The Vicar's Letter (written by Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of St Mary's Church in Eaton Bray) has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002
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Vicar's Letter

July 2007

Reverend Malcolm Grant, vicar of the Church of St Mary The Virgin, Eaton Bray with Edlesborough.

Elsewhere in Focus you will find information about the EDaN Project, working to prepare a Parish Plan for the Civil Parish of Edlesborough (which, of course, includes Dagnall and Northall - hence the acronym). The Plan will try to express the priorities and hopes of the whole community for its future, and it gives residents an opportunity to create the agenda and express their opinions. The finished Plan will help the Parish Council to set its strategies, and give it weight in its dealings with the District and County Councils, where many of the major decisions will have to be taken.

People have said what they like and dislike in our villages in the recent open days - and some clear concerns are emerging, even at this stage. In the near future a questionnaire will be going to every household in the Parish, and the Project Steering Committee (all volunteers, by the way) looks forward to being inundated with replies! Seriously - we want everyone to complete the questionnaire so that we have as full a picture as possible of what you, the people of these villages, would like to see happen.

"Community" is one of those words we use without stopping to think what it really means. Many people have chosen to live here to enjoy that special sense of community which belongs to a village. But that sense of community doesnít just happen; it has to be generated and maintained, or it soon decays. "Community" arises out of meeting together and doing things together, not just out of living side by side. People used to meet in the shops, at the bus stop, in the pub, at the school gates, and at social events which marked the rhythms of village life, and this is what created that special sense of belonging together. Nowadays, most people travel by car, shop in the supermarkets in town and have much more sophisticated tastes for entertainment. In addition there are the pressures of work and commuting, financial pressures, and an individualistic approach to leisure dominated by television and computer. All these modern tendencies are eroding our experience of being part of a real community.

"Community" is something we have to contribute to, as well as benefit from. I am conscious of how many voluntary activities in our villages are creaking along because it is so difficult to find volunteers to help run them. I donít just mean the church (although it is certainly true there!). Running village halls, sports activities, facilities for our young folk, making improvements to our environment are just a few examples of the areas of community life which need supporting. If we want these things to happen, then we all need to be willing to support them actively. Thatís what really makes community.

We can devise impressive plans but unless folk are willing to give time and effort to make them happen, they are of no avail. I often hear people saying "the village isnít like it used to be", and that usually means we live more isolated lives with a consequent loss of community spirit. The EDaN Project challenges us all (residents of Eaton Bray as well as Edlesborough, Dagnall and Northall) to ask what we are prepared to contribute to our local community as well as what we want to gain from it. Do you remember that famous speech of President J.F. Kennedy: "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country"? The same is true at the local level.


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About the Vicar's Letter

The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.

The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the area for these.