I am certainly looking forward to it all, but living in what appears to be such an affluent and prosperous town, it is sometimes so easy to forget that there are a great many people within our community whose circumstances are far from ideal. As things become even more difficult with local authority budgets, more and more reliance will be put on the voluntary sector.
It has been an uplifting and indeed humbling experience to witness the work of the many volunteers from the various charitable organisations who just quietly get on with making life better for those in need, and for the wider community.
Community representatives are, for example, shaping the future for the town by preparing the Neighbourhood Plan. Four years, and hundreds of hours later, it is coming towards its conclusion. Public consultation has happened, the feedback is receiving consideration, and hopefully the final document will be submitted to Stratford District Council for adoption in 2016.
The Town Council, which has facilitated the plan, would like to give heartfelt thanks to the team of volunteers who came forward to work on this enormous project. There have been many memorable moments during my term of office, however, one of the most poignant, and something I was honoured to be involved with, was the presentation of the Chevalier de la Légion d’ honneur to four Stratford-based D-Day veterans.
The French Consul read a special citation to each recipient and invited me to pin on their medal. My wish for the future of Stratford is that the foodbank would be unnecessary and that local debt services would have a greatly-reduced workload.
Charles and I hope everyone has had a very Happy Christmas, but to the volunteer sector in particular, we’d like to take the opportunity of also saying a sincere ‘thank you’.