Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Survival


I think this is my favourite photo of the village
It is a long shot taken from the South West and shows Trelawnyd nestling safely in the shadow of Gop Hill, a hill that dominates the lower part of the valley.
Trelawnyd has evolved greatly over the years, every village does I suppose, but I think that the next decade will be pivotal in shaping the village's very survival.
when I say survival, I am talking about the survival of community here. Since we arrived here just six years ago, the village shop and post office have closed, the pub was boarded up ( and thankfully re opened) and many of the village elderly (always the backbone of any community) have died away.
The two chapels and the church congregations are hanging on by the skin of their teeth and the newer housing estates have attracted families that seem to remain insular and tight knit within their own little bubbles rather than feel they are a part of something  "slightly bigger"
One definition that could describe Trelawnyd and thousands of other villages up and down the country is that it is dying a very slow death.
Although some of me does believe this, another part of me emphatically does not.
I don't because of the work of a small group of individuals that battle tirelessly to keep "community" going.
The village Friendship group, the Memorial Hall Committee, The Church Council,The Carnival Committee and the conservation group all have their part to play as does our Flower Show and the Village Allotment open day and the one thing I have learnt about our fast modern world is the salient lesson that in general most people want ( and sometimes need) to participate in community ,they just are happy to leave the organising to someone else. Someone else that through hard work and some gentle bullying often gets things done.

Last year I didn't have the energy to organise my yearly OPEN DAY.
Emotionally I didn't have the chutzpah, after my brother's death
But I have thought about it, long and hard since a chance meeting with local farmer Basil who runs the last farm still situated within the village envelope
In his usual gentle way he passed the time of day with a few choice words when I caught him feeding his sheep
As I walked away, he called after me "are you holding your fete this year?"
" I think so" I said without thinking
"That's good" he said with a genuine smile

That's all it needed
I have five months to organise it

56 comments:

  1. Good luck with the fete. I look forward to reading about the preparations.

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  2. Think you have got your finger on the pulse John. There are no rose tinted spectacles in the rural areas. Good luck with the fete. I look forward to reading all about it.

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  3. Yay, I'm looking forward to it! Let me know if you need me to help with anything :)

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    1. I have you down for something already hannah

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  4. What a terrible shame it would be for the lovely villages to die out. These villages are the image most of us (foreigners ) carry with us when we think of the UK, not the busy crowded cities though there are many of them that are wonderful too. However when we visit we always notice that the villages are mainly populated by the elderley as the young ones leave looking for a more exciting life and probably employment but it puzzles me that they do not return to bring up their families in a far superior environment than those cities and no-where seems too far out of reach for commuting to work.(I think Chester is only about half an hour away from you isn't it?) Communities need schools to attract the next generation to survive and I would have thought there was more room for playgrounds in the country too.
    Your contribution to your village's survival is very important. Well done John.

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  5. "salient lesion"?

    Sounds horrible!

    You have to do the fete this year. I know how you feel, though, try delivering two tonnes of clean water a day to a village half the occupants of which don't even say, 'Thank You'

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  6. Well done you for trying to contribute to the health and well being of your village. If we lived much closer to our village of Castelnau Riviere Basse, I would do the same, but it is quite a long way off from us, so for the moment we do not contribute. Hopefully in the future, when our place needs less work and is running smoothly, then I hope to change this.

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  7. Our village here in South Derbyshire battles constantly every year to remain a village and keep the close knit community feel. We still have our annual Gala and Parade in July which is a miracle it is still going after forty odd years! We have one pub left and if the family running the local shop at the top of our road hadn't taken over the post office when it closed we would have lost that. I can totally sympathise John.
    Jo xx

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  8. Good luck with the fete - sounds well worth a visit :o)
    I feel the same about village life. Where we live there's a poulation of around 340, 1 school and 1 pub. There are 3 'tiny' clusters of new houses in the village and the most you see of the inhabitants is when Mrs whizzes by in her chelsea tractor doing the school run or Mr zooms by in his posh company car on the way to work. I've officially lived here 6 weeks and already been to the local WI to see about joining and what else I can do to integrate myself into community life. Seeing as the members (all between 70 and late 80's) begged me to join I feel I can't refuse. It doesn't take that much effort but sadly most families here are more interested in the snob value of the postcode rather than appreciating where they live. We're also trying to support the local pub when we can despite things being a bit tight.

