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Church

14/11/2012 - 11:54 AM



Unique views 206 (2327)

I live in a small village in South Wales. Well to tell the truth it is less of a village and more of a dormitory for Cardiff. I used to live in a village in Yorkshire and that was just so different. There we had a playing field where scouts could meet and a village football team play. Kids could kick a ball about or just sit on the swings. There was a village school - not big, just 2 classes - and a playgroup. people used the village Hall to do things they liked - aerobics, parties, nursery, pilates, etc. For the major holidays we had our own events. I remember organising a full blown jousting tournament one Easter and a Classic car show another.

Ofcourse we had to bring in experts for some things ( we had no resident jousters, so they had to come from Exeter !) but mostly it was village folk getting together and organising the things they wanted. The playgroup and the brownies/guides were organised by a local mother. The football team was put together in the village pub, which also brewed its own beer.I lived there 3 days before someone called round and asked me to join the plating fields committee. Aerobics was run by a local who later became a sports centre manager for the local council.

It just felt right. I believe that this is what is really meant by the Big Society.

At the centre of both places stood an old church. That much they had in common. This is the one here, but the one in my old village was very very similar.

bonvilston-church.jpg

The thing is that in Yorkshire the church was thriving. It ran the local primary school. It was involved in everything going on. People who attended church saw it as part of their community duty to get involved in all aspects of the village. they imposed nothing but listened to what was going on and supported the community.

Where I live now the congregation is tiny. They try to get involved in everything, but only because they try to organise everything. The tone of everything they put on is old school church. If you like barn dances and folk singing or a hog roast then you are well catered for ( along with the 6 members of the congregation ). Anything else forget it. Tell your parish counsellor ? They are both church members - husband and wife. Book the Village Hall yourself ? It is owned and run by the church and its tiny congregation. Want to get decent broadband ? Not the best way to communicate with God apparently he hasn't got a facebook account yet.

You get the picture !

And so the Big Society concept fails. It gets taken over by the Governments distorted view of it being a way to pay big charities to do things government used to, for much less money, if not free. In the meantime the concept of community withers on the vine as organisations ( THIRD SECTOR rules OK !) replace individual people.

Rant over. Nice church building though eh ?

Comments

Villager2012
16 Nov 2012 - 5:14 PM

I live in the same small village in South Wales but do not recognise the description which has been given. I have lived here for nearly 20 years and have tried to get involved in the life of the village.

The congregations of both churches in the village are small but they are caring groups of people who are working together to think of ways to encourage people back to church. The churches organise various events within their own church or use the village hall.
The next events include the annual carol-singing around the village to raise money for a local hospital and a choral evening to raise money for the maintenance of the church.

Neither of the churches own the hall. The community owns the hall - it was left to the village by the MacIntosh Family many years ago, is run by a Management Committee and is a registered charity. The committee at the moment has 13 members. There is an AGM every year to which the village is invited and there is always a request for volunteers to join the committee. The committee are the Trustees and have responsibility for the maintenance and running of the hall. No government involvement. The Village Shop helps by taking bookings and holding the key.
The hall committee puts on various fundraising and non–fundraising events throughout the year. The next event is a sausage and mash supper with entertainment, again to raise money for charity. The evening usually finishes up in the local pub where the singing continues. Usually about 80 people attend this event.
The hall is doing very well. It is being hired out on a weekly basis for aerobics, a zumba class, a wood-turners group, a Tuesday group for the over 50’s. There is also a Quilting group and a wildlife photography club bi-monthly.
As well as these regular bookings the hall is hired for children’s parties, adult birthday parties, charity fundraisers, talks, band practice etc etc.
In the spring the field at the back of the hall should be ready for the goalposts to go in.
The committee are always looking for new ideas and help to make them work.

We don't actually have "parish " councillors. We have 4 Community Councillors but they are not responsible for organising any of the events in the village. They are a joint council with the neighbouring village and meet monthly. The writer becomes very personal saying that the parish councillors are both church members - husband and wife. This is not correct. None of the councillors are married to each other and none of them have partners who are members of the church.

I don’t honestly know what the writer means when he writes about broadband. I do know that there is a website for the village and I think that one of the children in the village is working on a Welsh language site.

As well as the shop we have a lovely pub, two restaurants and a couple of B&Bs. The pub has been great at providing the food at some of the recent events.

