Farewell from The Farleys
People come to The Land of The Twelve Churches, and people go from it... And some leave behind more than they take. And the Farleys, who are moving for Witney, after very nearly 40 years in Alvescot, are definitely in the 'leaving lots behind' group. For they retain fond memories, but they leave behind the fruits of decades of dedicated service to the village.
And not just service to their own village, Alvescot, for they have had affect on others too. Both Tessa and Malcolm were staunch supporters of Parish Pump when I first heeded Richard Harrison's call to came on board and edit the new magazine in 2004; and their support ever since has been absolutely invaluable.
So it is a huge thank you, Tessa, and a huge thank you, Malcolm, from Parish Pump, to add to the deafening chorus of thanks from Alvescot and beyond. And now we very happily set out here, Tessa's lovely, ruminative adieu to the village they have both loved. RM
Malcolm and Tessa...
... 'The Farleys of Alvescot'.
40 years ago (in October 1981) we moved into The Firs: known then, and for some considerable time afterwards. as 'Ann Thomas’s house'! At the time I worked in Oxford and Malcolm had moved to work in Swindon - so we had looked for a house in a village situated roughly equidistant travelling time from both towns.
In 1981 The Firs had been empty for some time and needed major renovation, so full of relative youthful enthusiasm and naivety we hired a caravan for the garden, and booked a sequence of contractors to get to work - with us working evenings and weekends on the house in between. In November 1981 there was a severe cold spell and for the one and only time in our 40 year time here, Alvescot was snowed under and completely cut off. All roads were blocked out of the village. The caravan was freezing... even our gin froze in the bottle! Our first months here have memories of cold nights in the caravan and weekend working in a freezing cold house!
However even in those early days we met the warmth and kindness of other villagers and had a positive introduction to village life in Alvescot. We wanted to become involved and in the following year started to join village organisations. A trend that has continued over the ensuring 39 years!
In July 1982 our daughter Laura was born- our house was just about habitable at that time! Laura attended our local schools in Alvescot, Langford and Burford and grew up in the security of village life. I was a governor of St Peter’s School for many years and worked with five headteachers: Joan Pritchard, Brenda Bean, Miriam Sirrell, Ann Parham and finally Sam King - the current visionary leader of St Peter’s School. When my daughter attended the school it had under 20 children, and over the following years the Headteachers and Governing Body worked hard to ensure it could remain a viable school for the community. Now we have a thriving village primary school!
Malcolm and I wanted to be involved locally so joined a range of organisations, and feel privileged to have worked alongside other local villagers dedicated to supporting our village and its facilities. We remember working with others to create the adventure playground - a truly local voluntary effort!
Malcolm has been a long term Village Hall committee member. He was Chair of the Parish Council for many years and also assisted with grant applications for the development of the MUGA for basketball and tennis. Alvescot can justifiably feel proud of the play facilities for local youngsters ( and those not so young!)
When we arrived in Alvescot no parish priest was in post. Reverend Riley had just retired. Within our time here and as a member of the Parochial Church Council I have served with four rectors - Philip Randall, Ron Lloyd, Richard Harrison and Harry MacInnes. The rectors were over time assisted by two curates and three associate vicars. Initially just 5 parishes were in the Shill Valley Benefice which became extended to Shill Valley and Broadshire Benefice incorporating eleven parishes - now reduced to ten.
As a PCC member, and latterly Churchwarden, I have worked with my colleague warden Jayne Lewin and PCC members to raise funds and grants to start the redevelopment of St Peter’s Church building. At last we achieved a ground source well enabling us to have running water in the church, extending to even have a loo! ( The first church in the Benefice to do so!) A ground source heat pump gives St Peter’s the facility to extend to a total underfloor heating system - the next stage of development which I have promised to continue supporting!
We feel so lucky to have had the fun of renovating and extending our house and garden so that we could make a happy home for us as a family, and one which we could share with wider family and friends. We are very grateful to have lived in a happy, settled, safe community for so many year where we have made so many good friends.
We decided this year that the next stage for us was a local move to Witney where a few more facilities were closer to hand. We will be sad to leave our house and our village but a new chapter awaits us. But we have to say a big THANK YOU to Alvescot for all the friendship and happiness given to us. We hope the new owners of the Firs will be equally as happy here as we have been. (Will it I wonder be called 'The Farley’s house' for a while?)
Our final message to all villagers: if you chose to move into a village community it will be so enriched by your involvement in local activities. So do join groups and organisations. Sometimes meetings may feel a bit tedious... but the benefits that can be achieved by working with fellow villagers are there for the short and long term for everyone!
Luckily we are not going far away... and hope to come back to Alvescot often. So goodbye to all we know locally and THANK YOU for making the last 40 years so busy and happy for us.
Tessa and Malcolm Farley
Again, thank you Tessa & Malcolm Farley
And best fortune in Witney
Do come back and see us often!
Julian Choyce, 2021