Merry Christ­mas and

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - CHRISTMAS MESSAGES -

As we hur­tle to­wards Christ­mas and the close of 2014, I can look back as town mayor with a great deal of sat­is­fac­tion on what has been achieved this year by Che­sham Town Coun­cil and the com­mu­nity at large.

Most tan­gi­bly, there has been the long-awaited com­ple­tion of the re­pairs to the cul­vert in Mar­ket Square and re­moval of the orange bar­ri­ers.

As the town coun­cil was a ma­jor part­ner in the ren­o­va­tion, I am de­lighted not just with the look of Mar­ket Square now, but the fact that so many of the town’s part­ners came to­gether to en­sure the best pos­si­ble out­come.

Thanks to the drive of Che­sham Mu­seum, Mar­ket Square has been fur­ther en­hanced by the restora­tion of the town bell to the clock tower and I was hon­oured to lead the count­down to its first chim­ing in Au­gust this year. I know many of you are look­ing for­ward to hear­ing it ring in the new year for the first time in half a cen­tury next week.

Che­sham thrives on the ef­forts of its hard-work­ing com­mu­nity, and I must also par­tic­u­larly com­mend all those in­volved with Che­sham in Bloom for ob­tain­ing the pres­ti­gious Gold Award and win­ning the Best Large Town cat­e­gory in the Thames and Chilterns in Bloom com­pe­ti­tion. On top of all this, we built and opened our new skate park in Lown­des Park in April. It has been quite a year!

I would like to ex­tend Christ­mas greet­ings from my fam­ily and from the town coun­cil, both mem­bers and the ex­tremely ded­i­cated town coun­cil staff.

We wish you and your fam­ily all the love and bless­ings of the Christ­mas sea­son and we look for­ward to­gether to another great year for Che­sham in 2015.

As we ap­proach Christ­mas it is a time to re­flect on the true spirit of the sea­son.

One which, re­gard­less of one’s faith, should be about peace, good­will and giv­ing, rather than tak­ing.

We are very for­tu­nate in Buck­ing­hamshire to have a rel­a­tively pros­per­ous econ­omy and our pop­u­la­tion en­joys good health by com­par­i­son to oth­ers.

We are also for­tu­nate to have so many peo­ple who give up their own time through­out the year to vol­un­teer to help oth­ers in our com­mu­nity and in­deed around the world.

We can­not take th­ese sen­ti­ments for granted.

I hope we will all re­flect over Christ­mas on what more we can each do to make where we live bet­ter and the lives of those around us more ful­filled.

We all face ma­jor chal­lenges in the year ahead, lo­cal gov­ern­ment par­tic­u­larly so, but let us do so to­gether as a strong com­mu­nity.

Wish­ing a merry Christ­mas and big thank you to all of the com­mit­tee mem­bers that make up Business and Traders for Chal­font St Giles (BAT4CSG) team.

The Beer Fest, the BAT bash mu­sic night and the business awards are just a few of the suc­cesses or­gan­ised this year.

We are plan­ning to meet early in the new year to re­view our po­si­tion and di­rec­tion goals and aims.

I would like on be­half of the BAT4 com­mit­tee wish all vil­lagers a happy and healthy Christ­mas, good luck and pros­per­ity for the chal­lenges that lay ahead in 2015.

The good, the bad and the Uggs of Christ­mas.

Will you give a de­sir­able pair of Ugg boots to a loved one this Christ­mas? Each year, re­tail­ers com­pile a top 10 list of the most pur­chased gifts. Th­ese give a snap­shot of what’s hot at the cold­est time of the year.

A lot can be gleaned about hu­man na­ture from the an­nual process of gift-giv­ing sur­round­ing Christ­mas. But what was the thought process that went into God’s gift of Je­sus to the world?

If the hu­man race were ever col­lec­tively asked what they would most want as a gift from God, what is the like­li­hood any­one would ask for the mirac­u­lous birth of a child into a poor fam­ily in a tiny vil­lage in the Mid­dle East?

In a world seem­ingly bent on self-de­struc­tion, the mes­sage of God’s de­sire to demon­strate his love for us through the gift of Je­sus, proves per­sis­tently in­trigu­ing for love-hun­gry hu­man be­ings.

What is it you most want this Christ­mas? A common wist­ful re­sponse is about want­ing world peace. How many cen­turies have we wished for this? Even when men put down their ri­fles in the trenches ex­actly 100 years ago, it was a brief re­turn to san­ity. The ca­ma­raderie of foot­ball and shar­ing Christ­mas parcels was too quickly for­got­ten.

