Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Parish councillor steps down at the age of 91

Parish councillor steps down at the age of 91

SIXTEEN years after becoming a founding member of Binfield Heath Parish Council, George Englefield has retired.

He has decided to step down — at the age of 91 — as his eyesight is deteriorating and he cannot walk as far as he used to.

George was one of six villagers who were elected when the council was created in 2003.

The others included the current chairman Paul Rollason and Elisabeth Ransom, the first chairwoman, who now serves as deputy.

George was 75 at the time but wanted to be involved as he grew up in the village and had lived there most of his life.

He and his colleagues on the Binfield Heath Village Society campaigned for the new parish to be carved out of Shiplake, Eye and Dunsden and Harpsden parishes.

George was responsible for looking after the village recreation ground, which his Arch Hill home overlooks, and oversaw the upgrade of the play equipment a number of times.

He also regularly walked the footpaths around the parish.

George says: “My family has been connected with Binfield Heath for almost a century and I came here in 1928, aged just 14 days, so I wanted to play an active part in village life and take on a new challenge.

“We felt we had our own separate identity so the time was right to have our own council and our success over the past 16 years has shown this was a good idea.

“We installed a number of new items of play equipment, some of which were jolly expensive but a lot safer and in better condition.

“It was only natural that I should take it on as I live opposite and I’m pleased that it is used regularly by many people.”

George officially retired at the March meeting of the council and was treated by his colleagues to lunch at the Bottle and Glass Inn in the village as a farewell gift.

He says: “My physical ability is practically nothing and I can barely see so I felt I wasn’t able to make a contribution in the way I once did.

“It would now be quite a job to walk around the recreation ground without taking a break so I felt it was time for somebody else to take over.

“I have enjoyed my time on the council very much and will still do many of the other things I enjoy, like eating out and going to the pub.”

He still runs the over-60s Monday club at Dunsden village hall. “I once said I’d like to get a bit more involved and they handed me a tea towel,” he jokes.

George was born at a small nursing hospital in Reading and grew up with his parents, Robert and Ethel, and younger brother John, now 85, in a flat above the White Hart pub in Shiplake Row, which is now Orwells restaurant.

He attended Shiplake Primary School and then Henley Grammar School, which is now The Henley College, before joining the army, when he was 18.

He trained as an officer and served as a second lieutenant in several Middle Eastern countries before leaving in 1948.

He married his wife Sheila at St Peter’s Church in Caversham in 1951 and the couple moved around the country while he worked for various distributors of agricultural products.

He retired in 1991 and they returned to Binfield Heath three years later. They had two sons, who between them now have three children of their own. His wife died in 2007.

Mr Rollason said: “We will miss George’s experience and wisdom and his practical, hands-on approach along with his dry sense of humour.

“We wish him a well-earned retirement and still expect to see him taking part in village events.”

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