Chirag’s story

The Farncombe Post Office provides a service to thousands of residents of this village. During the infamous Christmas floods and power cuts in 2013, it was the only shop that stayed open for miles, it was a life-line and kept us all in batteries, candles and firelighters. The Sidhpura family did not desert us in that time of trial and we must not desert them now. We urge the Post Office to consider his appeal.” – Cllr Penny Rivers, Godalming North.

It appears to me to be grossly unfair and unjust.” – Jeremy Hunt, South West Surrey MP


Easter time is usually filled with friends, family and Easter egg hunts. This year many won’t have Easter eggs and many won’t have eggs at all. And, we won’t have each other as Covid19 keeps us apart. It is by keeping apart that we keep others safe.

For many, this is a time of tragedy and trauma, of separation and of suffering. We need to acknowledge this. But remember too that we are not alone. The world is united in these feelings.

Easter 2020 is not postponed or cancelled. As ever Spring and Easter is a time to think about new life, though it is hard to avoid the daily tally of those succumbing to Coronavirus, and worse, the numbers of those who are killed by it. This Easter time we are presented with death as well as life, but hold to love, for it is love that transcends the pain and grief of separation and death. If we speak of this to each other, of how much we appreciate each other, of how much we love each other, then we will be better able to face the future, and the joy of Easter will be with us once again. For it is love that casts out fear.

For those of you who have a Christian faith, these are words of comfort from Rev Maggie Stirling Troy (Acting Chair of Churches Together).

In Holy Week we walk with Jesus all the way to the Cross where he entered into the depths of human pain and suffering, unable to move, unable to breathe, his family unable to touch him. And yet the message of Easter is that darkness, fear and death do not have the final word. For Christians the Resurrection of Jesus turns the desolation of absence into the joy of his risen presence. Easter brings us hope of new life and the ultimate promise, in the words of Julian of Norwich (who lived when the Black Death was ravaging Europe) that ‘all shall be well’.

Words on Covid-19

The Waverley Borough Council page that is updated as things progress is:

Covid-19 – Corinavirus – is here. What does this mean to me today, next week, next month?

When I was young, I was too busy being young to think about the impact of sickness, of flu, colds, sore throats. They happened, I got better. Some people I knew had bad things happen to them but not to me. I was OK. But I am not young anymore, and a very infectious virus is on the loose and there is no prevention for it, no anti-virus serum available to be delivered by a quick and painless injection – or at least not for many months. I am a carer for my mother who is in her eighties and is susceptible to chest infections. As Town Mayor, I meet many people every week in the course of my duties. If I catch this virus, I don’t want to pass it on to anyone. I know that I could have been infected and therefore infectious without knowing about it. All I can say is that right now I feel fine and I have had no reason to think I might have caught this virus – I haven’t come into contact with anyone who has subsequently tested positive, so I haven’t had a test. But how would I know?

That’s the problem – we don’t know if we are carriers of the virus until we feel poorly, and then have a positive test result – all of which is rather too late to stop me from having passed it on to one or more people.

So, what must we do? If, or when you test positive – well, the next days and weeks are planned out. For the rest of us during the next weeks and months, we must follow the expert advice from the World Health Organisation and the Government experts. We must practice vigorous and frequent washing of our hands with soap. We must practice not touching our eyes and faces and adapt to social distancing. That is isolation from each other. This is not just about protecting ourselves, it is about protecting our loved ones and neighbours and most especially those who are vulnerable.

Personally, and in my role as Mayor, I have cancelled the fund-raising film show which was to be held on Friday the 13th. Sad for me, sad for those who had bought tickets and were looking forward to it, but especially sad for the charities I support (The Meath, Skillway, Trinity Trust Team). But, for the time being I believe that this is prudent.  This is social distancing for me, and I am sorry to recommend this for you too.

Feminista Film Festival 2020

Thanks to Godalming Film Society for screening, “Feminista” – a documentary film special to mark International Women’s Day 2020.Thanks also to Godalming College for hosting this very well attended event.It was a great privilege to be there and to watch such inspiring and challenging films.
We must never take our rights and freedoms for granted. We must continue to stand up for equality and justice for all.

Thank you for inviting me to be here today, to mark International Women’s Day.

As a female Mayor I can tell you that we oft go places and folk greet Mr Rivers first assuming that he is the Mayor.

The films we are going to see will challenge us. It is still necessary to work for women and their rights in 2020. I read an article this week about the search for a vaccine for Covid 19. I had not realised that all medicines are formulated for men and not even adapted for women.  The playing field never has been and still is not level.

