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Five Parishes Magazine


Five Parishes magazineThis magazine is published monthly and is distributed free to every household in the Five Parishes.
For editorial and advertisement sales in the Five Parishes Magazine contact Mrs Angela Harbottle, 8 St Edmunds Croft, Dunmow, CM6 3AZ on 01371 876707 or via Email.

The latest edition of The Five Parishes Magazine contains the following editorial content.  For various reasons we are unable to publish the names, telephone numbers etc of private individuals.  However if you require further information about any of the events mentioned, the Editor, Angela, will be happy to help you.  Contributions for the Magazine should reach her by latest 10th of the month prior to month of publication.


Priest-in-Charge: Revd Tim Goodbody writes from The Vicarage, 7 Ruffels Place, Stebbing, CM6 3TJ
Telephone 01371 856080 /
07708 660162 Email
Curate: Revd Janet Parker Telephone 01371 870920 Email

January 2020

Dear Friends

In January one often sees or hears the phrase “New Year, New You!” Often, we make New Year’s resolutions, accompanied by a determination to change – perhaps go on a diet after the excesses of Christmas and New Year. Sometimes though we see this phrase in advertising for the sales – for clothes, make up, for interior decoration, even for furniture sales (the ones that seem to start before we’ve even finished Christmas). The implication being that to change our appearance, or the appearance of our home, will somehow improve us as people.

No doubt it would do some of us (especially me) good to lose a bit of weight after one too many mince pies, but I need to tell you that you are a unique person, created and loved by God, and he made you in his image just as he intended. We can’t improve on that! In the Bible story of David and Goliath, (which, given that I am writing this one week before December’s general election may, or may not be extra relevant) when the prophet Samuel is looking for the person God has chosen to be king, he is drawn to the handsome, the strong and the tall, but God tells him to reject these candidates, because “People look at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16 verse 7).

Who we are isn’t defined by what we look like, or what we own, or what we wear (or don’t wear). We are God’s beloved children, whom he longs to embrace and love and bless. Sometimes our problem is that we don’t love ourselves, so we can’t imagine how God could love us. So, this new year if you are feeling a little low – it is, after all, a long dark winter – may I reassure you of your value in the sight of God, the God who loved the world so much that he sent his son Jesus to live among us, as we have just finished celebrating at Christmas, and not only that he gave up his life on the cross to restore the broken relationship between humanity and God (which we will be celebrating at Easter).

There is a way to make a new you, but it doesn’t change the old you. Faith in Christ means we can all have a new start; we can put behind us the pain, suffering, mistakes and regrets of the past, and step into a new relationship with God through Jesus Christ. This changes our heart, not our outward appearance, and it is the very essence of what it means to be a Christian.

So this new year if you do sense it is time for a new start, we would love to talk to you in Church about how to become a Christian (or to renew your childhood faith). Why not pop in one Sunday or give me a ring?

Happy New Year





The Salings (GS: Great and LS: Little)


5th Jan 2020

9.30am Holy Communion

11am BCP Holy Communion @ GS

11am Morning Prayer
3.30-5pm TOTS

12th January
Baptism of Christ

9.30am Morning Prayer

11.00am Morning Prayer @ LS

11.00am CW Holy Communion with Kids Connect

19th January
2nd Sunday of Epiphany

9.30am Holy Communion

11.00am Family Service @ GS Thanksgiving for a child

8.00am BCP Holy Communion

11.00am Informal with Kids Connect

26th January
3rd Sunday of Epiphany

9.30am Family Service

9.30am CW Holy Communion @ LS

11.00am CW Holy Communion with Kids Connect

2nd February Candlemas/ Presentation of Christ in the Temple

9.30 Holy Communion

11.00am CW Holy Communion @ GS

11am Morning Prayer

3.30-5pm TOTS



Usual Collection Day

New Collection Day

Tuesday 31st December

No change

Black Bin

and food

waste caddy

Wednesday 1st January

Thursday 2nd January

Thursday 2nd January

Friday 3rd January

Friday 3rd January

Saturday 4th January

Extra recycling can be placed at the side of your bin for collection on recycling week.  Place this in white or clear bags or cardboard boxes, no black bin liners please.  Normal collections will commence from Tuesday 7th January 2020


UDC is providing skip and refuse vehicles around the district – simply take along your Christmas tree and other green waste for disposal.

