Community spirit is still alive

NEAALM101103D1 - Eastwood. Brian Fretwell outside his old shop on South Street
NEAALM101103D1 - Eastwood. Brian Fretwell outside his old shop on South Street

We all know the NHS is under greater strain than it’s ever been — shortage of trained nurses, wards and even hospitals having to close down through government cuts, with no end to austerity in sight.

There are many homes and farms under water in Somerset and now the whole of the Thames Valley is affected. Residents are at their wits end, many with nowhere to else to go: babies, children, the old and infirm. So what are we to do?

Of course the answer has to be the same as it always was: Call in the volunteers!

It is true that we British grumble and groan a lot, but when it comes to the crunch we are always there to help our neighbours when in need.

This was never clearer than at the Eastwood Mayor’s Awards Ceremony a while ago, at Our Lady of Good Counsel Church Hall.

There were volunteers from many local groups to receive awards personally from Lady Mayor, Councillor Hazel Charlesworth.

The hall was packed and cameras were clicking non-stop as group representatives were called out by the town clerk, Chris Thompson, to receive specially framed certificates.

This was a combined social event, where town councillors were able to forget party politics for a short while, meet their public and share mutual interests over light refreshments. Mayor Charlesworth also presented town council cheque grants to a surprisingly large number of volunteer groups and this was the first time the two ceremonies had been combined in one evening.

This was a clear demonstration, if ever one was needed, that community care is alive and well in Eastwood and that the assembled churches and parishioners, and the many assorted groups of willing volunteers are stepping up to the mark, to help fill in the welfare gaps and to assist an increasing number of vulnerable families.