De­sir­ing world peace seems like wish­ing for the im­pos­si­ble. But then, how im­pos­si­ble to imag­ine that God could take on hu­man flesh and share our joys and sor­rows? What are the chances...?

The hope-filled mes­sage of Je­sus’ birth is good news for ev­ery­one. Here’s hop­ing you have a pos­i­tive, Fair­trade Christ­mas and new year.

In 2015 Che­sham cel­e­brates 10 years as a Fair­trade Town.

I am writ­ing this in the warm after­glow of our peren­nial parish Christ­mas tree light­ing-up event, which in­cluded some won­der­ful carol singing from the Che­sham Bois and Elan­geni School choirs, mulled wine, mince pies and a gen­eral feel­ing of vil­lage ca­ma­raderie herald­ing in the fes­tive sea­son.

It’s been a busy year for us as a coun­cil; we also held both our bi­en­nial sum­mer fete on a glo­ri­ous June af­ter­noon and more re­cently a par­tic­u­larly poignant Re­mem­brance Sun­day cer­e­mony.

Th­ese events are im­por­tant, not just for com­mem­o­rat­ing spe­cific oc­ca­sions but for en­gen­der­ing com­mu­nity spirit and esprit de corps.

Peo­ple live in parishes like Che­sham Bois not just be­cause of their strong lo­cal ameni­ties and beau­ti­ful common and wood­land ar­eas, but be­cause they want to be part of a strong, vi­brant lo­cal com­mu­nity. And whilst no sense of com­mu­nity spirit can be ar­ti­fi­cially fos­tered, it of­ten takes the hard work and en­ergy of lo­cal parish and town coun­cils to give it a gen­tle nudge.

Th­ese coun­cils are the first rung of lo­cal democ­racy and as such are the rung clos­est to lo­cal parish­ioners and con­stituents.

I’d there­fore like to take this op­por­tu­nity to salute ev­ery parish and town coun­cil­lor in the coun­try who gives of their time of­ten, read­ily, en­er­get­i­cally and vol­un­tar­ily, to en­sure their lo­cal ar­eas are more than just a col­lec­tion of houses and shops.

Maybe by the time you glance at this, you will have had the busiest Christ­mas on record.

Maybe this year there are more peo­ple to buy presents for, more Christ­mas par­ties to at­tend, even more carol ser­vices with school or choirs or churches you have been to.

My first Christ­mas carol ser­vice was on De­cem­ber 3 and some­one com­mented this was when Christ­mas started for them. For oth­ers, it was with our town Fes­ti­val of Lights on De­cem­ber 10.

Maybe events such as th­ese brought a warm glow and gave you hope to look for­ward to the sea­son: singing ‘O come all ye faith­ful’ at full pelt, you have been able to re­mem­ber what a won­der­ful time of year it re­ally is.

But maybe your Christ­mas has not been like this. Maybe you wish that you were busy at Christ­mas, be­cause it is lonely sit­ting on your own with few friends and no fam­ily go­ing to call in.

Or maybe you wish that this sea­son could be over as soon as pos­si­ble, be­cause it is just too painful to think of the losses that you have suf­fered this year.

The cel­e­bra­tions and joy that burst in over the tele­vi­sion screens, and the crowded shops, full of hope and an­tic­i­pa­tion, bear no relation to what you are feel­ing this Christ­mas time.

Christ­mas is a time for the fam­ily, we say. But the orig­i­nal Christ­mas fam­ily were far from home and faced ruin and dis­grace over an un­planned preg­nancy.

We say Christ­mas is a time for the chil­dren, but a king tried to kill the baby at the heart of the story, be­cause he rep­re­sented a chal­lenge to his worldly au­thor­ity.

We say Christ­mas is a time for home, but the Christ­mas fam­ily be­came refugees in a far-off land and were un­able to re­turn un­til the boy was older.

So if you come to Christ­mas day not feel­ing very ‘Christ­massy’, you come in the company of the orig­i­nal Christ­mas fam­ily. Of course, cel­e­brate and give thanks with your fam­ily and friends if you are able. But if you are not, you are not be­tray­ing the true mean­ing of Christ­mas – maybe you rep­re­sent the true mean­ing more fully than any of the smiles and warm hearts you see around you.

Maybe the true mean­ing of Christ­mas is found in the lone­li­ness and

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