Saturday 11th January 2020 - Angel Lane car park, Great Dunmow, 9am-3pm
Sunday 11th January 2018 - Village Hall car park, Great Easton, 9am-10.00pm
Sunday 12th January 2020 - Margaret Street car park, Thaxted, 2.45am-3.45pm


Stansted Airport has put its new £150m arrivals terminal on hold while it reviews the plans.  The reasons given are economic and political uncertainty, fresh demands from airlines, and delays in approval for further expansion.  The terminal was due to open in 2020, as part of an ongoing £600m plan to create capacity and improve facilities at the Essex airport.  Stansted is consulting with airlines to "future-proof" the building.  An airport spokesperson said uncertainty over what border controls would be required after Brexit and wider economic doubts had also influenced the review.


The Five Parishes Magazine is delivered free of charge to all residents in the villages served by our churches.  An increasing number of copies also go to people outside the parish who do not attend any of the churches or contribute to them or to the Magazine in any way.

As is our custom at this time, we ask those latter people to help us by sending a donation to cover the cost of the copies they receive.  £20 would cover printing and postage costs for the coming year – cheques should be payable to The Five Parishes (do not add the word “magazine”) and sent to 8 St Edmunds Croft, Dunmow, Essex CM6 3AZ.  Online payments may be sent to Barclays Bank, sort code 20-19-95 account name The Five Parishes account number 10011592 reference Magazine Subscription.  Thank you for your support.


As we prepare this issue it is still early in December but this special month in the church calendar is starting with great things.  Advent Sunday saw worshippers from all the Pilgrim Parishes celebrating in Great Easton church in the morning.  Each of the eight churches brought their advent wreaths.  These wreaths are circular, representing God's infinite love, and were spectacular.  In the evening, the lights were lit on an even larger than normal Christmas tree on the village green after which the church hosted a very unusual but special service – The Coming of the Light.  Led by Paul Green, it was an atmospheric, emotive event starting in virtual darkness but progressing to a reflective service in a church beautifully lit by candlelight.

On the eve of going to press, Sunday 8th December saw the Five Parishes’ first Christmas Market held at Little Easton Manor by kind invitation of Andy and Mel and with their generous help.  The number of visitors for this new venture surpassed expectations.  They were able to browse amongst an array of stalls in three areas, the Manor Barn, the Turkey Barn and the church, itself packed with stalls, a Santa’s Grotto with a memorable Father Christmas, a superb children’s choir and other children’s activities.  More details will follow in next month’s issue.


Brian Miller writes: The lucky recipient of cork draw No 3 was Terry Francis of Duton Hill when cork No 103 was drawn in Broxted Church at the Festival of Angels.  A cheque for £50 has been delivered and I am sure Terry and Julia’s cats and dogs will enjoy a festive Christmas this year.


The Eastons & Tilty W.I. meeting on Thursday 9th January 2020 will be at the Village Hall at 2 for 2.30pm as usual.  The speaker will be Carol Weller talking about The Essex Blood Runners.  Membership subscriptions will be collected during this meeting.  New members are always welcome.  For further information please contact either President, Doreen Hart, on 01371 870830 or Secretary, Christine Chalkley, on 01371 852180. 


Jill Goldsmith writes:  Happy New Year from the Gardens!  January can be grim can’t it?  So, we are focusing on the nice things to come in the year ahead of us – starting with snowdrops, of course!

The snowdrops continue to spread through the Gardens: in the bosquet, there are patches of aconites as well as the swathes of snowdrops among the trees and towards the treehouse, along the glade and in the kitchen garden they are colonising the grassy areas too.  Our snowdrop Open Days are on Sundays 16th and 23rd February, gates open 11.30am, with last entry at 3pm.  We can also arrange other dates for group visits of 10 or more people.

