WEEKLY COLUMN of Fairford and Lechlade news by Chris Roberts MBE. 

1. Citizen of the year at town's annual meeting 

At the Annual Meeting of the Town last week, John Read was presented with the Citizen of the Year Award by Deputy Mayor, Colin Foxall.

This award is to recognize an outstanding contribution to Fairford made voluntarily by a resident of the town.

For many years, John has been quietly working behind the scenes in many groups and has been a big part of Fairford life.

With a passionate love of music and singing, John was organist and choir master for St Mary’s Choir for around 15 years.

John also ran the Palm Sunday Choir in St Mary’s Church from 1995-1998 putting on a performance every Palm Sunday.

Then this group morphed into the Fairford & District Choral Society (FDCS). John was not only the founder of the Choral Society, but also its Musical Director from 2006 for over 15 years.

John was also deeply involved in the purchase, renovation and extension of Fairford Community Centre.

He was one of the project team that saved a valuable building from being sold off for residential use.

As one of the founders of Fairford History Society, John’s knowledge of the history of Fairford Community Centre and also his love of music and singing made him the perfect choice to help with the production of a community play called Lizzie Farmor’s Edifying Circus – performed in 2007 by members of the community in St Mary’s Church.

John has also been keen to get involved in Fairford’s medical organisations as Chair of the PPG (Patients’ Participation Group) and is also a Trustee of the Friends of Fairford & Lechlade Communities (previously the League of Friends of Fairford Hospital).

It was back in 2016 when John first convened a meeting to find out what interest there might be in the town for an organization that was there to listen, support and connect people with all the services available locally.

Little did he know how successful this would be. Not only did he introduce a Talking Café to Fairford and also Lechlade but, thanks to John’s involvement, Working 4 Wellbeing has gained charity status, has a group of dedicated workers (paid and unpaid) and has grown in importance in our area.

2. Car book sale at festival 

 The Car BOOK Sale is a new event at Fairford Festival and part of the Festival Book Fest.

Similar to a Car Boot Sale, but with no car boots!

Taking place on Sunday June 9 from 10am-1pm in the Literary Marquee in the grounds of Fairford Cricket Club.

New and self-published authors will be taking a stall to display their books, chat about them and sign and sell them.

This is a great opportunity to come and chat to up-and-coming authors, many of whom are local writer.

Leonie Gregson, the winner of The People’s Friend £10k Writing Bursary for 2024, will also be on hand to informally discuss her writing and winning the competition with the authors and members of the public and offer writing advice to the authors.

Free entry. Find out more at www.fairfordfestival.org.uk

3. Shopping trip to Swindon 

There will be a shopping trip to Swindon Orbital on Friday May 31. Pick up from Fairford Library and Fairford Community Centre at approximately 12.15pm with return at around 3pm-3.30pm.

Working 4 Wellbeing will provide the transport thanks to Lechlade Lions and allows for 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 hours shopping at the Orbital under your own responsibility. Trip costs £3. To book or to find out more, please contact Mary Ann on 07555 738138.

4. Fairford Festival long weekend kicks off on Tuesday 

The Fairford Festival long weekend kicks off on Tuesday June 4 with a Bat Walk to discover the five species of bats known to live in Fairford. Starts from Fairford Cricket Club at 9pm and lasts for around one and a half hours.

To book, go to www.fairfordfestival.org.uk. John Willard (Vicar of Fairford from 1997 to 2001) is bringing a group of people from Cheltenham to visit St Mary’s on Monday June 3.

Following his visit and tea, he has organised with Rev’d Caroline an Evensong service at 5pm.

If you would like to come along to the service, you are most welcome and get the chance to catch up with John and Rachael again.

5. Anniversary of D-Day to be recognised on Wednesday 

The 80th anniversary of D-Day will be recognised on Wednesday June 5 at 7.30pm (gates open at 6.30pm) at the former RAF Down Ampney (Bidwells Farmcare entrance GL7 5PL – What 3 Words: conjured.ushering.protect. Featuring Cirencester town Band; VOKAL singers; Cirencester Town Crier; Military vehicles; RAF Down Ampney Exhibition; Service of Commemoration; Sunset Ceremony; Fly past; food; beer tent. Tickets cost £5 each from www.ticketsource.co.uk/All-Saints-Church-Down-Ampney or daevents@gmx.com (for local residents only). Please bring your own seating.