Thinking back over just the last couple of years the events in the village have included (in no particular order): celebrations for the Royal Wedding and The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, International Sheepdog Trials, Point- to -point races, fundraisers for The National Eisteddfod, community Christmas meals in the pub, Bonfire night, Quiz nights, charity fundraisers for UK and African charities, gardens opened as part of the NGS, breakfast at 6.30am in the pub to watch the rugby and a very interesting talk on Rainbows by another, then resident, Yorkshireman. I could go on!

“You get the picture?”
I hope when you read this you will get a very different picture from the one being portrayed before.

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16 Nov 2012 - 7:27 PM

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Bonvilston
16 Nov 2012 - 7:27 PM

You don't know of a website - it is obviously doing a good job. You mention various groups that are involved in running things - do you know the extent of the overlap. Lovely pubs - well 2 of them are Ok but they cater for people from outside the village mostly except the one that seems to cater for no-one really. two B&Bs ? Are you including the one that closed quite some time ago ? You don't know about broadband ? well it is how you get the internet. Or in my case how you don't get the internet. It probably doesn't mean a lot to you, given your professed lack of knowledge, but I am lucky to get 3 Mb during the day and it goes down to 1mb in the evenings. I agree that someone has registered the name of a website in the village name, but I am not aware of what role it is supposed to play in the life of the village. perhaps it needs to be marketed. or if it were really such a thriving active village then everyone would probably know of it being the village voice or communication vehicle, or whatever role it is supposed to have. the only one I have seen was so amateurish that I doubt anyone would have looked at it, but I assume it isn't that one you are referring to.

I do apologise for the comments about the marital status of the "community" councillors. I was wrong about the title and the details. perhaps that says something about how important they are in the life of villagers like myself.

You don't mention the village soccer team, let alone a rugby team. What about the youth club ? If you are on here I assume you are interested in photography - why no photography group other than a very specific one for a niche area. What about a younger people's photography group. My daughter and her friends organised a singing and dance show to raise money for charity - when was the last showcase for village talent ?

This long response seems to suggest that a raw nerve has been touched. Perhaps a visit to a "real" village might be worth your while. To be honest the tone of your response gives me quite a clue as to why I feel so unwelcome here. If only I was a native born, Welsh speaking Church goer i would probably be at home. As it is I feel excluded. it would have been so heartening if someone had read this and thought about how to actively involve people like myself. I obviously have experience of helping in the life of a village and certainly have the willingness. Perhaps that is the key difference between the two. One actively sought people to get involved and considered ways for it to happen. the other has fixed views about what it wants to put on and keeps apart from those who do not share the same interests.

I have clearly upset someone here. That is far from my intention. I do apologise for that. I am an easy going person who is very frustrated by the narrowness of life here. I would love to work to add to that, but would not want to force myself into a group that is happy with the status quo. I feel saddened by the response, as much because I did not fully understand just how good some people think the place is as for the fact that myself and I am sure others will never be a part of it.

Villager2012
18 Nov 2012 - 5:41 PM

In reply to some of your points:
You mis-read what I’d written about the website.

In a very small village there is usually overlap within groups. There was in the last, larger village I lived in and the village I grew up in.

There are 2 B&Bs. The Shepherd’s Lodge and Great Barn.

I do know about Broadband – it was your comment “Want to get decent broadband ? Not the best way to communicate with God apparently he hasn't got a facebook account yet.” which I wasn’t sure about. Just checked and we get 4.5MB.

We don’t have football or rugby teams as we sadly don’t have any playing fields. Unfortunately when the newer houses in the village were built in the 80s the playing field got built on. Luckily after many years of negotiation the hall now has a small field where children will be able to play safely.
No, we don’t have a youth club either. It is fortunate, however, that we live about 3 miles away from a town where all these things can be found.

A young people’s photography group is a really good idea. Why don’t you set one up in the hall?

Apart from living in a city while I was a student, I have lived in the countryside or a village all my life. I am not Welsh, nor a Welsh speaker and only go to church occasionally. When I moved to this village I made the effort to support events even though sometimes they weren’t to my taste. I was approached by villagers and asked to get involved. I went to AGMs and volunteered my help.

I have found that the various groups in the village are always open to ideas. If you want your ideas to happen you need to be prepared to help or have a go yourself. We can’t expect small groups of people to be able to guess what everyone would like and to be able to provide a wide range of activities without help and support.

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