Covid-19 Archive

Podcast script - Tuesday, April 28, 2020

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Good Morning Chelveston, Caldecott and Chelston Rise. Itís Tuesday 28th April and this is Adrian Dale with the daily podcast.

Now as usual, the corrections and comments came in from the moment I broadcast yesterday. Pete Rawlins reckoned Iíd put Tess Dalyís age at 61 instead of 51, saying she was born in 1959. Well Iíve re-listened Pete, I blame it on poor diction on my part. I definitely got the dates right, in my head at least. My dear wife was one of the people in the list of birthdays and I wouldnít have got that wrong!

Then Tina Hackett contacted me. I had wrongly attributed the research about the Church to David Hackett. It was Tina that sent me the message on Sunday. Oops. Yesterday, Tina also gave me more information on the skeletons under the Church Tower. Strangely, they were found resting on the bedrock and couldnít have been buried far below the surface at all. Goodness knows how long they had been buried there. She assured me that they were all photographed and left in place, undisturbed for eternity.

She also let me know more information about Canon Roger Davison, the vicar who smashed up the heating pipes. He really did believe he owned the Church and did what he wanted. Vicars normally apply for permission to change their Church and wait for the Diocese to grant whatís called a Faculty.

Installing the new path and internet connection last year requitrednvolved red tape that you wouldnít believe. Getting a faculty was a hard job.

However, back in the 1970s, no one seemed to worry. Michael Foulger pointed out to Roger Davison that some of the old pews were rotten. Roger was on to it immediately. He and Michael ripped them all out and built a bonfire in the Churchyard and burnt the lot! This has at least left a wonderful space at the back of the Church for all the activities we now take for granted. But how many of you knew how many rules had been broken to create this space?

Roger was also frustrated at the many foot stones in the Churchyard. In the 19th century, many burials had both headstones and footstones at the top and bottom of the grave. These certainly made Churchyard maintenance hard. Roger decided to remove most of the footstones and position them behind the headstones. There were even a few headstones that he moved to improve the look of the Churchyard. Daring indeed, but the Arch Deacons rarely came to the Village, so who would know!

When Melvyn Wooding was looking after the Churchyard in the 1970s and 1980s he would occasionally come across a bone that one of the animals had brought to the surface. Melvyn would stop work and call up Roger for instructions as to what to do. Roger would come out to investigate. More often than not, Father Roger would look for the nearest brick, say a few words of prayer and then bang the bone back into the ground. Rogerís view was that our Church should be a living Church not a dying one.

I am sure that some would questions his approach, but Roger and Eric Buchanan, his successor, kept the Church hanging on in there, allowing their successors to revive the valuable institution that it has now become once more.

Now I am in the Churchyard every day and meet so many characters from around the District. Some are relatives of those buried there, others have heard how lovely and peaceful our Churchyard is. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people come to St Johnís. I love talking to them all (at a distance of course).

Yesterday, however, I met a complete stranger. I have been trying to trace him for two years. I call him the Phantom Grass Cutter. Iíve been looking after the Churchyard for two years and follow a strict cutting regime at this time of year. I keep the grass at a medium length, but donít dare cut the snowdrop or daffodil stalks. Christine Foulger, bless her, left strict instructions as to what to do and I wouldnít dare cross her, especially as Sue Wager is now in charge.

For the last two years, someone has been coming in to the Churchyard one day after every one my cuts and then has scalped everything in sight around our commonwealth war grave. They have even cut down the snowdrops and daffodils.

So far this no one has turned up, and I was delighted . . . until today. I was cutting the Caldecott Road verge and spotted the van going into the Churchyard and so was able to go down to chat with the person responsible.

It was one of those awkward moments. This old boy, who is in his late 80s, makes it his mission to look after the graves of fallen solidiers. In our Churchyard we have the grave of Flight Seargeant Auld, a Canadian airmen so far from home. And believe me, we do look after his grave.

This old chap had seen the daffodils and snowdrops on his grave living out their final days and looking bedraggled. He assumed that no one cared. He had therefore decided to break the isolation rules to come out and cut around the grave. He felt he owed it to the fallen.

Part of me was cross that he had taken an unnecessary journey but another part of me was impressed that this man could care so much as to take this risk.

We had a long chat (at a distance) and I explained to him that we are very proud of Flight Seargeant Auld and that the maintenance of our Churchyard is something that the Parish takes very seriously. I convinced him that breaking isolation is just not necessary in Chelveston-cum-Caldecott.

We are entering into the sixth week of lock down. Some people are being tempted by going to the park or to the beach, or even having a barbeque.

But here is a man whose first priority was to break the law to tend to the grave of a war hero.

Weíve all heard of Captain Tom and his fund raising. Clearly his generation is built of stern stuff and have loyalties that transcend our current challenges.

How many of us can measure up to this?

Thank you