Bovingdon: New life for old village?
PUBLISHED: 17:59 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 14:51 20 February 2013
Villagers have issued a call to action to put the heart back into their commuter community
NESTLING at the edge of the Chilterns, Bovingdon is a charming village, full of character, and with an industrious past. Once home to a thriving cottage industry of straw plaiting for the hat industry, the village, between Hemel Hempstead and Chesham, also has a long history as a farming area.
Well known for its Saturday market, it has a selection of shops, several green areas and a well, which stands at its heart. It is this charm, history and character that has made it a popular choice for commuters. But it is also this trend that has worried older villagers, many of whom have lived in Bovingdon their entire lives.
Concerned that the only people moving in are those who spend little time at home, the newly elected parish council is working hard to embrace its newer inhabitants and ensure village life maintains its vibrancy and identity. Parish councillor Betty Attard, a feisty woman in her 80s, comments, 'It's going to be a struggle, but the new council is determined to bring back the old Bovingdon.'
Betty has lived in the village for 83 years and, like many of the older residents, she feels that recently a lack of interest in village life has lead to the disintegration of its community spirit.
There is a feeling that many of the commuters choosing to settle in the village do not become involved in village life. Betty comments, 'The problem is when you are a commuter you spend a lot of your day travelling to and from work, the last thing you want to do is get involved in committees or event organising. Unfortunately it is exactly this lack of commitment that is killing the village off and it's very distressing to see.'
Another long standing resident of Bovingdon, Diana Smart, joined the parish council because she says she is demoralised by seeing the village lose its way. Now aged 75, she has lived in the village all her life. 'We used to have a really lovely village, where everyone wanted to get involved. That has dropped off and it's something we need to bring back. Our biggest challenge will be developing more interest in the people who live here now and encouraging them to make Bovingdon a part of their life rather than just a place to live.'
Betty agrees, 'It is certainly not like it used to be here, there is so much apathy, but we are working hard to change that situation. I do feel this type of attitude is endemic in many villages across the UK. We need to get our fighting spirit back and save our village identity.'
And Bovingdon has plenty to offer. There is a good range of shops and facilities, including a library, several pubs, a caf, tennis courts and a bowls club, to name but a few, so there is a lot to do for those whose wish to get involved in village activities. Now the parish council is calling on residents to support local businesses and organisations and be accountable for the future of the village.
Betty adds, 'When we run events it is always the old village people that get involved, not the new ones. We need the new blood to start taking a greater interest in their community so we can lift its fortunes and secure its future.'
Article taken from September issue of Hertfordshire Life