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  9. John, you are such a Pillar in your Community!

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  10. It's a shame village life is struggling everywhere...hope your efforts help put some life into the place!

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  11. People don't usually realize what they have until it's lost, sad to say. But good for you and your efforts and all the good you do for your village! And best wishes for every success.

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  12. Hey, I am really good at organizing parties and gatherings and weddings and such. Let me know if you need any help. As, through your writings and photos, we all feel a part of your village and surrounds.

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  13. You've just out me on a guilt trip...our village (pop 250) is spread over a vast area,hundreds of acres of land divide us all..there is a lock day,a Canada day parade,a fall fair,an historical society and a museum. We've attended/visited non of them.
    Jane x

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  14. When I moved to my area almost forty years ago, everybody interacted with their neighbors. There were always weekend get togetherness, people stopped by, and planning community events was the norm. Twelve years ago, I moved to a newer home a few miles away and other than my next door neighbor, I see few people outside. Some have stopped over the years to comment on my gardens, but none have asked my name. Mostly everybody and their children stay inside. I guess people are all involved with their Facebbok and other social media life rather than the real one outside their front door.

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  15. This is a beautiful(hopeful) post Mr Gray.

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  16. Well done you John. It is incomers like you who appreciate the locals and who help to keep the village alive. We were out to dinner with friends the other week and counted - there are only 8 men and 1 woman in the village who were actually born here. Yet we have monthly coffee mornings, a weekly art group, a weekly yoga group, a weekly study group on local history, a fortnightly walking group, plus various things like dances etc. Our pub is at last up and running again. Yes, the signs are there - so keep at it I say.

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  17. Oh what fun, five months you say, I think that's a visit planned then.

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  18. I long for a small community that sticks together and carries on traditions and values their shared history. I live in a big old suburb where you have to drive everywhere to pick up anything and all the houses are starting to look the same (large, grey a modern but traditional look) and no one puts the kettle on.

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  19. I saw villages like that when I visited the Tuscan area of Italy and I envied them. We lived in a neighborhood, that was still a neighborhood in the community sense when we moved in. The older people have since gone, and it isn't the same. We no longer live there, but I do try to visualize where we moved (in the country)to be a little village. I do so hope your village survives. Sad about the post office. I remember in the Beatrix Potter movies she goes to post a letter...and what an adventure!

    Cindy Bee

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  20. This is a very inspiring post sir. I admire you for the good that you do.

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    1. I just like being the centre of attention !

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  21. Just how fortunate was Trelawnyd when a certain John Gray just happened by.

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  22. Your village is beautiful. Help keep it alive, John.

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  23. Well decided, John. It's people like you who make life worth living for the rest of us! Wish I lived near so I could help...

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  24. I adore fetes and miss them, having moved from Blighty a year or so ago.

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    1. Well I hope you will enjoy ours..albeit on line x

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  25. I'm happy to read you are holding your annual OPEN DAY once again, it's events like this that make a small village 'tick'.
    Not to mention Auntie Glad's scones :)
    ~Jo

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  26. Hey John, can you explain allotment day /open day (are they synonymous?) -I've seen the reference on your site but am unfamiliar with it (or maybe it's just morphed into something else here)

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    1. Anne,
      It was a thing that was started by my sister who opened her allotment to the public for charity. I copied her a few years ago and it sort of grew and grew....
      In 2011 we raised 1,400 £ for the church and motor neurone disease association. Basically the villagers pay a fee to come into the field, they have a chance to buy donated cakes and jam, take part in a raffle, see the animals and have a cup oftea and a cake.....

