Saturday, 13 August 2022

Man, 80, receives award for years of service

A MAN is to be honoured for a lifetime’s service to the communities of Binfield Heath and Shiplake.

A MAN is to be honoured for a lifetime’s service to the communities of Binfield Heath and Shiplake.

Roger Head, 80, is to receive an Oxfordshire High Sheriff award on Monday.

He was nominated by Shiplake Parish Council, of which he has been a member for 46 years.

Mr Head has lived in Binfield Heath all his life and has been been an active member of the community since he was a teenager.

He successfully campagined for affordable housing to be built in Binfield Heath, helped preserve the ancient Green Pond in the village and was a member of the trustees of Shiplake Memorial Hall that oversaw the modenisation of the building in 2013.

He has also been a member of the Shiplake and Dunsden branch of the Royal British Legion for almost 57 years and has been chairman four times.

A retired technologist, he has lived with his wife Valerie, 79, at their home in Harpsden Road for 54 years and grew up at Chestnut Cottage in the  village.

Mr Head said the award, which he will be presented with at a ceremony in Oxford, came as a total surprise.

He said: “I have played a part in the community since my teens and I suppose that’s because I have enjoyed it and felt I had something to offer. When people no longer feel I am useful and I no longer have the energy, then I will stop.

“There have been several opportunities for me to leave the village with my career but when my wife and I thought about it, we asked ourselves why would we want to leave such a wonderful area?”

Mr Head was born on October 16, 1935, one of three boys. His bothers Robin and Rodney also still live in the village.

He attended Shiplake Primary School and the former Rotherfield Secondary School until he was 15 when he joined a firm of architects in Reading.

When he was 18, he was called up for National Service. He joined the Royal Air Force and spent 16 months in Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), working in signals.

When he came home he resumed his old job and stayed with the firm for 17 years until he joined another Reading practice where he stayed for 31 years.

He worked his way up the company as it expanded and was director when he retired.

He worked on commercial and residential projects acoss the country but says his most notable ones were both in Reading — Foster Wheeler House, which was one of the first multi-storey buildings in the town and is now part of the station redevelopment, and Clearwater Court, the head office of Thames Water.

Mr Head met his wife at a dance at Shiplake scout hut when they were both in their mid-teens and they were married at the Church of St Peter and St Paul in Shiplake in 1959.

They have two grown-up sons, Andrew, an engineer in the motor industry, and Simon, a specialist in computer and robot technology, and one grandaughter, Eleanor, 18, who lives in Emmer Green.

Mr Head was scoutmaster for the 1st Shiplake scouts, where he had started as a cub, and joined the Royal British Legion in 1959, when he was 24.

Ten years later, he was co-opted on to Shiplake Parish Council following the retirement of Councillor Albert Bulpitt, who ran Binfield Heath Stores.

He led a parish council working group which, after 14 years, saw the construction of eight affordable homes in Binfield Heath by two housing associations in the early 2000s.

Mr Head said: “There was a need for affordable housing as young people were having to leave the area to find housing.

“I am very keen on all the things in the area that need improvement.” He said he was also proud of having saved Green Pond and to have helped with the refurbishment of the memorial hall.

Mr Head said: “It became apparent that the hall was forever being maintained — parts of the building were being updated but this was not providing a permanent solution.

“It was agreed that I could look at it and come back with proposals which is more or less what we have now — a state-of-the-art kitchen, new toilets and a new entrance hall.”

He is currently working on two new projects — the possibile enlargement of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and road safety improvements.

Mr Head also co-founded Reading Matins Rotary Club in 1992.

Tudor Taylor, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, said: “Roger is absolutely deserving of this award.

“He has put in more than 46 years on the parish council and remains an incredibly active champion of local issues.

“His experience and knowledge is hugely important to the council and allows us to avoid many of the pitfalls that our lack of experience might otherwise lead us into.

“Most importantly, he is a really ‘down to earth’, nice chap, eager to help in any way he can.

“Roger has a phenomenal community service record and I am chuffed to bits that he has been properly recognised in this way.”

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