Merry Christmas and
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