The AGM, held in the new Chiddingfodl Club, christened ‘The Villagers’ was held earlier this month.
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We are a very small group, promoting sustainable living in Chiddingfold. Although we feel we are too small to be part of the ‘Transition Town’ movement, we do maintain links with Transition Haslemere, currently led by Clive Davidson. We also find useful connections with the Chiddingfold Horticultural Society, the Surrey Stockman’s Association (through Paul Kerry), and the FoE Guildford and Waverley branch (through Kathy Smyth.)
In fact, this network of other like-minded groups has been wonderfully sustaining, partly because of the events and activities we have joined in with, and partly because all of those groups look at what we do in Chiddgreen, and are very positive, if not envious of what we achieve in such a small place and with very few of us involved.
Thanks are due to the Committee for their enthusiasm and energy – that reputation amongst other green groups is well earned.
Review of the year
To begin the year, on the same day as the AGM, we had a triple–headed talk on woodfuel, wood-burners and the associated environmental benefits. Rob Walker and I were joined by Alex from Bramdean Stoves in Haslemere.
At the end of March we joined the Parish ‘Litter-pick’ day on Saturday 31 March, and promoted local shops and businesses with our Shop Local day. The idea is to encourage our local shops and pubs to offer special offers and discounts all on the same day so that local people spend more locally, and in doing so, support and maintain the services we all love to have on our own doorstop. Helen and Karen worked very hard on making the day a success.
Karen provided an attractive design for hessian bags ‘Making Chiddingfold Greener’ with the Chiddgreen dragonfly. These proved to be very popular and the first batch of 100 sold out, so we had a second batch printed. There are quite a few in left in stock, so if anyone wishes to purchase a second/third/fourth, please have a word later!
Last April 21st, the Village Hall positively throbbed with energy for Chiddgreen’s second Local Skills Day. Amongst the demonstrations we had Rachel Whitehead on her potter’s wheel, Seb carving wood, floristry demonstrations and bread making. Since the proceeds of the event were to be donated to Skillway, they were also there, demonstrating some of the wood- and metal-working skills they teach to KS3 and KS4 pupils from local secondary Schools. The lead organizer of the event, Lucy Hatcher worked very hard to make the day a success, and we are also grateful to Paul Hatcher for his talk on Bees- if you stick around after the AGM, we will hear from him again. I think I need to mention everyone who contributed – from Rosie Gill on the risk assessment to Helen in the kitchen producing fabulous soup for lunch, Wendy and Andrew Lockwood on ‘front of house, and well, everyone, and often their partners…Thank you. The donation of £500 to Skillway was well received, and we even got a write up in the Haselmere Herald.
The Spring Swap-it day on May 12 was well attended, and although it is difficult to estimate the amount of ‘waste’ – what a dirty word! – that is diverted from entering the waste stream, we think we had about 75 visitors, and passed up to 20 cubic meters of previously loved items to delighted new owners.
At the summer fete, the Smoothie Stall did better than in 2011, but then the weather was better. Helen Hosker organized the whole thing, but others made elderflower cordial to sell, and turned up to help serve a selection of smoothies to thirsty villagers. The fame of the Devlin Designed Smoothie bike has spread, and we had several requests for it to be loaned out. In return, we asked for donations, which have been diligently put towards parts to keep the contraption in working order.
On 4 July – Independence day, we held our second Electric Bike evening with the help of Steve and Tracy from Powarider. Despite the rubbish weather we had had all week, the sun came out, and we managed to get nearly 70 people on a bike for a ride around the green. Many thanks to all who came along to help with the event – we had visitors from as far afield as Guildford, and who apparently went on to make a purchase through Powarider.
We joined the Horticultural Society for a very wet walk on July 18 around the gardens at Fittleworth House, an inspiring garden that provides year-round produce from a well-managed plot. Afterwards, some of us stayed for a delicious meal at The Swan Inn at Fittleworth. ( we also raised a glass to Helen and Warwick’s Anniversary.)
With a break in August, we organized a visit and demonstration of Glassblowing at Smithbrook Kilns on September 16. Some of us even cycled there. Jake Mee talked as he demonstrated, and made the connections with Chiddingfold for us. My favorite tale was about an Italian glassblowing map dating from the 15th century. The only placed marked in the whole of the UK and Ireland is ‘Chidd’fold’! Many Thanks to Lucy for organizing.
Another regular Swap-it day on 20 October was a success, and we all noted that the ‘residue’ of items to be taken to the Community recycling centre had reduced to just one car-load. This was helped by donating some material to the Jumble Sale in the village the following week. Amazing to think that what we would have given away for free was ‘sold’ to raise money for another good cause in the village. Maybe we should ask for bigger donations next time!
We attended the ‘Advent welcome lunch’ in early December 2012 for newcomers to the village, and signed up about 5 new people to the news and events email circular.
The final event of the year was a talk by Ken Bare from the Surrey Hills Association in the CWR on Dec 11. This was a very well attended event, and I think all who attended were pleased to learn more about the AONB and the ‘Love Local Initiative promoting local businesses. The new ‘soup warmer’ – purchased to mitigate bad weather at the Summer Fete by being able to offer mulled apple juice instead – was pressed into service. Jeanette and I baked biscuits, and everyone appeared to happily enjoy the spiced juice, biscuits and the talk.
Web site and News email
Chiddgreen web pages are still rather basic but the website does its job, and has pages with copies of risk assessments and other checklists for events, so that everyone on the committee who can remember their password has access.
We have a generic email address ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ that is sent to Lucy, Karen and myself.
The News and Events email circular is getting some rather good feedback, with just over 80 people signed up, and a regular ‘open rate’ of nearly 50% apparently very good for the kind of organization we are!
In a moment, we will have a talk from Paul Hatcher on Becoming a Beekeeper.
We already have the date for the Spring Swap-it 11 May in the Village Hall, and to follow the Surrey Hills talk, we are planning a walk on 16 March, weather permitting, to see Birds and Bridges along the river Wey, starting from the primary school – another St Mary’s near Frensham Church.
There will be opportunties for joining a group of volunteers in managing a small local woodland, so watch out fro details of that soon.
We will be running the famous Smoothie Stall at the Summer Fete on Sunday 9 June, and in preparation to that we will need volunteers to collect elderflower and make cordial.
I also look forward to hosting one or two other meetings, and joining some of our allied organizations for their talks and visits. Please do send ideas and suggestions to email@example.com
Jane Devlin March 2013