Sheila Onions BEM, chats to the Duke of Kent

Fillongley Parish Council Annual Report….Financial year 2018-19

What a busy year this has proved to be with no slowing down in sight!

In April Fillongley Parish Council (FPC) were delighted to receive funding from WCC Cllr Colin Hayfield to provide a Lengthsman for the Parish.  It was decided to try and employ a local person who knows the area and will work, not for the money, but because it improves their local area.  We were delighted to employ Mr Lance Judge-Porter who has lived in the area his entire life and is a very practical chap.  He has successfully removed soil that has accumulated over the years over huge lengths of footpaths, enabling wheelchair access for the first time in years.  It also means that couples can walk side by side! He has cleaned signs and cut back brambles, cleared away fallen trees and cleared drains.  Parishioners have seen a huge improvement and are very appreciative of his work.

On 18th September, FPC Cllr Sheila Onions and Parish Clerk Mrs Heather Badham were invited to NWBC Council House and presented with Community Awards in recognition of their service to the local community, by Mayor Cllr Denise Clews.  The ladies were nominated by Borough Councillor Les Smith who represents the Parish at North Warwickshire Borough Council.

Some years ago, FPC inaugurated a Community Roll of Honour to recognise those in the Parish who have quietly and voluntarily served the local community without thought for recognition or themselves.  So far it has been given to people who have done as diverse things as being a driving force behind the renovation (both of the physical building and organising new groups and events) of the village hall, to Mavis who has washed two teams football kit for Fillongley Football Club, every week for over 40 years. This year it was given to Eddie Jones who has almost single handedly been responsible for resurrecting the village fete over the last 5 years.  It is now so successful that it can’t physically get much bigger and still fit onto the field!  It is a great community event with participation from the Scouts, Guides, local school, WI as well as many individuals.  Eddie also has particular skill with sound engineering and is often called upon to assist with other events around the village.  FPC hosted a small celebration to unveil Eddies name upon the plaque and present him with a plant for his garden to remind him of his achievement and the esteem in which he is held.

On the first Sunday in October FPC once again hosted an event for “Silver Sunday” which is a national day recognising older people.  FPC choose to use the day to try and encourage participation in village life, particularly those who don’t already get involved.  Invitations are designed and hand delivered to around 270 guests in the Parish.  The entertainments have been varied over the years, from Scouts teaching guests circus skills, the Rock Choir, and Tunnel Brewery beer talk and tasting amongst others.  This year was once again acclaimed as “the best yet!” when guests were treated to a poetry recital by a local poet and a concert from the City of Coventry Male Voice Choir.  After the entertainment which is accompanied by tea and biscuits, FPC provide a delicious ploughmans’ supper.  Usually about 80 people attend.   We have almost always found external funding for this event which has indeed managed to increase participation and reduce isolation.

In November, Fillongley, along with inordinate numbers of other Parishes marked the Centenary of the end of the First World War.  Over the last 3 years, Cllr Jo Hooke has been organising fund raising activities and had applied for a grant from the War Memorials Trust to renovate our War Memorial.  With spectacular timing and huge effort, this all came together just before Remembrance Day.  She has also researched all the First World War men who are commemorated on the Memorial and been giving talks locally about the men, reminding everyone of who they were – ordinary villagers like us.   FPC also had installed a “There but not There” Tommy Silhouette, standing sentry guard to the War Memorial itself – showing that 100 years on “We remember them”.  We have also installed a commemorative bench at the crossroads in the village centre which is set on a paved area which itself has a poppy created in the paviours.

On 11th November itself, some residents were woken at 6am, but a significant crowd was already gathered by the War Memorial to witness Piper Andrew Keeling playing the Lament “Battles o’er” in line with the Queens Pageantmasters’ organised events.  There were bagpipers all over the world, playing the same tune and the same time and it was most moving.

At 10.15 the Church bells rang out, announcing the Church service which began at 10.45.  FPC had organised the road to be closed and, as in years past, the service concluded with the congregation processing out and gathering on the road outside the War Memorial where around a dozen wreaths were laid by representatives of village groups.  After the service the bells once again rang out in line with church bells all over the country.

At 6.15pm villagers began to gather at the Cricket Club for the Beacon Commemoration which was the final act of Remembrance for the day.  In all, there were around 600 people there.  FPC had built a huge bonfire and separate beacon.  We had also made a field “stage” where 6 individuals had been invited to read “A Tribute to the Millions”.  These people represented armed forces (old and new), National Servicemen, Emergency Services, the wartime Allies and families of the fallen.  They read the Tribute which was then followed by the Last Post and a minutes silence and Reveille.  Then the National Anthem was played and sung by the crowd.  As this finished, local resident Lance Judge-Porter who had served in the Territorial Army for 25 years lit the Beacon and then the bonfire.  As this took hold the finale started with a whoosh and a bang!  A spectacular firework display rounded off the evening.  It was universally declared to have been a memorable and fitting commemoration.

The next big event in the village was a Royal visit! The Clerk was asked to contribute to the organising of a visit by HRH the Duke of Kent who had been invited by Warwickshire Rural Community Council to attend a celebration of the 80th Anniversary of WRCC and the Fillongley Village Hall.  Fillongley was the first hall that WRCC helped, with advice, to build and it was opened by the then Duke of Kent in 1938.  This time, 80 years on almost to the day, his son came to the celebration and signed a certificate to commemorate the occasion.  The FillongleyLite Womens Institute provided a fabulous buffet for the 120 guests, mostly from the community who attended on behalf of their groups or had been individually invited due to their community service.  The Duke was introduced to local people by Cllr Sheila Onions BEM.

In January, 12 community volunteers have been trained as Speedwatch operatives and FPC have bought their own camera for the volunteers to use.  So far, it is being used several times each week, in locations agreed with the Police and letters are being sent out to those caught.  There is an increasing scale of action depending on the speed and frequency of individuals reported.   The Parishioners standing on the path do slow traffic merely by being there and continued presence will hopefully increase awareness that we will not tolerate people speeding through our village.

In March, FPC have co-ordinated a community litter pick.  With equipment provided by North Warwickshire Borough Council local people have scoured the highways and byways and as well as 50 bags of rubbish, collected a couple of tyres, a tent and an old vacuum cleaner! Scouts cleaned all the climbing frames etc at the park and Bournebrook School pupils scrubbed the sculpture of “Fillongley Family” and the sign at the crossroads by the school.

The new financial year sees more plans afoot for the dedication of the Parish Cemetery Lych Gates in the summer, the re-dedication of the War Memorial by the Bishop of Coventry around the anniversary of its original dedication, and the referendum on the Fillongley Neighbourhood Plan!

Thank you to Heather Badham, Clerk to Fillongley Parish Council, for sending us this report.