Dedicated Yaxham village stalwarts step down after 37 years

Yaxham Amenities Associaition chairman David Myhill (left) and vice-chairman Peter Bennett are retir

Yaxham Amenities Associaition chairman David Myhill (left) and vice-chairman Peter Bennett are retiring from their posts after 37 years. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

A dedicated pair of community stalwarts have been praised for their immeasurable contribution to village life after each devoting 37 years to their local action committee.

David Myhill and Peter Bennett have stepped down as chairman and vice chairman of the Yaxham Village Amenities Association (YVAA) – roles which they have held since the organisation was first formed in 1977.

During the intervening years, they have organised countless celebrations in the village near Dereham, and overseen the construction and extension of the village hall, which is regularly used for whist drives, quizzes, coffee mornings, dances and WI meetings.

Although both men are looking forward to more free time during their 'retirement', they are still on the committee and on Monday they attended what Mr Myhill calculated to be their 432nd meeting.

'Our hearts have been in it from day one, otherwise we wouldn't have stuck it for 37 years,' he said. 'We have never had a professional person, like a solicitor or a lawyer. We've just been ordinary working chaps.'

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Mr Bennett, 73, from Norwich Road in the village, said: 'It is the only hobby I have ever had.

'I am just satisfied that we have done a good job. But it is not just because of us. We have had a lot of help along the way. There were so many things to discuss, but we have never had a fall-out so that people were not speaking to each other the next day.'

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Mr Myhill, 76, from Well Hill in Clint Green, recalled the origins of the association.

'In February 1977 the parish decided to do something to celebrate the Queen's Silver Jubilee, and during the meeting I was put up as chair and Peter was the vice chair. We were working together at the time, as I was a driver for his haulage business.

'We did bingo, whist drives and charity events and we managed to raise £900 to have a village celebration on Jubilee Day. The whole village joined in. We had £300 left over, so we called another meeting to ask what we should do with it.

'It was decided we should get a playing field in the village, or a village hall. We continued our fundraising events in the church room, and raised £4,000 in three years to buy a field next door. Then we carried on to try and raise money for a hall. By 1987 we had got £36,000 from our own money and through grants.'

The hall was opened in June 1988, with all the glazing, plumbing, decorating and tiling carried out by volunteers within the village.

Mr Myhill said he was 'elated' when the landmark project was completed, and it has since been extended twice.

In the YVAA's summer newsletter, new chairman Peter Smith hails the contribution of the two men to their community. He says: 'It is impossible to put into words the enormous debt that the village owes to these two gentlemen. Without their dedication and commitment we would not have one of the best community facilities in Norfolk.'

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