Last night I sat in my garden wondering what I should write for this entry. At 9.30pm I could still hear perhaps the most marvellous sound in the world – in a garden nearby children were tearing around in the darkening light laughing in the manic manner that only exhaustion and over excitement can breed. The weekend before I sat out to enjoy the music of a wedding band. That we all enjoy such a unique, tranquil and spacious environment is not the product of chance but of legacy – the legacy created by and enshrined in the Deed of Mutual Covenants devised by our predecessors on the 30th May1898. It would be simplistic and inaccurate to say that the legacy has been protected by the Estate Committee – for the committee is no more that a construct elected to give effect to the collective will of the covenantors. We can each take a pride in protecting that legacy.

Certainly the Estate Committee acts as the focal point of the estate. Doubtless that is why it has now been supported during three centuries. Doubtless that is why it will be supported for centuries to come. I have to say that since a completely newly constituted committee took over of 2009 I do not think the committee has ever been stronger. For my own part I have never felt more enthused or excited about where the committee is in its work. In simple terms the committee has now established clear policies and practices which give effect to the covenantors indisputable legal perogative to determine and protect the character of the estate; that all sounds simple enough, but take it from me, it took a lot of time and hard work by committee members to get there – but get there we did. When I agreed to become involved in 2009 I thought the project of revitalising the committee would take about two years. Having thoroughly enjoyed the greater than expected work of arriving at where we now are I look forward to where we can go from here.

Of one thing I am now perfectly certain. The Estate Committee will continue to exist for so long as three conditions are fulfilled: that the committee has sufficient income, that covenantors remain willing to volunteer as committee members and that covenantors are willing to vote to elect committee members. Income is always tight (but we always get by), there is no problem in having enough volunteers (the committee now has more members than ever) and at recent elections the votes have been overwhelmingly in support of re-election. I am confident we can all rest assured the committee is here to stay.

I would like to say something about the committee itself. Members have objected to my attempting to make such observations in the past – but this is my news section so I can ignore the inevitable demands they will I know will follow that I redact this paragraph. I have never worked with such a dedicated, civil, pleasant, amenable or amusing group of people. The old adage “If you want something done ask a busy person to do it” could not be more applicable than to committee members. Members of the committee could hardly be elected from more an eclectic range of backgrounds. They could hardly be busier, more engaged or more engaging. I am always interested that when emails go out during the week it is commonplace to receive replies from Japan to Germany, Birmingham to Bangkok. Meetings are actually enjoyable – the topics under discussion are interesting and the jokes and humour flow so readily that I find I return home feeling my week has been lifted by a short interlude in the welcome company of friends. It’s not a chore being on this committee; it is an absolute pleasure and a privilege.

So, as this is supposed to be a news blog I should include some news.

The most important is that we have a new Secretary to the Estate Committee. We are extremely pleased and fortunate to have secured the services of Mr Ian Brown. We are extremely grateful to Jo Bramley for her dedicated work as Secretary in recent years. However, there are clear advantages to having a covenantor appointed to a position that is so critical to the efficient and effective conduct of Estate Committee business. It is a role that has been undertaken with distinction by some of Ian’s predecessors – not least Robert Browell, the author of Four Valuable Farms. We very much look forward to working with Ian in the future. Full contact details for Ian are on the website at www.painshawfieldestate.org

The work of the Estate Committee has been legally re-appraised, re-established and revitalised, the website is now available, Four Valuable Farms has had additional material added and been re-edited and re-issued by our publishers, the Common Land has been maintained and insured and policies and procedures have been determined by the covenantors -but we do not intend to rest on our laurels.

We are still hoping a Neighbourhood Watch Scheme will be established on the estate. There is a section on the website dedicated and waiting to support such a scheme should anyone volunteer to act as co-ordinator.

We have in hand some interesting new projects and plans to improve the future functions and effectiveness of Estate Committee business and the estate itself and look forward to keeping you informed of these primarily through this section of the website.

If you would like your e-mail address to be added to our collective list of covenantors to facilitate future updates please send it to the Secretary via the website.

If you are a talented photographer – or even a singularly untalented photographer who has happened to take a fluke brilliant photograph of the estate – or possess any old photos others may find of interest, please may we invite you to submit them for inclusion on the website.
The website is in its infancy and we look forward to it growing in time to include very much more material than is currently uploaded.

Things have changed. In the past an inaccurately addressed letter sent out by the Secretary would invariably be delivered by hand by a recipient neighbour. The committee recently sent out an e-mail with just one letter wrong in the email address. We received the following verbatim reply.

“Nice to hear from you but think you must have got the wrong people as we have never made an application for a shed. We live in an apartment on the 41st floor in Abu Dhabi and have no garden! Have a great day”.

I shall look forward to reporting back to all later in the year.

You do not have to be on the committee to help out with ideas .If anyone has any suggestions how the committee may improve its service we would welcome hearing them.

Christopher Prince