In the future we may remember the events of the last year and liken it to someone temporarily “pulling out the plug” from society as we knew it. If that had been what had happened however, we would have expected the power to have been restored by now and we would be wondering what all the fuss was about. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to be the case and at the time of writing there are few signs that all will be back to “normal” in the very near future. Nevertheless, Bolsterstone Community Group (BCG) has been, and continues to be, busy and we would like to give you a flavour of what BCG has been doing, somewhat in the background, this year. At the start of the Covid crisis and the lockdown in March, BCG committee identified some 20 of our most vulnerable members and telephoned them to check that they all had access to food and medicine deliveries and support of neighbours and/or family. At the same time we were grateful to work with those at Stocksbridge Community Leisure Centre who set up a “Support Hub” organising a team of volunteers to deliver essential food and medicines to those most in need. It was obvious at that time how lucky we are to have so many caring people around in the locality.
In Bolsterstone itself, the BCG’s “In Bloom Co-ordinator” risked life and limb in Spring time, to visit floral/garden centres to secure plants for all those members who maintain troughs and hanging baskets around the village. The beneficial results of this are obvious and the village has received many positive comments from the outset of this Covid pandemic, as more people have explored locally and visited Bolsterstone, rather than venturing further afield this year. There has been an increase in the number of cyclists and walkers commenting on the general tidiness of the village, and admiring the troughs, baskets, interpretation boards and planted and seating areas, whilst, as ever, enjoying the spectacular views. Despite several Bolsterstone residents having contracted Covid 19, BCG is lucky to be able to rely on a team of 15 or more BCG members who volunteer to turn out regularly, without any prompting, with their brushes, trowels, rakes or strimmers. They have kept the village looking as good as ever, without the need to meet in groups, with the associated difficulties of “social distancing”. The allotment continues to flourish due to the hard work of dedicated members and we are particularly grateful for the recent kind donation and delivery of not a small amount of manure! Everyone would surely like to thank this silent army of helpful BCG members who just continue to “get on with” maintaining Bolsterstone at its best, for everyone’s benefit, without making any “song and dance” about it.
Fortunately the success of BCG’s events in the last few years means that our healthy funds have allowed us to “ride the storm” and continue to fund village maintenance projects where necessary. As well as purchasing plants, we have been able to maintain benches, the allotment, and interpretation board. BCG refurbished the defibrillator on the Village Hall wall with parts purchased by BCG and approved by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service after a fault was spotted by one of our 12 regular volunteers, vigilantly checking the equipment. We also continue our on-going financial commitments, which include public liability insurance, allotment rent and web-site maintenance. Whilst the Village Hall door remains firmly shut to the public, we were pleased to hear that the re-furbishment work in the hall has been continuing. The renewal of the Village Hall floor space, part funded by BCG, has now been finished, along with complete re-decoration of the hall. This will be fully appreciated when the hall re-opens for functions, parties and meetings once again.
Our last newsletter gave information about the “Neighbourhood Watch Scheme”. The scheme has been especially valuable this year, because the regular police “alerts” sent to scheme members have warned people of threatening behaviour, cold calling and various lockdown scams, in which unscrupulous individuals have sought to target the most vulnerable residents. The police successfully charged some nearby individuals who had been ensnaring wildlife. Although Bolsterstone has avoided most of these anti-social activities – due in no small part to the Neighbourhood watch alerts – we should continue to report behaviour which threatens people in our area, or the area itself, including fly-tipping.
One of the most important casualties of the lockdown of course was the cancelling of the popular and much loved summer fayre. We look forward to next year’s event – fingers crossed! Similarly BCG’s Christmas events have also been cancelled. Not only is the village hall closed, but the popularity of both the Christmas Fayre and the Wreath Making Evening, mean that it would be impossible to practise “social distancing” and keep everyone safe at these events, even if the Village Hall was open. We have refunded money to all the stall holders who had already booked their place at the Christmas Fayre and whilst stall holders and schools have expressed their disappointment and some wreath makers have said that they will miss their “favourite event of the year” everyone understands that the cancellations were sensible and unavoidable.
Amidst the shut-down gloom, there is plenty of good news. Most members will already be aware of the successful outcome of the Hollin Busk Outline Planning Application. Sheffield City Councillors at the Planning Board refused to allow the building of up to 93 homes on the Hollin Busk “Greenfield” site. This decision was due in no small part to the campaigning and years of resilience of the Friends of Hollin Busk and local Stocksbridge Town councillors, as well as to over 500 individuals who put in their objections. Small groups of individuals CAN make a difference, and BCG was pleased to be able to add their voice to this groundswell of opposition. BCG has also commented extensively on the “Local Plan”, the importance of which has never been more apparent as now, when the Government is debating proposals to change the planning system. These changes have the potential to impact on the Green Belt and Greenfields of our area. We should also spare a thought for the new, brave and enthusiastic licensee of the Castle Inn, who has worked hard to try to restore the Castle Inn and re-open our local hostelry. We wish her well. During the sunnier days of early Autumn the pub’s outside tables were well used. Also, another resident and BCG member has put forward proposals to upgrade the village telephone box so that it could be used as a small community library/book exchange.
Although Bolsterstone Community Group Committee members are not currently meeting as usual in the Castle Inn, we continue to communicate by telephone and email as appropriate. BCG continues to be grateful to local councillors who maintain their updates with the group albeit in a “virtual” rather than face to face format. Throughout the year they have passed on important information about road closures, road maintenance and transport links etc to the Community Group. We will do our best to keep members informed as best we can over the coming months in the hopes that we will soon…..
“all meet again”.
Bolsterstone Community Group