We have been busily planting and planning for more colour in the Gardens through the year and are also working on exciting additional activities for the full season Open Days.  Why not follow our progress on Facebook or our blog?  Or arrange for a speaker to come to your community to share the Gardens’ story?  For more information see the What’s On, Group visits, or Talks pages on  To book, call us on 01371 876979.


Our parish Magazine was entered into the A5 category of this competition which was finalised in December.  Out of 360 entries, our magazine achieved 22nd place.  Most of the top five winners are produced in full colour, so we are not too chastened although Angela did have her eye on the 5th place which was specifically for the Best Editor!


Sarah’s Fitness Classes can help you on your way.  Local Personal Trainer, Sarah McLagan, runs two fitness classes each Tuesday in Great Easton Village Hall.  The classes are held at 6.15pm and 7.30pm.  The second class tends to attract those with some level of fitness, although both of the classes are adaptable to any fitness level.  Sarah provides all the equipment needed to have a complete body work out at the pace you can manage.  Give her a ring on 01371 870483 to find out more.  The first classes of 2020 are on Tuesday 7th January.


Sadly a recent attempt to purchase this property for the benefit of the community failed.  Headed by Andy Mahoney of Little Easton Manor, a subset of members of the Stop Easton Park campaign appealed for pledges but the sum promised of £100,000 was insufficient.

One of Easton Park’s best kept secrets, Stone Hall dates back to the 14th century.  It is a Grade 2* property and, together with its gardens and woods, comprises 25 acres in a far corner of Easton Park.  As mentioned in the November issue, it was restored by Tony and Joan Pickford.

It is understood that both Historic England and The Society for the Protection of Buildings are aware of the situation and Historic England have confirmed that they will follow up to protect the historic assets of Easton Park.  By raising £100,000 for this initiative, it has demonstrated the level of concern in the local community about the future of Easton Park and our ability to fight our corner if required.


Publication of the Inspectors’ preliminary letter to Uttlesford District Council (UDC) on the Local Plan has been delayed due to the General Election.  The Stop Easton Park team feels this provides the opportunity for considered reflection on the advisability of allocating Easton Park for the development of a major new town.   

Under the heading 10,000 Trees Not 10,000 Houses, a presentation has been compiled and sent to UDC giving a comprehensive background to the area, complete with historic evidence dating back to 1756.  For more information, visit


If you’re elderly or disabled, and are finding it difficult to get out and about, UCT, based in Great Dunmow, supplies minibuses and cars to take residents of Uttlesford wherever they want to go, including to medical appointments.

A fleet of six specially-adapted minibuses, all of which are wheelchair accessible, are used for its Book-A-Ride service, providing transport for journeys such as shopping, going to the hairdressers, visiting friends, or garden centres.  All drivers are fully trained and checked through the Disclosure and Barring Service.  Passengers pay a £10 annual joining fee and then £3.40 for the first two miles travelled and £1.02 for all subsequent miles.

Book-A-Ride also provides transport for group outing such as trips to the coast, places of interest, theatre trips, garden centres, lunches and afternoon teas, school trips and even regular group meetings.  The annual joining fee for a group is £20 plus a journey cost on an individual basis per group.

UCT also provides a hospital car service, which helps people who have difficulty in getting to medical appointments by finding a driver living nearby using their own car, to take them.  The drivers are all volunteers, so the passengers have to pay only the HMRC mileage rate of 45p per mile.

For more information, phone 01371 875787 or e-mail


Stebbing’s High Street from Mott’s Yard to the junction by the church was closed for 180 metres in December, for work to be carried out at Church Farm culvert.  The work includes bringing in equipment to tunnel 7mts down, hopefully avoiding gas, water, fibre optic, telephone and sewage, in order to place a power cable for village supply.  It is anticipated to take about 3 weeks, but dates and work programmes can be subject to change if affected by poor weather or if unexpected issues arise.


