AGM 2023 – Chair’s Report

Monday, November 27th, 2023

Great Missenden and Prestwood Revitalisation Group held its Annual General Meeting at Holy Trinity Church Hall on Saturday 18th November. Thank you to all who attended, and participated in the discussion afterwards, ‘How might Prestwood now turn good ideas and intentions into community action?’

Chair’s Report

Thank you all for coming along today – it’s terrific to see you here.

GMPRG’s last get-together was two years ago, held via Zoom, because the COVID pandemic limited our capacity to gather. But, since we emerged from the pandemic, we’ve been able to engage with the community again and projects that had been suspended, were reignited.

Carole Eaden – thank you

During this time, our Chair, Carole Eaden, stepped down from her position after five years, to pursue more time with her family and work. I would like to thank her for her endless devotion to the GMPRG and its efforts to try to improve our surroundings and facilities. Carole has always held the big picture vision for this community and contributed much towards efforts to help try and make it a reality. The GMPRG continues to be fed by the legacy of her leadership, particularly through the group’s work on the Community Vision for HP16 and the Hamilton Baillie place-making scheme for Prestwood. Carole is unable to be with us today, but we would like to thank her with a small token of our appreciation which we will pass on to her.

A new Direction for GMPRG

Since Carole stepped down and I assumed the role of Chair, we have navigated some significant changes. One of the largest catalysts was Bucks Council’s vote, following the demise of the Chiltern District Council, to stop funding the seven Revitalisation Groups (the GMPRG among them). It was a significant loss to each of the groups and several decided to stop operating.

During this time, the GMPRG has taken the opportunity to consider its role in the community. We’ve reflected on the past, and how we might best continue to offer real, meaningful value to the community in the future.

Through our reflection we’ve decided to:

  • Narrow our focus to the village of Prestwood.
  • Prioritize the ongoing development of relationships between the GMPRG and the other organizations and the residents of Prestwood.
  • Work with the community to encourage a broader volunteering culture.

Recent and current Projects

Taking into account our limited volunteer base, we’ve focused on getting some small projects in the community moving:

We completed the installation of the Prestwood Car Park Bench and notice board which was a collaboration between the GMPRG, the Prestwood Coop and ALIGN with support from the Great Missenden Parish Council and Buckinghamshire Council’s Missendens Community Board.

We completed the Bee and Bug Friendly School Garden Competition with the volunteering help of Karen van Oostrum, in which we engaged 10 schools in the area and over 1300 students in a competition to design a bee and bug friendly garden for their respective schools, announcing the prize winners in April, and continue to track their progress as their gardens evolve.

We are managing other projects which include the installation of three bike racks outside the Prestwood Village Hall and a new bench at Moat and Chequers Lane corner. These projects, whilst small, are terrific at engaging multiple stakeholders at various levels. They represent ongoing collaborations between the GMPRG, Prestwood residents, groups and organizations throughout Prestwood and Great Missenden as well as Bucks Council.

Where we are not leading on projects, we continue to explore opportunities to contribute to already thriving initiatives benefiting our community. Last year we supported the installation of nine bike racks in Great Missenden and recently, we’re excited to be helping fund other emerging projects in the Community.

As an organisation, the GMPRG and its members have also been advocating to protect and maintain our community; lobbying for a more cohesive Community Speedwatch network, the removal of graffiti on our walls and bus stops, the maintenance of our verge wildflowers between May and September, safer routes for bikes and pedestrians throughout our community, with particular focus on the route between Lodge Lane and Great Kingshill; and we continue to support all efforts to develop a cohesive plan for Prestwood and its future.

Responding to Community, building closer working Relationships

Throughout the years, we have grown our experience in surveying the Community, and our project objectives have been led by the feedback we have received. Although excited to continue engaging with our community, we recognise that our efforts to accomplish great things could be magnified significantly through collaboration and joined-up thinking. This is why we are exploring new ways of working with other Prestwood organisations, to use our experience to help support a cohesive vision and to facilitate the process of turning good intentions into sustainable and valued results.

A more flexible volunteering Model

As we continue to take on more projects in the community, we are always looking for those who might want to help. The challenge for many is time commitment. For this reason, we are altering our volunteer model to include opportunities for residents to volunteer for the projects they feel most connected to. Once the project is over, so is their commitment. We hope that by adopting this model we might offer residents the opportunity to be part of the change in Prestwood without feeling over-committed.

The Future…

Today, having dealt with the past in the AGM, we would like you to consider the future. ‘How might Prestwood now turn good ideas and intentions into community action?’ Excellent work has been done in the past months and years to highlight the changes residents would like to see. These include Progress for Prestwood’s recent initiative, the 2018 Community Vision update and the ongoing work of the Prestwood Village Association. Now we need to challenge the barriers that prevent those ideas from becoming a reality and see the community thrive together, by working together.

I would like to thank all of the members and volunteers of the GMPRG for their continued and valued commitment and look forward to another year of building relationships and contributing to this community’s capacity to thrive.

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