Close encounter

PUBLISHED: 10:32 26 February 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

Archbishop Runcie at the newly built Runcie Close

Archbishop Runcie at the newly built Runcie Close

SIR, — I was deeply saddened to read (Herts Advertiser, February 19) that the children s play area equipment had been removed without warning from the play area in Runcie Close, St Albans. I and my wife would like to add our support to the residents who a

SIR, - I was deeply saddened to read (Herts Advertiser, February 19) that the children's play area equipment had been removed without warning from the play area in Runcie Close, St Albans.

I and my wife would like to add our support to the residents who are petitioning the district council to reinstate the equipment forthwith.

We moved into the newly-built Runcie Close as newlyweds in May 1981 and had been extremely touched to receive personal good wishes on our marriage from Archbishop Runcie, who had been our much-loved Bishop in St Albans.

In my wife's letter of thanks to him she light-heartedly asked him to tea when he was next in the area. We were both delighted and astonished when he accepted this invitation and visited us on the October 27, 1981, bringing with him Lady Runcie, his chaplain Rev Richard Chartres, now Bishop of London and his future wife Caroline, together with the then Mayor and the Mayoress, Cllr Ken Jenkins and his wife Jo.

It was a day and a tea party we will never forget; one abiding memory was the Archbishop's insistence to keep letting his tea go cold to greet the many children who had gathered to meet him. I must go to the children, he said again and again, and delighted in answering their amusingly-direct questions to him. A photo (above) appeared in the press at the time of him with the children while he leaned on the street nameplate looking onto the play area.

I couldn't help but notice in the same edition of your paper, what seemed to me as an ironic juxtaposition by a senior council official seemingly giving a lesson to a resident on courtesy and good manners on an unrelated issue. I share the concerns expressed in your editorial at the imperious way the council is increasingly behaving towards residents and yet, to me, seem very thin-skinned when criticised themselves. Courtesy and good manners should be second nature to us all, but even with the best will in the world we all fail from time to time, which I feel has befallen the council on this occasion.

I hope the council will have the courtesy to apologise to the residents of Runcie Close and show respect to the man in whose honour the close was named by replacing equipment and enhancing the play area.

Should residents wish to start a friends group for this small, yet highly-valued play area, to ensure this never happens again, I would be delighted to give my support.

JAMES GREGORY,

Tennyson Road, St Albans.

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