Issue 151    December 1st   to March 1st 2022

Dear Mr Editor,

I confess that this is a difficult letter to write. However, it gives me an opportunity to thank you and your peerless and long-suffering readership for having put up with my ranting for several years.

Born and bred  in Berkshire [admittedly at the wrong end!] over 7 decades ago.  For the last 41 years I have had the pleasure of living in the Hungerford area and, through family and friends, I have seen what support CHAIN provides to its residents.  For the first quarter of my life, I lived much time living abroad (in Europe and Africa) and, even after that, I enjoyed what amounted to 20-25% of  my time travelling (even exploring), all of which conspired to make me appreciate West Berkshire as a base even more.  I have never ever felt the wish to leave the area of such charm, natural beauty and packed with a population to which I could, and mostly did [ranting apart) happily relate.

Yes,  I raised  a family here just as I saw family generations (including my own) die here too.  The children loved it; even when bereft, the humungous support of not just longstanding friends but all members of the community has been a very special and comforting feature.

As my rantings (sorry again,  readers!) have reflected, there has been a cornucopia of contrasts.  When I arrived, it  coincided with an appointment  to the BBC’s Regional Advisory Council.  I then proudly chaired the Board of one of the most popular and economically viable Performing Arts Centres in the South East  of England [The Corn Exchange in Newbury], subsequently (albeit briefly) I sat on the Hungerford Town Council, and was even elected Mayor of Hungerford for a year. With amazing support from the community (and especially the younger members thereof)  this included rescue  of the Hungerford  Youth and Community Centre which followed  when West Berks Council  showed its traditional disdain for Hungerford and abandoned support and finance [OK:  another rant!]. I then became a Trustee of the ultimate economic and ecological  benefactor of the local community [yes, The Town & Manor)  for several enjoyable [and. of course,  ranting!) years.

I mention this because I desperately want to encourage others to follow suit; they should not be deterred: all it needs is time (less than you think until you get hooked!), energy and the supervening will to make the community a better place for oneself, ones family, ones friends. [and  others]  whose lives will similarly depend upon it.  CHAIN is a core feature.

It doesn’t matter where  Hungerford stands in the graduatoria of the Great West Way; it is simply a jewel forming part of the tiara  of Southern  England.  Where else can one go for what should be a 15 minute stroll down (and back) along  the High Street to the Canal and happily let it develop into a 40 minute  pleasure cruise…and that is before one even gets aboard the Mary Rose.

My heart-felt  wishes you and yours, CHAIN MAIL readers of Hungerford.  Maybe life will be a little less of a maelstrom without my rants and raves….although I am sure, Mr Editor, you are not depressed about any  deficiency   of substitutes……this Township is not short of talent!                                                                                        

Pip, pip. Grumpy