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As a former organiser of the St Albans Poppy Appeal, and having read the last three reports regarding this and received many comments about it from various people, I wish to say that I was very unhappy in the way in which Kate Mackay portrayed my reasons for stepping down from my position as Poppy Appeal Organiser in your newspaper, in that I resigned in June 2017.
I did not resign, I in fact retired in August due to both myself and my wife - who was my deputy - being in serious ill health.
I worked for many years both as chairman of the RBL and PAO. In June 2017 the RBL decided to close the building in Verulam Road which was our head office, and after some deliberation all my committee members decided to resing. My vice chairman was also ill, as was another committee member, and I knew that neither would be coming back. I then felt unable to continue under those circumstances alone, after fighting since 2011 to keep the branch open. So I had no alternative but to tender my resignation as branch chairman, but all this is a separate issue.
I continued with the Poppy Appeal, even getting most orders ready, until I finally realised come August that I was unable to continue due to my health problems getting worse. I then wrote to Poppy Village to say that I was retiring in late August.
I then invited Kate to my house, and at this meeting I handed over everything that I had paperwork on, including all the rounds that I had made and built up over the years to make sure she had everything to work with, as I was only too aware of how difficult it would be to try to start from scratch as I had to when I started.
How much more could I have done to help? If only people realised how guilty I felt having to do this but I had no choice, and these reports made it sound as if I was the bad guy deserting a sinking ship.
- 1 Recap: Rail delays through St Albans and Harpenden after train hits branch
- 2 Fire crews receive 'multiple' 999 calls amid large blaze at Welham Green
- 3 Jubilee garden opened at Harpenden primary school
- 4 Goods worth more than £260 in total stolen from St Albans Co-op store
- 5 Clarence Park deckchairs banned following council concerns
- 6 St Albans garden centre dedicates fundraising year to Brain Tumour Research
- 7 Teenager ‘robbed at knife-point' by two males in Hemel Hempstead
- 8 School's generous donation to foodbank
- 9 Breakaway Theatre Company returns with an enjoyable day at the races in Ladies' Day
- 10 Katherine Ryan and Romesh Ranganathan spotted filming in St Albans
I feel very strongly that the people of St Albans might assume that I have deserted them, and through your paper I would like the record put straight as to why and how I left.
It would be a terrible shame if St Albans lost the Poppy Appeal although I cannot imagine for one minute local people allowing this to happen. Although I have to say that I canot understand why Kate feels this way as area Poppy Appeal Organiser, as whether you have a small or large dedicated team this situation can be overcome.
Let’s hope someone out there steps up to take over my job. Due to the tremendous support I aways received from the people of St Albans during my duration as Poppy Appeal Organiser I am convinced it will continue for many years to come.
DON DELL Former Poppy Appeal Organiser
Swallow Lane, St Albans
“St Albans stands out as a unique English Cathedral City. The city’s colourful history can be seen in the Roman remains and the beautiful medieval architecture.”
This description, for many is apt. But spare a thought for those who live in the shadow of what was once an iconic glass fronted building – Ziggurat House. Have the city planners and architects truly lost the plot?.
Is this building redolent of ‘an English Cathedral City’?. If the design principle had its roots in Victorian penal architecture, the scheme deserves the highest possible award.
Cunningham Hill Road, St Albans
Your April 19 edition Comment ‘The status quo is not an option’ noted that nobody expected the call for sites submissions to be so weighted against the south of the district.
We agree with your approach that new houses have to go somewhere.
Your analysis showed more than 50 per cent of sites proposed are in three parishes in the south St Stephen, London Colney and Colney Heath whilst under 10 per cent has been proposed in Harpenden town, Harpenden rural, or Wheathampstead so it was disappointing that Rothamsted did not submit their plans (February 8 – “Rothamsted answers call for sites with plans for 1,000 homes”) as this would have been a major balancing factor.
We will be working with and support the approach of our adjoining and even more threatened parish council, London Colney, and Herts County Councillor Dreda Gordon’s comment “...that the south should take its share but it should be a fair share and the other areas take their share too.”
However, we are not holding our breath as Harpenden district Cllrs Daly and Maynard were more concerned at planning policy committee (PPC) that the consultation response analysis put car parking as the least important an issue. Their approach at the meeting did not seem to support the approach that Harpenden must take a share of homes in their wards, and the final Local Plan will reflect that accordingly.’
We are grateful for district Cllr Brazier raising the real threat of coalescence between Colney Heath and London Colney. We asked at PPC: “How will SADC listen to and consult with residents most threatened with coalescence so these communities are protected?” and were underwhelmed with the response.
We look forward to your objective look at the submitted sites, so that the significant swathes of the Green Belt to be built on are not only in the three parishes you highlighted but distributed more equitably across the district.
Chairman. Colney Heath Parish Council
Boy sinks up to nose in lake! - That’s about three inches short of a real news story in my estimation.
Rewind 40 or more years and boys were regularly dunked in lakes ponds and rivers all over the county.
The only danger was that of a clip round the ear when you got home. The lake, the Ver, the Lea and Mimram I swallowed a mouthful of all of them, no harm done. Don’t tell me they were cleaner then because they certainly were not.
If you don’t want your 10 year old child to drown then supervise them more closely. If they do fall in then please spare us your whinging attempts to shift the blame, it was your fault.
Or is it that I have missed the point entirely? It’s nothing to do with the actual incident, it’s just another cheap swipe at the people doing their best to solve the Verulam lake problem at the least cost to the ratepayer.
LEE ROGERS By email
Your comment in this week’s issue is spot on, particularly with regard to toddlers.
One day last week outside the toilet block, I was talking to the RSPB man about the herons when a toddler did walk into the lake and disappeared under the slime.
Before we could do anything, the mother leapt into the lake to rescue the toddler and managed to pull the toddler out. We did advise that she should contact her doctor.
Sorry, I cannot remember which day it was, but the man from the RSPB may be able to remember.
N.B. I have similar concerns about other hazards in the park around the lake e.g. cycling, large numbers of runners, dogs not under control. BARRY KIMBER By email
Mr Webster will be pleased to know that a lift has been installed in the new St Albans museum, enabling wheelchair users to have access to nearly all areas of the building.
The only part not accessible is the prison cells as the area is too constricted.
During the last year those employed in co-ordinating the museum aspect have been consulting a group of residents who have various disabilities, including those needing wheelchairs, those with visual problems and those with deafness and some other difficulties. (I was one of the deaf ones!)
There is a lot of work to be achieved between now and June 8 when the official opening occurs and I believe it will look really good then!
GILL CLARK Tudor Road, Wheathampstead
I was both disappointed and a little ashamed to read that the decision has been taken that this year’s Anzac Day commemoration to honour the fallen of The Great War buried in Hatfield Road Cemetary, is to be the last.
These boys came from halfway round the world to help fight for OUR freedom. They are buried in a foreign land and their sacrifice should NEVER be forgotten. As I was told on a recent visit to the Menin Gate Memorial in Ypres “There will never be a last, last post.”
The comment attributed to the woman from St Paul’s Church that, as it’s a century since the end of World War One, it is “the right time” to end the tradition is among the most stupid I have ever heard. It is 2018 years since the birth of Christ, is it “the right time” to stop celebrating Christmas?
I strongly urge whoever made this decision to think again.
STEPHEN P WEBSTER
I am a huge fan of Rupert Evershed’s evocative, lucid and charming Nature Notes column.
Thank you for featuring his wonderful prose in my local paper,
Riverside Road St Albans