As I sit down to write this latest report, I am filled with optimism. After a very cold and wet start to the new year, which has also witnessed further horrific ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic across the country, there now appears to be a sense of optimism in the air.
February gave way to March with some wonderfully sunny and warm weather, which I am sure gave everybody a much-needed boost. At the time of writing, just over 20 million have received their first vaccine dose, and the number of cases continues to decrease. The Prime Minister’s ‘road map’ out of lock-down has been published, and this means we will have started to emerge from lock-down. By the time you read these words, we will have passed the first anniversary of lock-down on 23rd March. We have all witnessed the hardships of this last year, whether we have been ill, lost loved ones, shielded for extended periods, missed work and school routines, or felt the pressure this has all placed on our mental health. We are all looking to the horizon for the dawn of that happier time.
In the spirit of reflection, and of celebrating the lives of those who have passed in the last year for the joy their lives gave to us, I would like to take a moment to reflect on the passing of Philip Pennell. To those of you that knew him, or indeed to those of you that may have supported or enjoyed the work of the Wombourne History Group, WHiG and Phil were inseparable. He was one of the founding members, and living in the village for over fifty years, there was little about the place he did not know. A Planning Officer by trade, he knew maps. He also had a great fondness for the pubs of the village. It is with great sadness that we mark his passing; another stalwart of village life lost in this last, long year of sadness.
The village looks to the future though, and I would like to ask that, if any of you reading this share an interest in our local history, consider contacting and joining WHiG. As a passionate teacher of history myself, I cannot think of a more fitting tribute.
We certainly are looking to more positive things as this year progresses, and already many wonderful things are happening in the village. By now, you will no doubt know that I am a strong supporter of Wombourne’s Best Kept Village team; and what a team they are! Have you seen our not so small army of young litter warriors out and about? This initiative was launched by BKV in February, and within days over 60 children had signed up for their own litter-picker and hi-vis vest to show litter just who’s boss. They even made the Express and Star and their hard work is already being widely recognised by residents across the Parish.
Education is how we make a long-term difference in this world, and these children will grow up to be responsible adults that take pride in their home. This is how we win the war on waste and make positive changes that help the environment. I cannot be prouder of what they are doing, and of BKV for leading the way. If you see them out and about, tell them how proud you are of them.
There is further good news for road safety in the village too. Wombourne now has its very own Community Speed Watch team. The Parish Council and our County Councillor have supported the initiative through the purchase of equipment in the past, although we have always lacked a sustainable team to maintain activities. This is something I have sought to solve, and I am pleased to report we now have a team of eight enthusiastic volunteers, myself included, keen to make our roads safer. Training has been delayed due to the pandemic, but by May, you should be starting to see the team out at locations around the village. The passion shown by volunteers is spurred by the desire, once more, to continue making our village a better and safer place to live. I have the greatest respect for them all.
If you would like to join the team, please get in touch with us at the Parish Council. We would love to see you on the team.
As my second term as your Parish Chairman comes to an end, I can only say it has been the greatest privilege to have served you and our community over this last year. I hope I have helped to make a difference to the lives of just some of those most affected by the pandemic, and I am so thankful for the hard work and dedication of so many volunteers that have looked after friends, family and neighbours. You have all made such a difference, and I cannot say how inspiring it has been to see you roll up sleeves, don face masks and sanitise hands, and get on with supporting your community.
Naturally, I must also thank, from the very bottom of my heart, the inspirational group of amazing individuals that make up the central team behind Wombourne Community Assistance Group. You have maintained online meetings and briefings throughout, you have tackled problems we never envisaged, and I am pleased to call you all my very good friends. Thank you.
Wombourne Parish Council