The Thaxted Flower Club is a thriving Club in the heart of Thaxted.  It has been in existence for over 25 years and is looking for new members.  You do not have to be a flower arranger to come along, just love flowers and enjoy watching the experts arrange them.  At most meetings a demonstrator shows five or six designs whilst telling entertaining stories of their experiences.  Occasionally tutored workshops are held for those who want to learn more, all levels are welcome.

It is a relaxed and friendly club that welcomes visitors, why not go along and give them a try?  Refreshments are served half way through the evening giving a chance to chat and socialise.  If you decide to join, a year’s subscription is £40 or come as a visitor when it is £6 per meeting.  Bring this article with you and your first visit is free.

Thaxted Flower Club meets at 7.30pm on the first Tuesday of the month with the exception of January and August at the United Reformed Church, Bolford Street, Thaxted CM6 2PY.  They are looking forward to seeing you.


The speaker on Monday 27th January 2020 will be Mike Day on Flowering Shrubs.  The Club meets in The Day Centre, access via Margaret Street car park, at 7.15pm.  Cost is £3 per person and £1 per ticket for the raffle.


Thanks for the continued support for Braintree Area Foodbank was accompanied by their half yearly report to 30th September 2019.  They fed a total of 2,406 people, an increase of 21% on the same six months in 2018.  The amount of food distributed in the first six months of their year 2019/20 was 28.2 tonnes compared with 21.4 tonnes in the same period of 2018, an increase of approximately 32%.

Since 1st October there has been a further increase in the number of people in need, with 48% more people being fed than in October 2018, and November’s statistics indicate a further rise.  Despite a fantastic harvest festival season, with over 10 tonnes of food coming into the warehouse, by the end of November stocks had dropped to just over 14 tonnes.

They ask that we continue to use the winter list into January, food items currently required being: lLt Longlife fruit juice, tinned custard, pasta sauce, tinned fruit, tinned soup, tinned spaghetti and sponge puddings.  Non-food items needed: shower gel, shampoo, deodorants, washing-up liquid, washing powder.


We are delighted that Barclays Bank plc have reversed their recent decision and will continue to offer cash withdrawals at Post Office counters.  They still stand by their promise to keep open the last branch in town and remote branches for at least the next two years, and to work with local businesses in remote areas to provide free cash withdrawals.


Are you living with or caring for someone affected by Dementia/Alzheimer’s?  Would you like to get out and talk about it with others?  Then why not pop along to the Dementia Café and enjoy companionship, support, information and advice, activities and, of course, refreshments.  The group meets every Friday morning at The Garden Room, Hill Street, Saffron Walden, from 10am to 12 noon.  For more information, call Volunteer Uttlesford on 01799 510525.


CONGRATULATIONS: To Revd Peter Street who celebrated 60 years since his ordination in 1959 at a special service at St Mary’s Church, Dunmow on 1st December.  Residing in Great Easton at the time, Peter looked after the churches of the Five Parishes in the early 2000s during the extended Interregnum following the death of the late Revd Jack Filby.


This is a fun, festive recipe for the children. However, adult supervision is recommended when melting the chocolate. The size of the snowballs will determine the quantity, but the ingredients can easily be doubled.

Chocolate Coconut Snowballs
Half a tin condensed milk; 240g (8oz) desiccated coconut; 2 tablespoons icing sugar; 100g (3.5oz) dark or milk chocolate

In a bowl, mix the condensed milk, coconut and icing sugar together with a wooden spoon.  With wet hands, shape into small balls and rest on non-stick parchment.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Using a cocktail stick, dip the balls into the chocolate, covering well and allow to set on another sheet of parchment.  Chill in the fridge for at least 10 minutes.  Store in the fridge for up to a week.

If you have a favourite recipe, seasonal or otherwise, which you would like to share, please send it to Gill Willoughby at


We are coming to the end of our autumn term and reflecting on the amount of things we pack into each day.  Our children are incredible and have such a love of life and learning that they thrive on all the excitement!

