A Gruelling Task (extract from the Stone & Eccleshall Gazette)
Seeing many friends and acquaintances over the festive season that I haven’t seen for a long time, it seems a number of them have retired. The common theme was that they were all looking forward to slowing down, more holidays and wanting to volunteer for one of the many community groups in Stone. One couple said they always felt guilty when they saw the Stone in Bloom gang working so hard in all weathers and they listened patiently while I said exactly what volunteering with us would mean and I explained very strongly that although we have a number of councillors we are a standalone group . They left the pub wishing me a very happy Christmas saying they would love to volunteer for Stone in Bloom and would see us in the summer! I tried not to look surprised as when the summer comes all the hard work has been done, maybe I drank too much mulled wine and my communications skills had failed me! We need volunteers throughout the year but don’t expect you to join our meetings or attend every work party, just if and when you’re free come along and join us.
Sunday January 10th was an extremely gruelling work party taking down all the Christmas trees in the town. Stafford Borough Council didn’t send a shredder to Westbridge Park this year so fortunately for us Mick Plant (maintenance manager for Stone Town Council) and his helper Robert volunteered their services and trailer to take away all the trees. We did thank them both on the day but its acts of kindness like that which make it possible for Stone in Bloom to continue working successfully in the town, so once again thank you Mick and Robert! Many thanks too, to the town traders who bought Christmas trees for their premises, adding to the splendid Christmas light’s display and proving their commitment to supporting our town.
The same day we moved on to Manor Court flats on the Eccleshall Road, where one of the residents is mostly confined to his flat and enjoys watching people passing by; this he could no longer do, as a large hedge obscured his view. It was without doubt the hardest job we’ve ever taken on and at one point I looked at volunteer town councillor Geoff Collier who was wrestling with a large branch and a pair of loppers and was in fear of falling into the ditch below, I asked him if it would be co- option or bi-election? It made us all laugh and of course he survived the day. We don’t normally do jobs like that but the area was in such a mess at the approach to the town and no one was claiming ownership of the area, more importantly we couldn’t let the gentleman become isolated. It was lovely that a number of the residents came out to thank us; we all appreciate thanks as it makes all our hard work worthwhile!