Here we are again I hear lots of people say. Certainly after the turmoils of the initial lockdowns in 2020 and then the last Covid outbreak at the beginning of 2021, you could be forgiven for thinking this is Groundhog Day once more.
However, here at Wimblecomm, we try to remain resolutely positive and my feeling is that this time it will hopefully be shorter thanks to the continuing vaccination programme and the renewed focus of the booster jab.
It is sad of course that many people are having to cancel their festive events and holidays abroad again but we have to think of the tough jobs faced by front line workers in the NHS, care services and elsewhere at times like this and make their jobs easier.
My son (working part time) is amongst the many staff and volunteers employed locally at the vaccination centres at this time and we should also be very thankful for their hard work under these trying circumstances to keep us all safe.
During 2021 we, at Wimblecomm, were turning our attention back to business as normal as the year progressed and I am once more grateful to the dedication of our two staff, Susanne and Genevieve who, supported by my two incredible fellow trustees, Jackie and Jenny, and our website developer Tim, have helped to grow our website activity and associated services over the last 12 months.
We now have a new membership section and a growing number of community groups joining up alongside new features on our website including a job / volunteer vacancy section.
You will also hopefully have seen our 75 Stories initiative which we have been using to celebrate our 75th Anniversary and has gathered pace in recent months. We have decided to continue that into the new year, telling stories via text and video of ways in which our community has come together in the past and again now at these difficult times.
Genevieve will be focusing her creative energies entirely on the 75 Stories at the beginning of the year before moving on to pastures new but we are pleased to announce that we now have a new trustee, Karl Schneider who has joined our team and will be supporting Genevieve and Jenny with the project. More details about Karl can be found here.
There were times in 2021 when it certainly felt like the good times were just round the corner again. Everyone will have their own stories, but I thought rather than focus on the renewed difficulties we are all facing I’d focus on some personal things which brought me hope this year in anticipation that these will continue to thrive once we get through the current Omicron challenges.
Top of my list has to be the return home of my local football team to Merton. As a long time Wimbledon fan (from the 1970s) and former Dons Trust Secretary I was delighted to see the hard work of our fan run club come to fruition when I saw AFC Wimbledon playing at our new stadium in Plough Lane in August. The amazing work of the award winning Dons Local Action Group since the start of the pandemic has embedded the club back in the community and long may it continue.
Secondly after two years waiting patiently, my local drama group, Carlton took to the stage again with a set of new short plays in November, this time at the Mansel Road Centre and it was a delight to see the hard work of the writers, directors and actors come to life in person. With Wimbledon Theatre and the newly reopened Polka we hope that theatre continues to revive and thrive in 2022.
Thirdly I am proud to be supporting Fayre & Square Wimbledon based in Centre Court. The gift shop set up on its own as the pandemic hit, but as a showcase for local artisans that also teaches retail to young adults with learning difficulties, it was good to see it get back on its feet in 2021 once again ably supported by a group of hard working volunteers.
Fourthly as a passionate 5k runner, I was delighted to see Parkrun return on Wimbledon Common, yet another example of voluntary effort coming to the fore. Having unfortunately picked up a bad ankle injury just before it reopened I have yet to rejoin the runners but am hoping to some time in 2022. As one of the first Parkruns in the country, it was set up in 2007 and long may it thrive.
Finally we are very lucky to live opposite a wonderful Victorian park in South Park Gardens. As with so many park amenities, the Council run service is supplemented by the support of volunteers in the local community who also help run the local pavilion. And like other community spaces across the borough, many of which are members of Wimblecomm, we were pleased to see it reopen in 2021 and hopefully this will continue once we get through the current challenges.
Tempting as it is to get pessimistic about the future with everything that is happening right now both with Covid and the future of our planet, I believe these examples and others show that we have a lot to look forward to and that with the right mindset our local community here in Merton can return to be a positive beacon of hope that improves the well-being of all of us.