We are about to perform two amazing Christmas shows, we are preparing for the Christingle/carol concert in the church, we will be singing to the Great Easton residents at their Christmas lunch in The Swan, classes are busy making last minute touches to props and costumes to the plays and none of this would be possible without the support of our brilliant parents and all the staff.

We have just had our Christmas Fayre which raised in the region of £2,500 for the school, so a big thank you to everyone who came and supported the event and also to our marvellous PTA who give up hours of their time.  Year 4/5 made an arcade room full of games they had designed and made themselves out of recycled materials. This alone made £94 so a big well done to our very creative children.  They watched a clip on the internet called Caine’s Arcade for inspiration, so if you would like to watch it too, have a search online!

We would also like to thank our local residents who put up with the extra traffic at drop-off and pick up times as well as the chaos caused when we have out of school events.  We do appreciate your patience and understanding during these busy periods.

Lastly, we hope the New Year brings health and happiness to everyone in our school family.

Thank you for reading.

Claire Jackman and Holly Miles
Headteacher and Year 4/5 Teacher/Assistant Headteacher



From Clerk’s desk:  The next Council meeting is on Wednesday 29th January 2020, which seems a long way off but it will be with us before you know it.


Sadly to date the Council has received no additional expressions of interest from anyone about becoming part of a local Speedwatch group, so for the time being the equipment will be returned to storage.

Manor Road Fencing

After discussion with residents, the Council has drafted a specification for the replacement of the fencing run and will be inviting contractors to tender for the supply and installation.

Pavement, Duck Street

A length of pavement along Duck Street is in poor condition, in need of repair and badly overgrown.  The Council has requested that the Essex Highways Rangers attend to complete remedial works.

It only remains for me to wish you on behalf of the Parish Council a peaceful holiday season and a Happy New Year.


The AGM for Little Easton Memorial Hall will take place on Tuesday 7th January 2020 at 6.30pm in the Hall.  All residents are welcome to attend.


The monthly gathering of parishioners is held on the last Thursday of each month and so hopefully everyone will come along on Thursday 30th January 2020.  Do keep an eye on The Stag website and Facebook page  Get out, away from the tech, be social and support your local!

The Five Parishes Knit and Natter Club is held at The Stag on alternate Wednesdays of the month.  For more information contact Glen on 01371 870214 or join the Facebook group  All are welcome for knitting and/or nattering.


The service will be at Butchers Pasture on Thursdays 2nd and 23rd January 2020, arriving at 9.35am and leaving at 10.05am.


To hire the hall, contact Jenny Green on 01371 870402.  For more details see the hall website at


1pm to 2.15pm

British Lung Foundation Exercise Class


2.30pm to 4pm

Active with Parkinson’s


8pm to 10.15pm

Carpet Bowls

Wednesday (first 3 in every month)

7.30pm to 10pm

Great Dunmow & District Ringcraft Society


10am to 12 noon

Art Club



Dog Training


ANNOUNCEMENT:  We are sad to announce the sudden death of Jon Greaves on the 4th December, at home.  No details of the Service of Thanksgiving are available as we go to press but, as there will have to be a post mortem, inevitably there will be a delay.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his huge circle of friends.  He will be much missed by us all.   

CONGRATULATIONS: To Emily Smith of Duck Street who celebrated her 21st birthday in December.  It was great to have her back home for the weekend to spend time with family and friends, and we all send her love and best wishes.



SongCycle Concert 16th November  

Peter and Sheena write:  we would like to thank everyone who came to see these amazing men perform a wide range of songs and poems in our church – over fifty people attended and the event raised in excess of £400.


