Hilary hands over the WoTSoc reins

Westbury on Trym Society

AT the Westbury Society’s recent AGM, Hilary Long retired as current Chairman and handed over to Andy Renshaw. Hilary has been a founder member of the Society since its inception in 1972 and has been Chairman twice during the last 20 years.

During her time as Chairman, she ensured the wonderful flower displays in the village continued despite all the various problems that have occurred. She has been involved in many campaigns to help to retain local amenities and to stop harmful developments. By her own reckoning her greatest achievement was leading a campaign to prevent the boundary commission subsuming Westbury’s historic village into Henleaze as part of that ward. Instead, it became the first named in a two-ward partnership.

‘A longstanding partnership’ is the manner in which she would like her work to be regarded –“None of it would have been possible without the hard work of a small team of active members in their  various roles and the support of the membership for the bigger projects”, she said today “ above all I thank my life partner, husband Bill for all his back-up, participation and patience for these many years!”

She has been at the forefront of work to tidy the centre of the village, working monthly along with colleagues from SUSWOT, to maintain the Packhorse Garden in Chock Lane and was hugely involved in development of the new entrance to Canford Park where the five trees were donated by other organisations and individuals to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. Canford has benefited from bulb planting and work in the sunken garden from work with the Society’s  gardening team. With Keith Sheather, 15 years ago, she masterminded the production of a film celebrating the history of the village (now available on YouTube).

As a representative member of the Society, Hilary is now a Trustee of the Village Hall, where in the past she produced many entertainments with historical themes and inspiration to help in raising funds for its restoration. Just two years ago, she organised a lunch and Gilbert and Sullivan Society concert to celebrate the Society’s 50th anniversary, which was a great success. She created many different forms of decoration of the hall for these events and has continued with these each Christmas time.

Although now retired from leadership, Hilary will continue to organise activities for the Society including a new programme of evening talks at the library and gardening (plus weeding!) around the village. An oak tree for King Charles III in Canford Park will complete her contributions this autumn and hopefully a long planned Civic Society history plaque will celebrate the famous William Canynge’s life at the College in the 15th century later this year.

New chairman Andy Renshaw noted that there have only been four chairpersons during the Society’s history and it remains as relevant today as it was when it was set up. Andy is delighted that since the AGM two additional members have been co-opted onto the committee to help manage the Society’s work.

The Society will face challenges in a number of areas over the next few years:

• Maintaining the much loved flower displays in the village which so many visitors enjoy;

• Helping to make Westbury a more attractive place to visit for shopping doing business and leisure –using our history to greater advantage, campaigning for public toilets and liaising with the businesses and other groups, such as SusWoT.

• Continuing to engage with the council over planning matters, traffic issues, park maintenance and trees; 

• Working to mitigate the impact of additional traffic that the housing developments in South Gloucestershire, off Cribbs Causeway, will bring; and

• Restoring membership numbers, which reduced following Covid times and encouraging more participation in Society activities from members of the community.

On that note Andy would be delighted to welcome new members.

 You can find out more and obtain a membership form on the Society’s website: westburyontrymsociety.org.uk