Christina’s Last Blog

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Last Words: Looking Back on the Past Five Years

 As my five years’ chairmanship draw to a close, I look back with very mixed feelings about the conclusion of my tenure in the Chair of Berkshire Gardens Trust. In 24 hours time, my term of office will be history! On one level, I am sad about this: I will miss hugely the Meetings, the people, the visits, lectures and other events, and the day-to-day interaction with colleagues on all the matters which we have addressed within the Trust, and the friendships I have made. I do though feel a great deal of pride for what has been done. Not personal pride, but collective pride in what we as a group of 4 co-founders, and as a Committee of 10 people have achieved, in bringing the Trust from nothing and building it up into a viable voluntary and very successful organisation in this County. Who would have thought that so much would result from a telephone call from Fiona Hope, whom I did not know, one dark evening in November 2008 – just 5 months before my year began as High Sheriff of the Royal County of Berkshire? The progress we have made in those 5 years has been truly remarkable.

 We have enjoyed a very active period over the last few months, with three important and enjoyable events. These were our Study Day at Purley Hall in June, followed by the visit to the Edwardian gardens at Moor Close in July, and lastly the private visit to Folly Farm, Sulhampstead in August, which was for Gazetteer researchers only. All were well attended, and thankfully the weather was kind each time.

 I chaired my final Committee Meeting at home on 2nd October and was delighted that most of the Committee were able to attend, and to join me afterwards for drinks and substantial canapes. I was particularly pleased that so many husbands, wives and partners were able to join us. Prior to this party, I was extremely moved when the Committee presented me with a parting gift- a copy of the new Berkshire edition of Nicholas Pevsner’s “The Buildings of England “. I didn’t have this, and it was on my list of purchases to make, so I was delighted to receive it! Even more important, it included an adhesive dedication from the Committee, designed of course by Ben Viljoen! I will treasure this for the rest of my life.

 Looking back, there are matters which I would like to have seen further advanced. For example, I would like to have seen the membership higher after 5 years, I would like to have seen our financial balance well into the 5-figure range, and I would like to have seen the Gazetteer rather further along than it is. However, we have a great deal to celebrate and to be proud of. We may have been “the last piece in the jigsaw “, to quote member and sometime Committee Member Christine Weightman, but I like to think we are a very active piece in that jigsaw! We have maintained a regular programme of visits, lectures, talks and study days, the Gazetteer is making progress, we are commenting on Planning matters, and we are active in the re-creation and renovation of gardens. Our first completed one, the Hungerford Tragedy Memorial Garden, was a major achievement and the gardens at Watlington House in Reading are also nearing completion.

 I would like to thank all of the Committee and the members for their support over the last 5 years. It wouldn’t have happened without you ! Thank you all, so very much. Here’s to continuing success in the future !

 Dr Christina Hill Williams DL, Chairman, 2008- 2013. 24th October 2013



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