In that olde Garden of Eden Eve got the blame – plus ca change plus ca meme chose.
But, may I tell you about two women who inspire me?

At the age of 11 I went to boarding school in England. Before that I attended school in Ocho Rios, Jamaica and my teacher and the school’s Head Teacher was Miss Edith Anne Spence. She was a black woman and it was significantly unusual for a woman, let alone a black woman, to be a Headteacher in those days. She made us stand tall and look the world directly in the face and take on whatever came and look out for those we need to help. She wanted us to know that we were completely wonderful but no more wonderful than the next person. Miss Edith Anne Spence at about 5’ 3 stood tall

When, after 2 sons, we had a daughter, we named her Edith Anne. Our Edith needed glasses and she was dyslexic.  She opted to be a Cub not a Brownie and she is the very first girl in the world to become a Sixer. She attended GodCol and when she filled out her Uni applications she applied for the (then) much mocked Media but in one case mistakenly wrote “ME” – Mechanical Engineering and was interviewed and she was offered a place.  After her Media degree her first job was as a Runner and she was told that if she worked extraordinarily hard, maybe in time she might just become a Head Runner. She was Head Runner within the year and then Junior Producer and is now a Senior Producer for a post production company and can cope with so much more than I ever could. Edith Anne Rivers at nearly 6 feet high stands tall.

We all stand on the shoulders and sacrifices of those before us and today I am wearing the Suffragette brooches given to me by my Mother-in-law.

Sisters, we must not take our rights and freedoms for granted and we must also recognise that many, many men are our feminist friends and companions and we stand together for each other!

So, sisters and brothers, let us speak up – stand up for equality and justice for all – each for equal. An equal world is an enabled world – onward, together!

Happy New Year – don’t let anyone dim your light

Whatever we think about the last year and the last decade, we are once again on the brink of another one. It’s a time for reflection. So ….

I think that the policy of austerity has been cruel, and its impact has fallen on those who are least able to shoulder its burden – hungry children; so many homeless; potholes in our roads. Cuts wound, and Britain is wounded. That Britain has food banks at all is a national shame. That it has so many food banks is a deep gash on the face of our country.

Friends tell me to cheer up, that all will be well. And I do hope so!

However, I think that we need to look squarely at the difficulties that face us so that we can campaign for, work for a better future for all. When we see hate and racism on the rise; the vulnerable suffering disproportionately; our home planet suffering fire and flood, we need to reset our moral compass. So, with this in mind, I have chosen three categories of role models who guide me into the future. These categories are local, national and international.

My choice in this local category is Paul Follows. So young, so capable, so ready to listen to, and to act for our community. He has given his time and his talents freely and willingly and he will make an excellent MP somewhere and somewhen. Here and soon, I hope.

In the national category, I choose John Bercow, the ex-House of Commons Speaker, the Speaker who has championed Parliament, upholding its sovereignty against the odds. He calls for us all to moderate our language and return to considerate and courteous debate. Every single Speaker for 230 years has been Knighted with the exception of John Bercow. Better to deserve honours and not to have them than to have them and not deserve them.

And internationally, I choose Greta Thunberg. Has there ever been anyone like her? She is an inspiration; a still, small voice that we all must heed. We must live more simply so that our world may simply live.

I finish with some words from another of my heroes – the late, great Jim Henson. He was an educator and made us laugh and cry. He wrote these words to his children,

“Life is meant to be fun and joyous and fulfilling. May each of yours be. Please watch out for each other and love and forgive everybody. It’s a good life, enjoy it.”

And so say I.

Happy New Year

Michael O’Sullivan receives Surrey Volunteer Service Award

Officisl Photos
Officisl Photos

What a privilege to nominate Michael O’Sullivan for the Surrey Volunteer Service Award. I am so pleased that his service to sport and film and so much more in our community has been acknowledged by the Chair, Tony Samuels.
Congratulations, Michael and Mary.

Michael’s nomination:

Michael O’Sullivan is involved in many volunteering roles – so a snapshot of some of those activities…


Michael is vice-chairman of Sport Godalming (which is our local sports council) – some of the activities he has been involved with include the running of various sporting events to coincide with and also to celebrate the amazing summer of 2012 – Sport Godalming was responsible for organising its ‘Sports for All’ day to celebrate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee which attracted tremendous local interest – it also coincided with a Jubilee run in both 5K & 10K routed through the Town and surrounds as well as a fun run – these races attracted over 800 participants and this inaugural event (called the Godalming Run) is now firmly in the Town diary and happens every May. This royal day was also honoured by a visit from the Earl & Countess of Wessex.

