The New Year's Honours List on 31 December 2004 announced that Celia Collett has been awarded the MBE for services to the community in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell. I am sure that everyone wishes to congratulate Celia on this well deserved accolade.
Celia has lived all her life in Brightwell. During that time she has been able constantly to see the needs of our community and work with others to satisfy as many of these needs as she can.
Shirley and I have lived in the Parish for a mere 17 years but since I retired in 1993 we have worked with Celia on a number of activities. The first occasion was with the Scouts, which she has supported for many years, where we were involved in setting up a special function in the Wallingford Regal Centre. In 1994, after I had been appointed Clerk to the Council, I worked closely with her, as she was Chairman of the Parish Council. I was able to admire her skills of listening and understanding. She is so good at calming down agitated people, establishing a joint course of action and then making it happen. However busy she is, she always makes time to listen to people, whether it is in the street or at a meeting. We then worked together for a period as Governors of Brightwell School and Celia played a major role in the planning and the funding of the recent major extension of its buildings.
A more recent project has been the preparation of the Parish Plan. Celia encouraged the Council to develop a Vital Villages initiative and then as Chairman of the Steering Group was most positive in her leadership by enthusing many parishioners, both young and old. We have all seen the result of this effort, which was the publication of the Parish Plan at the required time in March 2004.
Over a considerable period Celia has played a major role in working for Save the Children. As well as the annual house to house collections, she has shown great initiative in introducing a number of fund raising activities which are fun and indeed have become regular Parish events: particularly the Christmas Carols round the tree on The Square, the Charity Cricket match of the Brightwell cricket team versus the Red Lion and more recently the Market stalls on The Square.
Shirley and I feel very privileged to have worked with Celia and hope to continue to do so for many years to come.