Why Abbots Langley is a song and dance town
PUBLISHED: 16:51 15 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:32 20 February 2013
Abbots Langley is an all-singing, all-dancing village with an emphasis on youth and entertainment. Damion Roberts speaks to a councillor, an actress and a sportsman to find out just what makes this lively village tick
AN example of the sense of community can be found in the Abbots Langley Gilbert & Sullivan Society, of which Brenda Southorn is the publicity manager.
Mrs Southorn met her husband through the group Mrs Southorn has been an acting and directing member for 45 years, her husband 54 and over the years many couples have become romantically involved following their involvement in performing Gilbert and Sullivan shows.
We met through the show, but there have been quite a few marriages that have been made through the society, Mrs Southorn says.
For example both of our children met their other halves through the show. Its wonderful really, to have real, keen interests such as that.
Mrs Southorn adds, The group itself was formed in September 1950 by the then vicar of Abbots Langley. It started with the church choir and expanded from there.
We do a show every year at the Watford Palace Theatre and in 2010 are performing Princess Ida from January 11 to 16.
The lead is a young local girl (Katherine Littler) who went off to do drama at college and has come back to perform with us and is taking the lead.
It is remarkable how many talented youngsters we have coming into our group but it goes to show how much local residents really enjoy the arts and really want to get involved.
Gilbert and Sullivan were the political satirists of the Victorian age, and the things they made fun of we still do today. Its very contemporary in that way.
LEW Hodgins is the chairman of Abbots Langley Cricket Club, a club which has been part of the village for more than 160 years.
The club was formed in the 19th century after local tradesmen and workers began to play cricket around the mid-1840s on an ad hoc basis before the group became established as an organised club by 1855.
Mr Hodgins has been involved with the club for 20 years, and believes, like Mrs Southorn, that youngsters coming through the ranks are every bit as important as those members that have been running the club for decades.
Speaking about the junior members of the club aged from under-nines to under-15s Mr Hodgins says, There are so many clubs locally that play at a similar standard, there really arent enough players to go around. That being the case, we have to breed our own so to speak.
Twenty years or so ago when I
was involved with the junior teams parents just used to use us as a babysitting service, but now lots of parents are getting involved and are really passionate about what their children are doing.
Some are coming forward and want to be coaches, and its helping the club to grow.
Im a mere sapling compared to some people who have been involved with the club for decades. Ive played cricket all my life and taking on the post of chairman is a way of giving something back to the club by working on its behalf, and its important that people do that as its a lovely club, its very friendly and becoming ever more family orientated.
COUNCILLOR Leon Lay is the vice-chairman of Abbots Langley Parish Council and is currently in his second term of office.
Cllr Lays wife, Mrs Jane Lay, is also a councillor and in addition to serving the electorate both are heavily involved with various organisations, Mr Lay having been involved with Abbots Langley Cricket Club for the past 60 years and Mrs Lay currently holding the role of secretary of the Gardening Society.
We are both involved in lots of other activities, but then Abbots Langley is a very active place, Mr Lay says.
In addition to being involved with the cricket club we are both keen gardeners and enjoy getting our hands dirty and try to get out and do as much as we can.
Mr Lay was born and bred in the village and has seen many changes. Although the village itself has seen an enlargement and the population now stands at almost 23,000 people,
Mr Lay believes Abbots Langley still retains the community spirit it possessed during his childhood.
It does retain that village atmosphere and sense of community, of people working together and enjoying each others company.
The community hall was recently opened by the former Watford manager Graham Taylor and he made reference to the village spirit and said it was what he liked about Abbots Langley. Im sure it will continue to be like that for the foreseeable future.