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‘Inspirational’ Bolney volunteers rewarded

Tony Steer, Chairman of Bolney Parish Council, Peter Griffiths, Chairman County Local Committee, Gulu Sibanda, Principal Community Officer South, Mid Sussex CLC, Tim Boxall, Highways Officer for Mid Sussex. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140517-163406001

Tony Steer, Chairman of Bolney Parish Council, Peter Griffiths, Chairman County Local Committee, Gulu Sibanda, Principal Community Officer South, Mid Sussex CLC, Tim Boxall, Highways Officer for Mid Sussex. Pic Steve Robards SUS-140517-163406001

Bolney Parish Council chairman Tony Steer has been invited to take tea with the Queen in recognition of the village’s inspirational volunteering.

But there won’t be any snapshots from the event.

“I’m not allowed to take a camera which is a shame because I was hoping to get a selfie,” he joked.

The parish council has more than 65 volunteers, up from four only two years ago, who have a bank account, board of officers and insurance.

Tony said: “We’re the first parish council to do it.“I’ve been on three national conferences because people have been inspired by us, I’ve been recognised so much that I’ve been invited to Buckingham Palace to have tea with the Queen.”

Tony said the village was the only place in West Sussex not to complain about the state of the roads in four years.

“In the storms nine trees fell down, and we cleared up six on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day,” he continued.

“Even the people who physically couldn’t come out to help, like elderly people, were out giving us bacon sandwiches.”

Cllr Steer then had 18 people over for Christmas dinner, some of which he didn’t know.

“It’s a funny little quirky village, people have pride in its appearance.”

West Sussex county councillor Peter Griffiths described more of the volunteers’ good work: “The dodgy pathway near the school got people annoyed.

“People were too stubborn about it and said ‘right, we will do it’, otherwise it would have taken 90 days.

“They aren’t saying why haven’t we got this, they’re saying we could do it ourselves.”

In recognition of their good work the volunteers are being given funds for a trailer, tools, training and support.

“This can now be done in other parishes, it’s inspiring,” he added.

Former parish councillor Aidan McGrath recently stepped down from his post to focus on the volunteer programme.

Tony continued: “Local businesses want to sponsor us, we got 30 percent discount on safety equipment from Palmer’s in Sayers Common, Universal Trailers gave us £500 off the trailer and free servicing.”

The volunteers buy everything within a ten mile radius to support local businesses.

Principle community officer for South Mid Sussex Gulu Sibanda, said: “We want to develop the partnership further, it’s active resilience in a strong community. “They take pride in their parish and want to do the work themselves, so we can give them facilities to help their community.”

 

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