Thursday, 23 September 2021

Bench unveiled in memory of Green Gym stalwart

THE first chairman of Sonning Common Green Gym has been honoured with a memorial bench at Greys Court.

THE first chairman of Sonning Common Green Gym has been honoured with a memorial bench at Greys Court.

Jules Thomson, who died earlier this year, took charge of the volunteer group in 1999 and held the post for 12 years.

The seat, made by the Country Workshop at Aston Hill, was installed on the National Trust estate’s top lawn.

It was inaugurated by his widow Dr Margaret Thomson, who cut a green ribbon.

She was joined by family, friends and fellow members, including Dr William Bird, who founded Green Gym while working at Sonning Common Health centre. The organisation helps members keep fit by arranging conservation projects at local beauty spots. It has dozens of branches across the UK.

Greys Court has been one of the Sonning Common group’s main sites since it was launched in 1998.

Mr Thomson, of Shepherd’s Green, offered to be chairman when the branch became self-managing the following year.

Site co-ordinator Julie Booker said: “We chose to install a bench at Greys Court as Jules had a fondness for the grounds and surrounding woods of this lovely site. Had he not come forward to steer us from the beginning we feel the group might well have folded. As it was, with Jules heading, we gradually grew in size and acquired a wide range of sites.

“This was important for keeping up existing volunteers’ interest and attracting newcomers as well as being a friendly and welcoming group.”

Mr Thomson remained active in the community after retiring from the RAF.

He spent 12 years as a member of South Oxfordshire District Council and was chairman in 2004/5.

He also belonged to the Nettlebed and District Commons Conservators and was honorary treasurer of Amateur Satellite UK.

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