If the name Celia Collett means nothing to you, then either you have been hiding in a hole for the past three decades or you don’t live in the parish of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell. But getting Celia to blow her own trumpet is almost impossible, so this website will have to do it for her…

As a Parish Councillor for over 26 years, and as District Councillor for six, Celia has spearheaded many major initiatives. Affordable housing, the Village Stores, the first community action plan… She has raised thousands of pounds for Save the Children and as a patron of Oxfordshire Rural Community Council has helped support village life across the county.

She is also relentlessly positive, a trait that sometimes has colleagues on South Oxfordshire District Council groaning about her ‘apple pie’ outlook. Where some people feel threatened by change, she sees it as an opportunity – a can-do approach that earned her an MBE in 2005 for services to the community.

Celia was brought up in Meadowlands – then at the heart of the family farm and since sold – and has lived in the village all her life. Next month, she celebrates 40 years of married life with Clive – at least they would be celebrating if he hadn’t fixed a meeting of his new allotment group for the same night! It seems somehow typical of a family where the community means so much.

Tell us a bit about growing up on a farm in Brightwell.

I feel one of the luckiest people in the world to have grown up on my family farm. Mum and Dad worked so hard but never let their work affect the time they gave to me, Stella and Tony. Because they involved us totally and were always around, I never felt that anything I did was a chore: stacking hay bales, driving the tractor, feeding the calves, getting the cows in. All the cows had names, so you were friendly with some, and you knew the ones that weren’t so friendly….

I remember the warmth of the farmhouse kitchen when everyone would come in for their morning cuppa and a slice of Mum’s lovely cake. Even the milk lorry driver, John, who came every day to collect the milk, never left the farm without having a cup of tea and piece of cake. Mum and Dad welcomed all our friends; the fields and farmyard were the best adventure playground ever. These were treasured times. …. it was a Darling Buds of May existence.

What changes have you noticed about the area since you lived here as a child?

There have been many changes, but my upbringing always instilled in me that nothing ever stays the same. You need to try to adapt, embrace and make the most of the opportunities changes bring,

What was your first job?

As a teenager, my first paid job was in the summer holidays picking cherries at Sheard’s orchard and strawberries at Lay’s strawberry farm, both in the village. When I left school I went to work for Lloyds Bank in Wallingford. I started off on the till, eventually becoming assistant to the sub manager. Women in those days didn’t very often get to be bank managers or even assistant bank managers.

Have you stayed working at the same thing all your life, or have there been changes?

I stayed at the bank for 10 years, until I had my first son. By that time my husband Clive had started his electrical contracting business and since then I have worked in the business.

Unfortunately, the family farm was sold, but thankfully not before my own two sons – Mark and Johnny – had enjoyed their childhood years on the farm. Working for ourselves meant I was always around for my family and has allowed me to spend time as a volunteer for Save the Children, being involved in the community in many ways, as well as being a Parish & District Councillor.

Who did you most look up to when you were younger?

My father –a kind, compassionate and humble man. He truly valued family and friends above all material possessions. He took a keen interest in local and world affairs and encouraged me to question, debate and to keep an open mind – above all, to search for the truth.

How did you and Clive meet?

At a Rugby Club Christmas dance. My cousin played for Didcot Rugby Club and Clive played for Oxford. It was just one of those chance things – our paths wouldn’t otherwise have crossed, unless I’d played rugby!

What’s a typical day (if there is such a thing)?

There isn’t: one day it may be a series of meetings – District Council, Parish Council, charities I am involved in – doing a shift or sorting something out for the community shop. Next day trying to catch up with all the things I should have been doing for Clive and our business (luckily Clive is very tolerant). The following day can be looking after the grandchildren, Sam and Lucy, giving them all my time and catching up with things when they have their nap. I feel so privileged to live near enough to share so many simple but precious moments: the joy is immeasurable.

I am a person who needs to keep busy, otherwise I feel guilty. It probably comes from growing up on a farm, which naturally instils a work ethic in you.

Do people in the village see you differently from people in other parts of your life?

I hope not; I always strive to be myself.

Describe the best and the worst moments in your life so far.

The best moments were the birth of my two sons, followed by the birth of my two grandchildren; nothing can prepare you for the overwhelming love you feel. My worst moments were watching my mother die in hospital. She suffered so much in her last few weeks, and it could have been handled better.

What other things would you like to achieve in your life?

Have a healthy and long retirement seeing our grandchildren grow up and have time to do some of the things Clive and I keep putting off.

If you were Prime Minister tomorrow, what one thing would you change?

We have got into the habit in our political system of achieving things through bureaucracy instead of true democracy. This leads ordinary members of the public not to value their right to vote, when people all over the world are dying for that right.

I would love to be able help bring about change to get more ethics back into politics to enable the majority of people to be confident about their vote.

Our website makes use of non-invasive (no personal data) cookies to provide you with an enhanced user experience. By continuing to use the site, you consent to this.Close More
The UK Law now requires us to get consent from you for the use of cookies.

A cookie is a small file containing text and numbers generated by the website and passed from your browser back to our website when you revisit the site.

A cookie is used here to allow you to navigate the site, log in etc. Without this cookie (called a session cookie), this site would not work properly and so this has already been set.

We use an animation based rotating image which uses a cookie to know which image was last displayed so that as you move from page to page you are not seeing the same image every time.

We can also make use of third party services such as video clip players which can set cookies, for example to enable them to know that you part played a video clip previously, or to store customised settings such as brightness or volume. Close