Jane Woolley has retired as clerk to Hambledon Parish Council after twenty years of invaluable service, dedication and hard work.
Although Jane is by no means stepping down from active involvement in the village, this is a timely moment to reflect on her significant contribution as she hands over to her successor, Caroline White, on January 1st, 2018.
Jane’s commitment has already been recognised when, in 2008, she was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list for her voluntary service to Hambledon.
Her resourcefulness – as well as her generosity – was instrumental in setting up the Hambledon Village Trust, which now owns the freehold of the village community shop, and has helped fund and promote a range of local activities.
She celebrated her 70th birthday by walking 70kms in 70 hours to raise £7,000 to fund a shop re-fit, and on her 80thi in 2016 she undertook another fund-raising walk, this time a half-marathon, to raise more than £2,000 to pay for an outside toilet at the shop, for the use of customers including those with disabilities.
At a retirement party hosted by John Anderson, parish council chairman, she was thanked for the guidance and support she had given him and his colleagues. Surrounded by current parish councillors, Waverley and Surrey County councillors and others from the many areas of public life Jane has been involved with, John praised her for her “steely determination, great eye for detail and always ensuring that correct procedures were followed”.
At all times she has upheld the fine traditions of a respected public servant, he said, adding that she had taken the demands of the job in her stride. Faced with changing legislation, often delicate planning issues, increased administration and reduced funding, Jane had “addressed it, tackled it, mastered it and dealt with it.”
Jane’s professional career started with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in 1956, beginning as a secretary. She had four overseas postings, to Germany, Switzerland, Togo and Cuba. In 1967 she joined the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, working her way up to become Director of International Affairs.
In 1995 she was appointed executive director of the International Federation of Surveyors, based in London but overseeing a worldwide programme of conferences, technical and educational meetings, remaining there until she retired in 1999.
Her mother had moved to “Cobblers”, a then run-down cottage on Woodlands Road, Hambledon, in 1972, following the death of Jane’s father. When her mother moved to Haslemere Jane moved in to the cottage in November 1988 and has lived there ever since.
Her appointment as clerk to the parish council occurred in a manner that could not be repeated today. Jane recalls: “Ron Vickery (then a parish councillor) sidled up to me in my garden one afternoon when he was doing the mowing and asked me if I would be interested, and I said yes. And that was that. No interview, no contract of employment, no job description, no entitlements to annual leave or sick pay, no probationary period, no grievance procedures, no health and safety obligations – not even a word about pay.”
That was in August 1998. She was given some helpful advice, a bundle of files and the keys to the Village Hall by the outgoing clerk Paul Vacher together with a few sheets of A4 paper listing what needed doing at each meeting.
At the time Ion Campbell was chairman, followed by John Anderson in May 2004. In addition to these two Jane has worked with a total of 17 parish councillors in the 19 years and four months in the job.
Expressing their thanks at her final meeting in December were the village’s seven current parish councillors; John Anderson OBE, chairman, a councillor since 1983, Philip Underwood, vice chairman and councillor since 1987, Stewart Payne, 2001, Paul Pattinson, 2007, Mike Parry, 2011, Mary Grove, 2015, and the newly co-opted Sean Sinnott.
Photo shows, left to right back row: Sean Sinnott, Paul Pattinson, John Anderson, Mary Grove, Philip Underwood, Stewart Payne, Mike Parry. Front row Caroline White, Jane Woolley
Reflecting on her time as clerk Jane said the job had given her enormous satisfaction, working alongside “incredibly helpful and supportive people – mostly”. She particularly enjoyed spotting and following up opportunities that would benefit the village.
She has been a big part of what has made Hambledon a strong, active, vibrant and caring community, characteristics that helped make it Surrey Village of the Year in 2008, leading to a visit by HRH Princess Alexandra.
Jane will continue to involve herself in the Village Trust and to co-edit the Parish Magazine. She will have more time to research her family history, an exercise that has already taken her to Northumberland, Wiltshire, Sussex and the Channel Islands. Next comes exploration of her family’s Dutch connections.
And she will continue to travel far afield and walk close to home.
Jane is the embodiment of the saying: “If you want something done, ask a busy person”. Hambledon sends her its thanks and best wishes.