That was the year that was... 2022

Stapleford Abbotts


It's hard to believe that 2022 is over and tomorrow we greet a new year, 2023. The past year, however, has been an eventful one in the parish, and we as a Council have been very proud to instigate, support and enjoy a host of events that have been both sunny and sombre.

We have been involved in organising a Community Speedwatch cohort since early in the year, which we hope will give power to our campaign to reduce speeding in the village and to bring in more permanent controls as regards road safety. The Speedwatch volunteers are always looking for new members, so if you have time to spare and are genuinely worried about driving standards in Stapleford Abbotts, please do get in touch.

The weather turned positively tropical this year, breaking national records and bringing walkers, visitors and locals out into the beautiful countryside around the village, which has to be one of Essex's best kept secrets. The Rogation Walk, which has become a tradition in the area, was very well attended and fun for all who joined in - not to mention very good exercise! Our area has many public footpaths, which have been given a great deal of care by the volunteer group who monitor and maintain them, and the Parish Council has now funded a new bench on Public Right of Way 7 for all to use while out walking - this was sited during the autumn. 

Ride London arrived in the area in late May, with cyclists taking part in a mass road race throughout the county. The event will return in spring 2023, and we are keeping a close watch on planning for this, as the 2022 race had unfortunately had very few details released in good time, and consequently there was very short notice as far as preparation was concerned. Everyone in the village coped admirably before, during and after, and we will pass on updates on the 2023 event to all as we get them, so please watch this space for news.

The Queen's Platinum Jubilee was a high point of the year, with everyone excitedly planning for this historic, and probably unique, occasion. The annual Flower Festival was entitled "Flowers for the Queen" and all the participants displayed artistic inspiration, passion for what they do, and a lot of good humour in their exhibits. So many aspects of the Queen's life and reign, and indeed British life and tradition, were interpreted, from afternoon tea to Paddington Bear to corgis and swans to the 1966 World Cup.

As well as providing a presence at the Flower Festival, the Parish Council was proud to take part in the national Jubilee Beacon chain, where we lit our flame at the same time as an estimated 3,500 others all over the UK. Raising a glass to Queen and country at the meeting point by the church, we shared the moment with a pleasingly substantial crowd of supporters, including some new faces to the village. We also donated a commemorative apple tree to the village school, which will hopefully grow, flourish and bear fruit for years and decades to come. On the extended Bank Holiday weekend, the village enjoyed a community picnic - which, due to English weather being English weather and doing the same sort of thing it did on the Queen's Coronation Day itself, was hastily and successfully transferred from its outdoor pitch to the Village Hall.

It seems incredible but just three short months later, the Queen was gone and the upbeat mood retuned to a minor key. Council and church worked together to mark the Queen's death and funeral and the accession of the King officially, with a strictly defined set of protocols that has been laid down by central government; and on a more personal level, by providing a space for local people to reflect and sign books of condolence. We would like to say a huge thank you to all those who worked so hard to get it right, make it respectful and help others express their feelings of gratitude and grief.

Life goes on, and as life has continued in the parish, we have supported many church and community events, including the Christmas market, a beautiful harvest fayre and a memorial service to honour absent friends and relations. And, of course, the now famous (or even infamous) community quiz, which packed Stapleford Hall to the rafters in October. The Crossfire concert at St Mary's in August was a perfect setting for a barbecue and inspired sounds in the hazy days of summer 2022 - and we have also supported the renovations to the church organ with a substantial donation. We are glad to know that it is now back in the finest form, and we look forward to more musical interludes next year and well into the future. 

Relations with our neighbouring parishes are important to us, and we have been making and strengthening connections with them. This year, we have interacted successfully with other small councils in the area on a professional and political level at local councils liaison groups, and on a social stage at events such as the Jubilee quiz, the big Christmas sing and the barn dance at Abridge Hall, the home of Lambourne Parish Council. 

As we gear up for the new year, we are committed, as ever, to working hard for our residents. We are happy to see you and hear from you, and extend a cordial open invitation to our meetings - which, bar the January meeting which has been moved to January 10 2023, and the month of August when there is no meeting - take place in the Village Hall on the first Tuesday of each month. Express your views, make suggestions, give us feedback and tell us what is important to you - it all counts.

We are constantly monitoring power cuts and floods, passing news on from district and county, updating our new website, keeping hedges, verges and footpaths in order - and supporting the work of the volunteer group dedicated to the upkeep of the local Public Rights of Way. In these uncertain times, we are happy to signpost anyone who needs help and advice to organisations and bodies who provide it: and you can be sure that we are always lobbying the powers that be over community issues - roads, transport, verges, crime, speeding, safety - that matter to the community as a whole.

Happy New Year from Stapleford Abbotts Parish Council