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  27. Good luck with your Open Day! It sounds like a lot of fun. I'm sorry your village seems to be declining, but if enough of the citizens fight against it I'm sure it will get strong! Best of luck :)

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  28. Trelawnyd is lucky to have a young fellow like you who gets things done!

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  29. Your got up and go has returned - you are planning a fete...marvellous....we are all invited aren't we?

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  30. Although Ormskirk's not a village, your post has made me want to be that better person and volunteer myself for something that helps bring the Ormskirk community together..... Problem is.... I'm sooo full of good intentions!

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    2. Well you and Evie can perhaps help on the one day?

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  31. I'm happy to help - not too sure about my baking, although I have got 5 months to practise......
    p.s. I still owe you for my last lot of eggs - sorry!

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    1. Right your name's down val x

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  32. Hopefully the younger people will realize what they have before they lose it.
    Good luck with it, John!

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  33. John, you simply need to import a small portion of your audience, and bang--ready-made community. You'll have to arrange better summer weather than last year, though.

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  34. If I lived near I would love to come and help. But alas I will just have to read about it.
    As Helsie said the village life is what most of us foreigners think of first. I always wanted to live next to Mrs. Marple, what excitement or the Villages of Midsomer. With all the murders I think I would have a pick of houses or farms.

    cheers, parsnip

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  35. Your open day sounds truly wonderful and I am really, really looking forward to seeing it. You know that a post or two is essential don't you?
    And a sense of community is something missing in many cities - to our detriment.

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  36. It's obvious from your posts how emotionally invested you are in the village and the people who live there. As long as there are people like you living there, it will never die. And just think! Before ya know it, YOU will be one of the "elders". HA! Glad to hear you're planning to have that fest, and will be looking forward to hearing all about it.

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  37. I wish I could be there...

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  38. Marriages, families, neighborhoods, communities and all forms of inter-personal relationships have suffered over the decades as individuals don't understand (or are taught) they have to 'work' at them, and all the time. Relationships (like the concept of village) are like a dance - you have to keep moving/stay involved else it stops.

    I'm glad you are holding your fete again. So many of us are nostalgic for the 'good old days' but are either too insulated and self-involved (or lack the skills) to build the relationships that are the foundation of those by-gone times.

    Sorry for the soapbox comment, but it makes my heart ache to think that something as precious as your village might let its heart grow cool through neglect. Fete on, John! Keep those home fires burning.

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  39. Thank you kris....you have summed up exactly what I believe

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  40. As a city dweller, the needs of community as you describe them are somewhat alien. Although of course we all need that sense of community, in whatever form it takes. I live in a condominium, (aka block of flats) in one of the most populated cities in South East Asia, but I am very much part of our little community here, in the sense that I get involved in how it is run. Not entirely altruistic, but it provides an interesting sense of satisfaction. I do admire your endeavours. My mother was the same in her village, and my brother to a lesser degree is the same in his, in Scotland. "No man is an island entire of itself" as the C16/17th English poet John Donne wrote.

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  41. Glad to hear your open day is on this year!

    I am doing what i can to become more involved in my new-to-me community. It's easier to do so in winter when the tourists number much fewer. If i didn't have to work a full-time job, i'd be doing a lot more, but i'm pushing myself to find a better balance.

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  42. I come from a village in Shropshire that as you described is "dying a slow death" but since then I have lived in two other villages (one in worcestershire and one in herefordshire) that are anything but. The current village I live in is great with shops and a butchers and a real sence of spirit but I know its not really the norm and we're lucky that the house we brought is in such a good area. Good luck with your fete sounds like fun.

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  43. The picture is beautiful. Sad to read about how it is struggling to survive. Hopefully there will always be people who appreciate it. Best wishes with your fete. Sounds important to your neighbors.

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