Birmingham to complete my final year at the end of September, and have definitely learned a thing or two to take forward with me into this next 12 months as I finish my degree; just as I remain in post as Parish Councillor for Wombourne for the foreseeable future, and look forward to taking on the challenge of both once again over the coming months.
With thanks to Cllr Jack Tudor for sharing his experience for all to read.
Wombourne Parish Council welcomes pupils from Westfield Primary School
Pupils from Westfield Primary School visited the Council Chamber this week to find out about Council meetings and how Parish business is conducted.
They elected a Chairman, Vice Chairman and a Clerk and held a debate on the topic as to whether more housing was needed in Wombourne, on which they had to vote.
Chairman of the Parish Council,Councillor Dan Kinsey, Vice Chairman, Councillor John Pike and Councillor Barry Bond helped to run the sessions.
Much fun was had as pupils took it in turns to sit in the Chairman’s chair. At the end of their visit everyone was presented with a Parish Council mug.
If any other local schools are interested in visiting the Council Chamber please call the Parish Council Office on 01902 896 300.