The next meeting of the Parish Council will be on Thursday 30th January commencing at 7.30pm in Great Easton Village Hall.  All are welcome.  Minutes of the meetings will be posted on the notice boards in Great Easton, Duton Hill and Tilty and also on the new website  Information is also available on the Council’s Facebook page, which please like and share.  If you need to contact the Parish Clerk, please e-mail


Editor Angela writes:  It was a very great pleasure to be invited to attend this lunch on 5th December.  On behalf of all the guests, grateful thanks and congratulations go to everyone involved on a particularly well organised occasion.  The members of the Community Association team worked so hard and Dave Scott gave us a delicious Christmas lunch.  During lunch we were entertained to carols sung by pupils from Years 4/5 at Great Easton Primary School and each guest was given a personalised card drawn and written by one of the children.


A quiz is being held on Saturday 8th February at 7pm in Great Easton Village Hall in aid of World Challenge.  Tables for 6.  Tickets at £10 pp to include hot supper, with dessert (bring your own drinks) are available from Peter Neale on 01371 870715.

Lucy Henderson is raising funds to go to Morocco with World Challenge and a team of young people from her school.  They will be supporting a rural community by helping to refurbish the local school and their toilets in order to encourage young females, in particular, to attend school.  World Challenge expects that the ‘explorers’ will fundraise the money for their own trip and contribute towards the materials required for the refurbishment, as well as plan and organise the expedition.  They plan the itinerary, manage the budget and sort out all the logistical issues in the destination country for the refurbishment work as well as transportation, food and accommodation.


Another open garden event in the village is planned for Sunday 21st June.   Following the event two years ago, many positive comments were received and money was raised for both the Great Easton Community Association and a chosen charity.  Rae O’Malley and her colleagues will be looking for people willing to open their gardens on that day.  It just involves providing someone to garden sit and to allow fellow gardeners a chance to take inspiration and ideas home with them.  See her entry on the Great Easton Facebook page.


This service will be at the Great Easton Village Hall on Friday 17th January 2020, arriving at 12.05pm and leaving at 12.35pm.


To hire the hall, contact Audrey Miller on 01371 870927


6.30 to 9.30pm

Dog Training



Sarah McLagan’s Keep Fit
and Circuit Training


9.30 to 11.30am

Five Parishes Toddler Group


9.30 to 12.30pm
1.00 to 4.00pm

Upholstery class and
except for half term weeks


WELCOME:  We extend a warm welcome to John who has moved into one of the bungalows in Rebecca Meade.

GOODBYEWe would like to send our good wishes to Jean Robins who is moving from the village, after many years here, to Woodbridge in Suffolk.  Jean with her husband, Jack, were once landlords of The Swan and Jean was also President of the W.I. in Great Easton.



The Group’s Annual General Meeting will be held on Tuesday 14th January 2020, in the Club Room at The Three Horseshoes, Duton Hill, starting at 7.45pm.  The AGM formalities are always kept to a minimum, and there will also be a presentation by popular local speaker, Tim Turner, Senior Valuer at Sworders.  Tim will be giving a presentation about silver and its history – and if you have any interesting silver items, please do bring them along for display and/or discussion.

The Group had an interesting range of speakers at its General Meetings during 2019, and other events included an exhibition at the Three Horseshoes, displays at several local events, and a local Pillbox Walk.  The programme for 2020 is currently being finalised, and will be available at the AGM.  Non-members are welcome to attend meetings (non-member’s fee is £2.50), and new members are always welcome (annual subscription remains at £12.00).  Information about the Group, and about its projects and activities, can be found on its website



The 6th Festival of Angels held over the weekend 23rd and 24th November was the best yet, with more people visiting this year than ever before.  Many also came quite long distances, such is the power of social media!  A number of postings, with many pictures, on Facebook tempted many people to come and see what it was all about.

The event involves lots of people in setting up the displays and manning the various stalls during the weekend and, without their help, it would not have been the success that it was.  To all of them we are very grateful.

A report of our carol service on 8th December will be included in next month’s magazine.


The Parish Council’s next meeting will be on Thursday 9th January at 8pm in the Village Hall. Each meeting includes a forum for residents to raise issues with the Council, and you are very welcome to attend for the whole (or part) of any meeting.


