I feel I need to write a few words about last night’s Annual Parish Assembly. At the end of this short newsletter I’m also correcting a date error I made.
I was a stunned as everyone else to hear Peter Hatch announce that he was retiring as the webmaster for Grayshott.com. Peter has been one of the most important stalwarts of community life in our village. Ever since hanging up his guitar and dentist’s drill, he’s had a huge influence on Grayshott by bringing the Social Club up to a high standard and integrating it into village life. Probably most famously, he’s invented, developed and nurtured one of our most important village communications, www.grayshott.com
As a villager Peter is well known for his ready smile, (beaming, even !!), as well as a seemingly indefatigable willingness to help just about anyone. I think Peter’s understanding of what makes a community has been of huge value to Grayshott and all round I think he is really wonderful villager.
Peter thank you so much for all you have done for Grayshott. I really hope that in due course you can find more ways to keep our community alive and thriving. Grayshott isn’t short of opportunity, just volunteers and we can’t afford to lose people like you for very long.
In my impromptu few words last night I tried to set Peter’s retirement into the context of a village whose community goes from strength to strength, but has the odd blip downwards from time to time. Living here for almost 38 years offers me the chance to evaluate that perspective and like Corporal Jones it’s important not to panic when we get one of these blips.
However The Market issue, has, for reasons still not completely clear to me, brought about directly or indirectly a serious exodus of volunteers vital to Grayshott’s future. The list I’m aware of includes;
Peter Hatch, ex webmaster of Grayshott.com,
Mani Rai, ex Chairman of Buy in Grayshott,
Tim Wickes, ex mastermind of Grayshott Market,
Ian Canavan, ex member of the Parish Council.
There may be more. Crucially it’s not just people we are losing but that would be challenging enough. We are also losing Community institutions that help to shape the nature of Grayshott. Specifically;
www.grayshott.com is now at risk,
Buy in Grayshott is defunct, (I was told last night) and
Grayshott Market is also defunct.
Added together this a big “blip” to recover from and I do really hope that the issues that brought them about justify such a huge loss to Grayshott. For that reason, by the way, I support the Parish Council’s note, read out last night, calling for a review of all the evidence that led to the original decision.
Whilst these are losses, ALL is not lost! We’ve ignited this village before and we can all do it again. The last time we did it was in 2000 and this time around we are in much better shape than we were then. So I’m optimistic!!!
Peter referred to the Millennium Party in 2000 as being the spark that reignited the village. He’s absolutely right. At that time the village was a very quiet community. I still remember one of the most prominent villagers of that time, Pam McNicol, telling me, (in 1998), that Grayshott hadn’t had a decent party since VJ day!!!!!
Well we had the biggest party in our history in June 2000, with an estimated 7,000 people lining the streets and taking part in the fun. It led to the revival of BiG, the creation of a new body called Party in Grayshott, (which spawned countless sub groups like Pyrotechnics in Grayshott, Pancakes in Grayshott and the famous annual Party). It kicked off the village website and led to the deal over The Square that I mentioned in my previous newsletter. It drew people into the community who went on to work for local organisations such as Housing Associations and the Parish Council.
Most important of all, Party in Grayshott catalysed dozens of villagers to volunteer for a huge range of community activities and it left a legacy of volunteering and community engagement which lasts to this day.
We need another catalyst and we need someone to lead it. If we don’t, there is a risk that this minor exodus will accelerate and Grayshott will return to its quiet days as a dormitory village. After all that so many villagers have achieved, that would be a dreadful shame.
If you feel you can help Grayshott do please get in touch with me or the Parish Council. Alternatively just have a chat to any of the wonderful volunteers that we still depend on in Grayshott. Money is rarely a problem in the village and as Leader of EHDC I’m in a good place to assist with advice and cash.
The date for the Planning Committee hearing of the Applegarth Vale housing planning application is Wednesday 11th May and not next week as I said last night. Anyone who has been in correspondence with EHDC on this matter will be notified.
Cllr. Ferris Cowper
Leader of EHDC and ward Councillor for Grayshott.