A Community for All Ages
There are three themes I would like to share with you here – the Past, the Present and the Future of our Community.
Firstly, an acknowledgement of the perpetuity of our community as it has shifted and evolved through the ages. There are some delightful and very informative historical writings and pictures on this which give you a sense of the chameleon like ability of the village and community to adapt, survive and prosper. If I might put it somewhat inelegantly – come hell or high water! Savour the Mildmay Oaks, the Heath, St Marys and the ponds and indeed the War Memorial – all testament to the endeavour of our predecessors.
More recently, we have had to deal with the impact of the pandemic Covid 19 which threatens to stay with us – perhaps like a poltergeist – not knowing when or where it will jump out at us again. Drawing on the themes of adapt and survive, the community has come together brilliantly to offer and deliver widespread support to many – a mosaic of partnerships including the Parish Council and voluntary organisations – the Over 55’s Forum, Hartley Wintney Voluntary Care Group, Rosie Bus and the churches. Not to mention the many existing and new volunteers who have stepped up to provide an unprecedented level of support. The High Street shops and services, too, have played a part in keeping the show on the road.
So to this last theme – how do we capture and bottle where we are now – which many equate to a wartime spirit – in a way which allows us to survive and indeed prosper in the ‘New New’. And here I believe we need a wider focus so that we become a ‘Community of all Ages’. This inclusive approach would recognise the challenges to young people deprived of the social interaction (and learning of course!) they get at school, the change in working and employment patterns and the continuing isolation of people who live alone. Whilst we might not have to deal with “Doodlebugs’ (Google it!), the challenges to our physical and mental wellbeing are nonetheless arguably more pernicious.
The Community Questionnaire
So, a number of support groups have come together – a “Community Hub” which includes the Parish Council – to produce a questionnaire which hopefully you will have received by now. If you have an interest in the wellbeing and prosperity of the community I urge you to respond!