South Leigh Tuesday, 1st December: Santa arrived early in South Leigh this year, apparently missing the football field and landing on top of the concrete bus shelter, which is immediately adjacent in Station Road.
By Tuesday evening as light faded, residents found two of his illuminated reindeers grazing on the roof amid twinkling overhanging trees and Santa well established by a roaring fire. The shelter had become a cosy ice house, there were parcels and festive wreaths, candles, a spangled ceiling and logs by the hearth.
Santa was, in fact, full of hot air, the fire had been glued to the back of an old book shelf, the stars were plastic stuck on blackout fabric, and the ice was a winter camouflage net. But the logs were real.
A group of village ladies and their handyman had planned the Christmas makeover in secret and swooped in unannounced to install window frames and shutters, and convert the concrete shelter into Santa’s grotto. As expected, pixies then moved in, too.
Barbara Austin, said, "The lockdowns have brought our village together when you might have expected the opposite. Back in June we converted the disused bus shelter into a library and swap centre as people couldn’t get out, and shops and libraries were shut. It became a focal point in the community. Since then it’s been a polling station and now Santa has kindly made it his grotto with a message board for people to share messages at this time of goodwill".
Martin Spurrier (01.12.2020)
See also the Oxford Mail story here.
Martin Collett has been an inspiration during the lockdown with his tireless work for the community in and around the village. So much so, that on Saturday, 11th July, as soon as we were allowed to get together - socially distanced, of course!) - residents presented him with a token of appreciation at a community gathering.
Martin Collett has lived in the same house in Chapel Road with his brother, Michael, since he was born and has been a part of our community ever since.
Martin gives virtually all his spare time to the village. If he is not cutting back hedges, he is up to his knees in the stream clearing blockages, pushing his mower along the verges or he’s out in the winter shovelling snow. For years he has been a force behind the summer fayre and, when you see his red truck parked in a gap in the hedge, you know Martin is at work, somewhere.
"Martin’s untiring example of community spirit is an inspiration to us all" said Dick Pears, a resident of 40 years. "Indeed, he his responsible, to a large extent, for our village functioning well and looking so beautiful".
The moment social distancing rules allowed it the community got together to thank Martin for his work. In fact, Martin even made and distributed the invitations and helped serve the BBQ and operate the bar! What he did not know was that there had been a secret collection around the village. "We have a nice present for you, Martin, as well as an engraved tankard from us all with our thanks", Dick announced.
He added, "Lockdown has given us all time to get more involved in community activities in the village. We have seen windflower planting along the verges, tree planting, tidying up the churchyard trees, sign and bridge scraping and painting, and the refurbishment of the three commemorative benches. The sprucing up of our disused bus shelter and its conversion into a temporary library and swap shop even made the newspapers!"
Martin Spurrier (14.08.2020)