Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Friday, April 17, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise. Itís Friday 17th April and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast for the Village.

Well I was most surprised by the feedback on yesterdayís podcast. I had intended it primarily as piece about the generosity of this Village throughout its history. And that was certainly appreciated. However, it was also clear that many people liked hearing about some of our history. For newer residents, it added some more colour to the lovely place they now call home. For others it brought back good memories of people they have known.

It was great to hear from Jim Stopps of a story from Maynard Baxter about the brooks of Chelveston being set alight by an American serviceman. Iíd not heard that at all. Like Aitch and Noel Morris, Maynard was one of our great characters. He was the Village Sexton who looked after the Churchyard and dug the graves. I just wish that I had written down the stories Iíd heard in his kitchen.

Chad and Steph restored his cottage on Water Lane and now live there with the twins Emily and Jack. Chad is very keen to collect stories about Maynard and the Cottage. Just before the lock down, he asked to be connected up with Aitch so that he could listen to anything Aitch could remember about Maynard. I reckon there must be others listening with Maynard stories, so please get in touch and Iíll connect you up with Chad.

Mark Hunter has assembled a great history for the Village on the Parish Council website. It is the goto source for facts for me. I know he has checked them all.

However, it is the oral and personal histories that bring things to life. For example Ken Allan, from Melbourne Australia wrote to the Parish Council with a fascinating set of photos and memories of life in the Village in his childhood. He lived here from 1945-1951. We duly published them and word slowly filtered round.

When Aitch got to read them, he was straight on the phone. ďAdrianĒ he said ďKen Allan has got stuff wrong, he ainít remembering stuff rightĒ. Well that was just what we needed. We persuaded Aitch to write his own history of the Village and it is a brilliant read on the history web site. Iíll put the links in the daily newsletter.

So it occurs to me that we have several other long standing residents who might be listening, Raymond, Penny, Nigel, Rosemary, Michelle, Tammy, Keith and Stuart. All of these folk must have stories and memories of the place they grew up in. Letís have them please!

There was also great interest yesterday on the links between the Parish and the Americans during the war. The 305th Bombardment group was stationed on the airfield during the war and lost 769 men flying out of Chelveston. The Village took those lads into their hearts and homes as you heard yesterday. For their part, the survivors never forgot the Village and returned here many times for reunions, usually every 4 years.

In 1980, the clock tower of the Church was in much need of repair. The 305th Memorial Association in the USfunded the restoration and funded the installation of a memorial plaque to commemorate the men who lost their lives. There was a huge Civic service commemorating the fallen, the Americans turned out in force to dedicate the new memorial. We still collect at this memorial every remembrance Sunday and a delegation from todayís American Air Force joins us to lay wreaths. Itís 75 years later and yet that bond is still as strong as ever.

In 1988, the reunion brought across a new Stars and Stripes flag for the Church. The one near the altar had begun to show its age. The Americans love their flag and the 305th Bombardment Group were determined replace ours. They contacted the US Congress and secured one of the flags which had flown over the Capitol Building in Washington DC. This was presented by Congresswoman Barbara Knox to the people of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott as a thank you for the service we gave their Airmen during the war. We still use that flag every remembrance Sunday.

Airmen from every state in America served in the 305th Bombardment Group during the war, and our Village looked after them all. For the 1992 reunion, the 305th Bombardment Group wrote to every Governor of the United States and asked them to send a letter of thanks to the people of Chelveston-cum-Caldecott and Higham Ferrers for looking after their airmen. Letters duly came in from every state of America. These were collated to form one of the most treasured pieces of our history Ė The Book of Governors, which was stored quietly without fanfare for many years in the Church. Even I didnít get to hear about it until 2014. When I did, I was able to restore it and digitise it. Iíll put a link in the daily newsletter. It is a fascinating read. Two of the Governors at that time went on to become Presidents of the United States. We have their signatures on letters thanking our Village in the Church. Can you work out who they were?

And this isnít the end of the story Ė the sharp eyed amongst you will have noticed a newer memorial to the Americans in the centre of the Village. The story of how that got built is for another day. I was involved right at the start of that project, and so I find myself being part of its history. Some of that history has been captured on Marksís web site, but reading it now I realise that I know some of the back story that hasnít been written down. Iíll share that with you, so that it is captured for ever. People you know well, still living in the Village today are, at the heart of that story, their role needs to be remembered and recognised.

The richness in our community today, is built on our shared history, our shared sense of place. If this crisis helps us understand more of it, then some good will have come of it, and our lives in the future will be richer for it.

Stay safe folks and thank you for listening.