Community Spirit – by Gary Anderson
I’m sure there are many different ways to describe “Community Spirit” and everyone of them is correct to that individual.
The Wikipedia definition is “Community spirit finds expression in individual or group activities in which members of a community choose to engage for the benefit of that community. These activities may be locally organised, or informal and spontaneous”.
My own definition of Community Spirit was pleasantly re-awakened recently. For the past 15 years, through the Ferguson Club I have organised the Chiltern Vintage Tractor Charity Run. In the early years the main driver was to raise funds for our local Thames Valley Air Ambulance. So many people in the area also believed that this was a very good cause and it also seemed to fit in too many other regional vintage tractor runs. The support of the event at all different levels from marshalling and catering through to driving a tractor was immense. Donations were so gratefully received and each year to our collective amazement we kept beating the record of monies raised from the previous year. As the years progressed, I realised that the momentum of the event was picking up. So much so that people taking part were looking forward to the following years event almost before completing the current year.
Then came 2020. Community Spirit took on a whole new meaning. Protecting the vulnerable, the NHS and each other.
As we moved into 2021 there were a lot of people asking about the run and whether it would go ahead. We closely tracked Government guidelines to what was possible and Sunday 4th July 2021 was approved by the Ferguson Club NFU insurance underwriters. The theme Independence Day was thus formed and the 2021 Vintage Tractor Run started to take shape. There was tremendous support from all areas. Particularly the local farm and land owners whose grounds we were planning the route over. The Thames Valley Air Ambulance themselves were providing volunteers to supplement the brilliant core volunteer team that is so pivotal to the success of the event. Prizes for the raffle were being handcrafted or gifted along with homemade cakes and other delights. Over 60 vintage tractor drivers and their families signed up immediately. One of the tractor drivers being our own Club Chairman – Ian Richings.
An important part of the start of the event over the years has been the unique blessing provided by the Vicar and choir of the Hambleden Valley Churches (same valley as “The Vicar of Dibley”). This year was no different. The Reverend Sue Morton and her amazing team gave a lovely blessing to all those attending. It was gratefully received and after the hymn (We Plough the Fields and Scatter) and dare I say humorous blessing, we all left the field with spirits high for a fabulous day ahead.
The volunteer marshals were sublime in their handling of the serious part of road safety, the volunteer catering team kept the participants stomachs fed from morning bacon rolls, to a Lacey’s (local farm shop) BBQ lunch, through to the end of day tea and cakes. Everybody just loved the whole ambiance of the day and was glad to be doing something “normal”. Donations taken on the day were strong and are still coming in.
It was a very humbling experience. Community Spirit is alive and well and the vintage tractor movement is a key part of this. In fact, more so than ever before. 2020 has taught us all that we should never take things for granted.
PS: Donations can be made through the “Just Giving” website – search for 2021 Chiltern Vintage Tractor Run.
Photo above – The Reverend Sue Morton leading her choir for the 2021 Tractor Blessing