Kirtlington is widely recognised as an active, well-integrated community. There is a large number of village clubs / societies, and a well-used school, village hall, pub, restaurant / hotel and shop (complete with tea-room). The sense of community is demonstrated by the concerted effort invested in the annual village fete, the well-attended historic annual ‘Lamb Ale’ festival, response to regular fund-raising events and by the church congregation having raised the money for the extensive refurbishment of the village’s historic church. Current work on a Parish Plan has the potential to reinforce this sense of coherence.
The Flights Mill micro-hydro project has demonstrated that it too is able to engage large numbers of villagers in this exciting new venture.
Over the course of 2009 and 2010, 30 plus volunteers have chain-sawed through fallen trees, waded or even swum through the river to loosen logs long stuck in the mud, hauled tree trunks up the banks by hand or with their jeeps and generally had lots of wet, filthy and happy days on the river.
In addition to this man (and occasionally woman) power, the project has involved a number of experts in various key fields who either live in the community or are friends of villagers: engineers, builders, green energy experts, venture capitalists, people with electrical know-how, fund-raisers, wildlife experts and an artist.
There are costs involved in the early stages of the project, even before we reach the stage of applying for the various necessary licences and permissions. To meet these costs, fund-raising schemes have been devised, including a successful wood-selling enterprise. Through the winter, this was confined to firewood, but the project had the good fortune to be given a large fallen oak by local landowners. Villagers were invited to pay to have various products cut for them from the tree. All of this, and the major fund-raising event at the Mill in August 2010, brings villagers together round a shared purpose.
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