Although the Parish Council is notified of planning applications in the parish, Uttlesford District Council is the local planning authority and makes the decisions.  If an application is refused, the applicant can appeal to the (national) Planning Inspectorate which typically takes at least six months to make a final decision.  The Uttlesford District Council website (which works best with Internet Explorer) explains how to view and comment on planning applications.  You may also wish to contact the Parish Council if you would like your views taken into account when the Council responds to an application.  The Parish Council has a planning committee which can meet at short notice if urgent decisions need to be taken.  The Clerk can be contacted on 01371 870711 or at

The Parish Council’s website is at  When available, details of road closures, diversions and bus route changes are put on the website so it is worth checking it from time to time for local information.  You will also find minutes, agendas and councillors’ details there.


Village Coffee Morning

The January Coffee Morning will be on Wednesday 15th January in the Village Hall from 10am until noon.  The Coffee Morning is for everyone and children are very welcome.  Come along for a cuppa and a natter with your neighbours.


The next quiz is on Thursday 16th January at 8.15 for an 8.30pm start.  As this is the first quiz of the New Year, expect questions on 2020 anniversaries and major events of 2019.  You don’t need to book a team, just come along and enjoy the fun.   If you are planning to eat that evening it is best to book a table.  Call Karen or Terry on 01279 850256. 


Lots of houses are illuminated at this time of the year, and a cheering and warming sight they are too.  Mr Lewell’s display at School Villas is not to be missed.  In fact, our correspondent’s Google Map shows them as ‘the best Christmas Lights in Essex’.  Do try to get along there with the children and explore the magical displays.  Donations are invited for the Animal Rescue Centre in Bishop’s Stortford.


This service will be at the Prince of Wales on Thursdays 2nd and 23rd January 2020, arriving at 10.35am and leaving at 11.05am.


To hire the hall, contact 01279 850638



Pilates Class



The Wednesday Walk

Third Wednesday

10am to 12pm

Village Coffee Morning


3rd July 1934 to 27th October 2019

A Service of Thanksgiving for his life was held at St Mary’s Church, Great Dunmow on 29th November.  Attended by a great number of people, there was standing room only.  The tribute that follows is taken from the eulogy given by Revd Helen Pelly and family tribute given by Michael’s daughter, Hayley March

Revd Helen met Michael some 46 years ago on moving into Little Easton into a house opposite a row of lovely neighbours.  Their paths crossed through the local church and the friendship was maintained on moving to Saling where she became friends with Brenda’s mother, Nellie, through whom Michael became a part of the Saling village fête team, playing the part of master of ceremonies.  He was also a much appreciated and entertaining quiz master in the Salings and the Five Parishes.

Born in Southampton, Michael was the only child of Minnie and Donald Smith.  Apparently the delivery room window faced the town clock and, being born around midnight, the doctor had to use the clock to check the date for the birth certificate.  The family teased Michael that this was why he was always late!  At the age of seven, he was sent to boarding school in Hove but quickly evacuated to Reading.  The school in Hove was bombed just two days after the evacuation.  After school, he studied at an experimental and demonstration farm followed by three years practical agricultural work.  His first job was with Cooper, McDougall and Robertson Ltd selling animal feeds at which he excelled, winning awards for exceeding sales targets.

In 1960 he joined Hasler & Co in Dunmow as a technical adviser.  There he met Brenda and they married on 29th May 1965.  Daughters Claire and Hayley arrived in the late 1960s and ‘young Michael’ join the family in 1977.  After Haslers sold out to Ranks Hovis McDougall Ltd, Michael worked in their London office, rising to Feed Products Manager.  In 1980 he set up and managed the equine division of Scotts of Threapston before starting his own business in 1982 as a marketing consultant.

