WEEKLY column in the Standard by Chris Roberts MBE. 

1. Dedicated chair steps down after 10 years 

John Read will soon be stepping down as Chair of Fairford’s Patient Participation Group (PPG) after 10 years with the group that acts as a ‘critical friend’ to Hilary Cottage Surgery.

Born in South Wales, John has lived in Fairford for 35 years and in the local area for nearly 50! He is married to Jane, has a married son Mike and a granddaughter, Zinnia.

John will hand over to his replacement, Emma Saxby at his last meeting on March 7. He said: “I know the PPG will be in good hands. Emma comes from a family who have worked in the NHS, and she also has a background in medical insurance.”

Emma is currently the Volunteer Coordinator for the local charity, Working 4 Wellbeing (W4W), looking after over 40 volunteers. John, who is also the Chair and founder for W4W said that, in his role with the PPG, he noticed that many patients who were lonely or who had well-managed long-term conditions such as diabetes came to the surgery solely for a reassuring chat with a doctor.

“As a result, I helped to set up W4W which reaches out to people on their own who need transport, a warm safe place to talk to others and find out how to access bodies that can help with financial and social issues such as the Foodbank or Citizens’ Advice.”

Looking back over the years, John sees founding W4W and his pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela as being the most fulfilling things he has ever done. The pilgrimage on his bike was completed in three fortnightly stages from 2000-2002. He said: “Whilst on the pilgrimage route, you forget all about concerns at home and concentrate on the basics of finding food, water and a bed for the night. The whole experience affected me so much that I went on to run a pilgrim hostel for a fortnight. It was hard work, but it made me realise what doctors and teachers get out of life. I felt I wanted to do more of this and that was how my work with the PPG and W4W came about.”

“I also plan to retire from W4W when the right person is found to take over from me. There are lots of things in life that I still want to do like improving my French and German language skills and visit family and friends more with my wife, Jane.

If you are interested in joining the PPG or W4W, please contact Emma on 07311 069605, emmasaxby.coach@gmail.com

2. Popular show returns 

The popular Fairford Steam, Classic & Retro Show, that was held for the first time last year after an absence of nearly 10 years, is back again in August over the weekend of August 17 and 18. Steam enthusiasts are also looking forward to the free Steam in the Square event on Friday August 16 in Fairford Market Place.

The Steam Show team are proud to announce that the world-famous Ken Fox Wall of Death will be at the 2024 show and promising ‘a mile a minute, a thrill every second’. Already there are several full-size steam engines booked in for the show and also a couple of engines coming to Fairford from across the sea all the way from Ireland.

If you have an exhibit that fits into the Steam, Classic, Vintage or Retro categories or are part of an enthusiasts’ club, please book early at https://fairfordsteamshow. co.uk/exhibitors/ to avoid disappointment.

The Fairford Steam Show is run by volunteers from the local community who want to showcase the best of our local businesses and would love to hear from you if you are able to offer any financial support to the Show. Any donation – large or small – from individuals or businesses will help to conserve this well-loved country show for the future. A number of sponsorship packages are available, so please get in touch at events@ fairfordsteamshow.co.uk. Tickets for entry to the show will be available on the gate on the day, but are better value bought in advance online.

3. Information about important development 

As part of the Ernest Cook Trust’s (the Trust) ethos, its charitable work is funded by revenue from the careful management of its estates.

This includes providing new homes. Locally, in Fairford, the Trust is involved in two housing developments being built on land it owns in Fairford. Work is already underway on a small development of five traditionally built homes, at Waiten Hill.

A second development on Trust land allocated for housing within Fairford’s Neighbourhood Plan, is on land west of Hatherop Road. Designed with nature in mind with 50% green space and achieving Building in Nature accreditation, permission has been received for 87 new homes, to include 40% affordable housing.

This scheme will also secure significant funding from the developers, towards community and social infrastructure. There is more about the development here: https://nefairford.co.uk/. For information about the work of The Ernest Cook Trust visit www.ernestcooktrust.org.uk.

4. Menopause support group 

On the first Thursday of the month is Menopause Peer Support Group from 7pm-9pm in the Bull Hotel.

Organised by Working 4 Wellbeing. The next group meeting is on Thursday February 1. To find out more, contact Mary Ann on 07555 738138.

5. Churches together annual meeting 

The Churches Together Around Fairford Annual General Meeting is on Sunday February 4 at 3pm in Fairford United Church, Milton Street, Fairford. Guest speaker is Rohit Sethi from local charity Help Madina talking about working with the people of Madina, Sierra Leone. This is an opportunity to meet people from other churches in Fairford.

6. New contemporary-style service 

The new contemporary-style service at St Mary’s Church Fairford – Prayer and Praise – is held on the first Sunday of the month from 6pm-7pm. Everyone is welcome. The next service is on Sunday February 4.

This is a wonderful opportunity to invite family, friends and neighbours to church, especially those who have never been to church, those who haven’t been for years or those who have never found a church feels ‘just right’ for them. For more information, contact carolinesymcox@googlemail. com or pa.wilkins@hotmail. co.uk.