The Annual Parish Meeting was held in the Village Hall on May 6th, presided over by Parish Council Chairman Sue Kirkby and attended by members of the Council and 16 people from Withiel. The ‘state of the Parish’ reports from the various groups painted a picture of a community of active volunteers working for the benefit of all, with the groups and associations in sound health.

On a sombre note, tributes were paid to those who left us during the year, notably Catherine Liddicoat, a stalwart of many Withiel groups over much of her life. Ivan Martyn, Clarence Rundle and Bill Foster were also remembered in the report of St Clements Church, which was delivered by Betty Jarrett on behalf of Rev Elke Deeley.

Betty set out the structure of a strategy called Accompanied Ministry Development, which is at the centre of church activity; it has several strands which relate to the way in which the church interacts with worshippers and the whole community. Some aspects have proved more successful than others, but a large number of people have combined to help make them work, and thanks were expressed to all. Notable events during the year included the wedding of Jessica Cecil-Wright and Paul Wright, and the installation of a new sound system in the church.

Withiel Playing Fields Association has had a good year. In the absence of Chairman Simon Coy, Janet Shearer read a review which showed that despite a financial shock – the unexpected requirement to replace the gas pipes in the Village Hall at a cost of £3,109.20 – the Association’s closing balance was £5,876.74. These figures do not include the grant of £10,000 from the Parish Council towards the Hall Development Project, this being ‘Section 106’ money from the Kerriers Solar Farm. Another £25,000 is needed, and Harry and Joanna Smith have been identifying funding sources and making applications. The hall was well-used during the year, the highlight being the Johnny Cowling concert, masterminded by Jenny Pentland, a hilarious (and a financial) success.

County Councillor Chris Batters mentioned the repairs to the bridge at Ruthern – for the third time – and the replacement of the footbridge at Lawellan. The County Council is losing another £196 million from its budget and all cuts are difficult to make, but they’ve reduced their estate from 108 properties to 67 and made 280 more redundancies. Parish Council Chairman Sue Kirkby highlighted the receipt of £35,000 in Section 106 money from the solar farm and the work that has been done on the Neighbourhood Plan, which is essential if Withiel is to have a say in its own future. During the year the Parish acquired a new Clerk, Robin Turner, who has been invaluable.

Ann Cardew read the Women’s Institute report on behalf of Ros Coy, and again paid tribute to Catherine Liddicoat, who had been associated with the WI for most of her life. In this, the centenary year of the WI, Withiel has run counter to the national trend in increasing membership, and the Institute is seen as an essential part of the life of our small village. Our de facto Neighbourhood Watch co-ordinator Philip Cardew said crime had not been a significant problem in Withiel but stressed that we need to be vigilant if there is any unusual activity; close windows and lock doors when you’re away, and keep a chain on the door if you’re elderly or disabled. Thieves often work in pairs, with one distracting a householder at the front door while another enters from the back; take a note of the appearance and car registration of suspicious persons.

The next Annual Parish Meeting will be on Wednesday May 4th 2016, starting at 7pm.


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