Michael devoted much of his life to charity work, beginning with the Charities Trust in Liverpool as a fundraiser.  He went on to work for the Anthony Nolan bone marrow trust, Kidney Research UK, CLIC (Cancer and Leukaemia in Childhood) and Leukaemia in children.  Locally he worked for the Emergency Doctor Service, the Dunmow Carnival Committee, was a bingo caller, he was a member of the Essex Toast Masters Association, a trustee of the Rowena Davey Centre and chairman of the Felsted Horse Society.

Brenda and her family received over 300 condolence cards.  One notable one commented that Michael was “one of life’s characters” and sang his praises for his help and support but it also referred to the birthday present Michael gave Brenda last year for her birthday – an enormous electric organ, despite the fact that no-one could play it.  The PS on the card referred to Brenda’s comment that she would have much preferred a new three piece suite.  Michael was a prodigious funeral attender!  When his office was sorted out, over 700 orders of service were found.  He would bring home not only that for the service he attended but any others left lying around.

Hayley portrayed a man who made his family smile, laugh and, at times, frustrated to the point of tears!  A royalist, Conservative, staunch traditionalist, always smartly dressed, always carrying at least three diaries and a white propelling pencil all held together by an elastic band to note contact details of everyone he met.  He was ‘Mike and his megaphone’, at home scaring away squirrels or at Dunmow Carnival and the Countess of Warwick Show announcing the presence of unsuspecting people.

Michael was unique, one of a kind.  He was a friend, colleague, someone who really cared, took you to appointments, delivered your shopping or prescription, called your Bingo numbers.  His family remember him as a perfectionist, but who was renowned for always being late, even when taking people for their appointments.  His eccentricities included eating very slowly, generally having sat down after everyone else had finished.  His use of language from a bygone age; his sense of humour; his use of a hand bell to get Brenda’s attention, normally for something insignificant.  The table was always laid with a full place setting of cutlery, even at breakfast consisting of cereal and toast.

At Christmas, presents had to be undone so that the wrapping paper could be flattened and folded for the following year and, in the break for the Queen’s speech, they would be expected to stand for the national anthem.  Returning from holidays, although not a drinker, he would bring back bottles of liqueur which were often offered, undrinkable, to visitors years later.  He once brought back a melon which fell from the overhead locker and hit another passenger’s head before rolling under the seats. 

The Bible reading from Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 features in the song Turn Turn Turn and was chosen as being an appropriate passage for Michael as he and Brenda shared so many of the “opposites” listed.  At the earlier cremation the well-known passage from St John’s gospel which Jesus used to reassure his disciples was read.  Revd Helen said that in celebrating Michael’s long and energetic life, we must thank God for him, hold on to our trust in God and take comfort that he has gone before us to that place which our Lord Jesus Christ prepared for us all.

Brenda and family wish to sincerely thank everyone for their kind words and messages of condolence.  Your support at this difficult time has been very much appreciated and a great comfort to them all.


There is no meeting in January.


The logo of the Hundred Parishes Society includes birds and trees surrounding a church spire, capturing the sights and sounds of the countryside, hinting at church bells, wind in the treetops and bird song.

During a wintry walk you may spy a variety of birds.  Mixed flocks of noisy corvids, especially rooks and jackdaws, deftly execute their aerial acrobatics in blustery conditions.  The larger ravens are increasing in number and their gurgling croaks carry far on the wind.  Mature circle-soaring buzzards are patrolling their territories.  Hovering kestrels are searching for food.  You may also see a red kite with a forked tail and wingspan of nearly 6 feet (1.8 metres).  

As a tractor cuts furrows in the damp ground, the corvids are frequently joined by noisy groups of gulls.  Farmers do what they can to discourage unwelcome flocks of vegetarian woodpigeons.

Mixed parties of tits keep in touch as they flit among branches searching for insect food.  Robins sing and a mistle thrush may proclaim his presence from a lofty perch.  In a sunny sheltered spot, starlings whistle merrily.  As you walk, a snap of a twig or the squelch of your boot in the wet mud reveals your presence and a startled pheasant or blackbird may sound an urgent alarm call.

Do experience the sights and sounds of the countryside. offers a choice of winter walks.