The Olympic Torch came through Godalming that year and Michael was heavily involved with this event on the Burys Field – where Sport Godalming also organised an ‘old fashioned sports day’ with over 1,000 children participating.

Sport Godalming runs a ‘Go for Gold’ programme which finances, through the Godalming Run, funds to support local athletes in their pursuit of Olympic and International success – to date it has raised many thousands of pounds for their benefit.

Michael was invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace that October in the presence of the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh to represent Sport Godalming with other volunteers to celebrate our involvement in the Jubilee celebrations earlier that year.

Michael was presented with the Town Mayor’s award for Volunteers in 2013.

Michael also masterminds our annual sports awards which celebrates the best of our local sporting community, which always plays to a packed house.


Michael held the post of President of Farncombe Youth Football Club for many years and was instrumental in guiding the Club from its modest beginnings (two teams when founded in 1975) to over 20 boys’ and girls’ teams today.

At the Club he developed the ethos of the provision of a youth football club, welcoming children of all abilities, to play in a competitive but friendly spirit. He was instrumental in driving forward the acquisition in 1991 of the Club’s home, Meade’s Park in Farncombe, and the development of a new clubhouse and changing rooms.

He also held the post of Chairman from 1988 – 1993, but his main love remained responsibility for the Nursery Squad of children of pre and early school years before these children were old enough to fledge into team football.


Michael was Chairman of Guildford Rugby Club during a particularly challenging time in the club’s history. The Guildford & Godalming Rugby Club based in Broadwater and Old Guildfordians, based in Stoke Park Guildford, merged in 2002 and Michael took over the Chairmanship of the new rugby club entitled Guildford Rugby Club in 2005.

Over several years Michael was instrumental in running events and raising a lot of money both for the club and for charity.


Michael has more than forty years’ experience in both film, television, video/DVD and cinema exhibition. He joined Paramount in 1972 and has worked overseas in Holland and hopped across the Atlantic on many occasions.

Michael’s film industry roles include Chairman and Honorary President of Production Guild, Member and Chairman of Guild of Film Production Accountants, Executive Committee Member of Guild of Film Production Executives. 

Now retired, he still is involved with the industry in many ways – he recently travelled to Qatar to help a colleague get a film off the ground and at home is Publicity Coordinator for the Godalming Film Society.

The Society was established in 2007 and had grown to around 250 members by the time Michael joined in 2014. The Society’s main purpose is to bring world cinema to a local audience but thanks to a thriving membership, the management committee was looking at ways to enhance the society offering to its members and the community when Michael joined the committee. Michael’s invaluable knowledge and experience in the film industry was applied in two new ventures.

The first venture was to establish a small fund (£1500) each year to be used to support new local film makers. Michael drafted the terms and conditions for awarding this grant and led a small sub-committee to interview applicants and to recommend those who should receive grants. Applicants have often been student film makers and Michael has been exceedingly generous with his time and expertise to help successful applicants with their film making. The society has awarded 4 grants so far, enabling 4 new film makers to gain valuable experience and to premiere their films before a local audience.

The second venture for the Society was to run a summer film festival over 5 afternoons and evenings at various local venues. Michael chaired a sub-committee to implement this objective and the society has now run three very successful festivals. In 2019 it screened 13 films in 3 venues and promoted 4 cinema themed quiz nights in local pubs. The festival was entirely free to those who came and has successfully brought cinema to a wide local audience.

Michael is an invaluable member of the society’s management committee, helping to make this society one of the best in the country.

Surrey County Council Chairman’s Volunteer Awards

What a privilege to have been able to nominate Graham Hodgson for this award. It was a real pleasure to accompany him and his wife, Lynne, to County Hall on 10th April 2019. His citation reads:

Graham has been an integral part of the Godalming community for nearly 40 years. He has been a Governor and the Chair of Governors of Godalming Junior School and Broadwater School, Committee Member of Godalming District Scout Executive, Water Advisor for River Wey British Canoeing and Assistant to the Royal British Legion Area Organiser to name but a few.

Most would recognise Graham as Major Hodgson, the Parade Marshal of the Town’s annual Remembrance Day parade, a role he has proudly carried out for the last 28 years, however his commitment to community life has not been limited to just one cause or purpose.

Graham has used his skills and knowledge to benefit a wide spectrum of our society. He has been a positive influence to the generations of young Godhelmians, especially in his capacity as a school governor and his active role as a canoeing coach with Godalming District Scout Canoe Club.

Graham and his wife, Lynne, with Chairman Tony Samuels, and Vice Chair Helyn Clack